Irish Mountain
Running Association



Brian O MurchuPaul KevilleRene Borg

Brian O Murchu

Scarr 6th June 2012 - Superstition v Thrash Talking race strategy

It is with praise to the IMRA ethos of carpooling that I can enter so many IMRA races, including Scarr. I carpooled with Colin Doyle and Paraic Gallagher. On our way to the race we had an interesting discussion about IMRA forum posting etiquette. When we arrived at race registration, we speculated if Mick Fal would be toeing the line with us on the start line.

At the last minute, I decided to change my t-shirt for the race (something I rarely do). I thought as I’ve come 14th in the last two races, if I do better, it’s because of the t-shirt. If I do worse... it’s because of the t-shirt. I hope you don’t think I’m superstitious.

As one of 200+ runners taking my place on the start line, it was another fantastic evening for mountain running, mostly dry conditions. As the race got underway, I was wishing I had worn sunglasses as we had a long stretch of sunny skies. A little further up the mountain there was some wet and boggy patches, and the split second when you step towards a wet patch and before you foot hits something solid, reminded me of the episode of Bear Grylls (in Scotland) when he steps on a boggy patch and disappears momentarily into the bog. Luckily there was no repeat of being swallowed by a bog, as all the wet and boggy patches were ankle deep at most. Trying to avoid the biggest of the wet pools requires planning ahead. Following the person in front, I found, is not always the best line to take. But once on a line, you need to commit to it, as changing line can be tricky, slow you down and can even be a trip hazard.

Having not done this race previously, travelling with other runners who have is very beneficial. It was related that there was three false summits. Every time it looked like I was about to summit, I knew there was more uphill coming. A little knowledge seems to add to my confidence in that I feel I have some kind of advantage over some of the runners around me. This confidence of knowledge made me feel like the gap to the runners ahead was getting smaller, even though the runners ahead of me probably kept the same gap.

I find out-and-back races interesting as you can see everyone else in the race. Although this time descending off Scarr, I was avidly watching where I could step as I was travelling fast, so I missed saying hello to Dave Brady. Ten more races and he’ll be joining the IMRA 100. I did manage to acknowledge Colin Doyle, who shouted I was in “14th place”. Damn it, 14th again, I thought, it must have been because of the t-shirt.

After being passed by lots of runners on the first half of the descent, I found myself in the unfamiliar position of passing out runners on the lower part of the descent. I had an extra focus at this point which I will explain shortly. Towards the end of the race going through the gate and onto the gravel road, my legs were telling me this descent was tough and starting to take it‘s toll. But as with out-and-back routes, it is easily familiar how far is left to go, and knowing the end would be soon in sight and I made one final burst. Taking a few more places, I managed to finish higher than 14th, success! I am going to put the improved performance and focus on the descent down to, not the t-shirt (to prove I‘m not superstitious), but ‘thrash-talking’ the mountain as we were arriving by car. If you haven’t tried it before, it’s simple, on first sight of the mountain on the way to the race, shout some abuse/thrash talk in it’s direction. I’m surprised this hasn’t caught on already and isn‘t a forum topic...

Paul Keville

When inturned up to wednesdays event on scarr mountain I was thinking to myself will I take it as a training run or will I give it a good lash and push myself on. That was the question I asked myself. After seeing some of my competition and the usual buzz and atmosphere at mountain runs it was hard not to push myself and give it what I could. Keeping an eye out for some of my competition and other runners in and around my pace. Just at this point I see my cousin Eammon O'Neill. Not long at mountain running but good strong consistant runner and when he wants he can out pace me and get very decent results. So I thought keep an eye on him dont let him out of my sight and that should drive me on.

So we started at the base of scarr and soon got of the country road and onto the nice soft boggy path thinking to myself a fall on this and i would bounce right back up. Something I had to put into practice later in the race. will talk about that later. So the steady ascent faced us and I decided to keep a steady pace up the hill. Working on keeping up on my toes throughout the ascent was my goal, something that worked to my advantage. Steadily working my way past a number of runners by keeping on my toes and no matter what the ascent was, I kept my pace up even if i was getting a bit light headed. I knew that this mountain wouldn't last forever. I made my way throught the ranks and could see the lead group for a small amount of time anyway. So approximately 1-2km from the summit who comes up running beside me but that cousin of mine. So tactically I told myself keep on him match his pace. This kept my legs going when I felt like powerwalking and slowing down. So after running and matching his pace he got ahead of me but I kept him in sight and wasnt prepared to let him get away as I knew that a boggypath decent was coming. The type of terain that suits me. So approaching the summit we face some steep up and down short hills. This slowed a number of runners down and just about got me walking up them. But just before the final two hills at the summit I somehow got a burst of energy and bounced up them passing out a number of runners who had to slow down. Just in time to reach the summit I managed to pass Eammon. This gave me the confidence boost to drive myself on. So after reaching the summit there was no time to hesitate. A quick hello to rachel the summit marshal and like a bat of hell iItook of down the hill tackling some of the steep hills on the summit. These were great oppertunities to pass decending runners as my confidence in these steep tricky rocky decents were my type of terain. The orienteer in me really comes out here. Who needs a smooth track to run on? Give me bog, heather and rocks to jump over any day. So keeping my place and refusing to let anyone catch me at this stage I took of down the hill keeping an eye on front and picking of other runners to catch up on. I managed to catch a couple of runners before the ground levelled of slightly bofore the track turned left by the fence and the forrestry. I struggled to hold of runners at this point. The tricky descents work well for me to gain places but as it levels of there is always a strong athlete possibly a road runner who will have the strength to pass me here. Gravity is my friend in these races. But I held on to my place and as I turned onto the track by the forrestry I knew that we had approximately less than 2km to the finish. My legs up there pace. Thinking to myself have I peaked too early am i going too fast too early to sustain myself for the rest of the race? I could feel my legs almost uncontrollably taking over as gravity and the thought of the finsh line in sight. I managed to pass Jimmy Synnott close before the gate to the gravel road, the last person I managed to pass on my descent. I could feel the finish line getting closer at this point. My legs uncontrollably getting faster and faster as my eyes began to water and my belly began to ache. But one last push and i could see Catherine Devitt and Dermot Murphy in sight. Thinking If i can just catch up to them. I have been getting similar results to Dermot latelly and if i manage to pass him would be the icing on the cake for this race. My thinking was that an exciting sprint finish was coming up between us. So I keep my legs going and drive through the pain but just as we approach the final turn uncontrollably i trip on the gravel road sending me falling face first onto the gravel track. I must of had so much adrenaline or dopermine runnig through my body I manage to jump straight up and keep going. I was aware that Jimmy Synott was close and soon he would be breathing down my neck. I knew at this point that dermot and catherine were out of my reach. I just knew that blood was running down my right leg but I knew the finish line was just in sight. I give a last push on my tired and injured body and pass the finish line keeping my place and managing to hold of Jimmy Synott.

Tired and still buzzing from the race i was quickly lead to the side by Padraic Gallagher on first aid as he noticed the nasty gash on my knee. A quick look down myself and the lack of blood suprised me but what did surpise me was how deep my graze was. Is that the bone i see thinking to myself. However bad it was I could not feel the pain thinking adrenaline is great and that this will hurt in the morning. So Padraic and his crew patched me up and a number of helpers helped me get to hospital. Thanks to all who helped me out. Padraic on first aid, Angus Tyner, Mike Jordon, and a big thanks to Hazel Thompson and Brendan O'Connor for conveying me and my car to hospital. If i left anyone out thanks again. I got 5 stitches just below my knee. Iniatially the nurses thought that i may have damaged a tendon but i was just sown up. In the doctors words the stitches can come out in twelve days and 'I will be free to run wild again'. Thanks to all for a great race and i hopefully will be back in just over two weeks. Just in time for the Setanta Rogaine : )

Paul Keville

Rene Borg


1. Sli Cualann 21 (3 Ben Mooney, 5 Rafael Salazar, 13 Martin Francis)
2. UCD 27 (4 Zoran Skrba, 6 Niall Fox, 17 Eoin Syron)
3. Crusaders AC 54 (1 Torben Dahl, 22 Oran Murphy, 31 Kevin O'Riordan)
4. Boards 96 (7 Angus Tyner, 16 John Ahern, 73 Odhran Hendley)
5. Rathfarnham WSAF 108 (27 Mike Long, 40 William Griffin, 41 Archie O'Donnell)
6. Clonliffe Harriers 149 (23 Dermot Murphy, 29 Paul Duffy, 97 David Duffy)
7. Setanta 170 (24 Paul Keville, 59 Andreas Kusch, 87 Fergus Byrne)
8. Glenasmole 261 (70 Thomas Galvin, 72 Cillian Stewart, 119 Ercus Stewart)

1. Rathfarnham WSAF 26 (3 Zoe Melling, 5 Eilis Connery, 18 Eva Fairmaner)