A race report from Aoife Callan on her April 15 marathon in Milan with partner Ray Somers, two great runs.


Ray decided he wanted to put an end to the Monday night Ryehiller’s slagging and get his first marathon under his belt. He mentioned doing a marathon in the spring in Europe so I did the research, short flight, not too hot and somewhere flat! (didn’t want to kill him on his first outing) Milan seemed perfect.  I now had something to aim for.

2010 was a bit of a non-starter for me, when I found running not as enjoyable as it should feel, so I really had no idea how this marathon was going to go.

I took a different approach to training this time round, the “Run less Run faster” approach. For me personally, running 50-60 miles a week just seemed not to work – I was guaranteed injury  and this stop/start system had left me so frustrated.

Training for Milan, I averaged 35-40 miles per week for about 8 weeks. Each week I did 1 speed session, 1 tempo run and a long run at the weekend. I cross-trained on the other 2-3 days which was cycling in to work (Athenry to Renmore) and home again. I also took part in the core classes on Monday evenings which I cannot emphasise enough how beneficial these have been to me…. Oh and wavin pipe rolling!! Ouch!! (Anyone who goes to Tom French class on a Monday evening will know all about it)

We arrived in a rainy Milan late Friday evening. Saturday was taken up by marathon pack collection and what seemed like endless wandering around the sights of Milan. (We marathon runners don’t take the sightseeing buses!). We walked, and we walked, and we walked some more… definitely not ideal prep for a marathon the next day and definitely not recommended. It could have went horribly wrong, thankfully it didn’t. At least I got a good nights sleep!

Breakfast was at 6.30am in a wet and dull Milan, we were on the Metro at 7.20am and at the start at 8am.  We both were in our starting pens at 8.45am ready for off at 9.20am.  This felt like an eternity.  It was raining and cold (bins bags were a God send, although slightly out of place amongst the fashionable Italians with their umbrellas!) and I was nearly deafened by the screaming Italian commentary. We were on our way eventually.  Ray took off, not to be seen again until the finish.

The 3.15 pacers passed me in the first mile and for a millisecond I thought will I go with that group and see how far I got, but I wasn’t long telling myself to calm down and cop on! In my own mind I was aiming for 3hrs 20mins so I planned 7.35 mins per mile pace as far as I could manage. The first half was non-eventful, nothing much to see scenery wise and spectators were sparse.  I reached the half way mark in 1.39.03, felt great so decided to push the pace, spectators were a lot more plentiful and seemed to make a lot more noise just when I needed them to keep the pace going.

I reached the 20 miles in comfort, legs felt good, breathing good, no major pains, I was happy…. Or was I? Negative Aoife reared its ugly head….10k still to do…10 whole k... (10k is my least favourite distance). How am I going to do it?  I had to fight for positive mental thinking in the last few miles. I was screaming inside “I can do this!” and I could even do it in 3hrs 19 ish if I kept the pace going. I could see the finish at last, I forgot about Negative Aoife and put the boot down as the clock was nearing 3hrs 17mins 55 sec, could I get under 3.18?…well I didn’t.3hrs 18mins on the botton. Chip time 3 hours 17 min 39 sec, (9minutes 10 sec off my previous pb)  I was happy, however it was hard not to feel disappointed for Ray, who had come so agonisingly  close to breaking the 3 hour barrier coming in at 3hours 8 secs .Still, an amazing achievement on his first marathon.

All in all it was a great flat course, cheap to enter at about €40 and Milan is perfect for a weekend away.

Lyall Guiney

12 years 1 month ago

Aoife, Ray, that is awesome running, serious congratulations. Aoife - props to the 40 mile p/w training, I hear ya!! And Ray, we all knew you could nail an 8k/10k/half-mara but to go within a heartbeat of a sub 3 hour marathon on your first attempt... that's pretty special.

Eimear Butler

12 years 1 month ago

In reply to by Lyall Guiney

Super report Aoife and great running the pair of you. Feeling inspired now for my slow crawl back to fitness! Eimear.


12 years ago

Great running by both of ye.Super marathon times.
We will have to slag Ray about something else on Mondays now.