As it was my first time to run this 8km in maree the route, terrain and views were all new to me.
I was not expecting to do a PB on the course.
It started at the community hall and looped around and out the picturesque tawin peninsula then finished back at the community hall , it is easy to see why this area is classed a special area of conservation with its benthic vegetation and algae decorated stony water edges . It would be a great route for a more leisurely run.
I arrived just in time to register and rushed out to the start , a good crowd of over 300 were gathered. I met Diarmuid Quill and walked up towards the start , Diarmuid gave me a quick overview of the course as he had ran it before. He encouraged me to move closer to the start line so as not to get pinned in at the start. Waiting for the gun and looking around I noticed a lot of the usual die-hard craughwell singlets were not about on the day.
Conditions were cold and dry, ideal conditions for running once we warmed up after the first few Kms. The race started after the formalities and there was an initial near trip/ fall upfront as one eager athlete criss-crossed the pack in an overtaking Formula One Type movement on the first bend. Participants seem to settle quickly as the rolling hills seemed to get the lungs filled quickly. Frank Byrnes moved up beside me said hello and moved on quickly, in my haste leaving for the race I was wearing the wrong watch so the clock hands proved a bit awkward but it still gave me a guide to how I was doing , I hadn’t really had time to think about a race plan so when i noticed mark Campbell just ahead of me ,i decided to try tag along at his pace. Because of the hills on the course you got a glimpse of a lot of runners in front of you, I could pick out a few of the elite craughwell athletes ahead running well.
After 1km , I was around 4 mins 20secs and then slowed slightly for the second km which was a long gradual climb. I seemed to be moving my arms a little more than normal but I was breathing okay , we kept a steady pace at around 4mins 30secs to 3km marker and no one was passing us by so it felt good. The roads were narrow so everyone was running quite close and mainly in single file , this suited as part of the route involved turning back from the end of the peninsula near the 4km marker , this also gave you a chance to see all the leaders and admire their pace. Matt Bidwell was leading by quite a distance , Paul Keane was in fifth position I think at this stage. Didn’t notice Niall Callanan but spotted Mary Kealy running strongly in second lady position. The ground underfoot changed from normal road to puddled tracks with a grass middle strip , referred to as the long acre in my part of the country. On a wet day I would imagine this route being difficult underfoot but was today seemed fine.
Just after the 5km marker there was an incline a little steeper than the others and I started to drift a few yards back from my unbeknownst pacer mark who was running very steady. I checked my watch just after the 5km marker and I was somewhere between 22mins and 23mins , the sixth kilometre seemed slower than the rest as that hill seemed to knock a little out of me , a few people passed me in this kilometre. I started feeling a blister and blamed the new “tuam” socks for it.
One lady Yvonne Fehilly ( name from the results list ) seemed to storm pass me followed by two other runners . I decided once I saw the 6km marker I’ll try an up the pace again. Ignoring the water station , i had a glance at my watch at the 6km marker and I gauged I was near 27mins 20secs , I was surprised and happy that i had not lost too much time and managed to up the pace steadily to the next marker , the few rolling hills seemed tougher as my legs started to tire. The last km was flat and went very quick as it was marked every 200m which definitely helped me to push the last 600m of the race and probably allowed me to get my PB for this distance by 22secs. Even if i wanted to slow down for the last 200m, there was a few onlookers shouting my name so i had to truck it in. My finish chip time was 36:12. My splits at a guesstimate were 4.20 , 4.30, 4.30, 4.35, 4.40, 4.45 , 4.30 and 4.22.
There was good cheering and encouragement in abundance for the last few metres for everyone who finished. There was Tea / Coffee and a big spread inside the hall afterwards and it was a very welcome treat.
Overall , a well organised and pleasant run and worth a return visit.