Band On The Run

Capn' Burke and Crew at Registration

They say ‘you can never go back’ and they also say that ‘lightening never strikes twice in the same place’. Well the Athenry AC No.1 Marathon Relay Team, not to be confused with the Ladies’ No.1 Detective Agency, tried to turn the book of clichés on its head last weekend by returning to the scene of our greatest triumph (a well beaten third place last year) and running in the Cork City Marathon Relay. All that stood between us and ultimate glory was a lack of ability, patchy training and a bad attitude. Undaunted by these minor factors, we planned for success.

The No.1 team consisted this year of Alan “The Selector” Burke (Captain), Brian “The Brute” Bruton, Gary “Big Guns” Doherty, Johnny “Who’s Yer Daddy” O’Connor, and, yours truly, Mick “The Boot Cast” Rice. Victory was almost unavoidable.

The evening before the race was strategically devoted to carbo-loading, beer-loading, gossip-loading and bad-joke-loading. On reflection we think we prepared as well as could be expected in the circumstances. Capn’ Burke gave a stirring, but unusual speech to the team, based mostly on sign language, innuendo, facial ticks and burps. We got the message that he wanted the rest of us to run fast, so that he wouldn’t have to. Capn’ Burke had once more generously offered to run the final section of the relay where all the crowd support, refreshments and razzmatazz were. We think he was trying to protect us from the pressure of having too many bananas to choose from.

Carbo Loading Anyone ?

When it came to the actual race I went out fast on the first leg and slowed down towards the handover so as to avoid any risk of dropping the relay ‘band’, although whether I had to slow down by quite so much and over two miles from the actual changeover point is a debatable question. Once I had established very rapid acceleration and deceleration as an acceptable precedent, the practice was immediately adopted by Johnny on the second leg. Johnny started like he’d been fired from a cannon and shortly afterwards stopped like he’d been shot by the same cannon.

Next up was Gary who, in his innocence, tried to run at an even pace over the miles allocated to him. Thankfully the heat and comprehensive lack of training kicked in and guided him back to the safe arms of his destiny and he ambled towards the next checkpoint resembling nothing more than a vaguely startled Susan Boyle. The whole sorry episode very nearly went completely Pete Tong when ‘The Brute’ took the relay band from Gary and flashed down the road like a politician chasing a spare vote. Despite having been assigned the longest part of the relay by Capn’ Burke the Brute took none of his obvious opportunities to slow down or trip up. He passed runner after runner until all might have been lost but it was a good thing that we had the Capn’ on the final leg or our finish time might have been a lot lower. I think we can mark this one down as a bullet dodged.

Copyright Paudie Birmingham -

 The Capn’ accepted the blue relay band and made haste towards the finish line. However once he was out of sight we have it on reliable authority that he stopped by the side of the road and made some ‘hang sangwiches and a cup of milky tay’ before moving on to complete the course. He said afterwards that he got a stitch but we know what he really meant – we can read between the lines.

All in all it was a day to remember for the Athenry AC No.1 Marathon Relay Team.  We escaped Cork without history having repeated itself – mainly by dint of finishing two places further back than last year and slowing up quite a lot.

Some might say that we ran slower because of the heat but I prefer to give credit where credit is due.

Aye Aye Capn’!

Copyright Paudie Birmingham -

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