On Saturday 25th July, Paul Mitchell and I made the trip to the Carlow/Wexford border for the IMRA Mount Leinster Hill race.
Having not recced the race and only listening to Paul’s brief of the course it wasn’t a race I was looking forward to. The race brief was: 14km race, 635m ascend, 7km up hill, very poor underfoot conditions on the final 1km to the summit – but it’s all down hill after that!!
We arrived at the start to be met by beautiful blue skies and temperatures in the high teens. Not perfect conditions for racing but at least the peak wasn’t covered in cloud.
We set off at a moderate pace on fire road for about 2 km at a very light gradient. Off the fire road and on to the open mountain we continued on zig-zag trails. Underfoot conditions were slippy with streams flowing over the trail in numerous places. Paul and I worked well together up the mountain and we were to change lead many times before reaching the saddle between Mount Leinster and Black Mountain.
From the saddle it was relatively flat for 300m and then a steep climb to the second last false peak before we would eventually reach the top. At this stage I had opened a gap of 50m on Paul but was well aware he would fly by me on the descent. We continued on to the last false peak before the top and were met with a welcome descent of around 500m – where as I had guessed Paul flew by me. I wasn’t long catching him however as the descent was short, and we started our final ascent, to the top of Mount Leinster, together. It started off on good underfoot conditions for about 400meters and then turned into soft bog. At times you would be stuck in muck up to your knees. These conditions gave me the slightest advantage on Paul and I managed to summit about a minute ahead of him in about 13th position overall,
Glad with my rare achievement of reaching a summit before Paul I started out on the descent as fast as I could possibly go – hoping against hope that I wouldn’t see him again till the finish line – only for him to fly by me about five minutes later. Bar seeing him in the distance it would be the last till I crossed the line. My thoughts were then turned to catching other competitors and I managed to catch one and retain my 13th place over.
Excellent race to sign off my hill running season and look forward to doing it all again come January.
1 Tom Hogan 60:28 (Slaney Olympic)
11 Paul Mitchell 71.48
13 Liam Mc Fadden 73.15
26 John Fitzgerald 87.47
Liam Mc Fadden