Mountain Running

Although the forest trails are nice for working on your speed, the proper mountains always have more to offer. They test more than just your pure running speed. You need to be a good climber, hiker, crawler, downhiller, mud runner, bog runner, and generally good at picking the best line. You might also have to be good at navigating. So its a great mix and what it means is that those who might not be very speedy runners on the flat can often be very speedy on the climbs and on the technical downhills.

Silvermines is a proper back country rural village. A church and a pub, thats about it. After the mini heatwave, it was nice to get a bit of warmth back in the bones. The Silvermines mountain range stand tall over the relative flat lands of Tipp and Limerick. A small crowd gathered for registration so no parking issues or queues which made it all easy.

It was my 2nd race of the week having been in Leinster for my first Wednesday night race. If this suits you, racing a few times in a week is great training. If you don't have a club to do interval sessions with and tempo runs, it can be hard to do them on your own. And a race basically can give you all of that... plus its more fun !

With the smaller crowd, I didn't notice any of the guys I've been chasing in previous races like Sean Quirke, Paul Dean and runaway leader Mark Nolan. So in these situations, you start to think about where you might place. Weather was holding up nicely and we set off with the sun beaming down. A 2k downhill forest trail meant that we all went off fairly fast. I always like to get some running in before any climb so this suited me fine. I lead them out and no speedsters were flying off ahead. Just as we got to the first climb through the woods, John Lynch overtook me and lead us up the steep climb. So the first contrast, from flying along on hard trail to almost vertical single track hands on the knees climb up through the woods. This brought us up on to the start of the open mountain section. It was myself , John and Tom Lupton approaching the boggy clomb together. Tom seemed to just drift away from us and within 10-20 seconds he was 50meters ahead. I had went ahead of John at this stage so I just had Tom in my sights. We had the summit to head for but I didn't know how far away it was. The climb had a few false summits which are always a killer. Eventually we got to the cairn , Tom had pulled away from me, and I had a couple of guys fairly close to my tail.

Back down the mountain and I was trying to take in the views. Its an expansive view and you feel high up but I wasn't able to take much in. The focus was on catching Tom and staying upright through the bog and downhill sections. As we came off the mountain, the marshall directed us up another climb on a hard track path. Tom was almost at the top by the time I started the climb and I have heavy breathing right behind me from John Hannon. The path was steep so it was more hands on the knees stuff. I pulled away slightly here from John. I remember Bernard Fortune doing this to me in a race, hands on the knees can be something you can do fast and make gains on someone.

Up over the top and it was more or less downhill to the finish on a fire trail. I knew I could open up the legs here and wasn't zapped of energy. I didn't hear any feet behind me and didn't catch up with Tom. Lost a few seconds as the very last part of the course had a crossroads section with no signs. I just waited up for John and shouted back and he directed me forward.

A lovely course and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Thanks to RD Aidan and crew. Some great shots taken by the resident photographer on the day. We all went back to the village pub for the obligatory sambo's and the Glenageenty loopers washed them down with the black stuff, good idea ;)
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