I’m back to the long grind of training for the Tralee 100k at the moment, some of it on my own, and some of it with Born To Run. I find the group training much easier, simply because it’s fun – whilst I have a terrifically high opinion of myself, listening to my own bitching on long runs gets a bit old.
On Thursday I joined the BTR crew for an 8 miler, which included the infamous Short Mountain – a climb that tests the will of even the toughest runner. Around 1,000 feet of climb in 2 miles or so is the stuff of running nightmares, and on Thursday evening it was nice and hot, just to make it that little bit tougher.
Quite a few of the runners in this group hadn’t run the Short Mountain before, but had probably heard tales from the rest of us about how tough it is. There were a few worried faces as we left Tralee and headed south, the mountain looming up in the distance.
After 2 miles or so, we hit the first gradient – although steep from the start, the lower part of the mountain is just a taste of things to come – and can be a trap for the unwary – I’ve seen a few hardy souls in the past, faced with what seems like a steep, but manageable hill, push themselves at this stage, only to go down in flames later. This group was much more sensible, and treated the early stage with the respect it deserves. We continued on, and soon hit the real tough stretch – a 17% gradient, that really tests your legs and your lungs. The evening heat meant we poured sweat, but everyone kept going, and we passed Scotia’s Grave (burial place of a would-be conquering Egyptian princess), and came onto the brief respite of the bridge at Laharn, where there is a 300 yard section that falls to a gentle slope, but then comes the last half-mile to the top, which is particularly steep, and comes at a time when you’ve already spent so much energy! We climbed on, and, an hour after leaving Tralee 4 miles ago, we all reached the top – sweet success. The was a lot of celebrating for those experiencing this run for the first time, and lots of pictures were taken. It is great to be part of such a sense of achievement.
After a brief respite, it was time to go back down – an exercise in caution as it is easy to thrash a quad or calf running down such a steep hill. There was no drama this time, as everybody made it safely back to Tralee, though I’ll bet there are a few sore legs today!
Well done to everyone in the group, especially those conquering the Short Mountain for the first time.