Sunday, 23 March 2014

EOA Bfast Lough


Marathon  #48

East Of  Antrim Race Series Jordanstown - Cultra and back

4:14:09

This brings my strike rate for the last 12 months to 26, or one every 2 weeks. Isn't that insane?

I never have had much occasion to visit either East or North Belfast before. This despite being born and bred within 20 miles of this marathon course, in Downpatrick. I guess when growing up in Northern Ireland in the 60's and 70's you didn't have much need to leave your own community. Indeed when I went to University in Belfast in the early 80's there was also no need to stray too far as everything was self contained in the university area.

Panoramic view from the start
It was a 2 hr drive from Dublin,  so it was an early start but the roads are fantastic and there was no traffic. A quick stop in Newry for a coffee and some cash and I arrived well on time. As I drove into Belfast along the West Link I could see snow on Black Mountain and the temp gauge had it at 1 degree. Arriving at the Shore Rd I drove into the lowest, blackest cloud I ever have seen and it became a snow blizzard. I was worried. Fortunately when I parked at the start the cloud had blown over and it was a bright, cold but breezy day.

I was still on a high from having helped out at the Killeigh marathon on Saturday. We had a blast and witnessing the excitement and pure emotion of Brian O'Kelly and Barry Casserly going under 3hrs for the first time was just magic.

Gary, Lorna and I waiting to go
There were three that were attempting a back 2 back after Killeigh and they had duly arrived. Gary Reinhardt who was making excuses early, Lorna Murphy who is Derrygonnelly's most famous export and Kathleen Cheshire  who just never rests. In fact there were more familiar faces that I expected with lots having done EOI events in the recent past.

I was looking forward to a nice flat run by the sea and running through areas that should be familiar, as either iconic landmarks or no doubt parts of the Belfast main marathon route. This was a fantastically run event, up there with the best in the country including EOI, MCI, Donadea 50K and Achill (I think that has covered my ass). I would recommend everyone to try one out and support the race series as its fab. I saw the route for the race in April and it looks special.
Start Line

I loved and hated this route with equal measure. I loved the sections along the lough and the city center but hated the industrial estates that connected them. I have the same love hate issues with the main Belfast marathon but yet I return and return.

Ready and waiting
The race needed permission from the parades commission which I found strange. Then I was reminded of the festival in Fermanagh, where they wanted for some reason to herd a paddling of ducks (thanks Google) down the main street and also had to seek permission from the parades commission. So why should I be surprised.

We did the obligatory photo's and instructions and we were off.  After the first mile we hit the main Belfast marathon route along the cycle path
Anyone got the time?
without the annoyance of relay runners. I spent a bit of time with Ali Shaw who predicted a 4:00 finish after running the Larne Half the day before. He started at 3:30 pace and was to finish even better than that and soon disappeared into the distance. This was beautiful easy running and I was joined by Trevor Denton for the next 10 miles. We clipped along nicely chatting, even stopping to take photos. I discovered that Trevor and I were born within a few weeks of each other and both have big birthdays approaching. Trevors brother was leading the race and would finish in 2:53.

Some great iconic sights
We wound our way through the city center following the yellow arrows and outriders crossing the Lagan at the blue fish (which I nearly missed) . We skirted the Oddessy and headed into East Belfast past Harland and Wolff and Shorts before joining the coast again close to Holywood. This again was a beautiful stretch and I now know where all the money is in Belfast. Trevor kicked on and I was passed by one other runner immediately. I got to half way at 1:56 and felt great. We turned at the aid station (thanks for the cheers) and retraced our steps.

The field was very spread out now and I was on my own for the next 7 miles. I crossed the Lagan at 20 miles in 3 hrs exactly. The same as the last 2 weeks. I was however quickly overtaken by Leslie who was training for London and looked strong. There followed a tricky section of turns in the city center to get us back onto the cycle path. I don't know quite what happened but I stupidly seem to have ended up doing 500m extra in confusion before getting back to where I should be. A side affect of this dalliance was I missed the opportunity to take on water or gels and had to do the rest of the race on empty.

Last sprint
I got back onto the cycle path but was on fumes. Lorna the Derrygonnelly
The spoils
dazzler glided past me at 24 miles and I regret now not taking her up on her offer of water or gels. I limped home in 4:14:09 to a big big cheer at the end. It was fantastic.

Beautiful showers at the finish line were a bonus and it was off to Downpatrick to see the folks, family and friends. Apparently the last time I was home was before Christmas.

 Garmin Stats

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