My First IMRA (Irish Mountain Race Association) Race

My preparation before yesterday hadn’t been what I may have planned but it turned into a good day. The results and times are not up yet and I managed to forget my watch for the race too. All this said I held a good pace throughout and felt I even competed well against some really good runners. The main thing I had in my arsenal yesterday was my lack of any knowledge as to what was ahead of me or where on earth I was on the course in terms of distance to go! I think these things actually worked to my advantage.

I arrived at registration early and hopped on the bus for the spin to the start line well on time. Only five minutes into journey I looked down at my watch, to find out that it wasn’t there. This wasn’t a good start but I decided to try and use it to my advantage. The race was ten minutes late starting, due to a funeral, at which the president was present. I thought as a fellow Galway man that he had come to support my IMRA debut!!

I really had no clue how high the hills would be or how much climbing would be involved. As it turned out there was around 980 metres of ascent but this came over a few rolling hills. I reckon the downhill running was most challenging, both technically and physically draining. The West of Ireland hills are certainly steeper and in general the ground underfoot is much softer.

The distance was my main concern yesterday, 26km, but this didn’t really become a factor as I had no idea how far I had run until I crossed the line. The first 4 km of the race were a slow uphill drag on both gravel and boardwalk to just below the summit of Djouce mountain. This was followed by a few km downhill, which was fast. The next section was through forestry with a few sharp uphills but the majority of this was gravel track and rolling up and down quickly. The scenery was stunning and I managed to take some of it in between breaths. After about 16km the day had warmed up alot and next came a 4km uphill drag, which was very tough. I hiked some of this section in order to give the muscles a chance to switch over and rest. At the top of this hill a group of scouts shouted some encouragement and told us we were 6km from home. A fast descent back towards the main road, a little uphill drag at the bottom and then a cruise/stumble home and I had ran my first IMRA  I received a great welcome from my friends and my sister who came along to support. Thanks guys!

The weather was amazing with sunshine and 12 degrees, almost perfect for running really. The competitors were so friendly and encouraging throughout and all in all I reckon I will return to try out a few more races in the East. I hope to post full results and times later.

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