Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Cork Runner wins the Portumna Marathon - Sat 26th June 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cork Runner wins the Portumna Marathon - Sat 26th June 2010

From time to time, I put up a post if I hear about any Cork based runner winning races elsewhere in the country.

Well this time, it's going to be a very strange post indeed because I happen to be that Cork based runner!! ;o)

About 2 months ago, I heard about this new event in Portumna comprising 3 races.....a 100 km race, a 50 km race and a full Marathon. About 2 weeks ago just after running in the Cork Marathon as a pacer, I got a notion to give this one a try. My intention was to use it as a long training run and see what it was like rather than try for any special time.

First of all however, there was the Shanagarry 5 mile race on Thursday evening to get out of the way.......well, it is one of the Ballycotton Summer's a 'must do' race! :o) 
So I ran the race, 'sorted out' a few club mates ;o) , tried to hydrate as best I could on Friday evening and headed for Portumna in Galway at 6:30am on Saturday morning.

I arrived around 8:45am and the 50 km and 100 km race were well underway at that stage having both started at 6am. The course consisted of a 5 km loop within the confines of Portumna forest and the Marathon would be just over 8 full loops. Looking around, it was obvious that the Marathon field would be modest and that most of the runners had completed several Marathons before. No fun runners here!

My first problem was trying to decide what pace to run? All of the markers were in kms and I didn't have a GPS watch. The best solution I could think of before the start was that a 3:30 Marathon is roughly 8 minute/mile pace..........which is roughly 5 minutes per km. Stick to those 5 minute splits as best I could and I'll see how I'll go.......Plan A.....a Master plan!

At the start line, I met up with another Cork Marathon pacer, Frank McDermott from Dublin. He was planning 3:20 and he had tapered for a full week! Excellent....that sounds a lot better than my 36 hours ;o)
So, plan B was with Frank, see how I get on and let him off when I get tired.

10am and the Marathon started. Frank took off like he trying to catch the last bus home and he was leading the Marathon after about 100 metres. Mmmmm....maybe I should forget about Frank and plan B......back to plan A ;o) 
Soon, I settled into 5th position, the pace felt ok and it stayed like that for the first few miles. After about a lap, some of those in front settled down into a more relaxed pace and I found myself in 3rd place behind 2 runners from Galway.

The kms were now passing with times in the low 4 minutes. Not exactly the 5 minutes according to plan A but I thought....'what harm, I'll build up a bit of a cushion before the fatigue sets in'.

Another lap and I went through the 10 km mark in 43:45. I had no idea of what pace that was. I knew the pace seemed a bit fast but I felt ok for the moment. Keep going........stay with the Galway that cushion!

About an hour into the race, the cloud cover broke up and the sunshine appeared. The temperature was now around 20-22 deg C...not great conditions for running a Marathon but in fairness to the organisers, the water stations were excellent. They had small 250 ml bottles of water on offer as well as coke in plastic cups. I remembered that a fellow club mate had told me about drinking coke during a Marathon and found that the sugar and caffeine gave him a boost. So every lap, I stopped at the water station for about 5 seconds, drank all of the coke, took a bottle of water while the runners in front opened up a gap.

Another lap and a bit and soon I was at the half-way mark........92 minutes! That's 3:04 Marathon pace.........way too fast!! I had no intention of running this pace........this was supposed to be a training run. Yet, there didn't seem any point in slowing down. I was in 3rd place and I thought that maybe if I could keep up a reasonable pace, I could hold 3rd?

One km later, one of the 2 front runners pulled out and by roughly the 15 mile mark, I had caught the leader and I was in front. For the next 11 miles, I was essentially on my own. No-one out ahead to concentrate on. I was running on my own and it was just a matter of trying to keep up the pace as best I could. I kept waiting for the fatigue to hit, for my pace to drop dramatically....but it never did.

The remaining few laps were all about counting down the kms and lapping some of the slower Marathon runners. The last lap was just one long push!...get to the finish....don't get caught!

I finally finished in a time of roughly 3:06 having run the 2nd half in about 94 minutes, just 2 minutes slower than my first half. Not the fastest of Marathon times but fast enough on the day to win this particular Marathon.

As an event, it is certainly different from other long distance races. I was expecting to find the laps really boring and difficult to keep track of. However, that didn't turn out to be the case. The race was very well organised and the km markers were well signposted. The course is roughly in the shape of a spoon.........a loop on the western end with an out and back section on the eastern end. In a way, you almost ended up as a spectator in the race as you could see who was running well and who was suffering in the 3 races.

Perhaps running loops in a forest might not appeal to everyone but the trees certainly made things a lot more comfortable once the sun came out. At times along the course, there were open sections where we had no shade and we got a reminder of just how difficult the race would have been without shelter.  

In the 100 km race, Niall O'Crualaoich from Cobh (shown above) completed the course. Niall, who is a fireman in Cork recently ran the Cork City Marathon for his fireman's outfit complete with jacket and boots in a time of 4:45!

In the 50 km race, Gerry Forde from Blarney took part with his wheelchair.

Also in the Marathon, Michael Haydon of UCC who completed his 100th Marathon recently in Cork added one more to make it 101!


Anonymous said...

Cognrats on your win John!

Richard said...

Fair play to you. Not many people win a marathon. Especially not on a training run!!

Anonymous said...

Congrats John I am absolutely delighted for you a great achievement Well done.
Danny Mc Carthy
Midleton AC

Anonymous said...

Well done John!!! What an awesome achievement, especially after running so well in Shanagarry. Great stuff!

Andy Gibson, Eagle AC.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, great achievement, well done.

Anonymous said...

Well Done John, Great to see a nice man like you take the honours for once.
You deserve all the credit you get.

It's always on record to say you won a marathon.

Well done again..

Keep up the good work...

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your win! Excellent race report too :-)
Dee. Cork

Anonymous said...

well done nice to see someone who supports so many races WIN.

Donal O'Donoghue said...

Well done John !!!

An epic victory. One to remember.

So, Coca-Cola is good for you after all ???

John Dunphy said...

Hi John,Congrats fantastic achievement,

John Dunphy
Eagle A.C.

Anonymous said...

Well Done John! I was delighted to hear of your win.


Rónán said...

Hi John,
Congrats on a great win. Fantastic achievement. Well done!!

Rónán O'Shea
Eagle AC

Anonymous said...

Fantastic news and brilliant time.

Diarmaid said...

Great win John, only weeks after Cork. Must be a great buzz hitting the finish line the winner !

Diarmaid O Sullivan

David Muldowney said...

Well done John. Great achievement.

Anonymous said...

Amazing win John. Not many people can say they won a marathon. Something to savour for the rest of your life.

Anonymous said...

Well done John! Caroline, Eagle AC

Pat Twomey said...

Congratulations John on a great race! Plenty more 'in the tank' I'd say. Check here
for a shot of the winner.
Again well done!

Anonymous said...

Well done. Absolutely delighted for you.

Anonymous said...

I was one of those you lapped John. Should have drunk the coke!

It was a great event, the laps worked really well.

Highly recommended event. Looks like it will be an annual event. Only 2 hours from Cork

Congratulations on your win. Fair play

Anonymous said...

Well done John, fantastic run!

Westley said...

Well done John on an excellent victory. As an expat Corkman your blog is much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Well done John!! fantastic achievement and great story thanks for posting, you must be thrilled :)

Smiley Lady said...

I said it on the day and will say it again. Congrats on a great win. Not only did you win, as this was the first year of the event you are also the current course record holder. Long may your record stand. You were so modest about your achievement at the finish too. Well done
p.s. the photo of you finishing is one of my favourite photos this year so far.

Smiley Lady said...

aha found the photo I was talking about.

Unknown said...

wow that's great you deserve a good pint of coke again

Anonymous said...

Hi John... I'm going up to Portumna at the weekend, but only doing the baby half run. I'm Only learning how to search for races in Munster so Appreciate your Blog... 4 years later :-) well done