Cap on numbers at Brockagh

Brendan LawlorMay 29, 6:47pmI've started a new thread on this to avoid confusion on the main Brockagh Thread

From Cormac O'Ceallaigh....

This opens a wider debate.I am against a cap .The mountains and trails are to be enjoyed .The designated paths are there for a purpose.The popularity of the mountains has only taken off in recent years.I recall my hill walking days from over 10 yrs ago and many was the time you would be lucky to meet someone on a day in the mountains!
What's the difference between our race and say 5/6 different groups of hill walkers doing this walk on a Sunday whose numbers may very well combined exceed 150?
What next - will they be sending in the choppers to monitor the event!
180 runners took part in this race last year ,and with the fine dry weather I would expect that this would well be exceeded tomorrow.
I appreciate the committee and Dermot put in Trojan work trying to oversee and organise a packed calendar and perhaps some of our new members may have the time and the capacity to take up this cause further.
Brendan LawlorMay 29, 7:07pmI am surprised and a little concerned that the cap on numbers at Brockagh tomorrow hasn't received as much attention as it should. It could indicate that a majority of IMRA members don't bother with the forum and will merrily turn up tomorrow at Brockagh expecting business as usual - a lot of them are going to be in for a fair old shock when they get turned away and it will put the recent carpool controversy rightly in the shade.

I don't agree with Cormac.

IMRA has been living in the La-La world of unsustainablity with the Leinster League for a long time. The decision of the NPWS to impose a limit of 150 on tomorrows race will force the association to confront this reality.250-300 people running every week in the LL can't continue - it imposes car parking problems, organisational difficulties, route bottleneck and track erosion.

Putting a limit on numbers in a race is nothing happens all the time in other types of races and we do it ourselves for the WW Relay.

Lets see how tomorrow plays out but the Race Director will need all her military training and the support of the IMRA committee to deal with the inevitable difficulties and complaints this cap will cause - bring along some Artillery and a tank Caitriona!
Justin ReaMay 29, 7:25pmWould it be possible for someone to post details on who has actually applied the cap, and why? There was some info in the Brockagh thread that stated it was Wicklow Mountains National Park.

A policy like this could severely restrict recreational events that have a positive effect on the country. Examples are the Art O'Neill, Walk the Line, Dublin Mountain Plod, etc.
Dermot MurphyMay 29, 7:40pmJustin, it was the Wicklow Mountains National park and they said there is another event on Brokagh earlier in the day.

As Brendan says, it all comes down to sustainability. Whether that restrictions due to parking or the landowners (National parks in this case), we need to live within the limits which we find ourselves in from time to time.

Make no mistake - the future of any race in a sensitive area is at stake. With Carrauntoohil taking place at the weekend, its a timely reminder that we lost the old route on Carrauntoohil due to the souring of relations with the local landowner. We need to make sure we learned our lesson here.
Brendan LawlorMay 29, 7:46pmJustin

Both Walk the Line and Art O'Neill are subject to a National Parks permit and numbers cap as they cross NP land. The Plod might not.

In theory any event which takes place on NP lands and which will have more than 50 participants requires a permit - IMRA have stayed under the NP radar for a long time, but as Stuart said earlier it was always likely that this would happen some day.

Committee members might also comment...
Dermot MurphyMay 29, 8:16pmBrendan, yes any event over 50 people needs a permit. We always need a permit for events on Camaderry (Circuit of Glendalough has an agreed limit of 50) and Powerscourt uphill and Powerscourt Ridge both required permits last year. National parks constantly review the situation on any particular route as circumstances can change from time to time. I also hope to review the 2013 calendar with the National Parks at the time we will be drawing it up around October/November time, to consider any issues they might have.
Patrick BarryMay 29, 8:57pmI live in England and caps on races is the norm. Little local races would typically get 100 to 150 entrants so they would be enter on the day with no cap. But all the big ones such as in the Lakes would all be "pre-entry only" with a cap. It takes great diplomacy for the ROs to sort out access with the National Trust, National Parks Authority, etc and we are very grateful to them
Gerry BradyMay 29, 10:31pmBrendan

I obtained permits from the National Parks and Wildlife Service for the Colleges race on Camaderry last March (also in 2010 and 2011), the Lakes relay, the trial race on 9th June, and the International Youths on June 24th.

Apart from allowing NPWS to undertake monitoring of erosion and sustainability, with the permit can come advantages such as closer parking access, right to hold the event, and a formal recording of us as users of these areas which may ensure our needs are taken into account in strategic plans etc.
Kevin O'RiordanMay 29, 11:04pmI agree with Brendan and Dermot on this one. You only need to look at the likes of Djouce/Fairy Castle to see the damage that overuse does to the mountains. The alternative is you confine your activities to artificial "sacrificial" routes such as can be seen on Snowdon/Ben Nevis/Tibradden which can work for allowing us to run races such as the Plod and various trail races with masses of runners but doesn't make for very satisfying mountain running in my opinion. Barring the fire road at the start, the Brockagh route isn't a very sustainable route, it wouldn't take much to turn the lovely grassy descent into an eroded mess, or worse still, mark it as a candidate for being ripped up and replaced with an artificial stone steps route.
Alan AylingMay 29, 11:49pmI may be a bit off the mark with the specifics here (and perhaps someone from the NPWS would like to correct me, if they read this), but the NPWS is the organisation charged with maintaining all National Park lands and designated Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), and for enforcing the Habits Directive, which is Europe-wide. I gather the NPWS found itself in some hot water with the European lot some years ago over not doing enough to enforce this directive and so now has to be seen to be taking every threat seriously, even if this may seem over-zealous to those of us who enjoy being in the mountains. In reality, the vast majority of the damage that time was due to off-road vehicles (4x4s, motorbikes, quads), but the rest of us now have to get tarred with the same brush (walkers, mountainbikers and even us hillrunners). None are completely blameless of course.

Let us hope that as this pans out over the coming months and years that the NPWS can be more sensible and reasonable than a certain Kerry landowner.
Paul O'GradyMay 30, 12:15amDoes anyone know what this other race is??? I can’t find any details on the Internet.

I agree with not destroying our beautiful mountains - but an IMRA race once a year is hardly doing much damage - especially during the summer months when the ground would be hard enough.

The problem is that limiting numbers would have a negative effect on all concerned - apart from the bad feelings caused when runner 151 turns up, there is also the issue of full carparks from 6pm etc etc. I'm heading straight from work tomorrow - as opposed to going home first.

I have to agree with the post above - I think an official has over-stepped the mark here - we are very conscientious users and getting people involved in outdoor pursuits in Ireland should be seen as a good thing - and not an opportunity to exercise an administrative decision making power.
Donal TroddynMay 30, 12:38am"I think an official has over-stepped the mark here - we are very conscientious users and getting people involved in outdoor pursuits in Ireland should be seen as a good thing - and not an opportunity to exercise an administrative decision making power."

Paul, you and I are good friends, but that's a load of shite. We want to use the National Park, they have conditions, we meet them and everyone's happy. The National Park is just that, a national resource, not our racecourse. Many of our courses are through WMNP land, and we must accept that those races are run at their leisure, not ours. Unilaterally deciding that we are more conscientious or mountain-friendly than anyone is not our call.
Warren SwordsMay 30, 10:46amIs there any explanation into how the decision was arrived at? Does the same restriction apply to a walking group?

Would a mandatory trail shoes only help increase numbers?

I mention this as the WAR adventure race in Glendalough has this requirement: "Remember the National Parks require all competitors to wear trail shoes for WAR: Glendalough."

Dermot MurphyMay 30, 10:58amTrail shoes aren't mentioned in the permit conditions.

By the way, they said it was an event early in the day, not necessarily a race (I know the news item says race). I presumed it was a walking group myself but I didn't go into the details.

The permit is also has the conditions of no littering (I given for IMRA races) and also to stick to the eroded path - which will be marked. Please do not spread out on to the heather.
John LangenbachMay 30, 11:32amAre there other races coming up that have yet to get a permit or may end up being subject to a similar cap? It would be good to resolve any issues in good time.
Stuart ScottMay 30, 11:46amAm I right in thinking Brendan that the route of Walk the Line had to be changed slightly to avoid ground that was more easily eroded? Some have suggested doing the same with our races and yes, it's definitely possible but I'd choose a numbers cap over a boring trail race any day!

I completely agree with Donal. In the past I've had to organise permits from a few state bodies and the NPWS are by far the easiest to deal with and the most accomodating. Their concerns are legitimate so it's up to us to work out ways to deal with them. As a more 'established' organisation we have been given a lot more leeway than the likes of WAR etc.

Warren has a good point about trail shoes. On the whole, I don't think we as runners have a big impact but the odd slide can rip out undergrowth which will never grow back. But there are plenty of other factors as well as footwear so I don't think it's a necessary requirement.

On a related note, have the Continuity IMRA gone underground this year?!
Brendan LawlorMay 30, 12:01pmStuart, yes Walk the Line route has been amended this year to avoid erosion between Corrig and Kippure

CIMRA will certainly be recruiting tonight, once they get to race entrant 150...

Oglaigh na h'Eireann organising the race and CIMRA organising the 'Run for the disappointed latecomers' - who would have guessed it!
Jeff FitzsimonsMay 30, 12:23pmI think we need to act responsibly and accept the restrictions the permit imposes. And I'm sure those involved in organising tonight's race will do so, those planning to race should do the same.

I've previously expressed an opinion that I believe the change in route for Croagh Patrick was a good idea, it showed that IMRA recognise when compromise is required to maintain the viability of an event. Even if it is larger events that cause the majority of impact on that mountain, for example.

I believe this issue highlights the key challenge for IMRA is to manage both the actual and perceived impact our events have on the environment we run in. We may all think we are very low impact in our light shoes, and maybe we are, but a large crowd of people bounding down the hillside can look like hooliganism to some I'm sure.

For what it's worth I'm staying away tonight, there's a run on some big mountain in Kerry on Sunday I hear so will keep my powder, and shoes, dry for that. In life there are, almost always, options.
James HigginsMay 30, 12:56pmWell said Jeff.

We do need to act responsibly, accept the restrictions that the permit imposes and to cooperate with the Race Director tonight.
Holier Than ThouMay 30, 2:43pmOh absolutely. I shall flaggelate myself as I run also.
Jeff FitzsimonsMay 30, 4:35pm"I shall flaggelate myself as I run also."

Do whatever you want, nobody knows who you are. But you should be easy to spot if you follow through on your anonymous threat.
Michael StokerMay 31, 2:02pmI for one am pleased to see the issue of minimal impact / sustainability / giving something back staying front and centre in IMRA minds. On a related note, how would people feel about an increase in the race fee from 7 to, say, 8 quid, with 50 cents going directly to Mountain Meitheal (or similar) and 50 cents to the local MRT? I know cash is tight for everyone these days but a quid wouldn't break the bank and over the course of a racing year it would add up to a substantial sum we could all be proud of...anyway, just an idea.
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