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

1 comment:

  1. I run past that B&B on a weekly basis on my runs around the lake - just not when my knee is dodgy.

    Sounds like a great weekend and well done on that mountain. I just promised Mick I'd do that race one day.

    I'd LOVE to be passed by Tom Blackburn near the finish - the only time I ever see him is disappearing into the distance right from the start, no matter if on the road or up a mountain.

    Oh, and luckily we did not disgrace your pacing slot in Cork.