Glen of the Downs
Glen of the Fast Downs
14 August, 2017 - Graham K. BusheWith the Trail League up and running, I decided to turn my attention to my local Route. I have run this race a few times and should know it, but like many others, it is the minor details, those little twists, turns and junctions- the ones you don’t notice as you plough along trying to keep up with the person in front of you. For my first reccie in 2017 I ended up doing the Junior Route. On my second, I took a left turn after the sleepers and ended up over at the Delgany road. It was to be third time lucky! By this time, I had done Earl’s Drive and Devil’s Glen, both of which have gone well and I’m looking forward to the third instalment in this league of very fast races. With a couple of days to go and still no race marker, get a text… Luckily, I had help as my wife and sons volunteered to come along for the walk. Unfortunately, my estimation of the time required to mark was a bit off (quite a bit off!). Marking a route can be a tricky task. The perfect branches are often too far from the junctions, or on the wrong side of the track, leaving you with scraps of weeds to attach the tape to and hope for the best. Then there is the worry of too much versus too little. I try to find a balance. With work etc I had to mark it in advance, which brings with it another risk.
Race morning, and my final reccie reveals that the tape I used to mark the first turn into the woods has been removed! “At least there will be a marshal here” I say to myself as I wonder what other disturbances lie ahead. Thankfully, only one piece has been moved to a different track at a small junction. Most of the markings are still in place and there are just a few hours to get through. Soon we are all at race registration and I am wondering how many of my bits of tape are still in the places I left them. Angela asks me to give a quick route description; which does enough to take my mind off my pre-race nerves, sort of! That done, I have enough time to step onto the track and suddenly were off. Barry had said he wouldn’t be around for this one, so I decided to do what he seems to do (from my perspective anyway) put the boot down from the start. And I’m leading at the first turn, ok so it’s only 20yards, but I’m there and all the way to the turn into the woods, when eventually Derek Crammond decided he was going to start running. I did suggest that he might like to continue straight for another 6 miles or so. As he passed me he was quickly followed by Peter Gorman. This is how it was to be for the rest of the race, the only changes being that Derek was getting further and further away while the gap between Peter and myself closed and opened continuously. All good as far as the junior turn and we start another bit of a descent. One of my tapes had been moved from here earlier and I had fixed it so I was hoping all was still OK. Then suddenly I saw it going ACROSS the track between two small branches!! In full chase mode, I duck. Well, sort of duck. The point is I don’t hit it! As I gallop away from it, for a split second, I wonder if I should ‘fix’ it. What if someone thinks they are not to go that way? But the moment has passed and I ain’t stoppin’! Down the Zig-zags and continue eventually to the section by the N11 and river. All the tape is where it should be. Then I see Peter duck under another piece of tape CROSSING the track. But this piece is longer and lower and just at a junction. I had visions of it turning people back up into the woods. So I risked life and limb and burst through it! Past the car-park and start the climb. All going well again and I try to keep moving. Then I hear a runner gaining ground. My attention had been in front and on tapes. Who was this? I risk a sneaky glance to see Gerard Maloney hot on my heels. Push, push, push, but try as I might I just can’t shake him. Eventually we get to the ruins and I have some downhill ahead. The next kilometre and a half is spent trying to stay ahead and I haven’t noticed the gap in front closing. At the last turn I make a move but Peter is more than a match for it and seems to shift into warp speed to cross the line in second. Derek is already finished for ages and has probably cooled down, eaten, changed etc.
And so, now it is all down to the last race. I originally thought it was a ‘Downhill Race’. Though there is one within the actual race for anyone mad enough!
10 August, 2017In the absence of Barry, I’ve submitted a report. Firstly a big thanks to Angela for Rding and to all volunteers. Very much appreciated, and to single out Karen, you rock! Stepping to the laptop again...and having results up before one can say ’Glen of the Downs’. I’m afraid you’ve created an expectation of this service every time!
I decided to cycle to the race as I did last week. Bit unsure with this as it’s much further, and I’m rarely on the bike, but if it’s good enough for Peter O’F, then it must be a good thing. Got there in good time without much effort needed. Changed and got warmed up. Listened to Graham giving course description, sounded more like an OCR race than a trail run. Trees to jump over, trees to roll under, rivers to fall in...
Actually the race profile is quite similar to Devil’s Glen, steep hill to start, then undulations and downhill including zig zags, then a long run beside river before steep climb followed by slight decline and then steep down hill to finish, though with Glen of the Downs this hill is much longer.
Angela gave us the off and what a nasty hill to start, and I was left for dust, literally in the dust raised by Mikey and others and by top of hill they were well gone. Once it levelled out I pulled away from others around me and I found myself on my own, Gerard many seconds ahead and occasional views of one or 2 others. This status quo fairly much remained for all the downhill and along the N11, through the car park. Without someone to actually race, I don't think I ran as hard as I could and I lost ground to Gerard but some others came into view instead. Through the car park and I could see Mikey, Paul and others a good bit ahead and seemingly out of reach. But once we reached the inevitable climb, suddenly Mikey seemed within reach and I attacked the climb with renewed vigour. Got to Mikey’s heels and stayed there a while until he passed Paul and then in one move I passed both of them and started hunting down the next ahead, got ahead of both John and Rory before the ruins and tried to get onto Darragh’s heels, but that climb is tough, but knowing it was effectively the last climb, dug in and got to Darragh shortly after. This was about one km to go which I confirmed to Darragh. Took a long ‘rest’ but knew I would have to have gap before the final descent down the dusty trail so tried to push on with words of encouragement from Darragh. Gerard was back in my sights and even Graham, but although I closed a little there was no prospect of catching them but I had to push hard to keep my 5th position.
Well done Derek, his first IMRA win, I’d say more to come and Charlotte returning to winning ways taking ladies win.
So there were discussions of the secrets to my success, surely it’s obvious, cycle to the race.
Finally anyone support me in renaming the trail league The Ziggies league? As Jason so named them on the Earl’s Drive route. James Cahill, you have Ziggies on Down’s Hill?