I’m glad to say that all of the miles logged in the wind and rain paid off and resulted in marathon number 13 and my first 39.3 mile run.
I spent the days leading up to the Ultra working out how I was going to complete the 39.3 mile distance.
The training was done, now it was time to set out and run a distance I had never completed before.
I was trying not to overthink it. 39.3 miles is a crazy distance. Is your body supposed to be able to run that distance.?
I thought back to the billboard in Dublin on that Sunday night in October 2008. “You can spend your whole life wondering if you can run a marathon, or you can spend it knowing you just have”.
It was the same message but it had a few miles added on.
I checked out the details for water stations. The ultra runners were allowed leave extra food bags at 3 of the food stations. I decided to go for mile 19, 29 and 35 to help give me that extra bit of energy.
I called in to collect my race number and ended up standing at the table for marathon race numbers. Thankfully the race director who I have met on a number of occasions got chatting to me and directed me over to a small table in the corner with the word “ultra” written on it.
Finally the morning arrived and we piled on to the bus heading for Connemara.
The race brief was very brief. One of the organising crew acknowledged how bad the weather conditions were last year and how good it was to see so many of the runners from last year coming back to complete the 39.3 mile distance.
I wasn’t sure if they should have mentioned this but as I thought about it to me it seemed to be a bit of an elephant in the room. It was probably better off to mention it and just get on with it.
The weather on the day was ideal. Not too warm with a bit of a cloud sitting over Connemara. There was a slight breeze.
As we made our way down the road I just kept focusing on the couple of miles in front of me.
Everyone seemed to be in great form. I got talking to a man and woman from Wexford. When the lady realised I was a bit of a veteran of Connemara she asked me where the nearest portaloo was. They are fairly scarce in fairness.
The water stations were flying by and we were soon turning towards the Inagh Valley. I was starting to warm up at this stage and I decided to peel off my arm warmers. I could always put them back on later if I needed to.
Before I knew it were coming into Leenane and heading for the 26 mile mark. This is where the race turns into one long hill. I kept plugging away thinking of that food bag at mile 35.
I stopped at the water station at mile 32. I didn’t realise it but the sun was taking its toll on my arms and neck. One of the marshal’s advised me to take 2 bottles of water.
After what felt like a lifetime I made it to Maam bridge and started to head towards the last hill of the day.
I stopped to get my food back and started to walk up the last hill which is a good 2 miles long.
I had a small bottle of coca cola and some chocolate in my bag. I inhaled the bottle of coke and munched on the chocolate as I made my way up the hill all set for the last two miles.
I eventually made it to the top of the hill and started to run the last two miles.
I hit the last mile and just kept moving. There were a few other runners and walkers around and the support was picking up a bit. I was trying to spot the finish line and see where I could start to make my final push.
I turned the last corner and started to speed up a bit. There was a French runner in front of me. I held back a small bit and let him finish in front of me.
7 hours and 13 minutes of running and a small bit of walking to realise my dream of running the Connemara 39.3 Ultra
On Tuesday evening I was up at the Galway Racecourse to help marshal at the first race of the Galway 5km series.
It was a lovely evening for racing with many runners and walkers from around Galway taking to the track for a testing 5km.
Hopefully I can get off work early on Tuesday for the race in Caltra.
I have my eye on a few big races during the summer. I haven’t made any final decisions yet as my foot is still a bit sore.
If you are interested in learning how to improve your running technique, lessen the risk of injury or increase speed and distance please do get in touch.