Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Preview of the John Buckley Sports Cork Half-Marathon - Sun 11th Sept 2011

Friday, September 09, 2011

Preview of the John Buckley Sports Cork Half-Marathon - Sun 11th Sept 2011

This is the next big race on the calendar, the John Buckley Sports Cork Half-Marathon in Blarney on Sunday the 11th of September at 11am. At this stage, those of you who have pre-entered should have got your timing chips and numbers through the post by now. If you didn't pre-enter, you can still enter for €25 on the morning of the race before 10:30 am.

Details...Entry on the Day – runners will be asked to fill in an entry slip (Name, M/F, Club, DOB, Age Category & Mobile number (it's intended to text all runners their chip time after the race) – there will be lots of entry slips and pens. Runners then hand this slip into the desk with their entry fee (€25)...they will then be handed their race number and race chip which are pre-packed.

Sponsor.....The Cork Half-Marathon is being sponsored by John Buckley Sports and one of the main features of the race is that everyone gets a 20% discount voucher for that sports store. Obviously if you plan your purchases right, the 20% discount may easily exceed the cost of entry into the race itself. Details on the store location and opening times in this earlier post.

Hat.........all entrants get a hat! If you believe some of the stories floating about in the media about a harsh winter ahead, this could be just the thing ;o)
Pacers.....There will be pacers for 1h 30, 1h 45 and 2 hours. They will be wearing bright orange tops supplied by John Buckley Sports and should have some balloons as well. They will run the course at an even pace with the aim to finish just ahead of target.

Brief outline......Basically, the Half-Marathon starts and finishes in the town of Blarney which is about 10 kms to the north-west of Cork City. The course is in the shape of a spoon......a large section is re-used with a loop at the northern end. In terms of elevation, it is a vey gradual uphill to about 5 miles......then a tough uphill section about a mile long followed by a rapid descent........and then a gradual downhill for the last 6 miles.

Getting there.....From the N20 Cork to Mallow/Limerick road, take the well signposted turnoff for Blarney. See purple you drive towards Blarney, take the first left and then right. There will be parking at the race HQ which is Blarney GAA Club....

Additional car parking will be available on the morning of the race at Scoil Mhuire gan Smal...the secondary school on the Hedge Road which is just 200 metres away.

Course........The start line is literally just around the corner from the GAA club. The first 500 metres or so are dead straight........ there is space to pass people and get your position here. At the next junction, you turn left.....uphill slightly....past the garage......and after about 200 metres, over the small bridge and then right towards Waterloo......

The thing here is that you are basically running on a road which is right alongside a river so it's a very gradual uphill. After about 1 km, you pass the finish line on the right and you continue up the valley.....

It's more or less like this up to the 3.5 mile mark......very gradual climb in a wooded valley. Soon, the Waterloo Inn comes into view........

......and you take the right here over the small bridge and then up a short hill about 200 metres long...the first real hill in the race so far. After that it eases off again and back to a gradual easy climb as you carry on along a tree covered road until you reach a road junction near the 4.6 mile mark...

All the while, you will have been running alongside the main N20 road which runs parallel to this small road and climbing slowly all the way. In fact, you will have gained about 50 metres in altitude from the start (30m) to the road junction at 4.6 miles (80m).
Left at this junction and about 150 metres later at another junction near the 4.7 mile mark, you start the roughly 4 mile loop and this is where things start getting tough. You stay left and the road gets steeper. Past the 5 mile mark and keep climbing. It eases a bit, you veer off right at the next junction and then start climbing again until it flattens out around the 6 mile mark just as you approach the village of Grenagh. In that last 1.3 miles, you will have gone from 80 metres to over 160 metres in far, the toughest section of the race.

 Then it's through the village and take a sharp right. Here, the road drops rapidly as you lose 50 metres of altitude over the next half mile until you are near the 7 mile mark. From here, it is more or less flat or slightly downhill until you reach the road junction again near the 9 mile mark and the end of the loop.

Start of the loop ~4.7 miles on the way out and ~9 miles on the way back

This is one section where runners will pass each other....the slower runners heading towards the 4.7 mile mark as the faster runners return from the 9 mile mark. For the last 4.1 miles, you are basically retracing your footsteps. It is mostly slightly downhill as far as the finish just before Blarney and if you have anything left, you can make up a lot of places here. 

Grenagh - Top of the long climb ~6.5 miles

Start of the downhill in Grenagh

Overall.......a reasonably hilly course with a tough 1.3 mile section near the middle. It's certainly not the fastest of Half-Marathon courses but the big turnout is a help over those hilly sections. If you keep something in reserve for the climb up to Grenagh then you may find the last 6 miles of the race very fast. On the 'must do' list for a lot of Cork runners.


Anonymous said...

Any idea what time the entry opens on the morning?

John Desmond said...

I am told that they should be taking entries from 9am onwards.

Anonymous said...

Hi John,

I pre-entered, but I haven't received anything in the post. Do you know is there a collection point on the morning of the race?


John Desmond said...

Mary....your best bet is to head to the GAA hall early on Sunday and they will sort you out with a timing chip.