Cold, snowy, wet and slushy
12 March, 2023 - Mick HanneyTrooperstown Spring race 2023 will go down in the annals for those that took part.
The last of the spring league. While it was 11th March, we were treated to a couple of days of wintery weather which would serve up a winter wonderland of a route. A marked contrast to the mild spring conditions at last weekend's race.
Driving up on the morning the temperature was 3 degrees with the prospect of lower temperatures up higher. People were curious about how much snow might be on the trails. The car park was clear apart from a bit of slush. Someone said the snow was ankle and shin deep in places on the route. That doesn’t sound too bad does it. We’d soon find out.
I felt tired before the race. Not an ideal pre-race feeling. We gathered at 11 for Mike’s pre-race briefing, as spots of rain fell. On 3 we were on our way up the snowy fire-road.
The pace was slower than usual as people got accustomed to the snowy/slushy ground. Apart from Killian, who was off into the distance from the get go.
Ran in the slipstream of Rob Costello in the early stages. No sense trying to break a new trail through the snow, so single file we all went. Out of the fire-road and onto the road and up. In a change from previous years we cut into forestry at the top of the road junction. It was a welcome change through a nice single track, all tree roots and muck. A taste of what was to come. Emerging onto Trooperstown, the single track became more a collection of slushy puddles that a track. Then the snowy sections started in earnest.
At the 2k mark the trail splits left in the direction of Boots. Short course runners had the option of going up the face of Trooperstown instead (that sounds like a worse prospect). The sunshine on the snowy ground was blinding at times.
Around this point I think I went past Rob, then Kathryn, but my going was ridiculously slow. The trail – as it would be for most of the rest of the circuit – was an option of fresh snowy, trodden snow, or slushy cold wet running water. Nearly every step was a slip hazard. I thought I had decent grippy runners on, but the underfoot conditions had other ideas. It was an effort to stay upright for most of the route.
Fair play to Rene who did a great job on the marking in trying circumstances.
Managed a running motion up Boots and managed to not fall on the descent off it. On the Boots ascent the wind decided to pepper us with some stingy hailstorms. I felt very cold and wet, but off Boots we were more sheltered and I felt I was warming up a bit.
The snowy slip and slide, kind of running, avoiding falling, continued around the loop. Alan marshalling us at the turn towards Trooperstown summit, passing some early starters on this section. Managed to jog most of that through deeper snow again, with a somewhat favourable wind. Fair play to Liam and Matthew at the summit, which was very exposed to the prevailing wind.
Normally, the downhill off the face of Trooperstown is one of IMRA’s great downhills. The snow however made it a fairly slippy affair and at times you felt more like a ice skater than a runner. You knew too that the snow was hiding the usual rocky bits, so for me it was a very slow section and lost ground to some faster mountain snow goats.
The trail to the road was a continuous cold muddy puddle. No keeping that water out of the runners. Onto the road and try to muster a semblance of speed, before the turn down through the road bends until the gate back into the forestry manned by Paul Nolan. A splish-splashy single track followed, which needed a bit of concentration to follow the markers, before that last tiny section of road to the finish line. A no. of finishers took the wrong track here and finished from the wrong direction, only to be routed back up to the right track.
Today wasn’t a day for comparing running times with past Trooperstown runs. Today was fairly unique and it was a case of getting around and making the most of the experience. We don’t have too many of these snowy race days. Today was both a blast but equally hard. Fair play to all that took part.
Thanks Mike Long & crew for this wonderful race. Well done Killian and Becky. Nice to see Pat Foley back for his first race of the season and running well at that.