Tuesday 31 October 2017


#212 Dublin 4:39:47

This was my 13th running of the Dublin Marathon and my slowest. This year it was on a Sunday again and they had opened the entry upto 20000, making it one of the top 4 biggest marathons in Europe. Sunday is good and they handled the extra crowds with no issue.

Organisation was flawless and the weather was perfect and probably the best conditions that I have actually run this event.

Mile 25
It was a long weekend that started on Friday with the Crusaders "Pot Luck" dinner at Coach Cottles house. A very relaxed affair with loads of carbs. I had to leave early to get to the airport to pickup my guest for the weekend Costas. Saturday started with a parkrun in Cabinteely where I was Lantern Rouge and was last over the line in a sprightly 46 minutes (given that I was tail walker). It was Orla, Neil and Kate's 50th parkrun and there was cake.

Walking from the city centre, the afternoon was at the expo. It was good as always and an interesting goodie bag accompanied my number. There were loads of people I knew at the expo. A dart back home was curtailed by engineering works at Connolly and a further walk home was not in the plan. That was too much walking the day before a big event. A good nights sleep and an extra hour in bed had me at the bus stop at 7am. You would think I would know by now that buses dont go that early on a Sunday and after a 20 min wait it was into the car and park in the normal spot beside the Pepper Canister church.

For the first time I made it to Bob Manson's office to leave my stuff off. This was very generous and great to see my club-mates before the start. But in future I think I will use the baggage collection area as I love the atmosphere here particularly afterwards (so much human debris) and it is a bit out of the way when picking up the gear afterwards. But it was good to get in the club photo for the first time.
Great Cru support

A quick walk had me at the start line early and I had decided to have a strategy of starting at the back of the wave, try for a good start and stay ahead of Olwyn's 4hr pacer group as long as I could. On time we were off in perfect conditions with even the sun coming out to help us on our way. 27 mins got me through 5K and I had a forced toilet stop soon after. The wind was into the face for the first 10K and I always feel this is the toughest part of the course. I still managed through 10K in 57 mins (right on 4hr pace). I kept pushing for the first half except the up hill after the underpass at Kilmainham (I now regret that). The toilet stop meant that I just missed the 2hr half and at 2:03 it was still my best half marathon since Limerick in April. The pace groups slowly began to reel me in. I had started just with the 3:40 guys and by half way the 3:50 just came through with Rolando leading the charge (apparently the were 6 seconds up at half way).

I then slowed down immediately and the second half was a true walk/run suffer-fest pretty much all the way. I went through a very bad patch around 15 miles and recovered but at that stage it was pretty slow going.  Eventually just past Terrenure Olwyn , Joe and Don came past. At that stage I pretty much gave up. It was 19 miles in and I decided to just take it easy and enjoy the last 10K odd.

I love the new finish from Nutely Lane through to Merrion Square. I think this should be kept as the atmosphere is just super. Unfortunately I was too slow today for the Cru corner as they disperse as soon as the 4hr pacers come through, but never the less it was a great atmosphere for the last few K.

Support as always was amazing. It was absolutely relentless and up there with New York and London. I was absolutely delighted to come in under 4:40. My knee survived and I now hope that injury is gone. Nice goodie bag and T-Shirt and wonderful medal were the prize today.

Lots of festivities in O'Donohoes, Foleys, The Gingerman and the Bankers was great after with loads of people staying. I think I saw everyone. That night I went to the club dinner at the HQ which was a lovely finish to the day.

Special congrats to my O50 Cru team for national silver and Leinster and Dublin Gold. I would have had to go sun 3:22 to be a scorer this year. What strength in depth we now have.

If you have never done Dublin. Do it!!!

Photos; Paul Kelly and Maurice Frazer

Stats for the day:

Monday 23 October 2017


Eeyore's Expedition

I was back at 100 Aker Wood for the annual running Winnie the Pooh b2b marathon series. This year it was Eeyore and Piglet were the themes for the runs.

Collette and Kris had traveled over and Brenda also came along with us for a strong Irish contingent. Philip and Elma traveled separately for Philips first Winnie. He later admitted it was the toughest marathon that he had ever done.

The event was a 6hr timed challenge around the fiendishly difficult 100 Aker Wood course. This has several hills that are completely unrunnable on the 5.25 mile loop. Fortunately this year the weather was good. The course generates close to 3000ft of climb for marathon distance.

The Irish
I only managed baby Ultra distance on day 1. As I had mis-calculated the flights on day 2  I had to stop short at half marathon to do an airport run.

On Day 1 at 9:30 we were off. I was in full fancy dress with Eeyore headdress and new Ultra Marathon Grey T. Kris headed off into the distance and similar to last year managed 7 laps for her 3rd out 3 wins on this course. She also was 2nd overall from over 150 starters. On day 2 she also did Ultra but was beaten by a lovely woman into 2nd place. She will have to content herself with 3 wins and a second.

It was a brutal course with the first mile being steep steep steep downhill. For me with my dodgy knees it wasn't runnable, and I am a crap downhill runner anyway. Mile 2 was back to the picnic aid station and was steep steep steep uphill. These first 2 miles took approx 25-30 mins on average. This was pretty much the same as the second 3.25 miles which though not as steep seemed to be endlessly uphill. The second half was a larger loop with drags more than climbs and it was always a welcome site to come back to finish the loop at the picnic aid station.

The Eeyore headdress lasted one lap before I was melting and had to dis-guard it. There was sweat coming out everywhere.

I wasn't feeling great today and knowing I had tomorrow to run as well I took it relatively easy making sure however that I was well within the cut-off for the marathon and always had an intention to go out for a 6th Ultra lap. I finished marathon in 5:40 with 20 mins to spare and headed out for the final lap and coasted in for Ultra #54. It was a tough tough marathon.

Philip, Brenda and Collette stayed together all day and did a solid run to finish. Brenda in particular is on her count down to 300 and needed today and tomorrows runs to make her goal of pre-Christmas.

This is one of the toughest courses you will come across and there were lots of brave efforts out there particularly with about half the field running day 2 as well. Philip Rand had hit 299th and 300th over the weekend which was great to witness.

As Day 2 for me was only a half marathon it doesn't deserve a report.

Stats for today:

Tuesday 10 October 2017

Galway Bay

Galway Bay 4:48:40

I'm ambivalent to this marathon. Its very very busy (too busy for me) but is on one of my favourite training routes. I have done it a few times before and even own a 3:42 time, but I am nowhere near that at the moment.

I picked up my number around 8pm on Friday but they already had run out of T-Shirts in my size
(despite me putting the size on the registration). I hate that. One very helpful person at registration told me to email the organisers and they would send me one. On Sat morning they had run out of all male T-Shirts and they were told the same. I have emailed so will wait and see.

This is a big event with >4000 expected across all events. Around 400 were expected in the marathon though there were only 309 finishers.

Sat morning was a lovely morning and the rain overnight had blown through. Wind was calm which is always the killer on this course. I decided to walk the 1 mile to the start but Humphrey and Theresa came past and gave me a lift. We were there very early and there was a nice buzz around.

For the fist time ever I have seen there were cross country skiers who went off 15 mins before the marathon start. They were fast and in well before everyone else. I believe they were the Irish team that are trying for the winter olympics.

Paula and John on short lap
At 8:30 we were off (no race briefing today) and Kevin English disappeared into the distance to easily win. The course was simple: 2 laps of South Park followed by 4 long laps of Salthill. The long lap headed on the closed road to Salthill (except for the couple of English reg cars parked where they should not have been it was fine), and all the way past Leisure Land to the end of the prom. Up the drag past the golf club right to the end of Knocknacara right up to the Barna Rd turn off. Round a few cones and back towards Salthill. A right turn past the caravan park brought us onto the coast and the new path (laid since the bad storm of the winter of 2015), past the golf club and onto the prom. We followed  the prom in a coned off area (with a slight detour around a statue) brought us back to South Park and the start finish area.

There were numerous races that started at various times and the course always felt very full. Unlike the past I had a clear run not getting caught up in any of the other races and I had a great time chatting and walking and running.

I started off OK and for the first half kept it under 10 minute miles. I felt comfortable but pushing a little. 10K was under an hour and half marathon was 2:07. This was as good as I have been recently. Then a rookie mistake killed me. I decided to run in Asics instead of my normal Hokas. Just after 13 miles my heel started hurting as if it was PF. By the time I finished the loop I was in agony and was struggling to walk. Lap 3 was very very painful and I was seriously considering DNFing (I really wasn't). I was maybe 20 minutes down on this loop and there was lots of walking. Time just frittered away. Things seemed to ease on the last lap and when Derek and Patrick came past me on the drag to the golf club (4K into the 4th large loop) I decided I had to push the last 6K. The pain subsided and I managed maybe 8 minutes improvement in the last 10K with a 9:30 last mile.

I came home in 4:48 for a 2:41 second half. Given I walked for at least 5 miles of it and hobbled probably the same it was OK. HOKA's from now on I think.

In the finishers tent there was some soup and a few give always. I had great memories of a great race in the past and I couldn't help think however it wasn't quite as well resourced as before and was left feeling a little disappointed (probably to do with T-shirt gate). However it still is a super event and in fairness probably the easiest conditions you could get. Cole got his 100 medal and Derek his 200 cert and I headed for home (thanks to Humphrey and Theresa again).

Photos:  Athenry AC and Run Galway Bay

Stats for today.

Wednesday 4 October 2017

ARBTD (cyclopark)

Another Run Bites The Dust

The Cyclopark in Hilington, Hayes in West London was hired out for the day for our exclusive use. It was organised by Running Miles of the Dorney Lakes runs (Neal Skeltons cousins) and it was the same setup. I like it, its simple, easy and efficient.

This was day 1 of 3 and a music themed event as Hayes is the home of Vinyl records. Traffic was pretty bad getting there but even still it was only 50 mins from the house and I got there very early. Number picked up and cup of tea in hand there were quite a few who were at SVN the day before and a few more doing 4 or 5 days in a row.

A quick briefing at 9:20 and we were off. The track was relatively flat though final elevation stats showed >1225ft climb. We basically followed the twists of the track from one end to the other turned around and retraced our steps to the finish. All in all it was a 1.88 mile loop and a novel way using Velcro to count the laps.

Everything worked like clockwork and round and round we went. I decided to go out relatively fast and came through half marathon in 2:10. Given the tough day the day before I eased back at this stage and started to walk the hills. They were short but frequent and kept churning out the laps. I was well under 5 hrs when I came to marathon and started to notice a few others going out in Ultra. I had every intention of going Ultra today and went out for 2 extra laps.

Mighty Steve Edwards
There were a few fasties there like Steve Edwards but I heard them saying course was long and they were a few minutes off. I found my Garmin to be very accurate and came in for 30 miles. Nick Nicholson as he is want to do went for 3 extra laps for a 50K+ to keep his world record attempt on track. Nick was the only one to go further than me today.

After I finished I picked up the very nice medal and goodie bag and headed off to the airport straight away. I like Running Miles events.

Photos Courtesy of Philip Rand

Stats for today

Battle oF Britain

Battle Of Britain  5:57:15


This was an SVN event held in Samphire Hoe but on a new route. The weather forecast was awful and it required a route change as the original route was a little too close to the cliff edge to be safe.

A very early start got me the 2hr drive to Samphire Hoe by 8am in plenty of time. The usual registration process where I picked up my "50 Mega Marathon Ultra" medal and I was all set. At 8:20 Traviss had his usual race briefing which introduced us to the course. It was due to be a monster and with weather a double monster.

As it turned out my Garmin had it at 3800ft of climb and I felt every foot of it. We started off at the normal spot and had the small uphill to contend with before a slight downhill to the first wooden bridge. Then a steady short climb to the highest point in the Samphire Hoe reserve before sweeping down to sea level past a couple of lakes and a second bridge. Now back on the usual course we headed along the train tracks and up the "insult" of a hill back to the car park. We then left the Samphire Hoe park by climbing up the full length of the access tunnel. Turning left we went onto cycle path 2 and continued to climb for another 2 miles. It did flatten out at places but generally was uphill. Eventually we hit a kissing gate and got close to the cliff edge as we undulated to the turn point. It was then retracing our steps back to the start finish line on a 2 mile downhill.

It truly was a monster lap and my first lap at 6.55 miles took 1hr 25. It was tough tough tough. I decided early that an Ultra wasnt on and as I was planning to run the next day I would take it relatively handy.

Lap 2 was in another 1hr 25 bringing me through half way in 2hrs 50. I felt a lot of people stopped short today but as the results showed not so many and there were actually quite a few were spurred on to do Ultra which was pretty impressive as initially the cut off for being out on your last lap was 5hrs. This was relaxed later in the day to 5hrs 30 and quite a few took advantage.

The weather was truely awful with wind straight in the face for lots and very gusty. For times a low sea mist descended which blocked any views and soaked everyone. On each lap we were glad to reach the turn around point to get rest-bite from the relentless up hill and the wind.

Lap 3 was approx 1hr 30 as was Lap 4 which brought me in just under 6 hrs for a very hard fought marathon and I could have done Ultra if I had of known the cut-off was 5hrs 30 earlier but we live and learn.

A very nice medal as always and the awesome goodie bag had me in great form for the 2hr drive back to the house.

Stats for today


Listowel Endurance 6hr   (30 miles)

This was part of an endurance festival with a 24hr option , 12 hr option, 6 hr option and an unusual 3 x 7K accumulator.  All the races were times so they finished at 6pm on Sat evening. Since I chose the 6hr option this meant a 12 noon start on Saturday.

Kris accompanied me and since we had the late start we decided to travel down on the morning and an early start around 7am got us on the road. Some research had shown that we would be passing through Newcastle West just around the time their park run would start so we decided to stop off for that. It was a small run in a 3 lap course round a very pretty park in Castle Domain.  Kris headed off like a bat possessed and came 3rd overall and 1st lady. I struggled with sore calf and despite a good first mile struggled to a 25:59 and 6th overall. Still it was very friendly and welcoming. 30 minutes up the road we were parked up and walking towards the registration.

The 24hr and 12 hr guys were on the course already (about 65 of them) with the lead guy soon to go through 100 miles. Jill and Teresa were doing their 100th marathons and would go on to come 1st and 3rd in the 24hr race. I knew pretty much everyone else on the course.

A quick registration and we had an hour to kill before noon. We setup in the Muck Hoggs aid tent with Carmel and used the facilities in the local community hall. I have to say that organisation was faultless with the one aid station fully stocked with everything and tons of water and electrolyte. I was also glad to see an ambulance and crew permanently on the course and even walking it in reverse at times. I felt very safe and looked after.

A quick chat to everyone including Niall who was down crewing for Anto (who went on to do 100 miles). It was great to see Collette doing her 499th marathon and getting close to 90 miles in the 24hr event and the rock steady Paddy Quinn got another 100 miler done.

We started in a very modest field at 12 on the button and headed of on the 1200m loop. It could be split into 3 fairly even sections. Firstly was the flat section through the aid station and past the aid tents and toilets. This was run by most pretty much every time. This soon gave way to the hill which was 400m long and walked by most, most of the time. Everyone seemed to have the spots that they ran to on the hill. They a little run then another walk. The elevation was surprising with the hill adding up to 2200ft of climb over a marathon distance. At the top of the hill it was then an easy free wheeling 400m back to the timing canopy.

I liked this loop. Of course as soon as you started you had not a rashers where you were in the field. You could check your distance as you came through and I only did this once to confirm that I was through marathon distance. One thing I did notice was that Garmin was well off as when I came through marathon it said 25 miles. I suspect that this was because there was lots of tree cover (Maybe 500m of the 1200m lap).

Everything for me was nice and steady all the way through. As it turned out I started out slow and was in 12 spot for most of the race however in the last 6 or 7 miles I made my back through the field to 6th spot overall. You had to do a marathon for it to count and I suspect a few fell short. With a big field in the 3x 7K cumulative that started at 3pm the course seemed really busy but very few dog walkers and very few casual park users.

Well all in all it was a very enjoyable run and I stopped to have the chats often with pretty much everyone.

Prize giving was straight after the race and as well as Jill and Teresa doing well, Paddy Quinn also got third in the 24hr. In the 6hr race Kris had done well coming 2nd overall and 2nd lady having overtaken the 3rd place girl in the closing seconds as she inexplicably stopped 20 secs before the end. In the mens race I got the shock of my life when the Galway Cow was announced in 3rd spot. I though to myself I thought I was in front of him. Sure enough I was announced as 2nd male home and I was delighted to pick up the very nice trophy.

We stayed in Ballybunion for the night before heading back to Dublin the next morning. All in all a fantastic event.

Stats for the day