Cooley Raid Part 2 – Race Report
Again it was onto the bikes still in the lead but uncertain for how much longer. From here it was a cycle to TA3, where most of the teams skipped the 4 CP’s en route, MA were the only team to pick up one CP along the way. MA had pulled back an 1hr 40minutes back into us at this stage and were moving well on the bike. We arrived into Surf n Dirt (TA3) Ahead of AJ’s and a slow transition had them out in to Tollymore ahead of us.
We spent 1:50 minutes running a lot of this section, and we needed to get out into the mountains as it was going to be a long long dark night. We eventually headed out into the mountains at 11:10 that night, an hour behind MA team, who we were now narrowly still ahead of aswell as been ahead of AJ, RNR and NN. The exit out on to CP 19 was fun. The gate on the fence was a bit if fun and then it was up into the dark and windy Mourne mountains. It was a long climb up to CP 20, we were quite close to the moon according to Karen , we hit a mist and visibility was pretty poor. We searched for the path going backwards and forwards and after a while we manage to find it – we then headed toward the Mourne Wall, and followed it along in the howling wind. Along the wall was no mean feet, as many times we were wading through pretty boggy soft ground, up to our liathroidi in places. The Bulls balls were wet, so we mounted the wall. We ran along the wall fro nearly a km with the wind trying its best to blow us off – it was really an adventure, wall, wind in the dark avoiding the loose pieces of wall on the downhill, but we were certainly moving faster. C21, CP 22 were hit pretty easily. We came onto the Controls with little searching, things were going well on the nav and the team was feeling pretty good at this stage. We moved along swiftly to CP23. We came up CP 23. We travelled up the right side of the river, Enda recognised where it should be on the map. It had been part of the mourne way marathon. We got to the Style but no control, called Ian to clarify, it was on the other side of the river, the left side.
From there it was on to the rope section, as we approached we could see lights like stars way up in the sky, we had no idea how wewere going to get up so high !! As we go closer and closer we could see some glow sticks to direct us where we were going. Two teams were ahead of us at this stage, team AM 1HR 40 we had put 10 minutes back into them over that part of the mountain. Team AJ had put an hour into us on the mountain. The local Knowledge was paying off . We had no idea where the two teams behind us where, as there wasn’t a light in site. We met our man on the mountain, the lad from Terrex, (Tony ?) he put us off the clock and explained what we were about to do – This was a great section of the race, a rock climb up through a set of caves and then an Abseil down off the mountain. We were met going up the cave by happy steve, poor lad must have been freezing. The lads fired ahead I stayed behind Karen to provide a bony landing if she fell. It was slippy in parts but a good scramble, I don’t know how we all fitted through the hole on the top, but after a few minutes we all made it there safely. We were met at the abseil by Greg, (safe man, a man whos abseil you can trust), it was cool gliding down the cliff face in thee dark and it wasn’t long before we all had descended safely. Time was pushing on now into the tired hour of the morning and one of the hardest parts lay ahead.
We headed back down to our bags where we were back on the clock, we kitted up and headed back across the mountain, as we were up high it seemed the right thing to do to keep the height. The wind howled and the mist settled and visability was very hard in places. We made a decision to go up over the Cove, the paths that were on the map were becoming difficult to find and in looking for them we grew slightly disorientated. We then followed a path in the wrong direction before discovering that we were heading in the wrong direction. We took a bearing and headed slowly in what was the correct direction, we came across a difficult part of ground sop movement was very slow. There wasn’t too many paths and so there was a certain air of uncertainty about our direction. We kept In search of paths and covered a lot of rough sometimes paths with steep drops off the side. We were sometimes hesitant and as a result of moving slow over difficult ground, poor weather conditions and double checking rather than making errors we moved very slowly.
Several bearings were taken and we made careful progress back to where we needed to be. After around 2 hours we were back on our way in the direction of heirs gap. We had got safely down off the mountain but there was to be no dash this time to make the cutoff. We all knew how far we had to go to make it back, and we were starting to fade. We had roughly 4 km to make back to surf and dirt once we got off the mountains. The team was starting to slow, as tiredness crept in I suggested a 20 min power nap at surf n dirt. Nav man was becoming zombie man and within 2 km he was walking with his eyes closed been lead along by wonder woman. They kept it going finbar mumbling and stomping and then silence. It was cold, dark we a cutoff penalty was looming, the race was changing and the lead slipping away. We needed to take 30 minutes out and we did, finbar cuddled a box of pringles and we let him off to sleep as we got hot water, food and got changed, it was savagely cold but at least the brightness was coming. It was back on the bikes moving much slower than we had before. John Sheils was a welcome site along with the odd tow to get us ypo over some long hills. As nav man battled with his map you could tell he was a tired tired boy, but he soldiered on.
With tired bodies we decided to hit PC 31 and PC 32 only, the drive was wilting and we needed to hit the kayaks soon. As we got there the mountains looked bigger on the other side. Frustration was creeping in as the bull wrestled with his spray deck. Not sure if John Shields will be publishing that pic on his facebook. As we moved across we estimate it would take 3 times that time to get back. On the oither side the mountains were high, it would have takin longer to complete the 4 controls than the 4 hour penalty we were to receive for not getting them. So we decided to make a break for it. We kayaked back better than expected, getting across in 40 minutes, there was still some new found energy lurking, but not enough to get us to hike over those hills. We were in good spirits as we climbed out of the kayaks and onto the bikes for the final CP 39 on the way home. We were going to get home around 1:30, again we moved good on the bikes with our last burst of energy home. Kilkeel came quick. Normally the last leg of the journey goes on and on – but we had raced well.
Rock an Rollers were already home ahead of us, as we zoomed in John Shiels was at hand to welcome us home along with Joan and a few other well wishers. We crossed the finished line smiling, dropped the bikes helmuts and had a team hug !!!!! It had been a brilliant race, we had raced well together and were happy with the output. It was a great experience and we certainly had put it up to the other teams in the race, the training and Terrex had stood to us and we really are looking forward to our next race as once again we have things to learn that we will use again.
Hats off to Barry, Paul, Peter and Taryn.. great race lads and we look forward to racing ye again, well done to Paul, Brian and Peter and a Huge well done to Betty in her first race !!! Awesome!! Made hard work of it lads…. Well done to Rock and Rollers, last time ye will think I was admiring your shorts when I was talking about the Cut-offs being tight J. And to the Teenage Mutent Ninja turtles !!!! thanks for smiling the whole way round ye did what ye set out to do. Have Fun !!!!!
Thanks again to Ivan, Joan, Duggie, Shirley Steve and sorry there are others – write your name on my head the next time. And of course Super Photos from John Shiels, great great memories !!!!
More again soon