On the way to this race, a pal asked me what time I thought I’d run. I said that, all going well, with a fair wind (or none) and a pinch of good luck, the best I could hope for was around 2:52 – but that over 3:00 was entirely possible.
In short, I really hadn’t a freaking clue.
In light of how things worked out on the day, I won’t really complain.
I leant forward, rested my forehead against my forearms, bent almost double and sank onto the windowsill of an art gallery in Clifden. It was nearing ten o’clock on Saturday evening. It was almost dark and I was a happy man. With one-hundred miles of road behind me, I was wallowing deeply in the delicious sensation of simply not running anymore. I had been running, more or less continuously, for a little under 16 hours. I wasn’t completely exhausted – although I was almost there – but I was sore almost everywhere that it was possible to be so. When I eventually raised my head, I saw a small painting of a cow in the gallery window, which was entitled ‘Moo’. My scrambled mind made a connection to ‘Mu’, but that’s another story entirely.
Ten years ago I ran two marathons on consecutive weekends. I wasn’t sure what would happen to me at the time. Would a leg fall off? Would I grind to a shuddering halt half way ‘round the second marathon? Was it even possible to do this? I wasn’t really sure. At that time I didn’t realise how good these races would prove themselves to be over the following decade. In both cases it was the inaugural running of the event and so there was an extra edge of excitement and freshness about them. Those two races were, of course, the Connemara Marathon and the Longford Marathon and in the intervening years both events have proven themselves to be amongst the very best that Irish road racing can offer. It was a great learning experience for me to run two long races so close together. Principally, I learnt that many things are possible in running that might appear impossible at first sight. Armed with blind confidence I’ve gone on to do many more stupid things since that time.
Connemara Ultra Marathon – 10th April 2011 – Race Report Pics by Iain Shaw, Philip Magnier and Aengus McMahon
Mucho Respect to Colin J.
The drive out towards Connemara on race morning was – as usual – magical. I knew that an adventure lay ahead, it was just the details that hadn’t been announced. This year, as I glided through Galway City and out towards Moycullen and Oughterard, I admit that I was a little more frazzled than usual. The source of my ‘frazzledness’ was principally to do with not having been able to find my race number earlier that morning. Having searched the house up and down for the missing registration pack, I got into the car, numberless and twenty minutes late, muttering to myself like a lunatic. I knew in my heart that I’d be able to get a replacement number out in Connemara, but I also knew that it was an inconvenience which neither I nor the organisers really needed.
It’s that time of year I suppose. A time when it’s tempting to look back at some of the running highlights that I’ve been involved with over the last twelve months. It was a very good year for me racing-wise, with more than one personal best to remember, as well as my usual quota of niggles, bonks and dodgy races.
Another Dublin come and gone and another wonderful day. For a lot of the journey I didn’t think that I’d hit my 2:45 target but a strong finish brought me in just under the numbers with 2:44:31 on the clock. As a friend of mine wrote recently, There are only so many ways to say ‘I ran twenty-six miles and I ate a lot of gels’ and so I won’t offer the full blow-by-blow account here for fear of boring the socks off you. In truth it was a relatively uneventful race. There was no moment of crisis, no exceptional drama. When the gun went off I got straight into a good running rhythm and I ran as fast as I dared until the finish. Although I was behind the 6:18 minutes per mile pace for most of the way, I picked it up close home and ducked under my target. I suppose the races that go well make for the worst race reports.
During the early miles of this race I spoke with two other runners and, as we ran along, I told them that this race scared the life out of me. They seemed a little surprised, or at the very least a bit confused, but I was telling the truth. By any realistic assessment taking part in such a long race is going to be a physically painful experience, in all likelihood very painful. Having participated in the event last year I was aware that, even if everything went perfectly well, I’d be walking with a big limp the following day. Despite having a passion for ultramarathons, I’ve never learnt to embrace pain and discomfort as well as I know some others have done and a lot of my racing strategies have been contrived around avoiding as much of it as possible. Enough of all that! How did I get to the starting line?
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.
Gloucester 50km Ultramanrathon Race Report – 27th Jan 2008
When I lined up for the Gloucester 50k last weekend, it felt like I hadn’t run one of these things in a long time. In fact, it was getting on for two years since I had last raced a distance of more than a standard marathon. I don’t know for how long you can remain and ultra runner after doing your last race but I guessed that I was stretching things a little. Anyway, there I was, lined up with around fifty other eejits ready to run as hard as I dared for a fraction over thirty-one miles.
This race had called out to me for the last couple of years. I had read about it, thought about it and dreamt about it. All that was left was for me to run it. The whole package is almost irresistible to anyone with an interest in ultramarathons. This race combines running history with a raw physical challenge in a way that no other event can hope to. For many ultrarunners I know this race represents the very best that the sport has to offer. There may be tougher races out there, and there are certainly longer courses, but a rare combination of virtues continues to ensure that the London to Brighton Road Race remains, for my money at least, as the premier ultra distance event in the world. I had no choice. I had to run this race at least once.