Report by Conor Keating

It seems that most running race ads in Ireland these days quote some form of the following: ‘fast flat course/no hills/PB course’.

However, you could argue that there are some flaws in that ideology such as:
– The elite will fly around seemingly barely breaking sweat, which will put you in your place in the running order and envious of their times.
– There’s the temptation to go out too fast which you start regretting near the finish line.
– Those long flat straights can be demoralizing.

In contrast, the slogan for the Tullaroan races, which features a 5k, 10k, half-marathon, marathon and ultra marathon, is ‘Tullaroan hills gave me some thrills’../

Race reporter Conor in the Tulluaroan Spring/Summer collection

I have a rich history of running the tulluaroan races. I first took part in Half-marathon in 2014. It was my first half-marathon, about 5 months after joining the club, as I progressed up in distance towards the Dublin marathon that October. I only ended up doing the race as the Cork half-marathon, on the same weekend, sold out too fast for me.

All the races start on the innocent flat village road but then the fun starts.

I remember stopping for a minute, around 6 miles in, I was nearly halfway and the course had gone like this: relatively flat for first 500m, hill, bit of a flat bit, hill, bit of a flat bit, hill repeat ditto. Thankfully, after that brief stop and after negotiating the latest hill we were met with an extreme downhill which lasted for over a continuous mile. The rest of the course however followed a similar terrain as the first 6 miles save for the flat last few kms to the finish line back in the village.

I will say however, I did get the thrill when I sensed the finish line having got around such a course which gave me a bit more kick to the finish. The nature of the course I also felt acted a certain leveller – everyone had to pace themselves well and I was able to kick on towards the finish and manage to finish 10th out of 78. I ‘good’ first half-marathon effort – the bar for judging such efforts has recently being significantly risen. Well done Sinead!.

I returned in 2015 to run the 10k – The same course description applies, as with the half-marathon, just replace 6 miles with 6k.

Tulloroan is home of hurling legend Tommy Walsh, I will give credit where credit’s due even being a Tipp man.

Tommy was running in the 10k as well and finished 5mins behind me – GAA fitness is of-course much more short sprints and is a different type of fitness to long distance running. However, Tommy was apparently making the excuse afterwards that there was a Tipp lad who seemed intent on following him around for the duration of the match, sorry race, and block him from making an impact – What are you on about Tommy?

Enough nostalgia already I returned to Tulloroan last Saturday. On hearing that Will was doing the 10k and had never before ran in Tulloroan I felt obliged to do my fiduciary duty and forewarn Will by wearing my previous Tullaroan race technical t-shirt, which has the aforementioned slogan, to training the Thursday before.

I had heard that the 5k was relatively flat and decided to take the easy option. How naïve/stupid am I? First 2kms of the race steep uphill. The 5k course is slightly more forgiving after that though, relative to the 10k and ½, as the last 3k consist of longer more sustained downhills, flat parts and the odd hill. I’ll be honest there was a lot of joggers in the 77 in my race, but some club runners all the same. I tried to keep in some sort of touch with the leader for the first few kms but he was a bit too strong, and pulled away to win in 17:59. I was second for most of the race but got pipped by 1 lad in the last 500m; 19:07 to 19:12. A decent run-out on a tough course.

Will ran a solid 41:19 in the 10k, worth a sub 40mins on a ‘flat, fast course.’

The marathon is two laps of the half-marathon course. For anyone hoping to run the 2:59:59 marathon this may not be the best course – the course record for this marathon is 2 hours 55 mins.

The ultra-marathon is only 3 laps of the half-marathon course.

The races are superbly organized and there is a great atmosphere around the village and good water stations on the course. There is plethora of coke and other refreshments in the village as the marathons and ultra’s come through ½ or 1/3 way and at the finish to the races.

The finish line is outside the GAA ground in the village and parking is provided in the GAA grounds. In my two previous outings the GAA clubhouse was the hub for the changing facilities, most race refreshments etc. Strangely the clubhouse was out of bounds this year. This year there was marquee style post race refreshments afterwards. A well organized event and I will definitely be back again: sure I just have the marathon and ultra to do to complete the set: eeh watch this space?!

Anyway there are merits to doing such a race:

– It will make you pace yourself well and you should feel a great sense of accomplishment in the latter part of the race which will push you to the finish line.
– It is great hill training which will build up your stamina and strength which will help you get that PB once you return to the flatter races.
– Instead of those boring long flat straights you are intrigued to find out what lies on the top of the next hill including secrecy and if it’s a roundabout course, in the knowledge that everything which goes up must come back down.
– Gain comfort in the knowledge that all competitors are finding it tough: in the case of these races you’d want to be on something pretty strong, or alternatively have a fair bit of sauce still in ya, not to feel it.

I’ve run 3 half-marathons and I can say that Tullaroan is more tough than the rock and roll half-marathon and running the ½ half-marathon in Lanzarote last November with a big blister on my left foot and an infected big right toe and it being the 4th race in as many days.

Yeah, I put in the last paragraph as a cue to bring in my dog. We have made up at this stage after that incident involving her teeth and my toe. Further to my previous comment in my last race report, my dog is not quite as mad these days. Having put most her toys in their place,she has met a good match– an ‘indestructible bone which has a 10 year guarantee.’ At the time of writing she has destroyed nearly half it in 3 months. Before I give her too bad a reputation she is good fun and cute. She would make a great play mate for travel George – you’d barely be able to separate them.

Butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. A toe would though

I think that people should try some tougher races instead of just focusing on flat courses. I intend doing the extremely fast and flat docklands 5k, for the first time, at the start of next month and am confident that Tullaroan acts as good preparation to try to break my 18:14 PB then.

P.S: I prepared this race report voluntarily. I was in no way influenced/shamed by Eoin O’Brien posting me not wearing the club singlet in the weekly email. I simply wanted to share my (crazy/deluded/piss-taking) wise advice.

Disclaimer: Conor Keating wacky running tips Ltd accepts no responsibility for any injury or grief, howsoever caused, by anyone acting on the advice given above. The company is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland for conduct of business rules.