I dislike Howth but it was the only option for the EOI running festival as the Clontarf course is out of action due to drainage works. So against my better judgement I did it.
This is part of an extraordinary event where there are any combinations of 10 in 5, 5 in 5, single day marathons and 5 in 5 Ultras, plus half's and 10K's all on the 6.5 mile Howth loop. In the morning, at 6 am, it is anti clockwise around the island with 4 very long drags up to the summit. In the afternoon, at 2 pm, it is clockwise around the island with 4 shorter (1 mile) steep unrunnable ascents to the summit.
I took on day 1. A 6am start on the anticlockwise route with 31 others in the marathon with 5
others taking on the Ultra which is approx 50K.
After a short race briefing at 5:50am we started from the Abbey Tavern. As we were too early for the toilets to be open I was forced into an immediate pit stop at the first opportunity. This put me plum last leaving Howth village.
|Fully stocked aid station and Marshall's|
The weather was very blustery, overcast and warm though it did get sunny later in the race. There was one very well stocked aid station outside of the Abbey Tavern.
Most of the 10 in 10ers and 5 in 5ers were taking it very handy as it was a long week. Ger Copeland had other ideas and was taking every advantage and was stamping his authority by blitzing the course. As I write this he as easily won the first 3 marathons all sub 3:40.
Similarly in the ~50K ultra which included a 4.5 mile out and back section at the end of the marathon, our
Ironman Champion Rolando Espana had little trouble winning the Ultra in an impressive 4:29. After his 5 Ultras this week he caps it off with a 70.3 Ironman in Dublin on Sunday. Phew!
|Ger: Champ in waiting|
The hill was endless, starting just past the church in Sutton and climbing up past the graveyard. Every crest was followed by a section to get your breath and then it was up again and again. Eventually it peaked beside the "The Summit" sign opposite the Summit pub. Then started the quad bashing steep descent into Howth village where you were joined by traffic from the church on. It took about 11 minutes to reach the village on the down hill. The village got progressively busier as the day went on.
At the top of the hill first time round Gary O'Daly came along side me. Unfortunately a persistent leg injury had flared up only 2 miles in and he was distraught about having to abandon his 5 in 5 attempt that was the focus of his year. He wasn't even able to run down the hill. He retired after the first loop. Its amazing what some pain killers will do as he was back on the start line in the afternoon and finished the day and is still in the race.
I ran the first few laps with Eric Hewston who was looking very slim and was in the 5 in 5. We were running at a very even pace but at conversational level (except for when we hit the hill). We lost each other a few times but were still together at the bottom of the hill 4th time round. Eric went on to run a 4:18 taking it easy on the hill on the last lap. We dutifully followed one of our Italian visitors all day who finished in 4:13 just ahead of us.
- Lap 1: 1:03
- Lap 2: 1:04
- Lap 3: 1:04
- Lap 4 1:04
I managed to run the whole way including up the hill the forth time. In the 5 times I have done this course this was the third fastest but well off my CB of 3:50.
Everyone including those in the 10 in 5 seemed to have a good first run with everyone easily coming under the 6 hr cuttoff with most comfortable under 5 hrs (except Gary of course).
4:15 was acceptable on this course without killing myself but it still rates as one of the most difficult road courses in the country and remains my least favourite. I returned in the afternoon to help out for the afternoon race.
At the finish there was the most delicious cheese and garlic pasta for everyone in the Tavern and that kept everyone refuelled for the second half of the day.
Polar stats for today