How’s your lockdown? To suggest that your mileage may vary would be a massive understatement. Not too many countries come out of this coronavirus pandemic with gold stars, but definitely New Zealand gets an honourable mention. Here in Ireland, we have done okay. Okay is a piss-poor word if you were stuck in a nursing home… how they missed that vulnerability is baffling, and no doubt has given rise to as much hand-wringing as hand washing.
We had the highest rate of nursing home Covid deaths (35) in our home town. That’s just ONE home. The real story of why is not being written either.
But wringing of hands won’t help at this stage. Maybe a few necks? The problem generally lies with the simple fact that those who most need the punishment are those that are in charge of dishing it out.
But lest we get too political, let’s talk about running.
The lockdown is lifting. We are stumbling blindly back into the light. And with no shortage of lobby groups chivvying things along, the powers that be, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to telescope some of the phased easing of restrictions. Indeed, the cynical amongst might suggest that what we are actually witnessing is a free-for-all. The issue of masks is still being tossed around like snuff at a wake, and if you listen carefully, you can hear the engines of the economy revving up like two dragsters on the start line…
But, yeah, running.
So with Gaelforce West back on the calendar in September, I have about three months to get beach-body ready. I say beach body because the race does actually start on a beach, and here it is, from a previous unironedman post…
The first section is a 13.5k trail and road run once you leave the seaside. I can confirm that is a hilly old route. You head for Killary Adventure Centre on the shores of Killary Fjord where you pick up a two-person sit-upon sea kayak with your nearest competitor and paddle the 1k to the other side. This is the same location as the Great Fjord Swim we have done a few times.
Then you have a short 4k trail run to your bike where you cycle 32k on a very lumpy road in every sense of the word to the back* of Croagh Patrick mountain. You ascend and return on foot the 764m climb (some of which you have already achieved on your bike), which amounts to about 4.5k, and then you pick up your bike and cycle the 13k into Westport town. For shits and giggles, they make you dismount and run to the line. I mean, why not? At that stage, they may as well throw rotten fruit at your head. You probably won’t notice…
So the running is coming along. Bike is next, and I will get out on the water for a few paddles, courtesy of a local canoe club. Hill work for running would be very important, though I have yet to meet anyone yet who claims to enjoy hill work. If you’re out there, tell me your secret.
In the meantime, above are a few pics from a recent 10 mile run along the canal bank. I think the orchids are Common Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) but I am no more than a rank amateur in botanic terms, and orchids frequently hybridise. That’s my excuse anyway… The poppy is most definitely a poppy.
* How do we know the front of a mountain from the back? It does rather sound like an old Chinese proverb, or some Zen question to ponder on for about twenty years, in silence, as you chew on old fish heads. When it comes to Croagh Patrick, there is clearly a contender for the ‘front’. This the iconic view from the bay.
The mountain is quite famous in Ireland. Abroad? I have no idea. It has religious significance for many Irish folk who do an annual pilgrimage on ‘Reek Sunday’ (the last Sunday in July), and you get bonus points if you do it barefoot.
Croagh comes from the Irish word cruach, meaning stack. Sliabh is the common term for a mountain, but Croagh Patrick does indeed resemble a very large rick (hence ‘reek’) or stack of turf, left out to dry. And so it has passed into common parlance. The Patrick mentioned is of course St. Patrick, our patron saint, but unironedman is here to remind you that this mountain has been a place of pilgrimage for 3,000 years, and so is in reality a pagan destination that has been appropriated by Christianity. Quelle surprise, as the French might say. No change there, as the Irish might say. The country is riddled with places that have been usurped in such a manner. To the victor the spoils, or some such thing. Either way, it’s a decent climb, but the views on a clear day, make it all worthwhile.