Irish Mountain Cardio are a trail running club who run in the Dublin Mountains. Mark Foley gives us an insight as to how the club started and how the club runs.
To explain Irish Mountain Cardio a bit better to you I’ve to take you back 40 years. The photo below is of 3 men doing a sprint finish in the 1982 Dublin City Marathon. The man with his head down going to the finish line is my dad. 2.42 was his time. He bet the other two lads to the line. Sprint Finish. Just over his shoulder is a lady in a white jacket holding a child and one standing in front. That’s my mother baby sister and myself standing at Stephen’s Green. I was 9 years old.
My dad worked for Dublin Bus, Donnybrook Garage and along with UCD, RTE, Smurfit and Donnybrook Fire Brigade, they as a collective body formed The Business House Athletic Association, The BHAA.
As kids we would go to the BHAA races and have to make the runners sandwiches and help out in the kitchens. We did this for years. The amount of sandwiches I made for runners back in the day must have been thousands. I always remember from the kitchens we could smell the runners before we could see them. Back then they would make their own concoctions of “tiger bam” and the smell would have your eyes watering for a week. The little secret huddles at the end of a race wasn’t about running tactics but what’s your tiger bam made from, peppers cucumbers and baby oil with a twist of deep heat peppers cucumbers and baby oil with a twist of deep heat peppers cucumbers and baby oil with a twist of deep heat – Strong stuff back in the 80s.
My dad ran for Metro Harriers, and trained with Eamon Coghlan. One of their training sessions was heading into the Phoenix Park on a Thursday evening and doing a hill session. Up by the magazine barracks they would run hill repeats. We as a family would walk around the park waiting for them to finish. Something to do on a Thursday evening in the 80s.
Roll on the years, I’m not a great runner. My dads best time for a marathon was 2.32 in Derry but that’s not me. I did the Liffey Descent back in 2010 so that got me into paddling. I loved cycling and did a few duathlons but running always let me down.
Best thing for me to do was to work on my running, my weakest discipline, and that could only benefit me for the bike. Then I found adventure racing and had paddling and cycling ticked down off but running I was still not the best at.
So I started to hit the hills. I’m from Tallaght and as kids we were marched up to the Hellfire club on a sunny Saturday for a day trip. I knew the area well. So I started to do all my trail runs up there. Every Saturday morning up in the Hellfire Club and run a 10k of hills really helped in the adventure races, finishing 18 in the National Table back in 2012. Kept doing the hills every Saturday morning for years. Our route was doing the IMRA winter league followed by all the adventure races and back to IMRA to finish of the year. I won the Gaelfore West Dublin sport distance in 2017. All thanks to building up my work on the hills. A lad saw my progress and asked could he join me for a run. Yes of course more the merrier. So 1 lad turned to 2 lads turned to 2 lads and 1 lady. So I had planned on doing the Wicklow Way 127k and would document the training and runs. Irish Mountain Cardio was born. I came up with the name colour and social media platforms and posted all our runs on that.
That was 5 years ago on March just gone. The oldest trail running club in the Dublin Mountains. Might be even in Ireland but don’t want to push the boat out on that claim in case there is a club in the back end of Cork going for decades. We are affiliated with Athletices Ireland for the past 4 years now. Our club members numbers are back to pre COViD numbers and growing. We were runners up in the Irish Industry Fitness awards 10 best running community club in 2020. We have friends from all over the world that support us and have travel over from California Wisconsin and as we say our sister club from Arizona Track and Trails who brought over 15 members to run with us. Hopefully we will be meeting up with them again this year.
How the club has grown has been amazing to see. What we do is two simple things at the club. We start at the gate, set your watch, and go.
Attack the hills, never quit, give it your all is the first thing and at the last bend, sprint finish. Everything you got from the last bend to the gate and burn all you have off. Sprint finish and hill work!!! Was that seed set 40 years ago watching my dad in 1982 sprint finish at the Marathon?? Maybe.
Kippure Race just gone on Sunday, top 10 ladies , 3 of them including the winner were Irish Mountain Cardio. Richie who came in 8 place ran with his shoelace opened for 6k. No way was he stopping to tie his lace and give up his position. We don’t quit. The club is going from strength to strength. We are building strong confident runners who will take on any distance in a heart beat. 6k runners right up to Ultra runners and beyond. We have every right to be up the front. We put the work in. We are a small club with passion and grit, determination and drive.
We run every Wednesday at 19.00 for a 6k trail run. Every Saturday morning we do a 6k and 8k at 8.30 and a more challenging 10k at 9.30. All runs are from the gate at the Hellfire Club and every last Saturday of the month we do it all in Masseys Estate. Just to break up the rhythm and follow of the Hellfire club and change it up. We are a club of ages between 18 and 65. You run at your pace. Not mine not the person in front but your own. Once you get to know the routes it’s you against the watch. Trail running builds confidence to take on races you never thought you could do, runs with serious mountain elevations. It’s great for building up your cardio, your heart rate changes and your pace changes to fit the terrain. Your uphill speed is totally different to your downhill speed breaking up your pace consistently. Building up body strength.
To be out in the mountains, out in the wild open countryside with just your thoughts. Sorting out your problems with just the fresh air, wildlife and the weather to kept you content.
As the seasons go by the gear changes, no heavy jackets or running tights for the summer but one thing that stays the same is trail runners. They give you the confidence to take on tricky routes that can be slippery but once you know you have the grip helps. People should try trail running at least once. If they don’t like it, if it tough then that’s fine, you gave it a go. But try it. It’s great fun and if your a road runner then it’s chalk and cheese. Totally different.