Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Knockagh

Knockagh Ultra  6:58:58

31 Miles

This was an East Antrim Marathon Series (EAMS) event that I had been wanting to do for a while. I heard it was tough. It was over a 10.35 Mile loop from Greenisland all the way up to the Knockagh  WW1 monument high in the hills above Belfast before returning to Green Island.

Having full use of the Presbyterian church, registration was in the hall and toilets were available all day. The car park was also free and most people were able to get in without issue.

There were around 100 turned up but as there was a choice of 1,2 or 3 loops there was something for everyone. Around 40 finished 3 loops for a 31 Mile (50K) Ultra.

As usual the EAMS guys had a perfect setup with medical onsite all the time in a smart car ambulance and there was full chip timing.

The aid station wanted for nothing and even had gels. As normal with EAMS this was a very northern affair with a few interlopers from the south. It is fairly well supported by local running clubs and I noticed 3 there from EDAC from the Downpatrick area. One  in particularly lapped me on a 3 lap race ??? There is also a very loyal following for EAMS and I believe in the very near future there may be some loyalty merch coming their way.  After the usual race director brief (given this time by Craig) we lined up and when the police gave the go ahead,  Peter gave us a toot on his horn and we were off. All races started at the same time.
Start

Finish
Leaving the Green Island Presbyterian church we headed towards Belfast for a slightly undulating 2 miles along the Ironically named upper road (it was our lower road). This was on all on footpath (except for the first lap when we were escorted by the police).

This was a fairly easy start that belied what was ahead. But if you are trying to make time on this loop this is where it is done.

After ~2 miles we turned right and started to climb. It was steep but runnable if you wanted to try in parts. I walked most of it on all 3 laps. After about 1.5 miles of quite some effort, we crested for a undulating road towards the Knockagh memorial. We had the monument in site pretty much all the way.

Mile 8
Turning right we ran up monument road (very well stocked aid station), which was 3/4 mile fairly steep climb up to the monument itself. I walked most of it. The views were spectacular at the monument and it was a lot bigger that I had expected. Views stretched from Scotland on the left , over Belfast to Cave Hill and the Mournes on  the right. Leaving the Monument we went back down Monument Road before turning right at the bottom at the aid station again. A one mile flat section gave way to a 1.5 miles steep downhill section brought us back to the flat. A further ~2 miles of undulating footpath brought us back to the church.

There was around 300m climb per lap. That is huge.

3 laps for the ultra.

Great Medal
My knee was still bad so it was a struggle all day and slow. Lap one took 2hrs 10 and a very slow 2nd lap of 2hrs 28 odd had me fairly near the back. I really tried all day to run when I could, but it was the downhill that was causing me the most issues and I made time on most around me on the up hill but lost bucket loads on the downhill. Amazingly I speeded up did the 3rd lap in 2hrs 21 for a sub 7 hr finish. I came around 30th out of the 40 finishers and well down on where I should have been. In full fitness I could have easily broke 5 hrs on this route.

All the marshals were great and there was a wonderful bespoke Knockagh medal for everyone who did 2 or 3 laps (smaller one for those that finished 1 lap). With the Quadrathon on both this event and LOS suffered for numbers and I wonder if the schedule will clash in the future (I've heard not).

Thanks to Adrian, Peter and Craig for the day.

Photos: Adrian Boyd

stats for today

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