This was the 9th running of the Run Killarney Half Marathon and 10K. A race that is billed as the most scenic half marathon course in Ireland. The course starts at Molls Gap and finishes outside the Gleneagle Hotel Killarney. This is 21.1K of extreme ups and downs to challenge runners of all ability levels.
The race attracts a big crowd of local, national and international runners. I ran the race for the first time last year and received free entry for 2019 after placing 3rd.
The race starts at 8 AM so free shuttle buses leave at 6.40 AM for the half-hour drive to the start. The roads are closed along the route so there is quite literally no way back other than running or walking.
Friday was a very wet day down in the South West so everyone was a bit concerned about the weather up at wild and windy Molls Gap. It turned out to be one of the best days of the week with stunning vistas at the start line and on the run back to Killarney.
Myself and Martin Doyle ran the Half Marathon with a separate Sportsworld group running the 10K including Padraic and Siobhan with the Sanctuary running group. Although the results don’t allow you to search by the club so I’m not sure of their positions or times.
Both Martin and I swore that we would take it easy at the start having both gone out too fast last year, but 200M into the race we found ourselves out front, having almost jumped the gun. After seeing sense I settled into a group with 2 other lads.
My pace over these first few kilometres was slower than last year but I found myself in a very similar position at 4K with the leader ahead and running with the eventual 2nd place finisher.
The race profile makes it look like the course is all downhill or flat but even in these early stages you have some tough hills to contend with and your legs can only take so much running downhill, which adds to the difficulty.
At 5K I had fallen maybe 20 meters behind 2nd place but I managed to pull that back to a 30M lead at 10K with a nice 15.30 split. Then came a point about 12K were my legs started to tie up. Over the course of a kilometre, I went from coasting and feeling good, to starting to struggle on the uphill sections. I could hear the footsteps approaching behind me and over the next 3 kilometers, I was down into 4th.
Once we hit Muckross at 16K I was holding the gap but it was too late to claw it back. Local running celeb Sinead Tangney was there to offer support which was welcome but the damage was done and that last 6K of the race was painfully slow. I finished 4th in 72.05 with Martin running 77.58.
I tried a few things out in the race, like wearing my trainers (Adizero Boston 8.0) rather than racers (Adizero Sub 2.0), they felt a bit heavy in the closing stages but the damage the next day was less. I also tried a new Cliff brand gel which turned out to be useless and too thick to use. Good to test a few things in less important races. 10 weeks to Berlin.
My only gripe and I might get some slack from the environmentalists but the race made the move to paper cups this year which for a summer Half Marathon wasn’t a smart move. There is only so much water you can get from a cup and dehydration was an issue for most of the runners I spoke to. All saying that they slowed up as a result of lack of available water.
The atmosphere around the race is fantastic and I highly recommend it as an excellent weekend away but book early as Killarney hotels ate expensive in peak season. With no prizes to collect this year, we drove out to Dingle for lunch, went for a swim at Murreagh beach and explored in the Saturday sun. In the evening we met up with a few familiar faces and headed out on the town, exploring every bar in the town and drinking a little too much. Thanks to Sinead for showing us around. A great bookend to a week in the South West.