Race report by Louise Jackman
I could abbreviate my race report into a single sentence; I followed Shay!
For those of you who have moved on from primary school history, the race is based on three prisoners escaping Dublin Castle via the sewers into the night. Art and Henry O’Neill, along with Red Hugh O’Donnell escaped from Dublin Castle on the night of 6 January 1592 making for the safety of Glenmalure. Art succumbed to hypothermia during the escape, hence the race is held in commemoration. Madness
Nevertheless, Friday night at ten, I find myself dragging a backpack through town towards Dublin Castle. Snag one, I can’t find the way in. How am I going to navigate to Glenmalure if I can’t even find the entrance?! About six more misfits are lurking, clearly in the same boat. We stand out like sore thumbs in high-vis loaded with gear. En masse, we skirt around to the side entrance and in I skip. Registration has a few steps: gear check; bag-drop; and tracker is taped on securely. All done and dusted quickly. Midnight rolls around at last. Out to the courtyard for the countdown. It’s a perfect night for running – cool and clear. I certainly didn’t think I’d be starting this race in a t-shirt!
The klaxon sounds and off we go. Round the corner and straight past Leo Burdocks. There’s a ripple of laughter, we’re all cracking the same jokes about stopping for a bag at this stage. It takes a few minutes to settle into a pace, but quickly Shay and I are jogging along taking it all in. We head along familiar roads – Clanbrassil Street, Harold’s Cross and we’re turning at the Blue Haven before I know it. We leave the security of streetlights and footpaths as the road begins to climb. And climb it does. We’ve agreed to make this 30k as easy as possible. We walk the hills and run the rest. It works well. We end up playing leap-frog with the same six or so runners who struggle up the hills for us to pass them again when it flattens out. I’m happy to save the legs thinking on what lies ahead. The mental checkpoints tick off. Stone Cross, Kilbride Camp, Shay’s pal’s house (the last landmark before THE TURN!) Shay has pointed this nondescript gate out to me every-time and it still looks like a gate into a field. There’s more of a hint tonight as the lights from head-torches bob as runners ahead jump it and start the slide downhill in the tractor-tracks. Back on road, the climb starts again in earnest. We look back at the stream of torches behind weaving along the roads and down the field. I wish I’d stopped for a photo.
In to checkpoint one before I know it. Well-warned to stay away from the heat of the camp-fires and the lure of the seats, I sit on the ground and swop running gear for heavier trail clothes. Head-torch finally goes on and I switch the GPS on. A quick coffee and off we go again. Later I look back and the timer says we were twelve minutes in CP 1! Twelve! And no wetsuits involved. We jog out of camp and I
More coffee – I’m not obsessed, CP 1 was two hours ago! Two minutes later, we’re back on the track, albeit with cheeks full of chocolate in my case. I’m delighted with life, having put in fresh batteries in my head-torch. We hit the foot the steep climb I’ve been dreading and start making decisions. We had already decided bypassing Art’s cross was a given. It’s a slower route and in
As soon as we hit the rocky path of Table-track the three guys in front get a burst of speed. They look like they’re at 5k pace, strange for 50k into a race and on a slippy surface. One girl picks up a similar pace, which makes up my mind for me. The are three girls in our little group and we have made serious progress over the mountains section. I don’t fancy trying to outsprint anyone in the last 100m should be told we’re vying for places. I spend the next 50m or so trying to get by this girl on a narrow track. I get a few thorns to my face for my troubles but I squeeze by. Suddenly my tired sodden legs are forgotten and I try to chase down the lads. It’s easier to run in the stream of water where possible than on the track proper. The track is a cruel combination of smooth rock or loose shale. It’s like trying to sprint downhill on ice, making it the most unnerving 4k of all. I look back for Shay’s torch and promptly smash my ankle on a rock. Genius. Briefly light-headed with pain, I try to put my foot to ground but can’t put any weight on it. I have visions of not finishing which kicks me into action. I hop a few steps and start partial weight-bearing. I’m able to limp-run quickly enough. I can feel the sticky trickle of blood, but decide I’ll look when I’m done. As the ground flattens out, I look behind again.. There’s a head-torch about 100 metres behind. It’s the impetus I need. I pick up the pace with gritted teeth. I even manage to pass a man toughing it out on his own. Of course he then picks up the pace then so it’s hard to work out if the head-torches have also chased me down. I feel a light right behind me, then they draw level. I give a side-glance, to see that it’s Shay!
Perfect timing – we cross the final bend, barely notice the river and are at the finish! It probably takes us a minute to remember to cross with all the chat. I’m
In summary, everyone should stick their name in the lottery for an entry next November.
1st man Florian Reichert 4.51.06- new course record
1st woman (joint) Aoife Fennell / Diane Downes 7.46.28
Shay Brady 7.48.45
Louise Jackman 7.48.45