Lost Worlds Causeway Crossing 100K race
I needed to do something while Karen and Finbar went on their super adventure to “Godzone” adventure race. They had got married on the day of the Wicklow Ultra so its their fault I had to go and look for something else to occupy my mind. Having completed the Art O Neil and looking at the footage of UTMB last year courtesy of Eoin Keith I decided 2012 was going to be the year to pickup 5 points for the UTMB. This has now changed to 7 points in 3 Races maximum. Lost Worlds looked like a really awesome and with Event organisers from Primal Quest, Extreme 26 and our friend Duggie it was bound to be a blast and if I didn’t finish I knew that the lads would look after me. So on that it was off to Ballintoy way up there on the Antrim Coast.
Registration at Ballintoy, (near the famous Carrick a rede Rope Bridge) was manned by Ian and Rowan good to see friendly faces in a place what looked to be a crowd of Tourists all round getting stuck in to Pasta. A second glance told me it was racers and their families all sitting together in a friendly atmosphere. There was a new race start time announced for 6:30, which meant a liein til 5:30a. Met Taryn McCoy (Team Mate) who had come down to help out with the race, and we got registered for our next adventure Terrex 2012, best to get that done in case not finishing my first 100km race put me off.
5:00AM rise and I went with Taryn to the start line – a convoy of cars and a mini bus droped us to the start Glenarm. Well a place from where we could walk to the start. People took photos of the sunrise as I nervously mingled talking to a few of the racers where making comments on my Art O Neil t-shirt. A great race and this was the perfect one to take the t-shirt on its first outing. Off we walked and I have to say this was a surprise for me and some of the international racers who were thinking we were walking a very long mile. Comments like that they hoped they had used a different course designer to measure the 100km kept us in high spirits. Here I chatted with Paul Nesbit and Allan Boggle on the way out. Allan had great food stories while I wondered what damage the previous weekends wedding would have on my race. The 30 minute walk got us to the Start line where Ian Cummings sent us on our way. We headed up a road for around 500 meters where we then headed into the left.
We couldn’t see too well but someone had given it welly and was gone bounding down the road at a very fast pace. We headed into the glen to follow the Moyle way up the side of glen through a forest. We were at a walk shortly and already the calfs were burning. The cruelness of the race had started early, and I was happy to hear Matty Hewitt and Paul Nesbitt beside have a similar complaint. We power walked up the hill passing Diane Roy, UK entrant who wasn’t enjoying at all the early calf burn. We were walking up vertically to get up into the hills – the views were incredible with the mist and early sun coming through across the hills. We ran on a few miles to be met by Ivan who had that evil smile on his face and warned myself Matty and Paul that there was a nice Irish Bog ahead waiting for us. Where Ivan is concerned you know this is bad news. However we had a feeling that we had the advantage of local knowladge here and it gave us a spring in our step as we approached another runner, Tod a Canadian chap. Tall and not liking the terrain at all. I took the lead into the forest of the four of us as I felt I was better equipped to navigate our way through the path less forests. The forests made great running hopping across streams and over bolders while looking for our next marker. The guys had marked the trails well and we joked as we imagined Rowan dragging his Bike through some of the quiet challenging terrain. It wasn’t long again before we were out onto open bog , slieveanorra mountain ( I think) – similar to the back of Mount Brandon (Dingle) and we moved at a pretty fast pace down to where we could see the first sign of like we had seen for around 16km. Ivan Greg and Rowan were there comparing Race Organiser Bellys as we grabbed Cake filled water and ate bannanas as we ran on down the road. Again we disappeared into a forest with a pretty wicked climb up onto “Trostan” another wicked climb before the long decent down to the next checkpoint. This was perhaps the 25km mark – but I think there as some confusion as we were only at 20km on the Garmins – we ran on following trails along until we were out again around the 32km mark. Here we followed roads for a bit in the direction of Ballycastle here we were passed by 4 other runners as we walked some of the uphills. We were holding back as we thought of the long journey ahead of us. We took our time so as not to get pulled in by Helena Dornan,Declan Falkner, Christian Lewis and Todd. Back on to the trails with the guys ahead in site when Diane Roy came from behind having passed us an hour earlier. Diane had taken a wrong turn and was now playing catchup while shouting at yellow arrows on the ground. She wasn’t happy !!
After a while we were back on the road again down into Ballycastle, I was starting to feel good, but we were all in need of water and food. As we pulled into the village Helena’s sister had come out to greet her with Water and treats for everyone. Jaffa cakes, madrains, snickers all inhaled with 3 cups of water and we were off down the road. Here Matty and Paul began to move off the pace slightly. I don’t really know what was up – but the lads were going steady and as neighbours in their own home town I knew they would look after themselves. I went passed two runners(Declan Falkner, Christian Lewis) as they remarked that I must have got a second wind I hadn’t but had the halfway mark in sight, it was 10km and I needed to get there as I needed proper refuelling before I started to really drop. I needed to go steady and the time for chatting was over. Diane and Helena were at the halfway in front of me and Christian and Declan came in shortly after. Diane and Jason headed out before me. I changed my bog drenched socks and shoes made sure to drink a liter of fluid before I left and ate an oatmeal bar for slow release before I left. Ivan kindly filled my bottle and I was ready to go. Matty and Paul arrived in I was happy to see the lads in and had expected I would see them later. On exit I was surprised to see Helena still there but a quick transition was required and I walked out drinking as I went. I caught up to Christian who told me he was going to walk for a while and so I headed off on the part of the route I knew. I had run the causeway coast marathon previously and didn’t remember any major challenges. Diane was ahead of me but she seemed to take another wrong turn to get on to the beach. The sun shining, the wind coming in off the sea and the sound of the waves provided the perfect background for what was now the 54km mark. I was comfortable to be in the second half of the race and mentally was trying to treat it as a new race.
Even with the renewed energy in the legs I knew there was still a long way to go and the 60km mark took along time to come. I was surprised on approach to see the 50km lady approaching (Winner of the 50km) she was gliding around the horseshoe shaped cliffs. I asked how long was it until the turnaround, receiving mixed answers in miles and kilometres I left with my head down into what was now becoming a strong wind. On across the Cliff tops I walked the uphill’s and steps as I could feel my legs aching and my body with it. I slowed after 5/6 km to get some Gel Shots into me, I was starting to fade out here on the cliffs alone and was wondering why I still hadn’t seen any runners coming in the opposite direction, another Kilometre they started to arrive and it was a welcome distraction to what was becoming tired legs. I had to be careful not to push too hard as I could feel the energy streaming from me when I upped the pace – it was hard to keep a rhytm with the up and down of the hills on the cliff tops. It wasn’t long before I saw the Giant’s Causeway. Floods of memories of myself and my then pregnant wife came to my mind as I approached the causeway. It was tough avoiding the human traffic with 65km in the legs. All taking photos across this moving bag of bones, as I walked up a hill I heard a child say to his dad, why doesn’t he just jog its not that steep. I remember feeling that I needed to get out of there as I passed other runners how far the turn at the castle was. 5 miles Noooooo!! That was longer than I thought. The mind was wobbling as I looked at my watch and started to wonder if I would make it home before Dark. Then I saw Goeff smyth heading the opposite way after I passed the causeway arch. A quick keep her lit, and at last I could see ultra runners returning to the finish. At this stage I was welcoming the hills so I could get a breather. This section seemed to go on for a very long time. After another KM a man asked me was I sure I was running the right way, everyone else was running the opposite way. So discouraging 74km into a 100km race J who paid him to say that, April fool is tomorrow !!!
Diane passed me at around the 72km Mark. Even her compliment of trying so hard to catch me back since around the 53km mark were not enough to lift me. I was fading and told Diane that I was looking forward to sitting down for a minute. She was bouncing and her reponse of being watered out was one I hadn’t heard before. She was full of beans and she stopped after the turnaround to point me out the place I so needed to get to. As I pulled in I was greeted by Duggie. Always a welcoming face on that man. Duggie took great pleasure in telling me I was 6th. I didn’t believe him been honest, I told him it was impossible – but another lady confirmed his comment. I reloaded and I have to say it but a real bounce back in my step. I was a different runner on exit. I was bobbing along thinking to myself can I really be in 6th . I didn’t expect it to last long, and anticipated that I would be overtaken several times in the last 25km but thought I could get top 10-15 which would be some achievement from a guy that thought he may come last in his 1st 100km race. As I went back down the road I passed the competition. I cheered them on as I checked to see if they were feeling as bad as I was. Helena, Christian and then the two lads – Matty and Paul, still chatting !! Two boys who grew up in the same town what could they still be talking about at 75km J There was high 5’S and I was sure Matty a sub 32 minute 10k cross country runner was going to get us soon. It was downhill back into Giants causeway; I had to slow myself down so I would keep enough in the tank to finish the race. I had a good rhythm and now I was just thinking about the climb back up to the cliffs from the Giants Causeway – those steps were coming. I climbed and had already decided on a sit down at the top. When I got there I didn’t need it and walked away drink in mouth and applied the gel shots liberally. I had 4 left and was keeping them for the last 10km.
As I headed back to the 90km mark I met a few ultra runners, I shouted words of encouragement and pitied them and the Journey I knew they had a head of them. I got a big cheer from the volunteers at the 90km mark – thanked them all for volunteering on such a long day and headed off for the last 10km dreading the beach section. It came, I stumbled, it was easier than I thought it would be but hurt none the less. The beach section seemed to go much longer on the way back!! It was tough but I was knew we were only 3 to 4 km to the finish. I climbed again walking up the long road and them out along the cliff tops wondering where was the finish as I passed the edge of Ballintoy. I was listening for music but the chances of me hearing a speaker 2km away is impossible. Then I saw Taryn and Molly and the Dog from the famous 5ish. I was walking up the hill but then knowing I was nearly there, picked up the pace for the last 2km home !! It was awesome I hadn’t been overtaken and I was going to get home before Dark, I ran down into the valley of loud music to be greeted by Ivan and Ian and done it !!!! Completed my 1st 100km race – and I had my 1st 2 points for UTMB. The damage I have done I wont know for a few days. But feel I may now have a good chance to achieve my goal, 7 UTMB points in 2012. Well done to the organisers for an absolutely brilliant but tough course and Congratulations to Geoff Smyth, Allan Bogle, Ivan Saddlier on coming 1st, 2nd and 3rd and to the Ladies – Jen Seger, Diane”worse than childbirth” Roy and Helena Dornan and lastly to Paul and Matty for some really good company during the warm-up 40km section and to Taryn for her support out there.