Records set in Carrauntoohil

Report by Diane Wilson

Carrauntoohil in Co.Kerry is 1137 metres and the highest mountain in Ireland. It is the 2nd race in the Irish Mountain Running Championships, the 1st one being Slieve Donard in May. The mountain holds it’s own challenges, but add to this mist resulting in very poor visibility and then your work really begins! The race starts on the Kerry Way and you have to follow the fence line which is quite rough, and this guides you to Curraghmore. From Curraghmore you then run along Caher before heading for the summit of Carrauntoohil and then back the same way. Sounds so simple!!!

The race started at 12 noon on Sunday 2nd June, and there were a record number of 82 runners, 13 of which were N.I runners. What started out as a beautiful sunny morning gradually disappeared as the race got closer. It is quite a steep start up the Kerry Way, and the visibility was fine at this point, but as soon as we got further up towards Curraghmore bodies were disappearing into the mist. On reaching the summit of Carrauntoohil, the next step is to touch the Cross on the top before heading back down. To my utter amazement I could hardly find the Cross due to the sheer volume of people standing on the summit in the thick fog – it was like a fair day! Much to Brian Wilson’s delight as he summited he got a “Come on Newcastle” from none other than John Lenihan (an Irish Mountain Running Legend), who was up the mountain with a walking group. If that doesn’t spur you on nothing would!

The run back down was very difficult and many people went wrong. One person worth a mention is Hazel McLaughlin, who on the way down came across 8 lost runners who didn’t have a compass or map between them! She pulled out her map and compass and consequently guided them down to eventually meet the fence and head in the right direction. A few if these runners were in the Climbers Inn after the race and gratefully thanked Hazel for all her help. It was that type of day, people could be heard shouting out in the mist when they thought runners were going wrong. It was an achievement just to be able to make it back to the finish!!

Tim O’Donaghue (East Cork A/C) won in a new course record of 1:22:57, Brian Furey (Rathfarnham A/C) was 2nd in a time of 1:26:57 and Rob Cleary was 3rd in a time of 1:28:17. The fight for 3rd place was superb with Rob and his brother Stephen racing for the finish line, with a “Na, Na, NaNaNa!” Rob just got in before Stephen, beating him by 1 second – Brotherly love! The ladies race was won by Diane Wilson (Dromore A/C) also new course record of 1:45:43, Becky Quinne was 2nd in a time of 2:05:12 and Hazel Mclaughlin (Lagan Valley A/C) a brilliant 3rd place (considering her ‘Good Samaritan’ deed) in a time of 2:12:41.

The Prize giving was held in the Climbers Inn and the craic was mighty. A really brilliant race, weekend and well worth the trip to the beautiful ‘Kingdom of Kerry’.

For an alternative take see here.

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