On Sunday last the biggest race in the midlands was held. Longford Marathon & 1/2 Marathon 2008 attracted roughly in the region of 1000 runners. Clonliffe Harriers seem to have a scouting network in operation at Dublin airport and sign up any new talent entering the country. At the front the race had an international feel, with Clonliffe signees Sergiu Terea winning the full marathon in a superb 2:23 and Josephat Boit taking the 1/2 Marathon in 1:11.
From speaking to people afterwards, Sergiu started off strongly and Noel Kelly regretted trying to stick with him as the pace was too much at half way. Kelly finished up in 2:29 which in itself is an excellent marathon time. Incredible evergreen Mick Byrne was third in 2:33 (Mick is an over 45!!).
This was Josephat's first 1/2 marathon – 5k being his preferred distance. As such he ran conservatively. He kept to an (for him) easy pace up until 10 miles and the first 5 were in a group together. From that point on he decided to stretch for home and there was only going to be one winner in 1:11:04. Zakis Raivis from west waterford AC was 7 seconds behind him at the end. This is 4 road race wins on the trot for Josephat – he has been really cleaning up since he came to ireland.
In the ladies races, Lucy's Brennan and Darcy won the marathon and 1/2 marathon respectively in very good times of 2:52 and 1:23. On the local front Athenry's Ann Carter picked up another check for the 3rd lady home. Read on for more!
Craughwell had no entrants in the full marathon, but a big representation in the 1/2 – mostly from the fit4life converts that are hoping to complete the Dublin marathon in October. Unfortunately the results posted have no "club" columns so I can't easily pick out the results. I estimate that there were about 10 Craughwell runners on the day – well done to all. Galway was well represented all round as I also spotted quite a few Athenry runners and a few GCH heads around as well as a very large team from rejuvenated Loughrea.
Course layout, organisation, etc
I can only imagine the logistics of organising this race! they ran a marathon, 1/2 marathon and a relay simultaneously which required a lot of organised stewarding.
The route was very unusual in that the 1/2 marathon runners and the marathon runners were split up at about 1 mile ("half marathoners move to the left") and the 1/2 marathon runners went off on some quite nice country roads before re-joining the tail end of the marathon runners for a while, and then being split up once again on some more nice (and hilly this time) country roads. The final third of the race included a soul-destroying 200M run to a bollard which we had to turn about on – this would have made up about 400m to the overall race.
The course was very well supplied with Water stations, etc and the stewards were very cheerful and helpful despite the mostly woeful weather conditions.
I really liked the variety of the hilly country road sections – I had been warned about a "hard shoulder" 1/2 marathon and was pleasently surprised with the course.
If someone wanted to cheat I think it might have been possible to "fool" the stewards and run on with the marathoners, rejoining the 1/2 marathon on the main road. This would have gained you a lot of time and be hard to spot. Runners are an honest lot though so I don't think anyone tried it!
The bollard turnabout is a bit of a pain – it might be better to have a different 1/2 marathon start or finish point in order to make the course feel more natural.
The finish is really confusing – there was a chute for about 500M up and down kerbs and weaving through pedestrians, etc. Even if the course were to finish outside the town it would be better to have a clear run in at the finish I think.
My own race
I ran the 1/2 Marathon. I intended to run it slowly but as my watch strap broke (again) before the race I was stuck with no watch so couldn't pace myself and so ended up racing it as hard as I could. I was passed after about a mile by two lads who were running together and working very well as a team. I dug deep and hung on behind them as best I could pretty much all the way through the race, with an increasing gap between us as the race went on. At the water station at about the 10 mile mark I decided to make a big push and managed to haul them in and somehow got clear for the finish – I really expected to be reeled back. The long runs are paying off but my legs were jelly for the last mile – not sure if I will be able for a marathon. I finished 6th overall in 1:14:46 which was a pb for me by a long way – happy days!
After the event itself there was food and refreshments, as there was the nigth before if you picked up your goodie bag on the previous evening. All in all a very enjoyable and pretty good value for money race.
Full results are here: