Wicklow Way Relay 2018: Rathfarnham AC Team Report
By David Power, Team Captain
One of the highlights of the IMRA calendar, a real celebration of team spirit, adventure and surprises. Rathfarnham AC was hoping to continue our proud history in the Wicklow Way Relay, an 8 person relay over 100 kilometers from Dublin to South Wicklow. In our way stood the reigning champions, going for 3 in a row, TT racers.
After 7 hours of racing, only 7 minutes separated the teams. The mass starts at 7am in Kilmashogue let 35 teams off. Peter O’Farrell got the ball rolling with other Rathfarnham clubmates Greg (UCD) and Turlough (Overboards) putting in good times. David Power on leg 2 was left waiting, as a smiling Mike Long (UCD) took off towards Curtlestown. David clawed back some places on the way past Djouce, bringing Rathfarnham up to 3rd.
It was a hot day - great for the many teammates driving along the route, not so good for the runners later on. Newbie Beth Neal was up against some strong pedigree on leg 3, but that didn't bother her and she got us up to 2nd place, after Cathriona Jennings (TT Racers) went off course. Over to Paul Fleming on leg 4 and he put everything in, to get us to halfway at Glendalough in 2nd. Paul charged past some startled tourists along the way – what’s the Japanese word for “track”??
Ciaran Aylward took the diverted route up Glendalough. While Louis waited at Glenmalure, team captains Terry (TT) and David (Rathfarnham) were anxiously staring up the hill. To our surprised delight Ciaran flew down the hill in the lead. TT’s runner had missed a turn on the descent, meaning he lost over 7 minutes, running an extra mile. Race back on!
We had a 90 second lead, which Louis increased to 2.5 minutes on leg 6. Brian Furey was on the long leg 7 and put in a strong effort in warm conditions. Des Kennedy (TT), who’s in the form of his life, snuck by to retake TT’s lead. Clare Sullivan patiently waited and ran well on leg 8 to bring us home 8 minutes behind TT Racers.
Overall a thoroughly enjoyable day for all of 35 teams and 200 plus runners. It's a unique event, with a great sense of camaraderie and goodwill. Race director Jason Kehoe did highlight the risk to events like this, if volunteers don't help make it happen, with marshals, as well as the need to respect local road users and keep the countryside clear of litter. That message echoes what many club coaches see every week – selfless work to make things happen for others can go unnoticed. Well done to all the organizers, competitors and supporters. Now onwards to planning our 2019 team…
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P.S. Rathfarnham runners were well represented on several teams – UCD (Mike Long & Greg Byrne), Overboards (Vanessa Sallier & Turlough Conway), Not much faster, but certainly furiouser (Laura Flynn), Wicklow Waysters (Zoe Melling) and Avondale Avengers ( Orla McEvoy).