I decided a bit last minute that I would do the Tralee Tri Club’s 14k Trail Race that was set for today. After last week’s exertions in the Tralee Marathon, and a brutally tough strength & conditioning session on Thursday, my body wasn’t exactly keen for more punishment, but I have a bit of an issue saying no to races, and this promised to be a bit different to my usual runs. I was also testing out my new Salomon XR Shift trail shoes, which I will be writing a gear review on.
I joined the rest of the runners outside O’Riada’s Bar at 11am (after having went to the wrong starting point first!) for a briefing from Milosz and Bridget. We would do the first 2 miles or so on tarmac road, from O’Riada’s to Glenageenty Woods, then a mixture of trails and road, before returning by road to where we started.
I set off at the back with Margaret, determined to take it easy, as I knew this would be tough. And tough it most certainly was – the road section was a tough climb all the way, and I hadn’t gone a mile before I felt last week’s marathon in my legs. Margaret soon pulled away, and I was on my own.
After reaching the woods, there was a tough hill, followed by a brief respite of some downhill trails, and then the real climbs started! My legs muscle were practically squealing as I climbed steep hills, followed by even steeper steps, followed by more steep hills.
At this stage I hadn’t seen any of the other runners for quite a while, and wondered exactly how far behind I was – going by my very slow and painful progress, I guessed pretty far.
After crossing a stream, and passing along a farm track, I saw a flash of luminous yellow up ahead, and turned a corner to see a truly awesome hill ahead of me. I could see Margaret making her way up, and Bridget at the top. I have often joked about crawling a race if I had to, but this was the first time I’ve actually had to do it – this was probably the toughest hill I’ve ever
run crawled, and I had visions of losing my footing and rolling all the way back to the start of the race. If this hill doesn’t have a name, then it should have. By the time I got to the top, I was totally out of breath, and my legs were like jelly.
I caught up with Bridget at the top, and followed her. This didn’t turn out to be a good idea……..
Bridget directed us over a fence, which had me puzzled. Ronald Reagan once said of politics “When you’re explaining, you’re losing” and I think you could adjust that for trail running to “When you’re climbing over fences, you’re lost” We soon met Margaret and Catherine coming towards us, and there followed a bit of a “what the fuck” moment as we tried to figure out where we were, and more importantly, where we were supposed to be going. We ended up crossing some fields, sliding down some embankments, crawling under some fences, climbing over some other fences, and having a right old adventure.
We eventually found our way back to the road, which we knew would lead us back to the trail we were supposed to be on – or at least we were fairly sure it would….
After some more twisting and turning (and some jelly babies) we found ourselves back on the trail, and soon we were climbing some nice steep hills again.
I once read a horror story about a guy who received a hand transplant after an accident. The hand had come from a murderer, and, after getting the guy in a lot of trouble, it strangled him. I sometimes wonder if I’ll wake up some night to find my legs have wrapped themselves around my neck after deciding that I’m just not worth all the torture.
After reaching the highest point of the trail, I knew that it was more or less all downhill from here, and was very glad to get there. The descent was going well, with Margaret around 100 yards ahead of me, when I saw her go down heavily. I caught up, and found she had caught her foot on a protruding stone, and had gotten some cuts and bruises. Being the tough trooper she is, she was soon back on her feet and going again. We ran the rest of the trail together without incident, and were soon back on the road to the finish line. I found this section the easiest by far, as tarmac road is what I’m used to, and it was almost all downhill, which was a big relief for my leg muscles. We finally crossed the line in 1:53:01 – not a great time, but acceptable all things considered!
When we reached O’Riada’s, there was lunch waiting for us, which was very welcome by then! Milosz presented prizes to the winner, and some of the runners who had shown big improvements over the course of the trail running training the club had run.
I really enjoyed this race, even the getting lost bit! It was a fun day out, and reminded me once again of how different trail running is to road running. Well done to Bridget and Milosz for organising it, I would definitely be up for doing another one!