Saturday July 2nd was another day for a road trip to a new running destination… Achill. I had never been on the island before so didn’t know what to expect, however, I had been warned about the toughness of the half marathon race but thought if I completed both Connemara and the Burren I should be able for the challenge that lay ahead!!

Elaine and I (Maria!) arrived at Car Park A just before 10am and met Tomás Mangan briefly before catching up with Frances and Liam Egan. After a pitstop we took a jog around a field, part of which was a golf course, oops, at least none of us got hit on the head with a golf ball as per Liam’s prediction. After surviving this we were ready to run the 13.1 miles.

A pipe band walked us to the start and we were off. Frances and I had the same plan of action and so ran together letting the rest off in front. It was going to be a good training run with plenty of hills. We got into our stride easily and ran along at just under eleven minute miles. Mile two brought us running behind an interesting guy who was wearing weights, it was like a bullet proof vest but lined with weights, I really wanted to know what he was training for but he had an iPod on and didn’t look to be in a chatty mood so myself and Frances passed by him and the first water stop with no answer to my question.

The first four miles passed very quickly, it was a gradual incline for most of the way and mile six came along even faster, I thought we were only at mile 5, I completely missed that marker! Maybe we were two engrossed in discussing our training plans for the summer or reading the backs of peoples T-shirts and some signs children were holding along the route. The local community was out in force, there were loads of kids to hi-5 and plenty of encouragement along the way.

At mile 7 the sun decided to beat down on us, it got very hot and of course there was a nice hill with our names on it, it was time to switch the mind off but this was easy as the scenery was just breathtaking. There was the most gorgeous sandy beach to my right and a lovely tall mountain looming in front of us. Before I knew it we were at the top and again had a bit of a breather before the next climb. Thankfully it returned to the nice overcast day it had been with a slight breeze to cool us!

The next climb was a bit tougher, as I slowly ran up it I was focused on Chapel Hill, I ignored those coming to a walk around me, put the head down and reached the top in one piece. The support on the hill was fantastic, people were clapping and shouting words of encouragement, I have to thank a guy on a bike at the top, I was focused on him the whole way up, knowing once I reached him it was over!

At mile 10 we heard the ambulance and then came across a lady in distress, I uttered a sorry to her as she was stretchered off the course, her race finished. After a few moments my concentration was back and I carried on to tackle the final climb. Once the climb was done a gentleman informed me we were almost at the finish, I laughed at him telling him not to lie, I don’t think he was impressed but a mile to the finish is not nearly finished in my books! My legs felt good so I let them pick up the pace for the last mile and so I ran for the line in a chip time of 2:19:26.

After a banana and water we all hit the sea for a bit of therapy, some decided to go for a swim but I was happy at waist depth and let the waves bash against me. The icy water was a well earned treat for my legs before I asked them to drive us back to Galway.

I would highly recommend this race, it’s a great route, you wont find the same hills around Athenry! The supporters were fantastic and the race organisers got it spot on, the goody bag included a nice cup as a souvenir, all finishers got a medal and we got a lovely T-shirt… in the words of Achill half marathon: Tháinig mé, Chonaic mé agus Bhuaigh mé.


13 years ago

Hi Marie,

Great write-up.

I was the guy with the weight vest. Apologies for not talking with you, was tyring to get focused. Thankfully I dargged myself and the 20kg weights vest across the line after 2 hours 55 mins.

Happy to chat more about this with you. See you next year, with a 30kg weight vest!



13 years ago

why would you be wearing a weight vest,how does that improve running.

Marie O'Connor

13 years ago

Hi lory,

No need for apologies! You were certainly focused to finish that hilly course in the time you did! I would love to hear more... [email protected]... Best of luck with your training. Marie