Shamrock O-Ringen, Day 3
Had Seamus starting 44 seconds after me so I started with the expectation of having company farily quickly, but he was a no-show! Didn't stop me looking over my shoulder at numerous times during the race to check for chasers, if not him, his CNOC colleagues. Did think I saw a CNOC top or 2 heading towards 6 as I was going to 10 so reckoned I was doing ok at that point. But going up the hill I really thought I was going to be caught. It was only in the last loop that I reckoned it was just going to be me and Ken.
Was happy with the 1st control but it was a small re-entrant, 2 was ok and 3 was straightforward. At 3 the Belgian (Ken Peeters) came in from below it to punch ahead of me. That left me with a smile on my face if he'd taken the opportunity to look in my direction. Was careful to 4, picking off features as I went because it looked like a control that could be missed, hit it cleanly. Then downhill to 5 for a loop around a flatish area but with rough running in places. Ended up a bit left of 9 but these few were ok. I was doing the running out in front, so was concentrating on my race, not what Ken was doing. Got a small gap to 10 and held it up the hill. I think I may have lost a couple of second on 1 or 2 of the uphill controls from 9-16, but nothing serious. Ken gained a bit on the last uphill to 16. 17 was downhill.
On the way down again to 18 I stopped short trying to figure out where on the hill I was. Ken went past and kept going in the same direction. If he'd changed direction then I knew he'd got 18. Realised then that the control was further down as I spotted the obvious craggy hills, a few of them. To 19 Ken was ahead and I though that it was going to be a difficult control. I also took out my gel to have, looked at my watch and saw we'd been running 37mins so felt a boost would be handy later. Kept on running and saw a control below, nice. Back to 20 up and over a few ridges. Wasn't sure how far we'd gone but then the boulders and control appeared below. From 22 to 23 I regained the lead, I think, definitely punched 20 behind but 21 and 22 I can't really recall too well. Got 23 ok and then back up to 24. Before back across to 25.
On the way to 26 I recalled Toni's presentation from the night before, remarkable features, but that didn't help as I missed the control. Hit a re-entrant with a control in it, Code 240. Ken punched it but I knew it was the wrong code. If Ken went for 27 I wasn't going to call him back! Kept on running and spotted the bush on the drain to the W of 26, so back uphill to the control. Took a big tumble on the way to 27 but didn't let Ken past. Across a few more ridges to 28 and then it was back uphill to 29. I used the flat area and the transition to the slightly steeper area to figure out where I was going. Ken ran a slightly different line and got the control just ahead of me. Then I pushed up over the hill and saw a track across the marsh below, dove down the hill and got onto the track before him. Felt one of my hamstrings at this point wanting to cramp but feeling went immediately. Ken gave a shout so either I cut him off badly or he tripped on something, I don't know, wasn't stopping to ask. Then up the hill to the last control hitting the finish tapes then turned uphill to the control. At this point I felt that Ken had given up but I still tore down the hill to punch the finish. Didn't cover myself in glory at the finish as I missed the box, fell onto my back, and then managed to punch, but still 4 seconds ahead of Ken which were all gained between 29 to the finish.
Looking at my HR for the race it was only at 186 for the sprint, was never too high during the race, only 1 beat higher than my avg HR for yesterday. So running at a steady pace and not making too many mistakes worked. I felt I knew what I was doing during the race and lead Ken for most of the controls we were together. Felt confident in the pace of my running and orienteering.
Driving back to Kerry afterwards it really only dawned on me that i'd won a Shamrock. Definitley a good weekend on the Sheeps Head, one to remember.