RACE: Leinster League - Brockaghs

A little short update on my Wednesday race (the Leinster League).

This week's race had much in common with last week's at Scarr, only it was a quite a bit longer (10.52km) but slightly less steep (7.9% ascent grade instead of last weeks 9.2%, compared to Luc's 14.5%, this was a "baby-climb").

It was a long climb, however, and the weather and terrain was significantly worse. While the endless puddles and craters of mud added a great deal to the fun, they did slow you down, and I set off at a high pace thinking Sunday's extreme climb on Luc would give me an advantage over my rivals.

The illusion held about 3 km when the usual script unfolded itself, Aoife Joyce passed me by after having fought to maintain my higher than usual starting pace, and made her way to the peak. My old rival Justin also got a few metres on me, and Hazel Thompson caught up with me one-third into the climb (must be the third consecutive time that happens).

Longer Distance
I felt that the slightly longer distance would work out to my advantage, but I got increasingly worried as my lung muscles (the diaphragm) and my stomach both seemed stressed and fluttery (as if saying: Don't push it!).

Still I kept chipping away desperately, and twenty or so metres from the final summit (Brockaghs is a nasty mountain with multiple heads) I caught up with Hazel (again a repeat of the script from Scarr), and saw Aoife coming off the top with not too much to spare.

On the descent I kept accelerating aggressively and in the tepid marshland between the heads of Brockaghs I outjumped and outswam a small score of runners, and the gap between me and Aoife closed.

Rivals on the Run
Aoife yelled to me "where's the next woman". In my painful state I didn't cop on, but just behind Becky Quinn was falling behind after having battled it out bravely on the ascent. Suddenly, I recognised the trademark black cap of Justin Rea, over whom I had scored a hat-trick of close victories at Ticknock, Stepaside (before my injury) and Scarr last week.

Greedily wanting to make it four on the trot I asked Aoife if she wanted to help hunt him down, and then exploded down the soft steep climb, setting two great times running 3:23 and 3:25 min/km. As the descent neared it's end I was gripping near, barely ten metres separated us, but I realised I had left it too early. Like at the Wicklow Way Trail my final sprint had underestimated the full length of the race.

The next second we hit the flat, and my legs turned to gel, and I could only watch defeated as Justin raced home 13 seconds in front of me. More disappointingly, however, I had emptied my batteries to such an extent that Ruiri Finucane could out sprint me with 4 seconds just before the finish line, which marred the race somewhat as I had taken almost 2 minutes off him on Scarr, and had hoped that my vastly increased mileage would start to move me further ahead in the field. Patience is key it seems! Just 6 seconds behind Aoife Joyce came in to finish as third best woman.

She admitted before the race that she was knackered. That I suffered from the same weakness, most likely an after effect of Lucnaquillia an my training sessions Monday and Tuesday, only became clear midway through the race. This weekend's lighter training, and race free zone, will hopefully mean I will see further improvement of my form at Tibradden next week, but more crucially, I need to be at my very best when the Connacht Championship double of Croagh Patrick and Ben Gorm come along.

The Winners
In the men's race Barry Minnock won a very tight battle against Keith Daly and quickly got back on the horse after his slight dip on Luc at the weekend.

On the women's side Aisling Coppinger won once again (personally I can't wait to get Orla McAvoy back to see how the two compete).