[Race report by John Dempsey]
This is a new course starting and finishing on the steep side of the hill by the Gap pub. At 9k it’s not that long, but the climbs, especially the first one really pulls the legs off you. Everything seemed to go to plan on the day, except with one of the race favourites Eoin Keith tripping on the final descent and breaking his fibula – ouch! Other than that the course was great, the weather was fierce and the complimentary soup and rolls in the pub afterwards were savaged by the 135 runners. The race was won fairly comfortably in the end by Belpark triathlete Kevin Keane, who along with 2nd placed Peter O’Farrell had cycled down from Dublin to the race – a nice little duathlon for the two lads.
From the pub carpark the first climb is in full view and was all anyone was talking about beforehand, and it surely didn’t disappoint when we hit it. A long slow walk, run, walk to the top and I’d reckon I was about 12 minutes or that covering the first kilometer. Having ran the course before I was looking forward to recovering and picking up the speed running across the flat ridge up the top, but the howling wind made everyone work the full way until we ducked into the forest. Nice and sloppy, the going was fairly tough through the trees, before a long speedy downhill took us around the back of the hill and facing into a 2k climb back to the start of the ridge again. I lost a few of places here, and really need to get back running more hills.
Back to the ridge we had another slow climb back to the top of the ridge where now the wind was in our backs and swept us along towards home. There were several big pools of water along this path with different people opting to either skirt around them or straight through. The last one is the deepest with no way around so full steam ahead into the freezing water that was thigh deep. Just lovely to sap the energy and give you heavy legs before tackling the final series of descents to the finish line.
The first of these descents is back through the forest so visibility is pretty poor and underfoot is fairly lumpy, I ended up kicking a lot of rocks down this bit. Into pure muck at the bottom of this and around the side of the hill back out to the front before launching down the steepest downhill of the lot of them. The path here is mucky, very very steep and covered in broken branches from the Coillte forestry works there last year, you need to keep your wits about you and it was here that Eoin broke the bone in his leg.
Another sloppy flat bit brought us back to fireroad and the final descent which was really stoney and rough on the legs after all the muck before that.
Sprinting for the finish line I had a fight to hold onto my place but got there in the end.
Great course and a great race. These IMRA races are brilliant, and really good value. There’s one or two less tricky ones coming up in Wexford this summer like ‘Little Sliabh Bui’ before the big race on Mt Leinster on the 10th July, organised by Jane & Graham Porter. Would be great for the club to get a good turnout for that one, both to support Jane & Graham and to put in a good showing on ‘our mountain’ 😉
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