IMRA Leinster League :: Corrig

I only decided at the last minute to go along to the Corrig race (I was supposed to be seeing a man about a boat – more on that later), so when I arrived at the car park of Scholar’s pub near Tallaght, it wasn’t just for selfless reasons I was looking to carpool … I hadn’t a clue where Corrig was πŸ™‚

Sean O’Byrne was kind enough to give me a lift to the start, and it was definitely the most isolated run I’d been to so far. I don’t think I could find the place again if I went looking … Funny to arrive at a random forest track and see a little gazebo with a line of runners queueing up to register.

It was a fun race – straight up the mountain, down into a boggy saddle to another small summit, back across the bog again and then down to the start by a different route.

Me and Barry Dooley – taken by Colleen Robinson

I definitely didn’t have the energy in my legs to make a decent fist out of racing, but it was nice to have a sprint finish with Barry Dooley who I’d had a good chat with at the start line. Final result – 116th place, 46 minutes 31 seconds and a poor 146% of the winning time.

(Nice to see the IMRA site improving all the time with new features like “marked runners”, “this is me” and the much needed slideshow for the photos. Yay! πŸ™‚


IMRA Leinster League

Last Wednesday in Howth saw the second race of IMRA’s Leinster League.

Since I know the route well at this stage, I was hoping I’d run it a good bit faster than last time. Off I went at the start, pushing it as hard as I dared on the lap around GAA pitch and into the woods, but it wasn’t long before I started struggling to keep up the pace. By the end of the first lap, I’d lost a good few places, but was happy enough plodding along.

In the end, I finished it a minute and a half faster than last time, but slower in terms of percentage of the winner. Slow down there youse out front!

I live down the road from Howth, so I went up early and helped out with the registration by handing out the race numbers. It was funny still doing registration for the 19.30 start at 19.40, people running in a panic thinking they were late and me saying “I’m running and haven’t even changed yet, so you’re grand”. Nice to chat to Aisling too and do the whole bizarre “I know you from the Internet” thing πŸ™‚

Top of the first ascent – taken by John Shiels

You can’t see it in the photo above, but at other points there was a clear sign of my future dilemma – lots of sailing dinghys out in the bay … It seems that Wednesday night is the night for sailing around Howth, so if I do buy a boat soon I’ll hardly make it to many more of the Wednesday night races.

Hopefully I’ll make it to Hellfire tomorrow night, but goodness knows what time I’ll have to leave work to get all the way over there for 19.30 ….


What’s the most common mistake made by bloggers? Starting out with a flurry of posts and then letting them dwindle until there’s only one in a blue moon. Yeah, well …


Early in March, a group of eight of us went skiing in SΓΆll, Austria. As usual, we had a great week. Lots of skiing, lots of eating, lots of drinking and lots of laughs.

I’d only ever been skiing in Meribel, France before, and I found I didn’t enjoy the skiing itself in SΓΆll quite as much. The Ski Welt area (of which Soll is a part) is pretty huge, so there is plenty of opportunity to explore. Our main problem, though, was that it took us ages to figure out the piste map enough to get out of the immediate Soll area and across towards Scheffau and Ellmau. We weren’t the only ones confused.

Most of our group did group lessons nearly every day, so Marie, Paula and I spent most of the week exploring together. Steve, the owner of our Hotel, the Gansleit, also took us out a few times during the week, which was pretty cool. Nice to have someone in the know guide you rather than having your nose buried in a piste map the whole time.

Me and Marie

As for the apres-ski part … well, we didn’t go too mad this year. Most days we came straight back to the hotel where there was a really nice sauna, steam-room and solarium to chill out in. Much more civilised than heading straight to the pub. Some nights we stayed on in the hotel for drinks after dinner, other nights we headed down to one of the bars in the village. One night we found ourselves in a low-ceilinged bar, heaving with locals, singing “The Irish Rover”. Bizarre, but good craic.

On our second last night, though, the “craic” ended with a “crack”. Messing about with Derek, I found myself flat on my face, with mild concussion, a fat lip and a sore hand. I still went skiing the next day – even leading the whole lot of us around the place – but by the end of the day, from the pain of dragging my gloves on and off, I realised things weren’t right with my thumb at all, at all. Back in Dublin, at hospital, it turned out to be broken. Dammit.



Needless to say, with a cast on my hand I couldn’t get up to much for a few weeks, but Catherine and I did manage to go for a few nice walks.

One of those was the Great Sugar Loaf, which we’d passed so many times on the N11, but hadn’t explored. We took the route suggested by our Lonely Planet “Walking in Ireland” book, going up from the north side and coming down the east flank. On the way up, we met only a small handful of people until just below the top where there was crowds and crowds of mainly families coming from a car park on the south side. We couldn’t wait to get down off there again and away from people.

Another weekend we went back to one of our more regular walks, the Tain Way and Slieve Foye in Carlingford. Living on “de northsoide”, it can be much handier to get up there than across the city to Wicklow. That day was a funny ould day for the weather … you can’t beat the Irish mixture of gale force winds, blissful sunshine, hail, sleet and rain all mixed up together. It’s definitely a walk we’ll do again and again, though. I love emerging from the forest towards the end with a view of the lough, the village and, across the water, the Mourne Mountains.

Top of Slieve Foye, Carlingford

We’ve lots more hiking ahead of us this summer as we’ve just booked ourselves in with UTracks to do the northern half of the GR20 in Corsica this September. The GR20 is supposed to be “the most difficult long distance walking trail in Europe”, so we’re in for a bit of a challenge, but it sounds like it’ll be excellent. I just can’t get my head around the fact that a Mediterranean island, 10% the size of Ireland, has mountains up to 2700m. When we’re done with our weeks trekking, though, we’re going to spend another week chilling out near a beach. I’m almost looking forward to that as much as the first week …


Since I enjoyed the dinghy sailing courses in Sutton Dinghy Club so much last year, I’ve started the process of looking for a boat. Hugh Gill, club manager, was really helpful one lunchtime when I went down there looking for advice.

Hugh in a Pico

There’s so much to think about, it’s not funny. What type of boat? A Laser, an IDRA14, a GP14? If a Laser, then a full rig or a radial? Buy an old boat for a couple of grand, or spend twice that on a newer boat that would last you longer? If the boat doesn’t have a road trailer or trolley, where to pick those up? Where to store the boat out of season? Towbar for the car? Insurance for driving with a trailer? Insurance for the boat? Joining the club? Getting a boat parking space at the club?


I’m leaning towards getting a Laser with a full rig, since it’s single-handed and there’s a fair few adults racing them in the club. I’m right on the recommended weight limit for a full rig, so I’ll probably have a tough time controlling it in strong winds, but maybe that’ll just get me down the gym more …

Now, if I could convince a certain other person that we really wants to take up sailing too, then maybe the slightly more sedate two-handed GP14 might be a good option. We’ll see πŸ™‚

Mountain Running

With the cast off, and some fitness regained, I’m getting back into running again and doing some hill/mountain running.

A couple of weeks ago, I went along and helped out with the registration at the Wicklow Way 22km and 44km races. It was good fun to go along, meet up with some IMRA folks and “do my bit”. No question that all IMRA runners should volunteer regularly since so much work goes into each race with course marking, registration, timing, marshalling, website stuff etc.

Still, though, it’s good that no-one expects too much from the organisers of each race – at Johnnie Foxes, I was given a list of names and told to give a “finishers mug” to anyone registering who had their name on the list. Next thing, Mike and Lindie had disappeared off to set the ultra runners on the way and I was left with a queue of the 22km runners looking to register. “Right then, how does this registration thing work?” was all I could say before getting the folks in the queue to help me figure it out … πŸ™‚

Best part of the day was when Mick Kellett came up to me to register for IMRA for the year and I realised this was someone almost in the M70 category about to run 22km across the Wicklow Mountains. Can I grow up to be like him, Mammy?

Mick Kellet – taken by Forrest5000

Wednesday night in Bray saw the start of IMRA’s Leinster League – 12 races, of which your 7 best results count. I was looking forward to it because it sounded like a nice, straightforward little race to ease back into things – 5km with a 275m climb? No problem.

Except, when I arrived in Bray – yeah, I’d never been to exotic Bray before! – it didn’t look so easy. That cross up on the Head looked like an awful long way up. Once we got going, though, it wasn’t so bad after all … I took it easy on the way up to the cross, not wanting to kill myself early on, and then pushed hard to keep on the heels of my nemesis-to-be, Tommy the Tumbler, across to the second hill and back. On the way back down, I managed to pass Tommy and a bunch of others, but I got my comeuppance back down on the seafront when I totally faded on the last 200m, and had to watch them all go past me again.

Thumbs up No. 92 – taken by Darragh Sherwin

I think that’s what I’m going to enjoy about these IMRA runs – I may have only come 95th out of around 220, with a finishing time 145% of the winner’s time, but it was still great fun “racing” against similarly-paced others. Mediocrity can be fun too!

Next week is in Howth. My home ground. Watch out Tommy!

Racing – taken by Darragh Sherwin

(Poor Tommy if he reads this … I’m sure he’ll wonder “who the hell is this guy?”)

IMRA Winter League 2008 – Carrick Mountain

Saturday’s Carrick Mountain race was “interesting”.

It had all the ingredients of a great day out – a beautiful Spring morning, mixed terrain underfoot and a tough ascent followed by a couple of excellent descents.

Once I’d finished slogging up to the peak, I overtook a bunch of people and crazily tore down the first steep descent straight towards cameraman John Shiels. Thumbs up for the camera, big grin on my face, I turned right and went back uphill with John shouting something after me. It was only a couple of minutes later when I looked back to check that no-one was catching me again did I realise that he’d basically been shouting “You’re going the wrong way you big eejit!”. Doh.

After that, it was a bit hard to stop cursing myself and get back into it, but I did and started counting off the number of people I’d re-taken. On the final descent through the woods, I remember overtaking someone and thinking “that’s number eight” as we barreled down through a mucky cross-roads. Thirty seconds down that track, I realised that all the runners around were stopping and shouting at each other. It turns out that 10 or 15 of us had managed to get lost and had to turn back uphill again to get back on track. Double doh.

At that point, you’d think there every ounce of competitiveness would be gone, but when you hear someone sprinting up behind you at the finish, you’re not going to let them take your hard won 66th place, are you?

Racing – Taken by Darragh Sherwin

Fair play to Darragh for that shot. Hopefully we can the rest of his photos on the IMRA site when he’s got them processed.

From the race report, forum, Rene’s blog etc., it’s clear I wasn’t the only one getting lost up Carrick, which is some consolation. I’d agree with the sentiment, thought, that if I thought it could have been marked or marshaled better, then I should have been out marking and marshaling. It’s clear the organisers of this one had put a lot of effort into coming up with a new and exciting route. And it was certainly that … πŸ™‚

Next week I’m off for a wholly different mountain experience … Skiing in SΓΆll, Austria with a group of friends. Hopefully I’ll hit my first black slope this year. Can’t wait for it now …

IMRA Winter League 2008 – Three Rock

Picture running along the muddy, boggy, rocky peak of a mountain. Picture running into a freezing cold gale of a wind. Picture not being able to look anywhere but your feet without getting a clatter of hail stones across the face. Well, that was what the mid-section of yesterday’s IMRA Winter League race at Three Rock in the Dublin Mountains.

The Final Stretch – Taken by John Shiels

As crazy as it sounds, though, I still enjoyed it immensely. It was much different from Howth in that it had a much more sustained uphill section, which I struggled to keep up a good pace on, but still a great experience. This one was definitely a “mountain run” instead of a “hill run” πŸ™‚

After the mid-point, with our backs to the wind at last, it took me a little while to get my wits about me again after such a battering, but then I really enjoyed the long downhill section to the finish. I’m still happy with my time, even though it was a bit slower (percentage wise) than my Howth time.

I registered for car-pooling on IMRA’s website, which turned out to be a nice way to meet Fergal, Geraldine, Shane and David … even if they did have to push-start my car after I left the radio on during the race …

Fair play to the folks helping out with the organisation of the race yesterday – it was not a nice day at all to be standing out on the mountain directing people!

Howth Mountain Run

Just came across Rene Borg’s account of yesterday’s run in Howth – a much more entertaining write-up than mine!

Rene very kindly helped me get my race number off my shirt at the finish since I was fumbling about at it uselessly πŸ™‚

Mountain Running in Howth

Today I went along to my first race organised by the Irish Mountain Running Association and had a ball.

I had bought a pair of Inov-8 Mudroc in Amphibian King back in October before the marathon and had only gone for a few trial runs up on the Ben of Howth in the last month. So, I was delighted when I saw that IMRA’s first run of the year was to be in Howth, on pretty much the same circuit that I was doing laps of.

(Picture from Inov-8 website – mine are far to mucky now!)

Verdict on the Mudroc – great grip on the muddy bits, seemed to drain water pretty quickly … thumbs up except that they cut the heals off me!

It was an 8.5k race, involving two laps of the course. I was a little worried about whether I’d be able to hold my own at all since looking at past times for the course, it seemed like most people ran it faster than I might hope to. Also, I knew that there was one really steep bit on the course that I knew I had to burst my lungs to run up each time I tried.

As soon as the race got started, though, I realized that the pace of the middle pack wasn’t too bad at all and I could well hold my own. And when we got to the steep bit early on in the first lap, I was very relieved to see everybody ahead of me walking up it. So I took the sensible option and walked up it for the first time …

The results have just been posted and I see that I finished in 47:47, which isn’t too bad, especially since it’s only 135% of the winner’s time.

Anyway, a great event, even if I was caked in mud by the end of it. Thoroughly well organised with them coping very well with 150 people wanting to register. Quite a few brave souls out in the cold, wind and rain marshalling us around the course. And, finally, a great bunch of people who don’t seem to take themselves too seriously at all, at all.

Looking forward to the Three Rock race on February 3rd!