My running life so far has been pretty pedestrian: 5ks, 10ks, several half-marathons, three marathons, and a few five-milers and ten-milers thrown in; all starting in towns on paved roads and all in the Republic of Ireland.
Maybe it’s middle-age desperation kicking in, blind optimism clouding my vision, or a persuasive boyfriend hovering at my keyboard, but I’m kicking things up a gear this autumn.
The Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race sounds idyllic, a gentle jaunt along a magical horizon, perhaps, with snowy sheep bleating merrily in the distance and the sun peeping shyly over rolling hills. Here is an account of last year’s inaugural event: “That was some of the most crazy terrain I have ever run. It was relentless. The terrain was beyond technical. You had no idea where to put your feet and I can’t tell you how many times I fell over…”
At 35km, it’s not as long as a marathon, but with an accumulated ascent of 3,370m (11,057ft), it’s the equivalent of climbing the highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales. I’m excited about the prospect now because it’s seven months away and it will be my first time north of the border, but this is something completely different for me, and I will have to take a whole new look at my running once I’ve finished the Lakes of Killarney Marathon in May. The website describes it as “tough but rewarding.”
Hah! My thighs will be the judge of that.