Glenariffe 2018: Mud and guts
‘The only thing that was sticking runners to the ground was guts’
Fell running is a sport that has remained largely unchanged for the past 100 years. A bunch of hardy folks, dressed completely inappropriately for mountain activities, arrange a time to meet near a hill. Somebody says go and they run to the top and back. At the finish somebody counts them in. There is a winner and maybe a small prize, but no medals, no free protein shakes, no razzmatazz.
Thus, when it was announced that there would be online entry only for Glenarffe, the internet lit up. Nevermind russian hackers, facebook was nearly broken by discombobulated fell runners. Nevertheless, plenty of keen runners logged on and we had a record breaking turnout for today’s event.
The weather in the Queen of the Glens this morning can only be described as abysmal. It was foggy, it was lashing, it was cold; In fact stood at the start line in a pair of shorts, huddled like a penguin with 140 other runners, I really felt like just getting back in my car and going home.
You can always guarantee a mad dash up the road to get into the narrow lane that takes you up the glen. Today was no different with the front of the pack being dominated by Seamus Lynch, Zak Hanna, William McKee, Sarah Graham, Esther Dickson and Martsje Hell.
As we funnelled into the farm track we were greeted with water logged, sticky, pungent, muck. It wasn’t long before we were all wearing this on our faces as we struggled to get into a rhythm and push our way through the crowds.
The river bank wasn’t much better so it was two miles of proper cross country running to get to the foot of the climb.
The mile long climb up the side of the glen has all the characteristics of the hills in this part of the world; it’s steep, greasy, with a lot of grassy tussocks interspersed with slippery rocks. Seamus and Zak made short work of it all to crest the hill at the front of the race with McKee 30 seconds back. In the ladies Martsje was bossing the climb and dibbed in with 30 seconds on Esther who had 90 seconds on Sarah.
The descent was a test for all. The only thing sticking runners to the ground was guts. Esther came down the hill with some verve to catch and put some distance between her and Martsje. In the men’s race Seamus led the way with Zak and Willy doing their best to hang in.
The two miles of heartbreak on the way back is always a challenge after the punishment of the climb. Seamus, returning from his road running hiatus, cruised like a 4×4 all the way back to the primary school to win a minute ahead of Willy and Zak in second, and third, respectively.
In the ladies race Esther maintained her hard won lead and was joined on the podium by Martsje and Sarah, in second and third.
The old guard will be pleased to know that there was still the traditional post-race shindig in the primary school with a fantastic spread laid on by the school and Glen Runners. The craic was mighty and the Glens Of Antrim Potatoes goodies were handed out; nobody will go hungry this evening.
Thanks to Jonny Steede and all the Glen Runners for putting on a great event; one tip though, next year you need to make the weather a bit better.
Thanks also to North West Mountain Rescue for helping keep everyone safe. You can donate to this great cause here.
Thanks to Glen Of Antrim Potatoes for the spuds and crisps.
Thanks to the ‘official’ NIMRA photographer aka Jayne Bell who had her own battle with the elements today. She dropped everything she owned in the mud and her rain soaked camera played up, but she captured the mood as always.
Lastly a big shout to James Carr for manning the dibber, Ryan Maxwell for reporting on the event, and everyone else who marshalled and helped out.
This was the first race in the 2018 Podium4Sport NIMRA Championship. The next takes place in two weeks time in Rostrever – The Fallows. Hope to see you all there.
I am away to eat some spuds.