Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Preview of the John Buckley Sports Cork Half-Marathon - Sun 9th Sept 2012

Friday, September 07, 2012

Preview of the John Buckley Sports Cork Half-Marathon - Sun 9th Sept 2012

The next big race locally is of course the Cork Half-Marathon coming up on Sunday, the 9th of Sept 2012 at 11am. This race starts and finishes in Blarney just to the west of Cork City. This year however the course has been modified and the hilly section near Grenagh has been removed. As a result, it promises to be a much faster course.

The race is organised by St.Finbarrs AC, one of the main running clubs in Cork City and this is their flagship event of the year. There will also be pacers available for those trying for 1:30, 1:45 and 2 hours. As with most big races, they will be using chip timing (bib).

The race also incorporates the Cork County and Munster Half-Marathon Championships.

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.

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 below.

Pacers.....There will be pacers for 1h 30, 1h 45 and 2 hours. This is 6:52 min/mile, 8:00 min/mile and 9:09 min per mile pace respectively. 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.

Water Stations.....5  water stations – in this order -  bottle / cup / bottle/ cup / bottle.
Water stations 1 & 5 and 2 & 4 are opposite each other with station 3 at the turn around. The first station is just after the church in Waterloo  / opposite side of the road on the return (miles distance – roughly – approx 3.5 -4.0 on the way out and  after mile 11 on the way back) – second station is before the 6 mile mark (i.e. before the right turn onto the narrow road), on the way back maybe 8.5 miles, the turn is approx 7.5 miles. 

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 does a quick loop around Blarney before heading north to a point where you turn around and return again with a gradual downhill for 5 miles to the finish. As you can see from the course profile below, the hill near Grenagh has been removed and it should be a lot faster course now.

Getting there.....From the N20 Cork to Mallow/Limerick road, take the well signposted turnoff for Blarney. As you can see from the map below, take the first left and then right and the race HQ is there at the GAA grounds.

 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.

Car Park near the start line...

Course........As you can see from the map above, the start is very close to the GAA grounds. You do one short loop which is pretty flat before going straight on the second lap....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. Before the 2 mile mark, you will pass the finish line on the right as you continue up the valley.....

It's more or less like this for the next few miles......a 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 5.9 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 5.9 miles (80m).

Left at this junction and about 150 metres later at another junction near the 6 mile mark, you turn right and head up towards the turn around point (~7.5 miles) where there will be a timing mat to record runners.

Once you turn around, you retrace your footsteps as you run slightly downhill for most of the way to the finish line.

Out and Back........Please note that as this is an out and back course, runners will be running on both sides of the road during the mid section of the race. You should run on the left hand side of the road where this happens to avoid runners coming in the opposite direction.

Follow the instructions from the stewards on the day.

Overall.......The Half-Marathon course in Blarney had a reputation of being a tough course especially with that hill up around Grenagh. With that now removed, the course should be a lot faster. There are no serious pulls as such and the gradual slope should have no real impact on times. The course now should have real potential for anyone wanting to go for a personal best time.

Race Sponsor.......The race sponsor is John Buckley Sports, one of the main sports shops in Cork for running shoes and other running related gear.

You can find John Buckley Sports across the river from the Cork Opera House and his opening hours are Mon-Fri 9.30am – 5.30pm – late opening Friday until 7.00 – closed Sundays.

They also have a website at

20% Off Voucher.........Note also that all runners that enter will get a 20% off voucher for the John Buckley Sports store. If you use the voucher to buy something like a good pair of running shoes which could easily cost €100, then essentially you will have entered the race for free. Obviously, the more you spend, the more you save.


JH said...

Looking forward to it. My first half marathon was Charleville last year at 1.49.5 and I nearly died (ran too fast). I've since run the Cork City Marathon so hoping for a 1.45 PB. Weather looks OK so far, if the wind holds off! ;-)

JH said...

Any idea what water station intervals will be?
(Thanks for all your reviews btw - they're spot on!)

Anonymous said...

Will the narrow road be coned off to ensure runners don't run into eachother? It'd be hard for two runners to run side by side on each side of the road especially going around the corners on the narrow sections. Just a bit concerned that telling people to run on left hand side will be enough. This could be an issue and a bit scary for the faster and slower runners.