The mist was impenitrable. standing there alone at the bottom of Carrigvore i felt a chill run down my spine...
conor comes hurtling in, tags me and im gone. the cheers of my teammates and fellow CNOC members are soon swallowed up as i make my way up the first of the days peaks. iv warmed up well, so feel strong on the first ascent. i cant see 50metres in front of me, so im going on nothing more than a compass bearing. up and up it goes, until appearing through the fog is the summit, a cairn that is more beatiful to my eyes than a college offer or a drinks station on an orienteering course. checking my map for correct orientation, i manouver my way down a peat hag onto the saddle between carrigvore & gravale. the climbing begins again. gravale soon rears its ugly head, and i push to the cairn at the top. gulping down some precious water i hurtle down the other side, now heading for the steepest climb of today, the dreaded duff hill. rumour has it the bog water on duff is like acid, and the gradient reaches 45%. its sickening and im reduced to a walk, taking the opportunity to cram in some jellies and make sure im going up the right mountain (compass)
and then, the mighty mullaughcleevaun. passing stoney top, the mist thickens once again, making any hope of visibilty impossible. my legs begin to tell me theyre sore, but theres no time :P up and up it goes. a gradual, crucifying hill. it sharpens up, then evens out, then repeats, taunting any runner who dares attempt to climb it. finally, the cairn at the summit looms through the fog and i take a sharp left to begin a very fun downhill :D
checking the compass every 0.5 seconds i grit my teeth and feel the water in my eyes as i descend. everything looks the same, peat hags, streams, disorientation threatens but a map and my compass are my best friends today and i manage to stay on course. the ground then levels out again, and now for the final climb of the day.
TONLAGEE. the legendary mountain. it has earned the nickname 'the lost mountain' over the years, due to its string of mysterious disappearances. as i begin the first part of the climb, a small one up to another stony top, my legs tell me theyv had enough. i check the gps watch- 1hr 48mins. its been a tough day, but im so close... i wish i had more jellies to scoff. i keep thinking about my toffee yoghurt waiting in my lovely warm car. the mist has somewhat cleared, so i can see the top of tonlagee as i go over stoney. soon, im making my way up its winding stone track.
the lactic acid had now engulfed my legs. every step is like stepping towards death itself.. a figure on the horizon spurs me on, the mountain is relentless. up and up it continues, im fairly sure at one stage the heather came alive and wrapped itself around my legs but to no avail. finally, the top. i summit and forget about the pain and the oxygen debt in my brain. i locate the legendary tonlagee track and throw my body down its wretched slopes. nearer and nearer the carpark comes, the descent is so steep that its hard to accelerate for fear of instant death. eventually, i can hear the roars of niall as he waits for me in the carpark. planting my face in mud and bog at the end i tag my teammate and fall to the ground. niall is gone and soon im eating my yoghurt, overall a fun and succesful day. cant wait for next year :D
map here: http://imra.ie/ad-hoc/Lug%20Relay%20Leg-2%20Route%...