Nav Challenge 3 West Dublin Hills


Andrew Hanney

This was my second nav challenge, the first being Nav challenge 2, after having done the excellent nav course with Paul. The plan for today was to head out up with somebody and was happy to see Gavan Duffy at the registration so that was sorted. (Unfortunately our navigator Darragh Stokes had opted to go swimming in Glendalough instead of running the Nav challange, tut tut tut).
So the theory being that two heads looking at a map is better than one, and this was called upon a few times during the race. We settled for the short course, to consolidate our 100% record of not getting lost after one race. It was clear that this race had attracted a bigger turn out than the others, and this was for one simple reason ... CAKE. Today we were in Lorcán and volunteers' capable hands. As he shouted out the instructions, giving notice about various rifle ranges, private lands and angry farmers shooting us, we all wondered what the quickest way to turn over the map was, even though a few had already perfected that art a few minutes before!
Then we were off and unlike and other IMRA race I've been at, nobody moves as we study the map, and then the first bit of good news, Gavan had warmed up on the trail earlier and had already spotted checkpoint 9. And so we went there. Then checkpoint 8 on the map looked like the next natural step along a marked trail, but the trail was full of collapsed trees and progress became a struggle, we spotted Joe Lalor vaulting the downed trees, and tried to keep pace as he knows everything about the mountains.
After a bit of correction once we escaped the forest, we found 8. We then aimed for 7, but used a trail that followed around to the north of the hill, having seen people struggle with the terrain on a frontal assault. This paid off. Once on top of Seechon, I could see the flag for checkpoint 6 on Corrig, the trail was boggy but not overly bad. We then saw that CP 3 was on a due north bearing, unfortunately, descending doesn't always mean an easy time of it, as the terrain was full of holes. At this point we decided to not take in CP 1 (see later). So we hit the river and sure enough CP 3 is there. From here there was nothing for it but to cross a lot of contours to the top of Seefinn and CP 10, were we meet Tommy and Vivian. We have a chat, they tell us that CP 1 is easy, just follow along the fence, I tell them CP 3 is easy and CP6 also, but forgot to tell them the climb is full of gnarly bog holes :) So with the advice on CP1 ringing in our minds and completely forgetting that its one to many, me and Gavan set off for CP1 :) Finding CP 11 was pretty funny as we had to go through some dense woods to approach it, and its hilarious when even in these areas, you get runners coming out of the woods like in a scene from the walking dead. After that it was across the stone cross rd to nab our last check point and finish.
So, 9 checkpoints instead of the required 8 , an awesome morning in the hills in great weather and good company throughout, my thoughts after the race are there should be more of these races. They are so much fun, the variety in races routes today was crazy, we could debate all day what was the best route. The views on today run were amazing, looking down over the reservoir and out across Dublin bay, it remind me how lucky we are to be able to get out there.
The best checkpoint of the day was at the finish line, it was marked by a big van, wherein we discovered a raft of goodies, but mainly cake and tea. It this point is great to have post race chats with other runners. I learn that Liam Vines had done today's race on the back of a marathon yesterday, yep that guy is a machine! As we're standing have a chat, Warren Swords crossed the line with a confused look on his face, mumbling something about contouring a lot around Corrig. James Cahill runs though the finish line like he's been at war with the mountain and straight to first aid (hope that heals up James) ! But there's a smile there somewhere on his face, actually there are smiles everywhere.
Very well done to the volunteers for going this extra mile with the after race goods! Its clear that of all the races the Nav challenge volunteers spend the most time on the ground, as the races can last quite a while, specially Paul for de-marking the course after everyone has gone home, fair play.
Apologies for all the technical detail, but if you weren't there, you missed a lot of fun. Until the next Nav Challenge!!!
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