Friday 28 December 2018

Dawn to Dusk

Dawn to Dusk Ultra  7:18:00

I was really looking forward to this one for some reason. It was run by Sikhs in the City and was held on a 1.25 mile circuit in North East London. I don't know why but I was looking forward to it.

It did not disappoint as I had a super day.

I picked up Brenda and it was quite a drive (about 1hr 45) to get to the venue. We were there in plenty of time and could only find parking about 1km away from the start.

We brought all of our stuff with us and registered. It was the soft velcro around the ankle timing chips and once registered we hung around to the start. It was freezing.

There was a fairly big crowd and more would join throughout the day including a separate 10k race on the same circuit a couple of hours after us. It was a min of 50K for an ultra finish today. That was 25 laps. It was also significant elevation at 1600ft for the 50K. Special today was Martin Bush who had just completed his 1000th marathon.

107 years old
Leaving the start finish area about 200m of flat brought us to the start of "the" hill.  I had decided early that I was going to walk all the hills. This hill went up for around 800m to the 1km or half way mark. Parts of it were steep and it was fairly twisty but some people decided to try and run it all day.  I was not one of those. It was through a predominantly residential area and the path was footpath or road. At the 1km mark there was another timing mat to stop people cutting corners.

After the half way mark after about 200m of flat we turned left and it was a gentle downhill all the way back to the start area where our times and lap count was taken again. It was a very straight forward quite boring course but it was very urban.

At the 2km mark at the timing mat, there was a massive TV that immediately showed your name and how many laps you had done. I have to say it was one of the best timing setups I have come across.

The aid station was at this point and it had everything you would need and all day there was Indian food being prepared and doled out. It really was great and it was a great atmosphere. There was also no pressure on time as we had from 8:03 in the morning to be on our last lap by 3:53pm which was approx 8 hrs.

I didnt see Brenda all day until the 47K mark when she caught me up.  I was glad she had gone out and did ultra rather than stand around and get cold. She managed to take 7 minutes out of me in the last 3K (speedy!!!).

I came through marathon in around 5:50 and an extra 4 laps saw me in for 50K in 7:18:00.

It was not a very taxing day and I really loved it. A long sleeved top, a nice medal and a full Indian take away including curry, Nan bread, bhagi's and Somas as well as a small goodie bag were icing on the cake.

We also had the pleasure of the oldest marathon runner in the world make an appearance at 107 years old. He holds the word record for 100+ which he did in 2011. Amazing really.

Stats for today.

Winter Connemarathon

Winter Connemarathon   6:06:40

Given that I have done a 3:42 on this course in the past it shows the depth of the slump I am in when I was only eyeing up 6hrs today.

But it was a big day for me as this would be my 100th ROI marathon and together with my 116 in England meant that I would join a very exclusive band of runners by running 100 marathons in multiple countries.

In fact the calibre of the incumbents reaching this milestone is that they have done on average 1000 (one thousand) marathons each.

Today's event was on the classic Connemarathon course. A course that was the scene of my first ROI half marathon back in 2004 and this would be my 15th time over the course. It was being run by MCI with Ray O'Connor as the RD. Back in his rightful lace if you ask me. timing was by team Gutherie.

A bus picked us up from the Galway Bay hotel in Salthill and brought us to Connemara. We picked up some more of the gang at Peacocks and we were deposited at the start line. It was chilly but for Connemara real nice.

After a very emotional race brief by Ray and Vincent we were off. There was a full bus load running today.

Video of the start and speeches

The weather was as good as I have seen in Connemara and the first 6 miles were the nice flat bit along lough Inagh. I wasn't really feeling it and quickly hooked up with Isabella from GCH and a Scottish lady (I've totally forgotten her name) from Mayo. We walked and ran our way chatting up hill and down dale making good progress to Linnane. It was very enjoyable if slow.

At Linnane, Collette and Eimear caught us up but stopped off for coffee and we were back to our little gang again. The weather was still great. At mile 19 Colette and Eimear came past again and I fell off the back. I was really struggling. David Brady soon caught me and headed off into the distance.

It seemed a long day as I covered the familiar route through Maam and hit the hell of the west. I was walking at this stage but knew I was going to finish in and around 6hrs. In fact at the top of the hill looking back I could see Humphrey catching me and this gave me a spurt and I ran most of the last 2 miles to finish.

I was glad to get there and got my medal and a chat with Ray, Catherine and Vincent before heading to Peacocks for a sandwich and soup (Humphrey was a brilliant negotiator to get us a chicken sandwich).  The bus left us back to the hotel in Salthill.
A quick return home for a bath and it was back to Salthill for the MCI Christmas dinner. A lovely
evening was had.
100 marathon in Multiple countries

Irony was that one of my best ultra runs was on this course in terrible conditions and was pretty much in the same time as my marathon run today and that was 39.3 miles.The  New year will be different

There were very few photos from today.

Stats for today

Winter is coming

Winter is Coming Ultra   6:41:24

This was a Saturn  Running event that was in Runnymead just under the M25 along the banks of Thames. I had run this route before but then it was roasting today it was gloves and coat weather but still pretty good conditions.

I also liked this course as it easily could be broken down into manageable chunks.

I picked up Brenda enroute and got there early. This one is fairly convenient and we got there in no time despite taking a wrong turn just off the motorway. Parking is still steep at £6 for the day but Saturn do give a £3 refund. facilities are great with a couple of toilets at the car park and at registration.

Registration was easy and quickly we were all at the start line ready to go. I was determined to go ultra today which would be my 84th ultra. After a quick briefing we were off at 8:30 for the early start. I knew the route well and a couple of locks, the hotel a few forest sections and the motorway as well as a couple of bridges all in 1.6 miles broke up the race.

I went off steady but not too fast and ran the first couple of laps with Olga (aka Rat girl) who while based at Oxford was finishing her PHD in statistics. You never really know who you meet at these events. I stayed in and around Olga all day as she went on to finish her own 50k run.  She has done a lot this year.

Outside of that I was pretty much on my own. I came through half marathon in a slow 2:38 and did quite a bit of walking in the second half. I was never really in too much trouble today and kept plodding it out. Most people today stopped at Marathon as usual but a few did go on to do an extra lap or finish with a 50K.

I came through marathon in 5:40 and immediately decided to go back out again. Brenda was behind me so there would not be too much waiting around.

When through lap no 9 I stopped though I did have time to go out for the 50K I declined it.

A lovely "game of thrones" medal and a goodie bag were received as well as one of the sausage rolls and we were off home.

Photos: Saturn running

Stats for today

Monday 24 December 2018


Remembrance marathon


This was one the Phoenix running flag ship events in Walton upon Thames. It was by far the biggest event that Phoenix had put on and nearly 400 of us took to the marathon course over the 10.5km loop in Walton.

To make things a little special this was also the 100th anniversary of armistice day. As is normal now on these events the medal is kept secret and only unveiled during the race.

We were lucky with the weather and though the course was puddly underfoot the bad weather stayed away. Never the less it made for a very muddy affair with lots of puddle jumping.

Also there was Maighread and Brenda and also travelling over was Philip and Francis though we all ran our own race there was lots of passing and we all kept in touch.

I found this race tough going and didn't really enjoy it. To make things worse about 1/4 way through the second lap I lost my footing at a very slippy bit and did a full slow motion fall right into a puddle. I ended up prone right in it and soaked and muddy right up to and including my face. I wasn't the only one who fell as I saw Mel having a muddy time as well.

I was lucky though as I managed as I was falling to roll and did not land heavily on my knee. That would have been a disaster. Being only a marathon there were lots of traffic all day with some of the fasties finishing just over 3 hours.

My times at the moment are not good and a 2:45 first half was followed with an even slower second half.  I really did not enjoy this run.

I did however have the pleasure of running the last 5K with Julie Twinny and we had a good chat. It clicked over 6 hrs before we finished.

The medal was as always spectacular and we even got a second for free as it was Phoenix's 100th event and Rik had crafted a special medal for that. In addition Rik had 2 x florescent phoenix wings for me as I had finished a 52 in 51 and 100 in 100 at his events.

As soon as I had finished I left Maighread to the train station. She was attempting to get to Gatwick. Brenda was there waiting when I returned and we said our goodbyes and left.

The journey continued when flying back to Ireland the next week, security took the medal off me as a dangerous weapon and after some negotiation it ended up flying in the cockpit with the captain and given back to me when we landed in Dublin.

Photos: Ian Pullen

Stats for the day..

Monday 10 December 2018


Ballinasloe  or Ballinaslow

This was my second time doing this event. Last year it was the penultimate event before my 10 in 10 attempt and I was happy to get around in 4hrs 30. I wouldn't get close to that today.

During the week I had been diagnosed with Metatarsalgia which is the cause of the the pain that I have been feeling in the ball of my foot. I explains why I can't run during the week and am in constant pain when running.

It was an MCI event and great value at €20

The HQ was the rugby club outside Ballinasloe and we had use of the bar area, toilets and hot showers afterwards.

This year there was only one start and the course would be run in reverse. There also was a half marathon and 10K scheduled later in the morning. Aidan Sheridan and family were the hosts for today.

I have to say that running in reverse was much better and much safer than last year.

We headed off at 8:30 on the dot with around 50 in the race. It quickly settled down. We turned left towards Ballinasloe and climbed for around 800m before a 1K gentle downhill to the motorway roundabout. Skirting past the roundabout we traversed a footbridge over the motorway before heading down a very well heeled road parallel to the motorway. About 1K later we climbed steeply on a cross road over the motorway which immediately brought us onto the long straight bog road. 1.6 miles of nothing later we turned at a cone and still on the bog road headed for home over some fairly rural Galway back roads.  There was some long drags but nothing too severe. Turning right onto the main road again we faced the traffic for 1 mile until it brought us back to the rugby club. The loop was 6.5 miles.

I was through 1 lap in 1hr 8 mins and headed out for lap 2. Apart from one shower it was dry and cold and pretty good running conditions. I dreaded the long big road section everytime we came to it.

Lap 2 was 1hr 18, Lap 3 was 1hr 28 and I put a real effort in for lap 4 for 1hr 18.   So half way was 2hrs 26 and full marathon was 5hrs 23 just faster than I finished Chicago.

All in all I ran well but my foot was agony.

In to the clubhouse afterwards there was a great spread of sandwiches, cake and tea/coffee. Great value for €20.

Today was officially a road marathon and my 96th one of those and my 99th ROI marathon.

Photos: Kasia Skowron

Stats for today

Monday 19 November 2018


#259 Dublin 5:11

This was my 13th Dublin and I am if I am honest getting a little tired of it. Having it on the Sunday definitely helps as the whole bank holiday isnt taken up with it.

I started of the Sat by volunteering at the local parkrun and saw lots of people there over from England that were getting another run on on the day before.

I picked up my number at the expo on the Sat lunchtime. Its a pain in the neck to get to and I was lucky enough to find parking close to Sydney Parade Dart station and walked up. Registration was a breeze and we got a hat today as our special gift. The green bobbles were very prominent around town all weekend.

I didnt stay around too much but stopped off at the MCI stall for the chats with Vincent, Catherine, Maryse and Derek. Anto stuck his nose in for a bit of ribbing. That was good fun. I quickly went home to rest up.

Now I knew that from previous years that buses are a nightmare on marathon morning and there was works that meant the Dart was off as well. Lindsay left me into the IFSC and I walked up from there. I decided against the Cru! changing area as I like to get my gear as quick as possible after the race and I get very cold immediately after.

Straight into the baggage area and I met Lisa and Mairin from Cru! and Leonie and Miriam from the local parkrun who were working. Toilets were a disaster as they would only let you goto the toilet if you had stored your bag. It was very jobs worthy. I hid my bag, went to the loo and returned to the baggage area. Way too early I went to the corall. As I was hanging at the back of wave 1 a lot of people passed that I knew including Carolyn from WSR and lots of DBRC. I didnt see one Cru!.
Leonie and Muriel

At 9am we were off and I knew that I was well ahead of lots of the pace groups and they would reel me in for the race. It was freezing at the start but it did warm up to around 9/10 degrees , it was light winds and dry. Pretty much perfect running conditions.

I went off reasonably steady. I wasnt feeling that great but I still managed to keep things ticking over at a similar enough pace to Chicago. Support on the streets was great as usual and the Cru! were particularly good this year staying around and waiting and encouraging even us slower ones.

10 K was in around 1:04 with half marathon covered in 2:18. This was a few minutes behind Chicago but there is no way I could have a worse second half. I was being passed by many and slowly the 3;40 and 3:50 groups over took me.

Shines on Duty
Passing through half way I visibly slowed but knew that I was doing much better than Chicago and ran when I could. Being Dublin I was scared to walk in case anyone saw me. It was busy all the way with now 2000 entered and around 17000 actually running.

The second half turned out better than I was expecting and I was able to run large portions of it punctuated by walk breaks. Unfortunately I got caught walking by Mairead Cashman just around UCD but managed to get away with it with the rest of the Cru guys who stayed out until I was well past. There was a steady stream of people came passed me.

I was very pleased to come in at 5:11 which was the best for a while. The arrangements after were just as bad as before with the whole crowd directed away from the city center and not allowed the quick route up passed the dept of finance. I always enjoyed this part where you got to meet loads of people. I kept walking back to the convention centre and Linz picked me up for a very much appreciated lift home.

I have not entered Dublin next year. Not many photos taken this year.

Stats for the day

Thursday 1 November 2018


#258 Greenway  (Achill to Westport).

Ultra #83 5:56:33

I strangely had been looking forward to this one. That is rare enough for me recently. I even had booked it up quite a while ago. It was also due to be 44K long which is a short ultra.

I heard from Finn who ran it the day before that they had changed the Greenway route and it was coming in at 43.5km. Now to qualify for an ultra it has to be 43.4km so I think we just made it. As it was, the declared distance at the start was 43.4km so it just about qualified.

Being point to point the logistics were a little unusual. It was also limited to 50 people which I suspect was all that could fit in a bus. First part was to register at one of the downtown hotels in Westport.

An early start from Galway city brought me to Westport early enough to get registered and toileted in the hotel and have a chat to quite a few there that I knew. It was great to see Marie Chapman for the first time in ages and she was in great form. Also there was Humphery, back from his US travels and up from Kerry was Theresa Grimes (though I suspect she would rather be at home with the grandchild). Also there from the north was Jill and hubby and Peter had left at an un-godly hour to make the journey. Naturally the stalwarts Dave Brady and Ger Fahy were there and they would stay together all day and finish together.

At around 8am we boarded the bus and took the 40 minute journey to Achill Sound. Stopping briefly at the hotel for a toilet break we climbed back on the bus for the few hundred meters across the bridge to the Island. We started pretty much immediately and were off.

Quickly we were over the bridge and off the Island and within a couple of hundred meters we were on the Greenway. The first aid station was at Mulraney some 9 miles into the route and the journey to Mulrany can only be described as world class. We had the Mayo mountains on our right and wonderful vistas off to the left. The Greenway itself was tarmac or hard packed and we seemed to have it pretty much to ourselves. Now and again we met a few bicycles. I chatted a bit to Marie and Aidan Swords and settled quickly pretty much at the back. I really wasnt bothered about time today and wanted to enjoy it as much as I could. I certainly enjoyed this first section.

The Greenway was well off the road and you rarely saw it.

There was one particular section that wound its way around a lake on the left and through a forested section that was just wonderful.

Quick enough we came up to the first aid station in Mulraney. Everything was on the table that you would need and first aid was ever present. Cezary offered me a water bottle and I left quickly.

Out of Mulraney there was quite a significant climb for a mile or so and this brought us up high over the village and the views over the Atlantic were just great. There were a few of us that tooed and frooed at the back on this section and I was always within contact of someone. There were lots of style type gates and cattle grids on the route that gave you some focus to run to. Again the views were absolutely world class and I continued to enjoy it.

Eventually the wildness came to an end as we approached Newport. Now we actually had to enter the town and I didn't think the Greenway was that well signposted. I asked a couple of locals and they pointed me over the bridge in the main town. I crossed the bridge and started to head along the river. I heard a shout from behind and it was Humphrey and Theresa telling me I was going the wrong way. The actual right way was up the hill away from the river. I followed them up the hill and on the other side was the second and last aid station. I picked up some water and some jellies and headed off towards Westport. There was 12 K to go,  I lost Humphery and Theresa and was on my own on this bit and we were very close to the main road as the Greenway followed along it.

To amuse myself I walked for 0.05 of a mile, jogged for 0.05 of a mile and sprinted for the same. The miles flew in and I had actually picked up the pace overall. I even managed to keep this going through the long hill just before the end. I got to the top and could see the finish in the distance and jogged through. I was determined to get in before 6 hrs and managed 5:55 odd.

I got the lovely slate memento for finishing and walked the 1k back to the hotel. Paul Comerford was waiting and we walked back together. The last time I ran with Paul was in the Belfast to Dublin Ultra.

I didn't stay for the food in the bar and said my goodbyes and went straight back to Galway.

I loved this event.

Stats for today

Friday 26 October 2018


Chicago 5:23:39

Getting ready to go

The preparation for this race all started when I was researching entry into the Boston marathon. A Boston Qualifier seems beyond me at the moment but I noticed that the Chicago marathon also had qualifying times and they were some 10 minutes more lax than Boston.

In fact for a  man of my age it was a 3:40 marathon or below. I've done that before and looked at my recent results. In Seville 2016 and in London 2016 I went 3:39 and 3:38  respectively . Checking to see if they were good enough I was surprised to find that they were just in the qualifying window for the 2018 Major. Not really believing it I entered as GFA and got straight in as each of these events were qualifiers.

I booked my flight immediately and booked a hotel just to have one. It was a year away.

A few months later Finn told me that herself and Pat had also qualified and I looked to see if we could get a place to share. I found a quirky apartment closer to the city center and we booked that up, cancelling the hotel.  It really was good value.

I forgot about it for many months and only when it started to come close again did I start to get excited.

Doing some research, its a long way to go for just one run and I found not one but two others that could be squeezed in and it was all just doable. So this was the plan

1) Leave Dublin 11:30 am Friday
2) Arrive Chicago 14:00 Friday
3) Goto expo and pick up number
4) Check into apartment
5) Go to Midway airport and pick up hire car
6) Eat and goto bed
7) 3am leave Chicago and drive 2.5hrs west and start a 30 mile trail run that was due to start at 7am Sat
8) After run was over drive 1 hr North to the finish of 100 mile race
9) Take bus to the 69 mile point of 100 mile race
10) Run 50K back to the finish starting at 7pm Sat
11) Finish 50K in the early hours and make it back for start of Chicago marathon
12) Finish Chicago marathon (6hr 30 cutoff).

The real Marathon No 1

The flight was due to be 11:30am and I arrived early, I met with Pat, Finn and Humphrey ( who was doing his 6th Major and 309th marathon). After 2hrs queuing through US pre-clearance we eventually made it to the gate (no air con or toilets) . We all boarded on time and waited to push back. on time. Then started the most extraordinary series of events. From 11:30 to 4:30 pm we did not move. We were told the plane was broken that it was fixable and it needed new parts etc but that we would always be underway within the hour. New parts arrived, firmware was loaded, at one point the plane was even rebooted, but still no go.

We were warned that the staff's roster was expiring and that a new crew would have to be sourced, if we were to go.

Eventually we were told that this plane was not moving and we had to disembark but to hang about the gate but we were still hopeful. We futtered around waiting and I spent some time talking to a few that I knew like Laura Murray who were nervous enough without all this. Martin Joyce from Sports travel was buzzing around keeping everyone upto date and there were a lot on his tour on the flight. Eventually at 6:30 pm the flight was cancelled and were told to line up for accommodation for the night and that a new flight was due at 15:00 the next day. The Chicago marathon would make numbers available early on race day. This meant that we would miss the expo.

Fortunately I was onto Linz while I was on board and she somehow managed to get me transferred to a AA flight direct to Chicago the next morning some 5 hrs before the rest were due to fly. The rest were not so lucky. I went home my Ultra plans in tatters.

I went back to the airport the next day. US pre-clearance was only 1.5hrs and I went to the gate. I met Ger who was travelling over as well (He would do <2:40) and got on the flight. This one went without a hitch and had me in Chicago at noon on the Sat.

Finally in Chicago

I took the train straight to the expo (changing with all the other runners) and picked up my number. I then walked the 40 minutes from the expo to the apartment. It was as quirky as promised and settled in only going out to get some milk and McD's before settling in knackered for the evening.

Finn, Pat eventually arrived at 9:30pm Sat night.


Still needing to get their numbers we were up and out early on Sun morning for the run. We walked the 50 minutes to the start area and picked up the numbers from the Hilton which bordered the park. This was marathon central but surprisingly there was no queue in the toilets and full advantage was taken. Splitting up we went to our various starting areas. Security was tight getting in and there was a lot of walking to drop off your bag and in truth I only made it into the right starting corral with 10 minutes to spare. National anthem sung we were ready to and pretty much on time we were off. Now I was in one of the front corals and I knew that I was nowhere near my qualifying time at the minute so expected a lot to pass me en-route so I stayed out of the way most of the race.

Starting at about 10 minute pace I kept this up for pretty much the first half and struggled with this pace near the end but managed to keep it going. 30 minute 5K and 62 minute 10K had me come through half way in 2:14. This is as good as I have done recently but at this stage my race was done.

As with all the other majors this was a busy, busy race and there was much race support in terms of aid and supporters all the way around.

After half way I made a fatal mistake and walked through an aid station. That was my race gone there and then. I honestly thought that I had a good shot at a sub 4:30 but after that it just got worse and worse and worse. The weather I have to say didnt help, it was very windy and drizzly and at one time there were almighty heavy bursts of rain. I walked/run it in and saw a few people that I knew on the route like Dublin's Stefan Klinowiz. I was quite happy to get the last 800m and climbed up into the park for the last sprint for the line. My final 5:23 was a little faster than I done recently but the second half was truly awful. Interestingly because of Boston the crowd was not let anywhere close to the runners in the final section and security was very heavy all the way through with SWAT teams positioned along the route.

After crossing the line I got my medal and a few goodies and made my way to  the baggage area. I sat down for a few minutes to recover and made my way back to the appartment via the train. A nice shower and I was ready to go out.

I ended up with Michael McKeown from Down in an Irish bar in Greek Town. We had a great time and were treated like kings by the staff. I even met up with Mayo girl Mary who knew Finn and we had some beers and a nice burger. Tiddly I made it home by midnight and a good sleep. Goodness knows what I would have been like with a couple of ultras thrown in.

I had a nice relaxing day Monday (including the Tilted Kilt and a few other hostelries) and flew back on the Tuesday overnight and sraight to work on Wednesday.

It was an experience and I loved Chicago.

stats for today

Thursday 11 October 2018

Toy Run

Toy Run  Milton Keynes 6:55:32 (50K)

This was a Friday race and around the familiar Caldcotte lake just on the out skirts of Milton Keynes. This was the Enigma Running show.

There was no 50K planned for the Friday but Foxy made a mistake on the website (He blamed Traviss) and it showed as available. This was noticed late on the Thursday night and by Friday morning the 50K option was made available.

This was day 1 of a treble around the lake and the forecast for the weekend was very stormy. To mitigate against this the aid station was setup under the flyover so rain would not be a problem. As it turned out we had the best day of the weekend and even though it was windy and there was 5 minutes of heavy rain for a period it was actually reasonably good and mild conditions.

I arrived early and got my number and we all walked to the aid station to dump our gear. After a quick race brief we walked the 800m to the start. We would run anti-clockwise today.

We were off and quickly came through the aid station which was also the finish line and onto lap one. Immediately after the aid station was the sharp drag upto the highest point of the course and the gentle downhill that brought us to the back of the course. We then hit the familar course looping around the lake to complete the 3.5 mile loop.

I had every intention of doing 50K today and ran most of the day on my own and took it relatively steady. I came through half way in 2:25 and had a relatively uneventful run. I stopped a couple of times for drinks but toddled on regardless. I came through marathon distance in 5:34 and went out on the Ultra lap. Nick Nicholson came past me near the end but he had started over an hour late and was struggling to get the Ultra in. He did it.

At Marathon distance I turned clockwise back 800m to the start line before returning to the 50K at the finishine. 6:55 brought me in 35 minutes before the cut off.

That was ultra 82 as I slowly plod onto 100.

There were very few photos of the day as there were was a relatively small crowd.

Stats for today

Monday 17 September 2018


#255 Bellewstown 5:25:56

This was a new one to me in the middle of county Meath, close to Drogheda and Duleek.

Beautiful morning
The Committee
This event was produced by East Of Ireland who in recent years I have only been making a single outing annually to. The schedule for some reason just doesn't suit.

With a 5 mile, 10 Mile, 15 mile and 20 miler for those training for Dublin there was plenty of choice and there were plenty there and I knew loads. Most (43) chose the 20 mile race.

Ray Cassin (after his 100 mile Connemera success) was race director for today and was always at hand keeping an eye on the runners and there for the chat. Well done Ray.

25 finished the marathon though I suspect more started intending to finish the marathon. There was also an early start for those who would not finish under 4hrs 30. Recent form tells me that I fall firmly into  that camp.

So it was off to Bellewstown for the 8am start (about 30 minute drive from Dublin) and the first thing that I noticed was there was a horse race course there. Who knew? Well apparently everyone but me knew, and it was one of the oldest race courses in the country.

Registration was at the parish hall with Frank. There really is not much else to Bellewstown,  apart from the race course the hall and the "top of the hill" pub. A good bargain though at €25 and I do like the new medals.

Welcoming Mark and Karen at the finish
At the 8am start was lots of familiar faces including Collette and Humphrey and also Gerard Fay who had an amazing run in 4hrs 40 and his fastest in quite a while.  The course was a figure of 8 with a small loop of ~1 mile and a bigger ~4 mile loop for around ~5 miles in total.  We started by doing 1 lap of the small loop follow 5 laps of the full figure of 8 (including small loop every time).

The small loop was on the inside of the race course on tarmac and was slightly undulating but otherwise pretty OK. The aid station was situated on this loop at the finish line which we passed 6 times.

Ger winner
I ran the first 2 small loops with Eric from Sportszone talking about his new business and how well it was doing before I peeled off at my car to drop off my jacket at the start of the bigger loop. I'm delighted for him as he is a really nice guy and deserves the success.

The fist half mile of the bigger loop was gently downhill on a busy enough road before giving way to a reasonable drag uphill for 800m. Summiting we turned left and immediately were swept steeply downhill for half a mile on very back roads. I found this section very hard on my knees and I suspect I was the slowest on the course on this bit. But I was taking no chances and dreaded it every lap.

The hill
A little bit of undulating road and we hit a long winding uphill (that to be honest I walked every lap). Half way up we turned left and summited at another left turn on the road back to Bellewstown village. A gentle long down hill (easier on the knees) gave way to the signature hill for the course which was about 600m straight up. This was walked by most all day.

Summiting we were back on the race course and it was a quick 100m to the finish line/aid station.

I spent a lot of the day on my own which was fine but did spend a lot of it tooing and froing with Elaine McNulty who's chats made the day seem quicker. Just behind me all day was Philip McAvoy with his new Hokas.

It was not a fast course but you wouldn't have thought it with Ger (sub 3) and lots of sub 4's as well as Lesley doing an amazing 20 mile time (in great shape for a 3:45 attempt at Dublin).

I suspect it suited a lot of people better than me as I struggled on the downhill sections with my knees and lost a lot of time.

The Hill
Also running well was Sharon Wilders and Mark Conlon and fellow Belfast/Dublin veterans Anthony and Dino.

The weather was very pleasant for running and I was rewarded with 5 minutes faster than Dundalk (on a hillier course) with the first half being 1 minute faster at 2:27 and the second half sub 3 for the first time in a while.

Lets see if I can beat 5:15 next week and target a sub 5 in Chicago 2 weeks after.

This was Road marathon no 93 and ROI marathon no 96. I'm getting closer and closer to 2 rather significant milestones.

Photos today all taken from EOI fb page but include Philip McAvoy,  Theresa Taff and Sean & Ray Cassin

Results Click here

Stats for today

Wednesday 12 September 2018


#254 Dundalk  5:30:43

At the moment I think I am only in 5:30 form and so it turned out to be. I entered relatively late for Collette's MCI event at the Sportsman in Dundalk. The last time I did this event 2 years ago I was under 4 hrs. I only dream of that now.

I arrived early and registered. €25 on the day and €20 in advance. There was lots there but 100 would stop at half marathon and 47 go on to do the full. The route had changed significantly from 2 years ago and it was 2 x even 13.1 mile loops.  Even though the route covered some of the same roads as last time it was significantly different.

At the start Roger Biggs did  a lovely presentation to Collette for her 500th marathon and we quickly made our way to  the line to start. Roger was running his 900th marathon today.

There from DBRC was Dino (eventual winner) and Greg (4:08 despite a mile detour). A lot of the usual MCI runners were there and I chatted to Jill (after her Florence Court win) and many others.

We were off at 8:30 on the button and headed south on the old Dundalk road from the Sportsman inn. I started at about 9:30 pace. After 1 mile of gentle down hill we turned left and headed on a back road that eventually joined with the Omeath road. This quite busy road passed the Ravensdale and eventually Fitzpatrick's pub. Jumping off the road onto the footpath we struggled on for about 5K.

I ran this section with Ivan from the 100 marathon Club in the UK. Ivan holds the current record of number of counties completed in the UK and Ireland which is over 100. This was his first run in Louth. Turning left we hit the back roads again towards Ravensdale village. At 10k we came through in 1hr dead.

Immediately we hit the signature hill on the course which was an electric bray and I walked it (I'm not for running that). It was steep up hill for the guts of a mile before turning and coming straight back down again in a spur. Reaching the main back road again we turned right and followed the undulating road for another mile. I met loads of people I knew from the circuit. It was great to see Eimear out again after EP and I spent some time with Liz Morrin who has been running great recently.

Turning right up the hill again we did a small detour off the main back road (to make up the distance) and continued on our way in the direction of Ravensdale Forest and the Carrickdale. Before reaching the forest we turned left towards the motorway and followed the slip road up towards the sportsman and about 800m after the slip we were at half way. I came through in 2hrs 28 mins. 2/3rds of the field stopped at this distance.

On my own now I started on lap 2 and kept an OK pace for the first 6K. I could see in the distance Lynda from Downpatrick but never got close to catching her and she eventually finished a few minutes ahead of me.

The weather was lovely and I tried my best all the way round. A toughed it out for a 5 hr 30 finish as expected. That was Road marathon 92 and ROI marathon 95 as I close in on a couple of significant milestones.

A fine spread of cakes and sambo's with a cup of tea afterwards was great. I chatted to Catherine Guithie and the ever improving Paula Wright after before saying my goodbyes and headed for the 40 minute drive back to Dublin.

Stats for today