It was great to be involved with the Limerick Marathon again this year as a pacer. I have to say that I just can’t get myself to think of it as ‘The Great Limerick Run’ and I’m not really sure why. The organisers of this set of races are certainly ambitious and there has been progress on the organisational front since last year’s inaugural event which had some problems. If nothing else there was an air of confidence about the place as race time approached. At least it looked like everyone knew what they were meant to be doing – which, in fairness, was a step up on twelve months ago. I was charged with pacing a group to a 3:00 hour finish.
I’ve always enjoyed the role of pacer and there was a really nice vibe as a group of 25 – 30 of us ran together through the early miles around the University of Limerick. The only bum note of the day was struck by myself when I passed a group of students near the university campus who were cheering on runners. A bottle of Buckfast rested lightly on the pavement beside them and I remarked, rather ungraciously I suppose, that these must marathon spectators in the ‘Limerick Stylee’. I hear one or two sharp intakes of breaths behind me, presumably emanating from mortally wounded Limerick runners, and so I decided that I’d better restrict my comments to the details of mile splits after that.
It was a tough day to set a consistent pace, with swirling winds and a course that contained more than it’s fair share of twists, turns and inclines. What proved to be the greatest hinderance however was the seeming inaccuracy of the mile markers. I have no doubt at all about the accuracy of the course overall, but the interim markers were all over the shop. From one ‘mile’ to the next it was impossible to tell exactly how far ahead or behind schedule I was. In the end I trusted to a combination of luck, judgement and experience and it was alright on the night. I passed under the finish gantry with 2:59:23 on the clock and that was close enough for me. It was my third marathon in four weeks and, although I didn’t race in Limerick, I reckon I’m due a break for a little while at least. Perhaps I was lucky to get out alive. I’d guess that smart alec Jackeens don’t usually last long in Limerick.