Sunday 11th April at 10.30am I found myself with Jack and Billy Tyrell standing at the start line of the 9th Connemara Marathon. Spectacular was how the view could be described as it temporarily took our minds off the 26.1 miles of road that lay ahead. However it was to get a whole lot better. The sun split the stones and the rugged landscape and the motionless Lake Inagh reflected the surrounding mountains back in their glorious detail.
Once again the hooped sportsworld vest had been taken from the national history museum for its first outing of 2010 through the hills and beauty of Connemara.
Never in all my years of running have I enjoyed a race as much. I was determined to soak up the atmosphere and scenery along the route. And so with Jack and Billy and Mary on the bike with all our supplies we set off on the road ahead.
One hour and 43 mins later we had covered half way through the village of Leenane with the Killary harbour on our left. After a further 2 miles of climbing we started to pick up the back markers on the half marathon race. Thus set the scene for the next 11 miles as we weaved our way in and out of these runners.
Through 20 miles in 2hrs and 39 mins and most of the talk and joking had stopped although we were still feeling quite comfortable on our schedule. At 22 miles we commenced our climb of the ‘hell of the west’ which we had heard so much about. Not much of a hill I suppose compared to the ‘Ballinascorney hill’ on the waterworks run, however after 22 miles in the legs it’s a different story. Eventually the ‘hell’ was conquered and we passed the memorial to Frank Haines at 24 miles . Frank died tragically at this point in the race in 2006 and a plaque and tree along with his commemorative medal is there for all to see.
The final 2 miles and 385 yards was a gentle downhill trot and brought me under the finish clock in a time of 3 hours 27 mins and a credible 32nd place. Billy and Jack, about a minute ahead placed 1st and 2nd respectively in the over 50 age category, congratulations to them. Whilst thanks also to Mary who played a stormer on the bike and catered for our every need along the way.
Hope this piece will encourage a bigger sportsworld entry for next years race. Everything about the event was superb and is certainly in our race diary for ’11 all going well.