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This is the 4th stage of 5 and is 5.2 miles in lenght. Of the 5, it is one of the hardest legs even though it isn't the longest. For Marathon runners, this stage starts at roughly 16.5 miles on Victoria Road.
Just after the Relay changeover point on Victoria Road, it's left onto the quays, past Carey's Tools and left again onto Albert Street. Now the road really opens out as you go past the next 2 bends, past Brownlows and onto the South Link Road. From here, there is a slight climb up to the next junction as shown below.
After running on the flat for so long, this will test the Marathon runners to see if they can maintain the pace. You hit the 17 mile mark around here. An easy mile with plenty of commotion in the middle!
Then it flattens out as you run out the link road. Again, there is another railway connection here as you are running along the route of the old Cork to Bandon railway line. Soon, you'll see the 2nd overhead bridge. So, it's under it and then take a left for a very steep short climb. A steep part of the course but it's only 50 metres or so long. Then left, over the bridge, through the next junction and a short steep downhill section to Turners Cross. Left at the junction here and onto the Curragh Road. Out along here is the 18 mile mark. An easy enough mile but that short sharp climb can be difficult on tired legs.
Now, the road is pretty flat as you head for the Kinsale Road and pass the turn off for Ballyphehane. Just after this is another water station. As well as offering plain water, they may have sports drinks here as well. If you are doing the relay, you don't need to take them. If you are doing the full marathon, you should consider taking one as the glucose from the drink will help you to conserve your bodies own supply. Note that sometimes Sports drinks don't agree with everyone, especially when they are running. The glucose will also take a while to get into your system.....perhaps 2 to 3 miles later.
On to the junction by Woodies, right onto the Tramore Road and past the back of the Musgrave Park rugby ground. A slight downhill and then a long flat secton. Right at the next turn off and a slight pull uphill. This is where the course changes again this year. Last year, runners went right. This year, they are going straight ahead until you hit the 19 mile mark at the distinctive red brick church in Ballyphehane.
A reasonable mile but some small little pulls in it.
Left at the church and the road goes slightly downhill towards the Lough. Another change this year as the runners give the loop around the Lough a skip.This is where some of the faster Relay runners went wrong last year so it's no harm to give it a skip. Now onto Hartlands Avenue and there is a slight uphill section from here until the next set of traffic lights and the 20 mile mark. A reasonable mile but the uphill section at the end is a bit tough on tired legs.
Mile 20.After the left at the traffic lights, the next half mile or so is downhill. It starts pretty gradual until there is a steeper downhill section at the end near the junction near Clashduv road. Almost immediately after the junction (...shown below), the road climbs again past St.Finbarr's Cemetary.
It's a fair climb and will certainly slow you down. Then it's right into Liam Lynch park and there is a short steep climb as seen below as you exit by Bishopstown Credit Union onto the Wilton Road.
Right here and a gradual downhill section to the 21 mile mark. Not an easy mile, plenty of extra effort required.
Left at Dennehy's Cross by the church and onto Model Farm Road. Now, there is a gradual uphill section for about 600 metres.
Nothing steep but enough to make you work that bit harder. After the 2nd set of traffic lights, the road fall rapidly and then flattens out as you approach the final Relay changeover point. The 21 mile mark is about 500 metres beyond it.
So, that's the 4th leg. It was 5.3 miles in lenght and it probably is the hardest leg. Loads of small pulls which will have an impact on tired legs. Expect to lose time here.
If you would like to examine this leg in more detail, I have put it up on theMapMyRun website. Just use the MAP view and the +/- buttons to zoon in and out.