DIARY: Wicklow Round Recce 2

Yesterday saw the completion of another epic long distance run, as me and Barry completed the part of the Wicklow Round covering Drumgoff to Turlough Hill (covering the main mountains of Mullacor, Derrybawn, to Camaderry NE and SE top, as well as numerous unnamed hills).

Barry invited me along on one of his Wicklow Round Recce Relays (now officially branded the "WRRR") for the group of runners preparing to look at the Wicklow Round in a Relay format, while this is considered against the spirit of the round itself, it is nevertheless and inspiring passtime for those involved.

Changing the Schedule

According to my newly laid training program, I was supposed to do a MAC training today (max Anaerobic capacity intervals), but this opportunity was too good to turn down, for two obvious reasons:
  1. The route covered all of the part me and Conor missed on our traverse from Glendalough to Drumgoff, and offered a chance for me to test my memory of the Camaderry area
  2. Getting countless mountain kilometres into my legs, especially uphill, will stand me in good stead before the harsh races at Croagh Patrick and Ben Gorm next weekend.

To remedy it, I'm going to try to cram two training sessions into Monday, and take a rest today. A good experiment of my body's ability to withstand the two training sessions per day that will become mandatory come Winter.

The Weather
The weather was a good deal better to run in than the searing sunshine, experienced on the first Recce, with a slight mist at the top, and wet but warm weather, with sunny spells, in the glens and valleys.

Only at the top of Camaderry did the weather turn really nasty, and we ran a rough spell on the long stretch between the NE and the SE top in heavy head-wind and rain. I was grateful for my new Ron Hill running jacket and the superb SealSkinz hat I bought. Neither too cold or too warm, but it left me never being uncomfortable at all.

The Route
Today's Recce was significantly shorter than the last one (21.21km instead of the 38.85km) featured slightly less climb (1250m instead of 1617m), but had a tougher ascent grade (11.9% instead of "just" 9.1%), and less descent.

The route was much more interesting and varied, it starts out dull, however, with an indifferent run through Drumgoff forest, then crawling up and around a stream to do several more kilometres through marshy hummock (easier to traverse than the awful terrain between Turlough Hill and Table Mountain, but still pretty much unrunnable).

This doesn't last long, however, and once you arrive at the summit of Mullacor things start to look up, and they get really fun once you reach the plateau just north of Cullentragh mountain. From here's there's a delightful run where you can hurl yourself at full speed over a long ridge to the top of Derrybawn.

From the top you make your way down a suicidal (but entertaining!) descent featuring cramped running, over-hanging heather, a cold stream, slippery loose stones, until you arrive at the bottom of Glendalough, and can take in a few kilometres of lush green scenery that you will remember from such movies as "Braveheart". (I should note that Barry was flying down the Derrybawn ascent as if the age difference between us was reversed!).

To Climb or Not to Climb
The next part was very interesting for me: The climb to Camaderry. Conor and I had opted for the longer route, the winding path through the forest. It adds 1.8km to the trip, but the steepness is much less.

Today we wanted to try out the directer steeper path, indeed a path so steep that Joe Lalor believes anyone who runs down it must be immediately disqualified!

Having only run about 12km at this stage, at a leisurely pace no less, I did not have great pains running up this "verdant wall". Sunlight hit us full-on here, though, and you do slow down significantly. During a round attempt proper, I think this hill would do to much damage, and I would under no circumstances include it as part of the attempt route. The long way it is...

Camaderry - Another return
As we had scaled "the wall" and my memory started to return of last week's attempt (I even had a run-in similar to last week: this time a baby deer ran straight across my path displaying none of the usual shyness of its brethren, too young to know better, I suspect).

Barry had acted as a quick-thinking and able navigator till now, the only slight mistake being retracing our steps back from the plateau leading to Camaderry as Barry feared we had landed on Cullentragh Mountain. As it proved, we were right the first time and only lost 15-20min retracing our steps.

From the foot of Camaderry I was delighted to be able to run ahead and find the path first to the very visible cairn on the SE top of Camaderry and then onwards to the NE top. The second top is more difficult to find as it is not marked but memory and my trusty ForeRunner 305 (which will tell me exactly which altitude I am at and therefore made it easy to find the 699m spot at the top) meant we had no trouble getting off Camaderry right.

The reservoir at Turlough Hill was not so clearly visible as last time, but we only had to run halfway down before we could see the shape in the mist. Once we hit the reservoir a bit later, the Recce was technically over, but we still had to make the way back to the car.

Wrong Turn
Taking the wrong turn round Turlough Hill (right instead of left), we emerged on the main road later than we should have, and had to run a good 5 kilometres before being back at the carpark at the Wicklow Gap.

It was a good run, however, and while Barry admitted openly he thought it had been harder than he expected, I can only say that my legs are more tired than expected! I believe we were setting a brisker pace than on the longer Recce a few weeks ago, which apparently is enough to feel more leg soreness than last time round, even though we spent only half the time on the road.

A good day out, a nice belated birthday present, today's is resting day before next weeks many tribulations.


Anonymous said…
it's Lug, not Luc
keep training, racing and writing
Anonymous said…
Also Brockagh, not Brockaghs and Bray Head not Bray's Head. But yes keep up the good work.
Renny said…

thanks for the correction, anonymous Mountain runner, who ever you are! ;-) Just checked the map. Lugnaquillia or Luc na Coille. Will have to correct that.
Anonymous said…
It's also Brockagh not Brockaghs and Bray Head not Bray's Head, but yeah keep up the good work.
Anonymous said…
Also Brockagh not Brockaghs and Bray Head not Bray's Head, but yeah keep up the good work.
Anonymous said…
Which map? OS, Paddy Joe & Harveys go with Log na Coille.