On a wet Saturday morning where else would we be only standing at the start of the Burren Challenge? After a few jokes about how to get our cars out of the field they were currently parked in, Elaine Quinn, Janet Clancy, Owen Curran, Frank Burke, Liam and Frances Egan and I were off.

The start was the last I saw of Liam, Janet, Owen and Frank…Surprise surprise!! Elaine, Frances and I ran along chatting for the first mile or so until Frances took a right turn and up a nice hill for her 10k race (finishing in a chip time of 57:37) and Elaine and I turned left and headed along the half marathon course. We had been warned about what lay ahead and had done our own research so it was a case of bring it on!

We were both treating the race as a training run and wanted to enjoy ourselves as best we could; I barely glanced at my watch all the way around. After about three miles we had taken another left turn, this time we were running up through a field past the first water station, which was packed with water, chocolate and fruit.

The course flattened out as we turned right around a bend and along more stones and mud, a girl running beside us had the misfortune of getting her runner stuck in the mud, but was quickly back in action. We ran onto the next climb, which was followed by a lovely downhill section. We flew down and let the legs off shouting at each other all the way down. The scenery was breathtaking. Elaine was running just in front of me, “are you ok Marie” and the reply of “happy as a pig in shi**” could be heard every few steps.

We were soon back onto a nice road section and were chatting away telling each other how great we felt and how so far it was really enjoyable, we were at about mile 7.5 and life was good. That was until I suddenly glanced up to my right, all I could do was point; there were no words. We were about to hit a serious climb up through shingle. We started out running and then as people started walking around us we decided to join them.

The climb stopped at about 8.5 miles and we were out onto a flat section along the mountain, although it was flat, it was covered in jagged rocks and the gentlemen beside us warned us to take it easy, saying a girl had broken her ankle last year. I didn’t need the scary ghost story; there was no way my “no balance body” was going to attempt running across here. I picked my way across and soon found myself jogging along the side of a mountain, kind of sideways for some reason (I looked ahead and those in front were sideways also), sleety rain was pelting me from the left and my whole left side was completely numb. Just before we went over a wall I offered Elaine a jelly bean, it was cruel, as our hands were so frozen we couldn’t get the sweets out of the packet and so had to carry on without them!

From here we were faced with a nasty downhill section, there was a stretcher sitting in the ditch, I hoped it didn’t have my name on it. The decent was slippery and full of rocks; we were back to a walk. Some people were half running down while the rest of us slowly picked our way down. I discovered I am not a goat and have absolutely no balance, I had a few hairy moments on the way down and was watching every step, when a guy fell behind me it made me even more cautious. I literally tip toed my way down. Elaine was again in front of me calling back “Are you ok, Marie?” every so often, this time the reply was more like “Yeah, just trying not to fall on my ass”.

Finally we could see road, we were so happy, Elaine hit it first and I was picking my way through the last of the mud as she was shouting “Come on, Marie!”, I had a host of marshals and a few competitors calling out to me also as I told them I was on my way, sliding down through the last of the mud.

We were back on solid ground with about three miles to the line and I thought great, after the SLOW walk down I should be able to race to the finish. Elaine was flying but my legs were blocks of ice, I had no pain, I was not tired, I just simply could not move my legs, they were frozen. We were offered chocolate, fruit and water at the last station as we headed for home. It took me every effort to slowly run back to the finish, the purple colour on my arms had faded and I was just about warmed up again as I crossed the finish in a chip time of 2.41.58, four seconds behind Elaine who had a final burst in the run in.

We collected our T-shirts and got our medals before heading for the car to change into nice warm clothes; my feet were so wet it was like I was carrying weights in my runners. After a quick change I manoeuvred us out of the field. The tractor was on standby and one of the marshals was walking beside the car, ready to push if it was needed, we slid out the gate and headed for Logue’s Pub, where we got a well deserved cup of homemade soup and a bread roll… it was sheer heaven.

Hats off to all involved, the course was well marshalled, each station had stores of fruit, chocolate and water, the medal is class and I’m loving my newest T-shirt.

Full results can be seen at the following link:


13 years 2 months ago

Well done to you all. Wait for Monday mornings dreaded muscle pain(DOMs), 48 hours after an event like that, the hamstrings will be in shock!
You might see DCM in October yet!!....I think you are getting 'hooked'.
Well done again,Jane-Ann