With 1,250 runners, Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue’s annual fundraising trail race is certainly the biggest of its kind in the country. It marks the end of the mountain trail racing calendar and is really popular not just because it is for a cause that is relevant to all trail runners but because of its accessible location, route, its atmosphere and of course its classy Hely Hansen t-shirts for all finishers.
There are two races so you can choose between a 13k distance/450m climb or double it to 26k/900m. The races are loop style both starting and finishing in Glencullen Adventure Park where there is loads of parking and a race village. The races are for top/seasoned mountain runners and first timers with wave starts for Elite, Competitive and Challenger runners.
Sportsworlders racing on the day included Eileen, Olive, Sinead, Dan, myself and Anthony. While the rest of us had more than enough on our plates with the 13k/450m race, Anthony went rogue and took on the big race on the back of his marathon training. There was a great buzz at the start line with a boot camp style warm up to get the blood flowing before heading straight up non stop for 3k to the peak summit at Fairy Castle. From there the long route took racers over to a Pine Forest and Cruagh loop before rejoining the shorter route which crossed downhill and then up to Tibradden. Another steep climb had to be taken through woods at the back of Three Rock before a speedy 3k descent back to the finish.
While the weather was favourable, conditions along the routes were complicated by overnight rain. The terrain varied from firm fire track to mucky single forest trail to slippy rocky paths. Big driving efforts were required on the ascents and as much vigilant speed as you dared on the descents. Everyone loved the race if thats the right word to use. I met Olive and Eileen mid race enjoying their lunch! I ran with my daughter Kate and met Sinead after the finish line for a chat. We all performed well. I always think that, because of our training, Sportsworlders have an edge over other trail racers on the flat sections (intervals and fartlek) and the shorter climbs and descents (hills and sprints). The only way to be really competitive though on the long continuous climbs (running and hiking) and technical descents is to practice and race in the mountains. Either way mountain running is great training for cross country racing for the club and vice versa. Its all good – for the mind and body.