Returning from holidays is never easy and with a trip to Cork coming up to celebrate Shane O’Rourke’s upcoming wedding, there’s been a few loose ends to tie up.
Tonight I did my annual stint of volunteering for the Devil’s Glen route, the only course on the IMRA circuit I can claim credit for coming up with although true laurels should go to the designers of the two walkways in the area: The Seamus Heaney and the Waterfall Walk most of which are taken in in their entirety as part of the 8.5km figure of eight that makes up the race route.
The reception from runners has been extremely positive every year it has been on which is very pleasing because I treat this as “my baby”. From the first few training runs in the valley I knew it had the makings of a good race. It’s scenic and its varied. The initial steep climb is unusually testing for a race such as this and the following fast descent is one of the swiftest on the calendar. You’ve then got a bit of footwork for the interesting zig-zags down to the river Vartry before the vaunted 2km “slog of death” towards the waterfall. The upper path offers good running and fabulous views but both the climb up to it and the very late “sting in the tail” seem to be placed at the most inopportune moments for the competitor. The fast abrupt descent to the finish closes off a route with plenty of surprises.
As usual most comments surrounded the fact that there’s no let-off on a hard but runnable course such as this and people will not believe the 2km at the river are not longer. There were some good battles in the field and some good sprint finishes for the crowds to cheer on.
Jenny McAuley set a new ladies record while Ian McGrath could take his second win and almost the trail league. It was a close call with my fellow Danish-man, Torben Dahl, pushing all the way and only 24 seconds back in the end. His first podium finish. I’m glad I could help a countryman out by directing the proper course for him!
With plenty of traffic on the N11 we were lucky to get all volunteers there in time but there were plenty of experienced hands to help me ensure things went smoothly (thanks all).
This concludes a busy evening after a busy weekend where I had to get seven cross-country programs designed and out to the athletes. There’s a sense of excitement around these parts. For some of us the training for cross-country starts on Sunday and, having a special love for this discipline, I am dying to get started on what will be a testing training program and an even more testing race series from September to December (for me) and over into the new year (for some).