Berlin Marathon Report 2022

From Dermot Slyne

July 6th 2022 I’m on a bike heading up the Col du Galibier in the French alps, the same type of bike I’ve been on for the previous 12 months because of a stress fracture in my arse caused by over use and glutes not pulling their weight I’m told   ……anyway its day 5 of this trip and the terrain is hard, and getting harder, its incessantly hot ,  I try not to look up ahead as its not great looking up at this point !   I feel like I’m on the edge of not being able to pedal anymore and close to full on bonk and then I start thinking about the London Marathon in 2018 , yes that was harder than this wasn’t it and we still kept going …..after about 10 minutes thinking about something similar but worse I managed to regain some energy and actually “enjoyed” the final 10km of a brutal but iconic climb. Irrespective of such hardship I really enjoy the mountains and the bike but like the lad who’s been off the smokes for years and has a sneaky one after a few pints the brain don’t forget ………..and so it was the following day, I’m on the plane home and I’m thinking about the Galibier and how hard I found parts of it and I remember my remembering the bloody London Marathon ………..

I had an entry for Berlin 2021, in my head it was probably going to be my last serious effort at a PB in the marathon but two months out I got that stress fracture. In October 21 I got an email saying if I wanted to re-enter 2022 ………I paid the discounted entry fee , looked at flights in January 2022 but with still a pain in my ass I said I’d wasted enough money and let it go …………let it go that was until we’re on that plane home from France and my brain had  the taste of “ marotine “ remembering why I was  remembering London Marathon cycling up a mountain ……….the entry to Berlin comes across my mind like the smell of a John Player blue outside mass on a sunny Sunday morning after that inadvertent drag the night before , the smell , fresh and distinctive triggers the  brain like a burger to a Labrador , your left with little choice other than to cave in and take one when offered by a fellow soldier  …………

When I got home I take two or three days to see if the feeling will pass but by Sunday morning its still there so instead of going for the bike I decide to do a 10 mile trail run in Kilmurray woods, its hard, my ass hurts but now thankfully not from the stress fracture but the remnant of too much time on the saddle. So I make a deal with my legs that if we can reach 20 miles by sometime in August we’ll book them flights and do Berlin 2022………..the legs and arse want no stress , so no Tuesday track , no tempo runs , no marathon pace and no cycling so to keep my side of the deal I decided to keep a tab on the effort by keeping all runs under 140 bpm  ……….bit of an  arbitrary figure but it’s around where I feel my breathing change from little effort to some effort …….. The contract didn’t mention no hills so that’s what we were left to work with. Must say the first couple of long runs over the 10 miles were hard going and took quite a few weeks of daily running to get the road resilience back into the legs. However, once that happened things stated to improve and get a little easier so I could again enjoy running

Nearing end of August I was up to 18 miles after few runs around Bandon with Darren Casey and 1 around the city with Dowling and Leahy. Leahy after 5 miles into that 18 miler just looked at me and said u could run 3;30 and look around u or 3:15 and feel a bit of pain which is what you should be feeling running a marathon! I was now under a bit of pressure so kept my mouth shut about my “3:45 will do” LIV marathon training plan which I had been thoroughly enjoying until now!  Anyway, I was now also heading to Croatia for two weeks holidays and 3:45 was back on the agenda as I had made my mind up that no marathon was coming between me PIVO and Dalmatian cuisine ………. decided no long runs on hols but I would get up early every morning knock 1000 calories off the daily 3000 calorie tucker intake, limit my PIVO to 2/3 per evening, fill the void with red wine and eat like I was going to be running two ultras. Reading Jan Ullrich book during the day seemed very appropriate, on one hand I was eating and drinking like Noah’s Ark was leaving while in the morning the search continued for Bombenform !  Amazingly when I got home, I was only up 3kg, approx. half the damage I expected ………..I think the heat helps dissipate the alcohol but that’s only based on reading about Tony Adams, Paul McGrath and Bryan Robson who were players I admired for their ability to operate in a zone only occupied by those on the extreme end of a special bell curve!    …………. still on my first and only 20 miler two days after coming home and two weeks out I noticed those 3KG up Rafeen hill as Dowling disappeared into the torrential rain! I was bate after it and HR had gone way up for last 6 miles trying to keep up with him , Dowling was toying with me and enjoying it but I got dragged thru the 20 when I might have gone for the car earlier ! ………..anyway we had a deal with legs. 20 miles by end of august and we were going to Berlin ………two weeks behind schedule, hadn’t told legs but flights had been booked after the 18 miler before holidays anyway.

23rd Sep 2022

Flight from Dublin airport, meet Conor friend of V O’Sullivan Beara on steps of plane, arrange to meet after, he’s trying sub-3, I’m on the spot now …. I’ll be round 3:20 says I (WTF per mile is that I think?)

On plane we meet Siobhan Holland down the back with all the messers, Siobhan is running marathons like they are going out of fashion, and you know she’s ready as she looks relaxed, carefree and reading a book.!  I’m frantically dividing 200 minutes by 26.2 to see if I’ll be able to meet Conor for pints!  Anyway, off plane and with typical German efficiency we are at the Hauptbahnhof central station within an hour and all for 3:80 euro!  Hotel is next door so very handy for getting round.

Out to an old airport on Saturday morning for the expo………….bit of a queue fest compared to other big marathons, as usual got a couple of Adidas tops and we were back at checkpoint Charlie for 2pm  , coffee, museum tour and walk around , then dinner near hotel in a nice Italian ………usual pasta bread and double expresso . Didn’t sleep very well and rarely do the night before but I’ve banked a lot of sleep over my lifetime so one night never matters!

25th Sep 2022

7:00 am up and at it. Quick bread roll with ham and cheese, new battery in my 1-day battery HR monitor and away we go at 7:30am. Nice fresh cool morning, no wind and perfect conditions. Enjoyed the build-up and the organisation in the TierGarten was excellent, spent a bit of time at the start watching German TV presenter get her make up done, I need some of that stuff that made her hair stand up like she was in a wind tunnel! Wasn’t long till 9:15 and main lads were off. Was in pen two but had dropped back so 9:23 crossed start line …………. having not ran a race in nearly 3 years I had been thinking my best bet to enjoy and finish this in one piece was to go off below same HR I had used to train with. I was also aware this was Berlin and my admiration for the Germans is well known, they are direct , don’t talk shite , have a ruthless streak but at the same time they are straight up and look and sound efficient even if they aren’t…………..in other words I wanted to run this like a German not an American !  ………..I did a test run the previous Tuesday, like a ramp test they call it where I ran six miles increasing effort and HR over the 6 miles, was surprised how well I felt   ………..so my plan was something similar …………5 blocks  (4 x 5 miles and 6.2 miles)  where  I would increase HR by effort (irrespective of pace) every 5 miles until 20 miles and then let it rip like the Swedish covid professor !  So, after two miles my HR was showing 165 but I kind of knew it was wrong as my breathing was fine. I had stupidly bought my phone and put it in my gel belt but it was adding too much weight and was making the belt fall down…………..had to keep holding it till mile 4 when I knew Jacqueline would be near our hotel, pulled over stopped watch and gave Jacq the phone and a thumbs up, she was kind of wondering why I took so long to get this far, a real confidence booster!  When I restarted watch it reconnected to hr Strap and the HR was back to 140 …….threw in a few efforts to verify and it would rise and lower so I now knew it was right and had it on dual screen mile LAP pace/distance and LAP HR. HR to me is running off feel but it just puts a number on the feel and sometimes feel isn’t really feel as you can talk yourself into feeling great when you’re not or vice versa !  ……….the HR don’t lie if accurately measured and understood. AT mile 5 first gel down the hatch, took me ages to open it but felt the caffeine hit immediately, feel my brain can compute like a computer at this stage! HR was still around 145 so I increased effort a little up to but still below 150 till mile 10. Was starting to pass good few runners already so kept an eye on HR and just as long as it stayed below 150 on each mile I just ran away. At mile 10 gel number 2, still felt good so decided to leave HR drift as far as 155 with a bit more effort ………. through halfway in 1:38 this was my first view of any overall time or overall pace ………. Had asked Mark Murphy on last long run what Boston Q was for an auld lad, and he said 3:15 ………Leahy had more or less given me a look of disdain at the same time that morning, his eyes saying I shouldn’t be bothered running it unless I went under 3:15! So, I knew a 1:36 second half would put me around there …………mile 14 and 15 for some reason weren’t the best, I had a few negative thoughts (26 minus 14 being the worst one ) but used previous experience of way worse situations in marathons and this wasn’t long making me forget! Vapor fly’s so much more comfortable than blisters @mile 11 in a pair of concrete hugging Asics DS trainers! ………Mile 15 , gel no.3 and HR range was now going to go from 155 to <=160 ………….took a bit more noticeable effort here to up HR but was now starting to pass more runners, at mile 16 and with 10 to go I notice mile lap pace was now coming close to 7min pace ………….had a thought that maybe I could manage a sub 70 10 mile but then remembered my strategy was 5 mile blocks so under 160 HR till mile 20 and then the final 6.2 miles ………had to be patient here as I was now starting to feel good but having no real hard running done in over 12 months I wasn’t sure I’d be able to increase pace for final block …………gel no 4 at 18 miles and I felt this one in my veins , maybe it’s the caffeine but I hadn’t taken a gel since mile 21 of DCM in 2019 and really get a benefit of them in marathons ………..maybe its in my head but that’s the most important place for marathons  for me anyway ………….so nearly at mile 20 I’m happy to see HR is still holding around 158/9 and I know I can at least hold 165 on the bike for ~ 40 mins as recently as June …………..so when mile 20 beeps I visualise myself leaving Coachford and taking a right for Bealnamorrive on my way to Johns well and the climb to the top of Mushera !  Passing more and more runners now the HR drifts above 160 almost immediately but I keep it steady for a mile or two  dropping last gel at mile 21 until I see mile 22 beep at 6:53 pace ………its time to let the HR rip now and my legs feel a bit more freedom from the increased pace and the bounce from the vapor fly runners now becomes more obvious ……….HR is now at 166 with 3 miles left so I know I can easily hold this if my legs keep turning ………mile 25 and traveling steady , I’m in that part of the marathon now that makes you want it to both finish asap and go on for longer……..this is the part for me anyway that makes you eventually want to  do another one …….its the feeling , the way the miles just pass faster like kilometres  and the freedom to just throw caution to the wind as you cant blow up now and make the thing a real pain fest ! At mile 25 I throw away my Gatorade 500ml bottle that had water and a salt tab, almost empty 500ml was more than enough (carried it from start and avoided all chaos at water tables with cups along with the 90 degree elbow angle at shoulder height technique through all water stops, the amount of people who go right and then make a sudden turn left for water was unreal, only one lad caught the elbow but he’d have taken me clean out otherwise!   ………. nearing the top of Mushera HR was now up to 168 /169, not having to hang on to ROC or Mike Forde this isn’t too bad, I think!  we are running on big wide streets, under the Brandenburg Gate and 200 metres more on near perfect tarmac this is a great finish, still passing runners here like they are standing, I’m thinking I need to go back to the track and do a few 800’s as this is fun!  …………under the banner with a wave to the camera man, stopped and took in the finish line atmosphere for a minute or two, have realised more lately you never know when your last one is ………. stopped watch at  3:12:30 felt very happy with that given where I had been or hadn’t been with running over the previous 14 months ………..really thought I was done and probably would have been only for a deferred entry to a brilliant marathon on what is defiantly the fastest course I’ve ever ran …….pan flat few pulls here and there but compensated for by slight declines as well. Great city, great route and support while not like London or NY is still superb and the feeling of big city marathon with Kipchoge an hour up the same road makes this a super event for sure.

After maths

Went for an immediate analgesic after meeting Jacqueline in the meeting area who was impressed that I had come out of my first 5-mile slumber and actually had done a bit of running ……….no medals handed out here, a tougher agent you’d be hard pressed to find!  Jacqueline had Siobhan on the tracker as well, I’m wondering looking at my Pils is she’s behind me or in front of me! A super run of 3:19 for Siobhan and first Cork woman home I find out since!  Stretched on a beach chair on the banks of the Spree I could have stayed all day, but Jacqueline eventually moved me, and we went back to hotel, quick shower, change and off to the Hackescher market area, a nice area of courtyards with shops, pubs and outdoor cafes.  Met Conor whose first marathon didn’t go to plan but with the help of copious analgesic inducing Pils and discussing the modern LIV marathon training methods for washed GAA players we had Conor down to 2:49 by 8pm and improving rapidly thereafter! Deutschland Uber Alles.  

Eagle AC Member Profile

Name: Ian Roche

Member of Eagle AC since: 2015 (I think)

Ian running the Kilkenny marathon a few years ago-great time!

How long have you been running what made you take it up: I first started running in about 2005 while living in Canada. A friend was a good runner and would meet up for a social run. Took a break when kids arrived and probably been running consistently for the last 8 years now.

Favourite thing about running: Enjoy getting out on a sunny summer morning before a days work. No matter how things go at least you have run that day!!

Favourite race distance to run: The Marathon is my favourite distance. Enjoy the whole build up to it and the relaxation afterwards. I also enjoy a nice 10 miler and was sad when Ballycotton disappeared off the calendar.

What is your main goal for this year: The main goal this year is to finally run Dublin after a 2 year wait. Next year I might have different goals as hit a new age category 🙂

Your best race/most memorable racing moment to date: Without question the best memory was the start of my first marathon that happened to be Chicago. I was at the absolute back of a field of 40,000 runners and when the gun went there were 20,000 t-shirts and hoodies up in the air as people ditched their gear. Would have been an amazing picture.

Tell us something most people might not know about you: Before arriving at running I spent a lot of time Whitewater Kayaking. Its amazing to see the rivers we have here and most people just drive past them not knowing.

Biggest heroes (sporting or non-sporting): From running it has to be John Treacy. I watch his finish to the Olympic marathon now and then and he is as hard as nails. Outside running it would be Richard Branson. A fantastic businessman that has a sense of fun also.

One bit of advice you would give to someone thinking of taking up running: Easy does it. When I started I tried to beat yesterdays time. Took a while to realise that slow easy running is the way to stay on the road.

3 things you would take with you onto a desert island: My Campervan, Duct tape, and a Kayak

Eagle AC Member Profile

Name:

Jack Murphy

Member of Eagle AC since:

2019

How long have you been running and what made you take it up:

I started running in 2016 so that I could take part in the Killarney Adventure Race (Cycle/Kayak/Run). I quickly realised that running is a lot more fun than cycling!

Favourite thing about running:

I love the process of following a plan and seeing the progress over time – you get out what you put in. There are so many different goals to chase across all distances and surfaces.

Favourite race distance to run:

5km – breaking 20 minutes was my first real running goal. In particular, I always enjoy racing the Bweeng 5k (one of the fastest 5k routes in Ireland).

I’d like to try a 1500m or mile race someday too!

What is your main goal for this year:

Amsterdam Marathon in October. It will be my first marathon, so I will be happy just to finish in one piece!

Your best race/most memorable racing moment to date:

My best race was probably the Valentia Island Hardman Half Marathon on Easter Saturday this year – breaking 90 minutes on a challenging course, 15 minutes faster than I ran in the same race in 2019.

Even though I was on crutches for a few days after the race, it was definitely worth it!

Tell us something most people might not know about you:

I’m a bit of a running nerd. Most of my media consumption is watching running YouTube and races (from 100m on the track to ultra-marathons in the mountains) as well as listening to all sorts of running podcasts.

Biggest heroes (sporting or non-sporting):

My dad is a big inspiration. Despite being twice my age, he is undoubtedly fitter than me!

My favourite pro athlete is the ultra-marathon mountain runner Courtney Dauwalter – her laid back attitude to life and ability to endure the ‘pain cave’ is inspiring.

One bit of advice you would give to someone thinking of taking up running:

Build up slowly – there is no rush. I think that parkrun is the best way to get started – the community is so friendly and all abilities are welcome.

3 things you would take with you onto a desert island:

My trail runners to explore the island, a solar-powered Garmin watch to record it all, and a satellite phone so that I can get home to upload everything to Strava!

Eagle AC latest Member Profile



Name: Maressa Mills

Member of Eagle AC since: September 2021


How long have you been running what made you take it up:

2019, when a couch to 5KM kicked off at work – but it was only during lockdowns 2021 that I started to head out regularly myself when the gyms were closed. I signed up to some virtual charity distance challenges too which helped to make sure I completed them!


Favourite thing about running: The post run buzz, especially after a tough track session of a Tuesday! The running community – and friends I have made since joining the club. I still feel a bit of a fraudster at the track, running alongside the talent of other club members but the support & advice has been so helpful. I have really seen an improvement especially when pushing my distance further. I’ll probably always be towards the back of the group 😊 …but will show up at training and put 100% in! I couldn’t imagine my week now without the track, and my long Eagle social runs at the weekends.

Favourite race distance to run: 10 miles

What is your main goal for this year: Dublin Marathon 2022! I signed up through a charity when registrations were closed off thinking there was a half option…no going back now 🙂

Your best race/most memorable racing moment to date:

Clonakilty Half Marathon 2021. I never ever thought completing it was possible, as a 10KM distance was my max and before that I hadn’t completed many races other than 5/10KM fun runs! I had just joined the club in September – with the race in November. The training sessions, long social runs at the weekend and the encouragement from fellow members really helped. The buzz of the race day was something special, while chatting to other runners along the way too. (I had to strike up some conversations to take my mind off the struggle which helped!)


Tell us something most people might not know about you: On some of my earlier runs in Ballincollig Regional Park, I was known to stop dead in the trails at 3/4KM and walk back home!! Thank god for Strava & the accountability of it now.

Biggest heroes (sporting or non-sporting): Up to recently I could not think of a sporting hero for this piece, but it was right under my nose, my hero & local running legend Mary Sweeney. Mary’s not only a great friend of the club, but has been a little inspiration with her incredible running career to date. We realized after meeting through the club that we lived nearby one another, and have gone on social runs ever since. Mary’s advice & support has been so helpful, along with the encouragement to sign up to races. She is a bundle of fun & energy, full of positivity, and a joy to run with and I’m so glad to know her. Check out this super feature on Cork Running blog to read more about Mary’s incredible running career!


One bit of advice you would give to someone thinking of taking up running: Go for it! Heading out with a friend, or running group helps to get into a routine also the chats will keep your mind off the run when its tough. Check out upcoming races, or fun runs in your area, signing up for something & setting a goal will help to have something to train for.

3 things you would take with you onto a desert island:

  1. A good desert island playlist
  2. Extra battery
  3. Enough goodies & chocolate one could carry. To keep the sugar levels up obviously 😉

Member Profile: Jason O’ Mahony

Name: Jason (Jay) O’Mahony

Member of Eagle AC since: August 2020


How long have you been running what made you take it up: Running since 2008 onwards. Did a few Cork City sports in the 80’s representing my school when I was in primary school (St Josephs on the Mardyke)  but never followed up again until 2008 Cork City Mara Relay! Took it up after my buddy ran Cork in 2007. Got me thinking and started for fitness also.

Favourite thing about running: My favourite thing is just to be able to clear my head. It’s a busy life with 3 young kids in the family so I like to just run, and focus on the run – nothing else!

Favourite race distance to run: I like the 10 mile distance. It’s just about right where you can really enjoy it in autopilot mode running and not go flat out like a 5K/10K.

What is your main goal for this year:  I want to try and do a Half Mara in every county in Ireland over the next few years so this year is to successfully complete Cork (again), Killarney (again), Limerick, Waterford and Belfast Half. I also want to try out a few shorter runs in towns in Cork that I haven’t done before. That’s the plan anyway 😊

Your best race/most memorable racing moment to date: Running in the Olympic Stadium in London for the Great Newham 10k a few years back. That was an amazing feeling. Also a close second would be the Malta Half Marathon. Lovely finish along the harbor, that was amazing in the sun!

Tell us something most people might not know about you: I worked in London for 8.5 years returning to Cork in December 2016. Loved London, got to see loads of it north, south, east and west and amazing locations from St James Palace to New Scotland Yard, War Office and Canary Wharf Banks, plus West end with my job (engineer) daily.

Biggest heroes (sporting or non-sporting): Sporting – Roy Keane – A legend, a rebel and box office! Roys the man. Also Caitriona Twomey at the Cork Penny Dinners.

One bit of advice you would give to someone thinking of taking up running: start easily and don’t push yourself too hard initially. It takes time to build up strength, speed and endurance. Be consistent with your training and develop a plan for each week. Set a goal distance for each week and try to target it.

3 things you would take with you onto a desert island: Family, a ball to kick, My Alphaflys!

Member Profile: Mark Murphy

Name: Mark Murphy 

Member of Eagle AC since:  2016


How long have you been running what made you take it up:

I started running in 2011. I started running because my god daughter Béibhinn O Connor was born with a serious heart defect. At the time she needed a surgery which would require funding. So I decided I would do something crazy and run the Cork City Marathon to raise what I could. At the time some of my friends laughed because they couldn’t imagine me finishing. But they soon got behind me and with Béibhinns inspiration I did run my first marathon in Cork in 2012. Also brook the 4hr barrier which was brilliant, cut it close though 3:59. By the time the marathon came around Béibhinns brilliant parents Eoin and Irene had secured funding through the HSE for the surgery. So I donated the money I raised to the heart ward in Crumlin Children’s hospital 


Favourite thing about running:

My favourite things about running are the headspace you get while running. The fact that you only need to compete against yourself and your own goals and times. Also I love being outside and the obvious health benefits running gives you. 


Favourite race distance to run:

My favourite distance to run is the Marathon. I love the training for a marathon over a 12 to 14 week plan, the way you can see week by week improvement if you do it right. But most of all I love the event itself, it really feels like a big deal when you arrive at the start line and you know you will normally get out of it what you put into it. 


What is your main goal for this year:

To be honest my biggest goal for this year is to get back running constantly and improving. The last 18 months has been the most difficult in my life
Béibhinn sadly passed away in September 2020 at 9 years of age due to complications after her latest heat surgery. I can’t tell how much that rocked our world, and changed our lives forever. Béibhinn is an inspiration to us all and her parents Eoin and Irene are absolutely amazing. Béibhinn will never be forgotten and now she even has a charity formed in her name  www.theheartangle.com.

7 months after Béibhinn passed, in April 2021 my Dad died at the age of 67. My dad to me was also a very good friend and work colleague and you could say life coach, always supportive and on my side in a crises. We were left in shock and devastation after his passing.

So my goal this year is to get back racing and to use the inspiration from Béibhinn and my Dad to live life to the fullest while we can. 

I will be Running Boston Marathon this weekend in their honor, it will be a very emotional race for me but I hope I do them proud.

Your best race/most memorable racing moment to date:

My best race was probably the Berlin marathon in 2019. Everything seem to click on the day, I felt good throughout which I never experienced in a marathon before. So I felt in that race the I got what my training deserved which often doesn’t happen in a marathon. 

My most memorable racing experience was my first marathon in Cork in 2012. When I came (fell) across the finish line I saw all of my close family and friends including Béibhinn and my Dad. 


Tell us something most people might not know about you:


Biggest heroes (sporting or non-sporting):

Well my biggest heroes in my life would be Béibhinn and her parents Eoin and Irene. If you met Béibhinn you would understand why, she was dealt a really difficult hand from day one. She never let it set her back though. She was always smiling and happy and you would never know she was sick because she didn’t show it, ever. She has also an amazing group of friends. Her mom and dad really amaze me with there strength and determination that Béibhinn will not be forgotten and she will continue to do good. They raised around 100k for The Make A Wise charity in Béibhinns 6 months after she passed. Heroes doesn’t even come close to describing them.


One bit of advice you would give to someone thinking of taking up running:

My advise to someone taking up running is be patient, don’t let the knocks get you down. Take it easy on the easy days and don’t push it in training if your body says no. Thake a step back and go again.

3 things you would take with you onto a desert island:

 I would take my runners ofcouse, lol. I would definitely bring an ipod, really love listening to music, and my wife ofcourse 😉. Who it has to be said without her I would never be able to do what I really love doing. 

Marathon and ultra marathon training on Bere Island

Johanna Riddell is a member of Eagle since July 2020
She is originally from London and is now living on Bere Island.

 
Started running at school around 13 years of age mostly cross country and absolutely loved it and probably the only time I  “broke tape”, just the vast openness, fresh air and muck. Move onwards to 2015 and decided to try the Bere Island Parkrun out out, really enjoyed it and soon my love of running returned not to mention I was so eager to get out the door on 1st January that I cooked the turkey upside down!
Had to take break from running that year due to tearing my meniscus and after keyhole surgery in November 2105, where the surgeon also discovered I  had osteoarthritis of same knee, surgeon said no more running – I just won’t tell him what I’ve ran since ha ha.


So, I decided to enter my first marathon  being the Dublin marathon in 2016 due to the year that was in it. I also signed up to the San Francisco marathon and after running the 10K in Galway on the day of my cousins wedding, sure enough I signed up to the Galway marathon, so three marathons signed up before I even ran one!


The iconic San Francisco marathon in 2017 was spectacular, amazing views and unrivaled atmosphere from start to finish. The highlight was an early start to the marathon around 5am and running over the Golden Gate Bridge was amazing. I decided after that year to enter the Connemara 64K Ultra, a challenge more than anything and it was tough no doubt about it and the hill from the west at the end was brutal, but just being out on the roads winding around Connemara was breathtaking I just loved it me and the outdoors for hours so I say my distance is the longer as it clears the head for sure and the people you run with are just brilliant.


Fast forward to the famous year in history 2020 – lockdown! So when you are in lockdown on an island 10k x 3k, I just carried on training for the marathons London, Berlin an New York but were canceled later on due to the pandemic. I also hired a run coach and fine tuned my running it certainly is paying off. I was the first to complete a marathon on the island being the London virtual and three more after that  and then the Donadea 50K ultra, again first to complete the distance on the island, fairly hard as the island isn’t flat by any means but delighted to get under 5 hours. Also into double digits of marathons since 2016.


I have met a great bunch of runners in Cork and through the club itself, great community, support and encouragement. 
Run a busy acupuncture clinic in Castletownbere  – Beara Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, plus after each run it’s great to self treat.
Also waiting to do a 13,000 ft parachute jump for the last two years but the weather wasn’t playing ball everytime we went to Offaly,  so hopefully soon I will get complete that.

An Introduction to Ultra Running.

Prologue

23rd May 2014

“Don’t worry, there’s 29 running it altogether, so I won’t be alone” “That’s what worries me, there’s only 29 people in the whole country who think this is normal”

It is 10 to midnight on Friday night and I am standing in the car park of Marley Park next to the board denoting the start/end of the Wicklow Way, talking to my wife on the phone, which is enclosed in a zip-lock bag to protect it for the rain that has been steadily falling for the evening. I had just been dropped off by Rob, my brother in law, who said on arrival

“You have 20 minutes to change your mind, i’ll even drive you to Clonegal tomorrow to pick up your car”. I had resisted the temptation to accept and am now standing with 28 other seasoned nutters, race organisers and assorted support crews……….

I was about to embark on a 127k adventure across the Dublin and Wicklow mountains to the little know village of Clonegal in County Wexford as part of the Wicklow Way Ultra.

Welcome to the world of ultrarunning

At mile 64, only 36 miles to go

How did I end up here?

When I started running in 2006 to train for the once in a lifetime marathon I though the marathon was the ultimate limit, beyond the boundary of what was physically possible – after all we were told that we had to go through (or more likely hit) “the wall” before we got to the finish line and sure enough I hit the wall on my very first marathon, said “never again” for about a week and came back for some more punishment six months later. I had never heard of ultra running, I thought I had reached the boundary of human endeavour and spent the next few years pushing at the only running boundary I knew – the PB. And while this satisfied my thirst for improvement and better times it was the distance boundary that began to intrigue me more and more.

When I eventually did push the distance boundary (Connemara 39.3 in April 2010) I thought that was it, I could never even contemplate running another mile, let alone the 11 that would take me up to 50 miles. I had read race reports of guys running 100 miles and how they were destroyed after them and though that was way out of my league – funny how when we break boundaries we end up setting new ones.

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Track and Field running by Ken Higgs

I got into running during the 1980’s running boom and in 1983 I joined the newly-formed Bray Runners club in County Wicklow. The club was totally focused on long distance running but after three agonising marathons I finally realised marathon running wasn’t for me. In 1986, I moved to Cork to start a new job in UCC where I joined the Staff AC , but shortly afterwards I decided to pack in running all together. Fast forward 27 years to 2013 and early retirement. It was time to start running again. So, I joined a local running club Carrigaline Runners and the UCC Staff AC (again). In late 2015, a group of us transferred to Eagle AC which in the long run turned out to be a really great decision. Perhaps I should have said ‘in the short run’, because since joining the club I have discovered I am much better suited to the shorter stuff.

I took up track racing in 2018 with no previous background or experience. The seed of an idea was planted at a 5k road race in Coolagown. I had been trailing behind two runners in my age group, then with 200m to go I produced a sprint finish and claimed the age category win. John Desmond (who had been lurking near the finish with his camera) came up to me afterwards and said I should give track racing a go. Several months later,  Captain Damian was encouraging club members to go to Nenagh for the Munster Masters Indoor Track Championships , so the time had come to give it a go. I really enjoyed it and ran surprisingly well in the 800 and 1500m.So a month later I decided to try the National Master Indoors in Athlone. That turned out to be great too. I got such a buzz in the 800m race. I was racing against a guy who a few weeks earlier had won the National Masters XC in my age group ( I was a good 2 minutes behind him), but on the track I out sprinted him over the last lap to win the race. I was totally hooked! So I am now part of a small but dedicated group of Eagles who enjoy flying the club flag at provincial and national track championships.

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Eagle AC-Trail running by Olga O’Sullivan

Despite having grown up in a large city, I should start with the fact that I’m an outdoor nut rather than a typical road runner. In addition to running, I love hiking, climbing, surfing and open water swimming. The mountains and ocean are my happy place. I never use a treadmill or go to the gym; vertigo aside, the indoor exercise just doesn’t do it for me.

Not sure why I’m here writing this article, when there are many club members, who are better trail runners than me, and we probably crossed paths at the IMRA races! With the unexpected circumstances, which we found ourselves in over the last 2 years, I find more and more road runners are willing to try trails, and I may even be guilty of converting some of them.

I love running alone, but I also enjoy sharing my love for the mountains with others. McGillycuddy Reeks in Kerry is my favourite playground, from the remote Lough Duff circuit to the Eastern reeks and Coomloughra horseshoe, and Carrauntoohil from every direction. However, due to the recent lockdowns, I perused every possible bit of trails closer to home. There are hidden gems everywhere, you just need to look for them. After the recent loss of my husband, who loved the woodlands, I’ve spent many hours running in the woods, where, surrounded by the trees, you can cry without being judged and remember without being interrupted.

I find solace in running far away from civilisation, alone with my thoughts. The air is cool, damp and clean. You are surrounded by the beautiful, lush, green, yellow, grey and brown hues, and sounds of nature: the trickling of a distant waterfall, birds singing, goats & sheep calling out to each other, or on a stormy day, the wind howling and drowning out everything else! If you time your run to witness a sunrise or a sunset, the experience is unparallel; it stays with you.

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