There is something about runners. Why would you get up early on a Bank Holiday to push your body to its limits and ignore its pleas to rest and relax? The answer? Runners like to achieve, to test, to compete and to challenge. Runners know that the ‘easy’ thing is never the rewarding thing. They know that success lies on the far side of failure and that running brings you alive.
The summer has been a drizzly grey affair. This day was no different. Driving through the quiet suburban streets you would be forgiven for thinking the entire world was sleeping. In Joe and Mary Byrne’s car, along with the effervescent Lucy, we were approaching the race route, the 6K mark to be precise. The view changed and way beneath we could see the sea. Thing is, this was the summit of a very tough course and now we could see the challenge in stark reality.
The sea was flat calm and curtains were drawn in the wonderful terraced Dun Laoghaire houses. The DJ was limbering up and the curtains began to move. A big swathe of green was the assembly point and Teddy’s Ice Cream was for another time. The countdown had begun.
The great thing about the Sportsworld singlet is that it’s so easy to see your club mates. Soon, they were popping up as the clock ticked down.
Dun Laoghaire Rathdown were our hosts and what a great job they had done. The atmosphere was building beautifully and the voice of Irish athletics, Frank Greally, was calming the rising nerves. The roads were completely closed and smart Marshalls had covered every base. It was good enough to rival a marathon, let alone a 10K.
Gently we took up our places to the dulcet tones of Mr. Greally. He should have been a doctor, he certainly knew how to inspire, calm and excite a field of over one thousand.
The elite coral had our own Captain Elite, Paul O’Connell. Ever cheerful and relaxed he eyed up the competition. Calmly he said “No one here who scares me” I looked around and thought the opposite.
We were off and a short hill threw us all. After that, we raced by the calm grey sea all the way just short of Blackrock. The sound of rubber on a wet smooth surface was all that broke the holiday silent. Everyone was adjusting, gauging and fine tuning their pace.
A sharp left and a daunting breath taking climb and we broke free onto the Monkstown road. We admired the wealthy houses and knew what lay ahead. The course got tougher and we climbed solidly until almost 6K. The Gardai were amazing, not one car in sight. Up down, left right, we twisted through this beautiful place and wondered at the manicured lawns rising over the sea.
Jill, Sean O’Byrne’s good wife, knows runners and running. On a long slow tough drag who gave us the biggest cheer along with the biggest smile? – Yes, Jill. It was heartening and we lifted our legs just that bit higher.
Through Glasthule and back to where we started but 1K still to go. It was hanging in there time with a few tests yet.
A long straight and the finish line insight. Like always, we found the last bit of energy to sprint for home.
We collected our medals and gathered on the pier. It was time for breakfast and 8 of us recounted epic, exaggerated tales of almost brilliant runs. We ate and talked for longer than we ran but isn’t that the point?
Forgive me if I leave anyone out (I was locked in a deadly battle to the end with Ray Carpenter – he won, I was deadly). But, on a really tough course we were all exceptionally proud to learn that Paul O’Connell had won this inaugural race. Not for Paul to hang around in the limelight – no. Paul was back out on the course encouraging us, that lifted us again.
Thanks too to our great friend Ellen Lavin. Ellen spent 50 minutes trying to get to the course but the Gardai had done too good a job.
Our Runners were; Paul O’Connell, Lucy Darcy (39:50) Joe Byrne – who was out for an easy run (41:30) Stephen Willoughby (43:35) Ray Carpenter (44:11) Conor Kenny (44:16) Killian McMorrow (46:05) Sean O’Byrne (48:01)
I know what we will all be doing next August Bank Holiday, I hope you do too.