This is a guest post from my great friend and running partner Brian O’ Shea.
As a long time reader of this blog I was flattered last Thursday when Randall asked me to write a report about the Craughwell AC’s Marathon that was taking place on Saturday, although this was tinged the disappointing news that my partner in crime would be unable to attend the event himself. Like Randall I took part in the Tralee 100k Ultra-marathon on August 1st and this event marked my return to longer distances following four weeks of occasional, leisurely short runs.
The day started early with a cacophony of eleven alarms waking me up at 4am (I wasn’t taking any chances after sleeping in for two hours the morning of the Waterford Marathon and having to do a sprint to Viking town) A quick jaunt with Conor and Mazza saw us meet Declan in Castleisland and we set off on the road with Dec at the wheel, picking Eamonn up in Abbeyfeale. The journey to Craughwell was light-hearted filled with much banter and Eamonn yearning for a coffee while giving out that there was no equivalent of the Barrack Obama Plaza on the M18. A quick stop at a local garage placated him though and ten minutes later we arrived in the lovely village of Craughwell; well ahead of the 8am start.
It became very evident that the marathon would be small in numbers, but rich in Marathon Club Ireland members; which is most certainly a recipe for a quaint and enjoyable day. A bad downpour delayed the start by a few minutes and after a detailed course brief by Valerie we were off. On the way up I had being telling the lads in the car that the course profile I had found on the Craughwell AC website showed it to be a very flat looped course. I even insisted that it looked flatter than the lovely Portumna. This idea went quickly out the window though after taking the first turn on the course to be greeted with a lovely hill, and then another, and another. I’m actually convinced that the course defies the rules of physics as there seemed to be plenty of up and very very little down and yet we still started back at the start-line for the next loop.
The first hour and a half we had soft misty rain and it was very warm and humid. Mazza and I had decided before we even left Tralee that we were going to take this one easy and treat it as a long training run for the upcoming back to back marathons in Sixmilebridge, but the heat and humidity made the hills feel like mountains. Music blaring from the Spotify playlist on my phone the two of us tipped around while keeping to our ultra-marathon ritual of 25 minutes running and 5 minutes walking. Mazza abandoned her jacket at the start-line at the beginning of lap 4, complaining that her face must be as red as a beetroot because she was so hot. I soon followed her lead as we started lap 5, by which time she reckoned she must look like a raspberry.
The course had a small switchback section on which we were able to meet our fellow Born to Run member Conor a few times as well as many of the familiar faces of the MCI members. The funniest moment of the day happened on lap six when a man we were passing thought I was Randall.
By the end of lap 6; I think a mixture of heat, humidity, hills and the body still recovering from the 100k got to us a little and we decided to adapt our strategy to walking the hillier sections and running faster on the not so hilly sections. This suited us both fine and we settled back into it not worried about the clock, appreciating the moment. Mazza usually provides the music for our long runs and I’m usually the one that complains and tells her to skip certain tracks, today the show was firmly on the other foot with Mazza seriously questioning my sanity when some of the songs from my hill training playlist came on (hardcore metal).
Reaching mile 26 we were on the home run, and decidedly in favour of having a nice cup of tea for ourselves. At this point in the day, Mazza had decided she must look like a whole host of various fruit and vegetables, all of which were red in colour. We finished our marathon in a time of 4:55:20 and decided to go get changed before sourcing our cup of tea. We went into the community centre and were more than pleasantly surprised to find that Craughwell AC had a massive spread laid out for the runners; tea, coffee, sandwiches, cake, buns and many other treats.
Our two Kerry Crusaders buddies Declan and Eamonn; and fellow Born to Run member Conor, all ran today for the Ronald McDonald House Challenge and they put their heart and soul into that challenge today. They are aiming to complete 15 marathons in 2015.
Well done to everyone one that took part, but in particular a huge debt of thanks is owed to Valerie Fogarty and the Craughwell AC for a great day out, and Vincent Guthrie who was looking after the timing. Congratulations to Conor on running marathon number 20 today.
Next up for me is the Dingle Marathon this coming Saturday followed by Tullaroan on September 19th. Best of luck to Julie Byrne and Adolfo Garcia who are both taking on the mighty challenge of the Kerry Way Ultra this coming weekend.