Tralee parkrun July 2nd

This morning I continued my recovery from the last couple of weeks madness by taking part in another Tralee parkrun.

I travelled to Tralee Town Park with Catherine and Lee in very heavy rain showers, but as soon as we got there, the skies cleared, and it turned into a sunny, if breezy morning.

We met lots of our club mates there, including husband and wife team Brian and Lorna White, and my frequent running partner Brian O’Sè.

parkrun july 2
Brian, myself, Lee, Tracy, and Catherine getting in a pre-run stretch (pic Tralee parkrun)

After instructions and introductions from race director Mary, we set off.

Myself and Brian fell into step, and took it at a fairly leisurely pace – this was down to me, as I definitely didn’t have a pep in my step, and I still have some recovery to do.

parkrun july
Getting there (pic Tralee parkrun)

Lee took off fairly quickly, with Catherine not far behind.
The first couple of laps were fairly uneventful, other than one rain shower, but I certainly felt every lap. I think I’ll need a bit of TLC on my legs before next weekends marathon.

As we approached the final lap, we briefly caught up to Catherine, but, when she kicked off  a third of the way through the final lap, I had to let her go, as there was no way I was keeping up. Brian stuck with me, and I struggled in to cross the line in 29:29.

Catherine was a little before us on 28:57, but Lee had a bit of a mishap – he ran a storming last lap, including a sub 5 minute kilometre and passed the line in a new PB – however he literally passed the line, and headed off on an extra lap before realising his mistake! He turned after a few hundred meters, and came back to finish in a very respectable official time of 26:51, though he is very annoyed he missed out on a PB – I think he’ll blast his PB to bits the next time!

parkrun july 1
Crossing the line (pic Tralee parkrun)

We went for Coffee with Lorna and the two Brians afterwards, before heading home.

Well done to all the volunteers who make the parkrun possible, I look forward to the next one.

Tralee Tri Club Mini Tri Series

Last night was the latest in the Tralee Triathlon Club Mini Tri Series, and there were two distances on offer – a Tri-a-tri, and a Sprint distance.

After my exertions at the weekend, I decided to opt for the tri-a-tri (though I nearly changed my mind on the way out!), while Catherine was doing the sprint.

When we got to Fenit, there was a good crowd starting to gather, and Race Director Sinead was getting everything organised. It would also, incidentally, be the first night the club tested our new timing system.

After a bit of chat, and getting my transition area ready, I gathered with the other short distance triathletes for final instructions, before we set off.

The swim was to be straight out to a buoy, around it, and straight back in – looked nice and easy….
As soon as I was in the water, I discovered that it wasn’t going to be as easy as it looked – there was a choppy swell, and, because of the direction of the waves, and my inability to breathe bilaterally, I swallowed a LOT of water on the way out. As is usual for me, once the swim got difficult, my sighting went out the window, and I ended up doing a bit of a zig-zag course, despite Trish’s best efforts in the kayak to keep me on the right line.

I finally got back to shore, coughed up a few litres of seawater, and trotted to transition. I was surprised to discover that I wasn’t actually in a bad position – I thought coming out of the water I’d be last!

I pulled off the wetsuit, grabbed my shoes, and got the bike on the road. This would be my first ever spin on the brand new Ribble Aero 883, and I was a little nervous setting off, as I hadn’t done any shakedown spin at all, and wasn’t even sure I had it set up right for myself.

Ribble bike in fenit
My Ribble 883 looking very pretty near transition in Fenit

As it happened, the bike behaved faultlessly, and felt very close to perfectly set up. I’m more used to Shimano 105 gears, but the Ultegra are so similar that the only difference I noticed is that they seem to be a little smoother. The weight (or lack thereof) of this bike is immediately apparent – it just leaps forward, even with my low power, and it handled beautifully on the fairly rough roads of Fenit.

The outward leg of the cycle was fast and pleasant – a slight climb out of Fenit, followed by a mix of mostly flat or downhill. We turned around 2 miles out, and I immediately discovered that I’d had the benefit of a strong breeze behind me until now! This meant a lot more work on the return leg, but I kept going as hard as I could, and, for once, nobody passed me on the entire cycle.

Back to transition, and I parked the bike (I really must learn to do a flying dismount off this bike. Though it may necessitate some hospital time). A quick change of shoes, dump the helmet, and off on the run.

The run was nice and short, and, despite my tired legs from the last 2 weeks, it was one of my better runs off the bike – I didn’t have nearly the amount of “jelly legs” I usually have – maybe doing a couple of ultras the week before a tri helps prevent it….

The run was on the same route as the cycle, except much shorter, with all of the outward leg climbing, but, happily, all of the return leg downhill. Again nobody passed me on the run, and I came across the line in exactly the same position I had come out of first transition – definitely a first for me.

I waited on for Catherine to finish her race, and she came in strong. After some chat and a change of clothes, it was time to head home and put the feet up.

This was another well organised and well attended Tralee Triathlon Club event – well done to all the organisers and volunteers. I look forward to the next one.

My distances and times:
Swim: 0.28 miles (450m) in 12:50 (distance from my watch – seems long)
Bike: 4.12 miles (6.6km) in 16:12
Run: 1.16 miles (1.8km) in 10:12
Total time incl. transitions: 41:28

If you are in the area next month, make sure you sign up for the annual club triathlon on July 30th!

Tralee 40 Mile Ultra Marathon Race Report

After last weeks shenanigans in the 102k ultra, I wasn’t exactly full of enthusiasm for dragging my aching legs out on another ultra this week, but I did it anyway.

I ran this race last year, and was determined to complete it again, especially as I am getting close to qualifying for my Marathon Club of Ireland 25 marathon bronze medal, and this race would leave me with just two more to go (hopefully they will be the MCI Tralee Marathon, and the Tralee 100k).

I had only gotten in one training session between last weeks ultra and this – a short swim/run brick session, and I definitely wasn’t fully recovered – my feet were still a bit tender, and my hamstrings were still tight.

On the morning of the race, I got to the start/finish line at the Rose Hotel, and got my drop box set up, and met the other runners. There were four of us that ran last week that were doing this as well, and there were lots of runners from Born To Run and Kerry Crusaders.

Myself, Mazza, and Brian on our second ultra in a week! (Pic by The Kerryman)

After the usual formalities, Marcus from Run The Kingdom set us on our way. The course consisted of 10 laps of a 4 mile route, which consisted mainly of public road, with some riverside walkways, and a small section through a public park. The route was very slightly under 4 miles, so there was a small loop around the hotel to do on the last lap. There were 2 long slow hills in the route, divided fairly equally along its length.

I set off at a nice slow, comfortable pace, knowing that I probably didn’t have an easy day ahead of me. My plan was to keep the pace slow, walk the two hills, and try to come in under 10 hours. I’d done it in just over 9 hours last year, but I’d had a lot more training miles in my legs, and hadn’t done a 102k the week before!

I had lots of company for my first two laps, but I knew I wouldn’t have them for long – I intended to stick to my slow pace no matter what, as I knew any effort to push on would end in disaster with my tired legs. I had a lot of stiffness in my legs for the first few miles – my feet especially, felt like they were ready to seize up.

By lap 3 I had settled into a bit of a groove. Weather conditions were surprisingly good – it had rained heavily the day and night before, and it had been very cloudy, but one we got going it was sunshine all the way. It was actually quite warm for the whole race, and I was very glad of my Elivar Hydrate Plus. I definitely felt last week in my legs as the mileage racked up – I was just weary, and the little reserves of energy you always find in an ultra just weren’t there. Every incline felt like a mountain.

The leaders lapped me for the first time on this lap, and one incident stands out in my mind, that pretty much epitomised this race, and my experience of ultra running in general. The two leading runners passed me, neck and neck, just before the mid-point water stop. The flew in to the stop and grabbed bottles of water. One of them looked back at me, noticed I had veered across the road to head for the water stop, and bent down to grab a second bottle of water. He then ran the few paces back to me, handed me the water, and took off again. This was a guy fighting for first place. You won’t see that in a 10k. Ultra running is tough, brutal, painful and not for the faint-hearted. It’s bloody brilliant though.

Every single time, without exception, that a faster runner lapped me, they said something encouraging. Many took the time to ask me how I was, congratulate me on last week, or engage in a bit of friendly slagging. I don’t know whether ultrarunning attracts exceptional people, or whether running ultras makes people exceptional, but either way, it’s cool.

My Tralee Triathlon Club and Born To Run teammate Poshey joined me for lap 4, and his naturally upbeat personality definitely helped shorten the road. We had a funny experience near the end of this lap when we were running along the riverside walkway (known to local runners as dogshit alley) when we nearly ran straight into a guy who had decided, at a very inopportune moment, to trim some of the trees overhanging the path. He had cut down one tree and completely blocked our way – blocking me wasn’t too bad, as I looked on it as a chance to rest my legs for a few seconds, but as we stopped, Rachel Stokes, who was leading the women’s race, came flying around the bend and nearly went straight through it. In fairness to her, she took it in better spirits than I might have had if I was leading, and we were soon on our way again. You need to be prepared for every eventuality in an ultra!

By the halfway point, on lap 5, my legs were gone awol. I was now finding the first section of each lap very tough, both because most of the climbing was in the first section, but also, I think, because I was finding it mentally tough leaving the start/finish line each time, and heading out to do another lap. It took all my willpower to keep going, but I was determined to finish.

The last 4 laps were fairly grim at times, and I went through a fair bit of pain. I was kept going by the encouragement of the other runners, and the supporters. Catherine and Lee came out and gave out ice lollys (if you have never eaten a Calypo during a hot ultra, then you have missed one of life’s great pleasures!), Ashley set up an aid station with Coke and sweets, and lots of others helped with drinks, bananas, and encouragement.

At the start/finish line for my second last lap, I had to stop to stretch my hamstrings, as they were locking up badly, and thanks are due to Vinny from Crusaders, who had finished second, and who did a great stretching job for me. I slogged through the second last lap, and I knew then that I would survive. I got a great cheer coming in and leaving the start/finish area before my last lap, and I set off to get it done. I was last at this stage, and, although I could see a few others not far ahead of me, I had no intention of even trying to catch them. I was on course for sub 10 hours, and I was uninjured, and I intended to keep it that way.My sister Gill (and cliff the dog) came out to encourage me through the last lap, and, with the prospect of the finish line to come, I got through it without drama. As I approached the end, I had a few moments of worry, as my legs started to get very wobbly, and I willed them not to give out before the the finish line. One I got to within a few hundred meters of it, I took the view that if my legs did go, I’d just crawl the rest of it.

As it happened, it didn’t come to that, though it wasn’t far off. I came in to the finish zone, had to do a lap of the hotel, and came back around. As I headed the last stretch to the finish, a young woman standing on the footpath decided to cross the road in front of me, and, lacking the reflexes at this stage to avoid her, I ran straight into her. If she knew ultra runners, she would have known that, with 70 or 80 meters to the finish line, we would go through a brick wall without flinching, and I could’t do anything other than keep running in a straight line. I think she was ok.

I crossed the line to a great cheer from the runners and spectators, and I can tell you I was very, very happy to finish. I found a nice patch of grass and hit the deck. I had done it under my 10 hour target.

A happy bunch at the end!

Another ultra under the belt (my 7th ultramarathon), and a step closer to my big goal for the year, the 24 hour.

Thanks to Marcus and the Run The Kingdom team for another fantastic event. If you are contemplating an ultra, especially a first ultra, I couldn’t recommend this event more – it is friendly, compact, well organised, and well supported.

Thanks to all the other runners, whose sense of sportsmanship, camaraderie, and mutual support, is fantastic to see, and be a part of. Thanks also to everyone who came out to support, encourage, and help. Well done to the winners, Denis Keane and Rachel Stokes, and to everyone who ran, especially those completing their first ever ultra – may it be the first of many.

Well done to my many friends and club mates who completed Ironman distance this weekend – you know who you all are!

A special mention for my youngest son Lee, who joined the parkrun Junior 10 Club, with his 10th parkrun.

My next event is the Tralee Triathlon Club mini Tri on Tuesday night, which I think may be done VERY slowly. I’ll be getting my first chance there to test out my new Ribble Aero 883.

Well done Lee!
FullSizeRender 4
Another one for the collection.




A Little Recovery Run…..

I will be recovering from last weekends ultra by, well, running another ultra this weekend.
And before you ask, no, I wouldn’t advise this as a smart move. This weekends ultra is a “mere” 40 miles, and is a race I did last year. It’s nice and close to home, and, being run in 5 mile circuits, means that you are never too far away from your drop bag and aid station. It also has the added advantage of not requiring a crew, as I’m not sure anyone would be crazy enough to crew two weekends in a row.

I’m hoping this will be good training for the Tralee 100k in a few weeks. Either that, or it will kill me!

Best of luck to everyone running here, the Energia 24H in Belfast, the Waterford Marathon, or any other race this weekend.

If you’re there, see you on the start line!


Dawn To Dusk Run The Ring 102k Challenge

Running a 100k is never easy. Running a tough, hilly, 102k with no training is madness. But then running ultras probably isn’t a sane activity anyway.

I looked forward to this race with some trepidation, as I knew I just didn’t have the mileage done – I am way behind the training mileage I had done last year, and have been carrying a hamstring injury for the past few weeks that has made what little running I have done, slow and painful. However, I didn’t want to miss this race – it was the inaugural running of it, and it just seemed like an awesome challenge, so I decided I’d have a crack at it. There were two races being run in conjunction – the individual event we were doing, and a longer relay team event.

I travelled to the start with my Born To Run teammates Brian, Mazza, and Dec, for the painfully early time of 5:21 (‘cos that was the official dawn time), and we lined up with the other runners.

rtr start
Myself and Brian getting ready to go.

We set off with the ever-bubbly Mary O’Donnell-Bowler as our crew. My wife Catherine would be joining me later to crew for me. The first section from Killarney to Killorglin, around 22k, was bright and sunny, and we did it in a 25 minute run / 5 minute walk pattern. I felt from fairly early on that the pace the others were setting was slightly too fast for me, but decided that I’d stick with them until Killorglin, and fall back to a more comfortable pace then, as we would have to split the crew cars to accommodate different speeds. In Killorglin, Mary handed crewing duties over to Geoff and Ashley.

On the last couple of kilometres into Killorglin, I was definitely noticing that the pace was too fast, and I also noticed something more worrying – I seemed to be developing a hot spot on the sole of my left foot. I never suffer from blisters, and I hoped this wouldn’t be my first – especially this early in a race this long.

In Killorglin we had a quick pitstop, and when I checked my foot, my fears were confirmed – I had my first running blister forming in the centre of my foot. I stuck a blister pad on it, and hoped for the best.

We set off on the next section, the 13k to Glenbeigh. I soon fell behind Brian, Mazza and Dec, and Ashley and Kirsti took up crewing duties behind me, while Geoff and his crew followed the faster bunch. I felt better at the slower pace, and I wasn’t getting much bother from the blister, so I was happy enough on this section. My hamstring hadn’t given me any bother – in fact, despite it giving me near constant pain over the past few weeks, it didn’t once cause me any pain at all in this race. Maybe I killed it.

This section of road consisted mainly of long, fairly straight, undulating sections, with quite a lot of traffic, and wouldn’t be my favourite type of running. Kirsti ran some of it with me, and helped me keep my spirits up, while Ashley made sure I had everything I needed. I found it very warm at this stage, and when Ashley gave me a frozen facecloth to cool me down, I thought I’d weep with joy. In ultra running, it’s the little things that count!

Shortly before Glenbeigh, Catherine arrived, and she and my youngest son Lee took over crewing duty for me. I took this opportunity to grab a bite to eat, change my shoes and socks, and tend to my feet. The blister had grown a bit, but still wasn’t too bad, so I decided to let it be.

We soon arrived in Glenbeigh, and I had another quick pitstop, including more food.

Once we left Glenbeigh, we went off the beaten track on our way to Cahirciveen, around 27k away. I grossly underestimated how difficult this section would be, as I had only ever travelled it on the main road. Marcus had found an alternative route however, and, true to form, it contained some challenges….

The first, I soon found out, was an absolute monster of a hill. This seemed to go on forever, and at one stage, I was moving so slowly that some guy out for a walk caught up to me, had time to ask me about the race, and then passed me.
After what seemed like hours, I finally got to the top of this hill, and there was a much nicer section of downhill and flat running, on narrow country roads. Lee joined me for some of this, and we both enjoyed it.

I continued on my merry way, tackling occasional hills, and trying to keep taking small amounts of food on board. I was trying a new hydration drink on this run (breaking my mantra of “never eat, drink, wear or carry anything on race day that you haven’t eaten, drank, worn, or carried on at least two long runs”) from my sponsors Elivar, called Hydrate Plus, and I found it really good for thirst – it definitely did the business, as this is the first ultra of this length I’ve done without encountering stomach issues.

One of the Run The Kingdom team, Jim, who was keeping an eye on all the runners dropped in shortly before the halfway mark, and told me he felt I needed to increase my pace if I hoped to finish on time. I checked my pace notes, and I felt he was wrong – I had planned on reaching the halfway point in 7:45, giving me 9 hours to do the second half. This would have been fine if I’d looked at the course profile – I hadn’t, and had made the fatal assumption that the course was relatively evenly spread in terms of climbs. I would learn a harsh lesson. Note to self: In future, always assume Jim is right.
Eventually, after what seemed like an age, I reached Caherciveen. I grabbed some more food and checked my feet again. They weren’t pretty. As well as the increasingly painful blister on the sole of my left foot, I was developing blisters between the toes of my right foot. Nice.
I set off from Caherciveen with the cheers of some of the other crews in my ears, determined to get the job done, and feeling very positive. Then it started to rain.

Big stupid happy naive face in Cahirciveen.

The next destination was Portmagee, around 16 kilometres away. Most of what I remember of the next 10k or so is rain. Lots, and lots, and lots of rain.

Shortly before Portmagee, I began to feel some chafing in my crotch. The Runderwear I was wearing had done a great job, but the rain had soaked me to the bone, and nothing will stop chafing in those conditions. I decided to nip this in the bud, and apply some anti-chafing cream. I had a look both ways on the road to make sure the coast was clear, dropped my shorts, and reached down between my legs with a nice big dollop of cream. At this moment, a car pulled up alongside me, and the passenger window rolled down. It was an American couple, and their teenage son, who were obviously on holidays. We had a nice, casual chat about the race, and the area, all while my shorts were down, and I had my hand inside my underwear, rubbing vigorously. Wherever they came from, wet, bedraggled men publicly fondling themselves in the middle of nowhere is obviously not something that causes alarm.

We reached Portmagee, a picturesque little seaside village, without further incident, and I had more American tourists shout “God bless you” as I ran through. Goodness knows what they thought I was actually doing.

A couple of miles after Portmagee, we came to this:

Yes, that’s a mountain. Yes, it’s so high the top is lost in the mist. Yes, I have to go up there. I was not a happy bunny. Next time, as well as training for the race, I might actually have a look at the route profile too. I had an awful feeling that what I could see of this wasn’t even the worst part. I was right. The mountain turned out to be Coomanaspic, and it was fairly epic.

I put my head down and trudged onwards and upwards. I consoled myself with the thought that everybody else would find it just as hard as me, until I was passed by one of the relay runners (Thomas Bubendorfer I think) in what appeared to be a flat-out sprint.

The higher I climbed, the more painful my legs got, and the worse the rain fell. By the time I got to the top, it was pouring, and I couldn’t see more than about 50 yards ahead of me. I began to seriously think about taking up an easier hobby. Stamp collecting perhaps. Or flower arranging. Something you could do while sitting down at home in the warmth.

At the top of Coomanaspic, wondering where my life went wrong.

There was one of those holy statue/grotto things near the top, that are found at the top of so many high passes in Ireland, and I’d say there were a few runners that found religion at that point.

I practically had my tongue hanging out at the thought of the downhill at the other side, but it turned out to be a major disappointment – it was so steep that it was only marginally less difficult coming down than it was going up. Same pain, different muscles – with the added risk of slipping and landing on my ass, or worse still, faceplanting.

Once I got off the steep downhill, I was on to a much more manageable gradient, and this was far more pleasant to run – for the first time in a long while, I began to make some decent progress.

I was soon back to walking a bit and running a bit, when I was joined by my Tralee Triathlon Club teammate Fran, who had run as part of the team event earlier in the day, and he joined me for a few miles. I had gotten it into my head that the rest of the course was flat, but Fran dashed these hopes by telling me there was “a bit of a hill” coming up. I should have known by his manner that he was trying to break bad news to me gently. Fran left shortly afterwards to rejoin his team, but he would be back.

It wasn’t long before I discovered the bit of a hill was another bloody mountain pass. Not as bad as Coomanaspic, but not exactly a molehill either. It had the added bonus of being very long. I started to get passed by a lot of the relay team runners at this point, and while nobody likes to get passed, at least they kept my spirits up, as most of them (and their crews) gave me plenty of encouragement.

This section of the route really knocked me back, as I had thought I’d lots of time left, but now I began to fear that I was going to miss the cut off. I had little or nothing left in the tank, and I was getting further and further behind schedule. The blisters on my feet began to hurt to add to my woes. And the accursed rain continued to fall.

By the time I got over this pass, I was in fairly bad shape. You can hide under training in a lot of sports, but ultra running isn’t one of them. The course would well and truly kick my ass from now on.

Catherine and Lee encouraged me on, as my pace fell to a shambling walk/trot. Soon Fran appeared with his partner and fellow triathlete Trish, and Fran fell in beside me to keep me going. As the miles wore on, my pain got worse – I could now feel the blisters on my toes popping, and I have never known anything like it. It wasn’t pleasant.

Fran has an extremely calm demeanour, and I think his presence definitely helped prevent me falling apart at this stage. He’d make an excellent psychiatrist.

The road wound on. I passed the 10k sign for Waterville, where the finish line lay waiting. Then, what seemed like days later, the 5k sign. I was in very bad shape now, my body was one big ball of agony, and I could feel my willpower fading. I kept telling myself to think of my boys, to think what it would be like to face my sons if I quit. I stumbled on.

Jim came back, and he replaced Fran as my pacer. Jim had a very no-nonsense approach. He simply told me that he and I were going to finish, that he was going to set the pace, and that was that. I don’t know how he did it, but he made me run the last couple of miles.

We passed the 3k sign. Members of my club, Born To Run, began to appear. They shouted me in. I will never forget, as long as I live, stumbling in the last few miles with these amazing friends, my son alongside me, and turning the last bend in the darkness.

The main street of Waterville lay ahead, and it was amazing. I was the last runner home, but damn, did they make it count. Cars hooting and flashing lights, camera flashes, and the whole crowd cheering. I’ve never had a finish like it.

Run The Ring Finish
Coming up to the finish line with Lee. I’ll never forget the emotion of this moment.

My companions pulled out, and Lee and I crossed the line together.

What a day, and what a race. I hit the floor as soon as I crossed the line, and the whole agony and emotion hit me at once.

My friends helped me to my feet, the medic checked me out, and I was helped into the hotel where all the runners were. I got another huge cheer as I entered. Who needs to win when you get this for coming last!

I’ve said before that I consider ultra running to be a team sport. There are some runners I’m sure, that can do this all alone, and fair play to them. I’m not one of them. I wouldn’t be able to do this without the support of my family, and my running family, nor would I want to. I really feel a huge debt of gratitude to those who helped me finish this race; Catherine and Lee for crewing, and for their patience and love when I needed it, Ashley for crewing and keeping others updated, Geoff, Kerry and Denice for making sure I was ok, Kirsti for sharing the road with me, Fran for helping me on the most difficult section, and Trish for the many offers of water, hats, and bananas, Jim for his infinite patience, and his ability to quietly and calmly and inexorably  make a person do things they know full well they can’t, Mazza, Brian, and Dec for the company and encouragement on the first section, Gill for worrying about me, Adam for knowing that nothing would stop his dad finishing, Mary for getting up at an insane hour of the morning to crew the first section, Marcus for organising it all (illegitimi non carborundum), all the Run The Kingdom team and the volunteers for making it possible, the huge number of people who cheered me in at the end like I’d won it, and made me feel like a hero when I crossed the line. The wonderful, amazing, teammates of mine from Born To Run and Tralee Tri Club who cheered, encouraged, helped, and enquired. The staff of the Sea Lodge Hotel who will probably never get the sweat out of the seat I collapsed into. James for taking some wonderful photographs, and staying until the bitter end. If I’ve forgotten any name, I have not forgotten any contribution – thank you to everyone who helped me through this.

Well done to the amazing Fozzy Forristal who won the individual race, Team Liebherr 1 who won the male team event, and Star of the Laune AC who won the mixed team event. Amazing running guys.

Ultrarunning isn’t for everyone, and you wouldn’t want to go into one thinking you are doing a 10k, but the pain is in direct proportion to the reward. You have to want to finish it, and be prepared to suffer for it, in order to succeed. I have never come across a sport like it, where people are prepared to inflict such enormous suffering on themselves, purely  so they can prove to themselves they are capable of it, but I can say this – it is something to behold. Can’t wait for the next one.


Run The Ring Dusk to Dawn Challenge

In a few hours I’ll be taking on the beautiful Ring of Kerry (or 102km of it anyway) in the RTK Run the Ring Dusk to Dawn Challenge. There are 2 races in this – the individual 102km race that I’m doing, and a 183km team relay event.

If you are badly stuck for something to do (and want to see just how slow I really am), you can track all the runners here.

I might be calling on Luke Skywalker for a hand (get it?!) when we pass near his Star Wars: A Force Awakens home on Skellig Michael.


Best of luck to all the runners, team and individual, and to the organisers and volunteers. A big Thank You to all the crews, without whom this wouldn’t be possible. See you at the finish line on Saturday evening!



Tralee Triathlon Club Aquabike

I was on Kayak duty last night for the Tralee Triathlon Club Aquabike (that’s a swim, followed by a cycle!), as I had decided it was better to rest my legs before tackling the monster 102k Dawn to Dusk Run The Ring Challenge on Saturday.


Despite some slightly dodgy weather conditions at times (and an unexpectedly long swim!), everyone seemed to have a great time, and it was a great training exercise for the season ahead. Well done to Race Director Sinead, all the volunteers, and most of all, all the brave souls who completed it – especially the completely insane Mazza, who is also running the ring on Saturday!


Tralee Triathlon Club Slip to Shore Swim

Yesterday evening I took part in the Tralee Triathlon Club Slip to Shore Swim (it was actually shore to slip due to tide direction, but that doesn’t roll off the tongue as well), where experienced swimmers were partnered up with newer swimmers who were doing their first longer distance sea swim. The evening was a great success, with lots of club members doing the full 750m distance for the first time. Well done to organiser Joanne, and to all the kayakers and helpers, and especially to those who conquered their fears and completed their first full distance swim. We had great fun. The club is running an open water transition workshop with Triathlon Ireland today.


Global Running Day 5k

My family and I celebrated Global Running Day by taking part in the Run The Kingdom 5k in Tralee. The event was organised by Marcus Howlett and the Run The Kingdom crew, and there was a great turnout for both the 5k and the 3k, with runners of all ages, on a fantastic sunny evening. Well done to the organisers, and to sponsors Radar Sports.

global running day

Tralee Tri Club Aquathon

This evening (Tuesday) I took part in the latest in the Tralee Triathlon Club mini-try series.
There were two options, and, due to hamstring issues, I opted to go for the shorter tri-a-tri version of the aquathon, which consisted of a 250 meter swim followed by a 2.5k run. There was also a sprint distance, consisting of a 750m swim and a 5k run.

Conditions were absolutely perfect in Fenit, with warm, calm water, and blue skies. There was a great turnout of over 70 athletes, with lots of members of Tralee Bay Swimming Club joining in. After the usual preliminaries from race director Bridget, we set off.

Bridget lays down the law!

I wasn’t expecting much of myself in the swim, as I have very little swimming done this year, but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself making really good progress from the start. For once I managed to hold a good line out and back, and I think I was fifth or sixth out of the water.

Transition is usually my best part of any tri, and it went well here again! I quickly stripped off the wetsuit, threw on my shoes, and took off on the run.

There is a bit of a pull out of Fenit village, and my hamstring quickly flared up as I ran. It was fairly painful by the time I got to the halfway turnaround (where my other half Catherine was the marshall). I was passed by one other runner coming up to this point, which wasn’t too bad considering. I met Tommy and his son Ciaran coming back the other way, and they looked like they were having a great battle for first place!

My hamstring settled down a bit once we turned around, as it was downhill on the way back, and I managed to pick up the pace a bit – this didn’t prevent a young girl flying past me just after the turnaround – I was surprised at her speed, but I think she may have been the daughter of local running legend and Tri Club running mentor Maria O’Keefe McCarthy, which would explain it!

I pushed on, and finished fairly strongly, and, if I’m not mistaken, I was the second senior male to finish (grasping at straws a bit there, as several female and junior athletes finished before me, but I’ll take any title I can!), beaten in my category only by Tommy.

There was a great atmosphere back at the transition area, and I enjoyed watching the rest of the athletes finish both the tri-a-tri, and the sprint-distance event. There were some great performances, and brilliant competition. Afterwards we were treated to pizza and chips in Mikes Cafe to replace those lost calories, where we swapped war stories and future plans.

All in all, this was a fantastic evening, and is a credit to the club, the organisers, and the volunteers. I look forward to the next event in the series.