Tuesday, August 1, 2017

ACHILL ISLAND BACK TO BACK ULTRA 2017










So as always i am bad at writing these race reports but my pictures tell a way better story so enjoy them and ignore my bad spelling and grammar lol.This was my first race since the ridge ultra which had taken its toll on the body as any race of that distance would.But felt good and rested going into it.Lashed by the ocean, carved by the wind and swept by the rain, Achill is one of Ireland’s most spectacular and beautiful places





So i arrived late on friday night after the long 5 hour trip up from cork(the real capital of ireland)checked into my Airbnb which was lovely and peaceful,which i would be glad of to recover after day one,after checking in i headed over about 8pm to collect my number and chip for day one at Micky Lavelle's Seaside House Dooega i was going to be doing the 39.3 mile back to back ultras on the saturday and sunday 78.6 miles in total .There was a big crowd there and already an amazing atmosphere.Donna was there with big hugs and smiles as always and the amazing Maria Quinlan handing out chips and numbers .Met a Few of the other runners doing some of the races and some of the crazy guys doing the 4 days back to back marathons it was here talking to the lads i found out the course was going in reverse from the last time i did it in 2015(the race report for that is on this blog)so after talking to the lads who have already done 2 marathons since thursday and friday said to me how hilly the course was.After picking up my stuff headed back to room and got my gear sorted for day one made up many many tailwind mini bags that i would pour into my water bottles at each water station the lads manning the stations  were laughing at me with these little cocaine looking bags and said they would be testing me at the end of the race this made me laugh big time.
So arrived 8.30 am 30 mins before race started got a  great car space so that when i came around each loop i could do some self crewing at the car before heading out next loop which turned out to be a great idea as i changed tops due to the heat .Some runners had headed out at 8 am but everyone was pretty much starting at 9am.Donna made a quick speech and before we know it we were off .Now yes there was hills but for the next 2 days the weather was going to be a massive factor it was with out fail the hottest 2 ultras i have ever run the wasn't a cloud in the sky and the heat was crazy by loop 2 on both days i was pouring water over me and into my hat to try stay cool,i was like a ghost i had so much factor 50 on lol. So The 13.1 mile loop Began at Micky Lavelle's Seaside House Dooega, we  began by running an out and back along the quiet, lonely Dooega road and continue, along the renowned Wild Atlantic Way' on the loop  will pass sites like the Kildavnet and the 16th century Tower that was once occupied by the ‘notorious’ Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley. The myriad islands of Clew bay, Clare Island and the dramatic coastline of Achill, including Croaghaun, (Europe’s highest cliffs) all combine to take one’s mind off the lung-busting climbs. Below, the thundering Atlantic will inspire you up the hills along the rugged ‘Wild Atlantic Way’. There is plenty of elevation gain on this course way more then i was expecting its funny the famous corkscrew overlooking Ashleam Bay climb was actually the easiest climb on the course,this is not a course if ur looking for a PB. This is a unique road race with plenty of interaction and adrenaline-fuelled camaraderie.Full marathon runners will run this loop twice to make a distance of 26.2 miles. The Ultra Marathoners will face the scenery for a third loop.My first loop with smooth enough a lttle 2 fast i was 13 mins up on my pace time but there was so many runners on the course i got caught up in it.So as the half marathons finished the road became a little quieter and u start to run by yourself passing some of the lads who started at 8am every now and then.The second loop more of the same but the heat of the day was crazy and it was starting to have an effect on this ginger man so i was bang on my pace for second lap did a bit off refueling at the car and head out for lap 3 which would be my slowest lap but i was making sure i didn't use to much energy up as i was going to have to do it all again next day so decide to just take my time last loop enjoy the views and smile all the ways around and before i knew it i was back at the finish line 6 hours 46 mins for the 39 miles 16 minutes slower then my target pace but the heat and hills i didn't account for.So it was here i found out i was 3rd place on the day which i was shocked about i thought i was way back in last place and as one of the lads who finished ahead of me today wasn't doing tomorrow i was 2nd over all for the back to back.So after getting a big hug off donna and maria i handed over my chip and head down the the beach and went for a swim in the ocean which is a massive plus for this race lads and i started to feel great straight away.Head back to the Air BnB did a bit of work on the legs with the roller and elastic band and then had a bath.I started to eat and drink i ate like a pig i was starving which i was so happy about.Headed into local hotel and had the biggest burger fries and salad i could find there was loads of runners in drinking and eating so was so nice to meet them and have a chat about the days events.About 10 headed back to the room was asleep for 11 after getting all the gear sorted again for day 2 
So day 2 i woke up jumped out of the bed and was in shock how strong my legs felt no muscle pain at all so all my back to back training runs had payed off big time.I arrived early to checked in and get number and chip again and the heat and sun was crazy already but the worst thing was the midges man they were out in force like a wall of them while we waited for 9 am to start there was a smaller crowd day 2 and alot alot of runners headed out at 8 am so i was pretty much on my own for must of this race the course was the same as day before but the hills seemed bigger i was alot slower then day 1 but still steady first 2 laps flew by and before i knew it i was  on the last lap i would be very slow so i decide to take a lot of pictures as i had raced the 5 laps over the 2 days and just take the time to stop and enjoy the views and be thankful i was out there to enjoy them so i arrived back at the finish line 7 hours later all smiles and the last man on the course because i was so slow last lap i lost out of second place over all by a few mins, but again i finished 3rd on the day and 3rd over all for the 2 days in a time of 14 hours 22 mins for the 80 miles which i am delight with was hoping sub 14 but the heat and hills put a stop to that and again crossing that finish line got the biggest hugs and cheers from donna and maria its here i want to say my sincere thanks to a wonderful event  I thoroughly enjoyed the spectacular course, beautiful views, gorgeous weather, and gracious assistance from all the volunteers at every aid station and on the course.Thanks again for this great opportunity to run in my backyard i will be back.

So if ur looking for your next Half Marathon,Marathon,Ultra this is a must for all grades of runners it is with out fail the most beautiful courses in ireland and even go as far to say in europe as well u are just surrounded by views evet where,i spent more time taking pictures then running definitely cost me time lol. 
Achill Island in County Mayo is the largest Irish island and is linked to the mainland by a brand-new bridge. The colourful landscapes of Achill have inspired us runners alike, and despite the buzz of people who flock to this island every year, it can also be a place of retreat for anybody looking for peace and solitude .There are two great mountains on the island as well as dramatic, high cliffs and long sandy beaches. The highest mountain is Slievemore (672m).The island's longest beach, Trawmore, is 3km long.A visit to Achill can be as active, or as relaxed, as you choose. Achill offers over a dozen quality restaurants with fresh Atlantic seafood a speciality - and its pubs and bars provide a traditional Irish welcome.Achill's landscape of rugged mountains, freshwater lakes, secluded beaches and Atlantic coastline makes it a perfect location for a wide variety of outdoor activities
























2 comments:

JQ said...

Great description of a mammoth run. Nice course alright.
Great running Alan. Well Done!!

Pat said...

Another great report Alan... really enjoy them. No surprise to me at all that you did so well. Pat