The Ardagh 10 mile challenge took place in the scenic village of Ardagh in Co. Longford on Saturday 28th December. The weather this year was mild with only a little breeze which was perfect for running.
The course is certainly challenging with a continuous climb for about one mile from the two mile mark. This is followed by rolling hills, a stretch of relatively even roadway and some downhills. However, the climbing is not over and the final mile involves another climb which brings the runners back into the village.
I arrived just in time to get a number and jump into the starting pack before we were off. My last two months of training was not ideal, as I was managing some niggles! I planned to do the 10 mile race as my long run for the week and try and work on getting some fitness back. I have opted for the 5k race option (that also is offered) for the past two years.
Gareth Murran who had ran a fantastic race less than 48 hours earlier in Wicklow also took part this year and ran a fine race against a very competitive field of runners. Gareth was the race winner in Ardagh last year. This year the race was won by a very on form Barry Shiel of Longford A.C. in a course record time of 53.35. Barry had won the Longford marathon only a few months previous.
I took part in this 10 mile race in December 2016 and just managed to creep inside the 90 minute mark with a time of 1.29.22. I think I was scarred by that experience for nearly two years after it! I only attempted a 10 mile again in summer 2018 when I did the Irish Runner 10 mile race, achieving my goal of getting in just before the 80 minute balloon.
I had no massive expectations last Saturday and I was just happy that I was starting to regain some strength and fitness. I made sure to pace myself, as I expected to tire towards the finish, particularly given the testing hills. I somehow managed to bag myself a nice PB at 1.15.42 to finish a year where I got a PB in every race distance I took on. I am very grateful as I reflect at the end of the year.
As we start to ease our way into a New Year and new decade, I know a lot of you will be considering what resolutions you may wish to make. You might be planning some running goals or even just life goals, as the case may be. I hope 2020 is a great year for all of the Sportsworld members and their families with lots of success stories, but most importantly healthy and happy runners.