Dublin City Half Marathon September 17 2022
report by Olive Fogarty with photos by Eoin O’Brien and Paddy Lynch.
2022 sees the resumption of the Dublin City Marathon and associated race series and it seems that half the club are finding roll forward entries down the back of the couch. With 6 weeks to go the last big test is Saturdays Half around the Phoenix Park. While I have no plans to do this or any other marathon, after 6 years in the club I thought I might finally try to drag myself to 21kms. This vague aim was spurred on by witnessing the inspirational camradarie and commitment amongst the group of Sunday morning marathoneers that I’m currently trying to hang around with.
The 9am start line means a 7.45 start from home, picking up Mary en route. Our last race together was the Dublin 5 mile 2018. I feel there’s less nervous tension for this one, both of us on last minute entries. It’s testament to our growth as people and athletes that we are more interested in finding parking than talking tactics today. But I’m happy to share my masterplan to any captive audience – it is this: to get around in 2 hours or so without stopping and without creating any new niggles. I don’t want some pesky race to jeopardise the Sunday morning Phoenix Park coffees. My concern is that running 21kms for the first time and on a hard surface, without the usual chat and company of those long runs will be as mentally draining as it is physical. A warm up is out of the question, the thing will be long enough. In the park we find familiar faces Eileen, Padraic & Siobhan, Padraig and Nicola.
After the heat of late summer it’s strange to feel hands cold, to have to consider running with a layer, to feel the cool dew of the grass slipping through the runners as we traipse across to the starting corrals. I dread road races – the noise, the crowds, the unnecessarily loud music, doing oneself and injury with safety pins, queuing for toilets ….but today is good. There are portaloos as far as the eye can see, no wind, a bit of gentle sun through cloud and best of all, it seems someone has unplugged the mic so there’s less of that pumping music than usual.
Siobhan, Eileen, Mary & myself assemble somewhere around the 1.50 corral, giving ourselves space to settle back to 2 hours. And then we are off, setting out on a northward course along Chesterfield Avenue and quickly taking a left onto Ordnance Survey Road. Myself and Eileen drift along a little ahead of the 5.40 per km target pace, pulled along by the foot rhythm of the 1.50 pacers and their congregation. But thankfully Eileen isn’t in true race mode today, we steady it down for the pleasant decline of upper glen road. It’s a course of loops and there’s some muttering as we pass the 10 mile signpost (at about 1k). My feet feel a bit sore already but I’m a brave soldier and stay strong as we enter the 2nd kilometre. Past chapelizod gate, up the s bends, the next feature that stands out is the steep rise from Island bridge gate beneath the magazine fort up Wellington Road and then we are back on Chesterfield Avenue, the first 5km “module” done under the target 30mins and feeling ok.
Module 2 takes us onto Acres road and we can see the runners ahead of us come up on the other side of the road. It’s a nice diversion to shout at the Sportsworlders we can spot – Garry, Padraig, Nicola, Deirdre and Adam all looking strong. Then it’s open path turning before the Magazine Fort to go down around the pitches, I head for the grass to get some space and a softer landing but find the only slight breeze in the park and seeing Eileen drift ahead, return to the path, reluctant to lose company at less than half way. Back up then to the Phoenix Monument and running northwards on Chesterfield again. Loops can be tough but as each repeated segment is approached from a new angle, my poor sense of direction is sufficient to make me think it’s a completely new part each time and so avoid the psychological crush. Back up on the wide even surface of Chesterfield it’s somehow easier to settle into a rhythm and I finally lose myself in the running for two or three kms to Castleknock gate and back down onto Ordnance Survey Road again. I also somehow lose Eileen at this point. I’m not sure if she is ahead or behind. Another loop of Upper Glen Road, the 10 mile sign for real this time, feeling decent, but in the final incline up Acres Road, at 17.5k despite my best efforts to moderate my pace all through and stay going – I have to stop to avoid reviewing breakfast I resume but can’t risk pushing on for the last 5k and my pace feels like it drops. The last 1km should be the fun bit, given all the careful pacing, but a few attempts to stride out leave me heaving again so I settle for the shuffle. With 500 metres to go I hear a familiar “hello” behind me and Eileen glides by, light and fresh as if she’s just started. I’ve got nothing so just have to wish her heels well.
On the far side of the gantry I’m a bit dazed walking along with my medal and a banana. It’s great to see more Sportsworld faces gathered – Nevan, Eoin, Anne, David, Tara…we pose up for a photo, myself and Anne creaking so loudly we are afraid we’ll never be able to get back out of the crouch position…but shur you’d put it all on the line for the race photo.
During the afterchats my “lifetime achievement” of getting around the course is put in perspective; Anne saw the race going on as she was doing her weekly long run and just worked it into the 30k, Eoin was just fitting it in on his way to Ikea to buy a new cabinet, in the carpark we meet Martina and her sister (also doing her first half?) who have knocked it out in 1.44 and 1.45 respectively. We hear later that Nicola has stormed home in 1.28 to take 4 minutes off her PB, neck and neck with Aoife CArrol and Aine O’Leary is first SW lady home, first in category and 5th lady overall in 1.23. In the mens, top SW finishers were Brian O Murchu (1.22) Garry Hobbert (1.25), Padraig Looby & Brendan Keogh (1.28)
Great performances all round on another beautiful day out in the park.
|Race Number||Name||Gun Time||Chip Time|
|4704||Aoife O Leary||1:23:17||1:23:14|
|5495||Deirdre O Connell||1:32:37||1:32:08|
|6521||Eoin O Brien||2:02:31||1:54:15|
|4377||Edward De Burca||2:27:11||2:17:51|
*edited from TDL results to correct name
Special thanks to Paddy Lynch for getting these great shots of the action.