Sunday, September 15, 2013

Running Mangerton Mountain

I haven't posted for a little while mainly because I haven't really done anything of any great interest. That's not saying that there isn't a lot going on at the moment but I haven't really gotten out into the hills lately. I have been feeling a bit sorry for myself as well because a planned Alpine trip didn't happen mainly due to the fact that we are in the painful first throes of a house extension, with all the disruption and niggles that that entails. However it is also exciting and seeing the excavations happen and the foundations go in is pleasing as well. The clock is ticking and we are hoping that the rapidly approaching winter will be benign in its infancy and let the work advance without too much disruption. Anyway, enough about my domestic bliss. I have a couple of adventure races coming up in the next few weeks and I have been a bit lax in my preparations as you would expect with all that is going on, so I have tried to get a few runs in over the past week. A good brisk eight miler on my local lanes broke the legs in nicely and a lovely nine mile trail run on Bweeng Mountain a couple of days ago worked out very well. Yesterday was so lovely that after work I decided to drive the forty or so miles to the foot of Mangerton Mountain near Killarney for a proper mountain run.

Mangerton is a big broad lump of a mountain with a near flat boggy plateau that slopes gently away to the west but its northern flanks end abruptly in 300mtr cliffs that drop into the huge and spectacular L shaped "Horses Glen". It also has a decent track that runs from the road-head to the summit which makes it ideal for a run. I brought Ruby with me and she is a delight to run with, she never needs coaxing or minding and she happily gambols along ignoring all and everything we encounter on our way (including sheep). I set off along the flat initial section and the effects of the previous days run were immediately obvious but I pressed on and I was pleased to manage to run as far as the fence which is about half a mile from the start. This section involves a fair bit of height gain and it was almost with a sense of relief that I arrived at steep ground that I was unable to run so I reverted to a fast walk. This isn't really much easier and my heart rate took quite a while to drop as I pressed the pace. Eventually I did recover and after a fairly long steep section the trail levels off and a lovely traverse of Mangerton North follows where you get the first stunning views into the "Black Valley". I managed to run almost the entire section as far as the "Devils Punchbowl" a beautiful tear shaped lake at 670 mtrs nestling under the summit plateau. Here I took the left path and ran in a clockwise direction around the lake and climbed the final steep 100 mtrs to the plateau.

Now at over 800 mtrs the real fun begins. All the painful pumping of legs and lungs are now rewarded by a stunning run along the plateau and then it seems to happen that suddenly, when you begin your descent the views across to the "Reeks" and into the "Black Valley" and of course everything further afield seem framed in such a perfect way that I can honestly say that despite all my travels to some of the most beautiful places in Europe I don't think I have seen any view better. If I wasn't already running I would say that they were breathtaking but you know what I mean. I was pleased at how the legs were coping on the long technical descent. My knees which have been giving me some concern of late were holding up well and I was able to enjoy that exhilarating sense of freedom and well-being that  only comes with great downhill running. I was sad to turn and leave the stunning views of the Everagh Peninsula behind but the views towards Killarney and the plains of north Kerry were a worthy compensation. The descent is a fairly long one and once you leave the traverse section the ensuing long steep section requires full concentration. Towards the end my legs were feeling the effects of the descent and the occasional hint of cramp emerged. However I soon reached the car and after giving Ruby a quick wash in the stream I was off home and basking in the afterglow that comes from a hefty bout of exercise in glorious weather in marvelous surroundings. It isn't an overlong outing, just about three miles up and back but it is pure quality and has almost 700 meters of height gain. I must do more of the same again soon. I didn't take any photos whilst running but here are a few old ones that perhaps capture in a tiny way this great spot.

The final section to the plateau from "The Punchbowl"

The view towards the  Everagh Peninsula

A view to the "Horses Glen"

From Stoompa looking into "The Glen"