The postponed 2020 Dingle Half Marathon and Marathon took place on a wet and blustery Saturday, September 3rd 2022. This was one event in which I had always wanted to run but had never had the chance.
From the sky, the Dingle Peninsula points to the sea like an outstretched finger. At the very edge of Europe, it extends from Tralee to Dunquin at its western tip for around 55km and is around 21km wide at its broadest. Voted among the Top 100 destinations in the world by TripAdvisor and referred to as ‘the most beautiful place on earth by National Geographic, its landscape is composed of soaring mountaintops, scenic hillsides, secluded lakes, sweeping valleys, ancient ruins, dramatic sea cliffs, charming sea coves and long, sandy beaches. The best way to get to know the Peninsula is to run its byroads, walking trails, beaches, woodlands, valleys, coastline, clifftops, islands, hillsides and mountains.
Having had a brilliant Dingle weekend with the Sportsworld gang back in March I was expecting great things from Dingle. I had Martin Doyle, Adrian Lanigan, Neil Purdy, Tom Kinsella and Paul Hamilton for company on this occasion.
We set out from Dublin in the early afternoon, delayed somewhat by the partygoers headed to EP in Laois. On arriving in Dingle we headed straight for the nearest hardware store (bar) to carb load and watch the incredible Ciara Mageean smash Sonia’s national 1500M record in the Brussels Diamon league.
I’m not a good sleeper the night before a race but the early 9 AM start meant there was no time to have second thoughts. The love for Trident Holiday Homes is strong in this group so we were only about a five-minute walk from the start. Unfortunately, Adrian had picked up a niggle and, not wanting to mess up his Chicago Marathon prep, decided not to race, so we were down to 5 on race morning. The weather was pretty miserable at the start but luckily the heavy wind and rain were mostly at our backs.
Having struggled to get the body in one piece for much of the year I had only gone over 21K a couple of times since February, but the great thing about having years of running behind you is that the endurance drops off a lot slower than the top-end speed. I set out planning to run at a steady pace of 4 minutes per kilometre.
After the initial sprinters had receded backwards I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were only about 10 runners ahead of me. Knowing that some of them were running the full Marathon I thought that there may be a chance of a top 3 finish here. I let the race settle a bit further and started chatting with a fellow Dublin 2019 runner who was doing the full and wanted to break 2.50. It was therefore decided that we would run together up until 18K at which point I would kick on a bit toward the finish. We picked up another lad along the way and had a nice group and some banter along the way.
As we left Dingle over the bridge and past the Distillery we hit the first of many hills. The already hilly course was made all the more difficult because of the weather, which was pretty bad for the first 12-13K of the race. One uphill stretch near Páidí Ó Sé’s Pub in Ventry comes to mind where the rain was in our faces, lightening flashing and thunder getting ever closer. A lesser man would have been tempted to go get a pint at 9.30 AM.
As the more experienced runner in the group, it was my job to manage the pace. As can be seen from my splits it was important to slow down on the uphills and make up some time on the downs.
By the time we reached Slea Head at around 17K the views were spectacular. I’d ran the stretch from Coumeenole beach to Ballyferriter probably a dozen times before but none compared to the race environment and having the open road to ourselves. As we got to Dunmore Head I wished the lads well and put the foot down for the last 3K. Starting out it was one of the tougher parts of the course but the last kilometre was almost all downhill.
The race finishes at the famous Krueger’s bar. My time was 1.24.03 (3.59 Per / KM). Job done, time for a pint. I can’t recommend this race enough, very few compare. It has great views, enjoyable routes, organisation, excellent finish and decent support in all the small villages on the route.
The lads all adopted a similar strategy with everyone running a solid but not exhausting race pace effort. We had a few beers in the now beautiful sunny weather and enjoyed the rest of the night in Dick Mack’s and Kennedys, somewhat missing the March gang at times.
For those who race every time they go out, I would really recommend treating a few races as a tempo or helping pace a friend. It’s a really enjoyable experience and really brings home why running is such a great pursuit in the first place. I was super happy to get back on the wagon and not give into any excuses about the weather or the hills, even attarcting a few compliments on my post race positivity for once.
A big congrats to ther other Sportsworld runners who took part in the Half Marathon and extra special credit to David Trimble who ran a very tough full Marathon. Go do this next year, its brilliant craic.