Report by James Brady
The Charleville half marathon is in North Cork, just across the border with Limerick. It’s billed as an international half marathon and one of the flattest & fastest in Ireland. There’s always a strong field. The race compares itself with the Dublin race series half in 2012. In Dublin in 2012 6300+ runners took part with just one runner going under going under 70 minutes. In Charleville on the same weekend that year there were 630+ runners with 7 going sub 70! There were 3 women who ran sub 80 in Dublin that year, while there were 4 in Charleville. Enough said!
I travelled down with a friend from home the day before, stopping off at the ‘Barack Obama’ plaza to carb load and see Baracks, eh…ancestral homeland. We arrived in the early evening. Got a drive around the course, and an easy 20 minute run just outside the town of Kilmallock. Home to the infamous Jim Browne of Sportsworld fame! We checked into the Charleville Park hotel, had a dip in the pool and a stint in the sauna before having dinner. We had a quick half pint with Jim after dinner, which Michael Cunninghan informs me adds about 13 seconds onto your half marathon time.
After a substantial bowl of porridge and half a slice pan we started our warm up on Sunday morning. The weather was a little cold and fairly wet. There was a wind but nothing you could complain too much about.
The race has pacers for a few key times including a sub 80 minute pacer. I know the Terenure 5 mile had a sub 30 minute pacer this year and to be honest I can see the advantage. I decided to try and stick with the 80 minute pacer for as long as possible. He did a great job and obviously knew the route like the back of his hand.
The start is fast like most races and you head out of the town towards Kilmallock. I ended up slightly in front of the 80 minute pacer. Please see attached photo above! My friend compared it to me being chased down by a pack of zombies. By the first hill, known as ‘the high bridge’ according to Jim Browne the pacer had caught me. I stuck with the pacer & pack for the first 10 miles, the pace varying from 5.55 per mile to 6.05. I met Jim cheering me on at about mile 4. We passed through Kilmallock, past Jim’s old primary and secondary school and on to a country road. The twists and turns on the back road were a bit of a relief from the straight roads prior to this.
At mile 10 we looped back onto the road coming back towards Charleville and again met Jim giving me lots of encouragement. Struggling at this stage and with a slight drag to the end my pace dropped and the likelihood of a sub 80 too. I finished the race in 80.15 officially. It’s a great race. Well organised with a nice atmosphere during and after. Definitely recommended.
One current Olympic hopeful started the race, Maria McCambridge. And one former Olympian and general legend Sonia O’Sullivan also ran. The mens race was won by Ismail Ssenyange from Uganda in a time of 66.02. The womens race won well by Maria McCambridge in a time of 73.27.
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