Irish Mountain
Running Association

Glasnamullen and an anti-clockwise lap of Djouce


Barry MurrayGraham K. BusheBrian O Murchu

anti Djouce

I was out last Saturday for a 7hr run with Eoin Keith. Not you would think ideal race preparations for an LL Wednesday evening skirmish.

I’ve been running as many of the league races as possible as my “speed” training for the ultras. Anyone out there doing or considering doing ultras, I can’t recommend these 6-10km league races highly enough. We all have reasons for doing these events and it might not necessarily even be for the competing or training. For me it’s also just a great way to get out in the outdoors during the evening after a long winter with like minded people.
The usual organisation for these races is really top class. I’ve done hundreds of different races in different countries, and the IMRA folk are as professional yet down to earth as it gets. So hats off again to all the crew.

Race kicked off and my intention was to start slow. I’m way better if I ease into a race. A 6km blast doesn’t really allow you to do that. Something around 10k at least gives me a little leeway. So in the first 1-2km up the fire road I had about 30 runners in front of me. A good sign for me. I do think it’s easy to go off too fast and this just messes up your pacing for the rest of the race. Probably a few others that could benefit from just going off easy for first 10mins or so of running.
Anyways, out of the forest and into the mountains was next. A lovely open mountain steady long climb. I was trying to run most of this and was just picking off a few places as I went along. I could see the front group of Mikey, Brian and few others not that far ahead of me. But I wasn’t in a rush.

Up onto the Wicklow Way ridge was nice; it’s one of my favourite bits of the WW. I felt I had paced myself well up until this stage and started to gain back some time on the group ahead of me. Up Djouce and I have G K Bushe in front of me… the two of us climbed most of it together. The summit of Djouce was lovely, the view was amazing. I’ve been up there in all sorts of weather, a lot of blizzard conditions, so it was nice to get up there with calmness and mild air.

I knew the long decent is where I could gain some more time so I opened the legs a bit more and passed Brian, Ger and Paul Neville. Brian has been running well recently and most races he passes me on the climb then I pass him on the descents. So please, don’t tell Brian he needs to train on the descents, thanks.

Once off the boardwalk, we were into the gorse and thick bushes. A very tricky section and a few ankle breakers were narrowly avoid. I knew this section of the race is where my “ultra” fitness would come in to play a bit and I caught Pat Foley as we zig zagged through the gorse. I then picked up some more ground and saw Mikey Fry and Mark Sheridan in front of me. Usually I’m not this close to these guys in a race. So I knew I was going well. On the final descent on the fire road I caught Mark and found myself close to catching Mikey. The finish arrived too soon though and Mikey took 3rd with me just behind.

Another great event. Pints and fig rolls went down after in the Coach house, I passed on the fig rolls ;-)


Well this was my second appearance at this race, so I had a bit of an idea what to expect. With one exception… It would appear to me that some people have been doing a considerable amount of training. Mikey who was in my sights last year was miles ahead. I saw him as he rounded the first bend, and again as he was relaxing at the finish line! And Brian who has improved his time by more than 7.5mins and 43 places since his last attempt, so no more tips please Barry.
Barry is not the first person I have heard saying that these races are excellent as speed work for ultras, but then, I have only done 2 ultras (so far). The Leinster League are great races and I really enjoy them (though sometimes it isn’t until afterwards, when I have recovered…)
A few words from Race Director Brendan and then we’re off. Cruising at a nice pace up the fire road, slotting nicely in somewhere in the top 20 or so. Over the fence, across the stream and out onto the mountain. Cross another stream and try to pick the driest route up the other side, the field has spread out a bit here and I slot in the odd power-walk here and there. On an on we go, but every time I look up the marshal is no closer. Somebody is moving the Wicklow Way further up the hill! Eventually we reach the trail and start to pick up the pace a bit, round the bend and begin the climb to the top of Djouce. It is then that I can feel someone has closed in on me. A quick glance to see Barry hot on my heels, I try several combinations of power-walking and short bouts of barely running to keep my nose ahead until finally he inevitably passes me just before the top.
Thanks Angus (summit Marshall) although I did note an element of favouritism as you cheered on the Glendalough AC runner as he reached the summit. :)
This is where the real speeding began… Barry is suddenly zipping off the summit and I decide to try to keep up with him. Like Barry I have had many a visit to this summit in recent times mostly in howling winds or zero visibility. In fact Djouce is where I first realized that the wind can be blowing so hard that you can’t stand upright and yet you can barely see your hand in front of your face with mist. (I used to think that the wind blew the mist away!)
So here I am barrelling down the hill as fast as I dare, concentrating on the ground immediately in front of me, watching for where each footstep is going to land and Barry is chatting about the beautiful scenery and fabulous views, I’m afraid to look up! I do for a split second and Wow! Yes it is great, and then he is an extra 10 yards ahead. We start to reel in the next 2 runners Brian and Gerard and I just manage to pass them while keeping in Brian’s slipstream. Off along the boardwalk we go and the speed is relentless. We catch Paul, Barry continues past but all I can manage now is to keep up with Paul. At this point I was hoping for about 11th spot. Before we got to the bottom of the boardwalk I saw Iosac off to the left. He has had some great results so far this year and looked comfortable in second when I last saw him. I hope all is OK. Certainly one to watch for in the future…
Off the boardwalk and along by the wood longing for my watch to tell me I was another km closed to the finish. I honestly don’t know how I made it through the next section. I was struggling to keep up with Paul who was skipping over heather and gorse onto sections of path, off again, swerving left and right, following the tape all the way. (Superb marking, well done and thanks)
Then 8km beeped and I decided it was time to make a move. I was unable to keep up with Paul at the Scalp so I was out to make amends here. I just about squeezed past, caught my toe on a rock and nearly catapulted myself off the mountain. Luckily I managed to catch myself in time. Before I knew it I was crossing the fence back into the wood and I had closed the gap on Pat and Damien.
It was one of those cases where the track seemed to go on and on, but try as I might I just couldn’t make any ground. Then in a flash we’re round a bend and I can see the cones. One final desperate push but Damien is more than able to fend off any late challenge. Congratulations all round to my fellow runners and then off to find my son Kevin who finished his course nearly 10 minutes beforehand, has got the keys, been to the car got changed and had a drink and is probably wondering if I will ever finish!
Well done to Brendan and all the team, yet another fantastic event, superbly organised and thoroughly enjoyable. Even the weather helped out.

How to get top 10

1. Rest: Get an injury (phantom injury will do) on say the Saturday before so you don't have to run for 3 days. Good for fresh legs.

2. Relaxation: Behave as if you're not going to do the race at all (due to point 1), but be committed to going to the race because...say you have the race prizes.

3. Chocolate: Have such a busy and unpredictable (or unprepared) day at work there isn't time to eat, except for the chocolates. It's the original superfood, right?

4. Absorb the pre-race atmosphere sufficiently: After arriving early to hand over the race prizes and with the intention of not running, hanging around for 1 hour is a good way to absorb the race atmosphere fully enough to decide to feck the consequences of running with an injury.

5. Commitment: Once you've signed-in for the race, it is too late to change ones mind no matter if a warm-up jog makes an injury worse. Pain is temporary

6. Race strategy: Tailgating is a useful way to get some shelter for windy conditions (thanks Mikey Fry for the first k!)

7. Run, don't walk: In terms of being able to run all the way to the summit (even though I'm going the same speed as walking), Brian v Djouce = 4:2

8. Get some downhill lessons: Damn, I haven't gotten round to this yet and got passed by 3 people on the descent. Missing ingredient to finishing in the top 10