DIARY: Lugnacoille 2011

I had a fair bit of personal investment in today’s Lugnacoille race: Jason had made a return to training recently after his knee had healed from Carrauntoohil’s vicious assault. Another graduate of the Lydiard system, Amidou Dembele, also lined up looking both to test his uphill strength and his feared descent, having had extremely promising debuts on the 5k distance (on road) and 3000m (on track).
We hadn’t planned on Aoife racing as she’d felt a bit burned out after several races back-to-back in recent weeks. This is every runners bane during summer season, you need to take a few steps back to recover if you want to keep performing properly. However, having been newly picked for the Snowdon team, we had planned my signature “Up and Down” workout on Camaderry anyway, so once she woke up feeling great, we decided Lugnacoille would be a better workout ahead of the Welsh giant since I was going down as it was.
I hiked up to the top of Camarahill, ditching my Inov-8s once I got off the gravel, and continued barefoot to the plateau where I joined Jason’s dad to watch the race. Brian Furey and Jason took the front from the start, the latter sitting close on the formers shoulder. I didn’t recognise the third runner but next to the top of Camara was Peter with Bernard, using his trademark controlled start, leading a small group behind.
Jason’s dad provided engaging commentary courtesy of his binoculars including a few shocked “there’s a white one, and it isn’t moving!” I performed a set of ten up and downhill strides on the trail here in my barefeet to get a feel for it. Rocks wouldn’t have been pleasant but the additional control and lightness, even compared to the Inov-8 X-Talon 190s, shocked me. Even the extra 5mm midsole made me a less stable platform. I can’t wait to trial the BareGrips that are on the way in the post!

When the green Rathfarnham singlet of Brian Furey came into sight and Jason’s white was back at the nearest rocks, the game was clearly up and Brian strode strongly past us up the final small climb. Jason didn’t look his normal flowing self but as he passed, he smiled “King of the Mountain”. He had held his twelve second lead, finishing five seconds adrift Brian to the top, but the effort caused him to walk around the cairn and his main focus now was on Bernard. “You’ve got 400m”, I said, which was true. Bernard passed our vantage point shortly after with Peter down in fourth, looking comfortable.

Amidou hit Camara drifting Daniel Morrogh by 200m in seventh, “Go for sixth,” I yelled but that was not enough for the Malese downhill machine who duly took fifth descending in a shade over seventeen minutes, faster than last year's winner Martin Bradshaw.

Championship heats up
Today’s result leaves Jason still in the lead with five points, while Brian Furey still needs to shake off the fourth position from Carrauntoohil and has six. Bernard Fortune will remain an ominous and hunting figure on Galtymore and Donard with eight points. The only certainty is that the Irish Championship 2011 will come from amongst this trio.

“I won’t treat you if you fall again,” I told Jason before the race, knowing I was on first aid duty, but in the end I took pity as he had fallen on the rocks and grazed his knees. More expensively he had finished the job he started on Carrauntoohil by smashing his Garmin.

Diane Wilson took the win to bring her tally to four points (1st on Croagh Patrick, 2nd at Carrauntoohil) and Aoife arrived a few minutes later, looking strong and controlled and seemed full of energy and recovered from any early signs of over-racing much to this coach’s relief!

An exciting race to watch in near perfect conditions for the runners, there was a hint of jealousy there, but just being out there can be spiritual restoration enough.