Circuit of Glenmalure
28 November, 2009The Leinster Championship always offers at least one classic each year and this year it was the welcomed revival of the Circuit of Glenmalure. As good neighbors do, Roisin secured us permission to pass through a farmers land for the start and a perfect sized crowd of 38, started up the zig-zags on one of those rare, clear warm classic hazy lazy summer days. Though none of us had any plans for laziness for the next few hours.
Three of our number had been out training for most of the previous 24 hurs and had actually completed the entire course in the night for night naviagation practice. It had taken them 6 hours and we were all hoping to beat that time.
Gery Brady led the way up the zig-zags, followed closely by Eoin Keith (one of the 24 hour folks). The two distanced themselves from the pack and though Gerry got to the top first they did most of their descent together.
These races tend to clump people up and the second group of Martin Francis, Ruaraidh Stenson and 24 hour man Paul Mahon, swapped positions numerous times throughout the race.
After the ziz-zags the track leads moderately, but without any remorse, to the summit of Clohernagh. Those of us in the middle felt like we should be able to keep running , but the relentlessness of the climb , combined with the brutal sun (never thought I would say that about Ireland) reduced most of us to a walk.
From the top of Clohernagh the fun begins, if you are not too wrecked to enjoy it. With the clear weather the top of Lug was visible the whole way and much of the ground is flat and soft and the climbs are quite moderate all the way to plateau of Lugnaquilla. No time to stop and enjoy the view and there was knackers on quad bikes there anyway.
The ridge from Lug to Table Track would be a nightmare in the mist, but with the clear weather the few bad route choices were easily remedied. What could not be remedied was exhausted bodies slogging up the 120 meter climb to Camenabologue, the name of which as we discussed it on the way up kept sounding like bollocks. However, once that was crested it was all downhill to the finish.
Eoin and Gerry kept their gap from the others(and Eoin claims they had a pleasnt chat en-route) and ran together down table track, and 100 meters from the finish, Eoin put on a spurt and pulled away from his former Mourne Mountain partner for a 3 second win. Gerry was second and first over 40 (though he runs in the M50 category). Martin Francis used his road speed to leave his two partners a few seconds behind on the Table track to take thrid place.
Roisin McDonnell (the third 24 hour person) was a clear winner in the woman's race with a strong climb up Camenabologue and then a fast run down Table track. Aisling Coppinger, back in action after some time away, had a solid run to be the second woman.
The rest of us trickled in and luckily the course did not return to the start, both because the road would have wrecked us further and because the finish was on a delightful stream crossing. Every finished took the plunge and it looked a little like a Hungarian health spa with all the bodies (though thinner than in Hungary) sprawled out in the pool, not moving at all.
A spirited prize-giving and recovery session at the Glenmalure Inn (no hornets on the day) topped off a perfect Sunday summer afternoon.
And then I got my email and here is an alternate report from further up the field by Ruaraidh Stenson, I guess both of us about to go want to leave something to remember us by.
The day started well and I can declare that the IMRA seat booking system works a treat as I bagged a lift from Barry ?shuttlebus? Tennyson. There was barely a cloud in the sky and his car thermometer registered 24 deg C, it was going to be a scorcher.
The race itself is a grueling 21km (according to the stats) hike up the zig-zags from Glenmalure and up to Clohernagh, then a flatish section before the final push to the summit of Lug. Down from Lug by whatever route (about 300m decent) before the final hill of the day up Camenabologue. From here it was down to the col before Table mountain before hot footing it down to follow the Avonbeg river to the ford crossing at the finish.
The start of the race in this series is quite a relaxed atmosphere as you pay your money and collect the number yourself, no fancy gazebo arrangements here.
38 runners set off up the zig-zigs and it was Gerry Brady followed by Eoin Keith leading the way, doing remarkably well after the all night training run up Lug with Paul and Roisin.
I tucked in behind Paul, after he sneakily forgot to tell us about the right turn he was taking letting us go the wrong way for a while. I was trying to conserve energy, this is a long race and I have been caught out before going too quickly at the start. Ears tell me Gerry has made a nav error (he doesn?t usually swear that loudly) and Eoin is level again.
However, all I can think about going up the first hill is where did all the flies come from. Not a breath of wind and the temperature is soaring and these damn flies are swarming around me. Don?t think anyone was immune to this.
Just trying to keep Paul Mahon in sight as he puts a good minute ahead of me. Martin Francis and another runner also pass but I just keep the same pace going.
On the way down from the summit it?s time to get a welcome stretch on the legs and see who is close behind. Mike Long is nearing the top so no time to look at the view (damn good by the way and I?m sure you could see Wales from the top.)
I get past Paul on the way down (try to play mind games by asking where he is going on his holidays) then it?s back up the next hill. As usual people start passing me again. No running here as its is just a wet bog all the way up. There appeared to be some misconception as to where the turn off is to go down from the col so I just follow Martin knowing the route he was taking was a slightly shorter one.
The decent takes quite a time, really uneven, no tracks and the feeling that I could end up waist deep between 2 grass humps. Great fun though and I make up some places again. Paul is back in sight and I pass him on the final decent. However knowing that Martin is strong on the flat gives cause for concern and rightly so as he passes me 2km before the finish which can?t come soon enough, I feel rotten. This soon passes as I join the Glenmalure bathers society in the river to cool off - far better place to finish that another 4 km down a tarred road which would have put a real dampener on the race.
Find out Eoin Keith won and Gerry Brady (M50) was second by only a few seconds. Martin Francis M40 was third.
As for the remainder of the runners, great cheers were given to all crossing the line and life really was quite pleasant again. Erucus Stewart groans in despair after realizing that Gerry Brady was in fact the 1st M50 but it all turned out sweet as he still received a prize.
Roisin (F40) shrugged off the effects of lack of sleep and took the ladies honours. She later confessed that the 2 hour ?rest? between adventure racing training and the race worked wonders although I still reckon it?s not the best preparation for a 21 km hill race.
All returned safely, although there were concerns that Philip Brennan requested a DNF because he didn?t want to increase his average winning percentage. Nothing like a few beers in Glenmalure Inn to soothe the ego!
As a note, given the heat of the day there was much discussion before the race as to how much, if any, water to bring. I am sitting here with a stinker of a dehydration headache so can only advise on days like this to bring lots of water - just make sure you put the lid on the camelbak securely so the whole contents don?t spill out before the start - Gerry Lawlor.