Don’t know about you but it doesn’t feel very Christmassy yet; nonetheless, I headed into Phoenix Park last weekend to take part in the ever popular Donore Jingle Bells 5k.  As I got closer to the start line I could see some Santa hats and reindeer antlers ding their warm-ups and could hear the brass band pumping out Christmas tunes, trying to knock the bah-humbug out of me. After running a PB at the Rathfarnham 5k some time back, I was told there was a bit of rivalry between it and Jingle Bells as to which was the fastest 5k – it’s definitely a target race for PBs and I was hoping to give it a shot.Warm up done (as I’d parked what felt like miles away in Inchicore), I found a spot at the start close enough to the front where there were a number of familiar faces from the road running scene, trying to keep warm.  Bumped into Andrew and Maria, discussed tactics, whether we were wearing too much or too little for the cold weather, and after very little faffing we were off. Up past Fifteen Acres and the Papal Cross before the long drag up the avenue against the wind (I’ve been told that the Castleknock gate is at the same altitude as the top of the Wellington Monument at the entrance to the park). Gave Crona a wave as she was out supporting. The next left turn provided some shelter from the wind. Clocked the 3km sign soon after and felt pretty much spent at this point. But I threw my legs out in front of me to make the most of the downhill; the actual Phoenix Park reindeer with their real antlers providing a brief but pleasant distraction from the pain in my chest.

The downhill section ends just shy of the line but it feels like a major haul to the finish. I saw the clock on the gantry and realised I was in unfamiliar territory, so I emptied the tank, and got a PB.  Chuffed. Was handed my 3rd Jingle Bells mug and realised it’s the 30th year of the event.   A total of 27 Sportsworlders took part in a field of over 1,000 with Andrew (pic) leading us home.