Stone Cross to Lug - Solo
Mudclaws, a love hate story
17 September, 2023 - Andy KeelingIt was clear waking up at 6am that the summer was indeed over. The soundtrack of consistant rain overnight had menacingly kept me awake. That and the dispare of the realisation that I was going to have to run 50k in inforgiving mudclaws, the only shoe I have with proper grip left after an action packed summer season. In a desperate attempt the previous day I had took a Scalpel to the lugs of my other, more comfortable runners to try square up rounded lugs and return some grip to them. But as the rain persisted, I knew it would be too little. The lugs were just too small for the slop of the uplands of Wicklow.
I get my gear ready and place my wide feet into the narrow mudclaws. "Sorry feet, going to ignore you now for the day until we get the job done".
Avril arrives to bring me to the start with John. We chat about previous stone cross races where the vis usually clears up around the half way point. Right?
At the start people are in good spirits. Jarlath gives us our briefing and then very immediately starts the race.
I start out up the road to the next gates into the forest with John and a few other runners, into the woods and up into the mist. Very soon apart from hearing some voices through the fog I'm on my own. Over Seahan and Corrig. The mudclaws feel OK, for now. I splodge to seafingan as the pools of mud and moss start getting bigger. On towards Kippure and I start wishing I had recced this section a bit more recently. Last time I was on this section was the race two years ago. It's a long way over to kippure. I keep an eye on the slope of the land either side and my compass to stay on top of the ridge. Eventually the Alien form of the mast starts to drift towards me in the mist. "Should I just take the service road?" I think. "Will the upper liffey be too swollen to cross?". Images of kayakers barrelling down the rapids enter my mind but I ignore them and hop off the road into the heather. My bearing takes me down and, the river isn't too bad. I cross over and hit the tarmac bend. The midclaws now out of their element, I clack flatfooted along the road. At Sally gap I raid my drop bag and am told I'm in the lead but they aren't far too behind. I scurry away and up Carrigvore. Best keep out of sight I think. I follow the trail as best I can along the bumpy ridge of mountains to east top. Resisting the urge to keep checking behind for the dread pirate Roberts on my tail. The fenced off bog area on the way to Mullacleavaun is a welcome position affirming landmark. Apart from Sally gap the vis has been no more than 100m in the race so far. I try keep the nav hat on and keep concentration up. Mullacleavaun and down towards the long ridge to tonelagee. I also wish I had visited this section for a more recent recce. I find the cliff path and loose the cliff path and find it again and loose it again. This goes on for a long time. So long that I'm convinced that I'm gone too far, that I'm heading left down towards lough Ouler. I take a right (wrong) and end up heading right over the ridge and off the south side. I realise I've messed up when I start seeing trees. The ground is rough heather and froghan mounds as I hike back up to the top of the ridge. I'm sure now that this has given other runners the opportunity to pass. "Ah, well, I gave it a go." I think "For one hot minute I was in the lead on an IMRA ultramarathon." Deflated I keep going up and over over Tonelagee. At the Wicklow gap I don't even ask how I'm doing. I'm sure that I've been passed and given my lead away. Jogging up turlough hill I'm getting tired. "Sure I'll keep going. Get to the end." No way of really knowing where everyone else is now in the mist.
More tarmac foot clack up to the communtcation hut. Still no vis to work with but at least I did recce this section the week before. Through the rough ground I somehow find the flat top of Conavalla and head down towards table track. Finally some visibility and I can see a km or more. I get onto the track and over Camenabologue. Pace has slowed now on the path to lug. I can see across to Camarahill and down to the finish. I manage little jogs but mainly I'm marching. I get over Cannow hill and the peacefull grassy silence of lug summit draws closer. The shadow of the cairn appears out of the mist. Looking at my watch I think "I'm actually doing OK here I think". But I'm still sure I have been passed and that the winner is already tucking into a creamy Fentons pint. I remember I was gifted a small bag of jelly bears from Maike at the start and tuck into them. They are delicious and wake me up for the rocky, grassy way home. "Fair play mudclaws, you pulled it out of the bag. I haven't slipped once" I think. Perhaps I was too harsh on you. I pass through the stile and onto the road. And I remember this final road is very hard and long. I change my mind. "F*#k you mudclaws!, you're so hard and flat and unforgiving. I'd be better off in flip flops now". I clack and stomp and start feeling every pain in my feet. But then, eventually, the final turn to Fentons arrives. I run to the benches where the crew are sitting and ask how many are in. Much to my surprise I am informed I'm first to get here. I don't really believe it. My first win. Delighted. I enjoy a pint and the chats and craic as all the other runners come in. What a special race. Massive thanks to Jarlath and crew who keep this one going. Not the best attended race on the calender but dear to all who have taken the plunge. Always the end of season highlight for me.
17 September, 2023 - Jarlath HynesFEMALE
1 O'Grady Maeve 221 F40 10.05.00
2 Challoner Avril 823 F35 10.12.00
2 cleary nicola 1354 F50 10.12.00
2 Harney Rachel 2499 F 10.12.00
1 Keeling Andy 1065 M40 6.59.20
2 Cloake Enda 310 M 7.18.00
3 Dunne David 421 M45 7.47.55
O'Donoghue Raghnall 1941 M45 8.20.15
Murray John 2466 M45 8.24.50
Dowling Jason 2132 M50 10.48.00
Morrogh Daniel 249 M40 DNS
Ryan Brendan 2552 M65 DNS
Tegart Roger 416 M50 DNS
1 McGuinness Gerry 380 M55 1.57.00
Forsyth Sean 648 M40 2.49.10
kenny liam 401 M35 3.01.40 7.47.50
2 Kennedy Alan 113 M55 1.57.15
Lawless Terry 642 M55 2.49.15
Hay Derek 417 M40 3.03.20 7.49.50
3 Jürgens Maike 1181 F35 2.50.00
Boehm Daniela 1209 F40 3.56.00
Syron Eoin 1240 M40 2.49.00 9.35.00
O Sullivan Michael 384 M55 2.22.00
Larkin Andrew 1092 M40 3.00.00
Higgins Sean 883 M50 3.03.00