Saturday 31 October 2015


#111  Dublin 4:02:28

I managed to make it back OK from Snowdonia via the Ferry late on Saturday night. My Brother-in-law Kieran was due to run and was down just after lunch on Sunday. We spent a very nice time at the exhibition picking up numbers and things. Then a quiet evening with Pasta and Rugby.

Cru at the start
The weather forecast was terrible (just like all my recent races) with rain forecast and very windy conditions but it was not due to be too cold. This is exactly how it panned out with terrible conditions for watching and OK conditions for running (once you got started). I suspect the good guys however found the wind taxing.

We were there early enough and lined up at the front of wave 2 with the 4hr pace group. I knew them all well with Olwyn and Joe from Crusaders and Niall from a while back. My plan was to hang onto the 4 hr pacers till after the park and then struggle to a 4:30. Given the week that would be a great effort.

We were off at 9:10 , ten minutes after Wave 1. I settled in at the back of the 4 hr pace group and off
we went. The first few miles were with the wind and fairly flat until we hit the park. I was still there and despite sore quads felt OK. I was still settled at the back so I kept going. I fell back a bit at the narrow section when you leave the park for the first time. This was more to do with weight of runners than anything else. When back in the park I managed to get back into the pack and settled behind Olwyn and in front of Niall. The atmosphere in the pace group was fantastic with lots of advise being dealt out particularly by Joe.

At 10 miles I was still there and decided to keep this going as long as possible. I came through half way in 1:59:40 and knew that 4hrs wasn't a possibility but I was still about 10 minutes up on where I expected to be.

Located at the back of the 4hr pace group through 15 miles I began to struggle but was still there at 18 miles. At the aid station at 20 miles I was 100m back and I heard Keiran shout over at me. He had just been passed and his race was over. I had to make a choice of stay with Kieran or keep going. Of course I kept going.

Around here and pretty much from here on in I knew the Crusaders supporters
would be everywhere so walking was not an option. I had a bad period upto Fosters Avenue slowing to 10mins 40 seconds per mile but knew when I reached Fosters Av it was a relatively easy finish. I recovered immediately  back to 9 minute miles and was passing tons of people. In fact at the 10K timing mat I was in 7000 odd position and finished in 5000 odd position so passed about 2000 people.

Marie on her 100th
Shane McGrath nearly deafened me at Milltown as did Aoife Quigley but this really gave me a boost. I found the last few miles easy and enjoyed evey moment. The Cru support around Paddy Cullens and on Elm Park was great and I came in in 4:02 about half an hour ahead of expected.

Kieran struggled over the last 10K but still broke 4:30. We met up after and went off to Meet Marie Chapman who had just done her 100th. It was great to meet Lesie, Kris, Kathleen and many other for a beer after.

Very enjoyable day......

Photos courtesy of David Cuddy, Paul Larkins, Niall O'Connell, Olwyn Dunne and Marie Chapman.

Polar stats for today

Sunday 25 October 2015

BTTF and Snowdonia

Back To The Future  4:15:03
Snowdonia   4:24:48

This was an interesting week be it damp and cold

The Back To The Future marathon was put on by Rik at Phoenix Running in Walton On Thames in conjunction with TZ Runs who are more famous for the Kent Road Runner race. It being a mid week I was lucky enough to happen to be in London so could go along.

The weather forecast was awful and indeed for most of the race it
Very wet
rained. I took the train to Walton On Thames from Waterloo which was surprisingly long and walked the 2.7 miles to the start.  On the way to the start I hit the tow path at the turn around point so pretty much walked the course. It was no where near as muddy as the last time I ran here (different direction) but never the less it was puddly and would be very sticky. I was absolutely saturated by the time I reached the start.

It was to be 8 laps of 1.6 odd miles out and back on the totally flat course. After a quick race briefing we were off. The race quickly settled into a pattern and even though the rain was constant it wasnt cold and the wind was equally into your face and back throughout the race. I quickly found my place in the race and stayed there. Amazingly for the first
Near the end
time I was ahead of Janet who always beats me and managed to stay there. All the regulars were there including Anna and her dogs and Paul (with his new range of clothing now for sale).

The aid station was again faultless and on every lap you picked up a hair
Super Medal
band which were counted at the end. 8 laps was a marathon but plenty stopped early just to get the medal and a few went further to make an ultra. I came in 8th of around 50 that stopped at marathon distance.

The medal was of course spectacular and one for the collectors. We have of course now been tempted by the new "Top Gun" race in May.

A couple of days rest and I was off to Wales for the Snowdonia Marathon. I decided to drive from the South and stop over the night before to catch up with an old school friend and then leave the car at Holyhead en route to Dublin. Traffic was awful and I now regret not just driving up in the morning.

Weather again was atrocious at the start and everyone was saturated on the start line. It was nice that registration was on the morning and was seamless. There was also good shelter at the center. The start line was about a  1 mile walk from registration and we all headed off in unison to it.

The first couple of miles were easy and predominately downhill or flat  and spread the course out. Then at mile 3 we hit the first hill. It was very similar to the "Hell of the West" in Connemara and runnable even though I have to admit to walking some of it (very few walked) but it was nowhere near as tough as I was expecting. We crested at about mile 5 and then went down hill for around 3 miles. This included a 2 mile off road section that was tough enough and you had to have your wits about you. This soon gave way to tarmac again and it was a fairly nice net downhill run until half way. I came through half way in just under 2 hrs. Given I pushed it a bit on Wednesday this was fine. I did however know I had the toughest half to come. After half way there was a steady climb for 2.5 miles. I took it easy walking some portions but kept moving and when it flattened out upped the pace a little.

The big hill loomed at mile 22.5 and when it arrived the whole field was walking. It lasted a mile and a half and was similar to Mamore gap. There was nothing to be done but walk. At mile 24 we crested and the last 2 miles were off road and steeply downhill to Llanberis. It was treacherous and muddy and puddley. Wearing road shoes I had no grip and ended up on my bum a couple of times and I tentatively made my down. It was quad crushing stuff. Eventually we hit tarmac again but it was still steep. I was wearing 1000 mile socks and at the end I had managed to break through the toe box on both socks. Serious pressure. With about 400m to go we entered the village and crossed the line. I managed 4:24:48 and knew that I had to do a sub 4:30 to make the ferry. I immediately headed off to Holyhead and managed to catch the ferry (it was delayed by an hour).

It was a great race but logistically challenging to get there. Next year it is the day before Dublin so maybe not.

Tuesday 13 October 2015


Budapest  3:50:51

Budapest Marathon

OK, so I got lucky with this one. I just happened to be working in Budapest on the Monday and Tuesday and the marathon was on the Sunday. At very late notice I got an entry.

Direct flights from Dublin via Ryanair and remarkably cheap hotels (4 star for 40 euro a night  B&B) also made the trip really affordable. It was a late flight on Saturday night 19:40 which landed in Budapest at 11:30pm. Quickly through immigration I immediately found a taxi. By booking a taxi at the airport you are offered a final price and its a very efficient service. You could pay in Euro or CC and it was 24 euro to the hotel. I was in bed by 12:30 am. It would have been perfectly possible to do this trip in under 24  hours (one hotel night) as the flights were very favourable and the race pick-up flexible.

Lucy Foley abroad again 
There was morning pick-up of the numbers on offer but Lucy Foley was also running and had picked my number up for me. A 9:30am start for the race gave plenty of time for breakfast and a 2.2km walk to Heros Square to meet Lucy. It was lashing rain and wearing my bin liner I made it in plenty of time. Lucy was on time and we headed to the baggage area. Even though there was 14000 running it didn't feel that busy and everything worked like clockwork. Very fortunately the rain stopped just before the start. Lucy and parted company to get ready.

There was also a relay on and it was testament to how well the race was run in that I hardly noticed them. I lined up in pen no 3 and the race got off on time. It was only a couple of minutes before I crossed the start line. This was my first time in Budapest so didn't really know the city but there was many, many beautiful buildings and wide streets en-route. There was also much music with several full choirs belting out great songs at what I presumed were opera houses.

Finish area
The weather continued to behave and we had cold (slightly windy) but otherwise good conditions. I found myself cut adrift from any pace groups with 3:30 well in font of me and 4hrs nowhere near. I paced the first half pretty good coming through in 1:51. It was a very flat course with most of it in and along the banks of the Danube but there were plenty of parks , tunnels, countless bridges and beautiful architecture to distract. There were many, many aid stations fully stocked with water, Poweraid, glucose tablets and Magnesium drinks as well as bananas and lemons. So no complaints.

Sub 4 was never really under threat despite my Garmin having the course at about 1km long. This may have been because of tunnels.
Hero's square

The start and finish was in Hero's Square and it was a welcome sight to see after 42 km despite the last km being a detour around the park at the square. Typical of big city marathons the finish area was great with a great atmosphere, screens and noise. Overall I thought this run was every bit as good as Dublin (better course) it could do with few more supporters, but this is just nit picking.

I tried hard to get under 3:50 but it wasn't to be and a 3:50:51 in the end was pretty good.

Polar stats from today

Wednesday 7 October 2015

Galway Bay and Monaghan

#106  Galway Bay   3:49:55
#107 Monaghan       4:42:18

Presenting Leslie with 100th medal
This was a super weekend of running in near perfect conditions all over the country. It started on Thursday night outside the office in Sandyford when my work colleague was involved in organising the 5K Twilight challenge in and around Sandyford industrial estate. I had been entered unbeknown to myself. The company had put in 5 teams of mixed ability from reasonable to walkers. It was a 7:30pm start so they got a couple of extra hours work from us. It was a beautiful evening and around 700 turned up for the event. It had 200ft of climb which was a lot for a 5k. The first mile was downhill and I busted it doing a 6:35 and knew it was too fast though still was well behind Suzzanne from Cru!. The second mile had a lot of uphill and I slowed significantly. After 2 miles Ronan and Denis Murphy (Cru!) plodded past and I struggled to a very acceptable 22:04 and 109th place. The goodie bag was interesting and there was lovely refreshments from Spirit Motor Group.
Lap 1

3:30 group
Friday night it was off to Galway with Libs, Roxy and Kris in tow. Having travelled to Galway for close on 30 years now I was shocked
when I missed the turn off to the N4 and ended up on the Sligo Rd. We were way behind schedule now. Because of this mishap we had to pick our numbers up the next morning. Kris was there as a warm-down to her 100 miler and had no idea how she was going to go. The course itself was the flat Salthill course based around its 10K loop. Conditions though starting off cold were otherwise perfect with virtually no wind. Kris went off with the early starters at 8:30am and I waited to the main start at 9am.

Ahead of 3:30 group
And Home
Marie no '98, with Kris and I
2 loops of South Park were done before heading onto the main 10K loop. I found myself with Dipak and the 3:30 pacers. I knew this was far too fast but got chatting to Mo and stayed with them. To my surprise I was still with them after 10 miles and even in front for a while. I was laughing at myself as to how stupid this was. This was absolutely ridiculous and I knew that I had to pull back. Never the less I still came through half way in 1:44 which was even faster than Derry and my fastest half for the year so far. Conditions continued to be perfect. Because of the way the races had been staggered I never even seen the 10K with only the first 10 passing me. We were well through the second 10K loop before the half marathon started so that was no issue either.

With Stephen
I naturally slowed in the second half and even had aspirations of a sub 3:45 for a while but in the end had a strong last mile for a 3:49 and I was very happy with that. Kris amazingly after her 100 miles a week earlier came in at 4:19 in a fantastically strong performance.

Rossmore Forest Park
Through Town
Back to Dublin we went on the Sat night. I picked up Kris again on Sunday morning early and off we went to Monaghan. This was to be a very special day as it was Leslie Crawfords 100th and the event was sold out because of him. We arrived in plenty of time for the start and there was a great atmosphere around. Leslie was in great form. There was no early start and we were off at 9am. The race started with a 10K loop around the town. This was brilliant. As most people had raced either in Galway or as part of a b2b in Monaghan the day before there was little racing and it was more survival.
However there was a few up from DBRC who were fresh and off they went. Ger (in his 99th marathon) would go on to win in 2:52 in a very strong run followed by Barry Casserly (also in his 99th marathon) in 3:03.  I would stay with Leslie and Marie and Cezary and Kris for most of the first10K and there even was a brass band in town which was great. I really pushed it the day before and naturally fell back before we entered Rosmore Forest Park for the first time. We had 4x5 miles loops of Rossmore Park. The course itself was surprisingly hilly and ended up at 2000ft which is similar to Howth (god help us).
And Home

The Champ
I plodded most of the rest of the race not surprisingly. Half was was in 2:15 and I came in a very tired and sore 4:42. Kris again did amazing only being 3 minutes slower than Salthill on a way more difficult course in 4:22 and Marie Chapman in her 99th marathon followed up a 3:55 in Galway for a 3rd place 4:04. Amazing really.

There was some mighty soup and samdwhiches and some very nice home made shortbread after and the highlight for me was presenting Leslie with his 100 medal.

A great weekend all round.

Photos Elma McEvoy and Marie Chapman

Polar stats for Galway
Polar stats for Monaghan