Marathon #84 Rathdrum Co Wicklow
|Avondale Forest Park (Rathdrum)|
This was my first ever race in Wicklow. The second will be next week at the Vartry Lakes running
|Homested of Charles Stewart Parnell|
festival. It was held in Avondale Forest Park just outside Rathdrum. This was the homestead of Charles Stewart Parnell who famously introduced obstructionism (or Filibustering) to the UK parliament. It was a beautiful setting.
It was just over an hour from home and when I got there the early start was well under way and there seemed a reasonable crowd. There was a half and a full today and RD no 1 Vincent was there directing things. There were new numbers from precision timing and a new timing clock. All added to the day.
I started with the main start at 9:30am. It was a 1 mile loop followed by 5 x 5mile loops followed by
a run in to the finish. We were led through the first mile in approx 8:20 and we were on our own. The course was surprisingly hilly with over 1400ft of climb on some reasonably steep hills. It was however very runnable. The 5 mile loop started by running past Avondale
House before descending for 400m past the main aid station and the finish. We then started climbing for about 400m to the entrance to the forest. Turning left on the main road the wind hit for the first time and this road section was very exposed. After 800m we turned right at the junction for a another 800m out and back down a hill to the turn around and back up the hill (with the wind now in back). You could see the race unfold on this section. We were then brought up a very steep hill until cresting and entering the forest again. Steeply downhill through the trees brought us to the change over point of the figure of 8 course that was wonderfully marshalled. Then up through the trees winding our way back to the car park area. A steep 400m downhill section brought us back to the aid station and finish area, We turned right up past Avondale House
|Ran well today|
again (going the other way this time) and followed the trail down hill for the next 1km. Then there was a long climb (sometimes steep) back to the start area and the loop was done.
I was very focused today knowing that if I concentrated 4hrs was on. GPS signal was ropey in the forest so you never knew exactly where you were but I knew that by half way I was around 1:53 and going well. Marie Chapman was not pulling away from me and I knew that was a
good sign. I kept the head down and ran all the way except for the 2 steep hills on the last lap and was delighted to come in sub 4 hrs in 3:56:20 . This was my best time since Longwood in Jan 2013 and first time under 4 hrs since I turned 50 last year. I'm a very happy camper today.
Garmin today (The GPS signal got cut out by the trees for portions of the run so it seems a bit short but it wasn't)
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