Up yis go!
21 June, 2019 - Dave DochertyI work in the building game. And I move around a fair bit, meeting new people on different sites or lads I haven’t worked with in a while. So when the usual chats start…
Builder: Did ya see the match?
Me: Which match?
Builder: The big final last night?
Me: Blank look.
Builder: You must be into rugger then?
Builder: Whats your thing?
Me: I Run.
Builder: Like marathons?
Me: A bit, I’ve done a few. But I mostly run in the mountains.
Builder: Blank look.
Me: Mountain races.
Me: Last nights one was an uphill race, finished at the summit. Great craic.
Builder:??? Your bleedin mad in da head…….and so on…ad nauseam.
So, given I don’t have to many opportunities’ to chat about my sport in work, I thought I’d bang up my first race report.
Usual Wednesday madness, of trying to get out of work, home pick up kids, help prep their dinner before I’m out the door and running (sometimes sprinting) to meet my carpool. Today, and the last few, its Stuart (thanks Stuart). I get to UCD and find Damien and Patsy loitering around the front carpark. Stuart turns up and we are off, pick up cousin Gav along the way. Stuart drops us to Crone and does a quick turnaround, he is volunteering at the finish line, which in this rare case, is at the summit of Djouce. The midges are out in full swing tonight, unusually this is the first LL race this year where they have turned up,” they won’t be at the finish line” we all joke with nervous laughter. I try cover up the best I can while waiting for the race to start, hood up and dark glasses which leaves me looking like a suspicious creep hanging around the carpark, only my chin on show for the midges.
1900 and Andreas hops up on the pillar and does his brief for the early starters, there are a lot of them, this race has a cut off of 2030 at the summit which has made more than a few people cautious. They tear off complete with their “Go Maith” stickers for being good little mountain runners.
A light misty shower comes down while I’m warming up with Jody and I decide it might keep the midges at bay so I strip down and show a little more flesh, I was wrong.
Soon its time, Andreas mounts the pillar again reminds us of what we’re in for and we are off. I assumed the pace might be a bit slower than usual given what’s ahead of us, but no, the usual speedsters at the front are off like bullets pulling the rest of us behind. Barely a few hundred meters up the fire road and we turn onto a steep trail, power hiking already, hands on knees. Bodies pushing past where they can all trying to get where they think they should be, there will be some tight single track stuff up ahead I guess and do my best to push on. We cross a fire road and have to clamber up a steep wall of muck, all being very polite to each other about it, “you first”, “no, please, I insist” truth is I’m too tired after the first climb and think I might fall off it, I disguised my exhaustion with chivalry as I let Liz Wheeler up the bank. I find the energy and up I go. Now this bit is even steeper and narrower and the top can’t be seen, luckily this slows everybody down so the lungs get a bit a break. And then we are at the top, turn left and surprisingly for this uphill only race there is a nice path gentle sloping down. I up the pace, hot on the heels of Liz, the path is zig zagging a bit but I manage to get past her, she won’t be happy with that. The path turns to the right and slowly becomes a hill again, I push on managing to catch Chris Mark ( an Englishman who will soon become an Irishman) he is strong on the climbs and I didn’t think I’d get past him this early. We plough on and reckon my new spongy shoes are starting to make a difference, I’m one of those annoying barefoot minimal types who are constantly reminding people of their poor running form and recently decided to go to the dark side and get some bouncy shoes so I could be more reckless on the down hills in these races, didn’t think they’d help today but I see the attraction of them now. We turn onto the Wicklow way and feeling good until I look up and see Djouce looming in the distance in a menacing dark cloud, it look like we are heading to Mordor. I mention this to a lad up ahead and think it might have frightened him as he lets me past. We emerge at the big tree, with a nice techy decent down to the Dargle, are the new shoes gonna help here, not so much. A few speedsters get past me here, one of them is Colm Moran ( I think), this is a very strange race indeed.
I cross the bridge and start to climb out of the valley, the body is starting to complain now, doubt starts to creep in and the mouth is drying up. I slow a bit, still power hiking hard and another few get past me. Top of the hill I cross the stile and drive on, finding it hard to run now. Cross the second stile and the grassy banks of Djouce are calling for me to run, I try, but now the belly is sore. I’m thinking, here we go, gonna need some bushes soon, but there ain’t no bushes round here. I think my IMRA friends are about to get an eyeful of Daves toilet humour. I walk on quickly, waiting for the pain in the upper belly to make a sudden rush to the lower…eh..belly. More people pass me, both the English Chrises ( they travel in packs), Mike Jordan and Liz tears past me. One lad, Ross (I think) shouts some encouragement and I snap out of it. I realize this is muscular pain from too much hard climbing, not inevitably violent diarrhea. With this epiphany I get going, I can handle this pain, the embarrassment of open mountain toilets is another sort of pain altogether. Also, I’ve just had nice rest and have a bit of pep now to get up this jaysus mountain. I start climbing hard, with fire in my belly and nationalism in my legs I get past the two Englishmen ( soon to be one) and then a bonus one for good measure with young Phil Behan who I have had a vendetta with since the handicap race last year.
On the cone of Djouce now and digging deep to take Liz, we can hear the finish line summit cheerleaders of Miriam and co and I start to run, slowly, but still faster than Liz. As I inch past she shouts some intimidating encouragement to me in her northern way and I know I will live to regret this, but for now it feels good. I cross the finish line/piece of timber and collapse on the rocks. A few minutes later I come round and realise the craic that’s going on around me. This is one of the cheeriest end of races I’ve ever seen. And amazingly, there is a view from the top. I’ve been up here countless times and almost never see a thing. And, as promised, not one single poxy midge. We all break out the cameras and are all snap happy, congratulating for self-flagellating is a common thing in this club but this race took the biscuit.
Getting cold now and knowing I thoroughly deserve a pint of cider I start to head down, again testing out the new shoes. Meet a few heads on the way, one of the Chrises joins me for the chats then bump into Gav and then a few chats with Richard Nunan. On the long road to Crone ( always longer then you remember) we pass a forlorn Patsy. He had taken a bit of a fall early on in the race but still finished, now a bit bloodied he wanted off the hill, I stuck with him to Crone to help lighten his mood and helped Rachel patch him up at the boot of Cons new IMRA vehicle (but first donning as much midge cover as possible).
Then scabbing a lift back to Plucks from Gordon, I lashed into some nice tasty cider. Winning even more cider in the raffle as well as John McCanns kind donation, wobbled out of the boozer tipsy and sore with extra bottles in my bag. A lift to the door from my good buddy Con. Thanks Con. The further away from that race I get the more fondly I look back on it and after recently doing RD for an LL race and realizing just how much is involved in it, I can only imagine how much harder it would be to have the finish line 6k away at the top of a mountain. Fair play to Andres and all the volunteers.
Bring on Sorrell Hill!!
Bloodymindedness Wins the Race
20 June, 2019 - Miriam MaherLaces quadrupled tied, an actual lunch had this week vs. percy pig fizzy tails of last week, long desired club 100 T-shirt on, race number adorned with the 'go maith' sticker for the early start...
Long climb - short report - ploughed up, kept Dee behind and got to the summit first.
Never has a race between friends been won so doggedly and with such relish, my lack of subtlety knew no bounds.
Congrats to Aoife and Killian - the actual race winners - not sure they could have been happier or felt more accomplished than me though. Just in time for my holidays too!
Thanks Andreas, Lillian and the gang for a fantabulous evening on the hills.
Up hill really this a race?
20 June, 2019 - Mikey FryUp
So it’s the up hill lark tonight no messing around had the usual avoca rice crispy cake nonsense to avoid but really wanted to lash into it with a cup of tea down on the beach crunchy sand chewing in the mouth plenty of sand back in the house...nip off to meet pete at grove pub into his car some chats about how we weren’t a huge fan of this race not enough downhill arrive at race discover that we don’t have to run wicklow way bit at start whooop whoop:) started to rain we jumped into car I could have easily stayed there for a nap I think John bell had a sneaky one he arrived at start line without his number and his skirt had too go back to car and the rest you’ll have to ask him...andreas flower pot man gets us going man all the fast guys were out tonight they forgot to ring each other to say who was coming to win I think they all wanted to win up the steep steps sharp left(John bell??) and they were all gone I was trying to recover lashed after them pat myself Peter bell peter Gorman David (aka swimming togs)Barry minock also Issac is back looking like his out for a picnic carrying rain jacket in hand he seems just to float up them hills warren leading us tonight warrens got his springs back in had a oil change on Monday night this right turn off wicklow way is a lovely up hill section even if you don’t like hills the scenery is beautiful pow we’re flying down towards waterfall viewing point more great views Pete bell warren David in front giving it socks sharp right back onto the way Peter Gorman passes I keep up Left turn only descent but I’d down hill I pass Peter and Issac like a ragging something they’ll tell you bang over the bridge peter passes me again and Issac legs need a bit of recovery I spot Pete bell struggling so I push after him take him before stile (where is John bell)so I’m felling bit better do push on after the lads over next stile this is going to be hard still no pressure from behind I think still no mr short shorts Bell mmmmmm still chasing Peter and warren hit steeper part of djouce and it’s power walks baby past first fence and young sorry names gone and no results up yet to check Conor really I thought we had a deal race report for results:))
So push push pant pant over the line literally collapse on peter warren and Co glad that’s over...talking to ruari at finish seems that he had a super race with des and killian who took home gold himself silver and ian bronze super running guys and well done everyone not an easy race...Peter bells up still no sign of John eventually he appears in all his glory shirts on:)
So it’s onto to a forced long cool down myself and Pete struggled home together literally...
Thanks again to Andreas and crew super race ...
Mikey completely knackered who couldn’t even write report last night out for the count....
Time Warp Again...(Carrick II)
20 June, 2019 - Brian KitsonIreland in the year 2053. Our soggy little island is now the sole remaining member of the European Union and has become the richest country in the world. Once the British Brexited back in 2029 many thought that the EU was a busted flush and nation after nation scampered to leave. Except Ireland. Through an unprecedented show of obstinance, patience and pure cute-hoorism Ireland somehow managed to secure increasingly generous withdrawal agreements from successive exiting nations until finally, we were the only country left. So now, the country is awash with money and even IMRA are rolling in it. Outside the seventeen-story IMRA HQ building on Stephen’s Green the Tri-colour proudly flutters alongside the EU flag – a single yellow star on an azure background - and a fleet of flying electric cars await to whisk city dwelling runners to the mountains.
Rian, the eldest son of the legendary IMRA stalwart Caoimhin MacMaolain, is celebrating his 50th birthday that year also and I’m invited. Caoimhin is there and exudes the quiet contentment of a man who has enjoyed a life well lived and today, surrounded by his family and friends, he couldn’t be happier. Until that is, one of his 82 grandchildren asks me to tell them the story of ‘the great Djouce race’ between Rian and Grandad Caoimhin. Music stops, people are gathered round as I take them back to Summer of ’19 and the Powerscourt Uphill Leinster League…
It all began with a narrow defeat at Carrick a couple of weeks earlier. Just 700m from the finish line to be precise when the then sixteen year old Rian was just minutes from the glory of finally defeating his old man in a race when Caoimhin caught him and passed him by. But that was on the final downhill section. Rian figured he might be a slightly better climber than his father and wondered if he could contrive a way to beat his Dad on the Powerscourt course that finishes at the summit of Djouce mountain that night.
I bumped into Rian near the start at Crone Woods car park. The air was a mix of nerves, drizzle and Jungle Formula scented midgies.
Me: So, are you going to finally beat your audle fella tonight?
He shook his head smiling to himself and went off to warm up.
I did a bit of a warm-up too. I’m rubbish at warming up. My routine looks like something you’d see before a pub league football match: last drag of the fag, big shlug of the pint (leave the rest for half time), two rapid quick hammer curls, a clap the hands and off we go. Sure I’ll warm up into it.
Our highly capable Race Director, Andreas, stood on the barrier at the back of the race field to give his briefing while I tried to look like I fitted in with the fast, bouncey lads up at the front. I couldn’t hear a word he was saying but I got the general gist when he pointed towards the sky, and then pointed even higher in the sky. Somebody said ‘go’ and after that it was all a painful blur. I was working so hard on the early climb that at one point my vision went fuzzy and I began to lose all sensation in my lips. ‘Ah christ, don’t tell me this how it ends; a mad dose of sudden paralysis or a heart attack on the side of Djouce’. Turns out it was just the deet I splashed on my face like cologne before the race. Nothing to worry about: just the nice, harmless, friendly chemicals numbing my entire face. The route took us along a lovely, steep single track trail through the forest I had never run before which I enjoyed despite the effort. At some point, Aoife Coffey passed me by and I tried to hang on. She’s too good though and bounds up the hill like a boss and fades into the distance.
Once the going eventually flattens out I start closing in again on Aoife and pass her near the overhanging rocks above the mighty Powerscourt waterfall on the Wicklow way. I manage the pass another couple of lads on the downhill to the stream and dig in as best I can on the climb up Djouce.
A short distance behind me, the race of the year was taking place. Rian pressing home his advantage on the steeper ground passed Caoimhin on the first climb, but Caoimhin hung on from about 100m behind. Still a threat. Rian charged ahead and sprang past Rob Costello bagging another old-timer scalp. But you won’t meet a more wily competitor than Robbie and a choosing the grassy verge along the stone path after the river crossing helped Rob get back in front. As Rian clambered over the stile he took a good look back for Caoimhin. Never look back. Eyes met, and father and son both thought the same thing, ‘got you now’.
The pressure intensified on the grassy climb up Djouce. Caoimhin was closing the gap with every step. Rian was fading. Then, normal service seemed to have resumed when Caoimhin arrived alongside Rian and pulled ahead. Dad passed him once more in the latter stages of a race, ‘what do I have to do to beat him?’, thought Rian. But the word, 'fight', was the only answer that came to mind that night. So, Rian refused to let him pull away and at the turn for the summit cone he decided to go for it. The ground grew steeper and he found an extra gear his father lacked and managed to push in front one more time. This time he pressed his advantage and built a bit of a lead.
At the fenced off preservation area halfway up the summit cone, Rian caught up with Rob. Despite being chased by his father he hesitated to pass Rob but in a simply delicious act of treachery on his friend, Rob turned from being Rian’s competitor to his cheerleader. ‘Go on son, this is your night’ he said as Rian passed by. The two continue to climb. Rob just behind, ‘keep her lit, Rian’…’200 metres, go for it, take them out’…they both heaved passed Alan Ayling and a Sli Cullain runner.
Then, with 50 metres to go, Rian sensed the presence of his father on his back. He didn’t dare look back this time but felt the familiar chill of inevitability and it sapped all the strength he had. He began to slow at a point in the race when he could least afford to. He heard one more shout of encouragement. ‘This is yours, Rian’. His mind was dazed and he was unsure if the voice he heard was Rob’s or his own. Rob made a move to pass him, but nobody would pass him now and with one more act of defiance lashed forward across the line to finish a truly epic race.
Seconds later his father crossed the line and it was hard to tell which of the MacMaolain men was happier. Rian has worked hard for this performance. His sweat drenched the furrows and trails on Bray Head this summer and he was rightly the undoubted star of the summit. Many knew the backstory and were quick to congratulate. But there was only dignified pride from both men. For a boy, there is no greater accomplishment than to finally overcome his father in a pursuit that matters through honest endeavour. And for a father, there is no greater accomplishment than raising a child who might dedicate themselve to such a pursuit.
When I finished my story, I turned to Caoimhin and thought I noticed a glint in his eye. ‘For telling that story again’, he said, ‘I’m going to have you in the M80 prize next week'.
I seemed to have found a steady rhythm on the climb up Djouce. My spirits raised when I managed to pass Peter Bell and Mark Sheridan (I think) on the grassy section. Better still my coach, Terry McConnon , was there to witness it. He had finished his own run and was standing on the side of the trail taking pictures of his runners. The feel-good factor quickly dissipated when I heard someone chasing up behind me. I braced myself for a fight. My concern turned to confusion when I saw that it was Terry who was chasing me down. He needed to get a better photograph, fair enough, at least he didn't ask me to stop and pose.
I've never felt as physically tired during an IMRA race. Javaid Gaynor was having a great IMRA Leinster League debut passed me and so too did Mark who I managed to shuffle behind all the way to the finish for 18th place.
I slumped wearily on the summit stone and waited for the battle of the year to unfold.
20 June, 2019My only strength with running is going up..
I'm a nervous descender and awkward on the flats.
But I love to climb, can climb all day and usually end up doing well..
Last weekend I ran the Wales Trail Half-marathon, 21k and 600m of climbs.
(Highly recommend it to everyone!) I wasn't in great form on the day,
but placed well at 44th out of 460. Really enjoyable run, but felt it was
a pity my racing legs decided to stay home..
I've been looking forward to the Powerscourt Uphill for
the last few weeks and was feeling in good form again for this run.
Djouce is a little over-rated.. It's a long slog, but not as steep
as it appears. The only two real climbs are directly after the river and
the final clamber to the peak.
I assumed the race start followed the Wicklow Way fire-road from Crone,
which I knew well from the Maurice Mullins Ultra in March. During a small
warm-up run however I discovered after the first 500m we'd be clambering
up a long, very steep and narrow track.
This changed my approach.. With these types of paths you can easily
end up stuck on a slow train, with no room for escape.. So my strategy
was to work hard initially, get far up the pack, as soon as possible,
then just try to maintain my place for the rest of the run.
My biggest mistake for the night happened before the race even started..
I've made a good habit this year of starting towards the front of the
bunch, but tonight didn't get this right. Instead, when the race started
I was caught in the middle..
Straight into the first climb through the forest I was stuck trying
to dodge up and around bodies, working hard to get past
over-optimistic runners who'd soon be walkers once we hit the single track.
A small descent before we hit the track, I pushed hard to sprint by
as many legs as possible, even though it could be a mistake to get too
tired so early.
We hit the narrow path, a long line of colours on the steep hill ahead.
I tucked into my place on the slow train, watching the feet in front,
looking for opportunities to dodge up and over. I'd never run this trail
so had no idea how long or steep it was, but kept working harder than planned
to get ahead before settling into a pace I could sustain for Djouce.
The steep hill got steeper, hands-on-knees climbing, over some slightly
technical sections and finally onto a wider path, heading left
back towards the Wicklow Way. I eased back, took the slight
descent to recover, catching my breath and preparing for the mountain slog.
I took it very slow for the sharp descent to the river, taking the earth-path
on the left rather than the stone steps. Several bodies flew past, but
no sweat I'd soon be passing them once we hit the incline.. this is a climber's
From the river crossing upwards I didn't have quite the snappy energy I was
hoping for, the weekend's hilly half-marathon was still lingering in the legs.
But I tagged onto a runner ahead, tucked in and caught my breath, then hopped
past them to catch the next. I managed to pass several more on the grassy
stretch up towards the final climb.
For most of the final steep stretch it was again hands-on-knees, but focusing on
keeping the chin up, keeping a long stride and fast turn-over. Several more victims..
The last few meters I was able to run, gained one final place before reaching
The view from Djouce was truly worth it, we were lucky to get a break in the clouds
and showers. Across the Irish Sea I could make out the Welsh mountains, where'd I just been running days earlier.
This was the hardest effort I'd run this year, was able to dig deep
for the climbs and couldn't have given it much more, it's good to feel in form..
As usual with IMRA, the whole event had a fantastic atmosphere, there were all shapes and ages out on the hill and everyone seemed to enjoy the shared suffering.
The route was well marked, everything was extremely well coordinated by the volunteers. Thanks for the great run!