Glenmacnass Handicap in aid of Mountain Meitheal
A series of firsts
16 August, 2019 - Trevor KerleyA series of firsts
My first participation in the handicap race and my first ever gender, category (never mind race!) win in eight years of playing in this delicious sport of ours. My first race report. The build-up for me, since Sugarloaf week previously, was all about start times. This race was to be the first time that I was competing with my best friend Brian ‘on an even keel’. On Monday, the news broke that I was nine minutes ahead of him and all of the digs, sneakiness and strategies kicked in as we both tried to get the upper hand, psychologically, on the other.
Race day. Wow, what stunning sights of the waterfalls coming up Military Road from Laragh. It was apparent, as soon as I got out of the car, that ‘change’ was afoot but Joe had a steady hand on the tiler, got everything sorted and at the proscribed time of 7.01 the first of the runners were off.
My one and only race objective was to come in ahead of Brian. I’m not the best uphiller in the world and so to be faced with the initial ascent in very ‘dirty’ conditions just had to be cast aside and overcome. Dave Rouse, thank you, you were my pacer for the majority of the race. Every time I came near you, you ‘opened up’ and kept us competitive. About half way in we started ‘picking off’ the previous group including Vivian so I know that Dave & I were competitive.
The rest of the race was simply head down, keep tucked in behind Dave and plough on. The key moment for me was on the return leg where Brian (still heading up!) called out to me that I was forth man. Now was the time to go for broke and run like I’d never run before – there was something to aim for – third place on the podium. I simply ‘told myself’ to overtake Dave and keep going, sometimes going off pieste into the heather, going over on my ankle for my trouble, sometimes back on ‘trail’ – more like mucky stream - and running like there was no tomorrow.
Shortly afterwards I passed John Barry, always with a cheerful wave, and wondered where the next guy was………………final STEEP descent, I could see the car park way below me and there was Jim. My God he was sure-footed heading down the trail. I keep going, throwing caution to the wind, and started reeling Jim in. With a couple hundred meters to the finishing ‘line’ and one massive burst of energy, speed (or madness) I went past him and came first.
Like Miriam, holding that first brown envelope meant so much and I couldn’t keep the smile off my face as fellow racers congratulated me – what a feeling!
On my way home, I rang Sarah and the kids and told them that I won. They say ‘so you beat Brian’ and I say, no, I won the whole race – complete silence, then pandemonium with shouted phrases like ‘what the f**k’, you won the race? They were so proud. They know how much I love this sport.
The cherry on top was the results going up – I still can’t believe how quickly results are posted these days! – well done for the constant efforts of the folks ‘behind the scenes’ that constantly strive to do things better, thank you. To be listed at the top of the page against the number ONE was awesome.
Thank you IMRA, our RD Joe and his merry band of helpers
My first (which by definition means not last) sign off
Whats seldom is wonderful
15 August, 2019 - Miriam MaherRobbing Dee's oft used phrase - but seemed apt last night.
Although the exact formula escapes me, I decided not to knock it when I found myself, along with Jim and Gordan, top of the list of the handicap times.
To add to the fun and games, our merry little band of Dee, Lorcan, Rachel and myself arrived at the car park near the glenmacnass waterfall to find the original route had changed and got shorter (no harm there I thought) and then literally 2 minutes before I was due to start - Joe announced it was now a race to the top of Scarr, across the road, instead as the river waters were rising on the original route around Lough Ouler making it impassable and impossible.
Tittering nervously I gathered with Jim and Gordan and Nora set us off on our way - following in the wake of the race markers who were marking the course ahead of us - realtime race marking - nothing like IMRA to throw a curveball. Nora told us to follow and not pass the race markers. Little fear of that - we were top of the pile of the handicap runners after all.
But pride is a wonderful motivator and once we started I actually made an effort on the uphill running and decided I'd do my damnedest to at least get to the summit before being most likely overtaken by faster runners coming up in our wake.
And so for one glorious damp, mucky and squishy underfoot evening on the hills I experienced what the usual top of the field runners have as routine - leading the pack - glancing back to make sure I was still clear every once and awhile. Jim never far behind, which ensure I didn't slacken.
I heaved my way inelegantly but effectively up the tracks, passed Mike and Conor encouraging me along and then with Alan in my sights - he was, it seemed, leisurely making his way up to the summit while I burst a gut keeping going - before I knew it - to my delight - I was there - gasping my thanks to Alan at the cairn and making my way down.
I'm a better uphill runner than a downhill runner so the real challenge lay ahead now. Coming back down the track passing the runners coming up, for once they weren't expecting me to move aside (the norm if I was an early starter coming against the top of the field) - I was the top of the field!!!
And though we all knew why I was leading on this particular evening it was just the nicest descent to have all those I came across encouraging me on with the 'come on...Jim's on your tail....Jim Reaper is coming up...'And sure enough - loping along with his unfairly longer legs, Jim stretched past me coming up to the Junior's turn point, and then a little uphill again and I got him again..but as we turned downwards, before long again - he was stretching past. Despite Mike's urging me to 'make your move, go for it' Jim had widened the gap and from then on it was always going to be him leading on.
Still - that was fine - he could take the overall win and I'd be happy with second and first female. And then hooves could be heard...
And onto the final mad slippery mucky rocky descent and I accepted defeat in the face of wanting not to be snot down in the muck and concentrated on keeping upright while Trevor glided past, then David and John legged it through the heather parallel to my route through the impromptu stream, but at least I was still first female.
I clambered down the last bit, nipped across the road and thudded across the timing mat with the chariots of fire theme in my head.
Joe dished out the prizes on the spot, Trevor got a super first with Jim coming a worthy second and John, as happy as I was I think, with his own podium place finish. Bad Luck David - next year!! Joyce and Hazel soon in my wake
After gobbling the crisp and sandwiches, inadvertently ending up waist deep in the river to 'just wash the runners off' and waving my little envelope in EVERYONE's face, doing a round of completely over excited photos, my little night of racing glory was over.
My efforts were enough to get me a strava crown on the uphill and I'm intrigued that being completely focused on my 'win' distracted me from my usual worries about doing my ankles on boggy runs. That's something for me to consider next season...
Aside from this completely handicapped starting advantage and the Powerscourt uphill - Dee has nailed every other race we'd done - we've both got our 100th t-shirts - we'll fight it out on the mountain benefit race and then cool our jets until 2020.
Thanks Joe, Nora, Mick and all the volunteers for yet again ensuring that we have a blast on the hills.
Will go into a decline mid week after next week, but still have next week.