The last time I ran this race was in 2013, when it was my fourth ever race. An Riocht (which means The Kingdom in Irish) is an athletics club based in Castleisland. The registration and number pick up is based in the clubs impressive facility in the middle of the town, and the race starts a few hundred yards away on the main street.
There was a very large crowd at registration, both for the 10 miler, and the 5k which runs at the same time. Registration was well organised, and I was very impressed with the goody bag we received, which included a medal holder.
As usual I met loads of runners I knew, and had a great time catching up with those I hadn’t met for a while. Conditions were excellent – blue skies, and sunny. It was soon time to get ready for the off, and I joined a very impressive crowd on the starting line. After the formalities (and some photographs) we were off.
The first section of the race brought us down the main street, before doing a short circuit of the town, and then we turned North out the old Limerick road. I took this section fairly easy, as I knew that there was a fairly horrific hill coming up – something that quite a few others either didn’t know, or ignored. Sure enough, from mile 2 on, the road began a steep climb. With one eye on London next week, I decided to run/walk this hill, as I knew it would make little difference to my time. I was passed by a few runners, but I passed a lot of runners as the hill went on and on. By the time we got to the water station at the top of this hill at 3.5 miles, there was a lot of suffering going on around me.
I met a girl on this section who told me she was going for a 1:40 finish, and we would pass each other about a dozen times of the course of the race!
From here, we turned south West, and we had a nice long decent of almost 2 miles, back towards Castleisland. This was a big relief for my legs, and I picked up the pace a fair bit. I’d had the intention of finishing just under 2 hours, but as I came to the 6 mile mark, I realised I was a fair bit ahead of this target, and my legs were still pretty fresh, so I decided to revise this to finish under 1:50.
The last few miles brought us on a large loop east of the town, and I was surprised at mile 8 to find I still had a good bit of running left in my legs – in fact I did miles 8 and 9 at almost exactly the same pace as miles 1 and 2 – very unusual for me!
It was quite hot for the past few miles, and there was a few sneaky hills to test the legs, but I passed a surprising number of runners on the last 2 miles. I definitely felt mile 10 though – there was a small but testing hill shortly before the end, and I seriously considered walking it.
The last section brought us back down Main Street, and there was a sharp turn in to An Riochts grounds, before running the last few hundred yards to the finish on the race track.
I glanced at my watch as I crossed the line and saw that I had come in at 1:42 (my official time was 1:42:40) – not bad at all considering I hadn’t pushed myself terribly hard at any stage. Incidentally the girl who I’d met on the hill near the start came in just behind me – close to her goal of 1:40.
There was lots of food and refreshments available in the clubhouse after the race, though I had to rush off to a prior engagement.
Overall I really enjoyed this race, and I hope it will stand to me in next week’s marathon. Well done to An Riocht on a very well organised event, and thanks to all the volunteers and marshals who made it happen. Well done to Lee Strand on a very generous goody bag!
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