While the full Marathon and Relay event will start at 9am on Patrick's Street in the centre of Cork City, the Half-Marathon will start about 6 kms to the east in Mahon at 11:00am. This is 30 minutes earlier than the 11:30am start of last year.
From the City Hall, there will be a free bus service taking relay and Half-Marathon runners to the CSO office in Mahon. See map below...(Half in Pink, Full in Green)
Now, this is roughly the 10.5 mile mark in the Marathon so considering that the Half starts 2 hours later, anyone doing on average 11.3 min/mile or faster should have passed....(5 hour Marathon).
This is a major change from last year when those running past were heading for a 6:15 Marathon...in other words, the bulk of the Marathon and Relay runners had passed through and the relay changeover would have been pretty deserted. This year, there should be a lot more runners present.
After passing the relay changeover, the course turns right and heads towards Blackrock Castle.
If you are a relay or Marathon runner and you run past Blackrock Castle then you are on the wrong course!
From what I understand, the split will be well signposted. This however is the one area where the earlier Half-Marathon start may cause problems. There will be a lot more Marathon and Relay runners this year at the split once the Half-Marathon field arrives. Will some runners go the wrong way??? If you were to watch the Half-Marathon race just around the corner from Blackrock, would you see a trickle of runners with different colour race bib's coming through? Some people want an even earlier Half-Marathon start but this would mean that it is even more packed where the course splits and increases the chance that runners end up going the wrong way.
....and then dead flat for the next mile.
Near the 2 mile mark in the Half-Marathon, the two courses merge again. The Marathon and Relay runners will appear from the left at what is near the 15 mile mark for them.
Assuming that both the Full and Half start on time, then this is the relative pace for both groups...
a) For Half-Marathon runners doing 6 mins/mile pace (~1:19 Half)....the Marathon runners will be doing an average of 8:48 per mile. The 3:45 and faster pace groups are ahead with their concentration of runners although the groups will have thinned out a lot in the later stages.
b) For Half runners doing 7 mins/mile pace (~1:32 Half)...the Marathon runners are doing an average 8:56 per mile).
c) For Half runners doing 8 mins/mile pace (~1:45 Half)...the Marathon runners are doing an average 9:04 per mile).
d) For Half runners doing 9 mins/mile pace (~1:58 Half)...the Marathon runners are doing an average 9:12 per mile). At this stage, it will feel like everyone is running at the same pace.
e) For Half runners doing 10 mins/mile pace (~2:11 Half)...the Marathon runners are doing an average 9:20 per mile).
Obviously, the road now after the races merge may feel pretty packed. At around 3.5 miles, the next Relay changeover should be interesting ;o)
After that, it really just a case for the faster Half-Marathon runners (say those aiming for 1:45 or less) to work their way through the Marathon and Relay field.
The one potential choke point is of course the Mardyke Walk. This comes at the 12 mile mark while it's roughly 25 miles for the Marathon runners. This is the relative pace of the two groups...
6 min/mile (1:19).........7:41 per mile (3h21m Marathon)
7 min/mile (1:32).........8:09 per mile (3h34m Marathon)
8 min/mile (1:45).........8:38 per mile (3h46m Marathon)
9 min/mile (1:58).........9:07 per mile (3h59m Marathon)
Overall.........that's a quick guide to what the Half-Marathon might be like. If you are running 1:45 or less, it may feel like that you'll be running through a field of slower Marathon and Relay runners for most of the race. For those running 2 hours or more, it may seem as if everyone is running at the same pace and you won't really know who is running what unless you look at the colour of their race number.
Will it be better than last year? Will there be too many runners at the choke points? Will the Relay runners be able to find their team members with all of those Half-Marathon runners passing through?