On Sunday August 17th, I ran the Rose of Tralee 10K, a race around Tralee town held in conjunction with the Rose of Tralee Festival, which brings thousands of visitors from all over the world to the town for a week of fun and frolics.
I didn’t have high hopes of a PB for this event, as it was going to be my fourth race in five weeks (including two ultra marathons!) so my legs were more interested in rest than racing. I was determined to give it a go though, as it is one of the most fun events you can run – you are guaranteed support all along the course, there is a great party atmosphere, and lots of people dress up for the race – in many cases, in fairly elaborate evening wear!
Unlike most events, this has a nice late start time of 11am, which means that there is huge support on the streets from the start. There was a real buzz at the start, with all the competitors mingling, taking pictures, and, in many cases, comparing outfits! Many of my Born to Run teammates had really pushed the boat out with their costumes, and the start line looked more like a formal ball than a race!
Once we got going, the support was fantastic – I really love this race because of this. You have people cheering you from the word go, and, for a local like me, you can hear your name being called all the time. The race began, like most Tralee races, from the Tralee Wetlands Centre, and then turned west of the town centre, and turned north west up the suburb of Caherslee. The support continued up the slight mile or so of an incline of Caherslee, before we turned north over Bracker O’Reagan Road – which is known to all Tralee natives as The Fat Mile, and is very popular for walking and running. I saw a funny sign in Caherslee – a toddler in a pushchair with his dad, holding a sign saying “Hurry up mom, I’m hungry.” Well done to whoever came up with this!
The Fat Mile continued the climb that Caherslee had begun, and I saw quite a few, presumably inexperienced, runners faltering here after going out way too fast. Halfway along the Fat Mile we came to the first water stop, at approximately the halfway point, which was located on a short switchback. There was a bit of a climb out of this switchback, and again, I saw a lot of runners slow their pace, or even start walking, having left it all in the first 5K. I had known I wouldn’t have a lot of reserves in my legs, so I’d taken the first half of the race at a pace I felt I could sustain, and I kept some energy in reserve for the second half – I knew all the climbing was in the first 5K, so I was confident I could run a negative split.
After The Fat Mile, we continued straight on over the Kileen Road, before taking a sharp right to head south west down the old suburb of Oakpark. This section of the race is a gentle downhill, and I started to pick up the pace slightly, as I felt I would now finish fairly comfortably. I saw one lady take a bad fall at this section, and she looked like she landed heavily – quite a few people stopped to help her, I hope she was ok. Coming down Oakpark brings the runners back towards the centre of Tralee, and, as you got to the end of Oakpark, and turned right on North Circular Road, you could hear the music and cheering from the finish line. This spurred everyone on, and lots of runners started to pick up the pace. After taking a left down Rock Street (famous in Tralee because of it’s sporting heritage, and known as The Street of Champions), we turned left again on to The Mall, before taking a final right on to the main street of Tralee, Denny Street.
What a way to end a race! Denny Street is a lovely, wide, Georgian Terrace, with impressive architecture, and the imposing Pikeman monument in the centre, and, as usual, I found the strength somewhere to go for a sprint finish. Running up Denny Street, the main street of my home town, with huge crowds cheering, towards the finish line, is one of those moments that runners live for. I would run a race every day of my life if the finish could be like this.
I came in with a time of 56:31, which, for me, is a good time! It was an improvement of 2 minutes over my time in this event last year, and a 10K PB, so I am very happy with it, especially considering the tiredness in my legs.
After I finished I waited for my eldest sister Gillian, who was running her first ever race – she had a great time, and I think another member of the family may have been converted to running!
Well done to everyone who ran this race, especially those who dressed up for the occasion! This race was, yet again, a credit to Marcus Howlett and his Run the Kingdom team – it has become one of my favorite races, and, if you are holidaying in Ireland next August, I highly recommend both the Rose of Tralee festival, and this race.
I haven’t yet decided what race is up next for me – there are a few possibilities, from the Dingle Triathlon, to The Glen of Aherlow Ultra. I will probably decide over the next week. All I know is, I am definitely not racing next weekend!