Firstly a big thanks to Angela Carlin (of the MCI) and PlayAtHeight for hosting the event, and the route-setter for some great routes for all categories on Saturday! I'm genuinely happy I made the effort to get to the comp in the depths of County Kerry, even if it meant I barely made my flight. If you're the guy who walked me through security without a ticket printed out, I owe you one! side note: it took over 2-1/2 hours to get from Dingle to Shannon airport.....
As for the whole event, it was great to catch up with a lot of people I haven't seen much of in the past few years and also to see the new and upcoming crop of people on the scene. The future is in the youths and if there's anything to go by what I saw, firstly I wish I'd started climbing when I was 10(!), and serious respect is deserved for those who are playing their part in training and giving the direction they need. It was seriously impressive to watch them all in action.
Highlight by far was watching the juniors compete - all them were inspiring in their confidence, their natural skill and their sheer fun at competing. This was more than underscored when, on the final route, Rachel C roared out while the crowd went silent at one point to "say something!!!!" and with much amusement, a group of juniors retorted with "something....something.....something.....something". Genius and a great way to lighten the situation. As for the male juniors, they're to be watched out for.....
The Womens comp seems to have taken a step in standards overall from last year - and many seem much stronger than they seem to think they are......I lost count of the amount of times I watched them cut loose throughout the day. Rachel C got a narrow victory, and Bea and Joan finished a well-deserved 2nd and 3rd. Naomi overcame her nerves and made the final which was her goal for this year and awed pretty much everyone with her power at the beginning after making a couple of mistakes which ruined her attempt. Still though, progress is progress!
The Mens comp was great fun, and while the level was definitely lower than last year (due to the absence of Eddie Barbour and Sean Villaneuva), it was still a great laugh. Louis Mulloy pulled out all the stops in the finals to an awesome win, a quality route to finish on too.
For anyone looking for a more comprehensive report in general, check out the excellent one on Mountaineering.ie - I won't reinvent the wheel :)
As for my performance, considering I'd never competed in a comp of that style before, haven't done an IBL in years and don't particularly get motivated for them (lack of confidence, nothing to do with my performance expectations!), I'm more than happy with the outcome. Honestly, I was bricking it on each attempt - not from fear of looking bad (which seems to be a reason some people won't turn up at a comp?!), but just nerves of climbing in front of a crowd like that (it's not the same as just climbing at a busy crag). Super chuffed to be there and enjoy the whole event (including the after comp-party with everyone in Dingle later that evening...).
Louis showed his strengths from all the sailing competitions he has done and fired it out on the day so serious respect and admiration for his climbing (which he also showed when I got to see him with his high-point on one of the qualifiers) - I know I'll be learning from it. Even after watching the video (see below for skaky-cam), it's blatantly obvious that I blew the hold I was on - a huge hold and I wasn't even pumped (I went up the route 10 minutes after the finals was over and fell off up much higher) - nerves, supplemented with a lack of psyche and determination. As I said, serious respect to Louis for keeping it together!
Finally, you'll understand from watching the video (apologies for the shaky-cam footage, I think the iPhone was struggling with all the chalk dust in the air so kept losing focus), but yes, I was very aware of the music playing - cheesy!!!!!! :) Next time, something a bit more psyched eh, DJ? :) I'd love to say it was the cause of my slow and steady climbing, but that's just how I was feeling on the day :)
*Video pulled for technical reasons!*
Overall though, I have to say I really enjoyed the competition experience and am slightly intrigued by more. The height of the Dingle wall doesn't really suit me (too short), so I might consider jumping into one or two comps over here in the UK and see if I can use the motivation of them to fire me up for next summer's activities......