The Mourne Peaks Race is a long counter in the Fell Running British Championships. At 12 miles, you might be forgiven for thinking its an easy counter.....but the terrain makes up for that! It has everything from grassy runnable parts (although fairly scarse) to leg eating bog and plenty of tussocks with some good rocky ground thrown in for good measure. And oh yes, there is very little of the course that could be described as a 'flat' section....most of it is steep up, or steep down making it a tough race.
I wasn't sure how this weekend was going to turn out as last weekend my legs had completely gone and I'd finally done as much as my body could take by the open5 with a disappointing (but not unexpected) result. I'd accepted that 5 days is not really enough recovery time, a 3mile jog on Friday wasn't great and had nowhere near 2000m climb... I was fully expecting to have to take it steady and just enjoy one of my all time favourite race routes! Another 'training' race for the APEX adventure race.
However, somehow, as soon as we set off I felt like I had a completely new pair of legs :-).
I took the first climb steady but found myself in a position I hadn't expected at all. On the first descent me and Ali Raw went back and forth a bit, I wasn't descending like I normally do at all, guess my legs were a bit tired after all, but I still felt reasonably strong! Then Jackie Lee came past, I caught her up again on the next climb and the three of us were together until it became a bit more runnable. This is where I could have done with more than 5 days rest, as I discovered that I just had one pace and that pace was the same whether it was steep and rough or slightly less steep and runnable.
Thankfully coming off Doan it all gets rough again then there is the biggest climb of the race, so I caught a fair bit of time back up here and Ali was back in sight. All the way round I had Slieve Commedagh in the back of my mind. 3 years ago I got to that final beastily steep climb and the top just never seemed to get any closer! This time, it was over before I knew it. All that was between me and the finish was one looooong descent. I kept with the theme of the day and didn't pull it off particularly well....although the person behind me thought I didn't do too bad. I finished in 3hrs 1min, 30minutes faster than 3 years ago, just outside my aim of sub 3hrs but I can live with that for now. I was 9th lady (best senior result to date) and 1st U23 (although that wasn't the hottest competition of the day :-) )
I'm glad I went to Ireland in the end, I almost thought twice about it last Sunday, but the Mournes are definitely still my favourite mountains!