Report by Mark Hogan (above left with no flake in his ice cream)

“Ireland’s recording breaking course”: 68% of Half Marathon participants achieved a P.B. in 2017.

In January I was mapping out a few races for the first half of the year and was looking for a long race (10 miles / half marathon) in April as a warm up for the Cork Half at the beginning of June. With a tag line like the above on their website why wouldn’t you sign up I thought? I mentioned it at training to a few of the lads that I had entered and Andrew decided he’d also give it a go.

At training the week before the race we briefly discussed tactics for the weekend and we were both hoping to get a PB in around 82mins. This was when we started to finally address the actual course which despite the ‘recording breaking’ tagline actually had quite a hilly start. Basically up until the 8km was straight up hill, so we figured if we could maintain a decent pace until then we could roll downhill which was promised just afterwards.

I picked Andrew up on the morning of the race and the weather was perfect as we drove the scenic route down to Wexford town (which is a lot further away than we realised when signing up!)

The race itself starts in the town along the waterfront. We arrived with plenty of time to spare for a quick costume change and warm up. Just before the race set off we also met Ciara Brady near the start line who after beating Sonia O’Sullivan the day before in the Cabinteely Parkrun was deciding if she was running or racing the half.

The Wexford Half is a race with three very distinctive sections. For the first 2km’s of the race the route takes you south out of town with the usual felling of trying to get comfortable in your race pace. As always I set out a little too fast but we quickly started the hilly climb which meant a more natural slower pace. Andrew and I were side by side with a few other stragglers using us to shield the wind and pace them up hill. In previous years the race used to go through Johnstown Castle which as we passed looked very scenic but unfortunately we weren’t allowed in this year due to some ongoing works.

So we continued our climb all the while knowing that our main aim was to get to the 8km marker. By the 7km marker we had picked off a few runners already and our group was down to Andrew, myself and our new best friend Martin (from New Ross). We finally made it up the last of the hills (section 1 complete) and turned down some nice country roads with good shade and a decent decline.

We were conscious to make up some time we might have lost on the hills but also not getting too carried away as there was still a good distance to go at this point. The weather on the day wasn’t quite as biblical as Boston or London but it was starting to heat up and we were glad that there were plenty of water stations on the route and had our pre-planned gels at 11km. This was by far the nicest section of the day and the km’s ticked by quickly but with a few short sharp hills to keep us honest (section 2 complete).

By now we were at the 15km mark and this is where the real race began. Against a strong headwind and out on the open road of the N25 it was a case of head down and keep moving. Andrew definitely feeling stronger than me at this point kept up the strong pace and powered on ahead. So I was left with my thoughts and our new buddy who was still enjoying the wind breaking that I was only delighted to provide him with.

With 4km’s to go it was great to get a shout out from Conor Mac who was out for a Sunday run/topping up his tan; he told us afterwards it’s always sunny in Wexford. Finally, we entered a small business park on the outskirts of town where we had been told to run down to the second cone, do a u-turn and then back to the main road to make up about 800m’s that was missing from the course. Once back on the main road we took a quick left and a nice downhill to the finish with the only drawback being the 100’s of walkers from the 10km who had joined up with us by this point.

A quick look at the watch and delighted to get a PB by just over 1 minute, while Andrew also had a significant PB. On the journey back he told me his pre-Sportsworld time for a Half had been 93mins in 2017 and over the last 8mths he has taken 12mins off. Not long until he breaks 80mins!! We didn’t see Ciara at the end but based on her time she also ran a brilliant race and was the 6th lady home.

Name                                    Chip Time                           Place

Andrew Brett                    1:20:49                                  4th

Mark Hogan                       1:21:49                                  5th

Ciara Brady                         1:38:34                                  85th