15 March, 2011TEAM RESULTS
1. St. Brigids 18 (1 Gerard Heery, 3 Robert Caffrey, 14 Eamonn Fitzsimon)
2. Sli Cualann 31 (6 Sean Dunne, 12 Colin Daly, 13 Robin Mooney)
3. Crusaders AC 128 (35 Oscar Nieto Cid, 44 Diarmuid O'Colmain, 49 Tony Berkery)
14 March, 2011A cool, showery spring morning brought out a sizeable crowd of 90 or so starters for this short spring league race up in Hellfire. Fortunately the rain held off for the race and the sun shone throughout. The accessibility, the length, and proximity of the race to Dublin made it the perfect introductory race to hill running for many of the starters. Peter Oâ€™Farrell described the route before race director Dermot Murphy went through the formalities and then off we went.
Itâ€™s straight up from the start in Hellfire so a good warm-up is important for this race. A pack of 6 made an early gap over the main field which was quickly strung out on the steep climb up the ride towards the Hellfire club. The group included me, Sean Dunne, Des Kennedy, Simon Mulvey, and St. Bridgidâ€™s Robert Caffrey and Gerard Heery. The legs and lungs were feeling fine on that initial climb so I pushed the pace a little to see who would stay with me. The extra injection of pace didnâ€™t seem to deter anyone and we all more or less summitted together. I found myself leading at this point which normally isnâ€™t part of my strategy, but it was a short race so no time for hanging around. I found myself acting as the wind-breaker on the run down the fireroad which wasnâ€™t a position I wanted to be in. I could count at least 3 or pairs of footsteps behind me, all happy for me to set the pace. I spotted my opportunity to build a lead on the boggy and rough descent through the trees and managed to build about a 20 metre gap by the bottom of the hill.
However it was short-lived. As we turned into the second climb I found that my legs had turned to jelly and I had nothing in the tank â€“ complete meltdown. I was going backwards with every stride and the group of 4 chasers quickly passed me. Maybe I was paying the price for my early enthusiasm. Itâ€™s at that point you start cursing yourself for undertraining or overtraining, for having a drink the night before or a myriad of other excuses, but thereâ€™s no point in overanalyzing it. Just suck it up, dig in and try to enjoy it. The climb up through the felled forest was energy sapping but a total credit to the course designers Jane and Graham, as this short race had every terrain imaginable.
On the upside, my difficulties gave me a good perspective on the interesting race that was developing in front of me. Des Kennedy was fighting it out with the St. Bridgidâ€™s men with Simon Mulvey showing some great tenacity on his first race to stay with them. A wrong turn on the final fireroad descent by the group could have changed the outcome had they not spotted their mistake. It didnâ€™t seem to affect the overall placings and I wasnâ€™t close enough to take advantage either. Anyway I had my own position to worry about with Sean Dunne closing in on me. Gerard Heery comfortably took the victory with Des Kennedy just holding off Robert Caffrey for second.
Iâ€™m afraid I cannot do justice to the significance of the dominant performance of Sarah Mulligan in the womenâ€™s race. Surely the performance of the day, her 11th place overall and 5 minute gap over second placed Ann Marie Egan deserves to be more than a footnote at the end of my report. Third place for Stephanie Barnewell made it another good day for IMRA debutants. Another strong run from James Alexander saw him comfortably take the junior race from Robin Mooney in second. Judging by the happy faces, mucky legs and post-race banter, the run was enjoyed by all and a credit to the volunteers.