Liam Lenehan on location in scenic Kilkenny

I posted my local Woodstock Loop trail run here a couple of weeks ago and figured with a bit of prompting (arm twisting) from one of my Sportsworld Masters buddies who shall remain anonymous (Peter Knaggs), I might as well post my own vertical kilometre challenge for charities (Pieta and Irish Cancer Society) which I completed on the loop last Saturday.

I had entered the 2020 vertical kilometre race in Chamonix in The Alps which of course was cancelled. It had been in my head since to come up with a lockdown alternative and the opportunity presented itself with the Gimme 1,000 challenge which my daughter told me about on Friday night! She and her friends were doing 1,000 squats on the day. Running up and down hills is more my thing so up early the following morning for juice, porridge and coffee and I was all set to go at 9.45 AM.

Liam enjoying himself on the route, any why not?

Starting at the top car park, I ran down and up to one side of the main hill of The Loop and then down and up the other side, a circuit if you like of about 4k with 165m of climb and descent. Just over six of those and I would reach the 1,000 metres. Conditions were tough – not particularly cold but gusty wind and rain meant a top to toe gear change at halfway was essential and of course hot coffee and fruit cake which my sherpa Orla (my nearest and dearest) arrived with. Sheltering in the car and starting to feel it in the legs, I knew I needed something to egg me on for the second half. I thought of my namesake, the famous Kerry mountain runner and former world champion, John Lenihan. John became known as The Conqueror of Carrauntoohill (he won that IMRA race 19 times – worth reading Ian O’Riordan’s piece from 2015 about the book about him, Tough as Leather. I will race The Carrauntoohill IMRA one day but thought in the meantime, why not add the extra metres to get to the equivalent height. Googled it, not much extra – 1.038m.

Just over two and a half hours of running (excl. coffee/change break) and I had covered 24k and climbed and descended 1,043m. Mission accomplished. Writing this on Monday evening, I am happy to admit that my legs are still tired, my lower back is still achy but my spirits are still high.