My first ever IMRA/MMRA trail run in Castlefreke - impressive turnout and tons of kids!

I finally signed up for IMRA and did the Castlefreke trail run today. Tough but very enjoyable. Delighted to see so many kids doing it.

I only learned of the Irish Mountain Running Assocation (and Munster Mountain Running Association branch) last year. They have an extensive line-up of events all year from hard-core 127km Ultras to family friendly events like today’s run in Castlefreke Woods and Long Strand.

Castlefreke Forest

And unlike a lot of running related things in recent years, it’s an absolute bargain to take part. €10 annual membership and €5 for today’s race.

I had no idea what to expect today. Would it be 10 people or 100? Beginners or Jim Walmsleys? It was a good mixed group of people. The turnout for the junior race was really impressive. I regretted not bringing some of my brood, I think they would have enjoyed it.

Junior Race

I identified the very serious mountain people by their shoes. Anyone in Salomon or Inov-8 was clearly not messing around. I had my US-trail-style Altra Lone Peaks which were perfect for today’s conditions but had very poor downhill grip before Christmas when I tried to do part of St Finbarr’s Way from the Gougane Barra side and landed on my arse several times coming back down in boggy muddy wet conditions.

The course today had to be changed due to flooding on the path out to Kilkern Lake. It was manky when I did it before Christmas too. This meant that they added an extra nasty road hill but it gave me a chance to go on the newish trail parallel to Long Strand which is lovely, albeit too short.

The view as you come to the top of the hill on the road out of Rathbarry is utter perfection. If I hadn’t been so intent on not coming last, I’d have stopped for 5 minutes just to soak it in.

The run was brilliant. The bit along Long Strand was pure torture, just like the last time I did a run here, so I had to walk most of it. There is no hard packed sand on that beach so you sink in with every footstep. At least now I know I’m never doing Marathon Des Sables :-)

Long Strand (Pic from MMRA Facebook Group)

The climb up to the big cross got the heart pumping and the hell-for-leather run down the other side to the end was a blast.

I can’t recommend runs like this highly enough. They are cheap, mostly short, friendly, fun and have everyone from mountain goats to blobs like me. Check out that list on the events page and get yourself out there for the next one. In the meantime the MMRA Facebook Page has lots of pics from today.

Conor O'Neill

Tech guy who likes running slowly

Bandon, Cork, Ireland