Two miles or so from Peacocks Hotel in Maam cross, all of 194 of us waited, watched, wondered at what the next few, or many, hours of hard running would bring, would we all survive the course, will we make it to the finish, will this, almost perfectly calm morning continue throughout the day to ease the battle ahead?

Connemara has a mind  of its own though. This was my first 39 miler. I chatted to fellow runners to keep my mind off what lay ahead.The people standing here at the start line of one of the most gruelling ultra marathons in the country were people like: the first Irish woman to climb Mount Everest, and, a man who was about to complete his 99th marathon, another who had swam the English channel, another woman completing her 21st marathon, who were these people around me? I was completely out of my league I thought, these weren't ordinary people, I was standing amongst gods.

The familiar voice called us to the start line, 'good luck guys' he said, one loud whoot, and we were off . The gods flew off as if being carried on the Connemara wind and within, what seemed like minutes, were but a line of dotted colours way off  in the distant horizon, us 'newbies' would have to run.

It didnt seem long until we were at mile 5, 34miles to go I thought, the pace was just as I had planned, 9.30 min. miles, going strong now, but could I keep going like this for another 34 miles? The breeze was picking up now and changing from its earlier deceptive calmness to a strong wind, that would reveal its true harshness as the day and miles stretched out before us. 2 hours and 13.1 miles later I was still going, I still had'nt warmed up enough to take off my longsleeve top, was it my imagination or had the tempature dropped? Mile 20 now and I was cold, sore, my right foot started to cramp up with pain for some miles now, I stopped to stretch it out, kept going again, limping now, stopped again, massaged my foot, stretched it, mile 25, so much pain, too much, maybe I should stop.

Spotted an ambulance in the distance, I could make it to there, they might help, and they did, massage and stretch and I was good to go again, thank God the pain seemed to ease out of my foot as I kept moving, thank God for those medical guys, where would I be without them. My energy seemed to return, I pulled myself together and pushed myself along, mile 34 now and I knew I had some food and gels at a drop off  table at mile 35, oh how that bananna saved my life, washed down with a bottle of coke, I never usually drink coke but new I would need it at this point in the race. I wondered where the gods were now, had they finished, were they sitting, sipping hot soup and sandwiches? Probably.

I will never forget mile 37, my face red with wind burn, my body screaming with pain, screaming to stop, to give up and call it a day, telling me I was crazy to ever think I could take on such a huge challenge, and that I wouldn't make it now anyway. But then I heard it, dimly at first, beneath the  harsh wind, yes I could hear them, voices, cheering voices, music, clapping', was it the finish line? keep going' the voices said, 'you are almost there', dont give up, not now.

Mile 38, probably the longest mile of the race, I could see the  tower at Maams cross, the place I had started from so many hours earlier. I was cold now, tired,hungry, I cant make it I thought, but my legs kept moving. Mile 39 came ever so slowly, I could see the finish line, the tears started to well up in my eyes, I was almost home, I wanted to break down and cry like a baby, tears forced themselves out and trickled down my cheeks, ok I thought, pull yourself together woman, you are almost at the finish line, you dont want to be in bits at your moment of glory, I dried my eyes, pulled my shoulders back, lifted my head, ran as strong and limpless as I could, and with heartfelt cheers from that brillant crowd, eased over that finish line in 6hrs and 32 mins. Almost falling into the surprisingly cameraless arms of Iain Shaw, and into the medal holding arms of The Ultraman himself Mick Rice, and finally a victory kiss from that familiar voice, race director, Ray. What a day, what a race, what a place, what a battle, a battle that will break people, but only so they will heal, and rebuild, and grow stronger, strong enough to run again, a battle that makes gods? will I do it again,oh yes, yes, please God,yes.