Monday 1 June 2015

Walled City

#93 Walled City Marathon, Derry

The Bogside from the walls

I loved this race last year and had entered it very early. Fortunately my good friend Joe lives right on the marathon route and had plenty of space so I stayed with him. I went up the day before and collected my number. I noticed there was the facility to pick up your number on the day in the hall at the Everglades so I will keep that in mind for the future. Either way I had a lovely evening catching up with Joe and having again my now favorite meal of Pulled Pork Burrito from Wetherspoons. There was a nice old atmosphere around Derry City the night before.

This is always a worry for Lundy's
I was up early and breakfasted before leaving the car in the car park at the finish line and getting the shuttle bus to the start. Different than last year the bus dropped off 1km short of the start and it was a long enough walk to the Everglades.

The weather forecast was not good with 25-40mph Westerly winds forecast and showers. The wind was to be the challenge today. As usual there were many familiar faces at the start with Roger and Jack making it over from from the 100mc club to celebrate Rich Holmes 500th marathon. Rich was there with the no 500 bib. I congratulated him and met loads of people and spent an hour chatting and taking photos. Martin Mc Guinness was there to start proceedings and we were off.

Rich Homes at 500
Almost immediately I found myself in the 3:30 pace group of around 20 with Dipak and one other leading the way. The first 2.5 miles was heading into the wind and I tucked in. Recently my first 10K has been at 3:30 pace so I decided to try and stick with Dipak as long as I could. Turning at 2.5 miles we had a bit of restbite from the wind as we turned with it slightly helping. Through 5K in 24:30 was spot on. We made our way east towards the City crossing the bridge for the first time. There was a collective groan from everyone as we hit the bridge and got the full force of the wind in the face. The next 5 miles would be the toughest bit of the marathon as it was up hill and into a very stiff breeze.

In the waterside

passing Joe
We came through 10K in 49:15 and it was hold on time. There was a great atmosphere in the city center where most of the supporters had congregated as they could see the race 5 times within a few hundred meters. We hit the hill which was a 2 mile drag up. I stayed with the pacers until about two thirds the way up and gradually lost touch. By the time we got to the top I was 100m back. We turned sharp left onto a 2 mile undulating section that was still into the wind and kept going. At 10 miles I was through in 1:19 which was a couple of minutes ahead of normal. A big lad from Folyle valley AC came past and said I think we can catch the pacing group. We turned left again and this time down hill and the wind now from the side. I tucked in behind yer man and he dragged me back to Dipak and by 11 miles I was safely tucked into the middle of the group. The next few miles are lovely along a path beside the Foyle. The wind was firmly helping. We came through half way in 1:44:14 and I was in 211th place. This was 3 minutes up than normal. I
lashing rain in the Waterside
decided I would try and hang on for as long as possible. At 15 miles we were back in the city and crossed the Foyle for the second time. I was just about hanging onto the pacers coat tails. I knew however that there was another 2 mile drag starting here through the Waterside and I slowly started to slip back.

By the time I passed Joe at 16.5miles I was 100m back but still well ahead of plan. At this time the heavens had opened and it lashed for about 10 minutes. At last we got to the top of the hill and had a lovely downhill section with the wind in the back for about half a mile. We turned left onto the greenway beside the Foyle and hit back towards town. The wind was dead in the face as we wound our way towards the city.  We came through a nice park and in front of us was the peace bridge. I could see the 3:30 pacers already on the bridge and I was a couple of minutes down and visibly slowing. This was the 20 mile mark which I came though in 2:41 which was about 4 minutes up on Newry. The wind was brutal on the bridge but the welcome from the supporters on the far side was awesome. It helped that we had our names on our bibs and they all shouted your name. We turned right at the bridge and headed along the Foyle into the industrial and park section of the race. I didnt mind this section too much this year and for a couple of miles just kept plodding and it was over. It was very very quiet though.

All done
But soon it was over and we were back in he city. A quick loop
Celebrating with Leslie
and we were in the Bogside and at mile 25. The rest of the race from here is a carnival.  At the end of the Bogside you turn left and head up Fahan St which is just awesome as the crowds gather and the atmosphere is great. Its steep though and I was delighted to run it all. Through the gates of Derry we go and its pretty much downhill to the finish and its fast. I knew at this stage 3:40 was a possibility and I made a big big effort taking around 7 places in the last half mile. A great sprint to the finish brought me  through in 3:38:20 and 226th place and 16th in my age group.  This was only the 7th time I have dipped under 3:40 and it ended up being my 5th fastest run. If I lost any time today it was between 16 and 20 miles and I was very happy with the finish. That is something to work on.  The bling as always was great and there was a nice Goodie bag and plenty of water at the finish. It was a good day.

Again Derry proved one of my favourites and is in my opinion the best Irish City Marathon outside of Dublin.

photos courtesy of Joe McEvoy

Click here for Polar RC3 stats for the day

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