By Marie O'Connor

June 16th had been a date in my diary for months and it finally rolled in bringing with it a Marathon, 50km, 100km and 10k race. The plan was to pick up Anne Lyng and Val and hit the sidelines in Portumna to scream abuse at our club mates. Like all good plans it went off without a hitch, sort of like a certain plan Tony Killarney nailed.

We arrived shortly after 11am with Vals puppy Miles in tow and as many bags as we could fit in my little yaris. Most of the luggage was Vals, minus one very important hospital bag but I guess she planned to wing it if the baby arrived early.

After a chat with Philip we set up our little camp at the marina, it was pretty perfect as we were in comfort with a great view of our oncoming victims. We caught them as they headed to the refreshment table and again a second time as they ran back up and away from us. One athlete in particular provided a great view as he ran away from us, he was graced with a fine posterior.

It wasn’t long before our voices could be heard shouting “run faster” (that was Val), “keep it up”, and “well done”. Every Athenry competitor got the same amount of abuse, no one was left unscathed. One encounter deserving a mention was when Kenneth asked if he could throw us a water bottle he no longer needed. In doing so he hit Val smack on the side of the head, to be fair he was running 50km and so was forgiven for his misguided aim. He attempted to stop and see if Val was okay but instead got abuse hurled at him and was told to keep running, she’d be fine.

After an hour Val departed for greener fields at the finish line and Anne and me kept the shouting going from our spot. As the afternoon rolled on we got used to the faces passing us and it wasn’t long before the banter was flowing. Larry of the 100 mile club enquired after his dinner each time he passed. We assured him the spuds were on and the stove was piping. A few laps later we were told he could eat an elephant and then he finally broke it to us, we weren’t the only ones with dinner on for him. Another was being prepared elsewhere. That’s men for ya.

A young man completing the marathon provided us with ample entertainment posing for pictures on each lap. Pat O’keeffe another 100 mile club member was treated to an attempt at cheerleading by yours truly, where I used two of Jane Anns gels as pom poms.

I did have one very serious task to complete, handing Jane Ann gels, etc. as she needed them, thankfully my brain complied and I gave her what was needed when it was called for. Towards the end of George’s race he joked he could do with another gel and I cheekily gave him one of Jane Ann’s, I did tell him he owes you one Jane Ann.

Each time an ex club mate Martina Passman came into view here name was screamed at her, as if she’d forget her own name. She probably still has my voice echoing in her head today. Actually most of our club mates possibly have our voices etched in their brains. Sorry.

As the day wound down we found ourselves back in the company of Val along with other sideline screamers Iain, Frances, Jim, Ray and ultramarathoner Aoife! It was pointed out to all I was sporting our brand new club tracksuit (just in stock) and as we were at a marina what better place to have a photo shoot?? Iain had cameras at the ready and was well practised having been on the course since 6am.

Val, being Val, suggested asking a boat owner if we could use his vessel for the shoot, proposing I could lie across it. While she left our company I instructed Iain to get the photos done quickly before I ended up on the boat. He clicked away while Ray suggested poses for me and I was told to “work the camera”. All clothes stayed on and the camera was finally put away.

While our club mates went home with another race ticked off, new PBs, ultra marathon added to the list I went home with a day of happy memories.

Congrats again to all and Happy Birthday Maeve!!