Report By Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin

Sunday was a great day, not just because I was in Cork, but because it was a lovely summer day and there was a terrific atmosphere in the city with all the bank holiday festivities taking place. Damien Geraghty and I had signed up to the ½ marathon and I was extra happy to meet Damien in the starting chorale, not because he is a sound bloke or anything, but because he had forgotten his singlet as well. They say great minds think alike. Fortunately, no one from the club was around, so I think we pretty much got away with it 🙂

(Above: The two of us only delighted with our choice of outfits)

I was worried that writing about Cork would result in a pro-Cork biased piece but luckily I’d Denis McCaul’s race reports to call upon as an example of balanced and objective writing about all things Corkonian. His recent race report for the Dunboyne 5 Mile reads particularly well in this regard. I shared my concerns with Thomas Kinsella who said he wouldn’t blame me for a small bit of bias anyway as, “Cork is incredible in fairness”.

The course profile is not as hilly as you hear. There are some minor enough hills in the middle ½ but the first and last ¼s are flat so it allows you to settle into a rhythm at the start and finish strongly. The bad reputation the event has for people underperforming stems from the hot summery weather you get in June. Summer Marathons are the hardest for this reason. Typical of Cork people to give themselves a challenge.

Damien and I were aiming for a sub-90 time, so we decided to stick with the 90 minute pacer for the first ¾ and push on from there once the hills were behind us. The race began bang on time and we were off and feeling very comfortable. As we ran along I took it upon myself to point out all the landmarks in the city to Damien. He politely listened but next time he’ll have the headphones in.

(Above: Cruising along at the start, and Damien striking down Pana)

The locals were out in good numbers with lots of vocal support and generous offers of sliced oranges, jellies and cups of water from their outstretched arms. One lad near the Model Farm Road was spraying runners with the garden hose to cool them down… at least I think that’s what he was doing. We spotted two familiar faces en route, Thomas Kinsilla was out on the 1½ mile mark with big shouts, and Anna Delany gave us a lot of encouragement near Victoria Cross. Thank you.

We stuck diligently to the plan, and after passing the ¾ point we pushed on comfortably. Running up the Carrigrohane Straight, we could see the pacing strategy had paid off as we passed people clearly struggling. Damien kicked on with a mile to go and was very happy with his 87 minutes, knocking over 2 minutes off his previous PB. That’s now 3 PBs in a row in Cork for the man from the Orchard County, coincidence?

The event has a very relaxed atmosphere about it. All sorts of runners tog out on the day, may of whom are doing their first race. I get the impression that it is a good starting point for the beginners. This year the marathon was moved forward to the Sunday from the traditional Monday. A great idea as it makes it easier for people from further afield to attend, and one of whom only went and won the Marathon. Chris Mocko, an interesting character from San Francisco (The twin city of Cork), who quit his office job to run full time had his decision validated as he literally limboed under the tape in 2:26.

Local girl, Jill Hodgins from Douglas, won the ladies in 2:48.

The ½ Marathon was won by Peter Samba with 67 minutes in the men’s. In a textbook Somba move he pipped crowd favourite and national marathon champion Sergiu Ciorbanu in a sprint finish on the final straight after Sergiu led for most of it. I’d love to know what the likes of Sergiu and Mick Clohissey think when they see him toe the line with them. Claire McCarty won the women’s in 76 minutes.

Lastly, I must complement the organisers for their water stations. They were very frequent and well managed. Made things much easier for people on a hot day. Unwinding after the day, I felt like I should make this an annual outing.

(Above: Mise crossing the line… in 88 minutes, not 3:12, that the marathon clock 😀 )