Tuesday, July 25, 2017

THE RIDGE ULTRA 2107




                                         


         Here we go the ridge ultra race report 

Gortin to Killeter         DISTANCE 36 miles (58 km)


So myself ,Rose(my wife and epic crew captain) and Pat arrived about an hour before the start of the race, it was here we Learned that only 7 of us Will be taking part as there had been a few drop out So it's here we met the amazing Sammy and Adrian from Atalsrunning links above who were running the event which was in its first year this year and all going well would build to big event attracting people over the next few years and eventually to a full 269-mile course in2019.So we signed in and got some amazing swag a running top buff and really nice jacket you'll see them in pictures below. The day was very hot already and little did we know what effect the weather would have on this event typical Irish weather all four seasons in one day So we all got to know each other while we waited for the race to start and l have become really good Facebook friends with most of them already so the race begins at a little Village, named Gortln, 8 miles out of Omaha There the seven runners, all male, that had decided, like me, to take on this Incredible challenge Torn had flown over from America, Jivee, from the Philippines and now living in Belfast and Alan and peter  from England and Barry ,Pat and myself from Ireland made the  field of runners for this, but looking around as always I felt out of place with these ultra-runners all super fit and skinny looking were I have no talent for running more of a ginger work horse back of the pack slow and steady. So after a quick briefing very quick and a few pictures it was 10 o clock and time to go so we had 48 HOURS to get to the finish, myself and pat thought this was way too generous but little were we to know it was a tight cut off time in the end. So as write this report please be nice in ur comments I’m not very good at writing race reports only taking pictures but I Will try my best




Starting in the village of Gortin and Gortin Forest Park , this section of the Ridge Challenge follows quiet country roads, areas of woodland, before picking up the Ulster Way on the northern slopes of Bollaght Mountain the route is waymarked from here using yellow on blue Ulster Way signage. You ascend Bessy Bell, where panoramic views of the western Sperrins can be enjoyed, 

The route continues to the village of Killeter itself. So pretty much from me start Tom, Jivee and Barry who had won the Kerry way ultra-last year all flew off and myself and pat looked at each other and said there goes 1st 2nd and 3rd,but little did we know how events would unfold so we settled into our pace with pat working on navigation and as always teaching me something about map reading which I love to learn as much as i can so with peter and Alan just behind us but matching pace but  the day was crazy  hot and we were drinking water like crazy. So after a while we looked behind us and Peter and Alan were nowhere in sight it was only few miles down the road were we saw Sammy and Adrian again we found out they took a wrong turn and how this would be the story of the day for all runners but thanks to pat and a very small bit pf help from  myself  I hope we stayed on route and steady it was here pat turned to me and said he would not be surprised if we were the only 2 left still in the race by tomorrow morning and how right he was .So a few times along the route we met Sammy and Adrian on route filling up on water and food and also my super crew captain wife who had table, food, drinks and chairs out and ready for us at every checkpoint for us 47 hours of patching us up and sending us on our way again .The first 36 miles were pretty standard lots of road little trail not to many big climbs but the heat was a massive factor and slowed down myself and pat big time we were saving energy for the next legs and also the weather forecast for next day was not good which was an understatement What is interesting about this course how it starts of steady enough and fools u into a sense of false security but it slowly builds and gets harder and harder the climbs get  bigger and bigger and the navigation more and more difficulty which  is a massive selling point for this race for future ultra-runners .So the first big stop was in Killeter and it was here my wife got me the most amazing bag of chips which I horsed into they were so good. The 3 lads ahead us had come and gone all ready, the day was still very hot and about 30 mins later Alan and Peter arrived as we were getting set to leave on the next section of the course .Alan and peter arrived and I hope they don’t mind me saying they look like they had been through the ringer, I think peter had trail shoes on and most of the first part of this course was on road his feet were in bad shape(as I was leaving my stunning wife was helping him with his feet)and Alan was lying on the ground very pale looking I helped him out a little before we left, next time we would meet was at the next major checkpoint and they had dropped from the race ill link peters amazing race report here which reads way better than my one lol



So spirits high bellies full and gear bags sorted we headed out for the next section
of the course and cross over the border from northern Ireland in Ireland

Killeter to Glenties      DISTANCE 34 miles (55 km)


We Settled into the next part of this race and we started to knock the miles off ,slowly as we moved into the first night time section of the Ridge Challenge, leading from Killeter, past Lough Eske, across the border with Northern Ireland, through Killeter Forest and ending at the village of Glenties. The waymarking on this section is a yellow on black walking man and arrow disk with 'Bluestack Way' written on it to Glenties towards the Clar Chapel junction. So every now and then to Check on navigation’s while checking the tracker on the iPhone to see where everyone else was and how they were getting on I started to noticed that all the lads in front and behind were off track a good few times on many occasions heading for miles in the wrong direction. So the good news was the 3 lads ahead of us all day we were slowly catching them as they made their way back on course after going off and losing time doing this we were slow and steady ever moving forward Before we knew it we had passed Jivee who had gone straight on when he should have gone left I could see on my iPhone and the map that he went miles the wrong way and so we were in joined second place just behind Barry but he would soon get turned around himself during the night in a crazy section of the course over a big climb into a forest section and the weather was at its worst at this stage so he pulled himself from the course we were told next time we met Sammy and Adrian and just like that before we knew it we went from second into joined first and just like pat predicted the day before  we were the last 2 left on course in the race but we had a long way to go and some massive climbs and hard sections ahead so we still had a lot of work to do. The weather was pretty bad at this stage and the 2 of us were still moving forward not saying much to each for an hour our 2  at a time just focusing on moving forward but it was getting so cold and we were soaking as well but we were lucky enough to find a shed and we stepped in out of the weather for a while were we found very old feed bags thrown on the ground pat pulled out a knife so we cut holes in them  and put under our jackets and man did they stink but they worked so well heated up the body straight away so we powered on and finally we arrived at the last big check in at hotel THE HIGH LANDS were we would spend  time getting some food fresh clothes and warmed up ready for the last big push and biggest climb of the race it was here my wife worked wonders with us patching our broken bodies we spent longer here then we should have ,but the rest was nice  and we still had the hardest section of the course too go as I said earlier this race starts nice and steady but it builds and builds to bigger and bigger climbs. We also met Alan and peter here at this checkpoint as well who had DNF after a getting a lost a few times and were trying make their way back home from there the wished us luck as they headed out the door they looked like they had been through a hell of fight on that first section of the race legends.

Glenties to Bunglas    DISTANCE 42 miles (68 km)

This section is the third section of the Ridge Challenge, following Ardara, Glencolmcille, past Slieve League and then along the Atlantic Coast ending at Bunglas. The route is waymarked from Glencolumbcille to Ardara with a yellow arrow and yellow walking man (Slí Columbcille) and with yellow on black walking man and arrow disk with 'Bluestack Way' written on it from Glenties to Ardara.Some steep, difficult ground. Can be rocky, boggy and exposed in places. There are some on road walk sections. Parts of the route are unmarked in places. There are also footbridges, boardwalk and stiles to cross. its this section u will see some of the most stunning views of the course but at a cost u have to work hard to get there some sites include Slieve League, Gleann Cholm Cille (Gaeltacht region of Donegal), Assarnacally Waterfall.
This section was always going to be the most difficult due to last climb over slieve League at the last 6 miles or so of the race,theres a really horrible section following a river we had to climb over electirc fencing a few times and as im a little short guy i got shocked twice once in my private parts and once on my legs Pat laughed at me but after the race i found burned marks on me man it hurt but woke me up for sure lol,so we still had to get to the base of that climb we were going now for over 35 hours but still moving forward,we met my wife along the way a few  more times but most importantly at my lowest point i messed up not taking enough water with me and was feeling it so i rang her and she drove  to the top of a massive climb that  we had to make our way up in the darkness so u could not see the top.But i knew she was at the top so i put my head down and powered up it full on ginger beast mode and was so happy to see her waiting for us,Pat followed up and said i flew up the climb i didn't realize how hard i had pushed i just wanted water and food.I ate and drank like a king on top of that climb thanks to my amazing wife and crew captain.We decide to rest for 15 mins in the car and man was it cold up there.Refueled and ready to go we head down the climb till we got to prop the worst section of the course for me it was a 5 mile pretty much all road stretch to the base of the last section up to Slieve League mountain.I told rose it will prop take us 2 hours to get it done that was a mistake as there was no phone signal in the area so i took the lead here driving us on because we were going to sleep for 30 mins once we met rose again,but i worked out if we pushed hard we could get extra 15 to 20 mins sleep.We were pretty much sleep running at this stage but we got there way ahead of what i told rose and like i said no phone signal so rose had no way of finding us.So i left Pat  and went to find her in the village it was here everything becomes a bit of of a blur for me i remember walking down to the village and sitting down at some stage but i was to find out later i was walking in the middle of the road like a zombie she said she got me into the car and the next thing i knew we were getting ready for the last push i asked her how i got in the car and she told me i was like a drunk man walking in the middle of the raod,its funny when i think back on it have no memory of that 40 mins.
So we were rested the best we could fresh clothes food and drink we headed out for that last climb i think we had 6 hours to get it done so we were moving for 42 hours at this stage and we realised this course was no joke and the 48 hours is a tight cut off.So as we winded our way up to the base of the mountain the views to our left was stunning the ocean the sun was out and we were moving forward talking and smiling i would read out messages on facebook from our friends to pat we did this a few times during the race to motivate us and it really did and then before we knew it Slieve league was in front of us and sweet jesus it look like everst.It was here pat said just sit down lay back and take it in enjoy the moment which we did there was just silence the climb ahead and the feeling that we where going to do this it was a special moment for sure.So pat picked our route up it and he went for the most direct route straight up it was here i was feeling it big time Pat as always was a beast going up it but i was slow and steady but i also was taking time to look around and take it in and before we knew we were at the top and u could see the finish way off in the distance.This was prop the most technical section for me along the ridge of the mountain u had to loop around and down very narrow path.I started to feel better and was pushing on best i could and before we knew it we were down the other side into the car park passing lots of tourists who were looking at these 2 nutters running past time but we were smiling from ear to ear.But the race was to through one last thing at us the finish line is actually a good mile and a half past view point were we thought it was at the bottom of a hill in the car park that leads up the base of Slieve League.But before we knew we were running to the finish line and we were Done in 47 HOURS 6 MINS and just like that it was over with more of a whisper then a roar with just my wife Sammy and adrian waiting for us to cheer us in Joint winners and finishers of the first ever ridge ultra.A lot of our success was down to my wife and pat and his navigation and my wife for fixing us up and getting us out of that car as for myself i do what i always do try move forward and be off help when i needed.Like i have said before im not build for running and i get lost in my own house but every race i learn and try to improve .I am sure there is much much more stories i have forgotten in this ridge report over the 2 days  and when Pat sends me his report it will be like a book as he has the gift for those reports and writting and all the stats unlike me.so i hope u enjoyed this read please forgve the spelling and grammer mistakes im know stephen king but i know my pictures are good lol.

ENJOY MY PICTURES THEY WILL TELL A BETTER STORY 




















































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