Murlough Beach, Donard Park and Tollymore run

Saturday morning was a great opportunity  to get a good, long, run in preparation for the Mourne Way 50 mile Ultra in June this year. With the chance of rain, at 8am we started on Murlough Beach and took in some of the trails, along with the challenge of some running on the soft sands.

After an hour we headed towards the Mournes on the beach, through Newcastle and then up a climb in to Donard Park.

A slow climb up to the quarry and a look back to where we started at Murlough.
Passed the quarry and heading over to Tollymore

A good run round Tollymore, passing some of the painful climbs of the Hill and Dale run on Thursday, before heading back through Donard park, Newcastle and along the beach to Murlough.

A glance back at Slieve Donard and some of our earlier climbs. The weather and the location were perfect, and a five hour run came to an end. Three great Northern Ireland locations in one morning Murlough Beach, Donard Park and Tollymore. Running doesn’t get any better than this.

Hill and Dale Series 2011 -Tollymore

A beautiful evening, for a great 2nd, Hill and Dale Series 2011 race, at Tollymore – the sun was shining and the breeze was slight. The LocoRunners entered a team of 4, and after making various excuses, of injuries and under-training, before setting off, all enjoyed a tough, and challenging run. The field set off to a incredibly fast pace, on the downhill stretch. The first climb sobered everyone up from their initial dreams of sprinting the whole race. After a number of agonising hills, and some fast paced descent our runners all made it to the finish in times ranging from 45 to 59 minutes – the last blamed this on the coke before hand and made a sharp exit to the nearby toilets.  We now have the first of the mountains to contend with at Slieve Martin next Thursday. Fizzy coke will be avoided.

Thanks to the race organisers and all involved at Newcastle AC a great, and enjoyable evenings race.

Photo’s, full write up and results to be found at Newcastle Athletics Club

Below the water…

I have always loved being on, in, or below the water. While at a dive show in London I was fortunate enough to stumble across an inspirational talk by the freediver Patrick Musimu who had just completed a 200 metre dive on one breath – incredible. My interest fired up I found a company that specialised ( in training freedivers at a 30 metre deep tank in Portsmouth.

What an amazing weekend it was at a huge tank known as the S.E.T.T – Submarine Escape Training Tank – in Portsmouth. The S.E.T.T is essentially nothing more than a large cylinder filled with water, designed by the Navy to train its submariners to learn how to escape from a stricken submarine, sitting at depth. The weekend I was there it was solely for the purposes of training us to be freedivers.

The instructors were, as I had imagined, relaxed, welcoming and just like a family within a short space of time. The first day we had lectures on the risks and precautions to be taken when freediving, and how to be safe by always diving with a buddy. Before long though we were let loose in the tank. It was deep and blue, a downward tunnel to nowhere. It was approximately ten metres across, and filled with warm, 30 degree water. We began with static breathholds, relaxing our breathing, slowing it down to maybe six breaths, and below, a minute, and then dipping our heads in the water and seeing how long we could stay there before resurfacing. I built up to a fairly comfortable 2 minutes, and was itching to get down underwater. My buddy, Andy, would tap me at half minute intervals, and I did the same for him, each of us watching out for the others signal that they were still conscious. Soon each buddy pair were given a rope to guide them down into the depths. We breathed ‘down’ to a relaxed slow level of breathing, took a big, full breath, filling the stomach, ribs and upper chest with air, emptied it again, then filled up once more with air and ducked down below the water. The buddy would don a mask and snorkel and track our movements underwater, ensuring that we had not collapsed. We then took turns pulling ourselves down ropes and back up, managing a respectable 15 metres in the morning. By the afternoon we were at 20 metres, and I was having a few problems equalizing my ears. At the surface after each dive we were told to take three inhalations, one at a time, deep and forced, but letting the breath leave the body at its own speed. Our buddy focussed on our eyes and checked for any chance of a hypoxic fit, or shallow water blackout.

The next day we were given long fins, and taught how to descend into the depths without a rope. I tried a pair of carbon fibre fins, and a proper freediving mask later in the day. My aim for the final dive was to get to the bottom, 30 metres, and return safely and comfortably. I held myself at the side of the pool and took my breathing down to something slow, something at peace; my body felt good, physically, mentally and spiritually as one. My breaths were now perhaps four a minute. I took a long breath, filling my body from the stomach, deep and long and then emptied my body of air. A final breath, deep filling my very being, I nodded at my buddy, took a slow duck dive and headed into the blue, equalizing as I went. I kept my head tucked in, I felt right. As I descended, I equalized, and after about 15 metres fell without finning, now negatively buoyant, into such peace.

The blue held me, like an eye holds a tear, everything was in balance. At twenty metres I felt a slight panic, but ignored it and continued. I touched the floor at 30 metres with my hand, and flipped over and stood looking back up to the surface. I had made it. My focus for the journey back was to remain calm, and fin slowly. My buddy met me at 15 metres, and I returned home. Freediving, or to use its proper name ‘Apnea’ is often described as a journey outside time.

Check out some excerpts from the weekend. Note that the girl ‘collapsing’ underwater is just part of the training –

Reasons to get out on foot…

Running takes me somewhere special: sometimes geographically, sometimes physically, but always somewhere in my spirit, and always to a better me. Running tells me that I can do anything, it reminds me that work is just work, and that being, enjoying, and loving are what really count. The stresses of the day become less, shrinking out of mind, as I push up a hill, or steady my pace on a long run.

Running gives me the confidence to be me, to be proud of what I have achieved both in running and outside. It reminds me of what really counts in life. All I have when I run is the simple clothing I am wearing, and my heart and my soul: no car, no house, no money, no superficial baubles of life. My mental junk is dropped with each footfall, and confusion passes. I observe the countryside, the weather; I feel I am back to where I began as a person – animal and nature coexist, a relationship is formed again. The bad weather, the snow, the wind and the rain hold no fear to me while my feet strike fourth, that cowardice is reserved for the person in the car, or in front of the TV. I celebrate the changes in the seasons; I welcome the changes to my body – my legs sometimes struggle, but always deliver.

Pushing myself to my limits, or simply passing the miles, I am so grateful to be alive.

Welcoming all Runners, Cyclists, Swimmers and Triathletes – especially those in Northern Ireland

LocoRunner aims to cater for anyone who, like me, loves getting out in all weather, at any time day or night.

Northern Ireland in particular has a wide variety of outdoor events taking place each year, at all levels of skill, on road and off road. This site will focus on:

  • Running, Cycling and Triathlon Events being held locally and further afield
  • Links to other sites for training and info etc
  • Gear reviews, books, and good deals
  • Messages from like-minded people
  • Training tips, and resources
  • Galleries of pictures

This is only the beginning of this site, but we aim to grow to provide a one stop resource for related events, and a place to stop by and share the love of our favourite sports.