On Saturday the 19th of September the IMRA Knockmealdown Half Marathon took place. Originally scheduled for March but delayed due to the Coronavirus, the race finally kicked off at 11am on Saturday morning at the Vee car park. 56 brave souls started the race, including two Blackwater Triathlon Club members, Peter O’Brien and Adrian Collins, both of whom are veterans of this event. The race consisted of a mix of forestry path and rugged mountain which took the competitors over the four peeks of the Knockmealdowns. In a change up to previous years, a new section was added to the beginning making the entire course just over 24km.
The race began at the car park with a fast downhill section passing Bay Lough. For the first 9km, the surface was smooth and flat. This was followed by a long, sapping, 5km drag, passing the Liam Lynch Monument, up to the first peak (Crohan West). The course undulated for the next 5km with challenging climbs and descending over rocky ground. The final push was the breathtaking climb up Knockmealdown before a fast finish back to the car park. Markings guided the way throughout. The course is notoriously tough, with IMRA rating it as “10 – Extreme” difficulty. The weather on the day was bright and sunny, ideal racing conditions and the best conditions for the race that any of the runners had ever encountered. It was still a tough race and the eventual winner crossed the finish line in a very impressive 2 hours and 22 minutes. Adrian and Peter stayed together and came home in an excellent 3 hours and 11 minutes. It was a tough but enjoyable day out for everyone who took part, but the overall feeling was relief to be able to get out racing again. Well done to the organisers and everyone who took part on the day. Race director Matthew Branch, the race organisers and volunteers must be commended for putting together a super tough and safe race in such challenging circumstances. Everyone involved respectfully followed the guidance.