It was great to be back running competitively under these challenging times and a huge thanks to IMRA and everyone involved with hosting the Scalp run last Wednesday. It was a fine sunny summer’s evening and what I found helpful afterwards is not knowing what the course was going to be like as it was a tough, tricky but short roller-coaster 6km race on trail road, scrub and up one strenuous rocky climb . Representing Sportsworld along with myself was Deirdre McGing which was her first ever IMRA race and Tim Murphy.

The race started uphill in Carrickgollogan Wood with everyone having to wear a face covering for the first 200m skirting up alongside the disused Ballycorus Leadmines Chimneys. It then turned downhill steeply and turned into a narrow path of bracken where I took an early lead followed by a group of three others. The organisers had called this part the muc-ky trail as anyone who doesn’t know, muc is the Irish for pig. And racing ahead was a mother pig and her three piglets on the trail in front of me.

Like a scene from Pamplona, the pigs were trying to avoid me and all they could do was to run ahead of me but thankfully they found an exit as I started the tough climb up the rocky Carrickgollogan Hill. This is an exposed  hill that tests every sinew in your body and saps all your strength. I needed my hands to lift myself up parts to reach the top.

From the summit, there was a marshall pointing me to the right as I turned down a fast and meandering path from the hill to a forest road trying to recover from the longest climb of the race and then up a slight hill and back to where we started. I looked back at this stage and could see I had a good lead on the rest of the pack.

From there, the race crossed into Barnslingan Woods and turned a left into a forest with nice soft ground. The route slowly assended in a circular way around the forest with plenty of ups and downs and near misses of route marks.

At this stage there was no sight of the pack behind me and I was unsure of how far I still had to go to the finish. I thought there would be a slight climb to the finish but I was delighted to see a group of people and the finish mat. I crossed the line in 24min 32sec in first place. A painful return to competitive racing but well worth it. Well to Tim who finished in 36min 14sec and Deirdre who 8th lady home in 38min 39sec.