Circuit of Glendalough
18 June, 2012My brother Padraig asked me a week ago to do this race as he wanted a bit of help with the navigation and apparently my membership of the scouts 30 years ago qualified me for the job. I told him that I wasn't fit enough to do this justice but he replied he just wanted to do the route, and pace wasn't important, a point he demonstrated by turning up at the start line with a camera to take a few snaps on the way around as he waited for me.
We started up the sodden and extremely steep front to Camaderry and reached the long steady climb to the peak in a group of 10 or so. By the time we had reached the peak itself the group has spread slightly and myself and Padraig were second last, looking at the backs of runners spreading all over the hill as they descended.
We had decided that we weren't up to evaluating the combination of elevation, distance and terrain to decide on the optimum route to Lugduff, decided to focus on the shortest straight down the mountain route to the footbridge over the river. A quick pause to glance at the compass to make sure descent was on line, and we were passed out and in last place. Peter O'Farrell described this as safe and fast. I found bog, mud, water, peat hags, deep holes and a herd of deer. I didn't find safe and fast.
At the bridge the peak of Lugduff was hidden, and another compass bearing was needed before heading up the hard slog to the top. Close to 300m of elevation in about 1km, with water pouring down the side. At this stage it was hard to see any other runners anywhere. At least the compass was working and we peaked the mountain close to the cairn.
The peak of Mullacor was visible in the distance on a beautiful clear day, and the barely visible boggy wet track was unneccessary as we descended as fast as our legs would go from Lugduff. The climb to Mullacor was only 100m or so but it could have been Carrautoohil the way my legs felt.
Over the top and descending we saw what appeared to be a runner in the distance veering left on the Derrybawn ridge. At least we werent the only ones left in the mountains. We set off in pursuit. Peter bemoaned the fact that the turn to Derrybawn was blindingly obvious, but we would have missed it too, if it wasn't for the directions taken from Moire Oâ€™Sullivans blog about turning at the second stile.
We continued as fast as we could along the flattish ridge to Derrybawn and as we approached the peak we had closed up on the other runner, finally passing him on the steep, wet, stony path descending back to the lake and avoiding last place. Crossing through the Glendalough day trippers we were happy to finish in just over 3 hours.
A paddle in the chilly waters of upper lake sorted out the worst of the muscle aches before heading back home to celebrate Fathers Day with the kids.
A beast of a race, with multiple peaks, rough terrain and a bit of navigation thrown in, I loved every minute of it. Thanks to everybody involved
18 June, 2012My first mucky steps into an IMRA Championship race, without any red tape in sight.
The plan was to simply not get lost. Luckily, the weather played ball and the route was straight forward(ish) under such weather conditions.
Off we went with everyone choosing the direct trail up Camaderry. This was brutal on the legs. I had started in around 8th but was losing places all the way up to Camaderry east.
Eventually got the legs going in time for the fantastic descent. The hillside was soaking which made for a fun downhill. Most people seemed to be following the same line, crossing the river higher up from the footbridge. I had caught a small group in time for the sadistic climb up Lugduf. Relentless stuff but amazed to see a couple of people still running up it (Dermot Murphy leading the way).
Was feeling ok at the summit of Lugduf and the group was now beginning to stretch out. Pushed on a bit to Mullacor and began to catch a group of four who were going well. I would lose ground on the climbs but get it back on the flat/downhill sections. This yo-yo-ing went on for most of the race.
I was fortunate in that the group I was chasing knew their way and took all the correct turn offs without having to check a map. By the time we got to Derrybawn, I reckon less than a minute separated four runners. The last descent of the day was very technical and tricky, lots of rock, deep trenches and covered terrain. I took a few chances running on the heather before rejoining the track and managed to get a gap on the others.
Hit the paths back to the carpark and had a guess at which one to take. Luckily it was the right one and was flying down the steps by the waterfall with another runner right behind me. An agonising run across the car park and suddenly, Alan Ayling pops out from god knows where in front of me with about 200 metres to go. The mind says go for it, the legs say 'you'll be doing well not to get caught let alone catch someone.' Stagger across the line in a heap.
An exhilarating race across a fantastic route.
17 June, 2012A brilliant new circuit.
As Brendan O'Connor noted - it's a surprise this hasn't been run before but like all the best ideas it only becomes obvious once someone thinks of it.
Not one single entrant appeared to do any whit of a warm-up instead preferring to use the brutally steep first climb as the warm-up, it kinda makes sense I suppose.
Up and up and up past a very loud man looking for a snowy white doggie http://www.imra.ie/photos/view/id/62835/ and then fine clear views across loads of Wicklow and a steady pleasant run up to second proper summit before the best fun of the day, a fast fast safe splishy splashy descent to the river with lads taking all sorts of lines left, right and centre but all eventually converging again for a slog up to Lugduff where all of a sudden it appeared that a race was on and amazing views of the upper lake were being ignored off to the left.
Adrian in the lead, Bernard and myself within 10 seconds and Paul wasn't far back (his and Jeff's 12km pre-race run definitely not being a coherent short term plan but doubtless very much part of the bigger picture)
Another fast safe descent to the bottom of Mullacor brought the three of us together and then on the climb up Mullacor I made my fatal mistake for the day and moved into the lead.
The sight of clear blue sky and mucky browny/green ground, as opposed to Adrian's arse, obviously went straight to my head and sadly I just kept her lit, fired up the afterburners to try and hurt the lads and ran straight and straight and straight past the blindingly obvious left turn onto the last ridge. Even more sadly I took Bernard with me and behind us and off to our left Adrian continued into a fine lead with his mucky browny/green ground having the added benefit of being on the race course!
In a classic example of groupthink Bernard and myself convinced ourselves we were correct and kept going all the way to the next summit. whoops..
A disheartening countouring dropping meander back through unnessessarily high heather proved the last straw for me and I briefly lost the will to live. Bernard is having a great battle with Zoran for the overall championship and so with great determination managed to chase back and recover some places. A great pity for him as I would have fancied him to blitz the technical final descent and leave Adrian and me grasping for the minor places but that's all speculation now of course.
That's hill-running though and at least we only lost 15 minutes or so, I've ended up the wrong valley before :)
Thanks again to all the organisers and roll on Wednesday.