Tuesday, June 21, 2011

World Trail Champs Recce

On Saturday last I met up with some of my new teammates to run some of the course for this race which takes place in 3 weeks time in Connemara National Park. I'm certainly glad I made the trip because it acted as a bit of an eye opener as to what to expect on the day and allows me to plan how to tackle what will be a tough day's running.

Myself, Eoin, Dan and Keith set off from the disused farmers road that links Diamond Hill to the section on part of The 12 Bens. Being a 2 lap course I began imagining how this section might feel quite tiring the second time round. But with such variation throughout the course and some very high quality runners taking part (and that's just my own teammates, not to mention the competitors from overseas) there is a sense of excitement building about the race already. Dan took some quality snaps which can be viewed on his blog which I will post a link to later

Roll on the 9th of July

Friday, June 10, 2011

Malcolm McLoughlin Running Mizen to Malin

On the 3rd of July next, Malcolm McLoughlin will attempt to run from Mizen, the southernmost part of Ireland, to Malin at the other end all in the name of Autism. Pearl, Malcolm's daughter suffers from Autism and this is one of the ways Malcolm aims to raise awareness and funds to help sufferers of autism and their families. This is a journey of more than 580kms over 6 days passing through many towns and villages along the way so there is an opportunity for people to get out and join Malcolm and run some of the route with him. He will need all the help he can get on this epic journey and would certainly appreciate the company.
Details of his run can be seen on his website www.runningforpearl.com. The site also documents his family's journey so far and really gives an insight in to what this cause means to him. No doubt with this kind of motivation behind him, he will achieve this amazing feat of endurance.
Hopefully I will be able to join Malcolm for a few miles as he makes his way through County Cork in the initial days of the run

Good luck Malcolm!!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Carrauntoohil Mountain Race

Distance - 12.5km
Ascent - 1137 metres
Summit time - 56.53
Finish time - 1.29.44

This was my first time on this famous peak and it was well worth the wait. The day dawned quite overcast and murky outside and I could see from my bedroom window at the B&B that Carrauntoohil's peak was obscured by a thick vail of cloud. I had thought earlier in the week that we were going to be baked under a hot sun but there was no such luck.

Jeff, Mick and winner of this year's race, Jason Kehoe all stayed here too so there was a nice little posse making it's way along the windy backroads to find the farmer's yard that today was acting as a car park for participants. On arrival two things were clear. Firstly, there was going to be a strong field of runners taking part and secondly, this was probably going to be the toughest race I would have the pleasure of running on the IMRA calendar this year. That was pretty clear from the jagged, rugged walls of granite and grass that seemed to surround us as we readied ourselves for the off.

The race started on the Kerry way and followed this route on a number of switch backs before veering off to the right and continuing up and up and up. A quick little briefing was given by Vivian before we started and without warning we were given the off. I didn't even have time to start my watch. Straight away we were snaking along the track upwards and jostling for places. I settled in towards the front of the group. Barry Minnock set a ferocious pace on the ascent and had made a considerable lead for himself as the route veered away from the fence and towards a very narrow and rocky ridge. I had a few hairy moments here as it became very technical and dangerous underfoot. I lost a few places, having been third or fourth earlier on. My legs were also screaming for a break from the continuous uphill so the change in elevation profile, when it came, was welcome. Arriving at the summit it was hard to catch your breath with the gale blowing across the mountain. A happy band of hikers were up there savouring the amazing views but sadly we couldn't do the same. Whatever muscles were doing all the work on the way up were now getting the chance to recover (or at least that's what it felt like) and it felt great to be moving at pace again. There was some more uphill to be negotiated but the bulk of it was now behind us and it was just a matter of staying upright which at times I failed to do. I managed to make up a place on the way back only to be passed in turn by Tom Blackburn near the finish.

By all accounts it was a very exciting climax to the race up at the front with Jason Kehoe managing to overhaul the deficit between himself and Barry to take the win. Only 50 seconds seperated the top 5 runners with storming performances from Bernard Fortune, the Cleary brothers Rob and Stephen and last years winner Brian Furey. 

We got lucky with the weather too because the thick cloud that was sitting on top of Carrauntoohil from the previous evening, lifted to reveal the full extent of it's size and it stayed this way until we departed the scene. We refuelled in Cookie monsters cafe on the road just below the start line, which was badly needed after the effort.

Results and pictures are up on IMRA now

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Carrauntoohil and plans for the Summer

On Sunday the 5th of June the the race up Ireland's highest peak takes place, starting from the south side of the mountain on the Kerry Way and taking in the peaks of Curraghmore and Caher on the way. It is an IMRA Irish championship race and, given the history and lore of the mountain, is probably one of the biggest days on the mountain running calendar. The weather has been promised very favourable, which is a big plus for people like me who could manage to get themselves lost in their own back garden. Details and a map of the course can be seen here. I'm looking forward to some proper open mountain running in a lovely part of the world. I'll post a report on. ow things go next week.

I had planned on going up north next weekend for the Mourne Way Ultra but I have decided against this for a couple of reasons. The first being that I dont think I have fully recovered from The Wicklow Way run and secondly and probably more importantly, I want to be ready and not all raced out for the World Trail Championships  which I have been selected to run in. I am very grateful for the opportunity and hope I can prove I was worth selecting. The one downside to doing this race is that it is just 3 weeks before the Lakeland 100 which means that preparation for the latter may suffer. Still I wont get the opportunity too often so I better grab it when its there and as a consequence  the World Trail will definately take priority