DIARY: Brockagh

I was going to do a standard race report on Brockagh, but I found myself not being able to write anything particularly interesting (despite the fact that it was a very interesting race!) and with the weekend upon us, I almost feel it would be untimely.

Let’s just say that it was a bit of a reprise: Another day with beautiful weather, dry conditions and a winning time around 44 minutes this year set by Eoin Keith and not John Brooks. The overall field was very strong and there was a very welcome return of Paul Nolan who went on to finish 4th and the race also saw Keith Heary starting to test his form ahead of his Snowdon call-up.

For Crusaders the day was a bit of a disappointment, first we lost our leading man Rob Healy who was weakened by a virus but still tried bravely to give it a shot. I was having a great descent when I twisted my ankle coming off the top of Brockagh and limped on for a kilometre before being able to pick up some momentum. It was a pity for me as had arrived 50 seconds ahead of last year’s time at the top only to lose 70 or more going down and also an almost certain sub-50 minute and top-20 finish. It would have been a perfect end for my Leinster League, but alas, there’s a full Winter ahead and I will arrive in better shape than this year and that’s the main thing.

For the first time this season, I left a race feeling happy and elated. I had arrived at the top with Jimmy and Mick Hanney and ahead of Mike Long and many other able runners. It would have been a very good performance without the injury and I feel I have now made up the deficit created by my injury last year and can again look forward instead of back.

Sli Cualann took full advantage and had another amazing team out and only themselves and Boards AC could muster 9 runners. In the end Shane, myself and Jeff got the points for Crusaders but our challenge for the Leinster League title is now very theoretical and we need Shane, Jason and Richie to come out for a race and finish well to even have a theoretical chance. The greater challenge will be to keep Clonliffe behind us with myself and Rob now injured, and Jason and Richie only racing every other week.

As for drama, there was a case of hyperglaecemia or heatstroke on the hill (or both) as well as several falls, sprained ankles and people arriving in somewhat of a state. This was surprising given the race is only 10.5k and the heat was not overwhelming (the greatest natural hazard was the swarm of midges).

Caroline Reid and Eoin Keith wrapped up their respective Leinster League titles with three more races to go as Adrian Tucker laboured away on his own personal battle and became the 6th person to complete the Wicklow Round.

Farewell to the Leinster League 2009 – for me
I made up my mind after Brockagh. I didn’t get any of my goals fulfilled for this year’s Leinster League. I didn’t set any PBs, I didn’t return to the top-20 and make a push for the top-10, and now I won’t complete it either.

But instead of disappointment, it’s with relief that I have chosen to leave the League behind for this year. I would have reached two of my goals at Brockagh, and knowing that is almost as good as having done it. After all it’s not like missing out on medals of qualifications, so what I really need is a sign of progress whether its recorded in the statistics or not.

This opens a world of possibilities for me that will benefit me for Snowdon. I plan to do a “Keith Daly” (meaning registering for a race and then jogging it) on Lugnacoille, The Galtees and the Circuit of Glenmacnass. As I’ll do Mt. Leinster and the World Trial, this shrewd move will give me a finish in both the Leinster and Irish Championships and allow me to get the nice technical tee that goes with that.

More importantly, though, I plan to run the uphills of these races at tempo-run pace and therefore make them the perfect preparation for Snowdon. Snowdon has a 5 mile gradual climb of a type that is impossible to find in Ireland. However, Lugnacoille and Galtymore feature very long climbs that will be good to get into my legs. The Circuit of Glenmacnass likewise feature extended climbs, but more importantly the length of the race will be good to build final race endurance for Snowdon which I would expect to finish in around 90 minutes. As plans come, this one is certainly better than the one needed to complete the Leinster League.

Yesterday I checked out the new track up to Tibradden, a much much gentler run than it used to be, but still a good test of my ankle. Any twist to the outside right is quite painful and the first 10-20 steps on the foot are always unpleasant, but a lot of strength is still in the foot, so if I treat it well ahead of Snowdon hopefully it’ll have regained 100% of its power. The high impact of Snowdon is second to few places and the many rocks mean you need your ankles to deal well with angled footstrikes.