Wicklow Way Ultra
Wicklow Way Ultra-Trust in your own self.
27 March, 2015 - Clare KeeleyI am not very good at running up mountains, in fact I just canâ€™t run up mountains, I donâ€™t like it at all. But, what I am good at is walking/hiking very fast up them and I just LOVE running down them as fast as I can.
Last Saturday was my second year in a row to have done the Wicklow Way Ultra and you know what? I think I am starting to love it.......
But it is hard work.
Saturday morning at Johnny Foxâ€™s was super social, there was the weather for it, warm and sunny (a cool enough breeze), hand-shakes and helloâ€™s, cheer off the early starters, sitting out, bums on bonnets, having the chat.
This year I wasnâ€™t as nervous, I knew what was ahead, I had felt great all the way along last year, this year should be fine...â€¦â€¦okay so I hadnâ€™t done as much hill work as last year and I started training later than I had hoped and I definitely missed out on a long run where I should have been doing one, itâ€™ll be grand, all I want to do is run it a bit faster than last yearâ€¦..good luck!
9.20am and we gather around for Dermotâ€™s race briefing, I am struck by the lack of women runners, I turned and had a good look around, could there have been seven, eight maybe nine? Iâ€™m not sure. I did spot a few girls at the early start too. Clapping, good lucks and we were offâ€¦.
Off up the road we went, the sun shining, all is good. Down to the left off the main road, a little smile as we are now officially on the Wicklow Way. Here goesâ€¦â€¦
The first climb up was fine, running a good section of it, taking off my layers of tops (I had gotten cold standing around waiting to start and layered up a bit too much) and trying to stuff them in my back pack. Temporary equipment failure for the next few miles as my jacket kept coming loose from the elastic straps of the backpack and I could feel it falling, doing my best to stuff it back while running as fast as I could down the trail after Prince Williams Seat, I then had to stop as I dropped gels and bars. Once I got going again all I could hear was a little creaking squeaking noise from inside my pack and it started to drive me nuts!
Although it seemed minor this got me addled and irritated and I proceeded to have a back to front, topsy-turvy race where the first 8-12 miles were pretty shitty to the point where I thought I might stop at the half way and get the bus back. I hit the bridge at the Glencree River 8 miles in at the same time as last year but I was already feeling tired, my stomach felt sick, my hands were completely swollen, my legs were not in the flow (I had skipped my ritual of a pre-race massage which I will never do again!) and more important, my head was not in the groove and I was getting really pissed offâ€¦.. with myself.
But this is the beauty of ultra- races that I most adore. The great adventure is not just getting up and down off those mountains and hills and getting to the finish but meeting yourself, your absolute own-self along the way. And trusting that person that you meet, that whatever decision you take will be the absolute and true one for you at that very moment on that very day, it is just you and your own self (in the depths of misery and total self-pity!)
So I made a decision and trusted myselfâ€¦..
I love it around Maulin and I started to feel better and at that point I knew I was going to continue and finish. It was around here that I met Pat Rogers and it was great to have a chat and although I didnâ€™t realise it at the time it was such a welcome distraction from my inner moaning, so thank you Pat!
I knew once I got over the other side of Djouce that there was a great runnable section down to Ballinastoe and I decided to look forward to seeing my friends come up on the trail and my goodies in my drop bag waiting for me.
So from thinking this is not my day, I canâ€™t do this today, to thinking you know what I am going to get this done, I just donâ€™t care now how long it takes me, to the realisation that I am now going to get to Ballinastoe ten minutes faster than last year, how the hell did that all happen in the last few miles from the Glencree River?!? This is what I love about ultra-races, its nuts!
Wow meeting the trail runnerâ€™s moments after they took off was like coming face to face with a herd of gazelles, I had to let out a roar a few times, in fairness it would be terrible to get trampled down after only just deciding to stay in the game! So I grabbed my drop bag and hit the trail for home eating on the move. I had no space at all in my pack so I pretty much ate everything in my goodie bag. Stuffed to the gills I hiked my way back up out of Ballinastoe, over Djouce and ran as fast as I could all the way down the other side.
All the way to Crone Woods car park was great, I took a drink of water and an apple and kept running knowing I could run all the way to the Glencree river bridge, along the river bank up to the grassy hill. It was around here that I realised if I kept at what I was at I would come in faster than+- last year.
Along the river bank there was a few of us running along- side each other, there was a bit of banter going on, my run/walking strategy was described as â€œstrollingâ€ by a fellow runner!
I took a couple of Jelly-Babies from Mick and his boys at Curtlestown, thank you! Up the last of the climbs, â€œstrollingâ€ as fast as I could up the hill. The excitement kicking in that this day, which started out so hard, was nearly over. The excitement kicking in that I was actually going to do it faster than last year. The excitement of trusting in yourself that all would be ok when you felt so terrible 20 miles ago, 20 MILES ago!!
I have a strategy for the day, walk/hike as fast as I can up the hills and run as fast as I can on the flats and the downs. It works well so when I got to the top of Prince Williams Seat I knew I could run fast down the hill to the finish. There are two things that I just love about this point in the race, coming around the corner and seeing the main road below through the trees, I could hear the cheering from the finish. Oh my god I am nearly there! And being a road runner normally, hitting the tarmac on the track downâ€¦â€¦bliss at 30.5 miles!
Up to the main road, maybe half a mile from the finish, I am working out in my head if I have half a mile left and I can go whatever pace then I might actually get this damn thing finished in-under 6 hours.â€¦.. 5hrs 58 minutes and I am finished a happy girl.
It can be hard to describe the day in a few wordsâ€¦.itâ€™s this crazy, adventurous, compellingly personal, wonderfully sociable yet largely solitary day in the hills and I think thatâ€™s why I am starting to love it so much.
Never change a pre-race plan at the last minute!!
24 March, 2015 - Jason DowlingThis was my first ultra ever but having done the recces (and the distance) in the weeks previous to the race, I was really looking forward to it. Got most of my gear ready on Friday night to ensure no messing about early Saturday morning looking for gear/stuff. Got all my drinks ready which were my fuel for the run. Everything was laid out so that I could just bail out the door on Saturday morning, after a good breakfast of course!!
Checked the weather before departure and the forecast was for an immaculate day. Jump into the car and am up in Jonnnie Fox's car-park for 8. Got talking to Tom who was also doing his first ultra today. Done the registration and all that and head over the the start line at 8:20 only for hardly anyone to be waiting there!! Feeling a little uneasy now but my nerves were soon put to rest when loads suddenly turned up with a couple of minutes to go. The sun was shining and everyone at the start appears to be in great spirits. Richard gives his pre-race brief and at the off, everyone stands-back for a second not wanting to take the lead!! James then takes the plunge and everyone follows. We're off on our 51k journey across the Dublin/Wicklow mountains on a glorious Saturday morning.
We head down towards Boranaraltry Bridge before we begin the long climb upto Prince Williamns Seat (PWS). The poor dog basking in the garden gets the fright of his life when we all run past by going into a bout of barking as if he's under attack!! Poor mutt probably hasn't seen this many people go by since, since, since last year's run!! The field stretches out a bit on the climb to PWS but everyone is in good mood. There is a group running slightly behind me whom I'll call the Gang of Three (GoT) who are having a great time altogether. Definitely a good tonic for keeping the spirits up.
Coming off PWS heading into Curtlestown, the field spreads out more with a decent sized gap already developing between the front and back of the
field. We continue down to Knockree where the GoT catch up with me and are still laughing and joking as they run. We proceed through Lacken wood and the GoT overtake me pass on into the distance. Just before entering Crone, I end up jogging beside Laurence and we talk for a short while as as we enter Crone I noticed the most amazing refreshment stall being setup. Is that for us I wonder 'cause it certainly looked very inviting!! Thankfully, I didn't need it at this stage and was running quite well. From early Crone to near Powerscourt, myself and Lorne are overtaking each other all the way up only for Lorne to head off into the distance. It was then that some little kid decided that he was going to race me up the mountain. After a couple of sprints by him up the mountain, thankfully his mam called him back and not a moment too soon as it was getting a bit demoralising that a little kid was running up the mountain faster than I was!!
At the top of Crone heading down (and up) toward Djouce, I was virtually on my own. Allison was the only person to overtake me at this stage and she was running very well overtaking me and heading off into the distance. At this point I had a fall. It didn't really bother me at all as no-one had witnessed it (or so I thought) but then Allison shouts back asking if I was ok? All of a sudden, I'm now cursing the fall but shout back that all is good. I'm about half way across the shoulder of Djouce when what appears to be like a bullet boots past me as if I was going backwards!! I was quite happy to have made it this far before the 9:30 starters had caught me but this bloke was running incredibly well. It was not until a little after White Hill that the next 9:30 starter passed me by. At least this time, I was able to get out of the way and let him though.
From White Hill, I Passed by Rachel who was taking photos and trying to organise teams for the Glacier Lakes as people went by!! As I begin the
descent into Ballinstoe, I could hear a load of laughter behind me which had a little puzzled as it sounded like the GoT and I certainly didn't
remember over-taking them. It was indeed them and we got talking to with the conversation quickly turned to that bullet that overtook me a
while ago on Djouce. Our only conclusion for someone running that fast was that they must've had a big bet on the Ireland match and were in a big
rush to get back to Johnnie's for the game!! I get to the half-way in roughly three hours which was right on plan as I wanted to get back to the
boardwalk at White Hill before the Trail runners set-off.
On the way back, I take it a little easy and I meet up with Lorne again. We run/walk back up Ballinastoe before Lorne heads off. Coming back upto
White Hill my pace has slowed a bit, but still plodding away nicely. The fluids that I had taken on a Ballinastoe are not agreeing with my stomach
but I'm still making progress. The 9:30 starters are overtaking me by the dozen at this stage. Over the shoulder of Djouce, I come to the short
steep rocky bit which can be a little treacherous at times. I spot Alan taking the lower route and wait 'til he goes by 'cause if I tried to climb down this bit without noticing him, I might've knocked him off the edge! Thankfully all passes uneventfully. Coming off Djouce and half-way into the climb into Crone, I have to sit down and take a break and give a little time for my stomach to settle.
As a runner, one of the things that I hate seeing is a fellow runner sitting down during a race as it's generally a very bad sign on their part. Unfortunately for me, I was now that person and I was in a pretty bad way. How on earth was I going to make it back to Johnnie's? Trying to get a lift back from Crone certainly came to mind but there's a good deal of downhill in Crone so I'll just let gravity do its thing!! My run had turned into a shuffle. On the way down to Crone, I pass by an old friend but all I can do is grunt a hello. At this stage, droves are passing me by. I have a brief chat with Paul and Jarlath but they are running comfortably and off they go into the distance.
Gravity rather than running had carried me all the way down to the car-park in Crone where upon I notice a good few of the IMRA runners standing
at the refreshment stall that looked so inviting on the way out. There were loads of glasses of water, sweets cakes etc. with a little army of
people behind the tables keeping everything topped up. This was truly manna from heaven!! This was a game-changer!! I throw out the fluids that
I'm carrying as they are causing all sorts of problems with my stomach and is just extra weight at this stage. I spend a few minutes composing
myself at the stall slowly ingesting the delights on offer which settle the stomach. Big thanks to everyone who manned this station. I leave Crone in much much better shape. I head into Seskin wood passing by a few volunteers that were still there when I was heading on the out part. Fair play to them, the encouragement was much appreciated.
I run down over the river and I end up talking to Mairead. We both discuss how we're going to climb the hill that is looming. I already had this
as a designated walking zone in my mind while Mairead was going to do a power-walk and off she goes into the distance. I continue back towards
Curtlestown. Very few people are overtaking me now, which probably means they're all in Johnnie's having a pint while I'm jack last. As I turn into Curtlestown, low and behold, more manna from heaven. My lucky stars are definitely looking down on me today. Mick is apologising for running out of water but the top up of sweets and banana give a great boost and a big thanks to Mick for manning this station and also the girl that gave me some water here also.
From here, I was always going to dread the climb into PWS and today was no different. I potter up the mountain occasionally getting overtaken by 'ninja' runners. I mean, I'd look behind me and there would be no-one there only for some-one to overtake me 20 seconds later. Where on earth did these people come from, am I going *that* slow!! I make it over PWS and let gravity do the rest. I'm like the Bisto kid descending the mountain, floating along just thinking of a nice cold pint in Johnnie's. Coming up the hill from Boranaraltry bridge, Dan cracks a joke which nearly puts my stomach into knots again. The poor aul mutt whom we nearly scared the s**t out earlier is much more relaxed now with only a few stragglers passing him by. There's a few of us at this stage heading into the final few meters and everyone's spirits are good.
We turn the corner and the relief of seeing Dermot standing there with the clipboard was nearly overwhelming. As my number is taken as I cross
the line, I look at my watch and the relief turns to disappointment. 7:34. A disaster. I had done 7 hours in my recces and that included
taking photos and stopping to admire the scenery so I was hoping to do a decent bit better today, especially given the perfect weather. However,
the disappointment soon dissipated as I exchanged my race number for the Wicklow Way mug. A huge grin engulfs my mush and I am as happy as Larry
at this stage. Mistakes were made and lessons learned. I head back to the car-park where upon I meet Tom who had also successfully finished the race.
Now all I had to do was have a quick change and sample some lovely beverages and join in the great post race atmosphere in Johnnie's.
A big thanks to Dermot for orgainsing the race. It was a very, very enjoyable day out. Big thanks also to the people who manned the food stall at Crone as this probably saved my race. Big thanks also to Mick for the other food stall and indeed all the other volunteers who helped contribute to a brilliant day out in the hills. Your contribution to such a great day was very much appreciated.
Watch out for holes!
24 March, 2015 - James H CahillAfter a rather painful run last year in the Wicklow Way Ultra, courtesy of a new pair of shoes worn for the first time the night before, I was looking forward to a less traumatic excursion this year. Opting for the early start myself and John Condon arrived to a relatively empty car park at johnny foxes at 7.45.
John had twisted his ankle descending from Prince Williams seat last year and had to retire, so he was also hoping for a more successful adventure.
Registered and drop bags dropped Richard Nunan inspected us all for mandatory equipment, gave some general instruction - "run to Ballinastoe, turn around and run back, dont take any short cuts" and then we were off.
Anxious to feature early I sprinted to the front and led the field for 10 meters or so. That was the last I would see of the front of the field. Out on the couple of km on the road then dropped down to the river and then the long climb to Prince William's seat. Myself and Helen Dixon ran to the top together and then Helen left me for dead as she descended.
Back out on the road at Curtlestown and I started to catch Helen. So it continued dropping back and catching all the way to crone and then on to the steep descent to the Dargle. The heat began to take a toll on Helen and she dropped back and I found myself ahead for the first time climbing up to the shoulder of Djouce and around onto the boardwalk.
Then as I set out on the boards Jonny Steed passed me. Out across the boards and down into the top of ballinastoe wood and then Paul Tierney passed me. As I ran down the fire road I began to meet some of other early starters reascending.
At the turn around in 3.01 and feeling good I found my drop bag, refilled my camelback, had a swig of coke and grabbed a sandwich. Now to negative split this thing! Oh the innocence.
Leaving Ballinastoe I met Paddy Darigan who had decided to opt for a face lift and skin peel courtesy of a granite boulder en route. The things that man will do for vanity!
The stop had not been helpful and I found it very tough to get running again. So a very stop start ascent out of Ballinastoe but by the time I reached the boards I was running again, well sort of! Around the boards and onto the shoulder of Djouce where I picked up a painful stone in my shoe. Reaching the signpost at the base of Djouce I thought it would be a good idea to sit down against it and remove the offending boulder. I sat down against the sign and promptly got a cramp in my right shoulder. Niall Corrigan then brimmed the hill to be greeted with the sight of me apparently having a heart attack whilst slumped against the post! Assuring him that rumours of my impending demise were greatly exaggerated, Niall was mightily relieved not to have to give me mouth to mouth and he continued on. In fact that prospect may have significantly disturbed him as I later discovered Niall had decided to test the resilience of his skull against granite on the way to the Dargle. Luckily Brendan Lawlor was on hand and Brendan's threat to give Niall mouth to mouth subsequently encouraged Niall to his fastest ever finish and best result in this race. But back to the signpost at Djouce and stone removed I ran down the long descent from Djouce. Arriving at the stile, a rejuvenated Helen Dixon caught me and flew past me down to the Dargle. A slightly faster ascent put us descending through the upper part of Crone wood together. The rocky dangerous path behind us, the thought crossed my mind "great I can relax down to Crone" and with that thought I promptly stuck my foot in a hole and rolled my ankle. Excruciating pain, loud expletives, instant stop, hopping around on one foot. Railing at the injustice of it whilst cursing the running gods and walking in circles I then conspired to take out Ian Conroy and Brian Furey leaders of the trail race who had inappropriately chosen that moment appear.
I was still hopping on one foot when Sarah McCormack leading the ladies trail race went by. Helen had kindly back tracked to offer assistance and thanks also to another male ultra runner who also stopped to help. I thanked them but asked them to go on and said I would try to walk if off. The miracle cure of walking it off got me moving gingerly and after a couple of minutes it felt reasonable enough to take a few running steps on.
The descent to Crone which I had looked forward to was now a lot slower than originally anticipated but hey I was moving again. Couple of neurofen were consumed en route and on to my Crone dropbag for water refill, swig of coke and a dioralyte from the packet. Lunch of champions. The picnic table and sustenance looked delicious but stopping for any longer than absolutely necessary would likely lead to ankle seizure and increase the desire to DNF, so I had to pass on those delights.
Progress down to the Glencree river was pedestrian and I told anyone who would listen my "poor me and my sore ankle story". Truth be told it now wasn't really that sore as long as I didnt take any unexpected steps but it was an excellent excuse to get lazy, which I did " in spades"..
On to Curtlestown where the well stocked Mick Hanney and Family pitstop was in full swing. I climbed Prince William's Seat with Paul Morrissey who was having an excellent run. At the high point I caught Helen who had succumbed to severe leg cramps. It was an opportunity for me to return the favor as Helen had come back to help when I had made my best effort to see just how far I could stretch my ankle ligaments on Crone. A packet of dioralyte powder, much spluttering and plenty of water and Helen bravely buckled down and ran on - she had no choice the first dioralyte had nearly choked her and I threatened a second packet unless she got moving. As we started to descend Helens leg cramps started to ease (or at least she said they did - the second packet of dioralyte threat still hung over her) and we ran down to the river. A walk up the steep hill by the farm and out onto the last km of flat road section which we ran together to the finish line.
6.43 a disappointing result as my return was well over 40 mins slower than the outward. But it was a glorious day, the sun shone, the views were incredible and I didnt die! I now sport a swollen but not very painful right ankle and a rock like and much more painful left calf / achilles, which I assume is the result of my "hoppity" gait from Crone to Johnny Foxes.
Thank you Dermot,all your volunteers and those manning Ballinastoe, Crone and Curtlestown for a well organized, excellent day in the hills. Thank you for my mug memento of my day.Thank you Helen for backtracking to offer assistance for my ankle in Crone and also to the other ultra runner who kindly stopped to help.
Maybe next year the hills will give me an injury free Wicklow Way Ultra run. Here's hoping (although then I'll have no excuses and nothing to whinge about!)
Putting experience gained to good use..
24 March, 2015 - John J BarryLike James and Jason here, it was also a type of debut for me in an "off road" ultra-environment. I had completed Donadea for the last two years so I completed the ultra-distance. Donadea is a totally flat course where like road racing it all about about even pacing. My simple plan this year at Donadea was not to overtake Don Hannon (the 5 hour sweeper) for the first half of the race and decide then when to go for it. I stead to that plan up to 35km before going for it and achieving a magical negative split in the process.
Come the week of the WWU, I was clueless as to a plan. The even pace plan of Donadea was not going to work here due to the nature of the route. But the one lesson learned from Donadea last year was NOT to go out to fast. Speaking to Stephen Brennan via messenger one night he informed me his â€˜planâ€™ was to try to hit half way in sub three hours. Thatâ€™s it I now have a plan, follow Stephen..
But from the start Stephen was gone like a hare with Don chasing him and Suzanne Kenny with a big stick (super performance from the two Trailheads for the day). My initial plan of not going of too fast kicked in and I let them go and I settled in to a nice steady pace near the back where I took short walking breaks at regular intervals from the very start.
I teamed up with a fellow competitor and we climbed PWS. My colleague also had the same simple plan of not going of too fast, but on the top of PWS the excitement got to him and he shot of like a hare in pursuit of a fox he saw or something similar!
Again I stuck to my guns and even on the descent I took things nice and handy. Other valuable lessons learned during the 50k recces (Marlay to Glendalough) and Donadea was to eat and drink regularly. So after 50min I had my first nibble and stead with that plan every 50 minutes or so. I know I would not be able to eat the last quarter of the route and so it turned out. Jumping a bit here but I met another colleague walking along the river of the way back. He told me he was totally bet with absolutely no energy. Potential reason , a lack of food in the early stages of the route and Jason might also agree.
The nice thing about the WWU is the variation of the route. I really enjoy the section between PWS and Crone since it all perfectly runable at a nice steady pace. So thatâ€™s what I done! I Go to Crone in about 1â€™ 20â€ and I felt really comfortable. I didn't rush the refueling stop since I knew my slow start has ruined my changes of beating Jonny Steede (fabulous performance â€“ totally ruined our percentages) so I had the secondly target of finishing in one piece ;-)
Iâ€™m sure everybody agrees the Section from Crone to White Hill is the most beautiful section of the route. The Climb up to the waterfall is great for my slow plodding style and I passed a good few competitors on this section. The steep descent down to the river is mad! And the recovery walk back up the far side is just what the doctor ordered. Getting over the first shoulder of Djouce and onto single track I know this is one section that can ruin ones day with the many â€˜tripâ€™ potentials. There was a couple running together virtually hand in hand in front so I turned on the â€œafter burnersâ€ to get a past them before the â€œsingle trackâ€ kicked in. I wanted a clear uninterrupted view in front of me along this section.
Oddly enough I didn't know the way down to the turnaround point, I took for granted it was the way of the Ballinastoe race, but my watch told me there is a couple more Kms to go. Lucky enough there was still a number of competitors in sight so I just had keep them in sight to find the path down (in reality it was quiet obvious with Rachel doing a masterful job of stopping people climbing the stone she stood on and pointing people in the right direction. Well done Rachal)
I was 200m from the half way when the stampede that was the trail race came flashing towards me. Great to hear plenty of the athletics shouting â€œrunner on the leftâ€ to warn of the ultra-athletics arriving.
I reached half way in 2â€™ 50â€ and I was on my way again two minutes later. On my mind at this stage was can I get back in ~ 3 hours to break the six hours? But that was something I could not control now. I could only decide that at Crone. So with hands full with food I proceeded back up the fire road to the welcoming boardwalks of White Hill. Little idea was to see how long it would take me to catch the back markers of the Trails race. Sure enough not long on the Boardwalks I begin catching and passing the trail runners. They were all very nice and wished me the best of luck as I passed.
The journey across Djouce again was uneventful as I was again cautious on the single track. Over the shoulder and down the lovely grassy slope to the first stile and my brain turned off for a second. That was enough as I was quickly awakened with a thunderous slap of the ground! â€œI say, who put that rock there?â€ Two ladies got me up and brushed me down and covered my face in red makeup (wasn't in the slightest but embarrassed â€“ it was the makeup) . All limbs okay? Yep!, and off I went again.....
I got to Crone on the return leg in 4:25 (39km). So I had 1â€™ 35â€ to do approx. 12km, I can break the six hours! With this target now set and a goal to aim for I pushed myself a fair bit. Walking breaks were the absolute minimum. Power walked up PWS, Passed loads on that section. I reached the summit in 5â€™ 33â€ (47km), So I now had virtually all downhill to do ~4km in 27 minutes. I knocked of the next four Km in approx. 5â€™ 40â€ avg and I bombed up the hill from Boranaraltry Bridge as if it wasn't there..
Top of the hill, checking watch again 51km, time: 5:56:12â€, but alas the race was not 51 and a bit kmâ€™s it was 52 and a bit and my 4â€™ 30â€ last km was not enough since Dermot had moved the finish line 500m down the road to catch me out! And I crossed the â€œJohn Barryâ€ finish line in 6:00:42 before Dermot moved the finish line back to itâ€™s original place!
What a wonderful day, Dermot and the crew did a great job. Itâ€™s great to have the drop bags waiting for us at Crone and half Way. As Arnie might say â€œIâ€™ll be backâ€
Respecting the distance
21 March, 2015 - Brian O MurchuAfter discovering Christopher McDougall's book 'Born to Run' in 2009, I was inspired by the idea of ultra running which I wanted to try. Having not run further than 21k, immediately, two years later I tested my toe in the water of the 'beyond half-marathon distance' of the 26k WWT. I enjoyed this race so much I repeated it again the following year in 2012. In spite of people saying 'respect the distance' of ultra's and I'd read Gareth Little's race report of the WWS 2014, I figured this was ONLY 52k and not the 127k of a WWS. My general rule of running is 'do whatever is most fun', and as I had managed in 2014 a few 30k runs without much training, at 12:04am on Feb 1st I got my entry confirmed for the WWU 2015.
Based on having ran the WWT twice and volunteered at the WWT/WWU twice, it seemed that when I ran there was great weather conditions, and when I volunteered it seemed to be harsh weather conditions (for those of you who did the WWT/WWU in 2013, that was me standing in the snow at the marshal point somewhere between Ballinastoe and White Hill). The weather trend continued that in 2015 I was running in great weather conditions.
The race started off, and I was running very relaxed and chatting to lots of people. I was in a group up and over Prince William's seat, into Curtlestown and then stopped for a quick drink at Crone Woods carpark. We caught up with Suzanne Kenny going up Maulin and I was still running very comfortable until we crossed the Dargle. It was at this point that I couldn't help but utilise my uphill ability and dropped my running companions and started catching and passing others over Djouce. Little did I know it at the time, but this was definitely NOT respecting the distance!
Once I'd descended off Djouce and White Hill and got to Rachel Cinnsealach's marshal point, there became a real buzz of atmosphere with lots of runners coming back the opposite way. I got to the halfway point in 2:21, delighted to get there before the WWT start. A quick drink of some water and I was off back the way I came, shouting and encouraging all the runners I met. I started passing lots of people unsure which start time they had taken. I made good progress up White Hill, even though I was still passing people I was starting to feel a bit tired....or maybe it was dehydration?
Going over Djouce I got so tired that for a while it felt like I had no control over the way I was running, and fell over on a flat part. In spite of what I wrote in the 2012 IMRA yearbook, of suggesting to 'take a moment' after a fall, embarrassment got the better of me and I jumped up and ran on with some new cuts and grazes, and the runner behind me shouting if I was alright....yikes
Coming back over Djouce felt colder than the way out, and even though my hands got cold I didn't have the presence of mind to put on my gloves. After crossing the Dargle again, I walked for the first time up from the river. I tried to eat some chocolate I had with me, but my mouth was so dry.....well, maybe the details aren't necessary.
I got back into Crone Woods still in good time, but I stopped for quite a while drinking lots of fluid. A lot of other runners came through and left during my sojourn at the water station. Then the lead two WWT runners, Ian Conroy followed by Brian Furey breezed through. I eventually got going leaving with Don Hannon and Suzanne Kenny, but as soon as we got around the corner there was an impromptu aid station who kindly provided me with some lucozade....thanks guys:) When I left here, I found my stomach felt so waterlogged I had to walk for a bit. The rest of the way is a haze of suffering and plenty of walking. A lot of WWT runners going by took the time to offer encouragement....sorry I was a bit unresponsive to some of you as I was so exhausted, but it was really appreciated.
Finally and eventually I got near the finish, where I wanted to jump and shout a sense of achievement over the line....but it ended up occurring in my imagination as I only wanted do things that didn't involve movement such as lying down for a while. I did the return journey around 50 minutes slower than the way out, most of the time accounting from Crone Woods onwards. I decided then and there to NEVER run again.
Postscript: I have just come back from a short run, and the WWU mug takes pride of place in my apartment #perspective