Irish Mountain
Running Association

Galty Crossing


Maike Jürgens

Adventures at the Galty Crossing in 2023 – the multiple false tops or why not to wake up at 1 am bef

Adventures at the Galty Crossing in 2023 – the multiple false tops or why not to wake up at 1 am before a long mountain race.

The Galty’s have been some of my favourite mountains ever since I first saw them (which isn’t that long ago in the grand scheme of things). When the date of the galty crossing was rescheduled to a time in the calendar when I was free I quickly booked in the family calendar and figured I better do some training. I got some training in but it was hampered but various bugs from creche and other things life that happened. Then I faceplanted on the last downhill on the last long training run but made a decent recovery a few days later to let me decide to sign up (thanks imra for mainly having race registration so close to race day).
All packed and seemingly organised with a last minute map marking supported by a 2 year old (Mama, I want jellies!!!), I woke up at 0.51 on Sunday morning and just couldn’t go back to sleep. Despite doing a number of really long hill runs and races before this was to be the longest since giving birth and I hadn’t been to the Galty’s in years so I was quite nervous.

Anyway, coffee it was an attempting and failing a snooze in the car on the way down (I wasn’t driving, thanks Andy), gear check and registration plus tracker attachment was done swiftly in wet conditions. Then putting on shoes and sorting the last few pieces of stuff before getting on the bus. An eventful bus journey was had with runners fogging up the windscreen and a car nearly pulling out in front of the bus. Off the bus, a quick briefing and off we went up the road. I was thankful when the turn off came for the track up the hill. Knowing that it was a very long steep climb I wanted it over and done with. It turns out it was wet – and steep – and endless with a good few false tops (those around me certainly heard me mumbling – is this the top or a false top) a few times. Approaching the top it was finally getting cooler and then quickly it was cold. Jacket on, card punched and oops I had forgotten about those rocks that thanks to the amount of water on the hill were extra slippy. Down the hill, across the col, up the hill singing ‘end of wall, end of wall – where are you?’, punched the 2nd control and off along the wall which provided a bit of relief from detailed navigation and shelter from the wind. Unfortunately, the effects of the coffee were fading and I was feeling exhausted. Thinking to myself – I wonder will John Barry catch me and say ‘I thought you’d be much faster’ when minutes later he rocked up saying ‘I thought you’d be an hour ahead’. A bit of toing and froing all the way to (the false tops of) Galtymore and a kind bearing from the top of Galtymore (it was so windy I really didn’t want to take my map out thinking it would blow away). Towards Galtybeg where the kite had been moved to Galtymore (which had 2) on a bit, then turn right keeping the steep ground on the left pass the lake and a group of about 10 people had formed. Visibitliy was poor and the ground was wet and soggy. Several people got stuck in bog holes but surprisingly I didn’t.
With the wind and slow moving due to tiredness I got really cold and thought if we don’t get shelter soon I’ll have to put on layers to avoid hypothermia. I was struggling to concentrate and the false tops and real tops were really confusing. A last push effort on focusing on where to go and we dropped off the side of Fabreaga where finally the ground was ever so slightly drier (still soggy) and we were sheltered from the worst of the wind. The group split at this point with people choosing various different routes. From the top of Moavane, John suggested to take a direct line to the forest corner (I mean THE forest corner) from where it would be all trail to the finish. A quick discussion and we agreed to drop to the col and then take a bearing. Following the bearing for a few min we dropped low enough to be able to see the forest corner which made life a lot easier. A few stream crossings and we were on the trail. Runnable downhill, not so runnable uphill especially with tiredness. The sun started to come out and finally, I warmed up and took my jacket off. Phew.
More apple juice, jellies, cheese, bread and crips later fortified by a jaffa cake from Rob (thanks) I approached the last 2 controls (there was a few false tops here too). Some pictures were taken at the most (un)opportune moment and we ‘only’ had to follow the fireroad to the finish. A ‘sprint’ finish with John, great catching up and a welcome 7up and some chocolate.
It was wet and did I mention it was wet? And windy. Mainly due to tiredness (I would like to think), was slower than hoped and there was more times than usual where I just wanted to go home but the only way home was to finish. I am really glad I took the plunge and just did a long hill race post baby.
A million thanks to all the volunteers and organisers for allowing the rest of us to be out all day and to Andy for driving and listening to a random collection of stories.