Race Report: IMRA Trooperstown Hill 28/02/09
By William Greensmyth

Trying to justify participation in mountain running to those who have never scrambled up hill and sprinted down dale is difficult. You are often confronted with dubious looks, concerns over your mental well-being and queries into whether you have sufficient health cover. ‘Tis true – mountain running attracts a different breed of running animal…none of your cheetahs who whip around the track nor your gazelles who stride over the cross country plain, thank thee very much.

And so on Saturday last, 28 February, seven of our club’s true troops trooped to Trooperstown Hill and the longest race of the IMRA winter league.

At 10,600 metres and with an ascent of almost 400m, this was no fun run. At the start line, it was clear that the national senior XC hadn’t reduced the calibre of the field as many of the leading competitors were present and correct. Following a run-through of the course from Rene, off we went.

The first 4k was a long gradual climb with a few steep sections thrown in for good measure. Lungs wheezing, legs burning, hearts breaking, after 4k there was a brief respite and a chance to stretch the legs and show off a bit of speed on the comfortable downhill section for about 2k before digging in again as we ran through marsh and over scree up to the top of the second hill around the 8k.

Then we came to the main downhill section, what the IMRA fiends called a “technical descent”…I can assure you, dear reader, the technique employed by my good self was simply award-winning.

Scrambling down the slope with the sure-footedness that a drunken three-legged blind hippo would be proud of, rueing the day Newton discovered gravity and cursing Eoin O’Brien and his suggestion that this would be a bit of fun and good preparation for Ballycotton, technique went out the window and survival instincts kicked in.

The IMRA website warns that this final descent has a -26% descent grade. Being more concerned with descending without shattered ankles, I did not have time en route to indulge in some amateur trigonometry and verify this angle. I shall take it as accurate.

Once at the bottom of this section, it was free running all the way to the end and the chance to gain a few places.

Results? Who cares – we all finished and without injuries. Fair play to my fellow mountain goats – Paul, Jakub, James, Colm, Eoin and Liam.

All aboard for the Wicklow Way Ultra 🙂