Monday 6 April 2015

Vartry 50K

Vartry  50K  4:55:07   and new PB

Ultra's where 10Ks are just aid stations

This was my second race in Wicklow and all within the space of 8 days. I was in reasonable shape after breaking 4hrs in Rathdrum the week before which was a hilly course. Vartry was a new venue and it turned out to be even hillier at >1800ft over the 31 mile course. I felt that if I ran out of my skin a sub 5 was possible and the big prize would be a Donadea guaranteed entry place.

The race was to be held on a 10 mile lap around the Vartry lakes beside Roundwood.

Private race briefing
This was part of an Ultra festival that actually started the evening before at 6pm when the 100 milers would take on 10 laps followed at 6am by the 50 milers taking on 5 laps. I knew quite a few in both races so I was following progress online all evening and first thing in the morning. I picked Kristy up early doors and we headed to Vartry getting there in plenty of time before 8am. We picked up our numbers and got our personal race briefing from Don and sucked in the atmosphere as 50 milers and some 100 milers trickled through on their numerous laps. We were to meet most of the 100 milers on the course later. Everything was in place for a marvellous day even the weather was perfect.

Around 50 toed the line for the 50K and we were off at 9am.

The course for the 50K was 3x 10.3 mile loops (slightly extended from the normal loop). We left the start area and turned left downhill towards Roundwood before turning left again towards the Vartry lakes and almost immediately crossed a bridge. A slight up hill and a sharp right turn put us on an undulating road for 2 miles. On the first loop we passed Enda and Frank who were on lap 7 of their 100 mile race. I'm sure Enda was offering free
flights for fresh legs. The boys were in great spirits. We took a sharp left and over the next 3 miles we climbed and climbed rising to around 1000ft. This was a hard bit of the course that seemed endless. It was however crowned by a well stocked aid station that was very gratefully received. I had settled into about 15th position at this stage and was pretty much running on my own. After the aid station there was a sharp left and a 3/4 mile section of nice downhill before turning sharp right onto the out
Fantastic aid stations
and back section. It was on this section that you met everyone and knew exactly were you were in the race. The road continued to drop to the lake level and we crossed a bridge to a turn around. It was then a climb all the way back to the main road at about 800ft. A sharp right turn brought us back onto the main road and another 200ft climb crested us high above Roundwood. The last 2K were nicely down hill until we joined the original route at the fist bridge. It was then a nasty climb back upto the finishing area before we lapped the park
coming through the start/finish area and another well stocked aid station. I was through the first lap in 1:32.

I also saw briefly my Donadea 50K partner Ray Cassin this time taking on the 50 mile race and Finn "Queen Of Hearts" O'Mara also in the 50 mile race. I meant to ask her how she got on with the bridges.

Coming into start/finish area
The second loop was a quiet affair as I was on my own. I met and had quick chats with Paul Brunnock, a very tired Liam Costello and a battling Maurice Olwill all in the 100 miler. The excitement was great when I caught Kristy who had stopped to run with Brenda O'Keefe in her own 100 miler (eventually came second). I was delighted as I never beat Kristy and I was able to slip by without her noticing. Joining for a section was Brian O'Kelly who himself is preparing for a sub 2:40 attempt in Boston, but was there today helping everyone out. On the run into the finish of the second lap I came across Lillian Deegan also in the 100 miler (eventual winner) and gave as much encouragement as I could. I was still running well and came through the second lap in 3:06  (21 miles). Given the hilly nature of the course this was great but I knew I would have to run the whole 3rd loop to break 5 hrs. Walking was not an option.

About 2 miles into the 3rd  loop I passed a struggling Ronan Mistiel and I was upto 13th spot and still felt OK but was visibly slowing. The up hill section was very very very long and I was delighted to get to the aid station in around 4hrs. I was still a little shy of marathon distance and knew that things would be close. Just at marathon distance a familiar sight of Marie Chapman came Hokaing past (Marie is in training for her own 100 mile attempt in May on the Thames path). I now had dropped to 15th spot and was determined to get under 5 hrs. Some great encouragement on the switch back was had from Kristy, Anto and the Kearnies (who cruelly were bedecked in Donandea gear and boy they let you know about it) and I ploughed on. I passed a 100 miler (TJ I think) on the last climb and he and his running partner were cock a hoop about nearly finishing. The last 2K was ahead and I was still
And home
running well . I passed Donna who was walking with a very weary 100 miler and I could see Frank and Enda in the distance and knew if I could catch them I would be close. They came into focus on the last bridge and I caught them on the climb (they were on lap 9). At this stage I knew I was safe and enjoyed the last 400m around the park to come in with a New PB of 4:55:07 (PB by nearly 5 mins) and the big prize of a guaranteed spot in next years national 50K in Donadea. I managed 15th overall out of 52 starters and the last under 5 hours.

We got fantastic momento's of the day. Kristy came in soon and we stayed around to see Lillian finish and Brenda start her last lap before going back home with Collette in tow.
Marie who chicked me again
The prize from Donadea

Don and the great momento

A wonderful day all round. Photos courtesy of Carol Madden, Miranda Hannon and Niamh McGoldrick

Garmin stats for the day

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