28 November, 2009The race up Lugnacoille through the Glen of Imal was the scene of last years epic battle between John Brooks and John Lenihan and through the years has gained a reputation as the race where you are most likely to get lost. With John Lenihan not able to make it we knew there would not be a repeat of last years battle but with a forecast of persistent showers there was a real worry for people descending to somewhere other than where they started.
We were very lucky that the weather held out during registration (and some people unwisely decided to run in just singlets, ignoring the warning about how fast the weather changes.) Our best piece of luck was that Joe Bent ascended the mountain as Summit Marshall and carried a few flags to mark the route off the summit. We were also lucky , that when the weather changed and the hail started coming down, the clouds did not come with it and visibility was good for most of the race.
With a shout of GO! From Nora, the race started up the trail towards the gate leading onto Camara Hill. Immediately John Brooks sped into a clear lead. Nobody present could live with this blistering start and the obvious disastrous consequences of any pursuit at this stage ensured that none ensued. Kevin Keane held second at this point followed by Colm Turner. Up Camara Hill and Brooks was still pulling away but at a slightly slower rate than before showing this steep section the respect it deserved. The battle to hold second position was heating up as Keane and Turner had broken clear of the rest of the field. Richard Rodgers on his own in fourth and likewise Peter O'Farrell in Fifth held their positions till the summit. There followed a group of Stephen Cunningham, Barry Minnock and Richard O'Donnell and a few places behind these Beth McClusky was climbing strongly.
During the less steep section after Camara hill Turner showing some of his tremendous ability and potential moved into second and had opened a gap over Keane at the start of the final steep climb up to the summit plateau. By this stage Brooks having upped the gap opening rate again had a large lead, and was visible to most only as a tiny speck framed against the backgroung of Lug. The heavens opened as Brooks reaching the summit monument with his commanding lead still intact. This shower ensured a treacherous enough descent and Brooks out clear was able descend comfortably and safely to take the win. Beth McClusky reached the turnaround in a similar time to her time of the previous year, very good going especially considering the softert/muckier conditions this year. She was forced into a cautious descent, however, by the combination of the slippery conditions and restricted vision due to the loss of a contact lens, leaving her also with a comfortable win.
Keane having climbed strongly on the final climb was clear in second with Turner retiring at this point after a very good climb and a third in the King of the mountains competition. Turner actually finished the course just behind his father Thomas Turner who was second in the M50 category. Keane was one of many runners to fall on the way down and he wisely eased back a bit towards the end for a comfortable second.
The good patient ascent by the group of Cunningham/Minnock/O'Donnell group had put them in range of all but Brooks and Keane at the summit. Richard O'Donnell, after a great descent passed 4 runners for an excellent third position. Cunningham, chasing O Donnell also had a very good descent finished 4th after catching Newcastle AC teammate and first M40 Richard Rodgers on the run in to the finish. Aaron Henry had an excellent run and was able to edge out Mike Long for second in the M40. Joan Flanagan , an infrequent visitor lately, used her great descending skills to finish as second woman and first over 40.
Although this was a Leinster race , there were quite a few entries from Munster. No where was this more evident than in the M50 category where the Munster trio of Joe Aherne, Thomas Turner and Matt Alexander all bested their counterparts from Leinster. Likewise in the M60 category David Hawcroft bested Danny Toye. Only Caitlin Bent in the F50/60 category and Mike Gomm in M70 produced the results for Leinster by wins in their categories.
The unofficial category of best tumble was won by Kevin Keane, who was described at the finish as ?so caked with mud only his eyes were sticking out.? Another finisher claimed to have taken Tommy?s tumble record for the season in a single race. It was that kind of day, but luckily most of the places where people fell were in the soft bog and I only saw one bloody knee.
A big thank you to Nora Lawlor, Mary McDermott and Simon Fairmanner for doing the finish and especially for Joe Bent for standing at the summit and putting up with the worst Lug can offer.
In addition to the results this was a King of the Mountain race and the results on top were:
1. John Brooks
2. Kevin Keane
3. Colm Turner
4. Richard Rodgers
5. Peter O'Farrell
6. Stephen Cunningham
7. Barry Minnock
8. Richard O'Donnell
9. Turlough Conway
10. Ross Alexander