There are two types of off-road running traditions in Ireland: modern ‘trail running’, on good paths, and traditional ‘hill running’ more ‘off-the-beaten-track’. Glendalough AC’s ‘Run the Ridge’ race combines these two traditions into one race offering an introduction to both while being fully marked – good news to those among us who are navigationally challenged or from ‘out of town’. You just need to turn up, follow the markers and otherwise focus on enjoying your run and the scenery.
The proverbial ‘ridge’ of our event refers to Derrybawn Mountain, a subsidiary peak to the nearby Mullacor summit, described on MountainViews as ‘an airy ridge’ and given the following recommendation:
Derrybawn has a great situation, looking into four glacial valleys and above the well known Glendalough lakes. The summit is the north end of a 1.6km ridge, the best formed in Wicklow. Many of its lower slopes are planted with mature oak trees. – MountainViews user
Runnable in all conditions and without dangerous drops, Derrybawn offers relative safety while still remaining intensely interesting underfoot. In our race, we ease you in. You start in the idyllic surrounds of Laragh GAA with open views of most of the surrounding mountains before you ascend up the tough ‘Zig-Zags’ through Derrybawn Woods and join the ‘Wicklow Way’. Only here – after almost 11 km running, do you emerge on open mountain to finish your climb. Then the fun begins as you traverse first the terminal parts of the ‘Mullacor’ ridge and then join with the Derrybawn Ridge.
Derrybawn’s long brown hulk has seven distinct tops leading to a ‘bumpy ride’ with a high point of 492 m. The ultimate peak – at 474 m – is marked with a large cairn and teases the short technical descent off the open mountain track and back onto better trails. From here, we follow a rarely used path to the bottom of Derrybawn Woods – lush with indiginous trees. Such beauty comes with a cost: after your fast descent, a final small climb beckons before you rejoin the route you used on the outward journey for the final kilometres to the Laragh GAA pitches. To bring the route to the full 20 km, you complete a ‘lap of honour’ of around 800m on the GAA pitches.
For those not ready, or willing, to run the full 20 km, you can show up and do a 8 km circuit of Derrybawn Woods all of which is on good firm trail.
On a dry day Derrybawn’s main ridge offers one of the best practice ground for aspiring or novice mountain runners who can tackle the technical descent with minor fear of accident. In wet conditions, grippy soles and concentration are necessary as the main path can turn very slippy. Thankfully, most of Derrybawn’s surface is soft with only patches of rock breaking its surface, so most falls will lead to no more than embarassment or hurt pride! Apart from the ridge you’re enjoying running on very good trails and you can simply switch off and enjoy the quiet woodlands or concentrate on managing your race.
If you want to try it out, remember you’re not only supporting a not-for-profit event with proceeds going to the local sports clubs – you are also in the hands of experienced hill running organisers. You will receive a warm ‘Laragh welcome’ both before and after the event. All the basics are looked after: marking, race numbesr, chip timing and a proper finish line.
Or continue exploring our site – most of your questions should be answered here.