Result: 6th in 2hr 54m
“Rachaimíd ar nós na gaoithe” was my thought at the start line on the Marina in Dingle. I was buzzing after hearing the living legend Micheál O’Muircheartaigh, who started the race with a countdown “o deich a haon.” This was my 7th year doing DAR – I’ve finished 4th twice, 5th twice, 6th and 9th since 2011.
Mícheál is a poet – his words are so lilting and melodic. How he described where his mother came from, up the Conor Pass and how “Maum na Gaoithe” was the name of one windy gap. It certainly was blowing hard when we got up there.
A tailwind uphill, then a tricky decent down the far side. The usual suspects were up ahead of me, so I was happy to be in the top 10. I knew I had to get in a group for the Cloghane bike in, as the wind would slow a lone cyclist. I got in a group of 4 with Kieran, Barry and Michael. Kieran got us moving in good shape, turning over quickly.
Then I got dropped. Boom, out the back, on my own, into a force 6 headwind. They sped away. I cursed my momentary slackening of power and concentration. That’s bike racing.
From Cloghane it as only 5km up Mount Brandon on foot. An hour later I’m at the summit. Not your average 5km pace. Lots of walking, scrambling over rocks, climbing over scree. I ever drafted off another runner (Des K) the wind was so strong. I love that run. The stillness of the glacial lakes in the shadow of the mountain. It’s so peaceful and quiet, just the sound of water flowing over the rocks.
The summit is another world. In the clouds, wind howling, so jacket on. Read for the gale. Arms out, like Kate & Leo on the bow of the Titanic. The poor marshal in this wet gear – he shouted instructions to follow the white crosses. We’d need St Brendan’ blessing alright. As Mícheál said, our Lord fell 3 times on the way up Calvary so I was ready for a spill or two on the way down. Des battled with me the whole way down, which helped me push on.
Onto the dead road, 10km of hell back into town. It’s a sucker of a road, with a climb for 2km and a long straight road which plays with you mentally. I could see a runner about 3mins ahead, so slowly reeled him in. I felt strong, with good cadence I was closing.
5km to go thought it was Dessie, with Barry in blue ahead of him by 1-2min. Dessie was struggling (due to a fall on Brandon), so I caught him and then thought “can I catch Barry?” Over a minute on 3km was tough but I tried.
The finish line was great – home in 6th overall. Mícheál was there to say “comghairdeachas” which was lovely. He even threw in a reference to Semple Stadium de “Domhnaigh seo chugainn.” Port Láirge abú!
After the finish line, everyone’s in a good mood. Soup, fruit, beer, water. Home and showered. A lovely crab crumble meal in Ballydavid, a tour of Gallarus Oratory, a nap, then catching up over raffle tickets and beers in Danno’s – our only hope of prizes! A late G&T in Kennedy’s and we fell into bed. That’s why I love DAR and Dingle.
It’s amazing how therapeutic exercise can be. I had a crazy busy week, with the usual day job, plus being race director for the Phoenix Park Duathlon midweek. That meant I trained only once in 5 days – something I never do, even if it’s just a jog after work to clear my head. Things were manic with little sleep and to do lists as long as my arm.
So, my prep wasn’t ideal, but once I hit the road west, it all eased away and I was calm again. Until the B&B called to tell me I’d only booked us in for Friday and not Saturday night – ahhhh! Another drama I didn’t need but luckily, I got sorted in a farmhouse out the road 😊