Race Reporter: Sébastien Berlier

A couple of weeks ago I signed up for the St Oliver’s Hospital 5K in Dundalk, with all the enthusiasm of a kid in a candy store – well, minus the candy part. Here’s how it all went down:
The race was on Saturday morning, September 16th at 11am. But why was I even running this race? Well, picture this: I can’t make it to the Rathfarnham race on the 24th because I have a wedding to attend in France. But I couldn’t resist pinning a race number to my Sportsworld singlet. Priorities, right? Oh, and it was also the perfect way to kickstart my training for “La Rochelle Marathon” on November 26th.
I’d been checking the weather forecast because it had been raining all week. But miracles happen, on race day, the skies decided to give us a break. Hallelujah!

Dundalk holds a special place in my heart – it was the first city I lived in when I moved to Ireland back in 2012. So, racing there felt like a pilgrimage, complete with its own brand of motivation. And let’s not forget my enthusiasm of getting a medal and a T-shirt with “Dundalk” on it. Plus, I have friends there, so it’s always a great excuse for a little trip (yes, even to Dundalk).

I arrived an hour before the race with my good friend Sébastien – yes, another one. By the way, I’ve been trying to convince him to join Sportsworld, and I promise I won’t give up. Sébastien (the other one, in case you’ve lost track) didn’t run the race, but he was a massive support and a fantastic motivator.

Being possibly the only runner from Dublin, as I arrived early I was quick to grab my race number… and the T-shirt included for the first 100 that register online. But here’s the kicker, they ran out of size S. Well, the lovely volunteer convinced me that size M would fit like a glove. Let’s just say it didn’t. It’s officially my new sleep robe.

Just before the race, my trusty Polar watch decided it was update time – 30 seconds before the start, naturally. It froze for 25 long seconds. But 5 seconds before the gun, it magically came back to life.

I had a chuckle at the starting line when the organizer asked if we knew the route. “Take the 2nd left, then take the greenway, go to the left at the roundabout etc.” But to be fair, the race was actually well organized. Volunteers were posted at every corner of the route, and distance signs were posted at every kilometer. I even did a double-take when I spotted a water station at the halfway mark – pretty fancy for a 5K, right?

Not many spectators along the way, but I wasn’t bothered. I was laser-focused on keeping my pace consistent. Those grueling Tuesday 8 X 800 meters interval sessions were finally making sense.
As soon as I passed the halfway point, my legs started reminding me that I was venturing into unknown territory pace for a 5K. But hey, I couldn’t back down now. We’ve all been there, right? Convincing ourselves that the pain is all in our heads, just a tiny bit of torture before the glorious finish line. The 3rd place was too far ahead, and the 5th place was way behind.
With less than 1 kilometer to go now, my legs felt like they were encased in concrete, but there was nothing to chase but a good time.
I crossed the finish line utterly knackered. My time? 18’12”, just shy of the podium. I smashed my previous PB (18’59” two months ago) by a whopping 47 seconds!
After the race, I treated myself to some much-needed indulgences. I went all in with a couple of “Celebration” sweets, a cupcake, a black coffee (no milk, no sugar – I’m a purist, you know) and good sharing moments with my Dundalk mates.
So there you have it, a wild adventure in County Louth, filled with personal best, T-shirt size mishaps, friendship and a watch that couldn’t resist a last-minute update. Running always has its surprises, doesn’t it? Until next time, keep those feet pounding the pavement and the laughter flowing!