Irish Mountain
Running Association

Wicklow Way Relay


Darren MurphyMATT HORRIGANAndrew HanneyRene BorgBrian KitsonCiaran AylwardDavid PowerMikey FryDavid Power

BP "Fairy Tail"

The Expression "It Takes A Village" comes to mind and it certainly did getting our Wicklow Way Team together.

An by God did we get a Team together.
Usually held in May it had kinda slipped us by. But when it moved to June, Brian & Myself manged to catch the entry at the last second (site Crash).
Thanks to Jason for holding a spot for us.

Now, The Team on the Day:
Leg 1 - Karl Milligan
Leg 2 - Brian Furey
Leg 3 - Alli Coll
Leg 4 - Darren Murphy (C)
Leg 5 - Conor Deane
Leg 6 - Peter Forde
Leg 7 - Ed O'Connor
Leg 8 - Ciara Hickey

Support - Dee, Kevina, Sonia, Mairead.

After a million admin updates an rules etc we were good to go.
6am, check Phone, message from Brian I'm up. Karl also good to go.

Race start 7am...
7.30 hit the road, drop Alli to Leg 3 and I get dropped to Leg 4.
Checked race updates, solid start by Karl.
9th at first Handover point. Tough climbing and not chasing the Top boys, will only end badly otherwise.

Brian heads off on Leg 2, tough climbing but well experienced. Coillte had moved tree stacks the previous day, so multiple experienced runners took a wrong turn dropping down the field. Correcting the mishap Brian pulled back 2 places. 11/12th at handover..

Off goes Alli Leg 3, multipe Recce runs in the legs. Holding her own despite knowing we've dropped places before she starts, solid as always but she won't tell you that (ever)... holding position, battling with 2 teams not giving an inch keeping other teams in sight.

15th at Handover Leg 4. I'm up and off I go.
Tough first mile climb trying to stay steady, but as I reach the top I see someone ahead. Let's Go, Targets definitely helped. . Taking full advantage of Targets, 2 places back followed 1 minute later by a 3rd..
Up over stiles catching breath, hiker passing "Did you see a runner" yeah just ahead... Go Go Go, I spot him, Raheny vest. He hits the grass but not pushing it (Doesn't want sheep shit on shoes I say to myself) Boom 4 places back an pushing but hoping not to gas. Into forest, slight wrong turn (back track).Smell of campers cooking.
Fix mistake, an go again... blessed to not trip coming through trails and tress.

Handover Leg 5, 9th. Conor is up.

He's gone like a bullet, huge Leg now. I check Phone, group is buzzing and Conor goes Hunting with his makeshift GPS stuck in the sleeve... Takes out 2 after strong climb and gets encouraged with a high 5 from Stephen Connan coming downhill like lightning... pushes all the way to the End taking 2 more places.. one just at the handover point.

Leg 6 - Peter is off stride for stride with another runner who fades into the distance. Here come the Hills, solid/Steady all the way... word is spreading, BP are ripping up the field. Peter keeps chipping away as much as possible.

Ed gets word but doesn't sink in till I arrive to his handover smiling ear to ear absolutely Buzzing, we are flying. Minutes later Pete comes barrelling down the hill in 6th.

Ed is gone in pursuit, teams looking over their shoulder... The main Event, Leg 7 with unbelievable runners, East Cork going after Rathfarnham and TT with a 3 minute lead neck and neck. The Goat, Tim takes both teams out and puts a 3 minute gap on the board.

Ed battles the first 4k climb and by the 10k water drop he has one place back and just 6,5,4,sec.. makes it 2 places back.. 4th place and puts a 3 minute gap between us over the next 11k...

Leg 8, Ciara. The Final Chapter, time split to 3rd is over 20 minutes. No need to push it, but it's Ciara. Nicely managed Leg even with wrong directions at "The Dying Cow" we are all out in pursuit tracking her, we catch her for a water drop and support, 1500m clear. She sets the best time on Leg 8 for the day and cruises the team home safe to 4th.

Like the 1990 World Cup that Ireland didn't actually win, we all had a great time.

Race Report: Wicklow Way Relay 2023 - East Cork AC Triumphs Finally…

On a picturesque day in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains, the Wicklow Way Relay 2023 unfolded with teams from all over the country eagerly competing for the coveted title. Amidst a backdrop of breathtaking landscapes and challenging terrains, East Cork AC emerged as the winners of this thrilling race by just 2 minutes.

Graham Swords kicked off the relay on Leg 1, ascending from Kilmashogue Car Park to Curtlestown Wood, covering a distance of 13.6 km and conquering an elevation gain of 556m. Graham's performance set the tone for East Cork AC's victory, handing over to Donal in an impressive time of 61 minutes and 37 seconds.

Donal Giltinan, on Leg 2, displayed remarkable agility as he dashed from Curtlestown to Lough Tay, tackling a challenging route of 15.1 km with an elevation gain of 680m. Donal's determination was evident as he completed the leg in a commendable time of 73 minutes and 39 seconds, over two minutes faster than last year.

Eadaoin Giltinan, Donal's wife and boss, as the team playfully acknowledged, embarked on Leg 3, gracefully maneuvering from Lough Tay to Oldbridge, an 8.3 km stretch with a gentle elevation gain of 126m, in an excellent time of 39 minutes and 52 seconds handing over to Diarmuid.

Diarmuid Collins, a former Inter Schools 1500m champion, took charge of Leg 4, conquering the 10 km stretch from Oldbridge to Glendalough. With a challenging elevation gain of 363m, Diarmuid's speed and endurance shone through, clocking in at 43 minutes and 36 seconds.

Matt Horrigan, on Leg 5, traversed the scenic route from Glendalough to Glenmalure, covering a distance of 13 km and surmounting an elevation gain of 560m. Matt's steady pace resulted in a solid time of 57 minutes and 56 seconds.

Nick O'Donoghue, famously known for his love of coffee, fearlessly tackled Leg 6, traversing the demanding path from Glenmalure to Iron Bridge. Covering a distance of 12.7 km and battling a formidable elevation gain of 533m, Nick's impressive time of 57 minutes and 5 seconds enabled East Cork to claw back approx. a minute on both TT racers and Rathfarnham AC.

Leg 7 saw Tim O'Donoghue, embarked on a gruelling 20.4 km journey from Iron Bridge to Tinahely. With an elevation gain of 610m, Tim's experience and determination were evident as he completed the leg in a commendable time of 75 minutes and 23 seconds, propelling East Cork to a 1 minute and 53 second lead for final leg ahead of TT racers.
Fiona Santry, National Masters XC champion, fittingly took charge of the final leg, racing from Tinahely to Shillelagh, a 10 km course with a modest elevation gain of 147m. Fiona completed the final leg in an impressive time of 39 minutes and 28 seconds, ultimately securing East Cork AC's victory.

Tim O'Donoghue, the team captain, offered sage advice during a dinner at Lynhams of Laragh the night before. The advice basically consisted of don’t get lost, sage words none the less. The team's support crew, consisting of Eibhlin, Ger, and baby Briana, provided invaluable logistical support, in-race position updates, water bottles along the route and ferrying of finished runners. All of which ensured smooth transitions and boosted morale.

It is important to recognise the exceptional efforts of other teams who participated in the race. The TT Racers and Rathfarnham AC pushed East Cork AC to their limits, with all teams having their own battles and should be commended for their efforts. As the dust settled and the celebrations commenced, East Cork AC were delighted to secure a hard-fought victory at the 4th time of trying in 7 hours and 28 minutes.

Wicklow Way Relay 2023 – Kilcoole AC

Wicklow Way Relay 2023 – Kilcoole AC

It was a rainy night in February when I started accosting Kilcoole AC members on the track at the
Monday night session, I need some runners for the Wicklow Way Relay, not one person said no…. I
mean that was a good start, right? For this time as the last, I’d be back just to captain and try to get
the most out of the team. So, we ended up with a good mix of people from the last outing in 2019
where we came 4 th and a few newcomers but also some very good experienced IMRA runners too.
Its 5:20am on Saturday 10 th , the first of my 3 alarms go off, I’d even figured out the Garmin watch
alarm as a plan B. Thankfully I didn’t sleep in. 5:45am I’m picking up our leg one man and Relay
newbie, Reuben Whelan, as I pull up outside his house, I’m handed a perfectly prepared flat white,
this is gonna be a great day I’m thinking.
As captain, well for me anyway, it’s part of the job to be there from start to finish, it gives a
consistent level of support and ensures that information goes from leg to leg. And if you’re asking
people to go out and suffer those legs for the club, you at least should be with them along the way.

Leg 1
We arrive in Kilmashogue, early, before the queue starts, people trickle in, its great craic at the start
line, maybe not for the leg 1 runners, but there’s so many buddies, from Wicklow and Imra there, all
a part of this great occasion. Lots of other strong Kilcoole AC runners are on other teams also, great
to see.
7am and Reuben is away, the brief in the car on the way over was to let the first 3 do their own thing
and operate in around 5 th to 8 th . Well, an hour and 2 minutes later he is storming down into
Curtlestown in 5 th position, box ticked, what an animal. Everyone knows that leg 1 is stacked. When
you have a lad like Reuben we are part of the stack. I had issued him a time of 62 minutes the week
before, you cannot ask for any more than that. A latte and a 62-minute Leg 1, let’s keep Reuben on
the team for next year.

Leg 2
What can I say about this man Liam Vines, he was a late sub into the leg literally two weeks before as
Brian Gurrin got injured on an easy run with yours truly one evening. Liam had initially been helping
with the organisation but I tell you one thing, if there is one person you can turn to at the last
minute and say hey do you want to run some hills next week, big fecking hills, its Liam Vines. I mean
two days after asked him, he is over there on the leg even though nobody knows the WW like Liam.
When he told me he would drop is van up there the night before, I actually thought he was sleeping
up on the Wicklow Way, it wouldn’t surprise me. Again, for Liam I was secretly delighted he could
take part, this man doesn’t need to be managing anything, he needs to be throwing himself against
the toughest challenges on the hills, the legend. He gives me the thumbs up right before the tag with
Reuben, he’s got this, he is telling me, I know he does. An hour and 18 minutes later he his storming
down to the Lough Tay handover, I think 7 th best time of the day on leg 2, getting the better of a lot
of class runners on the leg. Box well and truly ticked.

Leg 3
Our first lady is up, and we are in the very lucky as a club to have the excellent Anna Michael in
Kilcoole AC, fresh from being Leinster Champion at Fraughen Rock Glen last week, a regular top
finished in the IMRA calendar this year. It really has been a delight to see Anna go from strength to
strength. Anna is not one to talk herself up, but everyone in our club raves about and admires how
good she is. The tag is made with Liam, and she is off sprinting back up the climb to the Wicklow
Way. Back in the car, driving over, Mark Byrne another legend is at the road where the WW pops
out, he is there to get her up that hill before she can hammer into the downhill to Oldbridge. Fair
play to Mark. Been injured for a long stretch but that doesn’t stop him helping us out and on the
WWR support is everything. The smallest thing you could say to a runner might be the making of
their performance.
Anna sets the leg record for the day in 36 mins, and an incredible 4:24 min/km pace. Now you have
an idea of her calibre. Absolutely astounding running. You can ask no more. Despite all this she will
say she is just a part of the team, it’s an impeccable attitude. I have no doubt that IMRA will be
seeing a lot more of her achievements in the coming months.

Leg 4
The tag is made and Darragh Flynn our only representative from the 2019 team is away… hasn’t
been at training much lately. But Darragh is that kind of talent that can do nothing for months and
turn up, do an 18 min 5k and act like it was totally normal to do that. Very annoying for people like
me training around the clock and getting nowhere fast! He had a few nerves about the new
handover point in Glendalough but that was it. He is off up the road delivering as he always does….
We drive up towards Laragh shortly after, he is already off the road an up attacking Paddock hill, a
great sign. We pause briefly to throw some stick at our buddy Conor O’Neill as he is running up that
horrible road climb …I’m sure he was glad to see us :) As we arrive at the car park at Glendalough,
rain is coming down, dissolving any tourist traffic that might have stopped us from getting in.

Leg 5
This is not cool, my summer straw hat is getting a bit soggy from this rain, not the plan at all. Our leg
5 runner Aubrey is there in the grass handover point. Then he’s gone, then I see him again, then he’s
gone again, then Darragh is minutes out, where’s Aubrey, stop buzzing around would ya. I think he’s
been at the sugar again. I know Aubrey will relish this leg, a tough 7km uphill, messy 2km of
boardwalk and humongous lethal stone steps, then the fastest 5km of your life back down to the
pub. He’s recce’d a few times, finding a rhythm that works for you on this leg is key in order to get
the best out of yourself. I did this leg a few times and loved it. Darragh is in sight, he’s running
straight towards me….. I point to Aubrey and the tag is made. Off he goes. Darragh just had enough
to compose himself and we are herding him towards the car. Drumgoff bound.

Leg 6
Drumgoff as always on relay day is buzzing when we arrive. Our excellent team marshal Philip is
there and gives us the formal speal of not to hang around the car park. We are about to get out of
the car when Darragh shows us his heels, or where his heels used to be as they are both hanging off.
I have to pause for a bit from making my crisp sandwiches so I can unsee that. He hobbles off to the
river to try cool off. Hopefully they grow back in time for next year. I look up the hill, somewhere up
there Aubrey is taming the shit out of that mountain. He will be down here soon on that delicious
dangerously fast road finish to the crossroads. Conor Nolan awaits. Conor joined us in Kilcoole AC
last year and has been doing so well in IMRA over the last year. When I put him in the relay group he
was a sub, what leg are you giving me Andy, erm 4,5 maybe 6….or 1….. he looks back and says ok.
Conor just wants to be there, doesn’t care what you throw at him. But as it worked out with injuries,
leg 6 I knew suited him perfectly. I hear the call from our support up the road, Aubrey flying down
the road like a train, I’m like no cars better come to the crossroads. The tag is made, Aubrey
collapses onto the ground, a man who gave that leg everything thing he had, every ounce of energy
for the team. I go over to shake his hand but pause to take a photo of him in bits on the ground first.
Next years recruitment photo sorted. Kudos to that lad. Conor is already outta sight up that horrible
horrible first climb of leg 6. A few days previous I’d issued a time of 1:02 to Conor for leg 6, earlier
this morning I told him why, hey Conor, that was Ben Mooney’s time last time out…. I saw the fire
burning straight away. Those lads have been having some serious battles over the last while in the
M60 IMRA cat. Next stop Ironbridge and the usual meet up with the bro Mick. On the way over we
see David Power from Rathfarmham sitting in the grass monitoring the controversial 400m section
that caused all the grief last year, thankfully none of that crap is tainting this race. Mick will be
relieved that Ironbridge will be an argument free zone this year. As usual Mick has everything under
control, and arranged some much-needed parking so people could worry less about where to jam
their car in and more about their team position. Our leg 7 man Jordan is buzzing around nervously
but ready to go. Conor is descending that horrible hardcore trail to the river and the tag is made.
Conor doesn’t collapse in a heap like everyone else, shrugs off the effort like he was out for a picnic.

Leg 7 – It really is the short straw this leg, only mad people want it. Jordan asked me for this the first
time I told him about the relay…. I said okay…. The problem leg sorted. Result. But this leg today
really is the short straw, it’s so warm, it’s so long, it’s so hilly, but it’s also so Jordan. It wasn’t really
fair of me to put this leg on him, fairly new to the hills, but fairly good at it, had done a couple of
recces and did exactly the same thing I did a few times on leg 5, second guessing turns when you
know the way really. Liam is texting me, Jordan is back on course, I know he is doing is best, but
beating himself up, we will sort that out later. I ask Reuben and Damien to go to the bottom of the
wooden steps… such a cruel way to end 21k of hills, I knew he would need that extra boost to get up
them steps. Here he comes into view, he’s hurting but he is tough and will be the better for this
outing, I’m giving him abuse to get up the last hill, that’s my job. The tag is made and he is in a heap.
Running a 21k leg in a part of the world you’ve only seen twice at that speed is a huge ask, you got
the job done and that’s all the matters. Look at the competition that was on leg 7, absolutely
phenomenal athletes there.

Leg 8 – Over to Eileen, a new joiner to the club from Raheny Shamrocks last year, and its mostly
definitely a case of their loss and our gain. You never know how a road runner will react when you
point at a few hills and say we have a race, she said, that sounds great. The team effort seemed to
be the selling point… so I had initially grouped a team of 4 ladies, to help with recces then two would
run the relay. The evening before I had a subtle, I might be injured text from Eileen, of course I did
my job as captain and immediately said you’re not injured see you tomorrow. We drive on to
Shillelagh, she appears in the distance on the road, and we let a roar at her… flying she is. About 15
minutes the other 7 of the team along with supporters Brian, Damien, Philip and others are waiting
as Eileen rounds the final corner to the finish line at 8hrs and 15mins with 8 th place.
Our target had been to finish in the top 10. In terms of athletic clubs, we finished as the top Wicklow
club and for a small club gave a good account of ourselves. It was great to see an increased number
of clubs in the event and lots of club singlets on display. The Wicklow Way Relay is a beautiful but
cruel beast, to tame it, everything needs to go your way. The only way to get there is to keep trying
and Kilcoole AC will be back again. We have great support from our clubmates and friends on the
hills and the club WhatsApp was lit up following the tracker all day, it created a great buzz. Well
done to East Cork AC on their deserved win, it was also great running but not a podium place by
Brothers Pearse AC who stacked their runners well, a tip of the hat to great strategy. Well done to all
the other athletic clubs and combined teams too. I’ve said it before, the WWR is like a running party,
so if you like running and you like parties, this is the event of the year for you.

Thanks to the subs on the Group who did not run but allowed me to include them in the mix for the
planning, Collie, Damien, Brian, Mark, Davey, Orlaith and Linda. Big thanks to Philip for doing an
extended car park marshalling slot at Drumgoff, allowing us to concentrate on the race itself. Fair
play to you Philip. Thanks to the committee for the support as always and the Kilcoole AC family for
the huge support before during and after the race. Until next time.
Capt. Andy Hanney.


East Cork became the first Munster club to win the Wicklow Way Relay and by adding to their silver from last year they are now the fifth most successful team in the relay behind Rathfarnham, TT, Clonliffe and Setanta.

Their time? 8 minutes faster than their previous and while slower than Rathfarnham’s 2022 team by 2 minutes, it was done in more humid conditions.

East Cork were the only team on the day that did not lose position – they were 4th from leg 1 to 3, then 3rd from 4 to 6 and 1st on 7 and 8. Chasers Rathfarnham were the only team to not gain any places – they started first, dropped to 2nd on 4 and then to 3rd on 7.

The King of Leg 7 may have ‘cost his team 3 minutes’ (as he was reminded) but he recorded a record 5th victory on leg 7 holding the top-2 times on the 20.4 km version and the top-3 times on the 21.1 km version.
His five victories now matches Louis McCarthy’s record of 5 wins in the relay (all on leg 6).

On paper 21 teams ‘returned’ and 15 teams were ‘new’. Reality: many returning teams had been there before and many of the ‘returning’ teams were the same in name only!

11 teams lost position, 16 gained and 9 maintained their position on leg 8. The top-5 did not change at all on the final leg this year.
Why the odd gain/lost relationship? A lot of the teams at the bottom gained a ‘surprise spot’ as two teams were NC.

A few teams missed junctions and had to double back (fair play to them!) but special recognition to Raheny Shamrock’s who had two large detours (one on leg 5 and a much longer on leg 7) costing the team at least an extra 7 km. But they returned to the Wicklow Way as per Rule 7.

Wicklow’s Finest gained two spots on leg 2 but then started dropping spots: dropping to 7th on leg 3 and then losing place on the last four consecutive legs leaving them 13th. This was the reddest streak of the day. Second was Kilcoole who lost position on each of the last 3 legs.

This year we built a new metric: ‘expected time’. This looks at the average time it takes a team to complete each leg in proportion of the full journey. So generally it takes a team 16% of their time to do leg 8 and 8% to do leg 3 etc.

If a runner is much stronger than his team, he will show up as ahead of his team’s prediction. If a lot of such runners are on one leg it means that leg is very competitive.
This number was very stable on all legs ranging from 16 (making leg 4 the least competitive – partly because four runners extended it!) to 22 (making leg 8 nominally the most competitive).

As per tradition leg 2 sees the most overtaking – 102 positions were gained and lost on this leg compared to leg 6 (the least active) with 37 position changes. Leg 1 is left out of this analysis.
We can only measure ‘net position changes’ (so we cannot see where a runner passes someone and is then repassed as this shows up as ‘0’ nor we can see when a runner passes someone and is then repassed by the same runner again later.

Leg 7 and 8 saw a nice bit of action too with 72 and 70 positional changes respectively.

Over the years, we have calculated a toughness score for each leg taking into account distance, terrain, and elevation.

This year we have added a NormalisedRanking based on converting this score to ‘flat 10k’ times. The formula is not yet perfect (but getting closer) and shows that leg 7 is the toughest followed by leg 2, leg 5, leg 1, leg 6, leg 4, leg 8 and leg 3 (pretty much what most people would guess!).

We had arguably the oldest field in the event’s history this year. Whether this factor – or the humidity – played a part in making the event the slowest since 2012, we don’t know.
This could partly be because of a large and broader field of runners: this year’s top-10 had an average finishing time of 8:04 which was the 7th highest in the twenty editions. The top-3 average was the 6th highest.

The winning time of 7:28 ranks 21st on the all-time list. Only once in the event’s history was a 7:28 not enough to win the event (Rathfarnham in 2016)

Because sample size is small (30-36 teams) one or two extraordinary times can leave a false impression. Take leg 5: on paper it looks like it got a lot slower than 2022 – but remove the slowest time (96 minutes) – and the leg is faster than 2022. In 2022 the slowest time was 96 minutes whereas 2023 had a 1:55 and a 2:08 finish.

The trendline remains down although times have been getting slower since 2015.

Average finishing times could suggest that quite competitive legs are actually poorer quality until you look at the top-3 and the top-10 average paces.

Leg 4 has a high average pace but it is easier to get into the top-3 and the top-10 where the average pace is slower than for all other legs except leg 2. A similar dynamic is on leg 3 – where the top-3 and top-10 average speed is slower than the much longer and tougher leg 1.
The fastest top-10 speed were unsurprisingly the ‘half road’ leg 8 followed by the runnable but long and tough leg 7. Third on that list was leg 5.

Using our new ‘Normalised 10k’ ranking, the highest standard of running was on leg 7, followed by leg 2 and leg 5 then leg 1, leg 6, leg 8, leg 4 and leg 4 which merely confirms that (on average) teams put stronger runners on tougher legs!

Generally to pass lots of runner you need: 1) an early leg and 2) a very fast runner. You can turbo-charge this by falling behind a good so that your very fast runner is passing out teams with runners that are a fair bit slower.

This was exemplified by Matthew McConnell on leg 2 who became the 2023 ‘Pass-Master- gaining 13 spots after his team Mountain Swifts had finished leg 1 in 22nd position. Matthew ran the fastest time on the leg on the day.

However, honourable mention should go to Valdas Tilunas who gained 8 spots on the same leg.

Conal Whelan’s impressive 54:24 is the fastest time recorded since leg 5 was lengthened by 200m last year but the overall record of 51:43 is objectively a faster time as there is a mere 200m difference between the leg then and the leg now.

Over the Hill was the most impressive new team (although with many ‘old faces’) finishing 5th. Running Coach Ireland (consisting mainly of relay debutantes) also made their mark with a 7th placed finish.

Leg 3 and leg 8 were won by Anna Michael and Ciara Hickey respectively with the top-4 on leg 8 being women.

This is not unprecedented – six women had won leg 3 in the 19 previous editions whereas it took women until 2017 to win leg 8 (when Laura O’Shaughnessy won). By the time Eadaoin McCavana took the second win in 2019 the top-4 women on leg 8 were women on the day. Laura McDonnell took the tally of leg 8 female wins to three..]

Niamh Devlin remains the only woman to win more than one leg in the relay (having won leg 3 twice).

No woman has ever won leg 1, 2, 5, 6 or 7. Kate Cronin and Karen O’Hanlon are the only women to ever win leg 4. Karen did so in a year when the second placed leg 4 runner was also a woman (Aoife Joyce).

With two female wins this year the total female wins in the relay are now 13 overall leg wins out of 160.

Look, we know a lot of teams are quite different from year to year even if they carry the same name and often what is labelled as club team is in actuality nothing of the sort (having several guest runners).

So is it fair to say drop in form? Probably not – but Trailrunners get to bear this cross having dropped from 5th to 14th position if we disregard Pearse Street Physio who suffered a bigger drop due to being ruled non-competitive.

Coffee and Buns gained 15 spots moving from 30th to 15th but this was largely due to them being put in the NC category last year. The real fairy tale was Brothers’ Pearse who improved from 12th to 4th.

Was informally won by Kilcoole ahead of Glendalough and Parnell but it may all have been very different without Darren Mooney’s bad injury on leg 1. We can only wonder what would have occurred has the planned Sli Cualann and Bray Runners team manifested.

There’s no getting around it: passing is all well and good but the two spots gained that mattered most where the two taken by Tim O’Donoghue on leg 7 – bringing East Cork from 3rd to 1st and building

Running Coach Ireland had the longest streak in the same position spending 6 legs in 6th position – the first five CONSECUTIVE.

Disregarding the ‘non-competitive teams’: Stealth Stones had the biggest dip of the day – starting in lofty 8th position before eventually dropping 18 places to 26th on leg 4 (they recovered to 25th). Irish Lights tied them: starting out in 18th before dropping to 34th midway (they finished 33rd).
No one gained more than Mountain Swifts who were moored in 22nd spot after leg 1 and reached their highest position at the very end: 6th.

Let us off at the Top.

Trailrunners is a group of 30 or so adventure-minded folk bound together in an old WhatsApp group primarily dedicated to sharing pictures of pints of Guinness (wine and lager shots tolerated but not encouraged) with occasional flurries of posts when one of us races, rows or climbs a mountain.

But, for one glorious day each year, we forsake our digital world for the physical one to participate in the Wicklow Way Relay. For such an adventurous bunch, it can be surprisingly difficult to convince eight to sign up. This year when the call went out, there was the usual deluge of pretty lame excuses like “I live in Australia”, “I’m eight months pregnant”, “it’s my brother’s wedding that day” and one lad even admitted (publicly) that he couldn’t race because “I’m going to a Coldplay gig…in Wales”.

With five Trailrunners eventually either guilted or press-ganged into submission, we applied a similar approach on the outside world until we secured our final race lineup*:

1. Mikey “Flier” Fry
2. Caoimhin “The Professor” MacMaolain
3. Aoife “Rob made me do it” McKernan
4. Brian “The Slug” Kitson
5. Rob “Golf Cap” Costello
6. Chris “Wilbilly” Willoughby
7. Warren “Cool Hand” Swords (Captain)
8. Nicola “win agin” Soraghan

*NB:- Had we a Headquarters I would have hung inspirational posters around the place to engender a sense of team spirit but we didn’t so I had to rely on assigning everyone the above fun nicknames to build camaraderie.

Last year, we managed a scarcely believable 5th-place finish. This result was only possible thanks to a forced bout of team abstinence due to the closure of every single pub in the country for the two years leading up to the race together with most of the faster teams managing to get themselves disqualified. Our ambitions this year were more modest and I’m pleased to write that our finish in the obscurity of the mid-table was intended and achieved. I thoroughly enjoyed my Leg 4 run but, “thanks” to my child’s birthday party, was unable to join the convoy of vehicles milling along backroads and boreens bound for Shillelagh like hurricane hunters in their desperate search for phone signal and tracker updates along the way.

The 20th edition of the Wicklow War Relay had it all: brilliant weather, top-class organisation, a fiercely contested race with a nail-biting finish, a hugely popular winning team, and, of course, a four-minute waist-belt video. It was such a great event, thanks so much to Jason, Rene, and all the volunteers for making it happen.

No hiding...

The Wicklow Way Relay (WWR) is my favourite running event. There’s lot of reasons why - the group chat banter, recces with teammates and the pints afterwards in Shillelagh. Though for me, a unique attraction is the pressure that only comes from running a relay. Put simply, there’s no hiding which encourages you to prepare and perform to the best of your ability.

Admittedly, I wasn’t fully embracing the pressure while toeing the line at Glenmalure.

In my years running the WWR for Rathfarnham there was always a decent gap between those ahead or behind me. Thus, it always felt a bit like a time trial.

This year was different.

First, TT Racers were less than a minute ahead of Rathfarnham and TT’s had to take a 30 second penalty so the gap would be mere seconds. Second, I often train with TTs, so I knew there wouldn’t be much in it between myself or Colm. Third, the opposition was strong, and every minute would count.

Consequently, I needed to take a riskier approach and try and make up some time, so I made it my business to catch Colm within the first 800m and push the pace up the first climb.

Colm did the sensible thing and stuck on my shoulder. I continued to push up the first board walk and on to the second climb. At this point my legs were hurting and Colm went 200m ahead. I was now questioning my approach, but I’d run the downhill sections well during my recce, so I tried to relax, take shorter steps and keep the cadence going.

Sure enough, as we descend towards the Military Road, I start to catch Colm. Down the boardwalk and on to the infamous grassy trail, I am on his heels and push ahead as we make the final climb.

My mind is telling me to make one final push, but I’m struggling. As Colm goes past, I again decide to focus on the final descent.

I slowly start to reel him in, but it’s not enough and after a great battle, Colm finishes a few seconds ahead of me at Ironbridge.

In the end, East Cork beat both TT’s and Rathfarnham with strong runs from Nick, Tim and Fiona on the final stages sealing a well-deserved victory. Rathfarnham were “knocked of our perch”, but the positive race experiences will keep us coming back for more.

Thanks to our captain David Power and particularly all the race organisers and volunteers.

The “other” David Power

This relay started for us several months. When the Le Cheile hierarchy looked at the calendar they quickly realised they had a problem. A lot of the “A” team would not be available through other commitments and a little matter of the World Championships, meant Plan B. At this time Bruce Willis (me) was working on an oil rig was tasked with putting together a team to save the world. Well not quite, I was tasked with pulling a team together for the Wicklow Way relay. Aerosmith music started playing as I called on some of our most reliable club members. It wasn’t easy but 8 of our finest men and women came forward. Some of them needed directions to Wicklow and others were afraid of heights. It didn’t stop them, it actually seemed to make everyone try a bit harder. The starting line up included 4 first timers, me who had only run once before, 2 experienced WWR pros and a recent national record breaker, expertly guided by some of the more experienced club members . It turned out to be the perfect combination to save the world. The lead up to the race was probably similar to every other teams, the recces, the trying to describe the road section on leg 6 “issue”, the confusion of trying to figure out lifts, the carry your own jacket or pass it along debate, the who can volunteer episode, the passing on of the many captains instructions and the video of the belt ( which was incredibly helpful btw). Anyway we made it to race day. The tension of saving the world was getting to many of the team and the group chat started hopping with last minute nerves, questions,. We all made it, our dot made it through the first leg in super quick time, leg 2 & 3 were never in doubt with 2 bankers. (At this time I was in Lough Dan taking instructions from a scout leader on how to bucket flush, I knew this was going to be a good day). Leg 4 was a newbie he flew it, smashing his recce time. I was leg 5 (tough) but ended with a pint of moonshine on Rene’s recommendation in glenmalure . Leg 6, 7 & 8 were all first timers who all put in times ahead of expectations. We came out with the 2nd best time for the club in the last 10 years.. and by total chance I met another chap called “David Power” at the finish, all to the back track of Aerosmith I Don’t Want to miss a Thing, with the 8 of us with our Le Cheile singlets hanging from our waists walking into the Carpark in Shillelagh. Great day out, we ll be back and stronger. Special thanks to all the volunteers who were immense especially at iron bridge with drinks and twixes (thanks so much) and for all the organising which was first class…

For the fast guys:)

5am fed animals jump in car meet Pete meet viv start race boom fast pace try keep up long winding hill up right turn up then down where am able to pass a few knowing I’ll be pasted again on road as I said Karl Brian pass me so much road eventually onto trail speed up a bit a few pass legs getting tired unfortunately knee starts to hurt keep going few more pass Angus goes past and says I see you and Pete struggling eventually downhill guy snots himself he’s ok I pass him head after Angus basically fully him till end horrible fire roads finish line at last off goes Caoimhin go go go team nice cup of tea chats then home mikey out…..

Mikey's report v2

My full report is published on my blog: Like the relay itself it's a long one.

The rapid fire report from race night is below...

Damn, I thought Mikey wasn't racing today so we'd miss his race report so I said I'll write a short free flowing report which it's fresh I'm just home on the couch watching Inter v Man City I don't want either to win maybe East Cork could get to Istanbul to cause an upset, anyway I disgress, couldn't sleep last night the neighbours had a party plus I had a 6am alarm call Luke call's off we go to Curtlestown park nice and tight see loads of faces Turlough Brian Ian Orla Bill Alexey Krystof Liam Noelie you name it there'll all there, waiting for the first runner, it's us Paul, great, topless fella 2nd back in car up to Esther and John at Lough Tay, nerves, Luke arrives 5 min lead, great, Esther heads off towards her home patch, we keep the lead, Oldbridge, John goes off, I drive his electric car, quick we get to Glendalough it's raining now lots of runners and tourists milling about I hope they don't block me on the bridge, I keep the sunglasses in the rain, off we go, Ronan out ahead, damn TT, neck and neck, he keeps a 30sec gap on me for the full trip up n over, off Ciaran goes, TT serve a time penalty, yay, i see the infamous leg 6 road vs grass patch and the 2 boys are trading the lead, damn Tim isn't far behind on leg 7, Louis leading but Tim is the GOAT on leg 7 so we drop to 3rd and Clare holds it up after waiting all day what a job, the buzz in the car park at the end is beautiful, chatting, mingling, everyone happy no matter where they came, prize giving we got 3rd delighted for East Cork, what warriors to come up every year, after last year, and take a valiant win, so much respect for them and they're all nice people too, actually didn't meet a bad person all day and that's over 250 people, plus I did meet the other "David Power" - now to the footballl, more nuanced thoughts tomorrow - if I don't get the sack, but at least Eoin has someone else to interview for the podcast