There were some great perfomances by the Athenry runners in the Athlone Flatline Full & Half marathons on Saturday. A summary of both races & breakdown of times will follow shortly but for now Kieran Guiry has provided his race report on his brilliant PB in the half.



After a few bad races earlier in the year and an enforced rest/low mileage/holiday period in July, training had been going fairly well recently. A couple of soft PBs broken in 8K and 10K. The main goal for the year is Dublin again but it was time to see where I really was fitness wise. The plan was to race the Half hard but not really do a proper taper for it, just reduce the pace for the Tuesday Speed Session and take it easy out in Ryehill on Thursday.

I met up with the usual suspects before the race for a couple of nice handy warm up miles in the sunshine. There was a lovely relaxed atmosphere around the start area and it was turning into a perfect day for racing; no wind and dry. Decided to line up slightly ahead of the 1:35 pacers and reckoned if I finished still ahead of them it would have been a good day.

The first mile as always was a bit chaotic, but there didn’t seem to be too many people obviously too far up the field. First mile at 7:04 pace was fine but I felt I was accelerating and slowing constantly.

Over the next two miles I started to get into a good rhythm, occasionally checking the pace on the watch but concentrating on moving past people. I came up level with Pat McDonagh and Brian O’Donnell around this point and had a quick chat. Through the first water station at mile 3 and I suddenly found myself running on my own, the next runner ahead was maybe 15 yards up the road and there was no one really pacing with me. Miles 2 and 3 were 7:07 and 7:06

For the next 5 or 6 miles it was a question of keep going and picking off the runners ahead, the field was pretty much strung out and there were no real groups around. Being careful to keep an eye on the pace and checking my form at the mile markers (shoulders relaxed, head up, legs relaxed), I started working my way through the other runners. I was feeling fairly strong around this stretch and kept the pace very steady. The course is advertised as flat and it is. The only rises of any note are between miles 8 and 9 and I did ease off the pace ever so slightly here. This was quickly made up again on a downhill mile 10. Splits 4 – 10 - 7:06, 7:05, 7:08, 7:05, 7:12, 7:09, 6:59.

It’s around this point that the pace started to feel like it was getting a little bit tougher. Time to dig in and try to keep it steady. I was trying but I could feel myself slowing ever so slightly. Mile 11 pace was 7:09. Just at the end of this mile two runners went past me, the first ones since very early in the race. I tried to just hang on and managed to get myself onto their heels. Right, just sit in here for a mile and see what happens. One of them actually fell off the pace very quickly but I hung onto the other guy. Mile 12 marker came and a quick glance down at the watch showed that the pace had dropped dramatically. 7:12 for the mile, slowest of the race so far, my pacer was obviously fading and I hadn’t been concentrating myself.

It was decision time, I could probably coast in at this stage to a good solid PB or else try and pick it up and see what would happen. The main point of today was to see where the fitness was so that was the decision made; pick it up. I don’t have a sprint finish so if time was going to be made up it had to start now. I moved past the runner ahead of me and started to pick off the two others that were in range. There were two more runners a nice distance ahead and I set my sights on them. The gap was coming down slowly but I was aware of another runner behind me now. My focus switched from catching up to staying ahead. I was determined that they weren’t going to get past but I could feel him on my shoulder. As we passed the 13 mile marker he drew level and at the turn for the run in he was slightly ahead. One more trip to the well and I got back ahead and gave it all for the line. In the end I very nearly picked off the two who were ahead but just not quiet. Mile 13 at 6:56 and the .1 in 42 seconds. Took a minute to get my breath back at the finish but was actually surprised how quickly I recovered. A check on the watch showed a nice new PB of 1:33:03. Think this training lark must be paying off. Now to keep it together for Dublin!

All in all a good day. Delighted with the PB and being able to pick up the pace late on. As far as I know a lot of PBs and good performances from Athenry. A very well organised race overall, and a genuine flat course apart from a few little rises in the middle miles.