Wednesday 3 May 2017


#185 Belfast 4:57:17

Smurfs everywhere
Despite doing this event many times since 2004 it is one of my least favorite events for the same reasons every year. The course is not good (some sections are awful), support is patchy for a big city marathon, relay runners do get in the way and have no etiquette. No other race I know suffers from the same level of problems (for me anyway). But it is promoted as a cross community event and attracts lots of runners particularly in the relay so it is what it is.

Start at City Hall
One of the good things about it is they post out your number so there is no messing with expo's etc....  Aid stations were also good and frequent and given the heat were (apart from the towpath section) very frequent. It was also very warm and there was no shortage of water even if it was from standpipes (which were COLD!!!). One other thing that is good is that there are lots of supporter popup aid stations that have everything including beer en-route.

Number in hand and tired legs from Limerick particularly the first half, I picked up Kris early and headed for Belfast. 90 minutes gets you there nowadays and with the new services in Lisburn you can get to the city well prepared. The forecast was for a glorious 16 degrees, light winds and dry. It turned out quite a bit warmer.

Parking up in Castlecourt, it was a 10 minute walk to city hall and the start area. Getting there early you get quick use of the toilets and  a chance to catch up with everyone. Between EAMS and Limerick and Ballyhoura there were a lot of tired legs around. EAMS as is their way had decided to go with a smurf theme this year and there was a lot of blue around.

Kathleen as a Smurf
Start time was 9am and on time we are off. Now the first 5 miles of this race are not good as you head into East Belfast and back on the Sydnam Bypass. Even on tired legs I went with the 4:15 pacers at 9:30 pace just to get it over with and when I came back into the city decided to hold back a bit as it was also getting very warm (I was also knackered). I enjoy the bit up the falls as its winds its way through West Belfast but it was hillier than I remembered. With 10000 relay runners it was busy.  Today was a lot slower and I realistically had 5 hrs as a target. The Antrim Road is hit at 10.5 miles and climbs relentlessly to Mile 14. I actually managed to run most of it and came through half way in 2:25 and spent some time with Craig and Finn dressed as Smurfs.

Turning down to Gideons Green  on the steep downhill section, I caught up with Linda Cunningham still well on her quest for 100 marathons and we chatted for a while about running and running partners before I took a walk break. It was at this time I noticed my leg play up. It was in the same spot that I hurt when I fell in Ramscombe and it did not go away. It was to plague me for the rest of the event and no doubt slowed me down no end forcing me to walk a lot. Coming through the Green onto the tow path it was busy with fresh relay runners but fortunately there was a slight breeze in the back pushing us along. I was struggling but forced myself to run this section with the 5hr goal in mind and passed Linda fiddling with her Ipod. It seemed like forever before we exited the Towpath (no water stops for a long way) to the industrial estate. This is the worst section on a marathon course in the world and it stretches for a few miles winding its way past lorries and factories. At least today it didn't smell.
Beautiful day

Coming back into the city we passed through a building site (seriously) before coming onto the main Lagan towpath that brought us to the Ormeau Rd. I was at 23 miles at 4:17 and was comfortable enough for a sub 5 from here and plodded on with my sore leg. The support picks up here and there was lots of joviality at the Pavillion and Errigle pubs on the long drag up the Ormeau Rd. Turning for the last 1.5 miles (mostly downhill) was a relief and I kept it going all the way to the finish. Coming across the line in 4:57. Picking up the medal and T my leg stiffened up immediately and I hobbled to see the McVeighs who were running in one of the relay teams. They looked as if they had done a parkrun. It being a point to point event there was a shuttle bus back to the start where the car was parked and in no time we were on the road back to Dublin. Kris did great again following her sub 4 with a 4:05 for an average sub 4 b2b.

I went to the Physio the next day who thankfully confirmed there was nothing serious on the knee and some rest and massage should sort it out.

Stats for today

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