Report by Olive Fogarty
In spite of my best efforts to offload my entry over the past few weeks, come Sunday morning, I’m standing in “the singlet” with a small group of clubmates on a hot road in the middle of the Phoenix Park.
On the drive over with Mary we’ve discussed tactics. I haven’t been able to run for the past 3 weeks so my tactic is to toss a coin when we park as to whether I’ll attempt to run or not. Mary’s more ambitious plan, delivered with serious conviction, is to “go out hard and then die”.
Even at 9.30 it’s so warm some people are stretched sleeping on the grass or sheltering under trees. Adding a further “warm up” seems like a waste of scarce resources but we do a few hundred metres down Chesterfield avenue just to look the part. Carmel and Ann arrive. Carmel is looking for painkillers because she can’t turn her head until she gets some. (It turns out that organisers are reluctant to give strong painkillers to participants pre-race. ) We really push the envelope now and do a second warm up of about 100 metres when Audrai arrives. Exhausted, I go stand under a tree and ponder the situation. With Carmel’s neck, my eternal knees and Mary’s stated intention to die imminently there’s some quality running ahead.
Then it’s race time. Easily led, I follow Audrai, Mary & Jose into the 35 minute enclosure. With a target time of 50 minutes this seems a bit unfair, but apparently skipping in here is a good way to avoid the crush. (Audrai, I’m not going to say who made that suggestion).
And off we go. Mary and Jose set off ahead. I watch my feet, afraid I’ll break into chase mode if I keep the others in sight. Even so, there’s a mildly alarming sub 5 minute per km time on my watch. I usually feel unwell at that pace. Maybe all the sweat has interfered with it. Still, no need to panic, we’re only 300 metres in.
The route takes us left at the roundabout up a slight incline. We turn again and hit the long flat stretch of a baking North Road with nowhere to hide from the sun.
Around the 2 mile mark there’s a flat loop back onto Chesterfield Avenue where I’m pleasantly distracted from the effort by searching for Sportsworld singlets in the runners ahead who are now looping back to face us. Someone gives a nod of acknowledgement. It looks like the blur of Martin Doyle but of course it couldn’t be because he’s been amongst the crew that blistered Dunshaughlin last night and I’m sure I saw him setting out on the Sunday long slow run an hour ago as we drove into the park. (For the end of that cliffhanger, see results below). Then I see Jose, calmly progressing up the straight, apparently unperturbed by being waved at by a moving beetroot from the far side of the barrier.
Mile 3 and along Ordnance Survey road there is some shade and lots of water (Thank you Irish Runner!). I didn’t think I’d make it this far so now I’m going to finish it. To celebrate finally made this decision I stop to drink some water. A voice from behind says “stay going..”. and “you’ll need your energy for the hill”. Not a Sportsworlder but some kind stranger. I get going again. Those hills come. The S bends, one looping mercilessly back on another. I like hills but not in this heat. I stop again half way and get going again. I meet a Canadian lady, we remark how the heat doesn’t really suit us, as best we can, while going uphill, in the heat. I have to stop again at the top, have a quick chat to my breakfast, go again. The final mile, the home straight. More unsheltered road but in the shimmering distance, the finish flags. I have to stop a fourth time, go to the side to recover. This is getting ridiculous. Another kind stranger from another club tells me to get going again. We sprint it out together for the last 200. 41:33 on the clock. But then again, I may be seeing things. Shay Brady, Marathon Des Sables, watch your spot.
Well done to Karl Chatterton and Katie Nugent, first Sportsworld male and female home, to Martin Doyle, for running through the night to be there, to Mary for not dying, to Carmel for persevering without the painkillers…and all who ran.