Irish Mountain
Running Association



John J BarryDermot Murphy

John J Barry

Galtymore: (1340 meters climb : 12.60 Km distance)

Written by Pat Barry (IMRA debutant)

I have had my eye on this race for a number of years but it always occurred before the Stockport schools broke up which did not allow me to get back for it. This year however there was a week in between so I informed my wife we were off to Ireland that weekend.

I tried to recky the race on a very misting morning last Christmas but the maze of little roads defeated me until I found what I thought was the correct road with a hill where it should be so off I went into the mist. Climbed that OK and dropped off the back into the col, still OK but it went pretty wrong after that, why was that lake there and why was I on a ridge that did not seem to make sense on my postage stamp map. I just gave up and headed directly south to hit a road about a mile from the car so an interesting couple of hours but overall not a very successful outing. Roll on eight months and this time I had my brother so back to the Christmas start point and an hour before the race nobody around. Strange I know there are small fields in Irish races but this is ridiculous my certainty that we were in the correct place was starting to get a bit shaky. Back to the slightly less small road and counting farm entrances suggested we were not in the correct place, so micro navigating from the car, counting yet more farm entrances brought us to a little hand written sign and arrow “Hill Race” that looks promising. It also explained a lot from Christmas while I thought I was climbing “Cush”, I was in fact climbing Slieve Cushnabinnia, which, in my defense, does have a very similar profile.

IMRA insurance requires all runners to be members so up to registration with my IMRA application form. For one off races in cases like mine they wave the race entry fee so I just had to pay the 10 Euro to join IMRA. It was a mild afternoon low cloud base (below 600 meters) so I could wear my Pennine top with pride and not buried below a waterproof. I felt I was in the presence of royalty when Paul Tierney (sub 18 hr. Bob Graham this year and two 3rd place finishes in the Lake Land 100 recognized the Pennine top from the FRA forums and came over to say hello. This was the final of five races in the Irish Championship so there were some serious individuals around.

The usual pre-race safety pep talk then 49 hardy souls set off. Soon after the start the field split into two with about 10 of us following a fence line on a rough trace the remainder of the field were 10 meters to our right. I was wondering if I had taken a bad line here but nothing to be done about it now, just remember this for the return as the race was a straight out and back over the summits of Cush, Galtybeg and Galtymore. Shortly into the run we climbed over a stile and a soft flat section met us before the steep gradient of Cush. This was the first serious climb of the day was upon us and we were soon reduced to a walk. This is the first of five climbs today so no killing myself so early. The mid-packers were still fairly close together and I was climbing with a lady, (Loretto Duggan) who would be the ladies winner. Eventually the first serious climb was over and we had the “short” descent, where Loretto overtook me to the col between Cush and Galtybeg. This was a slog as it was soft and grufs that Kinder would have been proud of! Cross the col and this wall of Grass and rock appears out of the mist. I can’t say I did not know this was coming so “head down” and slog my way up. Thankfully I had read some old race reports so I knew about the “step”. Approaching it, it looks like the top but it is only an insultingly brief reprieve before it gets worse.

Eventually we reach the summit of Galtybeg where the summit marshal shouts words of encouragement from this hideaway behind a rock. Then the badly eroded descent to the quagmire that is the col between Galtybeg ‘agus’ Mor. Galtymore is very much a hill of two halves on the north side it could be in the Pennines but the south side is a vertical cliff straight down to a corrie lake. The footpath, that follows the very top of the cliff, is Okish for going uphill but I would not fancy running down it as a bad trip to the left would leave very little room to save one self. Around the summit and start the return leg. This was the only decent that I would consider myself fast on. The ground was stunted grass and small stones that were just setting on a layer of water. I have great confidence in my Mud-Claws that are made for these conditions. I just shot down a line I had identified on the way up (well away from the cliff) and overtook loads of people who were struggling with grip. The only problem was my line dumped me into knee deep peat in the col at the bottom that I had to dig myself out of. I accidentally discovered a secret line up to the summit of Galtybeg the leaders must have taken as there were some mud claw tracks heading down it. The summit of Galtybeg is a short narrow ridge. The natural line off it is to follow the gentle descent east along the line of the ridge. The North and South are both steep drops. Loretto and another bloke hesitated just after the summit but I knew the line was directly south so turn left and hurdle myself down the steep slope.

Eventually break out of the mist and a mixed blessing, a faint trod can be seen across the col so the line can be fine-tuned but that trod leads to this massive climb up to the summit of Cush, I have absolutely no memory of descending that much on the outward leg. Loretto overtook me yet again on the decent (she is just faster on the down hills) across the col where a foot into a bottomless pit resulted in a lovely face plant. Back on my feet and I had a target I was a faster climber than Loretto so I caught and passed her but I had to keep pushing to get as far ahead as possible because of her faster descending. Across the summit and passed a couple of blokes who were really struggling on the extremely steep decent due to wearing what looked like road shoes. Knowing there were 3 people not far behind me I had a 3 km sprint to the finish. Over the style and I choose to go down the route the majority of the field used on the accent, big mistake! it was a trod about 6 inches wide and a foot deep - it was horrible! I was so slow in it and I could hear footsteps and breathing getting closer to be overtaken by Loretto and another male competitor 50 meters from the line.

The winner was Brian Furey in 89:40 (he was 20th at Snowdon) I came in 2hr 6 minutes in 22 place out of the 49 starters, which I was very happy with. Off to the pub then for a great feast of sandwiches and biscuits washed down by a couple of pints of Guinness.

I have to give a special thanks to the organizers. The difficulty of the race was shown by the number of DNFs and they had to go looking for the lady who ended up spending 5+ hours in the hills goes to show the responsibility the organizers take upon themselves, so a very big thank you to Tom Blackburn Et al.

Dermot Murphy

From Tom Blackburn:

We had the lovely wet cloudy weather for our race on Sunday. The race
took off very fast with a group of 6 lead by Stephin Cleary to the
base of Cush where Dion Mc Neily took over on Galty Beg it was very
tight as Brian Furey and Rob Cleary pushed hard and when we turned on
Galtymore Brian was ahead and flying followed by Rob and Dion in hot
persuit. But on Galty Beg on the way down things Changed, Rob pulled too
far right and went way too low which saw him on the wrong side of the
mountain going in the wrong way. Brian was now out on his own and
opening a lead Dion and Curley (DM - Mike Cunningham) were neck and neck heading to the top of Galty Beg and I was in persuit but some where in the cloud Curley broke away from Dion missed the flags that were ment to give him his line off Galty Beg and kept going on straight ahead. I caught Dion on
the steep decent and as we came out of the cloud cover pushed on to
Cush with no signe of anyone ahead,and Dion pushing hard from behind i
had to work hard to stay ahead.

It turned out that there were simular stories all the way back
through the field as visibality was very bad in sections,and as anyone
can see some experienced runners showed some great common sence and
pulled off as DNF we only had one person who got lost properly.but was
found on her way back to the finish none the worse for ware. I would
like to thank all who helped especialy the two summet Marshels Rob and
Paul.Brian and Sean for registration and results,and Jean for the
start and finish and the Photos. Also thanks to all who rose to the
Challange on the day and a special thanks to those who helped to find
the missing Lady.

See you all in Mangerton on 19th.