DIARY: Winter Ultra-runners

Late yesterday evening I received a text message with an offer to join in on an interesting venture: Eamonn Hodge, Jason Reid, Paul Mahon and Richard Nunan were going to run through the snow from Glendalough to Marlay Park.

While tempted for more than a few heartbeats, I couldn’t accept the offer with the National Novices looming and plenty of snow-clearing to be done around the house today.

To not be entirely robbed of the experience, Aoife and I merged our planned long run to join the crew for their first outbound hour or so. Normally this would lead you about 10km out before turning back, seeing of our comrades with for the rest of their 55km trek. In today’s conditions, we’d only be six kilometres out by the time we had to return for home.

Black ice has formed on lower roads, however, as temperatures dropped overnight, making today one of the trickier for drivers and pedestrians. Luckily, once we hit the steep trail from the hotel, the terrain already looked more useful for the man and woman in search of good grip.

The greatest obstacle of the day came just after crossing the Wicklow Gap road where a huge puddle meant crawling like spiders sideways using the fence there. We accompanied the ultra-men as far as the fence where the Wicklow intersects the Scarr route. White clouds hid the summit as they had that of Camaderry and Lugduff, it will not thaw there for a while yet…

The trails were covered largely in thick snow which is harder work but fun and passable especially on the descent. Coming out on any flat patch your legs felt like you just emerged from a swimming pool. Ice mainly formed were the snow had been worn away by snowshoe, boot or thaw and the group had a few elegant near-misses, undoubtedly the rest of the journey will be worth hearing about. Good luck from here in Glendalough…