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