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Long mountain races don’t attract many women. So I wasn’t surprised when I was the only lady registering for the noontime start of the Circuit of Brockagh race. The race promised 28 kilometres over three mountains with 1,372 metres of climb. Even the men were far and few between, put off by the apparent distances and navigational needs.

Myself and Niamh at the end of the Circuit of Brockagh - So who won the Ladies race? Courtesy of Juju Jay.

Myself and Niamh at the end of the Circuit of Brockagh – So who won the Ladies race? Courtesy of Juju Jay.

With five minutes to spare, a car speeds up to the start. A svelte and somewhat flustered Niamh O’Ceallaigh throws herself out of the passenger seat. “I’m so disorganised!” she mutters as she throws a map into her shorts and sprints past me towards registration.

It’s nice to have someone to pit yourself against. At the Glacial Lakes event two weeks ago, I had no other solo ladies to race me. But this time Niamh seemed happy enough to volunteer her services. I knew she had won the Wicklow Way Trail a few weeks before hand. And her ever decreasing size made her look like she might float up a mountain or two.

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I’ve always wanted to run the Glacial Lakes race since its inception in 2012. This year, I was finally in the right place at the right time, and was able to put in an entry.

Leaving Glendalough at 9am for the start of the 43km Glacial Lakes Race. Photo courtesy of Juju Jay.

Leaving Glendalough at 9am for the start of the 43km Glacial Lakes Race. Photo courtesy of Juju Jay.

IMRA’s Glacial Lake event is a 43km race with 1,783 metres of ups and downs. It is primarily designed for relay teams of four people, racing between lakes in four stages within the Wicklow Mountains. To add a bit more spice, individuals are given time bonuses if they are female or old. Elderly females are therefore graciously given the biggest and best bonuses.

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“Ah sure, it’ll be a bit of fun”. Fun? I never would have attached the word ‘fun’ to the term ‘duathlon’. But apparently that’s what my coach thought the duathlon would be. A bit of fun.

On the first 2 mile run leg of the Buncrana Duathlon. Photo courtesy of NWTC.

On the first 2 mile run leg of the Buncrana Duathlon. Photo courtesy of NWTC.

At his behest, I had entered the duathlon up north in Donegal’s Buncrana. It was a sprint event with a 2 mile run, then a 10 mile bike followed by a 2 mile run to finish off. It was seemed so short, so fast, and so painful. “Good training”, he said.

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It had been nearly 18 months since my last IMRA race. In the interim time, a baby and a move to Northern Ireland had put pay to my mountain racing days.

How to hurdle, mountain running style. Winner of Annacurra race showing it how it's done. Photo courtesy of Mick Hanney.

How to hurdle, mountain running style. Winner of Annacurra race showing it how it’s done. Photo courtesy of Mick Hanney.

But then Mick Hanney started posting pictures on Facebook. They were of rocks and mountains and muck and puddles. There were views from descents and trees to hurdle. It was too much to resist. I had to attend his mountain race.


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It’s that time of the year when Ireland’s Outsider Magazine puts together its People of the Year list. It’s their chance to celebrate those that have done incredible things on the Irish outdoor scene in 2013.

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This year has an incredible line-up:

Calvin Torrans (71) who continues to push the boundaries of Irish climbing – despite having smashed both his ankles in a fall two years ago.

Galway girl Katie McAnena (26), who became the first woman to surf the Jaws, the infamously gargantuan wave in Hawaii.

Henry Tindal (29) who cycled 28,800km solo from Ireland to Australia. He crossed Europe, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Southeast Asia, seven Indonesian islands and East Timor on the way.

Liam Delahunty (35) who was diagnosed with MS eight years ago and in 2013 set himself the challenge of completing 24 adventure races in 18 months.

And then there’s little old me…

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It’s hard to exercise when you’ve also a child to mind.

Baby tired out after 15km run in his Bob Revolution SE Running Buggy.

Baby tired out after 15km run in his Bob Revolution SE Running Buggy.

It’s a never-ending juggling act, trying to coordinate the following events to all coincide:

  • The child being in a good mood / preferably asleep.
  • Someone else to be around to look after said child.
  • The weather not being too cold or wet or windy.
  • It still being light outside – that’s 8 hours during Irish winter time.
  • And actually being in the right frame of mind yourself to do some exercise.

That said, there are a few tricks I’ve learned about how to still get some time to exercise whilst also being a new Mum.

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“I’m going to do an adventure race before my maternity leave is up.” It was a promise I made to myself before my baby was even born. It was a goal I needed to mentally make, something to get me back on my bike and back wearing my running shoes within a few weeks of the birth.

Heading up Croagh Patrick on the Sea to Summit Race. Photo courtesy of Damian Faulkner.

Heading up Croagh Patrick on the Sea to Summit Adventure Race. Photo courtesy of Damian Faulkner.

I initially signed up for the Rugged Peaks race in October, close to home up here in Donegal. But when it was cancelled at the last minute due to low entry numbers, I had to find another race to aim for. The only one left on the calendar was the Sea to Summit race. It was scheduled for the start of November in Westport, County Mayo. I had seen the photos from last year’s event, lads in skimpy triathlon suits running up the snow covered peak of Croagh Patrick. It looked cold and painful, but it would have to do.

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