Another IMRA race report!  As an IMRA enthusiast, I was asked/bullied into writing a race report as to hopefully encourage people in the club to give it a go.  I wrote a report for IMRA Downshill Trail Race 2018 which can be found here.  While I cringed a little while rereading it, it does seem like I enjoyed myself to be fair!  Last Saturday I and a few others from the club took on the Maurice Mullins half (with Shay braving the full – hashtag respect as the young folk would say!).  It was 25 odd kilometres with a 1,000 odd metres of climbing (conveniently rounded up for dramatic purposes) so survival, for us mere mortals at least, was the name of the game!

The Maurice Mullins half was previously known as the Wicklow Way half but has recently been renamed after Maurice to acknowledge the impact he made on running in Ireland  A short documentary on his life can be found here – I am yet to actually watch it myself so hope it is suitable (Brettster didn’t provide the link so we should be ok!).   By complete chance myself and the aforementioned Andrew Brett randomly ended up chatting with Maurice’s daughter in the queue for the portaloo – esteemed potty company indeed!  The route starts in Ballinatoe taking in Djouce, Crone Woods, Prince Williams Seat and many other beautiful but challenging parts of the Wicklow Way, before finishing near Glencullen.  The race has a reputation of being a belter and it wasn’t to disappoint (for the record the full, known as the Maurice Mullins Ultra, starts in Glencullen does the opposite of the above and then returns to Glencullen – crazy folk!!)

After some laziness, a sustained period of excessive ‘socialising’ and then of course ‘the illness’, early 2019 saw me a long way off fitness wise. However, the last few weeks I have slowly but surely started to feel some fitness return so before the race I was feeling relatively good. Thankfully my positive pre-race outlook for once transpired into a positive race!!   The pain of the hills aside I loved every minute of it and after my first DCM and my last DCM I would rank it the most enjoyable race I have ever done.

Despite of course being shattered at the end I never felt in big big trouble meaning I could enjoy all the good things that an IMRA race has to offer.  These good things of course being the amazing scenery – on this occasion the view down to Lough Tay and then across Dublin Bay being the highlights – the joy of reaching the top of a big climb, descending the far side at an irresponsible speed and of course the camaraderie amongst runners and stewards alike.  While running as an activity generates camaraderie aplenty regardless of terrain, the atmosphere in terms of encouragement, support and all-round positivity at the IMRA events is up at another level making them really special events to be a part of.  On Saturday I also had the pleasure of Liam Lenehan’s company for large chunks of the race.  Liam is one of the club’s true gentlemen and in fact you would travel far and wide to find a nicer man.  To take the high and lows and up and downs of the Maurice Mullins half in the spring sunshine with Liam as company was a pleasure – thanks Liam!  

A little over 2.5 hours after leaving Ballinastoe I was elated to be approaching the finish line in relatively good shape.  I was absolutely buzzing having passed a hand full of competitors over the last few kilometres and loved every minute of the entire experience.  My finish line ‘high’ was somewhat interrupted though, when Brettster, showered and changes at this stage, spotted me and shouted “what took you so long?!?!”!  What a b&%$x!!!! If I had had the energy to stop and make a fist I may have turned around and clocked him one!

To be fair to Andrew he ran a cracker of a race finishing 9th out of 180 competitors in his first ever IMRA.  He came in 1:57 compared to my 2:33 so possibly did have a point!  He is a phenomenal runner and 2019 could be a big year for him.  Other Sportsworld competitors were Liam, Ronan Murray a man for the long distance as always, Denise Cill Chainnigh extremely impressive only months after giving birth, Gerard Keating and then of course Shay doing the MM full.

Recent years have seen a kind of retrospective effort by society to become more active, spend more time outdoors and of course be more environmentally friendly.  It just so happens, that these three things are at the core of what IMRA as organisation represents.  The active and being outdoors element needs no further explanation and on the environment front, IMRA works to a ‘zero trace’ policy on its events and goes even further with initiative such a carpooling (think I mentioned this in the last report – you can tell I don’t have a car!!!!). 

The organisation is of course Not for Profit.  Above all though the sheer joy of running in the mountains/hills/forests/trails is very hard to beat and we are blessed to be spoiled with endless mountains and trails on our doorstep. Finally the IMRA stuff can really compliment your road running efforts as it is an excellent endurance builder, provides a fresh challenge and also strengthens a wider range of muscles to road running which can help prevent injury long term.

Full disclosure on the mountain running experience – be sure to expect a lot of pain afterwards.  Is that good pain you ask?  Erm, yes, but barely!  My quads and IT bands are only just recovered and that is 4 days later!  It is the downhill running where the body takes the real punishment.

In short if you have not tried an IMRA event or two you are mad!!  As you may have gathered at this point I am fan.  There is a Sportsworld IMRA WhatsApp group so if you have any questions just ask to join and fire them out there.

That’s all for now I believe. Well done to all Sportsworld’ers and all competitors who took place in last Saturday’s race.