08 February, 2010
Content Warning- whatever this is it isnâ€™t a report. This is because (a) Iâ€™m pretty new to the races so know very few names/faces, (b) apart from the first and last 5 minutes I ran the race on my own so canâ€™t really comment on what everyone else was doing and (c) the lack of technical language to describe the course or anything to do with running. Having said that we all enjoy running, and ran the same route so you might recognize parts of my â€˜report.â€™
This was only my third race with IMRA but I dragged a newbie along for his first race so we had plenty to talk about on the way down. The only advice Iâ€™ve gathered so far was to go for broke on the downhill and to look 10ft ahead of you when youâ€™re running. I dutifully passed it on but we both agreed that it sounded suicidal rather than helpful so he said heâ€™d just take it easy instead. My previous races had been fairly wintry affairs but glorious sunshine greeted us when we arrived, definitely a good sign. The sheer number of people milling around at the start was also great to see. The wise old heads that had mentored me in my first couple of races thought my plan to go off at a quick pace was the right idea/spirit so armed to the teeth with good advice and a very helpful quick run down of the course from the race director I set off full of optimism.
I had got the impression that this race would be easier than Ticknock so I was quietly confident I could do well in this race. I felt my legs were pretty fresh and had also figured that the races would get gradually easier the more I did them so the plan was to stick with the leaders for as long as possible. After the opening dash, things settled down nicely with me leading the race briefly. Peter Oâ€™Farrell soon relieved me of that duty and after introducing himself proceeded to push on into the unknown. Around this time a number of things happened. My â€˜freshâ€™ legs proved to be an illusion, we came to the steepest part of any course Iâ€™ve ever run, and I became fixated on finding the junior course sign to give me some indication of how far weâ€™d gone. Jason Reid also floated past me and off he went in pursuit of the lead. Basically this is where I started to suffer and the idea of running the junior course became appealing. Not that I would have let myself turn around but seeing the 2.5k sign would have boosted the confidence. Alas it was well hidden. Finally conquering that stretch leaves me with aching legs, slipping in a very annoying marshy stretch, all the time trying not to lose sight of the blue and green tshirts in front of me. This turns to exhilaration as I turn right at the clearing and get into full flow on the descent. The path on this part was a joy to run on and I can still see the two lads up ahead of me so this is the high point of the race.
But all the time in the back of my head is the knowledge that Iâ€™m going to have to go up again. This is not a comforting thought but Iâ€™m not that far behind the front pair so things arenâ€™t too bad. I find with mountain running the best way to keep going is to convince myself that Iâ€™m almost done when I make it to the top of the last hill so thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m thinking as I look ominously up from the bottom of the hill. The path is tough going, my legs are committing mutiny instead of propelling me effortlessly up the mountain and instead of focusing on the now invisible pair in front of me the sounds of the runner, Eoin Brady, behind me are cause for concern. I have to walk at certain parts but manage to hold him off and then find some energy to pull away as I have the feeling we are coming to the top of the hill. One of the things Iâ€™ve enjoyed about the races so far is that I never have any idea what to expect but this also means I have a hard time figuring out how long is left or how bad the final climb is going to be. Given the descent we had already run I thought the last climb wasnâ€™t too bad so happy days going through the clearing and headed for home.
At this stage my legs are so knackered that Iâ€™m performing some sort of desperate panic driven charge down the mountain instead of running but it seems to be working. Another part of the races Iâ€™ve enjoyed so far is that every one has life endangering potential and Annacurra certainly didnâ€™t disappoint. Coming down the really steep part panic gave way to fear. I tried experimenting to see if landing toes first would be safer but settled on a heels first trying to brake and run and stay up style which may need some work but got me through OK. Having done the hard part I managed to convince myself a tunnel in the trees may actually be the right way to go. Clearly panic and fear had combined to produce delirium. Eoin came along to set me right and we dueled our way down the last stretch with Eoin showing that being able to run in the final stages is a distinct advantage. Crossing the line I was delighted with how the race went but couldnâ€™t believe how tough it was.
Thanks a mil to the organizers and volunteers over the last few races. The fact that everything runs so smoothly makes the whole experience much better. Really enjoying the races although I know thatâ€™s probably not too clear here, but like anyone who thinks running up and down mountains is a good idea Iâ€™m a glutton for punishment and will be back for more.
06 February, 2010A remarkable turnout of 172 people lined up for the 2010 Annacurra race. A sign of the growing popularity of hill running perhaps? A lot of road races would be very envious of such a good turnout - and all for a bargain basement price. Its great to see so many new faces on the hills on what turned out to be a fine day in the Wicklow hills, which the photos from John Shiels demonstrate.
Distance from Dublin besides, Annacurra is a perfect little venue for a race. A nice but mischievous hill and a village which has all the logistical factors for a race within sight of each other. The car parking beside the registration, beside the start line beside the pub, allied to a route that fairly self-contained. Happy days.
A small change to the route from last year was to have a major difference for runners. An extra kilometre doesnâ€™t sound much, but when it means you have to run the main hill twice by steep gradients and a steep technical downhill is added in instead of last years all trail downhill. All in all it was a good and fair challenge, even if people â€“ including yours truly â€“ were cursing the 2nd hill repeat whilst running it. If you can stick with it though the last downhill is glorious (an insanely fast stretch) and makes it all worthwhile.
Despite the turnout the hardy volunteers had everyone processed in time for the scheduled race start. Pretty damn good!
The race lead was a battle for the most part between Peter Oâ€™Farrell and Jason Reid. They ran side by side for much of the race on the 2 ascents. Jasonâ€™s club training at the moment was probably the difference in gaining the upper hand when the technical downhill turned onto the smooth fireroad for the fast closing stages of the race. Jason won in a great time of 44:53. His inaugural imra win if the imra records are correct. Peter was 2nd with Eoin Brady 3th, a fine result after his 2nd place in Ticknock 2 weeks back.
The ladies race was won by Karen Oâ€™Hanlon from Maynooth. Jenny McCauley wasnâ€™t too far behind and Kate Cronin was 3rd.
The category results are listed on the results tab. UCD were again dominant in the menâ€™s team for the 2nd race in a row. Sli Cualann and a solid Boards trio were next in line. Crusaders took the ladies team prize with no other challengers.
No 'Missing In Actions' today, helped in no small part by Diarmuidâ€™s race marking and the marshall on the hill. Thanks guys.
There was a good buzz afterwards in the Saltee bar in Annacurra. I could eat that pizza all day! Thanks to the Saltee, and to the volunteers. Iâ€™d encourage others to put their name forward to assist with forthcoming races. These races canâ€™t work without everyoneâ€™s help. Next up Tibradden on February 20th.
06 February, 2010TEAM RESULTS
1. UCD 12 12 (3 Eoin Brady, 4 Luke Kenny, 5 Tim Grummell)
2. Boards AC 35 (7 Mick Hanney, 11 Gary Condon, 17 Simon O'Dwyer
3. Sli Cualann 37 (6 Martin Francis, 8 Ben Mooney, 23 Cormac Oâ€™Ceallaigh)
4. Sportsworld 50 (12 Paul Mitchell, 18 Colm Kennedy, 20 Jakub Splawski)
5. GEN 244 (43 Alan Ayling, 71 Joe Lalor, 130 Brendan Doherty)
1. Crusaders AC 28 (8 Lornie Oâ€™Dwyer, 9 Mary Collins, 11 Niamh Oâ€™Ceallaigh)