Last Sunday at the Devilla Forest 15k:
A beautiful, crisp morning; a leisurely drive on clear roads; a civilized start time; what could go wrong? Well, thankfully, pretty much nothing at all as it turned out.
The location and organisation were excellent. Car parking spaces were plentiful, toilet queues moved quickly enough and registration was painless (and rewarded with a bottle of Schiehallion lager to enjoy back at home). We even took advantage of the Starbucks there to grab a pre-race coffee and other treats (see later).
Being the first race of the year, I wasn’t too sure how well I’d go (but of course I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a time in mind), so I set off towards the back of the field, away from all the serious-looking runners, and determined to overtake and not be overtaken. There were a couple of sections where the course narrowed so runners had to go in single file, but that was a good opportunity to just relax a bit, though you had to keep your eyes glued to the ground to make sure you didn’t come a cropper.
Conditions for what has a reputation for being a bit of a mud fest (well, that’s what they said – it was my first time) were nigh on perfect. There were just a few muddy bits to leap over (or rather from side to side) at the start, then some hard icy rutted sections once up in the hills, but other than that it was pretty stable underfoot. The organisers had also done a brilliant job of marking every rock, root and hole with bright orange paint, which was really appreciated.
The hills were not overly challenging, but I was having fun trying to run down as fast as possible (not something that for some reason I find comes easily or naturally – any tips anyone?). And, more pleasingly, I was still maintaining my goal of not being overtaken. Half-way came and went (always find it nice when the organisers put up a sign at that point), and a sneaky peak at my watch gave me a lift as I was bang on schedule for the time that of course I wasn’t really aiming for.
The last few miles were (as always) a bit of a mental struggle to keep the pace up, but I did find it helped that I could fix on the person in front and aim to reel them in. And it all went pretty well to plan, right up to the last few yards, when of course this lady came storming past at a real rate of knots to pip me on the line. Oh well, next time.
Zoe (aged 8) adds:
Loved my chocolate milkshake!!!!!!!!!!
I loved waiting on daddy to finish, because I went to the woods and got a stick to break the ice in the stream.
When daddy finished the race, I went to the trees and climbed to the top of one!
I would ENTIRELY recommend climbing the trees to any children!!!!!!
Written by Colin Fennell