I really wasn’t meant to be doing this race…Davos was meant to be the big one for the year, but I just couldn’t resist having a go at it. Sure its only an extra 22k…thats nothing…:/
So it was up at 2.45am to start the drive to Fermanagh. Felt surprisingly fresh for it being the middle of the night, suffering only slightly from that thing where your eyelids constantly click everytime you blink!! Made it down to the race HQ at about 4.35, then met up with Peperami who had kindly picked up my number for me! We were then given a quick briefing & had a team shot of everyone that was running that day. (16 of us in for the 100k)
We set off at 5.30am from Gortatole across a few farmers fields (& cattle grids! don’t wanna fall down one of them after a mile!!) then started a pretty steady climb at around 4 miles up 800metres in about 2 miles…now this was an out and back course done in a figure of 8 style so we wouldn’t just be running out and back over the exact same trail, so I knew that this big climb would be a bit of a bonus on the way back…it was the other side that concerned me though as we dropped down really quickly, I knew this was going to be a nightmare on the way back!
We ended up with great weather for the day but in the morning, up until about 10am, there had been a few torrential downpours which just left me drenched! I was running in 2nd place up until about 20 miles when I realised I was going too fast (clocking just over 10k an hour) and also because I knew I shouldn’t be in front of the guy in 3rd place!ha!
I was talking to a couple of the lads on the way & they echoed my thoughts on how flipping tough this course was, very up and down…undulating some might call it …That word just doesn’t work in my mouth so I’m saying up and down…you could never really get a break and just walk the hills as much as there were just so many of them!
2 of the guys I was chatting to (finished 1st & 3rd) oh & the guy I shouldn’t have been in front of? I was right, he finished 1st! are what this ultra lark is probably all about, going out and testing yourself but also having a bit of craic!!
I reached halfway in 5 hours (what a view!!it was definitely worth the extra couple of K!) which I was happy with but knew the 2nd half would be much slower as I was starting to ache a bit…
The 2nd half felt a bit like a start-stop affair but I did get periods of good running in but would have to stop and walk a bit as I approached the end. There was a 50k running in parallel with our race and got some nice encouragement from some of the runners that passed but the star has to be a guy called Conal, this man is a legend. Just when I was really starting to feel the strain of the whole race (about 20k out), he settled into my pace and brought me to within 3 miles of the finish line. I think he could have pushed on a bit harder but he chose not to and decided to help me out instead. Anytime I would have to walk, he would walk with me, then say ‘Right, will we push on for another few k then?’ The random kindness of strangers eh.
Shook his hand at the end & thanked him. He really deserved a big hug and a kiss!!
Once he pushed on for the last 2.5 miles or so I just tried to focus on getting one foot in front of the other…and eventually I got there, the father-in-law standing waving at the end of the road, then turning and sprinting down the road (very funny) to tell my wife & the family I was on my way…he waved his arms that frantically that the race organisers panicked and thought I needed first aid!
Needless to say, I didn’t & I crossed the Line in 12hrs 23mins to take 4th place. Over the moon with that to be honest…I remember reading a Dean Karnazes book a couple of years ago and thinking how can anyone run these distances!? I think I just did…but my legs have filed for divorce.