Irish Mountain
Running Association

The Sugar Bowl


Eamonn HodgeRene BorgPeter O'Farrell

Eamonn Hodge

I arrived early with Feilim who was helping out Rachel with race registration. Rachel's car caught fire on the way to the Glencormac Inn with Conor O'Meara hoping it wasn't some of the barbequeing equipment that had spontaneously combusted. She survived the journey anyway. Somehow I got roped into helping the barbeque effort. Within a couple of minutes Alan Ayling, Dermot Murphy and myself were doing serious damage to approximately twenty bags of brown onions. I was relieved of my onion-chopping duty at around 7:10 and had time to change and do a bit of a warm up.

This race is one of the narrowest with some very long sections that are very much single track without any possibility of overtaking even if the person ahead is willing to let you by. I knew I'd have to stay up in the front group even if it meant being uncomfortable. Oddly though I felt pretty good for the first five minutes or so and was glad to have got first-mover advantage. Eoin Keith, Martin McDonald from North Laois, Turlough Conway (keeping a shrewd eye on me!), Niall Fox, Zoran Skrba and a few others were up the front. Zoran made a determined effort to hit the single track ahead before getting stuck behind a group. I was comfortable as long as I could stay close to Turlough and that there wasn't a gap between us. Greg Byrne was behind me and at a reasonably wide part took his opportunity to pass me and was never seen again.

I felt fatigue in the legs and was careful not to completely blow up on this section. It was early days yet. Tried to run hard on the flat sections but it was getting harder. Greg stretched the lead in front. The top guys were getting further away. Joe Mooney passed with some unintelligble words but the meaning was clear. Come on now! Get going! Very encouraging. He was stronger on this section. We progressed up the rocky section towards the cone. Met Peter O'Farrell marshalling. Up the right hand side of the gully I found myself not too far behind Joe Mooney. Literally climbing up with our hands and knees. Great craic. Got to the top and took a drink of water from Joe and Nora and left the rest with Niall McAlindon. Didn't get to have a look at the no-doubt incredible view.

Started the crazy descent and was quite happy to let Mikey Fry??? pass me. This is suicidal stuff. How does nobody get seriously injured on this part (actually is that where Sile Loughrey was injured? Hopefully I haven't typed too soon). Only one person passed me on the rocky descent and there didn't seem to be anybody *that* close to me. Joe had stretched his lead unfortunately. Peter and a few others gave a cheer and I was told I was running well and that there was catchable guys ahead. While I didn't really think I'd actually catch anybody it was nice to know that they weren't completely out of sight. Martin Francis was marshalling further along the route and was directing us to the narrower but smoother track to the left and also had some enouraging words. Everybody was very nice tonight.

I was still surprised not to have a torrent of people zooming by me. This is what usually happens.

I was looking out for the right turn to cut out the triangle which I had seen on the recce and thought it was fair game for the race (it was in the Charles Barrington Memorial race) but for the Sugar Bowl we had to continue right down the grassy track which was lovely and fast and take a 90 degree turn to the right.

See the blurry green and blue blob in the background? Well both of them passed me. Here they are slightly closer to John Shiels:

There was one guy approaching (Ian O'Kane) but I hit the narrow single track before him. There was a wider section that he passed me on and he was flying. He was wearing an IMRA top as well.

I glanced behind and thought I saw a flash of blue. Was this Mick? I didn't have time to figure out who it was. It didn't matter, had to keep fighting my way down the track. Trying to keep my feet moving fast and keeping the leg turnover high. Was thinking about the runners in the Born To Run book and trying not to land hard on my legs. Keep it quick, keep it fast. However my fast is fairly slow compared to the chasing pack of which Mick Hanney, Brian Caulfield, Jenny McCauley and others were members. I was fairly thundering down the narrow ferny paths (despite trying to be light-footed) looking for red and white tape whenever the track split and a decision had to be made. Running, running, running, swooping along, trusting that there wouldn't be loose stones or holes underfoot. It's such a narrow race it's very tough to place yourself properly. On the other hand if I held anybody up it's your fault for not being ahead of me at that point!

I glanced at a slight fork to the the right and dismissed it as I thought we should be veering left as we did last year. As soon as I took a few steps down this path I saw lots of red and white tape over to my right. "OTHER TRACK! OTHER TRACK!" I yelled back and Mick Hanny who had followed me down went back up the couple of steps and took up his rightful position ahead of me! The guy behind me was an absolute gent (Brian Caulfield) and allowed me on the track ahead of him allowing me to hold a position to attack Mick. Jenny didn't overtake me at that point but I've since discovered she was right there and even was about to follow along my incorrect route. At this stage of the race it dawned on me that the finish was probably up at the GAA club house like in the Charles Barrington race. I had told lots of people that we don't come back to the start, that we finish at a grassy area that arrives unexpected around a courner, so sorry about that folks!

We burst onto the road and I was ready to give everything I had for a sprint finish with Mick who would also be ready to sprint but the finish line came too early! It didn't go right up to the entrance. Darn it. Was hoping to sneak a win in front of Mick!

Jenny McCauley was first lady home and ruined Suzanne's perfect streak! Suzanne Kenny and Kate Cronin had a sprint finish to the end with Amidou trying to beat both girls.

Alan Ayling came sauntering in with nobody to sprint against. I'm guessing he stretched a lead on the fast descent. His usual rival Alan Collins decided to sprint against John Lanagan for a change. Great improvements from John from the start of the season.

There were some hectic sprints right at the end. Might be an idea to have a big long finishing chute right up to the GAA club which would allow room for the sprint finishes. The single track compacts runners into groups causing poor Jim Fitzharris lots of stress trying to sort out finishers!

Very exciting to watch though!

Feilim righted things by making sure Jack O'Toole was behind him. Jack got caught in the ol' Sugarloaf trick of queuing behind people. Very hard to seed yourself. You don't want to be ahead of people who are faster than you but worse is being caught behind a group of slower people. More race strategy to be used next time Jack!

Good to see Fiona Sexton back to the mountain running after an achilles injury. She had to ease herself back with a triathlon but sure nobody's perfect!

Stephen MacEoin took the tactic of "well, if I'm going to fall I might as well be moving fast at the time". I'll be injured either way. That's more of an attitude I need to take. Feilim was feeling quite good about getting to the top ahead of Stevo but Stevo "the maniac" MacEoin managed to throw himself down and put a big gap between them. However, he took a wrong turn somewhere in the madness and ended up on the road much further down from the finish. Disappointing. Bring a map and compass next time!

Thanks to Cliona for the Powerade and water at the end of the race. It was brilliant. I normally bring water (or Coke, or Club Orange or weissbier!) but the finish line was a decent walk back to the Glencormac Inn so it was nice to get some instant refreshment.

Thanks Rachel for race directing and for Jim Fitzharris to step in as laptop operator. I'll have to attend the next laptop training session. Thanks to all the volunteers for making it all happen!

I haven't mentioned the barbeque yet but obviously it was fantastic! I reckon I was first in line for seconds. Justin O'Keefe and Conor O'Meara took on a lot of stress and responsibility to feed us all last night so thanks a million for that! Enda made a comeback to the IMRA scene but it was more about flipping burgers than racing on tricky trails!

Post Scriptum:
Did anybody else nearly soil themselves when we came to the steep mud bank? I thought I was a goner at that point. Feilim reckoned he had a bit of a Wile E Coyote moment where he ran over the edge, was suspended in the air, legs cycling around uselessly before dropping back to earth.

Post Post Scriptum

Just saw the results - there's no way Mick was a full second ahead of me. 0.2 at the most!

Rene Borg


1. UCD 18 (4 Niall Fox, 6 Greg Byrne, 8 Zoran Skrba)
2. Rathfarnham WSAF 27 (3 Aaron O'Donohue, 5 Turlough Conway, 19 Colm Moran)
3. Boards AC 34 (1 Eoin Keith, 16 Mick Hanney, 17 Eamonn Hodge)
4. Sli Cualann 37 (9 Ben Mooney, 13 Robin Mooney, 15 Cormac Conroy)
5. The Kyrgyz Freedom Alliance 161 (22 John P O'Regan, 35 Viv Lavan, 104 Geraint Jones)
6. Glenasmole 249 (73 Thomas Galvin, 78 Ercus Stewart, 98 Mattie O'Malley)
7. Raheny Shamrocks 382 (113 David Brady, 134 Ciaran McGrath, 135 Mike Gomm)

1. Sli Cualann 34 (1 Jenny McCauley, 11 Aisling Renshaw, 22 Liz Ryan)

Peter O'Farrell

There were sweet views to be had from the sugar loaf, the tasty sight of runners near tumbling down the rocky scree that passes for a path on this section allowed those with fancy footwork and a disregard for the consequences to open up gaps on those with a more grounded approach to descending.
Eoin, Martin and Aaron all summited within seconds of each other and Eoin got most of his lead in the first 200m descending from the cone from my handy viewpoint. He had led the whole way showing strength to go with his descending skill on the night. Martin put up a valiant effort and pulled away from Aaron for a fine second place overall showing there is hope for us all as between them the first two home are at least 91 years old..
There's a phrase in the UK for (male) runners who get beaten by the ladies ~ "Mudged" ~ and many of our menfolk fell victim tonight to either the climbing prowess of Suzanne Kenny or the descending abilities of Jenny MaCauley.
Fresh from her excellent debut at the European Championships the new Clonliffe runner Suzanne had powered to a strong lead at the top of the cone only for Jenny to literally find a bigger gear and fly past on the descent. The results suggest another 4 men were saved by the very narrow singletrack from a Mudging at the hands of Jenny. Kate Cronin had a fantastic descent, closing quite a substantial gap on Suzanne but not quite able to pass on the final tight section of singletrack with both sprinting for the line and Suzanne shading it.
The BBQ afterwards was fantastic and thanks gain to all those who gave up their evening to feed the masses.
A special word of thanks must go to Rachel Cinncealach, not since a Race Director wrote off his car colliding with a deer en route to the start (and still making it in time to organise everything) have I heard such a tale as Rachel's amazing determination to make it to the race. Smoke, drama, kitchen aids, resolution!! Mere seconds from exploding into flames our hero pulled over, opened the bonnet, emptied a fire extinguisher into the thick smoke, secured assistance, fished out the offending piece of flammable material and then calmly continued on her way. CHAPEAU!!