Race Report by Cathy Keay
This marathon is advertised as the “friendly marathon” and they weren’t wrong – it’s a fantastic race experience from start to finish. I got some cheap Ryanair flights (that weren’t cancelled) and flew out on the Saturday morning. The pack pick up was at the RDS (Royal Dublin Society) which was about a mile out of the city centre but fortunately, one of the Airlink Coaches went straight from the airport to the RDS. The expo was well organised and picking up the bib and goody bag was easy, we were given a large see-through bag for the race baggage which was full of freebies !! the expo had the usual amount of stuff for sale, but I wasn’t tempted! I then got the bus into the centre to find my hotel and to try and keep from walking around too much. I met up with Carmel, Lisa, and a few of Carmel’s friends for a great pasta meal in Temple Bar on the Saturday night.
Luckily, the clocks went back on the Saturday, which gave all the runners an extra hour in bed. The race start was at Merrion Square with 4 different start waves. Baggage drop, and finding the starts was really well organised, just the usual moan about not enough toilets ! The atmosphere was great, I was in the last wave which set off at 9:30am.
My best previous marathon time was 4:36, so I was secretly hoping for a PB, but knew after Amsterdam that it doesn’t always happen, and I also secretly hoped for a sub 4:30 but knew this was a big ask as the marathon distance is so tough and such a lot can go wrong during that 26.2 miles.
At dead on 09:30 we were off, I started with Lisa and the first 2 miles wound through the city centre towards the river Liffey and over the James Joyce Bridge, there were plenty of spectators lining the route, some still staggering home from their Saturday night out !! At mile 3 we headed into Phoenix Park, past Dublin Zoo, I knew from previously doing the “Rock n Roll Dublin Half” that Phoenix Park was huge and I’d read that the 2 miles through the centre of the park was a tough uphill slog – but I knew that Sally, Helen, Cal and Sam were planning on supporting in the park so I spent 2 miles scanning the crowds looking for the Massey flag !! Right towards the end, I heard them !!! jumping up and down waving the flag and it was such a boost to see them, a quick hug/kiss and then a photo and I carried on towards Castleknock feeling great. The support at this part was huge, there were DJ stations pumping out dance music and the crowds were shouting and waving, I felt really choked up and close to tears at many points during the run.
The route then headed south, went back into Phoenix park again, with fantastic autumn views of the beautiful trees, it was also relatively downhill. We crossed the river Liffey again and continued south towards the half way point. There was another dedicated cheering point at 13 miles and I checked my watch and was I pottering along quite nicely.
Between mile 14 and 20 I can’t really remember much about the areas we ran through, the support was still fantastic and I’d got my name on my vest for the first time and the shouts of “Come on Catty” were fab, I tried to smile and put my thumbs up where possible. All the water stations were well manned, and the amount of jellies and fruit from the spectators was great.
At mile 20 I knew the race was just starting, I’d read lots of Dublin race reports and was quite worried about the “heart break hill” they kept mentioning, but I didn’t seem to notice it and it was actually an incline rather than a hill !! plenty were walking but I was focussed on keeping going at this stage, I kept thinking I’ve not run 20 miles to start walking now. The roads were in quite bad condition in places, so I focussed on the white line in the middle and kept plodding along, making sure I didn’t twist my ankle or stumble on a speed bump.
At mile 22-23 we went around University College Dublin and on the UCD flyover, this was near Carmel & Lisa’s hotel as they’d mentioned it was 3 miles into town. At this stage I was starting to look at my watch a lot more, and making calculations in my head about times etc.. the typical “only a parkrun” statement flew into my head but I was still determined “not to count my chickens yet”.
We then ran past the RDS, I still felt quite strong and was passing more runners than were passing me – this was a good feeling. The crowds at this stage were still as noisy, and were about 3 deep at the side of the road.
My watch beeped for 26 miles and I still couldn’t see the finish arch (maybe it was my eyesight !!) and the final 0.2 mile was the longest EVER !!! I then spotted the blue carpet and knew I done it – I’d finished my fourth marathon, got a PB and smashed a sub 4:30. To say I was chuffed and tearful is an understatement !!!
Fab huge chunky medal, a great long sleeved zipped top, a goody bag filled with food and I wandered towards the baggage area – I bumped into Carmel and Catherine, picked up my bag, put on some warm clothes and then got a message that Lisa had finished too ! After wandering around for a bit we all met up, had a hot soup and staggered back towards our hotels. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, I somehow found my way into a pub – had a beer and a Guinness purely to re-fuel ! and then another to make sure I re-fuelled sufficiently !
In summary if you like big races, like noisy crowds, like a chunky medal, like lots of freebies then this is one marathon you should definitely do – 10/10 Dublin.