Report by Emmet Wardell
The Athlone ¾ marathon is held three weeks before Dublin city marathon and is very much advertised as an ideal stepping stone for the big day itself. Having heard contrasting views on the merits of running a race of such a distance 3 weeks before the marathon, I hummed and hawwed as to whether to get involved or not. Eventually, when a mate from work who has helped drag me around on many of my long weekend runs said he was keen to give a go, I let that make up my mind and so agreed that he should sign both of us up.
As a relative novice when it comes to running, coupled with the fact that I am a slightly competitive individual, I’m no stranger to taking off a little hard when racing and paying the price later on. When chatting to Myles on the Tuesday previous I mentioned I was running the Athlone 3/4 as a training run. He immediately displayed a look of concern and was quick to inform me that he and others in the club did not promote the running this race given its proximity on the calendar to the full marathon on the October bank holiday weekend. “It is grand though Myles” I said, “I’m not gonna race it, I’m just gonna take it nice and handy and treat it as a training run” at which Myles smirked and threw up his eyes as he walked away, quite obviously suggesting that he had heard that plan before, and subsequently watched it fail leaving many a hopeful Dublin marathoner with legs not as fresh as they should be on the start line a proper.
So with this exchange with Myles playing and replaying in my mind (I didn’t dream about it the night before, honest….), I took off from the picturesque setting of Glasson golf club at 10.30am on Sunday morning. Being the ‘apprehensive’ (please see the photo attached!) sort of guy that I am, I was nothing short of terrified that was I gonna take off too fast, and take too much out of my legs in what was only supposed to ultimately be a training run.
However, with the help of Myles’s subtle/not to subtle wise warning (thanks Myles!) and some rarely seen good discipline, much to my pleasant surprise I managed to run at the race in reasonably consistent splits at about 5.10 per kilometre (was planning for 5.15 per km). For the last 4 to 6 kms my legs were heavy enough and I undeniably felt tired but after running 30 odd kilometres I think it is fair to say that that is to be expected. It’s worth noting here that my preconception that Westmeath, being in the midlands, would offer up a nice flat course was well wide of the mark and there was not insignificant hills a plenty! This also served to contribute to my weary legs from kilometre 26 and beyond but should hopefully stand to me in three weeks’ time. All in all though, I thought the race was extremely well set-up and offered a great chance to do a training run under race conditions. Once the race is approached with sufficient caution I think it is a great stepping stone before the Dublin city marathon (although I would take that advice with a word of caution given it comes from a man with zero marathons under his belt!).
With a time of 2 hours and 43 minutes with relatively even quarter marathon splits I came in 209th out of over 900 plus runners. From a man who 12 months ago had never run more than 10km, it wasn’t a bad effort although I think it is fair to say I couldn’t have got this far without the help of Myles, Emily, Paddy and all the other wonderful and kind people down in Sportsworld.
Roll on the big day on October 26th. And for now…..let the taper begin!!!!!
The only other Sportsworld runner was Enda McMorrow who came in a time of 3:04 – great going, well done Enda!