The weekend past was perhaps the only full weekend off work before the Mourne Mountain Marathon in September. Having never competed before, and needing to find a team mate, I decided to give last year’s B-class route a go to see how I fared.
It was all planned so well. The checkpoints were marked on my map – blue for day 1, red for day 2. My roll mat was cut down to just 16.5″ x 28″ – enough for my torso to fit on, and I acquired a bargain from work in the form of a super-light pack (I know – I only wanted the one pack, but this was very cheap, packs well and only weighs 210g).
I had a hearty food supply of chocolate, malt loaf, ham, cheese, frankfurters, beef pie, and protein bars. Not the lightest, but it would give me lots of flavour and plenty of my kind of nutrition:
- 3800 calories – I’d burn more than this in the first day alone, but my body fat reserves will fill in the rest until after the event. Good breakfast on the Saturday will help too.
- 206g protein – a little high: this is about the most I could absorb in 2 days.
- 267g carbohydrates – enough to refill reserves for 1 day at least (can gorge after event)
- 238g fat – technically I don’t need any of this: it’s slow release anyway and there’s enough stored in the body, but it tastes good and we don’t want to upset things too much.
I will probably reduce the protein slightly and up the carbs to about 400g max in the form of snacks for intense sections, like uphill. I would also need a stove to comply with the rules: Carrying the whole tent on this occasion, as I had no team mate, I decided it was a fair omission. All in, my pack weighed just 5.7kg – ready for speed!
I arrived in Tollymore; found the start point and began. Up through the forest, round, over the wall, squelch through the bog, over a shoulder, over a river, up a pass, bounce down to the Brandy Pad… and that’s about it. I veered off to a supposed path leading to the trail by Ben Crom reservoir. It didn’t appear to exist and the hard contouring through thick heather aggravated my left hip badly. One small stretch from the climbing wall weeks ago (that I had forgotten about) now returned to reduce me to a hobble.
I tried running the trail to the dam head of the reservoir to work it out, but it persisted. I hobbled over towards Blue Lough and scrambled a bit on the slabs above it for something to do. I contemplated making the camp and trying again on Sunday, but knew it would take more than a night to fix.
I headed up the valley and scrambled the Devil’s Coachroad (scrambling is my new favourite thing). Joining the trail at the top I ran down to Donard Wood: Somehow, running downhill was less painful than walking flat and uphill sections. I met a group from the NI-Wild forum having an overnight camp at the wood, enjoying a relaxing evening beside the fire before an early return home on Sunday.
At least I got to practice a bit of descent, and can still cycle for the day job, but I am sorely disappointed not to have experienced the full gauntlet – I didn’t even get out of breath. Really thinking how to rehabilitate the leg and prevent a recurrence… start practising contouring, maybe.
Possible team mate lined up, if he doesn’t think I’m a lame donkey. Watch this space.