by Olive Fogarty
It’s almost a surprise. Saturday morning. to be standing in a corrale in Glencullen at 10am with Eileen, Neil and Tim about to do an actual event. After over a year of injury, false dawns and increasingly concessional deals with God, I resolved, if I could get back running at all. I would stop chasing PBs (and the surprisingly elusive life-goal of lasting a 4 races on a Meet and Train team) and instead target interesting and enjoyable one-off experiences. Hence, after stringing together 3 jogs one week at the end of September and a having a coffee-infused chat with Eileen in the Phoenix Park, I signed up for the Run The Line ( short course !) on the basis that ,even if I did my usual and injured before the day. it was money towards a good cause.
Saturday brings perfect conditions of blue skies and a fresh breeze. This is a popular event. Even at 9.15am there’s a queue of cars from the road and half a field already parked up. The organization though, is excellent, with car, registration and toilet queues all moving well.
Sometime after 10.30 we are off, jogging into a steepish climb on a gravel path. It’s a bit of a lung buster to start but, keen to look athletic, I cling onto that pace for a good 2 minutes. A level bit in a forest then gives a few minutes of respite before the climb up to Fairy Castle. Into the 2nd kilometre thankfully a lot of the crowd give up on the running. Even so, the walk burns the calves so there’s extensive view-admiring. To be fair, the view is worth admiring. Whatever mist hugged the hills earlier has burnt off and low winter sun is carving the beauty out of the mountains. We arrive at Fairy Castle, another photo stop, the track becomes more rocky but is wide and levels off so we can trot again. At kilometre 3 we say goodbye to Neil (Tim’s long gone). This is quite emotional as, despite his assurances that he has enough provisions strapped on under the jacket to survive a few days, we’re not sure if we will ever see him again.
Then the climbing for the short course– short and sharp – is largely over. The field has emptied out so myself and Eileen settle into a chatty pace and soak up the big sky and the great views of Dublin opening out below. A short boggy bit gives way to a more rocky and narrow descent. We drop our pace to a walk again with our enjoyment only marginally impacted every so often by having to dodge someone sweeping by at speed while shouting “COMING THROUGH ON THE RIGHT!”. We settle our hair, nod respect to the pace and resume the chat. (Later it transpires that our nifty side stepping routine has facilated the ultimate victor Sean Hehir, so kudoes to us.) I guess this is what they call technical terrain. It’s not hugely technical though. It’s mercifully dry, there’s no skiddy scree and only once am I forced to employ the butt-shuffle technique which I’ve been practicing on the stairs at home to get down over a large rock.
We are back on track or forestry for the next few kms and encounter a jellies station. I’ve packed 2 heavy duty protein bars and have been sipping the Berocca with Guarana from one of my “water” holders but we are nearly an hour on the road at this stage so don’t pass on the opportunity to top up. Better safe than sorry. Now fairly high on all the sugar I natter the ears off Eileen as we go through what might otherwise have been some quite soothing forest trail.
Before we know it a steward tells us only a kilometre to go. I’ve been enjoying the day so much I’m almost disappointed but we pick up the pace and lash into the final descent at a reckless 12-13 kms per hour, even breaking into what you might call a sprint for the last hundred metres.
Soup, tea, coffee, large muffins and friendly volunteers at the finish top off what has been a lovely day out. We bump into fellow Sportsworlder Majella Hayden and later see that Noel Lynam has also completed the short course. I’d highly recommend this run to anyone who fancies trying a mountain course. We got lucky with the day but the 13km at least seems doable even in less clement weather. The course is very well marked and stewarded and the tricky terrain is minimal.