Monday, 28 March 2016

Vartry 50 Mile

RAW-Vartry    50 mile    8:37:08

Beautiful Vartry Lakes
This was part of the RAW running challenge around the very scenic, very hilly 10 mile loop in and around Vartry lakes just outside Roundwood in Wicklow. It included a 100 mile, 50 mile, 50K and Marathon all with staggered start times between 6pm on Good Friday until the course closed 30 hours later at Midnight on Sat Night/Sun morning.

Registration
Finish area
Last year I did the 50K and loved it and was somewhat a little redemption for a poor showing at Donadea earlier in the year. Kris as well was taking on the 100 mile challenge which would make the whole weekend interesting.

My race was due to start at 6am on Saturday morning, but to get in the mood I turned up the night before to see the 100 milers off on their challenge. It was cold at the start but otherwise dry and they all got off without incident. In the field was Irish 100K record holder Keith White who was the red hot favourite since a fast Italian had dropped to the 50 mile race. In the womens race there were 6 running including Kris, Finn, Michelle and Gillian Barnhill as a surprise entrant. I couldnt call that one. I went home to bed.
Don the race director

Kris winner
I was back at 4:30am to register and get ready. I was pleased to
see that Kris was through half way in 9:15 and just in the lead. She came round at 60 miles and in great bouncy form and had slightly increased her lead. I had no further worries about her. She would go on to win from Finn by 30 minutes with both putting in massive PB performances and finishing in the top 10 overall.

Keith Red Hot Favourite
The rain and wind set in around 9pm on Good Friday night and was with us virtually the whole time making for horrendous running conditions.

There were around 30 entered in the 50 mile race with some going off the night before with the 100 milers and some 50Kers joining us. We were cold and saturated from the get go.

I had a plan to run hard for the first half marathon and see where that left me and how I felt. The weather really had put paid to anyone's expectations of anything. I knew the route well as had recce'd it several times over the previous weeks.

At 49.9 miles
I quickly found myself in around 7th position and finished the first loop in 1:28:50, this was the fastest that I had ever done this loop and knew that I was too fast but the plan was to run the first half marathon hard.

At the start of the 2nd loop I passed Kris leaving the aid station. She was running so smoothly we decided to leave each other alone and off I went.

Coming Thru finish
At around the half marathon Liam Costello pulled along side me and we ran together for a few miles. The half marathon split was 1:58 which was way too fast.  Around 16 miles Liam peeled off for a comfort break and I ploughed on with some mis-conceived idea that I could break 4 hrs for a marathon. The second lap was 1:28:20 which was ridiculous and I headed out on the third lap over taking Karina who had a long aid station stop. I knew that my training had me comfortable enough for 50K, but I even shocked myself when I came through marathon in 3:55. I slowed a bit and walked a hill and Liam caught me and headed off into the distance. He would take 1 hr out of me in the final 24 miles.

I still had the 50K sub 5hr target and kept a steady but somewhat slowed pace through the end of the third lap. It was a 1:37 which was mostly down to the first 6 miles which were pretty OK. One last push at the start of the fourth lap saw me come through 50K in 4:49 which was faster than the 50K last year. I was well pleased with myself and everything else was now a bonus.

Nutrition wasnt a problem and 3 Gels and some Coke saw me through the whole thing. No issues.

Cru at the finish
I of course at this stage started to suffer and ended up hiking all the hills from here in but kept running the flat and the downhill. After 33 miles Karina caught me and headed off. She would end up winning the women's race in a brilliant time. The last lap had slowed to 1:57 which didn't surprise me but I struggled on through the 5th lap of just over 2 hrs for a very respectable 8:37. The last lap hurt a lot. I however had maintained my position and finished 8th overall and most definitely age group winner.

When I turned into the finish area for the last time I got a huge cheer from Cru supporters and was delighted to get over the line and receive my medal and T.

I survived with little of no problems and was able to go out for a nice but rather stiff and painful recovery run the next day.

Brilliant event. Loved it.

Some photos courtesy of Tom Mooney.

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