Follow the yellow man they say!
Where to start.. Firstly well done to all from the club that helped make this work. While this might not be a championship race or even an Athletics Ireland event (God forbid!) it is one of the few events that as a club we get big numbers together with a common purpose. The Wicklow Way Relay brings out all the best characteristics of East Cork AC. The race is long, hard, tricky to get right and needs a big team effort to pull off a result.
Luckily on our 3rd attempt we managed to have a clean race with nobody getting lost or missing the start. In the end we finished 2nd overall just behind Rathfarnham AC.
We had two route records on the day. Congrats to Kenneth on Leg 4 and Tim on Leg 7. There is comprehensive database on the IMRA site with course and route times over the years.
The Race itself:
The race started just outside Marlay Park at 7am on Saturday May 14th. Graham only 2 weeks after the Limerick marathon was on the first leg and completed it 62.02 in touching distance of the leaders in 5th position. Graham handed over to his marathon friend Donal who maintained the 5th position on the 2nd hardest leg of the route, a 15km mostly uphill run from Prince Williams Seat to Lough Tay carpark. Donal ran a decent 75.58. Fiona was on the third leg and luckily had reccied the route the night before as apparently there were some questionable junctions.... Fiona made up one place for the team and got us into 4th 12 minutes down on the leaders TT Racers. Kenneth over the years has owned leg 4 and this year proved no different. Kenneth blitzed his leg to get us into 2nd with only a 7 minute deficit on Rathfarnham with still more than half of the way to go.
Kevin was up next and ran a solid 61 mins up and over Mullacor to hand to Nicky still in 2nd place. Nicky during his reccie had assessed the route and knew the fastest way to go. He had a great run in 57 mins to claw back another few minutes on the leaders and then it was down to set loose our trump card Tim to see how much damage he could inflict on the longest leg of the course. A 21km leg with about 600m of climbing. Tim failed to disappoint. He had a 9 minute disadvantage when he took off from Iron Bridge and started as if he was running the Cloyne Commons 4k. At the 14km mark of his leg he had completely closed the 9 minutes and had 7km left to go. At the final handover point Tim had clawed us to first place with a buffer of 4 minutes. Tim ran the leg in 72.30 (a sickening 3.33 min/km) Annelise on the anchor leg had a tough task ahead of her as despite the lead, she was up against Laura McDonnell a 35min 10k runner. Annelise gave it everything to stay ahead but was passed on the very hilly road section coming into Shillelagh village, the finish of the race.
In the end we finished in a well deserved 2nd position in an very exciting tight race in 7 hours 34.
A huge thanks also goes out to Lavinia, Lorna and Eadaoin who supported during the race and volunteered for some car parking duties that was necessary. Eibhlin and Ger were a massive help too providing logistics on the day and keep a close eye on the splits and keep the whole crew aware of the race situation as it was unfolding. At one point Ger got so caught up in the event he must have thought we were competing in the Tour De France, as he was roaring in French out the car window. And last but not least a huge thanks to Rosemary Hutch for provide sponsorship towards the race entry fee too.
Hopefully we can get another team together again next year and give it another go.