Report By Ann Maria Scanlon, photos by Eoin O’Brien
This all started in January 2020. I was planning a good year of running, to culminate in the Longwood ¾ Marathon because I am not crazy enough to do a full marathon!
Anyway, we all know what happened to races in 2020, and the roll-overs in 2021. So much time had passed that by 2022, I had completely forgotten about my roll-over entry and didn’t get enough training in for Longwood 2022. Hence I had an awful run… hit the wall head-first that I was supposed to ‘eyeball’ and crossed the line hugely frustrated. So much so that a week later I signed up for Longwood 2023 to right a wrong.
This time was going to be different. The aim was somewhere around 3hours – realistically probably 3.10 – 3.15. The training miles done, but the pace right throughout the year had slowed so all bets were off for a target time. The aim changed to ‘eyeball the wall’ and just don’t stop!
The day dawned bright and warm (very warm!) and off we went with a last minute scrabble for safety pins. They ran out of safety pins at registration!
It’s a fairly flat run, with the website claiming a total climb of approx. 78m. I have to be honest, there were times that it did not feel that way, mostly climbing up onto a bridge to exit the canal sections.
It’s quiet country roads and country smells with two stretches along the canal.
I can’t tell you anything about my pace, I didn’t have a watch… I can only tell you about the experience.
I’m an eavesdropper with wandering thoughts when I run – I heard a guy talk about how he grows his own wheatgrass for his wheatgrass drinks. I heard the girls chat about the ‘gazelle like run’ of their friend and lamented my own elephant-like stomp. I made friends with the ‘red t-shirt guy’, only to realise when he left me behind as his pace quickened after a gel, that the friendship was all in my head from the start. I reminded myself that water cannot flow uphill and enjoyed the flat canal stretches. I thought about Irene’s advice to sip water every k on a warm run, Billy Ocean’s “when the going gets tough” (thanks Val!) and Paudric’s tip on sticking a jelly inside you cheek for a slow-release sugar hit. And I sympathised with the poor lad who thought ¾ was only 30k (it’s 31.6k).
At 18 miles, I even thought about ‘next year’ and decided at that moment that I was clearly delirious! But that thought did give me the little spurt that I needed to push onto the finish line. Race time 3.20. And… Did. Not. Stop. (except for the water stations because who can drink water from a squishy cup while running?!)
If you want to test your marathon pace, your mental resolve or run 19.66miles with a crowd of strangers then this is a good race for you. Just bring your own safety pins!