Irish Mountain
Running Association

Your favourite IMRA race?

Alan AylingJan 23 2021, 5:05pmSo while we can't go and enjoy what we love just now, what's everyone's favourite IMRA race and why?

I'll start the ball rolling.

Nephin. How can so much be packed into 5 km?!!! As someone remarked, sure it's only a Parkrun! But it manages to squeeze the guts of 800 m ascent and descent into the bargain and features pretty much no trail whatsoever, just mountain. The climb is vicious and unrelenting, yet changing and beautiful (if you can spare the energy to look up and the mist isn't down). Across the top is fierce underfoot - it's all made of fist sized rocks, but not for long. Then begins one of the most epic descents we have in the calendar - rocky bits, soft bits, flat out bits, steep bits, downright kamikaze bits... good line choice is rewarded, many have got it spectacularly wrong (yes, I'm one, my first attempt at the race included a most wonderful view of Lough Conn, which was in the wrong place). The perfect gradient - you'd believe you could actually fly - yields to a flatter last couple of hundred metres, punctuated by two streams over which the weary hillrunner must leap with as much grace as s/he can manage... many a spill has happened in full view of those already at the finish. I've had some of my most memorable battles in 22 years' hillrunning down that descent and over those streams.
And of course, Nephin forms part of the most fun event of the year, the Connacht Champs weekend. The thing is not to be too hung over from the beach party. My preferred beverage for the purpose is hardly a secret at this stage... :-)

So go on and share your favourite race, cheer us all up :-)
Dave DochertyJan 23 2021, 11:56pmI’ve only done the Nephin race once in 2019. I should never have togged out for it. I had two frozen stumps for legs from going too hard on the Mweelrea race the day before and a deep hangover to boot from the beach party. I optimistically turned up at the start line thinking the climb will blow the cobwebs off and loosen me up and I’ll kill it on the decent, looks like a nice grassy bounce down and sure I’ll just follow someone who knows where they’re going. It’s only a parkrun they said!! The climb felt relentless and when it did finally relent I thought great time to open up, but the legs were shot. My optimism plummeted as I summited, the overheard advice from Eoin Keith, about making some seeming perfectly rational turns on this summit during mist can be lethal, haunted me as the visibility waned and the back of the pack passed me one after another. Those fist size stones were promising me at least one broken ankle and maybe even a smashed up face, so I adopted a Keyser Soze style shuffle while praying for a discarded zimmer frame to appear in front of me. The decent was my Everest, every step hurt with concrete quads and some very poor line choices just compounded the misery. A very welcome Marshal herded me to an easier spot to fall over the fence and with a gang of the girls cheering for Maike (who was hunting me down and doing great impressions of my attempt at running jumps over the streams) at the finish, was a lovely touch. But in hindsight it was great craic. Can’t wait for the next go at it. Thanks the memories Alan, albeit a bit dramatic.
Conor MurphyJan 24 2021, 9:14amOhhhhhh, this is one that changes regularly, in fact after so many races - most recently the Reeks Skyline - I've said "that's the best". And the Reeks is definitely hard to beat in terms of a challenge, 3 of the most famous ridges on the island, going over the highest mountain,'s memorable.

But for my favourite, I'd probably say Mangerton. Because it's all so...runnable, and it's just a height and distance I like. In races like the Skyline, inevitably there were hands on knees slogs, the ascent from the Devil's Ladder, the climb to Beenkeeragh. On the other hand, some of the shorter trail races are not that different from road races. But Mangerton can be run all the way, bar a short scramble above the Devil's Punch bowl, there's a great flat section at the top, and then the ears pinned back descent. It's a proper mountain race.
Mick HanneyJan 24 2021, 6:23pmSo many races, so many favorites. If I was to pick up, I'd selfishy pick a local race, that of Annagh hill. A bit like your choice Alan, it packs so much into a relatively short distance. From the initial lung-busting climb, to the muddy ridge run, the drop along the wall, the further lung-busting climb back up the far end with a gradient that has people hugging trees to stop themselves slipping back, the haul back up to the ridge and the energy sapping run for home (if you've managed to go the right way). Great views along the way too. Then, you have - in normal circumstances - a lovely snug pub with soup, sambos and chats a stones throw from the finish line. And, its only down the road from me :-)
Warren SwordsJan 25 2021, 3:01pmCoin toss between Ballinastoe and Ayling Abyss for me. Similar reasons, fantastic mixture of hard climbs and fast descents which results in fantastic racing.

Despite being on well-trodded hills around Djouce, the route designs are fantastic.

Ballinastoe reminds me of a rollercoaster. Slow steep climb to start, 220 metres of climb in 2km. As the top of the coaster approaches, everyone knows what is coming, so last minute surges to ensure you stay on the nearest train of runners before it hurtles over the other side.

Then it's a fast 4km twisty descent through bog, forest, water. You can lean into some of the turns but there isn't a metre of ground where you feel comfortable. Just have to wait until the rollercoasters runs out.

You finally bottom out and face the steep climb back out. It's particularly gruelling after 6km of hard running. The temptation to look over your shoulder grows. But the route opens for the first time, allowing to see who is front. In many respects, the real race starts now.

Another 2km steep climb on tired legs back to the wicklow way stile. Reaching the stile, the last effort to get the legs turning again before the final 2km and 227 metre plummet to the finish. Class race.

Similar with Ayline Abyss. Arguably the best descent in Leinster.

After hard climb to the summt, it's a straight race all the way down to the finish, dropping 540 metres in 4km.

The last drop through the forest has average grade of 30% but closer to 45% in places. Slalom down or use the trees to slow down. The last 200 metres of uphill to finish line feels particularly cruel, giving the legs a final wobble.

You'd missing racing all the same!
Hazel stapletonJan 25 2021, 6:20pmI am submitting an account of the Mototapu trail marathon in New Zealand as my favourite run. I am one of the older IMRA members, now in my 74th year. I participate mainly in the Munster spring league and half marathons. It fits in with a bit of hillwalking, mountain biking and duathlons.
Having a daughter, Rachel, resident in New Zealand with her family for the past twenty years has given my husband and myself the impetus to travel there regularly. On our visits we have taken on adventures such as the Routeburn and Queen Charlotte tracks. On our last visit, in early 2019, the target was the Mototapu trail marathon for Rachel and me.
This is a major event, starting at the Motatapu Station in high country near Wanaka and finishing at the historic mining town of Arrowtown. This area was first settled by Europeans during the gold rush of the 1860s. As a Co. Waterford resident, I wondered at such street names in Wanaka as Dungarvon Street and Helwick Street, Ardmore Street and Youghal Street and thought about early settlers and their yearning for an Ireland that they would not see again.
The race follows along a route early Maori used for hunting and transporting their precious pounamu (greenstone). It passes through the enormous Motatapu, Soho and Glencoe high country farm stations, which are opened to the public just once a year, for this weekend of running and MTB events. The latter section of the race drops down along an old miners’ track to finish in Arrowtown. A number of stream and river crossings are integral to the fun, as well as 1000 metres of ascent.
New Zealand South Island’s weather is dry, sunny and sharp in early March. An early start was signalled with a pre-sunrise bus ride to the starting point, a good distance into the countryside from Wanaka, going from tarmac to dirt road and eventually being expelled onto a hillside in the dark along with a few hundred other runners. The PA blared, welcoming us and giving directions; but in truth it was freezing, alien, with runners huddling in a loose mass for warmth. I looked around to see if my comfort zone was anywhere in sight, everyone looked so up for it. I counted fourteen females who seemed to be in my general age bracket, i.e., women over 60, and that gave me some heart.
As dawn was now breaking, we lined up and with a hug and a “see you at the finish” to Rachel, a hooter sounded, and off we trundled down a steep farm trail at a moderate pace. The first ten kilometres were over well-used farm tracks which were easy underfoot and, as the group thinned out, it was a most pleasant and relaxing run with gradual altitude gain over undulating terrain. We were progressing upward into a wide valley sweeping up to high ridges on both sides. It wasn’t long before I had wet feet from stream crossings, and this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. As the day wore on, multiple cold river and stream crossings kept my troublesome feet cool and in perfect working order.
Many parts of the course are inaccessible to vehicles so DNF is not to be contemplated; a medical emergency would require a helicopter. Four aid stations were placed at intervals where there was jeep access. At the first, a fancy dressed group of helpers dispensed water and good cheer. It was easy running for the first half, taking in the majestic scenery and a long line of runners stretching out ahead. I took a sandwich break at the half-way point and now the terrain began to change, vegetation was sparse except for a rough tufted grass, rather like that found coming off Mweelrea.
This grass had been cut to make running easier but, as it just lay on the ground, I found I was slipping backward on take-off, rather like running on light snow or slippery mud. This set my glutes growling and it continued for many kilometres. Eventually a gorge appearing to the right was the first indication that the terrain was changing, and it was now a matter of heading for the finish, still a good 10k away. In my innocence I thought this was going t be the easy bit, cruising downhill. Stopping for water at the penultimate aid station I was strongly advised: “do not think of stopping at the next aid station, we hear that it is full of sandflies”. At this point vegetations was dense on each side of this old miners’ track, the usual array of New Zealand bushes leaning over it, species that are oft seen in Irish gardens as decorative shrubs. On I trundled downward, ignoring the advice about the sandflies, stopping for just a minute but spending the next month scratching the many very itchy bite sites on my legs and face. With my glutes now howling, and my pace slowing as the descent was technical and rough underfoot, I was asked by a relief team in a jeep with giant wheels “how is your health”. In Ireland it would be “how’s it going”. The final section was the most unusual experience, consisting of crossings of six channels of the river Arrow, about knee high and up to 50 metres across. They were well-marshalled, and it was a matter of keeping an eye for a runner ahead to get a good line across. In one instance I was unsure and waited for another runner to come along. I was glad of my running pole as the riverbeds were very stony and a fall would be unpleasant.
The blaring sound of the finishing line was music to my ears as I emerged from the last river where I was met by three grandchildren, one brandishing a cow bell, another trying to run with his pockets laden with river pebbles, and a third dragging me along to the finish by my running pole. The rest of the family cheered me in, son-in-law, husband and an ice-cream-filled toddler. Rachel was home 90 minutes earlier, describing it as a lovely, easy run. I was satisfied to see 40 coming in after me including a handful of over 60’s. A great day out, but I must confess to having been helped into the car!

Jeff SwordsJan 26 2021, 10:12amBallinastoe for me too. It's just so exhilarating and exciting, particularly the back of the course when you come into the boggy forest, ducking, diving and if unlucky, sinking, everywhere before exiting for the climb through the narrow trail which at first glance doesn't seem to exist.

It's the only course I've gotten lost on too, and I wasn't even racing. I was marshalling and demarking and when I got out of the boggy forest another marshal had demarked from there back. Couldn't find the course through the trees from there so I just made my way down to the road to Roundwood and ran back to the finish from there, meeting all the runners driving to the pub for pints on the way.

I've a soft spot for Scarr too because of the great long downhill from the summit all the way to the finish. Plus it was my first IMRA race.
Brian KitsonJan 26 2021, 10:55amThese are great; reading them provides some much needed escapism. I especially love Hazel's description of the Mototapu trail marathon. Inspiring stuff.
Maike JürgensJan 26 2021, 2:36pmthe Galtymore race is my favourite - never ending climbs and some decents i enjoy even though i much prefer going uphill. plus it has plenty of climb in reasonably little distance. and a bog to get stuck in and not too many rocks.
Mick HanneyJan 26 2021, 9:58pmSomething you don't hear too often in an IMRA context... :-)
"i much prefer going uphill"
Sarah BradyJan 27 2021, 9:55amI have two! The Slí Ultra and the Nagles half marathon. I've done the Slí twice, in cold but pretty ideal conditions in 2018 and the storm version in 2020 and I loved both! It's great because of the variety of the terrain, the history and (if you take away the storm and the floods) it's all very runnable for someone who is less keen on hands-on-knees climbing! The Nagles is a lovely uppy-downy route on nice trails with little or no road. With a bit of luck we'll be let back onto these fab routes at some stage this year. I think I will be too excited and even worse than usual at pacing myself. :)
Val JonesJan 27 2021, 8:29pmI haven't run outside Leinster, and there are plenty of routes in Leinster that I haven't done. However my favourite race is the Stone Cross to Lug relay. Its well beyond me at this stage to do the solo but I have done the 3 legs. They each have their good points, my preference is the 2nd leg, no real paths, 5 peaks with fairly steep climb, a choice depending on conditions of how to negotiate a bog, and a final flying descent off Tonlegee.
Laura FlynnFeb 2 2021, 6:48pmI’ve really enjoyed reading these. Probably because I haven’t been outside Ireland the past 12 months, I especially enjoyed Hazel’s account of her New Zealand adventure which I’ve added to my bucket list. I’ve also just ordered The Lonely Planet’s Epic Runs of the World so I can do some more armchair travelling.

In the hope of resurrecting the thread we’re offering a small prize to the most inspiring and entertaining. Following Hazel’s lead, it can be a mountain or trail race anywhere in the world.

One of my own favourites is the Slí Ghaeltacht from last February. On paper it sounds horrendous. There was a huge storm the night before. We were sure the race would be cancelled. We woke up the next morning. The huge storm was still blowing. The wind had blown over trees on the route so Robbie decided he’d get us to go around them instead of through them....this added 5k to the race. I was wrecked before we even started when I heard this. For most of the first few kms we were either knee-deep in muck or wading through “rivers” that had been streams the week before. I got an electric shock from a fence 1k in. I loved every bit of it though. The route was fantastic, the camaraderie and the legendary Munster hospitality was brilliant. The memory of it has sustained me through the last 9 months.
Miriam MaherFeb 3 2021, 10:33pmLove this thread, great idea Alan!

I’ll be back on with my favourite race - having trouble narrowing it down to just one...

But in the meantime, we’re adding another small prize for the best race memory posted by one of our juniors, which will cover anyone under 20!
Phil behanFeb 3 2021, 10:57pmFor me it’s Stone Cross to Lug in particular the second stage. The desolate trackless bog after Mullaghcleevaun and then seeing Tonlagee appear in the distance is always a thrill. Lug Na Collie too but purely for the downhill !!
Harry KilleenFeb 4 2021, 11:49amMy name is Harry. My first IMRA race was on the 22nd of July 2020. It was the Belmont, Little Sugar Loaf race. I was 8 years old at the time.

I have done 5 races so far. I always run the IMRA races with my mum.

I really enjoyed the John’s Hill, Killbrannish run on the 16th of August. It was a tough hilly run, made even more difficult because of the heavy thick fog. The fog was so dense that you could only see a few feet ahead of you. Me and mum had to be super careful to watch out for the race markers in case we got lost in the fog! The race brought us up right beside the windmills and you could only hear them and not see them because of the fog! It was a really really weird run! But I loved it!

I’m really looking forward to when the IMRA races return because I really enjoyed the ones I did!
Ellie KilleenFeb 4 2021, 11:50amMy name is Ellie and I started running IMRA races on the 22nd of July last year when I was 6 years old. I have loved all the races, but I really liked the Scalp run on the 6th of August because I had to climb up over really really high rocks and it was so difficult but still super fun.

I have run all the IMRA races with my Daddy but I ran the Devil’s Glen race on October 3rd with my Mam because my brother had a soccer game and my Daddy brought him. I really liked this race because the woods were lovely and I won a gorgeous prize from Niamh, the race director.

The Mount Leinster race on October 4th was really tough because it was such a stormy day. The wind and rain were really bad! I was blown all over the place and my Daddy had to hold onto me in case I was blown away! But I still had a great time!

I can’t wait for the IMRA races to return!
Justin ReaFeb 5 2021, 10:11amThis is like asking a parent to name their favourite child! I love them all :-)

If I had to pick though . . .

Of the LL races, probably Brockagh. That descent at the end is epic. Tired legs. Using gravity to the edge of control. Just bliss.

For LC, I loved the old Tonelagee route. Up and over, around the lake, brutal climb back and then another perfect gradient for run in to finish. The bog bath at the end was a bonus feature that some enjoyed more than others. Whoever thought the new start down Kevin's Way was a good idea, was deluded.

Now for Irish Champs races it gets hard to choose. Galtymore has that love/hate thing. Connaught champs is just so much fun (but maybe more so after the races). Carrauntoohil is the big daddy. Slieve Donard on a sunny day can't be beaten. Lug has Fentons. Nah. Can't choose ;-)
Peter O'FarrellFeb 8 2021, 1:13pmTicknock is the top
This thread has a sadly nostalgic feel to it and so it seems appropriate to pick Ticknock.
The likelihood is that Ticknock races are going to be rarer in the future with parking under huge pressure. A positive of the pandemic is that more and more people are discovering the gems on their doorsteps and my 5km radius encompasses Ticknock which has further coloured my appreciation.
With many variations of courses up on Ticknock in all four seasons of weather there’s a big history of routes and races to reminisce over. I run or cycle up there all the time, the masts and Fairy Castle are visible from my house and I always appreciate having a race a short cycle away. Ticknock really is a special place and the sooner it is officially designated a national park the better.
One of the best experiences up there was the Ticknock Tick Tock, a unique event within the annals of IMRA and dreamt up by Adrian Tucker, a mighty man and sadly missed. Two of the toughest courses I’ve ran were up there in heavy snow, some of the fastest non trial races were up there when the orienteering hotshots or Northern raiders came out to play for early season winter fun and fadó fadó I did my very first IMRA race up there, back when starting from the Blue Light was a viable option and I didn’t know where I was until I saw the finish line again.
In recent years I have volunteered a little on Ticknock and had great times trying to come up with short sharp routes (and second guess the weather forecast on occasion) as my love/hate relationship with the winter league continues.
It’s hard to pick a favourite route up there, they all blend into one mega amazing course in my head with a soundtrack of Donna Summer belting out ” I Feel Love ”, and because it’s in my head I am of course winning the race!
John GreeneFeb 8 2021, 4:49pmI always liked Bray Head, perhaps because it was my first race ...warm and sunny with no (natural) winds. We don't have many races high up looking out to sea. Perhaps I (we) are biased towards the first time.

Also the original Tonelagee course was epic.
Raymond CumminsFeb 12 2021, 2:00pmFor me there are two "Ballyhoura Moonlight Marathon Challenge" and "The Wicklow Way Race".

The Ballyhoura's is a great run and a chance to catch up people that I have not seen for a while. There's a great atmosphere. It's well worth the trip from Wicklow.

The Wicklow Way Race I suppose because I have spent so much time on the route over the last few years. There's such a great buzz around the race, and so much can happen over the 20 hours or so. The organisers, the racers, the volunteers and the crews along the way. I have experienced some great highs and lows.

It's great to read all about the different races here and what people enjoy.
Ken CowleyFeb 14 2021, 1:37pmGreat thread! If I had to pick just one IMRA race, it would have to be Lugnaquilla, because it's a nice test, has good views is a moderate distance and only requires a modest level of fitness, but mainly because it has one of those seemingly endless and endlessly runnable downhills! Others that I like include; Tonelagee (the various versions), Scarr (cos it was the 2nd one I ever did), Ballinastoe (it's like a 'greatest hits' of Wicklow/Dublin trail styles), Galtymore (savage and relentless), Annagh Hill (great variety), West Dublin Peaks (cos I designed it myself, and still can't believe how quickly the record tumbled). Also, like Peter - I have seriously fallen in love with the Ticknock region since the pandemic came along, there's much more to that place than meets the eye. Outside of IMRA, the Art O'Neill is everything people say it is and the 7 Peaks in the Mournes is a long, long knee-wrecker of a race. Outside of Ireland I've done some cracking mountain races in northern Spain (including one that I didn't realise til after it was over that the damn thing was higher than Carrauntoohil) but my favourite non-Irish race ever was probably the Old Man of Coniston in the Lake District. But not much beats a cracking LL or LC race, with all that Wicklow has to offer, and a social pint/coffee after..
Laura FlynnFeb 14 2021, 3:19pmThanks for all the contributions so far. We’ll let it run until this day week and the judging panel will begin their deliberations then with some nice prizes in store.
Keep them coming in the meantime, it’s nice to re-live the memories and to hear about races we never knew about.
Alice ClancyFeb 16 2021, 10:52pmThis is a great thread! Thanks Alan for starting it and to everyone else for all of your posts...reading them is keeping me going while I slog around the mud in my 5k!

I'm going to be greedy and choose three races: My favourite LL, my favourite race of 2020 when races were like hens teeth, and my favourite yet-to-be-completed race!

The best LL race has to be Seefingan...the short sharp start (until your lungs protest and you slow down to a trudge) eyeing the rifle range signs balefully until you get up to Seefin cairn...then launching into the grassy downhill and too quickly it turning to uphill as you slowly, slowly climb Seefingan (speaking as an 'enthusiastic' early starter here;-)...then when you get to the top, the views expanding towards Kippure and Dublin along the long saddle to Corrig (it's always been a gloriously sunny evening when I've raced this) ...that bouncy boggy stretch parcouring along peat hags between Seefingan and Corrig is my favourite part of any Imra race....then suddenly you are up Corrig at that pole and realising that the main start runners are gaining on you and your peace is about to be shattered by it now a race!....bounding down Corrig, up Seechon, as the sun starts to dip lower in the sky, then down the eroded trail and the cheers at the finish line starting to speed you up.....and truly at this point busting your lungs as you attempt to keep up and save face and sprint towards the finish line, into the rocks blocking the end of the track. Once you stop, it takes but a minute for all the midgies to gather on your forehead to congratulate you on an epic run! But one of the best parts of the Seefingan race is the chats as you walk back along the road as your calves start to seize and you promise yourself that you will do some stretching when you get to the car. (You never do those stretches as you are in a rush to get to the pub for the prizegiving and the chance of winning a flower pot in the raffle)

My favourite race of 2020 was the Galtee half marathon. The course, the impeccable Munster organization, matched only by the gloriously sunny weather and the quality of the chats during and after the race have all kept me going through the ensuing lockdown grimness...

And my favourite race yet to complete is that darn Galtee Crossing!! The course is an epic route, taking in everything the mountains can throw at you. I have unfinished business with this race after dnf-ing while the Galtees were hit by a storm that closely resembled the spin cycle of a washing machine in 2019....and am feckin determined to complete this race when it next occurs!
Miriam MaherFeb 18 2021, 8:26amNotes from the flatlands [title inspired/robbed from Alice Clancy]

Love this thread, has taken me this long to work out my favourite IMRA race - over 100 race experiences to choose from...the struggle was real.

But given our current restricted movements and in the context of needing to remind myself of the positives….my favourite LL IMRA race must be Trooperstown.

The out and back route to Boots. Spectacular mid-summer views of the Wicklow mountains. Meeting the leaders on their way back as we slogged out or greeting the leaders as we headed from the early start. Having mini battles with the other early starters or back of the packers. Ending the race in the river, one of the best race finish locations. Happy chats in the car park before heading to the pub or home.

Ran it with gratitude in 2013 a few weeks after a near catastrophic car crash left our family very shaken but mercifully intact. Ran it in tribute to my lovely cousin, Kevin, an accomplished ultra-runner who passed days before the 2015 race. Rolled my ankle on the dodgy shale descent in 2016 and was escorted back to the finish line in style by Niamh Garvey in her convertible.

One race, great memories, strong associations. Looking forward to getting back out to Trooperstown when better days come.

Thanks for starting this Alan:)

Angela FlynnFeb 18 2021, 8:00pmMy favourite IMRA race has to be my first IMRA race -The Sugarloaf Bowl 2010
So, to begin at the beginning.. . I happened to meet a young lady called Roisin at a conference and after being introduced to her, it was mentioned in passing that’ she does mountain running you know’ –( Well, of course she does, that makes sense – sure look at those long legs and that fabulous physique). And that was the first time I had ever heard about the sport of mountain running.
Moving on…. being bored studying at home one day I googled mountain running. The first search result that popped up was IMRA’s website. Luckily for me , the website was really easy to navigate. The next race on the calendar was Sugarloaf Bowl which included the end of season BBQ. I read through the information for beginners and noted that it suggested that you should be able to run 10 km in a hour and own a pair of trail shoes. Oh great, I thought, I can run 10 km. I had recently just done one , it being the Women’ mini Marathon. I know exactly what they mean…….
Without further ado, I emailed the committee and said that ‘as I live in Kilmacanogue and could run 10km in an hour and had a pair of trail shoes would I be ok to take part? Someone on the committee very kindly took the time to answer my query and said there were ‘plenty of people of your ability running and as I lived near I should come along’. Right so,…. tomorrow night it is. .
I can still remember turning up for registration at my local pub, knowing absolutely nobody. I was totally intimidated by all these runners and me wearing my finest (lidl) shorts with what I now know to be actual hiking trail shoes, I registered. ..
I was told to head to the start of the race at the GAA pitch. Well of course I could do that, sure am I not a local… would anyone else like directions? – I drilled the poor unfortunate, who happened to be heading up to the start at the same time as me. ‘What should I do in the race?’ ‘ how long will this take? ‘ how will I know where to go? and more importantly told him that I was from Kilmac you know and this is my first race and I’m from Kilmac you know and on and on and on I went………
He politely and wisely then suggested that I should head out on the course straight away and just give my own time in at the end – or ‘if I was confused just follow that woman in front of you’ (it was Kathleen Bent, I now know). And so, off I went huffing and puffing up the Sugarloaf -having never been aware of, let alone being on this route previously.
Eventually, I got to the top of the Sugarloaf and was absolutely delighted with myself. I said to the summit marshall –‘ I’m from Kilmac you know’ ‘ this is my first race, you know’ and ‘I didn’t know this route even existed -you know’
He very politely listened and offered me a sweet . I then said and this is genuinely true: ‘ so what do I do now’? He appeared to be vaguely amused by my question and pointed down the mountain I HAD just huffed and puffed my way up. He said…. ’well you just run down now’ and run down I did – my very first descent off a mountain was the Sugarloaf and I loved it. ‘This is deadly I thought’.. I get to run down a hill and no one is telling me to stop/slow down/be careful/you might fall.
By the time I got near the finish I was grinning from ear to ear, loving it, and feeling very smug with myself – well, that was shattered with a few mighty roars of ‘get out of the way’ ‘move off the track’ ‘move now’ ‘runners coming through’ etc (were they not talking about me?. I’m a runner, all of 1 10km mini marathon runner). What I was completely unaware of was that this was the last race of the Leinster League and the fight was on -podium places were at a premium. This was the Hunger Games and I was in the way. This is the biggest event on the calendar and the competition is fierce. ‘Oh sorry, I said’ – I’m new/this is my first IMRA race/ I’m from Kilmac you know. ..
I gave my time in and sauntered back to the pub where I was asked was I staying for the BBQ? -what BBQ? I stayed that night and have stayed ever since. …Thanks to all the volunteers who have made and continue to make IMRA such a special organization. And yes, I’m from Kilmac you know
David PowerFeb 19 2021, 9:29amWICKLOW WAY RELAY
My fireplace has a little set of granite plaques with little yellow men. They serve as lovely reminders of friendships, battles, adventures, recces, teammates, villages, boreens, maps, handovers, nerves, predictive timing, legs, getting lost, tension, ups and downs, games of cat and mouse, captain's looking stressed, last minute changes to line-ups, men vs women, men and women together, camaderie, young and old, novice runners and experienced warriors, familiar mountain trails, less well known hills. So many memories over the years. All finishing at a pub, where the rivalry and positions are only secondary. Everyone, no matter what team or leg, plus support crew, family and drivers, all feel like they've been part of something special. Hard to separate the dancer from the dance.
Stuart ScottFeb 19 2021, 11:26amAngela, that was very entertaining! "He very politely listened and offered me a sweet"...that's some summit marshal!
Rachel CinnsealachFeb 19 2021, 12:17pmWhen I think about all the IMRA races I’ve done, over 200 at this stage, it’s hard to pick pout which ones I enjoy the most. I thought hard and I’ve have to say I really enjoy the open mountain relay events. I think Stone Cross to Lug relay is my favourite event. I love being part of a team, I love my team being there when I’m leaving or arriving in, I love commuting down through the race, chatting to fellow competitors and seeing runners arriving in elated after their runs, or hearing stories about how the got lost! I love the prize giving at the end, and the pints in Fentons sometimes accompanied by a BBQ.
I’ve done it three times and I was Race director for it one. Each time I loved it. Each time, I’d do the race with anticipation and nervousness! I was well aware that I was going to be out on my own in the middle of the mountains and relying on my own navigational skills. The first two times I did it, I choose to do leg one. My first time was 2nd of October 2011, Philip Brennan was busy checking gear before the start. The race began at 8.00 am, and the runners took off, I was at the back of the field. I had recced it the week before, so I knew where I was going, through the forest and up onto the top of Seahan, I met some other runners at there, who must have taken a longer way around! It was then across the open mountain, boggy and soft, to Corrig and onto Seefingan, I was comfortable and I was enjoying being in the mountains. The part from Seefingan to Kippure has many hollows and troughs, the mist was down and basically it was a matter of relying on the compass to make sure you were going in the correct direction. I was basically at the summit of Kippure before I could see the masts! It is a little scary being on your own, but also very satisfying, I then had the decision of taking the road or going as the crow flies…. I went as the crow flies, Bad mistake! The ground was very uneven, I had real difficulty crossing the river and it took my forever to make my way to Sally gap. Upon arriving at the Gap, I was greeted by Brendan Doherty, who was there to welcome me in, I was last by a long shot, no-one was worried about me, I don’t know if this is a complement or an insult!!!! One way or another I was so elated at what I had achieved! I was ecstatic. The next year, I did the same leg again, this time I took the service road to the end, having learnt my lesson. The third time I did this race, I did leg two. Again, this was another step up for me! There was more navigating involved. It meant going across the Barnaslingan bog of death. One of the things I love about IMRA was that I could start early. My time would just be added to the overall relay time. This time, I met lots of other runners on route as the faster runners over took me. I still spent most of the time on my own out in the mountains, but it was great to have fellow runners pass by and have a quick “Hi, Well done” moment!
In 2018, I was Race director for the race, and we all headed back to the IMC hut for a slap-up meal cooked by Angela, after the pints in Fentons. I enjoyed race directing, almost as much as running in the event, did I ever tell anyone how much “I love IMRA”?. This is definitely a recommended event. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to run it in 2021.
Dave DochertyFeb 20 2021, 9:11pmReally enjoying this tread.

Ange, I didn't know you were from Kilmac?
Laura FlynnFeb 20 2021, 10:18pmLast call for entries. No mass tomorrow so you’ve plenty of time before midnight Sunday.
Really enjoyed reading everything so far, thanks everyone.
Laura FlynnFeb 22 2021, 11:04amThe results are in....

First the juniors:

We had two entries in this section and as it was impossible to separate them we’re going to give a prize each to Ellie and Harry Killeen.

There were 5 people involved in judging the main section each asked to give their top three. One name appeared in the list of all five... Angela Flynn. So first prize goes to Angela.

As Justin said in his piece, it was like being asked to choose your favourite child. Every piece was so well written and entertaining so thanks all for posting up and to Alan for starting it. I’m glad I didn’t have to make the decision on my own.

There were 4 other names which appeared in all lists so we applied a points system based on whether they were 1,2 or 3. On that basis second place goes to Hazel Stapleton and third to Alice Clancy.
Congratulations to you all.

If all of you would please email your addresses to I will post your prizes to you.
Graham K. BusheFeb 22 2021, 11:46amWell, Angela's address is Kilmac!
I think she may have mentioned that... :)

Well done everyone. There was a lot of great reading there.
Brendan LawlorFeb 22 2021, 12:59pmGreat entry Angela, deserved winner

Well done everyone else !
Robbie WilliamsFeb 23 2021, 8:02pmSlievenamon & Bweeng
Angela FlynnFeb 26 2021, 7:10pmGot a lovely voucher in the post today...delighted to win has certainly made up for all the races where I only ever get a raffle prize..thanks again to the committee.