Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Wicklow Way 50K Race Report

We pulled into the parking lot outside Johnnie Foxes about an hour early, right as the early starters were getting on their way. The weather was windy, with some sleet and rain, as we tried to stay warm in the car. After deciding to put on a pair of leggings under my shorts, we were off around 9:30 am. As the weather was nice, with forecasts for a rainy afternoon, I decided I would take most of my pictures the first half of the race.


Start on the roads. Lots of Buff's in Europe, FYI.

First climb as you get onto the Wicklow Way
The run started out on road for about a mile, and then began a climb up onto the Wicklow Way. The sun had crept out from the clouds and offered ideal views of the countryside. The first sustained climb was all run-able, and eventually got onto some sandy 'forest road' that flattened out for bit at the top. 

The first descent started with some uneven rocks, that provided some technical terrain and slowed me down. (Ever since my sprain at Cascade, I've kept it slow and easy when navigating technical terrain). Then you hit nice wide trail that was a constant descent into the first aid station. From there the trail went down along a stream that had some muddy patches. But most of the trail was wide and very run-able.

Start of first descent.

About this time I had some of my first encounters with some friendly runners and aid station volunteers. I ran with one guy and introduced myself. He mentioned he was running this race for the first time, but it took me a couple of 'excuse mes' to figure out what he was saying. Some of the local accents were so strong, I couldn't make out what was being said.

I then got the the aid station at a parking lot (7-11 miles in, not sure exactly), and made a quick stop for some water and to see what was at the table (I had a full pack and all my calories with me, so no aid would be necessary). Mars bars were plentiful, and then a plate of some sugar colored candies. I grabbed a couple of the candies and the following conversation began with a pretty vibrant aid station volunteer.

"What are these?"
"Gummy Babies"
"What are that those?"
"Did you just ask what are Gummy Babies?"
"Yes...sorry, I'm not from here"
"Oh, why its sugar, darlin'!"

Verdict on Gummy Babies: candies that are basically soft jelly that are covered in a powered sugar and shaped like babies. Don't know if I would do them again. They kinda melt in your mouth, if you dig that.

Pretty cool view of a falls about mile 12 or so?
After that aid station began the final climb of the out and back. The sun was out, and as we head up the mountain, a lot of the footing was extremely thick mud. My shoes quickly became covered in it and at times literally were like ice skates. Then about halfway up the climb, I experienced the strongest winds ever during the a race.

I began to power hike the climb, as when I ran up, the wind actually blew back and up. I made more progress keeping my feet low and on the ground. I built up a fairly efficient power hike, and actually hiked by a runner who was running the climb. At the top of the climb, the run leveled out onto structure that was essentially two boards put together, with wire and 'staples' to allow for traction. Beside this 'boardwalk' were bogs. Some of the bogs were just uneven ground, some was shin deep pools of water. The wind was incredibly intense on the top of the ridge the boardwalk went over. I was blown off twice into some bogs, completely soaking me to the shins. I had to literally lean completely into the wind to maintain balance and I felt like my Patagonia Houdini was going to be ripped off my body.

Wind just started as you got up this climb.
Climb, wind pending.
Coming off the ridge, mom and pops in background
After getting off this boardwalk, we were treated to beautiful views of a lake below. At this point I also got to see my parents as they had made their way to this ridge. The run then took a left down some forest road and as I approached the turn around, the 25K runners had just started. I stayed to the outside as this massive pack took off up the road, knowing I would catch the back of the packers on the boardwalk.

Great view at the end of the ridge/near turnaround point.
After the halfway point I stopped taking pictures and went into 'race mode'. Running the ups as much as possible and maintaining a steady pace on the downs. The wind was just as bad up on the ridges, but after that everything was comfortable. I encountered some rain, and some sideways sleet for periods on the way back, but nothing that was too bad. Ran the last climb, and then the run finished on the road leading back to the pub.

Route back, passing some 25K runners.
On way back, had some sideways sleet shortly after this pic.
5:18 for 19th place. My Suunto came out with about 32 miles and 7,400 ft of gain. Really cool, handmade, finisher's mug given to all at the finish.

Finishers Mug

1 comment:

  1. You look properly Euro and I can see Pops in the background checking his watch and pontificating on your pace and estimated finishing time! Looks beautiful, and good run.