Mourne Mountain Marathon 2021

3 weeks to go and I got a message from fellow Barfer Jackie Toal, who had just completed the Cape Wrath Ultra. I had seen her in film footage of the race and had messaged congratulations on her run. She asked me to do the MMM with her…. It had been a while, I was not as fit as I used to be but I could not say no to her, she helped me twice in the nighttime section of my Rankin Round, I owed her big time, so I said yes, though looking at my Strava I could see I had not run the distance or ascent of the B course in the last 3 months so I said yes if we can do the “C” Course. I hadn’t been well and am only now starting to get back to fitness, I had to listen to my body and be kind to it. Thankfully as I had done the MMM before I had all the kit through the Balloons for my balloon bed were from 2013 and during the night camp they popped one by one, I pumped more and… well it wasn’t so bad I got a reasonable night’s sleep.

The MMM is organised by such a professional team who are also so nice and fun. From Paddy waking us up with his singing, Peter playing the flute on day 2 start, the marshals all helpful and kind, it is a well-oiled machine

Jackie and I worked well together sharing the navigation, we are both map and compass girls not like some real orienteers who don’t need the compass as they can navigate just with features, contours, pacing etc. anyway we did ok and we were pleased when we saw top orienteers had picked the same routes as us on the clusters. The ground as always is rough and not always runnable so we had the usual slog through very rough ground which is energy sapping. The first day was also really warm and we didn’t pass too many rivers so I got really bad cramps and did struggle badly towards the end of day 1.

The campsite was excellent and we had a bit of drama when Jackie nearly set fire to her tent and herself. The farmer in the next field had started cutting silage, Jackie could not hear the gas for the tractor noise and thought it wasn’t working, she fiddled for ages and when she did put the lighter to it there was a huge ball of flames, Peter Howie at the medics tent jumped quickly with a basin to smother the flames… miracle she wasn’t badly burned. We were also lucky with the warm evening under Hen and Cock mountain, just lovely! The craic was good as we wandered around chatting to fellow runners and the organising teams.

Day 2 was much cooler and I carried more water this time so no cramps and I felt much stronger. The cluster was at the start and we did worry when we were coming off Hen mountain and everyone else seemed to be going up! The two days had some tough slogging through rough ground with long pull ups but weather was lovely and we had no difficulties getting the controls which always helps.

I love being in the mountains and to be there with Jackie who is so strong, kind and stoic was a real joy. She fell a couple of times and had some cuts but she just carries on, nothing seems to faze her. She was patient with me as I was not as strong as her. It was also a joy to meet up with other mountain runners some who I had not seen for a very long time. It was a surprise to be first vets overall in the C class, this is where being old has some advantage. I’m proud to be part of BARF who organise this event

Kathleen Monteverde