Monday, 28 September 2009

Mourne Mountain Marathon - Day 1

Up at half Six; shower and final look down the kit list to make sure nothing obvious has been left out of the last minute packing the night before, a couple bits of toast, milk and then a swift walk for the train. The thought that something obvious is missing is hard to put out of my mind but by the time I arrive in Belfast its too late either way.

We all converge on Jenny's house and then leave for Tollymore with mixed anticipation, excitement and a slight amount of dread at what the next couple days hold for the four mountain marathon virgins and the car load of kit. An hours drive takes us to Tollymore country park, just outside the seaside town of Newcastle A reshuffle of kit and last minute dry bag action then registration and off to the start.

G*ed up from the feet up (*gimped)

It was both mine and Alan's first mountain marathon, but both of us are pretty well versed in orienteering and have spent a good bit of time walking with weight so we were pretty confident that we would get through the course with some dignity still intact. That said we were still pretty nervous as neither of us had spent time actually running on the fells, never mind with weight, and with my lack of physical preparation and Alan's previous week being spent in Ibiza, it was anyone’s guess how would get on.

With no experience of 2 day events, running from the very start probably wasn’t the greatest idea, however it was hard not to get carried away. The first point was only 600 meters away on an old boundary junction, a classic orienteering location, however finding a marker on an earth wall using a 1:25K map was a bit of a change up from the usual 1:5.
Ankle socks and shorts, not the greatest idea! Atleast it looks cool

Running from the second to the third point the gorse re-taught us the old age lesson of route choice. Just like forest fight, gorse is not easy to pass through, especially when you are wearing shorts and ankle socks. For the next twenty minutes we battled with gorse progressing very little. Lesson learnt we avoided it for the rest of the weekend like it was the plague.

When we reached the third control we ran into Andy and Gareth from NI-Wild and had a quick confab before setting off again up the Trassey track and then up to Hares Gap. Before making the ascent up to Hare’s gap, and the fourth control, I decided to get a bit intimate with the rocky path, and received a couple of cuts and a bent lower section of my walking pole for my efforts.

By the time we had ascended to Hares Gap my cuts, and subsequent blood, on my legs made it look like I had been climbing through barbed wire fences, causing the manned cut off point a bit of concern. Across the wall and then summiting Slieve Bearnagh passing where I had camped a fortnight previous with some of the NI Wild boys, before descending through the thick cloud coverage to the top of Ben Crom reservoir. A run-able track took us a K and a half down the valley before making another ascent to the main saddle between Lamagan and Binian, to Blue Lough.

By the time we hit the second manned cut off point we were more than half way through the days run, a quick water and jelly baby break and then onwards past Hare’s Castle and Rocky Mountain. Reaching the eighth control left us with around 6 Ks left for the day and not much ascent, which was just as well as I think both of us were starting to get quite fatigued.

For the first leg we climbed onto the Mourne wall and ran when possible. Concentrating on foot placement on the wall, and with the ground 2 meters below on the periphery made for quite a hypnotic journey. The descent from the Bog of Donard to the quarry and subsequent contouring and final ascent to Millstone Mountain seemed to last forever. A final descent to Bloody Bridge River and then jog into the finish completed our first race day.

It was good to have finally arrived at the night’s campsite, and after downloading we checked where we were in regards to the rest of our class. Only thirty runners were back in, or at least had been published, and we were sitting pretty, in our eyes, at ninth. However with over a hundred teams entered in our class and only thirty on the board this was bound to change.

Still pretty empty

Entering the campsite I was surprised that there were so few tents about, however Jenny and Ryan had made it in before us, as had Amy and Chloe. It was good to be finished for the day, and with the tent up a good hour was spent enjoying the evening sun and chatting about each others experiences of the day. Carrying two dinners was probably one of my better judgments of the weekend; (rice pepporami and pita’s) X2 washed down with two 275ml bottles of red wine, nice :-)

Its all about the vino, or for Jenny scalding hot chocolate

A few more people decided to turn up

With light and warmth fading Alan and myself retreat to the 1 man Laser Comp; a cosy but restless night followed.

The shepard gives us his blessing for the second day

Day 1 - 6:28:27 - 29th

Read the full report on the Mourne Mountain Marathon

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4 comment(s) so far, add your thoughts -->>here<<--:

Mac E said...

Good write up Keith, patiently waiting for the next installment.

Keith said...

Cheers, certainly took me long enough to type it up! Hope you like part 2

viagra online said...

I don't doubt you had a great time camping. I like to go hiking now and then, I think it would be great to visit a place as nice as this one.

sildenafil said...

I think it should be an excellent experience because imagine the adrenaline climbing up the mountains it's risky but at the same time exciting.m10m