Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mourne Mountain Marathon 2008 - Memoirs

Tango & Cash prepare to unleash the power on Day 2, shorts pulled up so high they are in contravention of the Good Friday Agreement.
Mourne Mountain Marathon 2008

With 17 teams starting and mountain-running being far from anything approaching our speciality, the target was simple – not to be last in our class. Old crafty Zeus was at his games, though – some good fortune and a high body-count meant we ended up with a tasty 8th place, enough for a prize t-shirt each and a photo-call!

Unfortunately for Davy, he was washing himself in the river when our names were called, so he has no photographic record of his only mountain running success.

Davy misses the prize-giving
Poor old Paul Mahon, having won the Gaelforce 12, the Beast of Ballyhoura, the Galway Rat Race, Celebrity Come Dancing and the Rose of Tralee in 2008, continues to be jinxed by Tango & Cash, having never won a race that we have entered. was the best-represented brand at this year’s event, with Tango & Cash, Ian & Enda, Dale & Denise, Al, and Shirley Park all choosing to tog out in MTB’s finest tartan.

One of the highlights of the weekend was seeing poor Paul McArthur close to death and going through physical and mental hell after the heat and hubbub of Day One, so covered in salty residue that he was thrice mistaken in the camp-site for Lot’s wife. We were sure his carcass would be carrion for the buzzards on Day Two, but somehow the lad managed to rally and we could not catch them, and he and Rowan steamed on to a well-earned 5th place.

Billy & Gerry, Passing Wind to many, were very unlucky, as they were looking like matching last year’s third place until Gerry blew a gasket and strained his striddle half way through Day Two, forcing the guys to retire.

Jonny Gallier, sometime partner with Rowan and Paul and the lovely Kate as Average Joes, was forced to retire during Day One due to an injury to his partner, who was cooked and eaten at the campsite, and his gear distributed to the poor.

Misfortune also befell Al and Taryn, who wandered around on the side of Slieve Muck until Wednesday afternoon and just missed the Day 2 cut-off, forcing them to retire.

We discovered with some shock that Kevin and Cathal, normally travelling under the guise of Team Purple 2, had been disqualified for allegedly leaving their bags at the bottom of the climb up Bearnagh, but knowing both fellas as being men of unquestionable integrity, it is clear that they must have been framed for a crime they didn’t commit.

It was great to finally meet our soon-to-be-team-mate-in-the-Cooley-Raid Jackie O’Hagan, whose team unfortunately also fell foul of the demon cut-off on day two.

Our heartfelt apologies go to Ian and Enda, who were promised a weekend of great enjoyment, superb craic in the campsite, a real hoot from start to finish, the best event of the year, and also that Alpen with hot chocolate powder and water was a real nice breakfast. It was purely a chance omission that the lads were not told it was also very bloody difficult! But finish they did, in fine style as usual.

Dale & Denise, attempting their first MMM, took the bold step of travelling light by investing in a tent that weighed 11.5 grams, and were then alarmed to discover in the camp-site that it really wasn’t that big, did not have a porch, and you couldn’t sit up in it! Congratulations on finishing and finishing so well after what must have been an awful night.

Day One Quick Summary

Starting Day One, we were called for our 8:50am start with about 10 people still in front of us for the portaloos. Thankfully it was primarily number 1’s from the patrons ahead, so we got under way not too far off schedule, marked up our map, and set to running. Within 50 yards I realised that the gripless Nike street-fashion trainers from JJB Sports were a bad mistake, but it was too late to do anything about it, other than get blisters, lose toe-nails, and complain solidly for the two days.

We were quickly into the swing of things and picking up checkpoints OK. The cluster threw us a curve ball and we took a while to make our decision, but we ended up not too bad. Low-points of the day were climbing out of the Pot of Pulgarve up the side of Commedagh, and descending Bearnagh, which were both painfully slow for us. One chap arrived at the Pot with only one shoe on, the other one having been ripped apart some time before, and so he nicked the marshal’s shoes and carried on!

We were pretty knackered but going strong enough by the time we hit the camp near Fofanny Dam, with the sun still in the sky and the weather fine. Ian Luney and Paddy Mallon encouraged us in for our final steps, and Paddy was lucky not to get a clip in the ear following a misunderstanding surrounding the “Punch to Finish” sign he was holding.

Soon we had the tent up and were enjoying our tea of Supernoodles, which we complemented for supper with some Supernoodles. The evening was punctuated with cold beverages and the company of fellow competitors and Paddy, James and Stevie, who, having downed his bottle of Sambuca, was up for heading on to a night-club! Then it was time to grab forty winks before breakfasting on some more Supernoodles.

Day 2 Quick Summary

Another lovely day, we were up and at ‘em at 8:00am. We had an awful start to Day 2, with Davy’s knee giving him serious grief for the first 4 or 5 checkpoints, and this slowed us up badly. But eventually we got into our regular shuffle and had managed to nip past a few teams by the time we reached the Ben Crom dam.

At the dam, we were told there were 4 teams just ahead, all within 10 minutes of us, so we pushed on hard but only caught one of them, Kirkby & Archer. We had a great tussle with team Kirkby & Archer from below Binnian all the way to the end, and despite a bit of an energy wobble from me for about 15 minutes, we managed to reduce them to the tears of defeat on the day and had them out of reach for the last couple of checkpoints. They just pipped us at the post overall across the 2 days by a mere 3 minutes.

Soup, orange, biccies and lots of good chat completed another fantastic day in the mountains.

The shoes are in the bin, and the rucksack should be unpacked sometime in the next few weeks. That was the Mourne Mountain Marathon that was. 2009 here we come.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mourne Mountain Marathon 2008

My top lip is the only part of me not still hurting from Mourne Mountain Marathon 2008, so until the pain subsides and we gather our thoughts, it is best just to reflect on the marvellous weather we had, which went well with view from the mid-way camp-site.