Irish Mountain
Running Association

No Race Report

Barry MurrayMar 16 2021, 10:26amNo Race Report

I’ve always liked writing race reports and I know some of you like reading them.

I’ve realized over these past 6 months that there are a lot of things I like about races and how they are such an integral part of my life.

I’ve noticed that deleting races from my life schedule has unfortunately resulted in other important tangents being removed.

I understand there are many losses that have been and are being incurred by people in all forms over these past 12months. I am not attempting here to “cry me a river” just because I can’t do a race, but I simply want to share my feelings about a fundamental mountain runner’s joy in life and that is racing.

It’s not just the race itself and the excitement of taking part and the enjoyment of competing and comradery. As I mentioned, it is actually the beneficial effect on other parts of your life that having races on your calendar brings. I notice that simply knowing I have a race coming up is just something to look forward to. It then gives you focus on your training and enables you to plan the rest of your life around this. What this provides for me is something very crucial, it provides structure, and having structure in your life is something some of us need and value.

Knowing that say you have Maurice Mullins coming up at the end of March… for many of us , you set your sights on this in February. You can roughly or accurately (depending on the individual) plan your training for the next 6 weeks, you can plan any family events and you have something to drive you, motivate you and look forward to.

Now I know many people are good at adapting and are able to create an alternative like setting their own personal challenges. I have tried to break my own 10mile PB for example, I have even used Strava to get the coveted “crowns” as my motivation. But these things, for me anyway, are just not the same as having an official race on the calendar. They just don’t bring that same structure to your life as a race does.

I have been working with the parkrun organization to help get this going again as I am ED for Inch Beach parkrun. They commissioned a study last September through University of Canterbury. They showed that there was extremely low risk of outdoors transmission.

A very recent review of professional sports that have still taken place over the past 12 months – rugby, football and American footall, found that there was no a single case of on the field transmission. This is for full contact sports.

That would seem like very strong evidence to me, and I have worked in science based jobs for over 20yrs, that a non-contact outdoor sport, like running, should be allowed to take place. Not just for the strong irrefutable evidence that shows how low risk it is but also for the undeniable benefits it brings to peoples physical, mental health and general wellness as I described.

I would never be the type to light a firework and direct it at the Gardaí. However, when something is not right and it is detrimentally affecting my way of life, then I want to try and do something to correct it.

I hope by writing this that it resonates with others. I do hope that outdoors sports such as running are given “frontline” priority when it comes to restarting all sports. I just want to put a race date on my calendar so that I can get some better structure in my life.
John DurradMar 16 2021, 10:40amSure in the States a lot of races are in full swing from 80k to160km. Anywhere from 50 to 300 participants.
Crazy can’t small ones here.
Jenny Uí ShéMar 17 2021, 6:55amDear Barry thankyou for your message.
Your views resonate with me very much. Even my son who is 14 misses the races and often talks about them and the fun of going back to the pub for the raffle- he was lucky enough to win a few nice little things!
Experiences are what make up life. Lets hope we get some semblance of life back soon. I saw you on the Irish Enquiry being interviewed- very interesting.
Happy ST Patricks Day everyone. I guess we will all have to have our own little parade!
Aisling KirwanMar 18 2021, 9:27pmThanks Barry, couldn’t agree more. Like many I’ve been keeping busy with training but really miss the buzz and as you say the focus of an event. I’m hoping the Kerry way won’t have to be my first this year, considering it was my last. Here’s to a quick return to events
Ken CowleyMar 21 2021, 8:15amThat's a good post Barry, and I would agree with most of the comments on this thread so far. Obviously, our committee cannot engage in anything that would get us in trouble with the National Parks, Coillte or athletics bodies, but it would be great (if our input were to be asked for) if IMRA could perhaps lobby a little for the return of outdoor sport. As far as I know, many other countries in Europe and around the world do not have outdoor sport as completely shut down as we do in Ireland, IN PARTICULAR for children. My son is 6 and for much of the last year he has been locked out of his tennis, golf, GAA, football, swimming, and other activities. He said to me the other day that he would like to learn to swim. I had to remind him that the last time he was at a swimming lesson (Feb 2020) he had achieved one width of the pool on his own - in other words, he has forgotten that he knows how to swim! He also likes mountain running and having fun in the sea, both barred to him currently, due to us living in inner city Dublin.
The country is in a bad way, not just economically, socially and mentally, but also people are badly missing their sport. And so much sport could be done sensibly and safely in my view. Lets hope we get back to the hills soon, and that at the very least, he government will allow children (and maybe adults!) do some outdoor sport, plus get rid of the ridiculous 5km limit.
Final point, and disclaimer, I don't have much skin in this game myself any more, as I am moving to Switzerland shortly, a country with very few Covid restrictions, and a few mountains, I've heard..
Brendan LawlorMar 21 2021, 3:46pmAn alternative view on the curtailment of our races would be to see the 'glass half full'. As runners and athletes we have the tools (trainers, leggings and a rain jackets, and maybe a wrist watch as an optional extra) , the training and knowledge(well some of us), the ability and the motivation (mostly) to continue doing our sport despite the three major Covid lockdowns over the past year.

For sure runners have had to be creative and find new ways to do their thing, but unlike most other sports we haven't been shut down and anyone on Strava or Facebook can see that many IMRA members are carrying on as best they can.

Hopefully, things will improve with the Covid case numbers and related vaccination numbers soon and we can get a few races back on the calendar, but for now if you want to go for a run, go for a run!
Brendan LawlorMar 21 2021, 3:47pmbut unlike most other sports we haven't been shut down (with the obvious exception of our races)
Lorcan FarrellMar 21 2021, 9:51pmI couldn't agree more Barry. The hardest thing I have found during lockdown is the 5km travel limit which means that the hills are out of my range. Its not even that the hills are out of range but I fundamentally disagree with the travel limit for exercise and on a broader scale how lockdowns have been used and the lack of scientific justification for them but thats a different days discussion.

For me, a back of the pack runner, the racing keeps me honest in my training, i hate the feeling of lack of fitness especially at the start of the season so i usually up my game to avoid this. The thing i miss most is the social aspect of racing. I've never felt more at home with a group than with the people who frequent IMRA. Everyone is into it, everyone loves the anticipation, physical exertion, the buzz of getting to the finish line and the catchup and banter with friends at the after race get together. It is a mixture that is hard, if not impossible to find elsewhere.

The commitee have done a smashing job trying their best to get us out on the hills last year and I'm sure they will do the same this year. The thing Im finding difficult this lockdown and I've heard reflected from others is the "never ending" aspect of the current situation. I feel the government have an opportunity to audit and relax restrictions which pose little risk such as outdoor non-contact sport. Athletics, golf, tennis, cycling etc. and above all the complete removal of any travel restriction distance for exercise purposes. I would call on anyone who feels strongly about the above to contact your local TD's and present your thoughts with related quality studies and to make this correspondence a regular occurrence.

I cant wait to get back out on the hills and see all the gang again. For me racing in the hills (well, my back of the pack flailing!) is the ultimate expression of freedom. The exact opposite of where we're at with the current curtailment of our freedoms. Its hard not to feel pessimistic about how the rest of 2021 will go but keep strong, mind yourselves and exercise your freedoms with common sense and we'll hopefully be out the other side sooner rather than later.
Turlough ConwayMar 22 2021, 10:10pmCovid is airborne and we now know it’s a pandemic of buildings (and enclosed vehicles). It's spreads through inhaled infected air in these places. "Where the sun never enters, the doctor will".
That information should be enough knowledge to suppress the spread of the virus and greatly mitigate risk: avoid groups of people in these places, meet outside and mask/ventilate when you can't.

This means that if stopping the spread of the virus is desired around IMRA events we must focus most on the parts of the happening that occurs in these high risk areas. That would be car sharing, going to shops en route, etc. pub going etc.

People would of course trade these mild restrictions for the ability to race.

One sporting organization with a plan won't be enough though. To accelerate, all sporting organizations need to talk and coordinate then talk to Government.
IMRA is not in a bad place to start such a process what with the wide and diverse range of talented people in other sports and in wider society it possesses.
The key is mitigating the risks AROUND the event and being able to persuade (those with power to allow events) that the mitigation will be followed through. Any sporting org could then use such a template.
Turlough ConwayMar 23 2021, 11:45amTo back this up, NZ Director-General of Health Dr. Bloomfield (about 9 hrs ago):“I think over the last month or 2 in particular, probably 3 months, there’s been much more emergent evidence about the importance & the significance of airborne transmission of Coronavirus being a way that people become infected. And I think if we look at our more recent cases, the role of airborne or aerosolised transmission has been much more likely to have been the cause. And I think if we then retrospectively go back knowing what we know now, it was probably more likely the person who we initially thought it was through fomite transmission on the rubbish bin lid, it was aerosolised particles in the corridor"

Sorry to rabbit on, but the information should be useful. I support lockdown's as necessary given the alternatives. But we need to understand how infection spreads to reemerge from it safely. I agree with the OP that outdoor sports are relatively safe. To argue for early reopening the IMRA race goers must understand that what they do en route to and from these events may be more important, and IMRA should plan/communicate accordingly.

Happy to help with any plans.
John MurrayMar 23 2021, 11:53amOr we could ALL just do the right thing, have a little patience and STAY HOME!

Personally I've seen enough loved ones die unnecessarily since Christmas. People who had years left to live...gone!

It doesn't matter if an organised event outdoors is considered low risk or not, the simple fact is that when people step outside their front door the risk increases matter what risk mitigations levels are carried out to reduce transmission.

And you don't have to be involved in science in any way to see that when restrictions are eased...cases go up. Restrictions introduced...cases go down! When you allow movement of people it naturally increases transmission.

As for the 5km rule, I only have to look at the people I follow on Strava and Instagram to see that over 50% of these are consistently running or hiking way outside their 5km zone. Some driving miles across the county to go for a run! And if you own a bike it seems the 5km rule doesn't apply. I'm sick of seeing flocks of tourists coming out to Howth every weekend by bike and car.

Please...if anyone intends to break their 5km zone then hide it on Strava, and don't post it on Instagram or any other social media for two simple reasons:

1) It encourages others to do the same. If Joe Blogg isn't sticking to his 5km zone then why should I.

2) It's hard enough for those struggling to survive within the restrictions and seeing strava runs or fancy photos from peoples runs in the mountains is mentally difficult.

Have a little think before you post!

I also find it crazy that even 12 months on people are still trying to justify or argue that races or mass gatherings for the purpose of leisure should be considered. As Brendan said above, nobody has cut off our legs! We still have the ability to train and run. You are not DEAD!

Barry..if a Race Report is really what you miss, then why not write an account of something you have done in the last 12 months whether it be chasing a local Crown, virtual race or even personal challenge. I'm sure members would be interested in reading that!

Again, have a little more patience! It's not the end of the world for most...but it will be for some...
Paul O'GradyMar 23 2021, 12:22pmVery well said John.
Avril ChallonerMar 23 2021, 2:29pm100% agree John!
Paul SmythMar 23 2021, 2:44pmAbsolutely agree John. Well said.
Turlough ConwayMar 23 2021, 3:04pmI wouldn't advocate returning to racing myself at all before significant herd immunity kicks in later this year. Current knowledge of how the disease spreads will help us to return more safely (and slightly more speedily).
To highlight the first point the implications of an airborne virus should have necessitated a different approach to in school safety without which (it didn't happen) a return to school should not have happened IMO.
The knowledge that it spreads via touch, large droplets AND spreads around an enclosed area via aerisolized particles (eg from talking etc.) is disturbing. Yet, this knowledge allows us to adapt our behaviour, and also helps us understand why lockdowns happen.
Sympathy to all those who have lost loved ones.
Brendan LawlorMar 23 2021, 3:14pmHi John
Excellent contribution.. you hit several nails on their respective heads. Being one of the 10 permitted mourners at my Aunts funeral (not from Covid) in January certainly put things in perspective for me.

Condolences to anyone who has lost any family member or friend to this pandemic.
Barry MurrayMar 23 2021, 3:42pmHi John,

You have clearly missed the point I made about how this impacts on my life structure, not just writing Race Reports.

More importantly, you just applied a reductionist approach to one of the most complex public health scenario's we have all ever had to deal with. Your "Stay Home" argument lacks any scientific debate. Yet there are several studies already published that show lockdowns don't work. One paper here showing how lockdowns did not reduce mortalities and how the economic harms and underfunding of other health issues may outweigh the deaths lockdowns save -

"Research at the economic level of analysis points to the possibility that deaths associated with economic harms or underfunding of other health issues may outweigh the deaths that lockdowns save, and that the extremely high financial cost of lockdowns may have negative implications for overall population health in terms of diminished resources for other health issues."

There are several other studies that support these findings, suffice to say "Stay Home" is not an evidence based recommendation.

Cost-benefit analysis needs also deep scrutiny. I was only highlighting what I find is of benefit to me in terms of racing. I was also supporting this with evidence to show that this benefit is completely low risk.

I was also not telling anyone what to do. Yet you seem to tell us about how we should conduct our training apps, how much patience we should have and a completely unsubstantiated recommendation to stay home, in capitol letters.

Maybe you should think before you post.

My post w
Jeff SwordsMar 23 2021, 3:54pmWhile there is a valid argument as to how lockdowns can affect mental health, the WHO even acknowledge the profound affect it can have, there's no debating that they work when it comes to controlling and managing the spread.
John MurrayMar 23 2021, 4:22pmHi Barry,

I did not miss the point at all, I was just trying to be polite.

I'm sorry all this has a big impact on your life structure.

As for telling people what to do and pushing opinions/studies....please carry on!

Jenny Uí ShéMar 23 2021, 4:58pmHi Barry,

here is my number 0872799049,

please get in contact as would like to talk about this forum post.

I'm with you Barry 100%,

Laura FlynnMar 23 2021, 5:27pmIt’s interesting to hear the differing opinions here which are probably representative of the differing views across Irish society as a whole. One thing that is common to us all though and is our yearning to get back out there competing at whatever level we can or chose to do.

I’ve no doubt the Return to Sport Expert Group is aware of the various scientific studies mentioned in the posts and will surely be using these and lots of other stats and studies to guide us back. In fact, one of their members is former IMRA member and orienteerer Dr. Una May who would fully understand what’s involved in our sport and the relative risks of outdoor sports when compared with some others.

There is work going on with this body and with the many governing bodies of sport in Ireland. The big city commercial marathons are planning for Autumn events with large numbers but, I believe, with mask wearing and testing in place so thinks are looking positive.

We proved last Summer that we could run events safely and we got fantastic buy-in from the overwhelmingly majority of our members who were happy to live with the negatives of mask-wearing, solo-travelling and minimal mixing. Athletics Ireland, Coillte and National Parks really appreciated the effort we put in and the respect we showed in doing so.

As a committee, we have everything ready to go at relative short notice one we get the go-ahead. We plan to run a Race Director refresher course in the coming weeks so keep an eye out for it and please sign up if you have RDed before a recap and update on the new protocols introduced last year.
Finally, can I also express my condolences to any of our membership who have lost family members or friends during the past year due to COVID-19. May they rest in peace.
Laura FlynnMar 23 2021, 6:27pm... and I meant to add to Ken - best of luck to you and your family on the move to Switzerland.
Barry MurrayMar 23 2021, 8:17pmHi John

I shared my thoughts and studies that were relevant to my thoughts .. I never pushed anything .

Again, you are the one that has told us how we should use Strava, how we should all stay home and how we should have patience, as well as “thinking before you post”.

I haven’t told anyone to do anything.

So I never pushed anything in the first place nor am I now . I won’t carry on any further discussion here as none is needed, it’s plain for everyone to see what I wrote .

I will add, in reference to many of the other responses here, I am totally more concerned for our children regarding this matter than myself . It’s them we need to stand up for and get back to outdoors/exercise/competition first and foremost .