Sunday 26 July 2015


Marathon #100  3:56:05

Courtmacsherry view from he start

I had run the 36 mile ultra here before in 2014 and it was absolutely roasting. The forecast for this year was a lot better at around 18 degrees and cloudy. It actually turned out an absolute beautiful day at around 18 degrees, slightly cloudy but at times very sunny and a slight wind.

Vincent and Ger

Val and Brenda G
It was my 100th marathon so I had prepared by getting a special cake and T-Shirt done up and MCI had lined up a presentation after the event. It turns out there were about 10 other milestones being reached today from 25 thru, 50, 75, 100 and Dave Brady doing his 500th. Bob Hilliard somehow had also persuaded Boston Marathon hall of fame inductees Rick and Dick Hoyt (Team Hoyt) to be around for the weekend.

Lindsay and Libby were also with me for the weekend so it was
special anyway. A 4.5hr drive to Courtmacsherry passed off with little incident and by 5pm we were settled into the Courtmacsherry hotel right at the start finish line and tucking into the best lasagne that we had tasted in years. Team Hoyt were doing a talk in Clonakilty (about 15km away).  You could also register for the race the next day at their talk. We all headed off and  I have to say the talk was absolutely fantastic and those guys sure had overcome some difficulties to be where they are today. They are also no slouches with a PB of 2:40 done in the Marine Marathon in the 90's and that is with Dick pushing Rick in his wheelchair. It was very inspirational stuff to a packed house.
Hoyt Entourage

Early to bed got me up early and down for Breakfast at 7. The 100Kers had already long since left at 6am. It was real busy at the start line with Vincent Gutherie taking over Race Director duties from Bob Hilliard who seemed to be having just the best day being in the middle of everything. Precision timing where there and a great sound system and everything was set for our off at 9am. I had a quick word with Dick Hoyt before the start and at 9am after a race briefing we were off.

A 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon and 36 Mile Ultra all started together so for the first 3 miles it was very busy. The course itself followed the bay towards Kinsale on a 9 mile  out and back circuit (18 mile total). There was hardly a bump on the route until around the 8 mile mark on the way out and again at the 10 mile mark on the way back where there was a quite testing hill. But for the marathon you only had to negotiate this once and it was totally runnable.

On the road
After 3 miles the 10Kers peeled off at Templeague and the rest followed the coast road. I was going steady but not fast coming thru 5K in 27 minutes and 10k in 53 minutes. After around 5 miles a couple of Crossgar guys came past and we had a chat about their running club and my recent article in the Down Recorder which they had seen. They were both going better than me and they slowly pulled away. This left me with 2 other runners who themselves turned for home after 6.5 miles as they were in the half marathon. On my own I plodded along.

At 7.5 miles I hear a "get up that hill" from behind. It was he Trim AC boys in the 36 mile race. They caught me at the top of the hill and I stayed with them for the next 2 miles talking about their 100 mile exploits and ultra racing in general. They were going easy (I reckoned about 3:40 pace). Even still they gradually pulled away from me at 10 miles.

Now on the way back I could see Courtmacsherry across the bay but still had 7 long miles to go. At mile 11 coming in the other direction was Rick Hoyt being pushed by a posse of MCI runners and friends. Most had done the directors run the day before and were having an absolute ball, taking turns at pushing, chatting and directing traffic. It was a carnival. I knew them all and they knew what a big day it was for me and got great encouragement.

3 miles in
I came through half way in 1:53 and knew if I kept steady 4hrs should be achievable. It was getting hot now
and the wind was dead. Roving around the course there was Bob in his convertible with Dick Hoyt in the passenger seat. They too seemed to be having a ball giving out Gel's, water, Ice cream and encouragement. There were many aid stations that were well stocked with everything that was needed.

From time to time you came across the 100Kers who were all having their own battle. Jack Healy was there in his pain cave and Brenda after her 106 mile expolits in Belfast last weekend had also done the Directors run yesterday and was on the 100K today. She looked great in her stars and stripes in honour of the American visitors.

And home
Coming into Courtmacsherry for the first 18 mile lap, Lindsay and Libby were sitting on a wall giving great shout outs to everyone. I was nearly past before I realised. Coming into the finish line the music was loud and the atmosphere was great. I turned in 2:35 which was still on course for a sub 4hr with 8 miles left. On the way back on the second loop I knew Lindsay and Libby where there this time and I gave them an ETA and off I went again.

At just over 3 miles out I met with Rick Hoyt and his entourage again at the aid station. At this time I had been caught by Ger Donohoe who as usual was doing his "getting faster as the race goes" and had upped his pace from 9 minute miles to 7:30 and was looking comfortable.  We kept going to the 4.1 mile turn around point. I passed this at the same time as Paulo and I felt for him as he still had some 23 miles of his 100K left and I felt bad turning with only 4 left of my own.

The last 4 miles were steady and I nearly caught one of the Crossgar
Collette and Julie
With Keith Whyte after his sub 4hr 36 miles
lads as I entered Courtmacsherry for the finish. The noise at the finish line was infectious as Rick and his ever growing gang were just leaving for their last 8 miles. I passed them with 50m to go and it was with great relief that I crossed the line in 3:56:05.  I got the biggest hug from Lindsay at the line and Collette (who with a broken foot in a cast had walked the 10K yesterday and today) and Julie.

I was delighted and got the biggest medal.

Shortly in behind was Keith Whyte the Irish 100K record holder who managed the 36 mile Ultra in under 4 hrs. Incredible running.

We had to wait  to the Hoyt's came in and what an entrance with "Eye of Tiger" pounding and whoops and shouts they arrived. It was some homecoming. Then the gang turned around and went out to bring in Ireland equivalent of the Hoyts, The Kerr family. Again it was a great atmosphere.


Dave Brady in his 500th marathon had decided that a marathon was not enough and had joined the 36 mile race. This gave us the opportunity to have an
Lovely award ceremony

awards ceremony while we waited for him. 25's galore, some 50's and 75's were duly given out and presented by Dick Hoyt. Then it was my turn and Valerie gave a lovely introduction and I was presented with my 100 medal from Dick. He was very sweet. I got a chance to say a few words of thanks. It was great. Then to my great surprise Collette produced a collage of some my recent races framed. I was a little overwhelmed and touched.
Dave just finishing 500

The cake was gorgeous.

Soon word came in that the main attraction David Brady was coming and I was very privilidged to see him come
Thankyou Collette
over the line for the 500th time. A lovely presentation was made to David by Dick and we were done. The 100Kers were now starting to come in but it would be many hours before they were all safely home and from all accounts they were all looked after well. To her credit Brenda got her second major second place within a week during an ultra (amazing).

We switched hotels for the night and stayed in Clonakilty where much Guinness was had and tales of glory.

Great Album from Global Click Photography (Click here)
brilliant album Global Click Photography (click here)

Some photos courtesy of Global Click Photography

Polar stats for today

Friday 24 July 2015

North Downs

North Downs Way  Surrey  5:08
Ready for the off

This was approx 45 mins from Basingstoke and the weather forecast was reasonably warm (24 degrees). It was the first running of this race and was being promoted and organised by Hermes running. This was my first event with Hermes.

The start and finish was at Reigate Golf Club and the club had given over its facilities (parking, rooms, bar and showers) for the event. Everything was run perfectly and the course was fantastically marked and marshalled. There were 9 aid stops en-route that were very well stocked with everything you would need.

There was approx 120 in the race and I settled in near the back as I was taking it handy today.

Great high vistas
The first 2 miles were steadily uphill as we quickly joined the North Downs Way. Taking it easy I walked some of the hill. This brought us up to some beautiful vistas over somewhere or other. We were then quickly into undulating tight trail for a few miles before plunging steep steep steep down. I kept thinking, My GOD we have to come back up this later. A couple of miles later we hit some steep steep steep trail steps down. This again was going to be tough coming back.

Stepping stones
 This eventually finished and we crossed a river over some stepping stones. We found ourselves now on the A24 and had to navigate across via an underpass before getting back on the trail.

From now to the turnaround (about 3 miles) was up hill through a vineyard but runnable and I caught a lot at this point. I was quite shocked about how far back in the field I was. I was obviously taking it too easy. The turn around came in 2:35 which meant that a 5 hr run was probably out the window as I knew what I had to go up on the way back.

We retraced our steps and I over took around 10 people on the way back.

The up hills were incredible. The only time I experienced anything similar was on the Vanguard Way marathon which wasn't too far away in Croydon.

The steps took for ever and the really steep steep steep bit was barely climbable.

De-hydration and fatigue were kicking in big time but I did run for all bits that were runnable and was even passing people right up to the last km. I was absolutely delighted to come back in 2:33 for a negative split and 5:08 in total.

The bling was huge and special.

Massive bling

Polar stats for today

Monday 13 July 2015

Marathon Des Escargots

#99 Marathon Des Escargots, Laois  3:51:50

This was a reasonably flat race in the midlands. It was also surprisingly small with only around 60 entrants in the marathon, but also a 10K and Half Marathon on as well. I think the numbers were small as there was two other marathons on in Avondale and also the "stone mad Ultra" in Killkenny.

I travelled from Galway and was there early enough. They had allocated me no 98 even though this was 99 with my run on Thursday. At the start line I met with Crusader Bob Cahill who had recently won the Tullroan spring marathon and was looking in great sub-3 shape. There were also quite a few who had run the directors run the day before in what was warm conditions.

Bob Cahill while leading
After a quick race briefing we were off and I noticed that after about 800m that I had failed to start my stopwatch. This was to bug me all day as I never really knew where I was all day and had to guesstimate off the 5K markers on the course. I also noticed on the line a "Winchester and district" vest. This had to be Ian Berry who is the membership sec of the 100 marathon club in the UK and I knew was a well sub 3 runner. Bob was going to have competition.

The first 10K was relatively straight forward but seemed into a blustery wind most of the time. I came through in 53 minutes (relative to my watch offset) which was slightly off recent runs. It was a quite complex tadpole shaped course with a 3K tail followed by 2 long loops (head). There was plenty of bottled water on the course and it was well marshalled. The course was however open to traffic and there were some sections on quite busy roads (I never feel 100% safe on these types of routes). Some of the more back roads were also quite pot holled and you had to just watch your running line. I was doing reasonably well at half way coming through in 1:49 which surprised me, but the legs got heavy in the second half and I could feel myself slow (not surprisingly really).  I had been following Dipak for quite a while (He had run the directors run the day before), but he slowly pulled away from me. Around 16 miles Ger Donohoe came passed. He had a quick chat to me about his plans for the year which includes a sub 3:15 attempt in Frankfurt. Good luck to him. Both Dipak and Ger came in well sub 3:40.

We hit the half marathon after around 32K and had plenty of company from that point on and as I had joined the back of the half marathon was able to pick off lots of people in that event. That kept me focused.

The race from this point was pretty uneventful (and mostly with the wind now) and I didn't really know my time (but assumed it was sub 4 hr pace). It was only when I turned into the final chute that I saw 3:51 on the clock and came over the line in 3:51:50 a full 43 secs faster than Thursday (be it a much easier course).

Winners enclosure
Bob was there at the finish line and had managed a PB of 2:55:01 but had been beaten by Ian Berry and a runner from Armagh. Well done to him. We both got nice T-Shirts and beautiful medals for our efforts.

There was lots of cake and Tea at the end and it was a nice small country marathon.

Now attention turns to my 100th run in Courtmacsherry on the 25th and there is lots of  things to do in preparation for that.

Polar stats for today

Thursday 9 July 2015

Avondale Forest

Avondale Forest 3:52:29

Avondale House
This was an insurance run in case any of my previous runs are not counted in the various different marathon clubs for some reason. As it turns out this one may not count itself  due to lack of finishers (tbc).

This was day 1 of the Wicklow four day festival of running based in Avondale forest in Rathdum. It was run over the same course as the MCI event in April. I was a very late entrant only deciding at 10pm the night before to do it. It was an 8am start so it was early and I was up and in Avondale for 7:10am. Traffic was nowhere near as bad as I had anticipated.

There seemed to be a fair crowd with some early starters and some only doing a 5 mile or a 10 mile race. Registration was easy and by 8am we were ready to run. It was a slightly different start and finish point to the MCI race and we had to walk quite a distance to get to the start line.

Main Start

Main Group
But at 8am we were off and went in formation for a 1 mile 385yard mini lap before hitting the main 5 mile loop. During this lap Denzil headed off followed by a few including Mark Conlon and me. It was a decent clip at 7:45 pace for the first couple of miles but as we hit the first hill I couldn't keep the pace and dropped back.  I quickly lost sight of the leading 3 in the forest. As we came through the lap half way point I was with Dinny on our own as we entered into the second half of the lap. Almost immediately we came to a junction with
With Dinny
options to go straight or left. My gut said left but straight seemed right. We went straight. I knew from the MCI race that both ways are on the same sub loop so it didn't seem to matter. However after about 1/4
mile a car came up behind us telling us that the marshals were not set up and in fact we had gone the wrong way. So we had to turn and run back the 1/4 mile to the junction and join the race again. At this stage another 6 had slipped passed us. I'm sure this cost 3 to 4 minutes. On the right route now we passed Denzil, Mark and the no 3 guy going the wrong way which is what we should have done and they found their way back on track with exactly the same distance.  Not a great start.

We came through 10k in 53 minutes and I knew that if I did even 45
Coming through Lap 3
minute 5 mile laps,  a sub 4 hr was on. But this was not a given as each 5 mile loop had approx 325ft of climb and the whole thing turned out to be similar to Howth. I pulled away from Dinny and came through the 2nd lap in exactly 45 minutes and felt good. The next lap similarly was 44 minutes and I met Dinny coming the wrong way at me at a junction. A quick adjustment and he was back in track.
Through the finish

The rest of the race was pretty uneventful with lap 4 being 46 minutes and a big effort on lap 5 for another 45 minutes. This brought me home in 3:52.

Denzil came 2nd in a 3:27 and Mark did a 20 sec PB (Amazing really given the course) for a 3:35 but had a slight calf strain at the end. I had managed to catch a few that had slipped past me and ended up 7th over all. It is to be confirmed but I think there was 25 finishers which if it is the case will count for all counts. Any less and it will only count for some lists and certainly counts for MCI.

Still it now gives me an option to do or not do the big trail marathon the UK next weekend and still be good for the big one in Courtmacsherry on the 25th.

Photos courtesy of the event and Vincent Doran and Carol Madden

Polar stats for today