Anglo Celtic Hurricane

Published in Club News on 2nd April 2006

Connemara Ultra 2004:Connemara Ultra 2004
Connemara Ultra 2004:Connemara Ultra 2004

Mick Rice completed the UK 100 kilometer Championships (Anglo Celtic Plate) in 8hrs 18mins today (Sunday 2nd April) to finish in seventh position overall. The race was held on a two-mile track at the RAF base in Innsworth, Gloucester. As if the distance was not enough to contend with, a strong wind blew steadily all day on the exposed course, and increased in strength as the day wore on. At one stage chairs blew across the course infront of the lead runners! Times were down across the field in the poor conditions.

Mick competed for Ireland today, but was unfortunately the only Irishman in the field. He managed to beat all the Scottish runners and all but one of the Welsh.

I spoke to him in his hotel room shortly after the event and he was in good spirits and very happy with his run.

Congratulations Mick. Today was another landmark in the short history of our club.

++++

In other club news today Alan Burke, Gary Doherty and I travelled down to Quilty in west Clare for the Michael Egan Memorial 4m race. A beautiful sunny day for the race, but we also had some of the wind Mick experienced in Gloucester. My first experience of running in Quilty, this was the 33rd consecutive race!
I was happy to clock a 24:26 marking another step on my recovery from a knee injury. Gary is not sure of his time but ran about 26mins before heading off to a clay shooting competition where he managed to hit 20 of 25 targets. Would that qualify as a bi-athlon?

Run of the day however goes to Alan who was delighted to capture a valuable scalp today. Finishing in 25:13, Alan managed to edge past Tom Hunt of Mayo with about 100m to go. Although Tom has a few extra years experience on Alan, he is showing no signs of slowing down, so Alan won the Cheshire Cat award.

The Legend Grows

Published in Club News on 28th March 2006

This Sunday, April 2nd, our own Mick Rice will represent Ireland in the UK 100 kilometer Championships (Anglo Celtic Plate). The race starts at 8:00am and consists of a mind boggling number of laps around a track at the RAF base in Innsworth, Gloucester. All competitors, supporters and officials need security clearance in advance in order to participate on the base (but my personal view is that a sanity check would be more appropriate).

Mick has trained like a trojan for this one and can don the green singlet with pride. On behalf of the club I wish him the very best of luck on Sunday. Why not log in, and post a comment for Mick?

My First Connemara - But not my last

Published in Reports on 28th March 2006

Connemarathon 2006 ”“

We came, we saw, we got wet, but we conquered the Hell of The West.

I should temper my report with the sad news that a fellow runner, a Frank Haines from England, who was running the Half Marathon, collapsed and sadly passed away despite the best efforts of the wonderful medical team and fellow runners who assisted, and our thoughts go out to his friends and family. It puts everything into perspective when a tragedy like this happens, but we must go on and I dedicate my report to Frank and those that have gone before him.

We drove over to Connemara on Saturday, a 4-hour drive from Dublin, heading for out base in Clifden and passing the Marathon Finish at Mamm Cross on the way. As we passed, the preparation activity was going on, so we called in to see what was happening and bumped into a group of people who were running the Race Directors Marathon, a special Invitee’s race to enable those masochists who like to run two marathons in a weekend the opportunity. Some people!

We got to Clifden and checked in, taking in the Soccer on TV and relaxing with a nap before I went to the gym and jogged a couple of miles to loosen up. My training partner, Kieran, and his wife Barbara, met up with us in the bar before we headed to the Pasta Party going on in the hotel. A well attended and well supplied gathering, with plenty of food and a good selection as well. We were joined by First Timer Aisling from Cork, and after dinner we retired to the bar, the runners all on soft drinks, listened to some music and retired to bed, remembering to move our clocks forward an hour as “Summer Time” started this weekend.

Well, Summer Time, saw me waking up at 6:45 to see grey clouds, mist on the hills, and the wind clearly picking up as the trees in the hotel grounds were swaying in time to the rain! A brief breakfast and the coaches were ready to take our merry crew to the Staging area. There were three races taking place, the Marathon with 540 registered, a Half with a couple of thousand participants and the Ultra, over 39 miles with some 80 lining up. The races all finish in the same place, but the starts were at various points, so after a quick arrival and a chance to see the 9 am start for the Ultra, we were shipped off to Lough Innagh and the Holding area for the start of our race on the shore of the Lough.

10:30 was the time we were due off. I saw a few friends, we all swapped our tales and hopes, casting our eyes skyward as the grey mist and low clouds were sure to be relieving their precipitation upon us at some point. To be fair, the temperatures were milder than off late, probably up to around the high 40’s, and freezing was never going to be a problem, so I ran in my club vest with a wicking shirt underneath. However the wind was likely to be a factor, so I ran with my woolly hat, and I have to admit to being glad I did, even if I may have looked a little strange (No comments about how I always look strange!).

The race was off at 10:30, having seen the leading Ultras pass us, and Kieran and myself settled into our pace easily, being joined very quickly by Ian, another First Timer, more about him later. Kieran and I had planned on aiming for 9 minute pace for as long as we could. The course was definitely a tale of two halves with the first half being the easier, and the second half having two significant climbs, one at around 13.5 miles, and a second, the Hell of The West, at 22 miles, and at 1.8 miles long, it would certainly be a challenge. Our first mile was 8:55, nice and easy, and very comfortable on the rolling road along the Lough side. The rain was keeping off and we were running effortlessly. I don’t stop my watch on marathons every mile, tending to go for 5 mile splits, but my memory recalls that we ran the next couple of miles in around 8:30 each mile, as we were over a minute and a half up on our goal after 4 miles, but the pace was comfortable.

Between Miles 4 and 5 I had a Paula moment. I could feel my breakfast stating to work, and I needed to make a pit stop. Now you might think that a Marathon running around the wind-swepped fields of the West of Ireland would provide plenty of places to dive into to relieve oneself, but no! The fields are open, not a tree in sight, but thankfully I could see a Porta-Pottie coming up ahead, so I left K and Ian to run on as I took my pit-stop. I lost three minutes on this stop, and so my 5 mile split shows 46:11 and I worked hared than I would have liked to re-catch the boys and those next five miles of solo running saw 43:56 clocked, and a 10 mile 9:07, and I caught the lads up and we got back together, and had a good laugh as we prepared to drop into Killary Fjord, well drop into the village of Leenaune rather than the fjord itself, although the rain we encountered on the second half left us as dry as if we had run though the fjord!

Ian was a scream. It was his First Marathon, and as a training method he ran a half marathon a year ago, and did take the wise move to give up smoking last week, and only have a few pints on the Saturday night. I’m sure he was being economical with the truth, but it amused us and kept us smiling as the rain started to fall and the conditions worsened. We reached half way on 1:58:11, and Barbara was waiting for us with bananas and goo, a welcome sight, and we ran through the village of Leenaune, famous for being the setting for the Richard Harris film, The Field.

Turing out of the village you encounter the first real climb. I love hills, and decided to work hard as we climbed the 250 feet from the harbour to the plain. This hill is steeper than the 22 miler, but given it was still within the “early” stages of the race, it didn’t feel as hard, and once we levelled off I knew we had some 7 miles to “coast” before the dreaded hill! Mile 15 saw a 45:20 split for 5 and only 27 seconds outside our 9-minute pace goal. However, it was now that the wheels started to come off for me. The constant rain had soaked through my shoes, and the blisters I have been suffering for weeks, started to come into play, although it was the smaller one on my left foot that was to play the worst enemy to my progression. Around here I had to let Ian and Kieran run on ahead as I was having trouble on the flat and downhill stretches. The blister was on the ball of my foot, and although I could get onto my toes on the uphills, the downhills where the foot strikes on the ball was an “ouch, ouch, ouch” experience.

My now walk/run stretch was reflected in my time to Mile 20, a 53:55 split and any hope of breaking 4 hours was well gone. I was still on for 4:15, still respectable given the conditions, but knowing what was ahead I had my doubts. I had caught Ian, who was struggling, and he was walking on behind me, but Kieran was running well, tired but determined to run all the way and I had no sight of him on this stretch. With the rain now directly into our faces, and the headwind whipping up, thankfully not as fast as the forecast’s had predicted, but still strong enough for me, it was a struggle and making new friends along the way, I persevered, trying to block out the pain every time my left foot hit the road, thinking at one point, “I wonder if I could hop a marathon”.

We headed for home, turning by the pub (Keane’s I think!), crossing the river and my last goo stop, along with sweets and chocolates being handed out by the brave volunteers who were the only spectators on the course and a welcome sight every 3 miles or so. That’s not totally true, as I recall the watchful eyes of many a sheep wondering why their tranquillity was being shattered by the footfalls of a few thousand idjits, and baaing us along. At one point, two cows were stood at the roadside, and mooed as I passed, I thanked them for their support ”“ It made a welcome change from “You’re Looking Great” or “Awesome”.

Mentally I was strong, but physically I was feeling drained, and somewhere after the Mile 22 mark, The Hill commences. It isn’t that steep, just never-ending. Consistent, and visual. You can see the road dotted with bobbing figures rise up above you, and as the saying goes, “This road sure does rise up to meet you””¦ It was tough, and I make no apology for walking at many stages, then getting on my toes for a while and trying to keep up a pace. As an indication, only two people passed me on the whole climb, and I was struggling ”“ The rain, the wind, the climb were taking their toll on more than me.

Eventually the summit is reached, and only a little over two miles to go, downhill and flat were now awaiting us, and I was determined to finish strong. My blister was killing me, but my mind was working on the assumption that it was better to run through the pain barrier and get finished as quickly as possible, so I set off. The 25 mile split was 63:08, but I actually was checking my watch from the 24 mile mark, having clicked accidentally there, and I could see I was either starting to fly, or the mile marker was wrong, I ran 7:30 for Miler 25, yes you read that right, my fastest mile of the race was Mile 25 (OK, there is a nice downhill stretch here!), and I was suddenly flying, thinking about how fast I could have been on a flatter course, or maybe in a nice sun-drenched marathon such as Hawaii, not Connemara in March ”“ Why am I a glutton for punishment?

Mile 25 was past and the last 1.2. I could suddenly see Kieran up ahead of me, and reeled him back, meaning to run home with him, but he was running on empty by then, and I had to keep my pace going, he told me afterwards, that he had been expecting me to rush past him, I think his quote was “The Old Fecker will come strong at the end”. I persevered, clocked of Mile 26, and knew the finish was just ahead. I hadn’t been able to see anything for the last 4 miles properly as my glasses needed wipers, and has been steaming up as well, but I can smell a Marathon Finish Line and I kept running hard, could see the clock counting down to 4:20:56,”¦ 57,”¦”¦ 58,”¦.. 59,”¦.. 00”¦”¦”¦ I was done ”“ 4:21:00 spot on, and the last 1.2 miles in 8:30, the last two miles and 385 yards in 16 minutes exactly, if only I can repeat that next time out I’ll be very happy.

I waited for Kieran to come through, shattered but immensely delighted to finish his first marathon. The Medal was very welcome, and the T-Shirt very apt with it’s phrase about Hitting the Wall in Connemara. The wonderful and welcome soup and coffee, sandwiches and fruit were a god-send, and whilst the army tents may have been dark and muddy by now, they were a wonderful place to be having braved the elements.

Having located our bags (thanks Barbara), and changed into dry clothes, we had a lift back to Clifden and Dee was waiting for me, a welcome hug and a nice pint, as we relaxed with fellow runners and swapped tales about our exploits in the Wild West. It was here that we heard about the tragedy, which brought everyone down to earth. I know it can happen anywhere, and has done many times before in races around the globe, but somehow it felt closer to home in this International Marathon with a flavour of being far more like a Local Race, an amateur feel to a very professionally organised event.

I would like to thank the volunteers, the Race Director and his team, the Medics, and everyone else involved with the staging of this event. It isn’t easy. That was Number 20 for me, and by a long way my hardest. If you are looking for a Marathon Experience that involves huge crowds, a fast course and a PB, then this isn’t for you, but if you love a challenge, welcome the camaraderie of fellow runners, enjoy great craic, before, during and after the event, then this is the One ”“ A great Experience, tough and challenging, but then again, isn’t that what it should all be about.

The first leg of my 2006 Grand Slam completed, and I’m guessing (and hoping!) the hardest of the four. My goal is to run 16 hours for the 4 Irish Marathons, so I can now work on my target for the next leg, Belfast on May 1st.

One final note. I got through this race feeling strong, and apart from the blisters, no injuries. As I write this on Tuesday morning, some 36 hours after the finish, I feel fine, my legs are recovering easily, and whilst I can still feel the 26 miles in them, I can walk easily and will be running a recovery run this evening. I do have one injury that is really sore, and drew blood at the time. Creeping back into the Hotel Room at 5 am after partying after the race, and trying not to wake Dee who had retired around 3, I stubbed my toe on the bed ”“It really hurts J

Updated to record Official Time as 4:20:48 (Liam)

Connemara Half '06. I knew I was in trouble when ...

Published in Reports on 27th March 2006

I knew I was in trouble when I passed Johnny O’Connor inside the first mile. I’m sure he won’t mind me saying that like the proverbial bullet-from-a-gun Johnnie usually goes out hard before gravity takes hold and slows him down. By going past him inside the first mile, I knew that I too had gone out hard.

I knew I was in trouble when my breathing was remarkably more laboured than my fellow climbers on the ascent towards the heavens. After an exhilarating downhill start, watching Peter Matthews sprint away in front of me, the hill climb out of Leenane soon put manners on me. Any euphoric giddiness of race start was soon replaced by a rasping realisation that this was going to be hard work.

I knew I was in trouble when despite the wind and rain blowing me back towards Kilary Fjord, I felt too hot wearing the maroon colours over a short sleeved running top. Mother Nature was doing her level best to cool me down but my temperature regulator was still blowing a gasket.

I knew I was in trouble but was I listening? As an engineer I’m trained to analytically assess all the inputs and determine the outcome. As an experienced road runner I’m well capable of running a sensible race with perfect pacing, an even energy expenditure over the distance and a mindful eye on the various signals emanating from my body. As a mature man I’ve long ago dispensed with the frivolous, care-free, to-hell-with-it attitude of the teenager. Only not today ”¦

”¦ today I was having fun.

Having sat out a long winter without pulling on the race shoes because of a bit of osteochondritis dissecans (a knee thing), today I was in a race! True, I had little or no training done. And, yes I was in no real condition for racing. I could see that the huffing and puffing of the weather gods over Connemara was not going to help. I knew every inch of this hilly way. The wind roaring in my ears told me to take it easy, but that noise was lost in the rush of blood to the head and the stampede of adrenaline through the veins. I was in a race.

I knew I was in trouble when I passed Johnny, when I laboured up the first steep climb and when my body temperature called out for common sense, but I was lovin’ it.

When I fell in with a bunch of four other runners I immediately decided to stay with them in order to save energy into the wind. I eased into a position where three bodies sheltered me from the conditions and I began to relax. There was ‘grey cotton tee-shirt’, ‘red singlet’, ‘iron-man bandanna’, ‘specialist’ and I, running in a tight bunch. After a half mile or so I pushed into the lead and ‘grey cotton tee-shirt’ came with me to take a turn at the front. I was delighted to see that within three or four minutes I could ease down and ‘specialist’, ‘red singlet’ or ‘iron-man bandanna’ took up the running. Onwards we charged, sharing the work, enjoying the rest periods and covering the miles. This was my favourite part of the race as I allowed myself the unadulterated joy of running along at pace, striding out at ease. The only thing that I didn’t listen to was the little voice in my head saying ‘this is all very well but ”¦ too fast, too fast, TOO FAST’.

I knew I was in trouble when two consecutive miles went by in 6:06 and 6:07. There was no way in Connemara’s wide open spaces that I was in shape for 6:06 pace, but I did I stop to think? Of course not, I simply blamed the mile markers. The big yellow signs were obviously mis-placed, how else could I be running this fast? My apologies now to the Saturday crew who erected almost sixty mile markers around the course ”¦ hindsight and a good look at the splits recorded on my watch has shown me that it was I who erred and not the course markers. These two fast miles were downhill, by the time I had covered four miles I had laid the groundwork for the pain that was yet to come.

At mile six reality overcame exuberance. I realised that I was knackered with less than half the distance ran. The slight rise between the five and six mile markers had slowed me down to a 6:55 pace. While ‘grey cotton tee-shirt’ had already fallen off the group, I now disconsolately watched as ‘specialist’, ‘red singlet’ and ‘iron-man bandanna’ ran away from me. High spirits plunged into the depths of self pity.

Where I had laughed at the rain, I now felt the buffeting, wet wind. Where I eased out in long strides, I now worked hard to keep going. Where I shared the race in unspoken words with a group of five, I now toiled alone.

One of the things I find very difficult to do in a race, is to allow faster runners to move away from you without giving in completely. Now I’m running with the group; now I decide that I have to let them go; and now I’ve slowed drastically. A yawning gap quickly opened and steadily grew. Instead of slowly falling back from the group I dropped three or four gears and watched helplessly as they motored on.

The fun was gone.

Somehow human nature overcomes adversity and I found that as I approached the eight mile marker I began to steel myself for the climb ahead. I was about to face the Hell of the West, a long winding ascent out of Maum towards the finish. This climb, although not as steep as the climb out of Leenane, lasts for more than two miles. Two long, slow miles. The thoughts of this penance perked me up no end.

I knew that I had slain this dragon before, and I knew that I would do so again. Suddenly I was overtaking people. Ten minutes before I cursed tarmacadam, but now I encouraged other runners. I drank from a water bottle and began the climb.

Seven times now I have climbed the Hell of the West. Seven times I have weaved around the bends now left, now right. You’d think that I would have learned by now. Some time after the ten mile marker a runner passed me and as he shuffled by, in a lot better shape than I, he asked if we were near the top. I genuinely assured him that he could see the top from there, not far to go. Oh how wrong I was. Another bend and another climb. Incessant uphill. Lactic acid should be renamed Lead acid. My old pal ‘grey cotton tee-shirt’ passed me near the top. The wind continued to blow me back but somehow I reached the top.

In previous years I crested the hill to begin a triumphant recovery and an acceleration to the finish line below. Second winds begin here. But not today. I was greeted at the top with a faceful of wind and rain. I tried to pick up the pace, but seemed to be unable to concentrate and alternated between determined bursts and despairing falters. Runners went by me. I averaged about seven minute pace over the last two miles where in 2005 I had averaged 6:50’s. In 2005 I was running the last two miles of a marathon, this year I was finishing miles 12 and 13.

The cameraman mounted on a motorbike must have thought I looked pretty bad, so he focused his camera on me for what seemed like an age. In an effort to make him go away, I grimaced and said something like “help me”. He didn’t. But at least he went away.

I’m not sure what happened over the last few yards. I think I crashed a bit and perhaps hit the wall. My vision began to protest and I experienced a strobe-light effect where bright flashes were interspersed with jet blackness. Thankfully this occurred right at the end. I slowed drastically to a 9:23 pace between 13 and 13.1 ”“ no sprint finish today. Crossing the line I was very happy to see Ray. It’s almost become a Connemara tradition now where Ray looks worriedly at me and helps me shuffle along the finishing chute. Finishing chutes are miraculous places ”¦ once my body realises that I’m in a finishing chute it recovers in seconds. The disco lights stopped, I woke up from the nightmare and Dorothy was back in Kansas. I shared a few moments with ‘grey cotton tee-shirt’ and ‘iron-man bandanna’ before drinking hot soup for Ireland.

I knew I was in trouble when I started to smile and talk about what a great event the Connemara marathon weekend is. I knew I was in trouble but did that stop me ”¦

Connacht Tribune notes w/e 17 March 2006

Published in Club News on 21st March 2006

Paul McNamara of Athenry AC (Senior) won the AAI national
short-course cross country championship in Tymon Park, Dublin
this Sunday (12 March). He held off Mick Clohessy of Raheny
Shamrocks by two seconds in a ding-dong battle for the lead
throughout most of the race. Paul now holds national titles
on both the road and in cross-country. He is targeting
himself for a good track season and can hopefully add to his
haul of national titles in the process.

The club enjoyed a very successful Ballycotton 10M road race
last Sunday week (5 March) with 9 locals making the trip down
to the East Cork venue. Leading Athenry AC home, again, was
Mick Rice, finishing in 49th place in an excellent time of
58:28 (Personal Best). Brian O'Connor just missed out on a
top 100 position, coming home 101st in 60:41 (PB). Peter
Delmer in 64:46, James Lundon in 65:40 (PB), Johnny O'Connor
in 66:15 (PB), Alan Burke in 66:45 (PB), Michael Rooney in
69:59 (PB), Dave Dunne 70:55 and Liam Mycroft 75:50 all did
the club proud too. A record 2800 competitors completed the
10 mile course this year.

This Sunday (12 March), Ballybrit Racecourse was the venue for
the AC's latest club run, a mile on the tarmac around outside
of the track. Fourteen athletes competed, with Ian Egan
winning in an excellent 4:40. Windy conditions made good
times difficult, with many competitors being over a dozen
seconds back on recent form over the same course and distance.

All eyes are now on the Connemarathon, to be held on two
Sundays' time out around Maam Cross, Lough Inagh and Leenane.
The club will have many runners in both the Full and Half
marathons. The race itself is organised by well known club
member and marathoner, Ray O'Connor.

As a result of our successful 10KM road race at Christmas, we
are in a position to donate €750 to local charity Cancer Care
West. We thank everyone who made the 4th running of the Field
of Athenry 10KM a huge success and hope to see you all again
this St. Stephen's Day.

For much more detail on the club and its activities, why not
check out our excellent web site, http://www.athenryac.com.

Letterkenny to Host High Quality 10k Race

Published in Other News on 21st March 2006

Letterkenny
Letterkenny

News has reached us that the 'Northwest 10k Charity Road Race and Walk' will be held in Letterkenny at the end of April of this year. A healthy prize-list, with bonuses for the truly quick, is up for grabs at the event which looks sure to attrach a large field of both runners and walkers.

Race details are below and are also included in our race calendar. Our very best wishes go to all involved with the venture and we hope it's a huge success.

30th April 2006 3PM
CHECK IN
COMMUNITY CENTRE
Letterkenny
Co.Donegal

Entry fee: Run €10,Walk €5.
Goodie bag & T-shirt
Spot prizes. Free Refreshments.

Prizes
1st - 6th Senior Men
1st - 3rd Senior Women
1st - 3rd Junior Men & Women
Master Men 35-39, 40-49, 50+
Master Women 35-39,40-44,45+

€500 Euro First Man To Break 29:14
€500 Euro First Woman To Break 32:34

For further details contact:
Brendan Mc Daid: 0868113947
email: [email protected]
www.northwest10k.com

Quilty 'Four-Miler' Beckons

Published in Other News on 20th March 2006

Quilty 2004
Quilty 2004

Kilmurry Ibrickane/North Clare Athletic Club are holding the four-mile open road race and four-mile fun-walk at Quilty, Co. Clare on Sunday 2nd April 2006 starting at 01:00 pm with the walk and the road race 01:30pm. This ever-popular event has been a regular on the Athenry AC touring schedule for the last few years and retains it's reputation as one of the best road races in the country.

Changing facilities and entries at the Kilmurray Ibrickane Football Club on the main Quilty - Kilrush Road.

PRIZES: 3,000 . Euros CASH PRIZE FUND Plus TEAM AWARDS.
1ST. 10 SENIOR MEN Winner-2005, G. Ryan G. C. H. 1ST. 3 MEN O/40 (19 : 24)
1ST. 3 MEN O/45
1ST. 3 MEN O/50
1st. 2 MEN O/55
1ST. MAN O/60
1ST. 3 JUNIOR MEN / Ladies
1ST. 10 SENIOR LADIES Winner-2005 V. Colleran E. T. C.
1ST. 3 LADIES O/35 (23 : 51)
1ST. 3 LADIES O/40
1st 3 LADIES O/45
1ST. LADY O/50
1ST. 4 MENS TEAMS (4 TO SCORE)
1ST. 3 LADIES TEAMS (4 TO SCORE)

*** TEE- SHIRTS TO ALL FINISHERS (ENTRY FEE ON RACE DAY 10 Euro)

*** PLUS NUMEROUS SPOT PRIZES AND REFRESHMENTS.

*** FUN RUNNERS AND WALKERS WELCOME”¦”¦”¦.

James Sexton Secretary. Phone: 065-7085379 (home)
2 Kilcorcoran, 087-2472623 (mobile)
Ballard Rd. Miltown Malbay E-MAIL. [email protected]

It was either this or the Parade - Tubbercurry 10km 17/03/2006

Published in Reports on 20th March 2006

Well It was either this or the Parade. Alan Burke's Race Report; Tubbercurry 10km 2006

Mary Porter's report here

On St. Patrick's Day, the options I had were to stand around in the bitter cold in Athenry and watch a parade of snotty kids and Agricultural machinery, sometimes all at once, or hit the N17 north to Tubbercurry for a 10km road race. Myself and Johnny O'Connor met Andy Talbot at Claregalway and after a bit of confusion [Andy's new vehicle was in the wrong Car Park], we hit north for Tubbercurry.

Quiet road and dry weather got us there in plenty of time, so there was a bit of sitting around in Killoran's [a step back in time, as they say themselves], before a few hardy souls showed up. I had the great pleasure of hearing people praise this very website from the far side of the room while waiting around. Fame at last!

We finally got around to running a bit of a warm-up, but unless you ran 4 minute miles, it was really only a cool-even-further-down. The start was delayed by 15 minutes causing frantic redonning of clothing for prevent frostbite. And eventually they let us off.

A lap around the town saw Conor Maloney of GCH lead them off, but Craughwell's Mike Tobin wasn't far from the business end of things. Lucy Brennan of Sligo had already a hold of the Women's race by the 1km mark as we headed uphill, out the countryside after the first short lap downtown.

There was a 2km gentle climb that strung out the field, and I found myself running alone for much of the next 5km. A small group had formed including Tom Hunt, Johnny O' Connor and Brege McHale. I toyed briefly with the idea of reeling them in and hanging on but I had more pressing thoughts: Could the cold weather cause any damage to any future parental ambitions that I might have? Time will tell, I suppose.

The person handing out water at the half-way mark had [in the interests of their own safety, given the weather, no doubt] abandonded their post and left cups of water on a chair. By the time I had got there I was left to pick up a plastic cup of ice and suck on it to try and retreive some moisture... I think I'd read about Tom Crean trying something similar [or was it MacGuyver...].

At about the 6km mark I was passed by two runners [ How are ye Ollie and David], whom I later find out were 'unaffiliated'. This bugs me. I wear a proper running vest. Surely T-shirt wearing wannabees should be traling in my dust? Maybe I should do some more mileage. James Lundon swears by it, but Mike Tobin scoffs at the idea. Who knows?

As this stage I could still see Johnny and Tom Hunt running side by side, having dropped Breege McHale and closing down on Andy.

With about 2km to go, I stepped up the pace a little and tried to reel in the two who had overtaken me, and I really let rip for the last km, all downhill into town, running it in about 3 mins even to finish in 40:07. I was happy enough with that, given the conditions and lack of mileage in preparation. I didn't catch the lads, they has 15 secs on me in fariness to them.

Andy held off both Johnny and Tom, who lost out to Johnny in a sprint finish, Ming you it took a PB from Johnny with 39:16 to do that. Mike tobin's 37:12 was good enough for 15th, while Conor Maloney managed 34:34 for 4th behind Mayo's John Byrne, winner in 33:02 who outsprinted Sligo's Gary Higgins to win, ahead of Paul Ward.

Lucy Brennan picked up the Women's prize with 37:12, with Breege McHale second. Noreen McManamon was third ahead of GCH's Michelle Lynch who ran a fantastic 41:51. Bernie Kelly struggled with a hamstring injury and finished someway off her best with 49:24.

There was plenty of Tea and Sandwiches after the 'how cold can we get' run down. I picked up a spot prize [ along with nearly every entrant in fairness]. It will have to do untill I find that extremely-low-key event that I can win!

Next Stop Maam Cross and The Connemara Half Marathon. My Goal of Sub 1:30 are looking shaky!

Alan Burke

PS
Did I mention it was cold?

Athenry Road Map with Distances Included

Published in Results on 19th March 2006

Attached is a map of Athenry with distances marked out. I've inserted the distance between all junctions so that you can use it to work out the length of a route before or after a run. I use it all the time and I know that many others have a copy for some time now. If you find it useful, print it out and laminate it.

All distances are in miles. All distances were worked out by scanning an ordnance survey map and using a piece of software called Accuroute to measure the distances. I find it's pretty accurate, but if you use it enough you're sure to find a few mistakes.