This time, we are going to look at the Ballycotton 10 route. The race starts about 800 metres from the Race HQ, right inside in the heart of the village itself. The first mile and a half are slightly downhill with a slight pull back up to the 2 mile mark. The next mile is pretty flat with a water station at the 3 mile mark. The next 4 miles have a few slight drags but these are really short and when you get back to the 7 mile mark, you can avail of the water station again. The next mile is flat and there is another water station at the 8 mile mark (water station not shown on map above). Now, this is where it starts getting interesting! There is no getting away from the fact that the Ballycotton 10 has a tough finish. It is tough and hilly and you are going to lose time on it. If you don't care about what time you will do, then that's fine but if you have a specific target, you will need to have a cushion built up before the 8.5 mile mark. For example, say your target is 80 minutes, you are doing 8 minute miles and your splits are 1m=8m, 2m=16, 3m=24, etc up to hitting the 8 mile mark at 64 minutes. Once you hit the hill at 8.5 miles and start to slow down, you likely to lose about 1 minute by the time you get to the 9 mile mark. The last mile has some drags as well and you could lose another 30 seconds here. So, in the space of 1.5 miles, you will go from a target of 80 minutes to an actual time of 81 minutes 30 seconds.
Hence, the reason why you need a cushion.
The last 1.5 miles in some detail...
The red numbers above shown the height above sea level. Around the 8.5 mile mark, the road drops down to almost sea level and then there is a sharp left and a sharp short climb until you have gained about 10 metres in height. The next few hundred metres are a slight drag, gaining height all of the time. After that, the incline eases off until you reach the 20 metre contour just before the 9 mile mark. At that stage, the worst section of the race is over as you will have climbed about 20 metres or 60-70 feet in the space of half a mile.
The next few hundred metres are reasonably flat as you pass the old church on the corner and the race HQ and school. There is however still one last drag as you reach the Garda station in the middle of the village, near the 18 m contour above. The next hill is about 300 metres long and you gain about 7 metres in altitude. It peaks just after the main church. Then it's around the last corner and run of about 150 metres into the finish.
I can imagine some beginners looking at this post in horror, with mouths open in shock as they think of what lies ahead of them on Sunday!! ;o) Really, the hill is not that bad but it's just that it comes at a stage in the race when you are likely to be most tired and if you are on schedule, it will eat up those valuable seconds.
So, if you have a target, think about building up that cushion before you get to the 8.5 mile mark.
If anyone would like to look at the route, I have also put it up on the MapMyRun website.
Tomorrow, I'll look at the start in more detail and begin the weather forecasts as well.