Friday 30 December 2016


#171 Portumna Forest Marathon 4:16


This is the traditional MCI event in Portumna Forest Park organised by Ray O'Connor. I choose this event as I really don't like Howth and that was the only other option that was on today. MCI do good events and at €20 its great value. The forest is also one of my favorite routes and I have run it many times over the years.

Wooded Section
I picked Kris up at 6am and an uneventful trip across the country got us to the park just before dawn at 8am. The early start had been delayed by 15 mins to give dawn a chance and about 50 of them headed off. I have to say that the toilet block with no lights was an adventure. We set up our own aid station on the provided tables on the route and chatted to loads before the briefing that started around 9am. After a very emotional speech by Ray, we walked the 400m to the start.

With Larry Rigney
Today we were on the short course (I presume because of works at the Marina) which meant 16 loops (no out and back section). With 50 already on the course it was busy enough. You had to keep track of your own laps which always worries me with many allegations of cheating in various races during the year made this very easy to do today (so I had my eagle eyes on, Im glad to say nothing to report). But it wasn't that hard to keep count and the Garmin was pretty accurate to 26.2 despite the trees. At 9:15 we were off.  16 laps at 15 minutes each was 4hrs and that was the pace that I went off at. There were all kinds of abilities today from international athletes and national champions to power walkers. Its a very inclusive gathering.

Mirko, Ger and Adolfo in the background
The lap could be broken down into a number of sections. From the aid station you went through a heavily wooded area to the low point of the course. Still staying in the trees you climbed up through a pretty section before the trail opened out into a wide hard gravel section. This led to a hard left turn still on wide gravel back to the start finish straight and 400m on tarmac. The aid station was well stocked with water, coke and sweets.

I quickly found my place in the race and started ticking off the laps at around 14-16 minutes spending time chatting to those I caught or caught me. Recently I have been in bad form so anything under 4:30 was what was expected.  Running particularly well today was Donna and her new beau (much faster than recent years).  It was great to see Ger Donohoe back after injury and he put a brave Sub 4 run in despite not thinking he would last 2 laps.
A blur of colour

I spent some time with Catherine Gutherie talking about Energia 24hr and her awesome achievement of a national medal and more of the same to come in 2017, and how she is not on the national team I will never know. I came through half way in 2:03 which was OK given my goal.

Unusual pacing strategy by Donna
I really concentrated in the second half and had long since lost Kris. I was expecting her to lap me at anytime after half way and I was delighted to get to lap 13 before she swished past in a blur of colour. Still concentrating I caught Adolfo and knew that he never gives up and if I stayed in front of him it would be a good effort. Mirko who had been in and around me all year also swept past with 3 laps to go. I would go on to nearly catch him but he took the honors today. I ran the whole way which pleased me and managed to cross the line in 4:16 (results to be confirmed).

I was looking forward to the soup that had been cooking but the early starters and faster runners had gobbled it all so I had to do with a coffee. Never mind. It was a lovely day.

That completed 52 in a calendar year which I am very proud of.

Photos by Stephen Mooney and Mark Mockett

Results for today.

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