03 June, 2014Ballincollig â€“ All that is good about mountain running..
1. It took place in Kerry. Iâ€™m completely biased when it comes to my native county. But itâ€™s good that the most mountainous county in Ireland and the home of a World Champion and legend of the sport gets another race. For those who lifted their heads, there was some wonderful scenery to take in across North Kerry and the Shannon Estuary. And it was good to have it in this corner of the county too. The Reeks and Brandon and Mangerton may be the big draws for climbers, walkers and runners around here, but this was a great challenge in the stamping ground of John Lenihan, the place he honed his craft. And if that doesnâ€™t inspire, nothing will.
2. I found the course extremely good, though I like the ones with variety over the straight up and down challenges. And this one had it all, a very short stint on tarred road before we moved to track, paths churned up by cattle, very steep open hillside, a lovely fast stretch across a ridge, back on to trails, and on to a second high point before a long fast descent.
3. It was very well marked. Not only with stakes and tape along the way but there must have been marshals at at least 10 different points. And even water stations.
4. The support was amazing, I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve ever seen so many photographers, kids out with cowbells, video cameras, people ferrying runners from the finish back to the pub afterwards...itâ€™s was lovely to see. It seemed like half of Kielduff turned up to pitch in, clearly a sign of the very high regard in which they hold John Lenihan and the affection for him.
4. All the usual good aspects of the sport, cheap entry, lots of good food afterwards in the company of a great bunch of people. One small thing spoke volumes for me, the run was advertised and 7km but turned out to be 7 miles or so. When the news filtered through, the unanimous reaction was laughter and that â€œarra letâ€™s get on with itâ€ healthy attitude I really like.
All in all, I really hope this one is kept on the calendar and more turn up next year to sample the Stacks Mountains.
Ballincollig race report
02 June, 2014 - Dermot MurphyIt was difficult to predict how many would turn up for this race the day after Carrauntoohil - would the body be up for it? The Cork Marathon and half marathon also rule it out for a good many of the local runners. The weather forecast wasn't the best either, but as it turned out, the weather was ideal and the expected rain never materialised. In the end, 17 turned up to race, although a few others missed the start by taking a wrong turn on the way up.
I was fairly stiff and sore from the previous days race, so I was hoping for a fairly easy start with the main field keeping together for the initial road section - I'd say most of the field was hoping for this too. However, Mike "Curley" Cunningham had other ideas and tore off from the start! Local runner, and fresher than the rest of us, Martin Dineen was only to happy to follow. Once the rest of the contenders realised Curley meant business, they all reluctantly followed - Bernard, Jason, Tom and Roland made up the chasing pack, with myself and Ger Griffin taking a more measured approach, realising we could not hope to keep up with the early pace.
The first 1500 meters or so were on tarmac road and we then turned on to a farm lane. This soon changed into a cattle track, until we met Eoghan McKenna guiding us up a straight line to the top of the mountain. This was the steepest part of the race, and myself and Ger had to walk this section. From the top, it was a lovely ridge run all the way down to the fire road, with spectacular views of Tralee Bay and the cloud covered Reeks off in the distance. Once we reached the fireroad, Ger started to pull away for me, as he got into his stride. Around the mountain we went, leaving the fire road for the fields, eventually meeting Eoghan again and heading back the way we came. When we reached the road - were the was great support from the locals with cattle bells and all! - we turned left up the road and had another road section for about a kilometer before taking a right turn on to a fire road through the forest. At the top of this hill, there were numerous windmills and just past these, the fire road had the perfect gradient for all out running. Even I managed to get a bit of speed up on this section. More spectacular views, if you could risk taking your eyes off the road. The road got rougher and steeper near the end, but with no one to put me under pressure at this stage, I managed to negotiate it safely enough, 10.3k in just under 55 minutes.
Curly did not let up at all and was well worth a win, about 10 minutes quicker than my own time, but there was a close, exciting battle between Jason, Bernard and Tom for second, third and forth, with Jason just edging out Bernard for second.
It was then back to the Glen Duff house for food and the prize giving. Hopefully we can see this race again next year and persuade more to come along - a worthy addition to the calendar in my opinion!