Report by Conor Kenny
Photos by Dave Clarke & Justin McKeever
A well fed middle aged man came to his first floor bay window to take in his morning view across the sea to Howth. His off pink fluffy bathrobe struggled to keep his decency but sleepy eyes suddenly realised 1250 runners were under his nose. Like the end of a murder mystery drama, the curtains closed violently, he was gone.
If you are of a certain generation, Bagatelle’s ‘Summer in Dublin’ will immediately catapult you back to your carefree youth. “I jumped on a Bus to Dun Laoghaire….” Set the tone. It was the perfect antidote to agitated nerves.
The sun made a guest appearance and a wind zipped in from Dublin Bay laced with some warm Mediterranean air. For a brief hour or two, it was a lovely summer in Dublin.
Dun Laoghaire is an important town in Dublin’s history. The decision to build a harbour in what was until 1817 a small fishing village came about as entry into the River Liffey was becoming more and more difficult, with ships having to wait days before they could berth and off load their cargo. The amount of shipwrecks was also becoming unacceptable, literally hundreds per year being wrecked off the coast of Blackrock and Monkstown with thousands of lives lost, which eventually led to the setting up of the lifeboat station in 1803. It’s also full of memories of emigration, The Mail Boat, boating, storms and beautiful east and west pier walks. Perhaps one of its most iconic institutions however, are the now derelict ‘Public Baths’ the polite term for a public swimming pool. Today, many years later, I can easily drift back in time to the laughter of children, somersaults and an overpowering smell of disinfectant. They were happy days and it was time to add another chapter into this well spring of thoughts.
Without much fuss we were off. 2 kilometres takes you by the three Dun Laoghaire Yacht Clubs, The Irish, The National and The George. Each push their chests out to claim the coveted ‘exclusive’ crown. Before that, you pass the famous Teddy’s Ice Cream Parlour but it’s not quite what you’re focused on.
A sharp left hand bend takes you up a wrenching 400 metres link road hill. It’s a rather rude interruption to a fine terrace of beautiful Victorian houses. Sharp left and brief respite with another 400 metres downhill.
The majestic Monkstown Church, founded in 1250 and nearby Monkstown Castle, sits astride two roads. Turn left and you drop back down to the sea. Turn right, you climb. We turned right.
Up to a roundabout, turn left and, in the words of John McEnroe another “You cannot be serious” hill emerges. Each hill tougher than its predecessor.
The once friendly warm bay breeze was taunting us. If ever ‘in your face’ had meaning, this was it.
Turn left and “you cannot be serious” immediately lost its polished tone to become “For …. Sake”. Still, a little gantry ushered you through 5K and still the hills were coming.
At 6K it evened out. Heads dropped and many walked. A long mile went straight towards Killiney. Maybe we were going to go up that too, why not?!
Forgiveness. At 7K we turned sharp left, our climbing done. All you had to do know was roll down to the sea. If only. Zig Zag. Up down, in out this course was biting hard. Hang in we told ourselves. Into Glasthule, close to James Joyce’s Martello Tower and home to the original Bloomsday festivities. Only 1K to go.
That 1K was torture. The headwind seemed to have mustered itself into a gale and Teddy’s Ice Cream loomed again. I looked at the huge “Ice Cream Here” sign and found myself wanting to burn it down and replace it with “I Scream Here”. Silently, I did.
400 to go and little rises seem huge. You bite your lip and just get in under the gantry so you can end the pain. Lucy Darcy congratulates you but you can’t respond. You just want to lie down.
It doesn’t take long before the runners paradox kicks in. “How did you find that?” asks a runner. You look as fresh as you can and with absolute disinterest utter those immortal words “Ah grand, yourself?”
To O’Neill’s Bar on Main Street and a happy reunion of supporters and runners plus the obligatory breakfast which makes it all worthwhile.
Phil Kilgannon ran a stunning 3rd overall. Amongst my fellow foot soldiers, Anna Carrigan was 4th in her age group and ran a great PB. Nuala O’Connor, Mum to the beautiful Etta, made this her comeback race and ran a fantastic race in a fantastic time.
Huge thanks go to our support team who really did help us (or me, at least) survive this tough race. Dave Clarke who seemed to be at every bend always had the right words. Justin and family for being so cheerful and cleverly positioned at the foot of Mount Everest (okay, ‘the 4th hill!). Killian & Enda who were out fresh from Rock N’Roll and injury to size up the opposition and eat big breakfasts too and Stephen Willoughby also fresh from pacing the Rock N’Roll athletes to Sub 1:45 PB’s.
Thank you, as runners, you know how much that support helps.
We said Goodbye, went our separate ways and drove out the course. No trace of runners, officials or suffering. It was over for another year as if it never happened.
As Van Morrison sang “There’ll be days like this” and Bagatelle, with their “I remember that summer in Dublin ….” were right.
** (Absolute apologies if I missed someone, this is all I know about who was there)