Irish Mountain
Running Association

Corvus Corax Direct Navigation Challenge


Pól Ó MurchúRuairí Short

Pól Ó Murchú

This being my first navigation challenge I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d consider myself quite capable of navigating, having completed other races where this was required such as the Stone cross to Lug relay and other such races. Of course what was missing from those races was the “challenge” bit. On arriving at Crone wood there appeared to be quite a good crowd about which was great to see more even than some of the usual weekend races or navigation type races. The day was fabulous and made for perfect conditions for a race like this. Earlier that morning I had filled my bag with water and then after considering the distance I emptied half of it out leaving a little under a litre. Even this I thought was too much for such a short run but thankfully I stopped there. I was glad of this later and could probably have drunk another litre on top of it.

We crowded around the start and then the maps were given out under strict instructions not to look at them until instructed to do so. A few took a quick sneaky peak at them but I don't think it gave any advantage at all. Then we were off. A quick look at the map and I decided to follow the path and trails as far as possible which should have left me just under the first checkpoint “the Crag”, of course once we were off about 5 minutes the crowd split and quite a number of people took off to the left over the stile and up the hill. A quick look at some of the people ahead made me think that they knew something I didn’t and of course followed suit. This was certainly the first mistake of the day. A number of others followed too. A quick glance behind and I could see Stuart Scott and Brendan Lawlor both of which I considered to be good navigators and reassured myself that this was the right choice. We followed the path so far and then it disappeared, leaving nothing but heather all around us.

Every now and then I’d come across a path and then as quickly as I found it it would disappear. For the most part it was fall, get up, struggle on, fall, get up, and keep going. Each fall gave a split second relief from the millions of flies that were now buzzing about my head. Unbelievably tough going. Total energy draining stuff. Every now and again you’d bump into someone else through the tall heather, many of these good navigators Mick Hanney, Joe Lalor, Richard Nunan and Dermot Murphy all falling about in the heather! This must be the right way I thought to myself! And this is meant to be the easy race of the series. Legs scraped to bit and stinging somewhat I battled on. Eventually I heard a shout up ahead and figured someone had found it and kept going. Sure enough there is was. Stamped my card and off I went. One down just as I was about to give up on the first one.

Off up towards Tonduff I went. It didn’t get any easier but the relief of finally having found the first one lifted me somewhat. I’d been up and down Tonduff before from pretty much every other direction except this way so I was happy enough thinking to myself that things would get easier once I got up to the top. It certainly did get a lot easier but now just over 2 hours into it and having spent the past 2 hours falling around in the heather it had taken a lot out of me. I could see the gamekeepers hut off in the distance but took a bearing all the same. You never know when you might need it. Off I went down Tonduff heading straight for the target I gained a couple of places here leaving Caitlin Bent and James Flanagan behind and I reached the gamekeepers hut feeling quite pleased with myself. Things were looking up.

The next checkpoint was the “Coffin Stone” on Djouce. I considered going up War hill for a moment as it has a decent enough path up and down but quickly dismissed this and decided to go straight instead. The way wasn’t too bad compared to the first part of the day and apart from some heather along the way was a nice enough route. At this stage I’d pretty much forgotten it was a race as I strolled along enjoying myself. No rush at all. Every now and then I’d find myself walking downhill and I’d have to remind myself to run. Found the Coffin Stone very easily and then the next choice I made was almost as bad as the first!

Looking at the map and also being vaguely familiar with the terrain between Djouce and Maulin I was favouring running up to the top of Djouce and down onto the Wicklow way. This would have been very runnable (even walkable on the uphill at least), fairly fast downhill giving a bit of time for recovery and also a break from all the bog, muck and heather and other stuff I’d just been through. Yes it added a bit of distance but I think it would have been worth it. Did I take this route? No not a chance. I spotted at least 3 other runners talking the direct route, Greg Byrne and Eavan Casey and I don’t know who the other runner was. I figured they were onto something and off I went. Aiming for the shoulder of Maulin I thought at least I’ll have the path up Maulin at the end although it was so short lived I reckon I might have been as well going straight if I was going this way . Got to the top of Maulin and got my card stamped. Woo hoo 4 stamps! I’m on the way. With the excitement of it all I almost took the wrong path off Maulin which would have added a fair bit of distance to my already long day. Off the back of maulin I headed straight down to the wall took a right and kept going until I found a gap in the wall. Just at the top of the Zig Zaggy bit I was stopped by a couple of mountain bikers who were looking for the best way back to Djouce. I was so tempted to send them the way I’d just come but even I couldn’t be that cruel! They started asking about the race and of course I stopped to have a chat and then spotted Greg coming down behind me. I was off again. Down the zig zaggy bit and then straight down along the stream and back onto the Wicklow way. I was quite happy to see the little yellow man guiding me home! Spotted another runner walking down the steps just before I turned right at the end. Another place back - woo hoo! As I ran into the car park cheered on by Philips cheering squad I was happy I’d stuck at it and got all the checkpoints along the way. What a race, what a day!Can't wait for the next!

Thank you so much to Philip and all the other helpers for such a wonderful day.

Ruairí Short

IMRA nav challenge.

Started in Crone car park. First control was up at the crag under Tonduff, I saw it and I immediately thought path... lots of other people didn't share that opinion and went up the stream earlier. I hit no.1 about 2m behind Declan McGrellis since he had found a better way up the little track in the middle of the leg.

no. 2 (gamekeeper's hut) was super tough to start with, I went straight up the crag to try and get out of the deep heather and gain height and then contour around, got a bit ahead of declan in this deep stuff here. looked back and still could see none of the other group behind so i thought they must be miles ahead, coming onto the ridge of no.2 i saw someone way off on the top of Tonduff and i thought it was one of the guys who had gone the same way as me to number 1. hit 2 just ahead of declan after jumping a lake that was too wide for him and headed off to the looming war hill.

I could not decide how to tackle the leg and in the end went straight over the top of war hill, as much because i had never been up it before as anything! lost a bit of time to declan who was running faster while i ate my energy gel and felt my lungs struggling from my cold. Apparently Dan Morrow was gaining on us as he went around the side but i never saw him. hit no.3 at the coffin stone about a minute behind declan and then i went up a gear.

4 was on maulin. it looked ominous and far away but i only had eyes for declan whom i promply caught with the little bit of descent and deep heather that he was struggling with. i then dropped him as we went over the crest down into the river, he was going much further right than me and i kept most of my height, down to the river and found a nice track to the gap. powered up maulin trying to get as much a gap as possible so he wouldn't be in contact with me for the descent and put time into me here. The marshal at the top said nothing so i thought i just had declan to beat and I was beind the rest of them.

took the track down by the stream to the finish and felt pretty tired on the track down to the finish and came in and apparently i was first! kinda happy with that really, first IMRA win!

Thanks to Philip Brennan for organising! It was great fun.

control: split: total:
1: 28:04 28:04
2: 34:28 1:02:32
3: 32:20 1:34:52
4: 26:54 2:01:46
finish: 11:34 2:13:20

You can see the map with my route choices at: