After Johnny's fantastic run in Berlin a couple of weeks back a few of us tried to encourage him to write a race report and here it is at last.He doesn't often record his racing experiences for posterity but I suppose lopping forty minutes off of your marathon personal best time requires that you make the effort. Congrats on a great race Johnny.

I got struck down with 'flu (chest infection) three weeks before the big day. This meant I had to taper early. A 10 mile week two weeks out, 35 miles one week out and 10 miles the week of the marathon. Got to Berlin on the Friday evening feeling fresh. Started the hydration process - three litres of water and headed to the marathon expo to get the number pick-up out of the way. Up at 7:30am on Saturday morning and headed out to the 'Friendship 6km' with Mick and Tim. The main reason we ventured out on this run was to see the 1936 Olympic Stadium, which was a fair spectacle.

Back to the hotel for some rest while the rest of the crew took in some sights. I slept for a few hours and woke up with a hunger that needed to be sorted so I headed to a nearby Italian Restaurant for the much-needed pasta dish. More water, about four litres in all.

An early bed followed another meal that evening. Slept right through the alarm, which is unusual for a marathon eve (I’m a bit like a kid on Christmas Eve). None of the usual nervous tension during breakfast which consisted of some cereal and coffee. Back up to the room to get togged-out before we congregated in the hotel lobby. Some of the 15 Croí Team marathoners headed for the train while we decided to walk the miles miles to the start. We had enough time.

As we got closer to the start area we met up with a familiar face who was running from the elite start and had a spare number for the 'A' Pen (right up at the front), which he kindly offered up to anyone who wanted it. You earn this if you are a sub-2:20 runner. Coach Mick made me take it as he said, "This is a great chance, Johnny - go for it!"

I reluctantly pinned the paper number onto my shirt (it didn't make any difference to my result as I was wearing my own chip) but was delighted when I got to the pens. The 40,000 other starters were squashed together like sardines but the 'A' Pen had only about 20 blackguards like myself positioned right behind the elite field with acres of room to stretch out and warm up. What a buzz! This all happened after we had to jog a mile or so to the baggage area, against the droves, to leave our baggage off for the aftermath. What a nightmare! A quick wizz and a good-luck wave to Ray and Mick and we departed for the start.

After a few announcements the gun went and I got swallowed up, from the 4th row back into what seemed like the 10,000th. The leaders were out of sight and their entourage of vehicles were but dots in the distance after a couple of hundred metres.

All I can tell you from here is that I felt very comfortable most of the way around, got to 21km in 1:30:46 and didn’t feel like I had started running yet. I kept the pace up until 35k, where I can remember choking on a cup of water, before I got going again and finished fairly strong with 3:01:50 glaring down at me from the finishing bridge like the God above - yes, there is one! My

initial goal for this marathon was a sub-3:30, which Mick made me revise down to 3:20 and then 3:15 in the weeks before the race.

Still not sure from what hat this time was pulled out of though!

21:32 - 5k

21:40 - 10k

21:24 - 15k

21:30 - 20k

21:08 - 25k

21:17 - 30k

21:10 - 35k

22:22 - 40k

9:51 - 42k



Mucho respect to Ray who knocked a huge chunk off his PB which was only two weeks young.

And, of course, JAL for his ongoing contribution to the GAA :) Roll on Dublin for this man.

Johnny O'Connor - October 2007.


16 years 8 months ago

Looks at those Mick Rice-like splits and weep...


16 years 8 months ago

Congratulations to Johnny on a marvellous performance in Berlin. The split times are highly impressive---a difference of only 50 seconds between the 1st 5k and 8th 5k!!!! What is even more impressive is the fact that he ran the first half marathon in 90 minutes 46 seconds and was only 18 seconds slower for the second half.

Any chance we could get an account of how he handled hydration requirements during the race---did he take water at every opportunity and did he make use of gels or energy drinks?

Also, did he have a predicted time in his head based on recent 5k, 10k or half marathon times? What were his best times leading up to Berlin?

Finally---would love to hear his views on suitable marathon shoes----did he wear out and out racing flats or a lightweight racer/trainer?

I am sure that all aspiring marathoners would learn from his experiences in producing a time that a lot of us can only dream about.

Hope you won't have to wait long for a sub-3.

As they say in German "Ja, das geht".