IMPORTANT: Slieve Gullion race rescheduled to April 7th due to weather warnings.
The winter is coming to an end; All around the land racing snakes are putting the finishing touches to their diets; Months of denial coming to fruition when they turn up on the start line to unveil their new lightweight hill running machines; elsewhere, in a reality I recognise, runners are eating Herron’s chicken kebabs followed by Creme eggs as all this training makes you hungry and they are in season you know.
The season opens with Armagh ACs Slieve Gullion event. I love this race. It’s a nice open gradient which makes for great running to the North and South cols and back. Yes, this is muddy and around the lough you have a good chance of sinking to your waist in a bog – I kid you not, but boy is it fun.
The route is relatively easy to navigate but it is possible to go wrong so you need your wits about you. This is the best map I can find for the mountain. I suggest printing it out and bringing along with you in some sort of weatherproof bag. Race sign on takes place on the Ballard road where the red line meets the road at the top of that map. Parking is really very limited so car share when possible and park sensibly.
The Gullion Spa is open for business
The week after the first race in the NIMRA Championship which takes place in the Queen of the Glens – Glenariff. Starting in Waterfoot it’s an all out rampage for two miles along the river to the side of the glen. It’s here when runners will discover if they have judged their race start appropriately as it’s a mile up hill to the crest of the glen, before returning along the same route. The run back is less a case of rampaging but hanging on for grim death as you tick off the landmarks on the way to the village.
These mountain men look ready to wrestle bears
Whilst this race has a lot of flat a fell racing shoe is still recommended to maximise your hill running potential as you go up and down the side of the glen and take on the grassy river path.
Mountain running sisterhood
You can enter this race online in advance. Slots are selling fast so make sure you sign up soon.
As mentioned, Glenariff is the first race in the NIMRA Championship. To qualify for NIMRA Championship points at this event you must have signed up your annual NIMRA membership. You can sign up online for NIMRA here.
Better safe than sorry
If you are sponsored by Salomon and Clif Bar then fast and light is probably a good option, but if you are a weekend warrior who is more Dunlops and Taytos, you should always come well prepared.
The mandatory kit list for all mountain races is:
– Good waterproof coat with hood and taped seams
– Waterproof leggings with taped seams
– Hat and gloves
– Emergency food
– Foil blanket
You should bring all of these to every event.
You should also consider that in the hills it can be freeze bawls cold and if you fall over in a pair of shorts waterproofs won’t keep you warm for very long. I would suggest you also consider carrying additional clothing like a down jacket / gillet and dry base layers, especially when the weather is more inclement.
Mountain running can be bad for your shoe’s health
Remember you must always be self sufficient; Just because you are taking part in an organised event it does not mean there will be someone to help you.
Looking forward to seeing everyone next Saturday. Bring the noise.