Irish Mountain
Running Association



Mick Hanney

Hot and heavy

After race directing Drumgoff last year it was great to get the opportunity to run it this year. Peter Bell had done great prep work for the event, but unfortunately couldn’t make it down to the event on the day, but Mikey Fry and crew took over to put on a fine event. Only snag beyond anyone’s control was the lock on the gate being changed so it was a tight fit with the parking, but it all worked out well in the end. It was a warm with heavy conditions, which would take its toll on runners during the race.

After giving those assembled a route overview we were set off at 11 o’clock, by Mikey, without even a 1 2 3 go. Off down the road I made the mistake of front-running until we crossed the fence on the way up Fananerin. You don’t win a price for being in the lead after a kilometre! I’d pay the price for the fast start soon enough. Normal service was resumed when we jumped the gate onto the top section of towards Fananerin summit with John and Warren leading the way. Onto the single track up and back from Fananerin greeting the rest of the field as we passed.

Crossed the fence onto the fananerin ridge in 4th place but no gap between me, Bernard and another chap through to 6th. Off along the ridge and my legs weren’t happy. Fast start and hot conditions were sapping the energy and I was struggling. Had to go with a walk run strategy when this ridge is usually a steady run. Heart Rate was way up, didn’t really settle for the entire race.

Still, I didn’t lose any ground along the fence line and up Mullagh and I kept the distance to the runner ahead to a steady gap. I love the downhill off Mullagh so found my running legs and made a place downhill before the steep section of Croaghanmoira which was shrouded in mist. A steady march up Croaghanmoira and you could see runners ahead taking different lines off the top. Half way up, Liam Vines joined the party, running very well. Starting to meet some of the early starters here, Patsy was at the top as we arrived.
From the trig, I took the direct line off, in the mist, towards the trees. When I got down to the fire-road I met Liam again who had taken the rocky track, so no advantage gained or lost.

Down the next fire-road (where Coillte had spread their rocky gravel that is uncomfortable to run on), in a bunch of 3 myself Liam and one of our Armagh runners. The run to Carrickashane isn’t a big climb but it felt it with the heat and the tiredness in the legs.
I knew exactly where the control point was but didn’t necessarily want to lead the other runners to it, struggling with the pace, I dropped to 3rd in our line for a sip of water and let the lads lead the way. They went beyond where I would turn. I hit the peak in the trees just ahead of Francis Conroy, another legend like Patsy. By the time I hit the Wicklow way, I had a small advantage on the Liam and Armagh runner, but that wouldn’t last long as my legs were increasingly unhappy (damn that fast start).

A sip of water and a jelly before the next climb (slog) up to CP4. And boy was I glad to bring some water with me, I really needed it.

Made it to the top of the fence line and knew CP4 (big boulder) was just along the ridge a-ways. Jogged on, progress was slow on leaden legs, towards the next checkpoint but lost concentration and over-ran the clearing I had turned at in a recce. By the time I realised and made it to CP5 (Brown knob), Liam, Armagh runner and Mike Jordan – all running well – had got there moments before me and were off left into the forestry. I took the line I know straight down through the trees to the Wicklow way and tried to get the legs turning for the Wicklow way descent. Just as I was starting to sprint, Mike crossed the Wicklow way into the forestry below, looking for a more direct line to the finish. I am no match for Mike on the rough terrain so we’ll have a smooth (with extra distance) versus rough – race to the finish line.

Legs complaining as I tried to get them moving faster after a hot hard day. Not fast enough (even with a final half k of 3:22. Got to the finish line to see Mike finish a few seconds before me. Well done Mike.

Happy to be finished although mega deprived of energy. What a great race. Was 8th and 2nd M50. Liam has finished just ahead of Mike. A fab run, and he followed that up by heading out immediately and doing a similar distance additional training run, demarking the last 3 controls! Fair play!

Well done to John Bell on his win. And to Ciara who won the ladies race.

The strava flyby (photo uploaded) shows the variation of finishing lines from the racers. Its great craic at the finish line to see the runners finish from different directions and to hear to the war stories of the day. Despite the covid situation we still had fun and it was a fine social event with familiar friends and competitors. Thanks again to Mikey, Peter and team for a really enjoyable event.