Published in Reports on 19th August 2012
Identify the people in these portraits. Clue: One of them runs 99.95 miles farther than the other. First Prize: One Year Free Entry to the Connemara 100. Second Prize: 5 Years Mandatory Free Entry to the Connemara 100.
The fourth annual running of the Connemara 100 took place on Saturday 11th August, with Mick Rice again taking first place. Twenty people finished, the last in 28 hours and 47 minutes, what an example of perseverence. Mick had the usual full complement of Athenry folks to help and I'm certain he would be the very first to thank them. That would be one very long lonely route without some friends, and without the food and drink they provide. Thanks yet again to our intrepid reporter, Marie O'Connor, see her report below. Iain Shaw took the photos.
Mick Rice 15:23
Graeme Colhoun 17:02
Majic Sawicki 17:07
Malcolm Gamble 17:12
Shane Whitty 18:25
Paul Brunnock 19:22
Padraic O Giollain 22:35
John Boyle 22:35
John Chapman 22:40
Christopher Walsh 22:40
Patrick Quinn 22:40
Nigel Campbell 22:40
Sean Doyle 22:40
Ann Marie Larkin 22:43
Catherine Guthrie 22:45
Pat O'Keeffe 23:09
Jerry Forde 24:40
Conor Flanagan 25:37
Oliver Clare 28:47
An Evening Cheering in Connemara
By Marie O'Connor
Last Saturday the 11th Deirdre, Aoife, Clara and I travelled to Roundstone, the plan was to cheer on Mick before he started the final leg of his journey to Clifden where he would complete 100 miles.
A few miles before hitting Roundstone we passed the guy sitting in second place, a few more miles and we came upon Mick. We were all astounded at how fresh he was, given he was into the last “marathon” section of the race and had been running since 6am that morning.
With the car ditched in Roundstone we took a small stroll sussing out our best vantage point, there was no way we were going to miss superman as he flew through. We bumped into Iain before sorting our logistics and then popped into a pub to see how the Olympic 20km walk was progressing.
The girls stumbled upon a jewellery shop and took a browse, their shopping was interrupted when we caught sight of Mick and all of us piled out of the shop to scream him on. Once he was out of sight the shopping continued while I took up residence against a wall.
While sitting I heard a gang of people questioning what race was taking place, having witnessed Mick pass through and hearing our chorus of shouts and screams. I interrupted their conversation explaining a 100 mile race was taking place, there were 25 competitors and the man they had just seen pass through was leading the race.
They quizzed me as to the route of the race and I told them it had started at 6am that morning, there was a thirty hour cut off, meaning all participants needed to be at the finish my midday the following day. It had started at Clifden, then the competitors ran on to Letterfrack, Leitirgeish, into the Inagh Valley, then they took a left to Maam Cross, up into Leenane, back into the Inagh Valley again, then on to Roundstone, Ballyconeely and then finishing in Clifden where they had to run three laps of the town before crossing the finish line.
They questioned the sanity of the participants and were in awe at the challenge. Dee joined me towards the end of the conversation and reminded them each runner had to have their own “crew”, that is a car that drove behind them at all times to warn traffic, provide food and hydration for the runner and basically help the runner to achieve his or her goal. There were no water stations en-route; each competitor had to be self sufficient.
We also told them of one competitor, Jerry Forde who was competing in a wheelchair, their awe tripled on hearing this (Jerry finished the race in a time of 24:40). When we were done educating the masses we returned to Aoife and Clara and continued on our journey to Clifden. When we passed Mick on the road we let out another beep of support for him.
Arriving in Clifden we toyed with the idea of getting food or waiting until after Mick had crossed the finish line. We decided to wait; afraid we would miss him coming into the town. The finish line was manned by Ray and Iain and we also met a competitor whose race had ended at 53 miles. His body had been f**ked; he was puking and unable to keep water down.
While listening to him share his woes I couldn’t help but be astounded at his achievement, ok so he hadn’t completed 100 miles but he had managed to complete 53. The most I had ever run was 26.2 miles; I could not fathom what it was like to run that distance. It was just mesmerising. The guy in question had already completed numerous 100 mile races, I wasn’t sure what was crazier, attempting the race, or coming back and running the distance again knowing the pain that lay ahead.
The weather was glorious, to be honest, it was a little too hot for an enjoyable race but for us spectators it was great.
While chatting at the finish line Ray and Iain suggested Aoife and Dee accompany Mick on one of his laps in Clifden. The girls didn’t know if they were taking the piss or if Mick wanted the support. I offered Aoife my tracksuit bottoms and runners in return for her jeans and shoes, while Iain provided Dee with a pair of clean shorts as she too was wearing jeans.
The girls dubiously agreed and suggested heading back to the car to change, on arriving there we had a team meeting and it was decided not to change clothes. We envisaged a very embarrassing picture being taken and placed on the website plus Mick may not have appreciated two dodgely clad ladies running nearby. Instead we returned to our cheerleading duties.
It wasn’t long before we were told Mick was only a few miles outside the town and we were also told of a few more people who had dropped out of the race. I asked after Oliver Clare, the guy Anne and myself and enjoyed cheering on in the Portumna 50km. He set himself a challenge heading into 2012, to run 20 marathons in the year in aid of the charity Reachout.com. He too completed the race, in a time of 28:47. It’s hard to imagine the pain he went through not to mention his mental strength to finish the race.
Finally the moment arrived, Micks support car (aka Peter Delmer and co) drove into town and Micks body followed it. We clapped and cheered him as he hit his first lap, we then moved onto another street where we could get him halfway around.
There was a pub on the corner and all of us were parched so decided to drop in for a drink and a rest before popping out to cheer Mick on in his second lap. We watched the third round of John Joe Nevins boxing match where he won the silver medal.
After a packet of crisps and hydration we hit the finish line to shout Mick home. He powered home, crossing the line in a time of 15 hours 23 minutes. We gave him a few moments to recover before shuffling over to congratulate him. He thanked us for his support and we beamed back at him. When I went to congratulate him he joked about germs and I said I wouldn’t hug him as I didn’t want to give him anything as I shook his hand. He could still be smart ass, even after running 100 miles.
A group of Americans were at the finish line and were thrilled to chat to him, before he finished the race Dee, Aoife and I had explained what the race was and that he was a club member of ours, we also told them of Paul Hession our Olympian club mate. Yes, we are very proud club members. The lady in the group was a marathon runner and genuinely had an interest in the race so was thrilled to be given the low down and meet the winner.
After a few moments chatting about running and ultra running the group said their goodbyes and we turned our attentions to Mick, commenting on how fresh he looked. If it was me id have expected to be on a stretcher, hell I probably wouldn’t have made it to the 100 mile marker.
A group photo finished up our evening before heading for some much needed food and the long drive home. We left Ray and Iain and wished them well, telling them to enjoy the upcoming romantic sunrise; both had to man the finish line overnight and into the next day. Thanks Dee for driving me, you didn’t kill me and I am so grateful for the lift and the opportunity to have witnessed such a great race and a great victory. It was four races from four for Mick… roll on number five!