Over a year had passed since Anthony and I and most of the 200 runners had entered this flagship IMRA race so you can imagine the buzz when we finally found ourselves on the starting line on a beautiful sunny late August Sunday morning overlooking Lough Tay. Eoin who is running up and down mountains (and snapping them) for fun these days got a late entry to join us for the challenge.
And a challenge it was – 22k with 900m of climb. The route was out and back on The Wicklow Way from Lough Tay to Crone Woods. The first quarter took us mostly on boardwalk up and over White Hill to the single track Djouce shoulder and on down by The Potato Ridges to The Dargle River. The footbridge was followed by a short but steep hike back up towards Maulin and a sharp right turn to take us all the way down the WW trail above Powerscourt Waterfall to the Crone Woods Car park turnaround point.
The race was self sufficient so most competitors carried water, gels and jellies on their back or on a belt. Anthony and I ran shoulder to shoulder helping each other through two thirds of the race. Eoin headed out with the early starters and had to do it all on his own without support, fair play. Anthony found another gear to push on and complete the course in 2h13m to win his age category for the first time. The winner came home in 1h41m. Full results here.
All runners found the second half of the race very tough. The 7k drag from Crone car park all the way up and around the Djouce shoulder was brutal at that stage of the race. The only relief were the cooler misty conditions that had set in at this stage. Tired legs on the downhill stepped boardwalk for most of the final 4k made for tentative running (my quads are in bits as I pen this on Monday evening) so no freewheeling down towards the finish line on this occasion.