Ireland, especially the Giant Causeway, was on my to-do list for a number of years, but I can never fit it in (too close to home as doing all the faraway places first). So when an email dropped into my inbox about The Giant Causeway Race – 20 miles, it ticked some boxes for me – what’s not to like about this – a race and sight seeing! Plus, a stone towards UTMB races- not that I would ever use it!
Only problem – will I be fit enough – as I planned an extended holiday over the winter which meant not much training on those hills and trails in the UK, minor problem?!
I decided to go for it as it would be another holiday and I envisaged a nice sunny day along the coast.
Once I was back in the UK, I got my trusted trainer/long run buddy, Mick Playle to do a 15 miler run with me. Mick plotted a fab route local to the area, some of which I had not run before. It went well, so was promising for the race, which had a cut off time at mile 15 but not for the end.
We booked a lovely self-catering place in Ballycastle, which was only a few miles from the start.
The day of the race dawned beautifully with a golden sunrise. The previous day was very wet and windy, an omen for a great day.
After driving around looking for the start, (we were not the only ones, we had people following us!), we arrived just before the two coaches pulled in with runners (it was a point to point race – 20 miles along the coast but only 13 miles back to our digs). I made a quick dash for the loo.
After a quick briefing – no need to check in as this was all done online at least a week before, you just needed to be there at least 30 mins before the start – we headed up the hill towards the path. There were quite a lot of runners, you could tell they were serious trail runners.
I was very nervous at the start, thinking what am I doing here- what makes me think I can do this. Got chatting to a few people, who felt the same so that eased my nerves.
We had beautiful trails, beaches, rocks which was a scamble as the rocks were very slippery and had lots of seaweed covering them. That mile took me 23 mins to do, but I was helping some who felt unsteady on their feet.
Had a lovely chatty run, so made the miles slip away easily. John was there as support along the trail, so saw him several times, which gave me a boost.
The views were absolutely amazing – running by the Giants Causeway was just awesome. There were lots of visitors so people were cheering us on. No time to stop and take photos as it was a slight uphill from there.
Got to about 13 miles and well within the cutoff time for the 15 miles, when we hit road. It seemed to go on for a long time – I think about 3 miles, which I hated every step of the way. It drained my energy.
Got to mile 15, John was there, which gave me a lift for the final 5 miles. You could almost see the finish from there.
On we went, got to the beach and had about a mile along there, it was a struggle for me. A little uphill and just a mile to go along the seafront to the finish. A very welcome sight for me! I was so happy to finish and collect my medal.
This was a fab race, with very enthusiast volunteers. I think this is one everyone body should do. I was on a high for days – which meant I was prattling on incessantly- poor John.
Got to see a bit of Ireland, including the Gobbins Way – a spectacular cliff walk. Lots of mountain walking, including the mountains of Mourne; and visited friends in Dublin. Not enough time to do all the things we would have liked to, so another trip to be had at some time.