Irish Mountain
Running Association



Mikey FryMiriam MaherWarren SwordsBrian Kitson

Bell bottoms,,,

Bell bottoms

So it’s race day again league is flying along I said I wouldn’t blame my diet but a takeaway a unicorn donut and an Easter egg which I still can’t believe we have some left the night before not one of my best preps but hey we all have r drugs I should give up the tea again me and peter bell r on sugar diets till Christmas Day :) so meet the three bell boys at coach house jumped in kev drove the usual banter between brothers:) arrived up to cow pad field was a chilly one so a warm up was needed and Brendan gets to us off and we’re off up the first climb Barry flys off and we follow like lost sheep right turn song the forest peter takes off after barry the other Barry Colm peter John Damien warren Bernard etc,,,,,down the little hill sharp left and the climbing begins peter bell try’s to hold every one up but Damien eventually gets past him I push on with him Bernard comes by to say hello and the guy in the swimming togs(sorry dude must say hello next week) so we keep up together so right turn at wall John and Bernard just ahead we al push on towards summit I pass Damien legs moving well now pass paul hard man Mahon at turn around and it’s the down hill more r less to finish I’m pushing hard down the steep technical bits but when it’s opens up Damien goes by and it’s bye bye Damien he’s flying I go after but not happening so a couple of minutes later there’s someone breathing down my neck I keep them off but eventually it’s flipping peter flipping bell so I decide to try keep up but a little stitch(Easter egg is calling at my door)so he gets away a little not giving up so at the last left turn I take a sneaky look back and now it’s warren trying to do a sneaky on me so I’m like no way dude but the gas on all the way to finish just about made super racing people:)) well done to Barry colm and peter....and as always thanks again brendan and rubber crew for a super race lots of super chats back to pub more chats no food before 9.30 race director had no dinner had to fly for some work....
- [ ] Who’s going to have the cups of tea on the top of djouce next week it would be great just saying....
- [ ]
- [ ]
Mikey out:)

The fun-ist of the 100

Not planning on making a habit of this - race report writing - but this one deserved a mention - it being the 100th one!!

Omens were good - sensible nutritious breakfast, was all set to follow with a good lunch/dinner to help me charge up and down Scarr and past Dee. However work day didn't play ball, two very very long meetings gobbled up the entire day and ended up being fueled on a trail mix found in the car and fizzy percy pig pigtails instead.

Arrived at the field at the start (were those cows told to outdo themselves just for us??) with the usual suspects - Tricia and Dee - and a welcome returner to give the hills a go - Vicky. Too late to join Dee in the early start as I needed time to get out of the work guna still.

Brendan called me over to make a choice of sizes for my long awaited club 100 T-shirt - he wasn't having any of my wittering on about whether I'd go for the small or medium...aside from when I went for the medium, commenting that he hadn't wanted to say but...

Anyway headed off up the lane way all happy out after the much appreciated shout out from Brendan in his roll call of those running the 100th race, firmly in my rightful slot at the back of the pack.

Last week was a race - battling loose shoelaces and Dee. This week was a celebration, my own personal victory slog up another summit. Dee was off running her race in the early start - no pressure on either of us now. Up the long slog of the many false summits that is Scarr. Despite the drizzly conditions, still clear enough to see the fabulous scale of views all around. Tucked behind Paul O'Grady going up between the ferns, finally passing him near the top of that climb, then Niamh O'Ceallaigh looped beaming past me in her usual effortless way.

Finally got to the turn right up along the last set of bumps to get to Scarr. Meeting front of the field coming down - I'm chirping away with the 'well dones' - distracts nicely from the climb. After all these years - loads of familiar faces passing me coming down - the odd 'well done on the 100th' which was appreciated considering they needed to keep all their attention on not face planting on their descents.

Eventually, now very much one of the last few, I got up to Paul Mahon - briskly moving us around him and on our way down. Might have envisaged standing there, having a moment, another summit etc etc, but then decided against keeping Paul up in the mist shrouded summit any longer than needed. Summit marshals rock on days like this.

And then utterly in my happy place - bounced down - no doubt not elegantly - but oh so happily, one of the nicest descents around. Mostly on my own for that stretch, Patsy and Paul had charged down past me after the summit, the lovely - despite the mist and clouds - views around me. Had my moment, postponed from the summit, on my way back down. Met Trish with her junior charges, had a quick chat, enjoyed the descent so much I almost didn't want to be finished. But all good things come to end - for another week anyway. Thanks Brendan and all the volunteers for enabling us to have another fantastic night on the hills.

Has taken me since 2013 to hit this mark but some amount of craic and fun has been had along the way. No IMRA race is easy and I've often gone out tired and wound up from whatever else might be going on before I hit the start line, felt like my lungs were going to explode on the way up, thought my calves would never forgive me. But I've never ever come back across the line without a smile on my face - even the ones I've hobbled back off or clutching a battered face - the gift that is the IMRA races keeps on giving.

PS - Dee still feckin' beat me in the end - by 23 seconds - but there's always next week.

PPS - Despite what I tell my kids about not sleeping in sports tops - Club 100 T-shirt = night attire. Fact.

Strava Heroes

The Kings and Queens of Scarr:

Scarr has something for both the climbers and the descenders. A good tough climb and a lovely flowing descent all the way home.

The fifth race in the Leinster League gave us a new top 3 KOM from last week.

The KOM in this instance is the start of the "ballbreaker" to the summit.

It's 1.8km long, with grade of 16%, climbing 294 metres.

First to the top was Peter O'Farrell in 15 mins 32 with Colm Moran just 14 seconds behind.

Third was John Bell in a time of 16 mins 17 seconds.

1. Peter O'Farrell 15:32
2. Colm Moran 15:46
3. John Bell 16:17

Niamh Corbett was Queen of Scarr, hitting the summit in a time of 18 minutes 11 seconds.

From the summit of Scarr, it was 3.73km dash to the finish line, descending 304 metres with average grade of -8%.

Colm Moran dropped from the summit like a stone to be the fastest downhiller on the night.

His time of 12 mins 16 seconds equaled the record set by Des Kennedy in 2016. However, Colm actually stopped for ten seconds after losing his shoe on the way down. On his descent, he clocked a 2 minutes 45 seconds kilometre.

Second was John Bell in a time of 12:48, followed by Peter Bell 16 seconds later in 13:04.

1. Colm Moran 12:16
2. John Bell 12:48
3. Peter Bell 13:04

Niamh Corbett was the fastest among the women in 15:28.

*All times are taken from Strava so there may be faster times.


Farmers have a unique way of walking. They trudge along with their torso bobbing up-and-down as their legs turn in a wind-milling motion quite independently below. The stride begins by throwing their leg upward, then forward and then straight down in a way that makes it appear like they’re riding an invisible bicycle. Of course, this is a gait that farmers all over the world have evolved over millions of years to help them avoid stepping in cow shit. Perfectly adapted to see what’s being treaded on in the long grass. So, it was pleasing to see how quickly my fellow IMRA runners nailed the “farmers’ walk” as they made their way through the cowpat filled field towards the registration for the Scarr race last night. Adapt or dung. It was also very pleasing to see how many people made it out last night despite the fairly miserable evening. The collective enthusiasm had me raring to go.

The last time I ran up Scarr was from the Glenmacnass side during my Wicklow Round last year and of the 26 peaks Warren Swords and I hit that day this one is easily among my favourite. The views are stunning, the grade not too severe and once on top you are rewarded with one of the most delightful descents in Wicklow. The springy turf provides an almost weightless downhill running experience. However, Scarr’s a tougher proposition from the south eastern side we would be tackling it from; a fairly sheer climb up along a very faint track and the recent rains meant that the once springy sod would now be sloppy. I finished in 32nd place on that last outing but since I’ve clocked up a bit more experience over the past few years I was keen to improve upon that.

I arrived with a plan. The US college basketball coach Bob Knight used to use a “full court press” to great effect in the 1980s; it’s a system of applying a constant man-on-man defensive pressure on the offensive team across the entire length of the court. No matter where you are on the court, if you’ve got the ball, you’re going to be harried. This was the bones of my plan; to maintain a constant pressure on myself throughout the race.

The start line was buzzing. Brendan was race directing with an expert touch and welcomed Miriam and Paul to the 100 club to a warm round of applause. After he set us on our way, I took off with the lead group and was happy enough to still be among them by the end of the first kilometre. My body hadn’t yet warmed up though and was objecting in the strongest possible terms to the effort required to hold their pace. However, as the trail flattened out, the lead pack began to slowly ease away from me and despite my ‘plan’ I found myself settling into a more realistic effort. Then Bernard Fortune rumbled passed me with the inevitable force of a boulder tumbling down a cliff. I tucked in behind him until the main climb up Scarr. There was simply no way I could stick with Bernard on a climb like this and felt like stopping to applaud when I glanced up at him leaving me for dust as he made mince-meat of the climb and most of the field. My brief reverie was interrupted when Peter Forde politely asked if I’d mind if he could pass me by. I can’t be 100% certain if he was wondering if his passing me would cause offence or if he just wanted me to get the hell out of his way, but either way I stood aside. I’ve found that discretion is the better part of valour in these situations and there was too much climbing ahead to be getting involved in a tussle with someone so fast…and good-mannered.
We both passed another runner shortly afterwards and I stayed with Peter all the way to the turn towards the summit. It was worrying to see the long strip of marking tape at the turn blowing hard and horizontal to the left knowing that we had to turn right, but as it happened, the summit shielded us from the worst of the headwind. Peter and I arrived on top of Scarr just behind Warren. The summit provides a mighty view of the whole of Wicklow, which I obviously ignored, but it was impossible to ignore the sight of Paul Mahon standing there like the general that he is. No time for extended pleasantries though, we exchanged a quick handshake and he sent me on my way with a few ‘choice’ words of much appreciated encouragement.

By now any thoughts of strategy were out the window and I tore off at a reckless speed but not a soul could I catch. The Gerulaitis in me (see Carrauntoohil report) hoped I might see Warren up ahead as both myself and my wonky ankle were feeling strong, but he was already out of sight by the time I descended off the various summits and would go on to put a full two minutes on me by the time we were finished. The downhill was fast and exhilarating. I slalomed down the mountain as hard as I could in an attempt to close the gap on Peter who was still just ahead. Each time it seemed like I was about to catch him he’d pull away again and so it was until the end and I crossed the line just behind him in a respectable 14th place.

Our road running friends like things consistent, predictable and flat. Most mountain runners are drawn to uncertainty and the feeling of adventure it provides. It’s in our nature to adapt. The beauty of these Leinster League races is that there are so many variables to contend with and it’s our ability to work our way around the conditions, or better yet, finding a way to use the conditions to our advantage, that separates the good from the great in this game. Terrain type, ascent and descent grades, technical difficulty, race length and weather conditions are among the factors which impact on performance. With each race I’m trying to learn how to adapt physically and mentally to the different conditions. A loss in weight this year has made me a better climber. It means I’m racing a little further up the field, but to become more competitive, I now need to find a way to get back down it a little more quickly.

Adapt or dung, cowpats or not.