“Més Que un Race Report” by  Will Greensmyth


I travelled with some pals from Limerick to Barcelona last weekend for the marathon. I got talked into signing up for this race while supping pints in JJ Bowles’ pub in Limerick after the Munster v Glasgow game last October. Great call, genius.

While I didn’t get the pb time I thought I was in the shape of, I did get around in one piece with no injuries. The heat was tough and I guess a winter of training in cold and wet Dublin wasn’t condusive to a spring marathon. I thought that my training went well with decent long runs logged, and my weekly mileage since December was consistently up around 80-100k mark but as Phil K advised me post-race, I probably didn’t do enough long pace runs, which would have helped put another bit of steel in the legs. Still Marathon #4 in the bag, and a decent block of training to attack a fast 5k/10k time in the summer.

Anyway back to Barcelona, we landed in on Friday afternoon and there was no escaping the reality of the heat which we classified as scorchio. In order to keep cool and stay properly hydrated, we took refuge in The George Payne Irish pub for the Wales v Ireland rugby match. The following morning, we hit up the expo early to collect numbers. The expo was located at Placa Espanya, right beside where the marathon starts and finish. A stroll around Parc Gúell that afternoon ticked the culture box for the weekend. I retired early to the cot on Saturday night.

Alarm set for 5.30am on Sunday morning, quick feed of porridge and off I toddled from the hotel to the metro. En route, I met many revellers still partying who must have quite the come down on the metro surrounded by luminous lycra clad runners in their hundreds.

There was the usual pre-race buzz around the start line. Into the pens we went and at 8.30am, we were let loose on the streets of Barcelona, showered with confetti and serenaded by Freddie Mercury. Straight away I knew this was going to be a long tough hoor of a morning, the first couple of kms were up hill and I don’t think I relaxed into the race until after five miles or so. I had notions of breaking my pb of 3’09 so placed myself a sensible distance behind the 3 hour pacer lads and kept a nice rhythm. As the kms increased so did the heat and it was obvious how much this would play a part in the day as everyone seemend to be gulping down the water from the first refreshments station onwards.  At half way I felt tickety-boo and was thinking that a respectable – but not by Gareth Murran’s sub 2’40 standards 😉  – time of sub 3’05 was on the cards.

A few miles down the road however and the gig was up. We came to the Forum where we had to run 2k up and 2k back down the same road. This was a part I knew well, from partying at the Primavera music festival a couple of times in the past. However, this was not a happy reunion and unfortunately I had to seek refuge twice in the portaloos in this stretch. The time lost along here and the stop/start nature meant it was a long traipse home from 30k. I was going to finish the damn thing though, and I shuffled, jogged, walked my way home to a time of 3’24”. The support in the last 10k was unreal – even better and more intense than Berlin or Dublin. At times, I felt like a Tour De France cyclist climbing up the alps with the amount of people cheering “Venga Venga” in our faces and running (well, walking) alongside me.

Crossing the line, I was disappointed. Then I looked around, saw moms and dads crossing the line with their kids (at least, I assume, they were their kids) and some lad with an Ecuador flag bawling his eyes out and I realised that it was a sunny morning in Barcelona, I wasn’t in a field in Ballycotton and a great night of tapas scoffing and dive bars awaited with good friends.

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.