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Posts Tagged ‘Mountain Running’

“Oh shit”, I thought. The grating noise just didn’t sound good. I looked down. My back wheel was making a really unhealthy sound each time I turned the pedal. This was not what I planned as I left my bike at Kate Kearney’s Cottage the night before the 70km Killarney Adventure Race. I poked and prodded at different metal bits for several minutes before concluding there was nothing I could do. “It could be just a bit of mud stuck from the day’s ceaseless rain”, I thought. “Or something much more serious”. I would just have to wait until the race to see.

Setting off on the 35km bike from Kate Kearney's Cottage to Muckross Lake. Photo courtesy of Marek Hajdasz.

Setting off on the 35km bike from Kate Kearney’s Cottage to Muckross Lake. Photo courtesy of Marek Hajdasz.

My rear wheel dilemma was made all the more stressful knowing who I was up against. Fiona Meade had entered the race, the 2014 National Road Racing Champion who had beaten me by over 20 minutes in last year’s Sea to Summit Adventure Race. Though Killarney’s course is well known to favour mountain runners, I couldn’t lose too much time on the second stage, a 35km cycle from Kate Kearney’s to Muckross Lake. A banjaxed wheel would be enough to hand Fiona the race.

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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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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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Since moving back home, I’ve had a chance to explore the corner of Ireland where I grew up. I now live on the Inishowen Peninsula, which is lodged on the north-west tip of Ireland. It houses the island’s most northerly point, Malin Head, as well as harbouring some of Ireland’s most rugged, wild countryside.

Peter Crommie, race winner, running down towards Carndonagh on the first leg of the Shore-to-Summit race.

Peter Crommie, race winner, running down towards Carndonagh on the first leg of the Shore-to-Summit race.

So when there was a chance to race across the Peninsula last weekend with Extreme North Events, I couldn’t help but sign up. Starting on the east coast’s Redcastle, the plan was to spend the next 62 kilometres biking, running, and kayaking across to Buncrana on the western side.

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“I see it is proposed to hold this years AGM in Clonmel (in County Tipperary). Who decided this and why? This to me is a recipe for a poorly attended AGM and is consequently undemocratic. 90% of IMRA’s activity and members are based near Dublin/Wicklow and the AGM has been held there for as long as I can remember – why change now?”

Enjoying running up Slievenamon, Tipperary’s “Woman’s Mountain”. Photo courtesy of Gerry Brady.

Such was the post that was left on the Irish Mountain Runners Association’s (IMRA) forum back in September 2012. It was a reasonable concern. The Annual General Meeting (AGM) is usually held in Glencormac Inn just south of Dublin, with a run around Powerscourt Ridge as a warm-up. Now they wanted Dublin-based people to drive two hours down to Tipperary and join their Munster mountain running compatriots. Little did they know that the enticement of running up and down Slievenamon would result in a decent turn-out.

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“We have to go out fast”, our team leader said. We all agreed. Looking around the room, there was some serious competition. Not only had Irish team “Get No Sleep” turned up, but there was a group of foreigners in our midst. They had to be good if they were sponsored by Salomon and had travelled all the way from Denmark just to race.

Night biking during CCAR’s Raid in the Sperrin Mountains.

We were in Northern Ireland’s Sperrin Mountains for CCAR’s Raid, a 24 hour adventure race on the cusp of winter time. We were prepared for 13 hours of darkness and wet, boggy mountains. We were even ready for the clocks going back by an hour in the middle of the night to mark the official beginning of winter.

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