Irish Championships 2016
The Irish Champs are a series of 5 events with 3 to count spread over the whole country. Including the highest mountain in each of the 4 provinces (think rugby teams) plus Galtymore (Because it’s an awesome mountain). It’s been on my to do list for a while and this year presented me an opportunity to get home and do it. The 3 races I did were Mweelrea (Connacht), Lugnaquilla (Leinster) and Galtymore (Beast of a mountain).
I hadn’t been home since Christmas so this was a hectic weekend. Friday night I got pick up from the airport by a college friend. And straight away hit the pubs in town. My sisters joined us and the night ended with singing karaoke in a broken down taxi at 5am. So when I got picked up by Lorcán at 7am I was still quite drunk. A 4hr drive and jumbo breakfast roll (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIIWKA_h12Q) sorted me out and by 1pm I was ready to race. It was quite a short race 9 km 650 m climb so I followed Scottish hill racing protocol and started fast. I almost immediately had a 100 m gap and other then a young lad coming past me for a few minutes was in the lead for the whole race. When I finished I started to feel really hungover so did the sensible thing and started drinking again. Some friends were having a bonfire on a beach so I joined them for the night… I miss the west coast of Ireland!!
My preparation for this race was much better. I only had a few beers with my parents the night before so arrived on the start line sober. There was a much bigger field with more of the high quality runners. Again it was quite a short race 10.5km with 700m climb. Again I started fast but this time Des Kennedy managed to stick with me. The two of us trashed each other on the climb. Working hard to get a gap. At the top we were still together but had a massive lead on 3rd. Des took a better line though some boulders and got a small gap on the way down (local knowledge) but he really pulled away on a flatter stretch, his leg speed was incredible. To celebrate I went for tapas and a local céili with my family.
This race was 7 days after Tromso I was not expecting much. The series was a winner takes all between myself and Des. With a few others who could take the crown if both myself a Des messed up. The race is HARD… 12km with a whopping 1350 m climb. No fast start this time… my legs were shot from Tromso. I worked hard to stay with Des on the climb but had no chance. He had at least 2 minutes at the top and just continued to pull away. In the end I was passed by a few others and finished 5th. Meaning I got 3rd in the champs.
I’m delighted I got the opportunity to do this series and hopefully will get an opportunity again soon. If anybody fancies some challenging races in some new mountains let me know.