No pictures yet - will get something nicer up if they put up some photos!

The third half marathon in Waterford this year; between the postponed Dec. 2010 half marathon held in January, the national half marathon in September and the 2011 WAC club race held this December, there were plenty of grumbles from local runners at the thought of having to trek out the Waterford bypass again on what is one of the less scenic half marathon routes in the country!

There was a big turnout, nevertheless, route fatigue and end of season fatigue notwithstanding, as nearly 1200 runners turned out on Saturday morning on a lovely crisp day for running.

Athenry AC was well represented considering the distance to the race.

Jane Ann Meehan must be congratulated for an outstanding performance, running a new personal record of 1:25:16; a teeth-gritting pace of 6:31 per mile. She finished as sixth female, and in 60th place overall out of a huge field.

MJ Conlon was next, squeezing into the top 200 finishers in 1:44:11. Kieran Guiry followed just over a minute behind, rounding off a busy season at 1:45:50.

Marie Curran made up the Athenry crew, running close to her home in the Deise, and chasing down a narrowly missed PB in 2:10:16; fresh from her first marathon in Dublin in October.

Here is Marie's account of the race:

"December 10th was a long time coming; I had entered the Waterford Half marathon over a year ago but didn’t get to race it last year due to the weather and the rescheduled date not suiting me; however I eventually got to stand on the starting line hoping for a new PB on Saturday. I really wanted to finish the race in 2.07.59, thinking it would be a lovely achievement to wrap the up the year.

I travelled to Dungarvan on Friday evening, making it a short drive to the race on Saturday morning. To top it off my wonderful husband was my chauffeur for the weekend... I’m sure I will pay for this. After registration and a warm up I noticed some Craughwell singlets in the crowd and decided to go over and say hi. Áine, Paul and Valerie kept me company while we eagerly waited for the race to get underway.

Áine told me she was hoping to finish the race in around 2.15 and I told her my plan so we headed off together. Starting in my favourite spot, at the back of the field, I think there were about five other runners around us, the rest of the pack ahead.

I started out at 9.50 minute miles, faster than I would normally do for a half marathon but today was the day to test unchartered waters and try for that new PB. Áine decided we would use my watch as the pace setter as she didn’t trust hers, which was giving her average pace. We chatted away ticking off the miles, hitting three miles in 29.24 minutes; we hoped our good fortune would continue.

Mile five arrived pretty fast and we were still nice and evenly pace; the plan was working. Between mile 5 and 6 runners started passing us on the opposite side of the road as they had made the turn for home, the course was an out and back course, meaning those speedsters I envy were heading for home as we were still making our way to the turning point. I spotted Jane-Anne as we continued forward.

We hit a nice hill just before the 6 mile mark and my pace slipped out to just over 10 minute miles, I was not overly happy and told Áine that the pace had slipped but we would make up for in on the downhill which was fast approaching, thankfully we did, taking the downhill nicely at 9.40 minute miles and it was soon our turn to cross the road and head for home.

There were supporters dotted along the route and those poor people stuck in a really, really long tailback, hating us, spared a few beeps and shouts of encouragement for us as we hit the 8 mile marker. We passed a gentleman who told us to keep up our pace and told us we were going well. He was a great supporter, popping up every two miles or so to give us much needed encouragement.

8 miles brought with it a hill and my pace really slipped here, going out to 10.3 minute miles. I stared at my watch in disbelief but did not allow myself to get bogged down just yet, the race was still on and 2.07.59 was still there for the taking. At this point we met with Valerie, the other girl from Craughwell and we had a few words with her before silence prevailed yet again as we put the heads down and motored forward.

Mile 8 to 9 was a struggle for me and I was really conscious of my slipping pace, I told Áine that it had slipped and I didn’t know how I would be from here to the finish, telling her to go on from me if she had it in her. Her reply was that she was happy to stay with me, the hill had taken it out of her also and right now she was happy to stay going as we were.

The 10 mile marker brought with it mixed feelings, I hit it in 1:38:24. While I was thrilled at reaching this milestone, knowing I was so close to finishing, the 2.07.59 was fading from my mind. I was annoyed with myself as I knew the next three miles would be a lot slower than they should be. I tried to push the pace to 11 miles and succeeded in doing a 10.05 minute mile but just could not go faster than this.

Mile 12 brought with it more annoyance as I saw my pace go out to 10.30. Áine was a lot stronger than me and she went just ahead of me, shouting back "Marie, are you with me?" every so often. I was so glad to have her just in front as I used her to make myself keep pushing for home. Another girl latched onto her also, probably glad of her strong lead!

That last mile was horrendous, I felt like throwing up as I was giving it all I had but the tank was beyond reserve, I gave up looking at my pace and instead focused on that green and white singlet in front of me, trying not to let anyone get between us.

People were now shouting at me, telling me I was nearly there and then suddenly I saw the turn in for the Sports complex and was delighted, I was going home. My delight was short lived however, as the course brought us onto a running track, and while the surface was lovely and bouncy, I was not in the mood to run a lap of it, but what could I do? The only option was to try and catch Áine.

Thankfully as I rounded the top bend I noticed a crowd of people and then that lovely thing called a race clock... the finish... whoohoo, we didn’t have to run an entire lap. One of Áines supporters saved a cheer for me and shouted at me to go for it. I dug the feet in and gave it my all as I crossed the line in a time of 2:10:16 (my watch reading 2:09:42).

Áine had crossed before me and was waiting to hug me; she was over the moon with her race, knocking her old PB out of the water. The Fields of Athenry 10k will be no bother to her in a few weeks. Her delight made up for my disappointment, but I did succeed in running 10 miles of the race faster than I have done before, I just need to make sure I run all 13 miles faster next time out."

Aine mc guinness

12 years 7 months ago

I have to say that Marie was one of the best pacers I have ever run with. She was so encouraging and focussed for the full race. there is no way I would have done 2.09 without her especially when I was hoping for 2.15! Athenryac is extremely lucky to have her but we did wonder could we arrange a transfer:) there was only 5 seconds between us and she forgot to mention that straight away she did a recovery lap and there was not too many able for that! Thank you Marie I will never forget that race and we are all looking forward to athenry 10k.


12 years 7 months ago

Thanks Áine for the kind words but you achieved your goal with your own hard work and helped me in my last mile when I was the one "using" you!! Heres hoping for another great day out in the New Year. Best of luck to you in the Athenry 10k where im sure youll smash your 10k pb!

John Geraghty

12 years 7 months ago

Hey guys..
Great reading the above and i can totally identify with peoples experiences, the pain, the exhilliration, the relief and the joy.
Saturdays half marathon was perfect for me to make my first attempt at 13.1 miles, and although i was suffering for the last mile or so, i was glad to complete the run in 1.50:59, very pleasing as i only stared running seriously in early July (when trainig for my first Galeforce).
My super ultra running cousin, Athenry ACs own Valerie Glavin, has been a great help an inspiration to me, as has Tom Hunt from Mayo AC, and esp Ronan Kelly an Louise O'Rourke from Craughwell AC, who were just brilliant help and so encouraging on the day. Class pacing Ronan, many thanks.
See you all at the Fields of Athenry..
John Geraghty, Doughiska. (currently clubless but considering!)