The next weekend we travelled down to Carlingford for the famous Cooley Thriller MTB marathon. Promising to be a long hard ride up over the Cooley Mountains, this is one of the best attended marathon races on the calender and this year proved to be even bigger. Organised by the masters of endurance - the McCabe bros and Co - we would be lead for nearly 50km and with around 1600m of climbing through forest roads, mountain singletrack and open moors, including the long steep drag up to the Ravensdale Mast. I was pretty lucky to get a good place near the front of the 200 odd strong field as the race was lead to the start area with a parade around the village and off we set along the base of Slieve Foy to start the long slog which would take some riders up to 7hrs to complete! The start consisted of a run along the base of Slieve Foy forest and off towards Omeath before the long climb up to Ravensdale Mast. From the start my legs felt pumped and fatigued and all the fast guys dissappeared off into the distance but surprisingly I was able to gradually pull back places as we climbed up towards the Mast. Soon enough I came up to Myles McCrory one of Bike Pure's founding members and we found ourselves pretty much yo - yo - ing between places as I climbed faster and he descended fast until the cord broke and he tired. Somewhere around the 30km mark I came across a fallen IMBRC rider who looked like they had a pretty bad crash and a touch of concussion. A 10min break to make sure the guy had no broken bones and was able to at least start moving towards an aid station I continued on and eventually caught up with Myles who had shot past me as I "first aided" but who seemed to have ended up with a slightly mangled front wheel. The last hour of the race was a bit of a torture session as tiredness set in, and although I could see that I had started to catch up with a small group of lads in the distance tiredness and frustration with the lack of speed meant the usual fun climb up the green mile was more of a slog. I had nearly forgotten the mental strength required for this type of racing!
But the green mile represented the last climb of the day and it was a fast technical descent back down the mountain and into Carlingford to be greeted by the timekeepers, supporters and some not too tastey Monster Energy Drink, crossing the line officially in 3hr30mins - a little faster than my 2009 time so pretty cool. Kind of wishing I hadnt stopped to first aid as it looked like I could potentially have knocked another 5 - 10mins off that! But I hope the IMBRC guy got home ok!
Conor came in later after 4.5hrs on the mountain, not a happy chappy as he suffered from cramping pretty much from the start but a good result nonetheless considering he doesn't ride for longer than 2hrs at any one time :-)