I knew this race would be tough, just quite how tough was one thing I had pushed to the back of my mind.
The weather was changing it’s mind more than I hoover and it finally settled on heavy rain up to 2pm then broken sunshine in the afternoon. Not too bad as I don’t do well in the beating sun.
Bag packed the night before along with my food, two peanut butter and jam sandwiches, two mars bars and a SIS gel which I didn’t use. Carrying a full 2L of water with SIS electrolyte powder added. In the car just before I left for the bus I had a packet of salt and shake crisps with an extra salt sachet to stop my salt levels dropping.
The extreme26 guys run a tight ship, registration is as always a breeze, I made a last minute purchase of trail gaiters to stop stones getting into my socks. Genius as I was to realise later. Left for the bus trip to the start line in Newcastle, the rain was persistant and I was more concerned about having no scenery due to the low cloud. The start at Donard park was relaxed and there were loos which saves you searching for a wall or hedge to hide behind.
Met Ian and had a chat about the route and had a bit of craic, we have entered the upcoming Skyrunning event in October which is my second race of 2014.
The start is uphill for the first few miles, I knew this and took it easy then passed a few on the downhill sections, the course was very dug up from the ultra runners and slippy, trail gutties were a must. Keep er lit is my motto on the downhill sections.
Tollymore and the terrain is not too bad, slightly ‘game of thrones’ feel to it with the low cloud and rain. No views to be had except ill fitting shorts from a fella who ought to have pulled his shorts up at the back.
The water stops are pretty regular with fruit cake, bananas and water all plentiful. As I ran toward the Trassey track section it is much more familiar and the ground is hard going at the best of times, today it was horrendous, the river crossings just annoy me, but no shimfing, up to Fofanny dam and close to the half way mark.
This is the section leading up to the the road section past Fofanny Dam.
The tarmac is just sore on my old battered knees and hips. My right hip was giving me a bit of jip, and two paracetomol were taken. I hoped for a 5hr 30minute finish but hitting Ott car park I knew getting under six hours would be a good result.
Toilet and aid stop at Spelga dam car park. The next section was gonna be tough as the half marathon runners had ran on it so more mud. The sun was well and truly out now and I was wishing I had applied some sunscreen!
Back to the trails and a lovely scenic trot round hen mountain, unto hen track and up a long dragging hill. I had the jog walk combination going nicely then the view of coloured speckles in the distance heading up through the saddle greets you. Bog is all I can say as that’s what the ground was. I had to laugh as it was shin deep and the guy in front of me lost his runner in it, he pulled it out and stuck it back on.
The hip was feeling it again so a Mars bar and two more Paracetomol were taken on board. The bog was behind me and I knew the 10km race start was close, some water and fruit cake. This last section is quite a nice run, the ground is pretty much a trail and easy to find your footing. I had only had one fall which for me is good as I do like a dramatic slip in the muck.
Here is the start of the 10km run and aid station.
Last push now and when I get it tight I give myself a talking too normally swear words and Withers in some sort of order. There were lots of Oxfam walkers to push through and a longing to get under 6hours at the finish.
I have to say I felt a bit emotional coming over the line and the medal was gratefully received. I clocked it as 5hours 56, 26 miles with 3910ft of elevation climbed.
A very tough race made even harder with the muck, soft ground and bog. Another one ticked off my list.
I was happy with my pace throughout and didn’t feel I could have pushed it more than I did. That’s enough for me, give it 100% and i’m happy.
Thanks for reading.