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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Dublin Marathon Weekend 2014

A Dublin Marathon weekend is so much more than getting your carcass from the start to the finish of a 26 mile strip of tarmac - so we set out to make the most of it :) :)

Friday 24th Oct

Since Marathon day was Monday we had plenty of time to go off and do a bit more exploring of the Emerald Isle beforehand.

First stop, Galway over on the west coast and since it is nigh on illegal to visit a place containing a parkrun venue without havng a run round it, 5k it was:

From Galway it was up to Westport, a tiny place oozing with friendliness. As Westport also has a parkrun course out and back along the Greenway leading to a very scenic bay, it simply had to be done.

If you look at where Westport is, out on the North Atlantic coast with not a lot around it you will appreciate how much of an acievement it is to make so much use of a single metal pole:

Saturday 25th Oct

From our hotel in Westport it was a mere 2 minutes to the official parkrun there on Saturday morning. However, we'd already enjoyed that course on Friday evening and since Castlebar parkrun was a mere 15 minutes along the road, off we went there instead.

A really attractive setting for a parkrun course. In hindsight it may have been run a bit too quickly at 18:15 but the marathon still seemed a fair old way off being two days away. Hannah ran a more sensible 18:56!

Sun 26th Oct

The International Breakfast Run - Battle of Clontarf

The Dublin Marathon organisers really go out of their way to welcome overseas runners. Runners from 47 countries were invited to attend a 5K breakfast run over at the famous Croke Park on Sunday morning. The start time was 10:14am to commemorate the Battle of Clontarf in 1014.

The run itself took us to the site of the battle where a reenactment was performed complete with gruesomeness and fatalities. Luckily the fatalities miraculously rose from the dead shortly after :)

Back at the stadium and we were treated to free breakfast, free t-shirt and a comprehensive display of Irish dancing.

Tony Aimon, Seb Cosgrove , Tom Eales , Steve Darby, Ben Hartley, Dan Donnelly, Rachel Bourne, Eoin Fegan, Hannah Oldroyd (all Hyde Park Harriers except myself, Hannah and Eoin of Malahide parkrun in Dublin)

Monday 27th October - Marathon Day

Race day arrived and the first sight on waking was seeing a tree outside the hotel window trying to bend itself in two! The BBC forecast had suggested 10-12 mph winds, this didn't look like 10-12 mph.

The Course

The course was changed from previous years due to construction works but the general idea was that the hardest part of the course was going to be a 2.5 mile uphill drag through Phoenix Park into a headwind. After that the course profile looked reasonable and if there was going to a headwind in Phoenix Park there could well be a helpful following wind for a lot of the remainder. At least that was the theory!

The Race

At 9am the first wave pictured below set off.

There was a lot of congestion in the first 2-3 miles, which is hard to understand considering that the circle below indicates our starting position. It was no great concern though as there was no rush to get on with it when there was the Phoenix Park drag coming up shortly.


The thinking during the first 10K was just to get to the top of Phoenix Park using up as little resource as possible. It was bound to be slow in relative terms so it was just a case of getting it done and then seeing how things were feeling.

Over the 10K mat and the clock was showing 42:21, around 2:30 slower than Yorkshire two weeks earlier which seemed reasonable given the difference in courses.


This section was encouraging with the effort level and pace being almost identical to Yorkshire. The second 10k was 39:45 so it would be nice if the third 10K produced something similar in the knowledge that the last 4 miles after a little hill at 22 were supposed to be nice and flat.


Where is all the wind coming from? I was either imagining it or the wind was really picking up now as the halfway marked was passed. To add to that there was what seemed like a never ending long straight uphill stretch into this headwind. This was getting tough. Trying to keep the effort level down was easier said than done as you had to try to keep some forward momentum going.

The second half of this section was noticable for the amount of runners stopping, it is rare to see so much carnage so early in the race amongst a group of runners clearly expecting to run sub 3 times.

The pace seemed to be drifting a bit now but not too badly considering  - it was looking like maybe a 2:55:xx sort of time as 30K was approached.


30K in 2:04:31 was around 6 minutes down on 2 weeks earlier but nothing seemed particularly problematic, the legs were strong and positions were being gained every now and then.

Around 22 miles there was a stiff little hill with a Lucozade sponsored 'Wall of Support' at the crest. On the road as you passed under their archway it had the wording 'You have now beaten the wall'. Nice idea but a little optimistic :p

Around the corner and I heard some very familiar footsteps close behind, there were thousands of pairs of feet out there and yet these were unmistakably familiar.

And there she was, it looked like Hannah had judged this one better through the tough third section so she was then able to pull away and keep up a higher tempo over the last 4 miles. This gained her 56 positions up to 213th while I slipped back 14 to 274th. That third section is always the key and she nailed that one to get her first ever back to back sub 3s just 2 weeks apart :)

For my part, 2:58:53 was satisfying enough. There wasn't going to be a scintillating time on this particular day so I was happy to marvel at somehow managing a 7th sub 3 in 12 months, something that would have seemed barely believable the way I used to think about marathons, ie months of recovery before attempting the next one!

Updated comeback marathon list:

2009 April - Blackpool Marathon 3:24:17 (Age 42)
2009 September - Fleetwood Marathon DNF (Age 43)
2010 October - Amsterdam Marathon 3:04:27 (Age 44)
2010 November - Milton Keynes Track Marathon DNF (Age 44)
2011 April - London Marathon 3:18:30 (Age 44)
2012 April - London Marathon 2:57:04 (Age 45)
2012 October - Chester 2:55:36 (Age 46)
2013 April - London Marathon 3:11:29 (Age 46)
2013 June - Cork Marathon 3:06:19 (Age 47)
2013 October - Budapest Marathon 2:58:53 (Age 47)
2013 December - Lancaster Marathon 2:54:17 (Age 47)
2013 December - Pisa Marathon 2:54:09 (Age 47)
2014 April - Manchester Marathon 2:51:52 (Age 47)
2014 April - London Marathon 2:57:52 (Age 47)
2014 June - Rhyl Marathon 2:58:24 (Age 48)
2014 October - Yorkshire Marathon 2:47:34 (Age 48)
2014 October - Dublin Marathon 2:58:53 (Age 48)

As predicted last week, whatever happened there was likely to be some much anticipated Guinness consumed with Dr Dan Donnelly. As it turned out he had his most enjoyable marathon to date so enjoyed the black stuff immensely :)

The Hyde Park Harriers contingent also seemed partial to Dublin's finest brew. Here with Tom Eales, Rachel Bourne and behind the camera was Ben Hartley enjoying his newly achieved GFA time.

Tues 28th Oct

Before leaving Dublin on Tuesday there was time to try out a couple more new Dublin parkrun courses, Waterstown and Poppintree (starts this Saturday):

5 day weekend in Dublin with zero non-Guinness days, can't beat it :) :) To be recommended? 100% YES!!

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