Wicklow Way Relay:
Also on was the annual Wicklow Way Relay where finally on the 4th time of trying over a 10 year span we managed to get the win! We have endured a painful 2nd (in 2022), lost runners (Frank Hayes, Frank O'Carroll, Fiona Santry!), missing starts (Frank Hayes...again) but finally in 2023 everything went well with a strong clean run by the whole team. We had a solid start and worked our way through the field to give Fiona a clear run to the finish line completing the 104km route in 7:28.36. Rookies Diarmaid Collins and Matt Horrigan put in storming performances on the day with Eadaoin proving a very able replacement for Annelise on short notice. Donal and Graham didn't have marathons in their legs this year and their times reflected it, each gaining valuable time. Nicky didn't stray onto Military road this year. Tim ran 3 minutes slower than last year so he will have to focus a bit more next year to get back on the team for 2024. And Fiona followed the signposted roads to Shillelagh village with no issues! Matt has written a great report below summing up the race. Well done to all who helped out as well - Lavinia, Hugo, Ava, Zack, Eibhlin, Ger, Briana, Una, Ben, Holly. Ye are the unsung heros!
Matt Horrigan - Guest Article:
On a picturesque day in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains, the Wicklow Way Relay 2023 unfolded with teams from all over the country eagerly competing for the coveted title. Amidst a backdrop of breathtaking landscapes and challenging terrains, East Cork AC emerged as the winners of this thrilling race by just 2 minutes.
Graham Swords kicked off the relay on Leg 1, ascending from Kilmashogue Car Park to Curtlestown Wood, covering a distance of 13.6 km and conquering an elevation gain of 556m. Graham's performance set the tone for East Cork AC's victory, handing over to Donal in an impressive time of 61 minutes and 37 seconds.
Donal Giltinan, on Leg 2, displayed remarkable agility as he dashed from Curtlestown to Lough Tay, tackling a challenging route of 15.1 km with an elevation gain of 680m. Donal's determination was evident as he completed the leg in a commendable time of 73 minutes and 39 seconds, over two minutes faster than last year.
Eadaoin Giltinan, Donal's wife and boss, as the team playfully acknowledged, embarked on Leg 3, gracefully maneuvering from Lough Tay to Oldbridge, an 8.3 km stretch with a gentle elevation gain of 126m, in an excellent time of 39 minutes and 52 seconds handing over to Diarmuid.
Diarmuid Collins, a former Inter Schools 1500m champion, took charge of Leg 4, conquering the 10 km stretch from Oldbridge to Glendalough. With a challenging elevation gain of 363m, Diarmuid's speed and endurance shone through, clocking in at 43 minutes and 36 seconds.
Matt Horrigan, on Leg 5, traversed the scenic route from Glendalough to Glenmalure, covering a distance of 13 km and surmounting an elevation gain of 560m. Matt's steady pace resulted in a solid time of 57 minutes and 56 seconds.
Nick O'Donoghue, famously known for his love of coffee, fearlessly tackled Leg 6, traversing the demanding path from Glenmalure to Iron Bridge. Covering a distance of 12.7 km and battling a formidable elevation gain of 533m, Nick's impressive time of 57 minutes and 5 seconds enabled East Cork to claw back approx. a minute on both TT racers and Rathfarnham AC.
Leg 7 saw Tim O'Donoghue, embarked on a gruelling 20.4 km journey from Iron Bridge to Tinahely. With an elevation gain of 610m, Tim's experience and determination were evident as he completed the leg in a commendable time of 75 minutes and 23 seconds, propelling East Cork to a 1 minute and 53 second lead for final leg ahead of TT racers.
Leg 8 Fiona Santry, National Masters XC champion, fittingly took charge of the final leg, racing from Tinahely to Shillelagh, a 10 km course with a modest elevation gain of 147m. Fiona completed the final leg in an impressive time of 39 minutes and 28 seconds, ultimately securing East Cork AC's victory.
Tim O'Donoghue, the team captain, offered sage advice during a dinner at Lynhams of Laragh the night before. The advice basically consisted of don’t get lost, sage words none the less. The team's support crew, consisting of Eibhlin, Ger, and baby Briana, provided invaluable logistical support, in-race position updates, water bottles along the route and ferrying of finished runners. All of which ensured smooth transitions and boosted morale.
It is important to recognise the exceptional efforts of other teams who participated in the race. The TT Racers and Rathfarnham AC pushed East Cork AC to their limits, with all teams having their own battles and should be commended for their efforts. As the dust settled and the celebrations commenced, East Cork AC were delighted to secure a hard-fought victory at the 4th time of trying in 7 hours and 28 minutes.