By Jimmy Rhatigan
IF A spectacular mountain challenge in The Alps were a piece of cake it might be called a Swiss Roll.
The Alpine Wellie Race may have a sweet ring to it and may often have been analysed over a coffee and bun, but a Swiss Roll it most certainly is not.
There is very little straight forward about the St Patrick’s Day Wellie Race up in the Alps.
For starters, the Castlecomer Wellie Race’s first cousin is pencilled in for March 18.
And, while tea, cakes and soup are served on a day that can be so cold that it would freeze the backside off a brass monkey, the race is as unpredictable as it is popular for Kilkenny emigrants, their Swiss and German friends.
For instance in 2016, with temperatures below freezing, aim of race organisers was to make sure everyone got home alive.
Last year, the weather was so hot, it was bikinis that were required, not top coats.
The advice this year from chief organiser and race founder, daughter of The Granges Road, Kilkenny City, Rosaleen Crotty is to be prepared for all possibilities.
An overcoat perhaps with a bikini or T-shirt in an inside pocket would be wise.
There are cows to be milked in Moos
Rosaleen, whose dad, the late Tom Crotty, a master baker at the one time high class bakery that was Crotty’s of Parliament Street at the heart of our city, is in training and encouraging others to join her for the Alpine Challenge in less than a month’s time.
The big day may not push Donald Trump off the front pages, nor may it snatch any headlines from the Champions’ League, but it will again grab the hearts and minds of aficionados who have been part and parcel of it for years.
Others have also been persuaded to don their wellies, friends, a few Romans perhaps and countrymen and women, who will join committed rubber boot kids at what is a wonderful but somewhat wacky event, in what we might term the world capital of yodelling.
And wait for it, the address of the Wellie Race location also adds to the amusing side of a fascinating occasion.
The event is held on the Kretz Dairy Farm, Moos, St Gallen, Switzerland.
Dairy farm, Moos, you would hardly be faulted for thinking that we were making it up.
The race is timed for 1pm-ish!
“But,” Rosaleen told The Reporter, “while the start time may be a bit ‘flexible’, the finish is always 5pm as there are cows to be milked.”
And there is always the post race ceili to look forward to.
Friends from Castlecomer Wellie Race, in which Rosaleen participates every New Year’s Day will be in St Gallen in spirit and the Kilkenny woman who is very active in her adopted Switzerland, has sent out a ‘welcome all’ invite.
The latter is meant for anyone who lives in the St Gallen area of Switzerland or near Lake Konstanz in the Swiss, Germany border area.
She says that anyone with a craving for running up the Alps in their wellies can contact her on her blog, Irish Stew for the Soul.
In the meantime, wellie racing enthusiasts are in the throes of training and doing their morning runs up the Alps.
Before returning to running and jumping, Rosaleen congratulated Castlecomer Wellie Race Committee, all the volunteers there and of course the participants for another great Wellie Race and buckets of money collected for charity on New Year’s Day this year.
“I enjoyed reading all about it, and the wonders of the world ancient and new in the noble publication that is The Kilkenny Reporter,” she said.
“Now back to the push ups: 23 done, 77 to go!”