Monday, August 27, 2012

The Knockmealdown Mountains Run

I went with the irrepressible Kevin Ring for a run on the Knockmealdown Mountains on Sunday morning. It was a delightful morning and the view across to the Galtee Mountains soaring up from a bank of fog was wonderful. We met up at the village of Kilworth and headed off to Araglin. From here we went a couple of kilometers north and found a suitable parking spot for the car on the narrow road. We had no set distance or circuit planned but from our parking spot on the Avondu Way we decided to go as far as Knockanchuillan and take it from there.

 From our starting point under Carran Hill the first few kilometers were along delightful country lanes. We were both feeling good and as usual my biggest problem was trying to ensure that Kevin didn't speed ahead with that long easy lope of his. When the first opportunity to break onto the open mountainside arrived we took it and headed up fairly gently sloping but slippery heathery ground for the top of Farbreaga and then to Crow Hill. After this came a delightful section when we rejoined the Avondu Way and ran gently for three kilometers uphill on fine tracks to the top of Knockclugga and turned north across rough ground to Knockshanchuillinn, at 652meters the highest point so far. Feeling good we opted to continue on to the next unnamed top three kilometers further on. This was tough going as it was across boggy ground with long grass and heather. Eventually we stood at the 630meter summit and looking down at the "Vee"  and being gluttons for punishment decided to drop down and go as far as Sugarloaf Hill. This meant a steep drop of 300 meters and an even steeper climb of over 330 meters up the other side. Eventually we reached the summit at 663 meters and sat for a while and had a bite to eat and drink and enjoyed the view.

We were tired (at least I was) and quite impressed with ourselves on reaching this point in two hours five minutes. After our rest it seemed a shame to waste the opportunity  to summit the highest in the range Knockmealdown itself at 794 meters. It was a mere three and a half kilometers away and didn't look that far on the map and only required an extra 250 meters of climbing. So almost predictably off we set. Fairly soon I was beginning to regret it but the dye was cast. We had estimated that it would take an extra half hour to get there and we arrived bang on time. A quick about turn and we retraced out steps to the col and down wet boggy ground to the road. From here we opted to follow the Avondu Way back to the car. It was tough. The many kilometers we had already travelled had taken their toll and I now found it impossible to run uphill so we walked those sections and ran the flat and downhill ones. Eventually we reached the car well nigh exhausted but really pleased with our effort. A total of 36 kilometers travelled, much of it across trackless wet bog and 1600 meters of ascent in four hours forty five minutes made for the toughest run both of us had ever done and I have no doubt it was in fact (in difficulty if not distance) a mountain marathon. Perhaps a bit of overkill as a training run for the Dingle Marathon which is on next week but a worthy day out in its own right. I think that this was near to the maximum effort I am able to make now but Kevin is a different animal. I suspect that even he is not aware of his potential and I know that he is capable of super feats in the future. I suspect though that we will not rest on our laurels.

One think I have to say is that despite the hardship it was, as always, much fun to have a day out with Kevin.