Report by Conor Keating


This is the first race report I’ve done since the Tullaroan races last year, which demonstrates my more laid back attitude since finishing all those damn accounting and tax exams.

My report last year fairly comprehensively covered the range of distances available and my experiences on same; 5k ( I ran it in 2017), 10k (2015), 1/2 marathon (2014) and also the marathon and ultramarathon (next year ted) – see link: www.sportsworldrunningclub.com/news/tullaroan-races-2017/

Thus after finishing the 1/2 marathon on Saturday, and without naming names, the sole other Sportsworld participant having passed the buck to me during the post-race discussion I was thinking of how I am going to stop repeating myself in this year’s report. I’ll only briefly reference last year’s report and state that I wasn’t kidding about the hills.

To mix things up a bit a ‘fun’ fact is that this 1/2 marathon was my 10th race since the 15th April.  Here’s a quick review of a What & When followed by comments format:

Sun 15th April: Local 5k in Tipperary, 20min 13secs.  Not good – It was raining heavy that morning and me being a fair weather athlete got a lift down to the start and took shelter until about 10secs before the race started. Who would have known that doing no warm-up or stretching before a race wasn’t a good idea? #cramp

Wednesday 18th Apr: Raheny 1 mile road race, 5min 20secs. On seeing that I had got picked for the national road relays on the Sunday I decided to get a bit of practice on the route. The race went well and I also got talking to Pat Hooper (Rahney Shamrock club treasurer and 1980 Olympian at the marathon) so glad I did it. When I came into training the next day Myles immediately came up to me and said that I did a good mile the night before (being the subject of a telephone conversion made by an Olympian to our club coach made me feel very important…)

Sunday 22nd Apr: National Road Relays Leg 4: 2miles – 12mins 13secs. I was running the whole time on my own and I forgot my watch so it was hard to judge but I thought it went fairly ok. When I looked up the results later on I thought my time would have been a little bit faster. Strangely on the Athletics Ireland website it still states provisional national road relays results but I’m sure they are pretty accurate (…comparing my time to other 2 mile times makes me feel a lot less important).

Wednesday 25th Apr: Graded Meeting 1 – (3000m), 2750m grade C race – damn stitch…that is all.

Mon 7th May: National Novice 6k: 24mins 14secs. I had followed the club schedule the week before, ie. Sessions Tuesday & Thursday, Tempo run Wed and a few easy runs the few days before the race and yes that came back to bite me. However much to my surprise, I won a sliver medal county medal for Dublin, along with my 5 faster teammates. which shows the importance of teamwork in the championship races.

Wed 9th May: 1500m Graded C race 4mins 53 secs. A decent run on tired legs finished in the middle of the field.

Tuesday 15th May: Bhaa 5k beach race 19mins 55secs. Very happy with this run, 19th out of 160. I had Noel Tobin on my shoulder for most of the race but produced a sprint finish to bet him by 1 sec – that’s where the track comes in useful.

May 23rd: 800m C race 2mins 24secs: I was looking to have an easy week and doing this race was half an excuse to take it gently for most of the rest of the week. 11secs off my PB and yes, I admit I finished last.

Tuesday 29th May: Dunboyne 5 mile – 32mins 4 secs. First 2 miles were grand but a bit downhill from there. Noel Tobin bet me hands down this time.

The above races however palled in comparison, both in terms of distance and elevation, to the Tullaraon 1/2 marathon on Saturday. With my prior knowledge of the nature of the course my plan was to go out conservatively say no faster than 7:20 for the first mile. So I start off and go at what I think is a steady pace, without looking at my watch and then it beeps and shows 6:29 for the first mile, Ooops.

I think I was a little distracted by a fellow competitor who seemed set on running directly behind me to shelter himself from the wind. I decide to settle into a more sensible pace for the uphill miles 2-6 and let your man off. It’s a very twisty course and the numerous hills awaiting around corners can be demoralising.

I must say however that the event is well organized with water stations every 1.5 – 2 miles. Just after mile 6 comes a sustained downhill section for about 1.5kms. It can be tempting to go too fast down this section and I think I was a little too enthusiastic as from memory I thought the second half of the course was pretty flat apart from one tough hill just after 10 miles.

Wrong – There was a fair headwind for a lot of the second half of the race and the ‘hill’ just after 10 miles turned out to be a sustained steep, against the wind, section with numerous hills (I know it was 4 years ago since I ran this but how did I forgot that?). I paid for my earlier over enthusiasm here and it was fairly brutal for that section but thankfully the last mile and a half was gradually downhill back to the village where the race both starts and finishes.

I finished in 1hour 36mins – would have liked to have been a few mins quicker but it’s a tough course and it was more windy than expected. Well done also to Eoin for driving down and finishing in 1hour 49mins. For the record Eoin said he enjoyed the course and would come back again definitely recommends it. I will personally vouch for this – if you’re looking for a PW and an excuse to go on the lash for the whole of the bank holiday weekend  (instead of being sensible and waiting until after Cork) this is for you.

The event actually has a great atmosphere with music and a marquee full of refreshments at the finish line. The race was won by Mark McKenna of Waterford AC in 1hour 20mins – as a comparison he has ran 1hour 14mins in the rock and roll half marathon which is no easy course either. The Tullaroan marathon (2 laps of our race) was won in 3hours 3mins (course record is 2hours 54mins so suffice to say this is not the course to try to get 2:59:59) and 17 hardy souls completed the ultra marathon (3 laps ) the winning time being 5hours 47mins.

The Strava elevation gain, along with the cool bling that you get, really capture the nature of the course. The total evaluation gain is 236m compared with 108m for the Cork half-marathon. I would like to do the Cork half-marathon as I went to college in UCC but I had a family get together on Sunday so did Tullaroan instead.

Maybe next year but I still think I will keep coming back to Tullaroan, there’s a great buzz from finishing such a course and to the event as a whole. There are also races in Tullaron on the May bank holiday weekend. For anyone looking to try something different without running up a mountain, I would recommend Tullaroan.

PS: As the eagle eyed Justin saw on Strava afterwards I attempted to get my own back by asking to be dropped off at the downhill section of the course and then attempting to do a 1 mile Time Trial. Let’s just say my legs didn’t thank me for it and you can’t go a mile in Tullaroan without coming across some sort of hill and/or headwind. N,o it didn’t go to plan – 5mins 52secs for the record.