Race Review

 Born 2 Run’s Gosford Forest Run – January 2017

A cold but bright and dry January morning saw a bunch of St Peter’s AC runners head to the woods for the 6th race in Born 2 Run’s Forest Run series. The venue was the scenic Gosford Forest Park, just outside the village of Markethill. Team St Peter’s were represented by; Stephen Dunn; Patricia Thompson and Marty Timlin, taking on the 10k route. In the 5k race we had Joanne McCauley and Mark Cornett. We even had a couple of course marshals helping out from St Peters – Katie and Paul Moore.Born 2 Run Events began the Forest Run series 5 years ago and promised to deliver ‘Great Races in Great Places’. The initial Forest Run series had only 4 in it – due to its popularity it expanded quickly, with 8 races in this year’s calendar. The Gosford run bearing testament to this with just over 530 entered for the 10k race – and 150 in the 5k. They attract a mix of runners of all abilities.

So what is the secret of the Forest Run series – Besides being in great locations – What keeps the big numbers coming back to them year after year?

I don’t think it is the pricing – £20 per race and the promise of a tee-shirt if you complete 6 out of the 8 races. In fact, you would think that would be a deterrent!

After talking to my colleagues from St Peter’s and having competed myself and now marshalled at a Forest Run event, I believe their success is down to the enthusiasm shown by the Born 2 Run organisers. Jane and Gerard Rowe along with Carol McMenamin are the force behind Born 2 Run. They are club runners themselves from Murlough AC in Dundrum and they deliver what runners want and expect from race events. They take pride in delivering a quality event and listen to feedback to try and meet the needs of the running community. For example, they introduced this year a 5k alternative to their Forest Run series. They now also produce bespoke medals for each Forest race, with the Gosford medal appropriately featuring a deer’s head. Their attention to detail is commendable – Katie and I, as marshals at the event, received clear instructions, both verbally and in writing. They also made sure we were offered complimentary refreshments and the offer of a free entry to one of their future races. Plus past experience has prepared them for all eventualities – as they produced a car boot full of spare toilet roll!To sum up, if you are looking for a race in a great place, well organised and delivered by a friendly and enthusiastic bunch, then Born 2 Run’s Forest series is the place for you!Lastly, congratulations to everyone from St Peters who took part in the race. They all thoroughly enjoyed it and were proudly displaying their medals at the end. Special word of mention to Mark Cornett, who got on the podium, coming 3rd in the 5k event.Paul Moore

Tollymore forest 10k January 7th 2017 St. Peter’s Club members racing were Stephen Dunn, Marty Timlin 10k. Running the 5k were Joanne and Meadow McCauley.Another great race from Born2run on a mild winter morning in Tollymore forest. These races are really well organised and this one didn’t disappoint, being the largest one of the series so far. Dynamo Dunno finished with a time of 45:53 and I finished 50:11 which was an improvement for both of us on our previous times for this race. Like all the forest runs, this is a tough race, with plenty of undulating hills and tree roots to negotiate making it harder to maintain good running form. That said, it was a really enjoyable race. Meadow did herself proud and finished second female in the 5k race, and mention must be made of her mum, Joanne, who also ran a good race despite feeling under the weather.


img_7529Kilbroney 17 Dec-Born 2 Run is the fourth in the forest series from born2run. It was a perfect race day weather cool, crisp and dry. Starting in the centre of the picturesque village of Rostrevor, the fourth race in the series took runners on to forest paths which overlook Carlingford Lough, along the Kilbroney River at the Fairy Glen, and into the impressive 97 acres of forest. A tough course with 2 long hill climbs through forest trails, at times down to single file but not to many overtaking in the steep climbs.I would highly recommend this race for a good time as overall it’s a pretty challenging course. A good fast finish and good support makes this an ideal Christmas race. Parking, toilet facilities and post race refreshments all score 10/10. The craic, commeradary, the great bling all make this a must for the 10k race series, and a great race entry of over 600 runners. Well done b2r!

loughimg_7379Loughgall 3 Dec-Born 2 Run
is the third in the forest series from born2run. The setting for this race is in the heart of Armagh and the Loughgall country park, taking in all the pathways and lakes and part of the village itself, overall a very picturest run for both the 10 and 5 k. It was a perfect race day weather crisp and dry. There is a couple of hills to contend with which you just have to put your head down and plough on, but they come fast and quick and are just part of this great course. Nearly 500 completed the 10k this year and nearly 100 doing the new 5k option  I would highly recommend this race for a good time as overall it’s a pretty fast course. Parking, toilet facilities and post race refreshments all score 10/10. Getting through the winter months is made a lot easier with the Born 2 Run Races, the soup, and the great locations The craic, commeradary, the great bling all make this a must for the 10k race series

Monnowburn-Born 2 R15033611_10211237148706983_912045700_nun 5th November is the first in the forest series from born2run. Starting at Mary Peters track the home of athletics ni it is 1.5 laps of the track then onto the towpath at minnowburn for approx 5.5 miles before finishing on the track. It is my 3rd time doing this race. It is a cold and crisp morning but thankfully dry.My plan was to beat my time from 2 years ago and I’d be happy enough. There is a couple of hills to contend with which you just have to put your head down and plough on. Nearly 700 completed the 10k this year and nearly 100 doing the new 5k option  so it has doubled in numbers since I last did it in 2014 . I came in 9 mins quicker than 2 years ago so am very pleased with that. I would highly recommend these races they are good for over the winter months when there’s not many other races on and the medals are really good.

Berlin Marathon 2016 The Berlin Marathon is one of the biggest events in the world’s athletics calendar. Having eventually secured a place, I was filled with nervous anticipation about the prospect of participating in such a prestigious race. I had set myself a target of going sub 4 hours in 2015 and had allowed myself two bites at the cherry, Derry and Berlin. Unfortunately due to my naivety, in regard to tactics, I failed to achieve my goal in Derry. I set off too fast, blew up at the 20 mile mark, and staggered over the finish line with a time of 4:01. I had learnt a valuable lesson that day. Marathons are dangerous animals that need to be treated with the utmost respect. If you don’t give them respect you will be severely bitten as I was that day. I was determined to stick to my plan in Berlin and with the aid of Hal Higdon’s intermediate marathon plan I trained diligently over the ensuing months. Before I knew it, I was on the flight bound for Berlin.

My wife Mona accompanied me on the journey. She understood how much this meant to me. We headed straight out to the expo which was located at the disused Tempelhof airport. It was absolutely enormous and took forever to reach the bag collection point. This place was amazing and was a hive of activity. The following day was the eve of the race. We had planned to take it easy. So much for our plans, we ended up walking miles that day taking in as many sights as we possibly could. Not ideal marathon preparation though. Berlin is a wonderful place to visit with its history and diverse society.Race day finally arrived. It was a crisp calm morning with clear blue skies, just perfect for running. We made our way to the famous Reichstag building where the throngs of competitors were assembling. Mona wished me luck and I made my way to my starting pen. My nerves were tingling with apprehension as the gun went off to signify the start of the race. We were on our way, all 30,000 of us.

The support along every inch of the way was phenomenal. Bands and an array of other artists punctuated the route. It was a carnival atmosphere throughout and I savoured every minute of it. I cruised through the halfway point in 1:50. I had composed a playlist for my ipod to carry me from mile 13 to mile 20. I actually sang to a couple of those tunes. God help the runners who were within earshot. At the 20 mile I was surprised how well I was going. I was still holding an average of 8:23 minute mile pace. I discarded the music at this point. This is where a marathon really begins. At mile 23 fatigue was rapidly setting in. The demons in my head were begging me to stop. I had to cast them aside to realise my objective. I knew I hadn’t far to go because I could see the Reichstag in the distance. Finally I made my last and final turn onto the famous Unter Den Linden and I could see the Brandenburg Gate in the distance. Suddenly I felt revitalised. I heard Mona call my name as she urged me to keep going. As I crossed the finish line I stopped my watch at 3:43. I was completely and utterly shattered but overwhelmed with elation and pride as I knew I had broken the 4 hour barrier for the first time.

I will treasure my memories of running the Berlin marathon for as long as I live. For anybody contemplating running this race I would advise them to go for it. Berlin is an amazing city and its marathon is one of the world’s best.I would like to thank St Peters AC for welcoming me as one of their members. It is a privilege to run with the club. This would not have happened without them. I would also like to thank Dwyer O’ Connor, Frankie McKay and especially Paul Mulholland who joined me for some of my training runs. Paul gave me great encouragement and put himself out to help me prepare for Berlin.Review by Colin Conway.

NYC Marathon Pre race expo, held in the biggest hall in new york, a marathon itself to get around! really worth a visit. Great build up the night before with an amazing pasta party, in the Central Park pavillion. An early raceday start you are on the go from 5.30am, bus to start at 6.15, took about 90 mins to get to the start from central New york.Very cold bring plenty of throw offs,The marathon, surreal to say the least, but the millions of people along the route, the people you meet, the sights, the sounds, the complete silence of the Jewish district, and just running down 5th ave. Finishing in central park, running with people from all over the world, Awesome! Very long bag pick up took me about 45mins to get out of the park! so maybe choose no bag!  Review by Dwyer O’ Connor 

London Marthon Its one of the ‘Big 5’ (no I am not talking about Eunan, Dwyer, Connor Skelton, Trevor and Paul Mulholland) alongside Berlin, New York, Chicago and Boston; and its up there in marathon terms for a real reason. Anyone who has ever been fortunate enough to run the London marathon will testify to the whole occasion being an unforgettable and truly memorable event. It extends far beyond simply 26.2 miles around the streets of London, and if the opportunity ever presents itself for any runner or would-be runner to participate in the event, then there should never be any reason for hesitation or doubt!Every marathon is 26.2miles (unless you ask Barry Shanks about his experience of the Mourneway Marathon!!) but every marathon is different and unique in their own special way, and every runner will have their own personal favourite, but for me, London is the pinnacle for sheer scale of it all when it comes to marathons. Starting off in Greenwich you pass by all the landmarks you would expect from London; Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, Tower of London, along the Embankment, Big Ben, Birdcage Walk, Buckingham Palace and the Mall…….a bit like the London Sightseeing Bus Tours, but minus the bus!!!Marathons are never easy, no matter where and when they are run, and are the culmination of months of training and preparation, so also come fraught with trepidation of what ifs and maybe’s could go wrong on the day itself after all that training, to prevent you crossing that finish line (biggest fear I have always had is of Connor Skelton watching me being lifted onto a stretcher along the route in which case I could under no circumstance return to Lurgan; but I’m sure he would say the same about me!). London is not simply a few hundred like minded runners out for a Sunday morning long run, rather 38,000 or so runners all running at various levels and for various reasons in the glare of the watching world!

The enormity of it all tends to kick in upon arrival at the Excel Arena for the expo and pack collection. If you thought being nervous was sitting beside Eunan at the Christmas Dinner and trying to eat your own dinner before the Vulture swoops, then walking around the Excel and seeing literally thousands of runners, from all walks of life and parts of the world, and visiting the various stands and demonstrations on show, brings home the reality that this is it; no backing out now; every week during those long runs thinking about getting to this point is now upon you……time to do the needful in these situations……..brick it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As you return to the city centre and your park bench, sorry I mean the Ritz Hotel, for the night prior to the marathon, you get your preparations well and truly underway. As the saying goes fail to prepare and prepare to fail (and not as Eunan Magee is forever saying ‘A Kebab A Day Helps You Work Rest & Play’!).  Every wee detail needs planned out, you go through your checklist…….set out your running attire, your fuel foods and drinks, your race number, money, phone, pre and apres run snacks and warm clothing and then you try and have a healthy, carb filled evening meal (no Eunan not the mixed Kebab with half chips, half rice!) complete with plenty of liquids (no Dwyer 12 cans of Steiger doesn’t count either!). Then off to retire for the evening and try and get a few hours sleep. Needless to say most pre-marathon nights are spent tossing and turning thinking everything through and every permutation about what may happen the following day…….very few don’t have this restlessness, but what Dwyer and Eunan got up to in Derry (one room, one double bed, no pyjamas, & no sleep) remains strictly between them and the viewers of that best selling adult DVD ‘2 Men and A Little Bed’!

Arrival at the underground station on race morning and the thousands about are not the commuting public but rather the participants all making their way to Greenwich Park. There’s a real good buzz around the place and along with the nerves there is a genuine feeling of excitement as well. The run itself is excellently supported by the public – the first half of the marathon takes in the south side of the river, with every small pub open and supported by brass bands and dj’s encouraging every runner, and all this in addition to the throngs of locals willing every runner, not just familiar faces, to get through the race and enjoy themselves! Tower Bridge marks approximately the half way point, before you venture into the north side of the Thames and the final 13 miles towards the home stretch of the Embankment and Buckingham Palace. From this point on the crowds are literally 3 deep both sides of the road and whilst the body begins to suffer, the head starts to wonder why, and the doubts of finishing become increasingly to the fore, the crowds give you that extra wee step and belief that you must carry on and finish.

London can be a very congested marathon in parts, but given the amount of money it raises for charities, it can be a very humbling experience. You run alongside so many runners with a story to tell, a cause to promote and raise funds for, and someone they feel the need to torture themselves throughout 26.2miles on behalf of; that to moan about immaterial things like aches and pains that will disappear within a few hours and days, seem insignificant in comparison to others burdens.So if you fancy torturing yourself and in doing so being part of a running event of global proportions that will be truly unforgettable, and live long in the memory after the pain, the blisters and toe nails have grown back; the London Marathon is the occasion should you be lucky enough to have the opportunity.  Just don’t come knocking on my door giving off next March if you are left with only a few weeks to go to London 2017, and you haven’t done the preparation, and everything is my fault!!Review by Frankie Mc Kay

Dublin Marathon will always be one of the best around for the crowd support.October Bank holiday Monday generally sees a lot of people making their way towards Merrion Square for the bag drop and then on towards the various Wave areas in anticipation of the starters gun. You’ll meet an assortment of people some young and some not so young (no names) and all shapes and sizes. There’ll be first timers or the more experienced but no matter what there’ll be plenty of nerves. People from near and far, all in the finest of gear and gadgets galore. If you are lucky you’ll avoid getting hit by a bin bag or refuse sack on the head.Starting on Fitzwilliam Street Upper heading around the small streets of Dublin towards Phoenix Park but nowhere near O Connell Street anymore. Into the park around the Zoo and along Chesterfield Avenue, you should hit the 10k mark and hopefully you’ll be right on pace. Looks like there’ll be another slight change to the route this year going out of the park by Castleknock Road, don’t forget to pay your M50 toll by 8pm the next evening (most should have finished by then). Parts of the park can be fairly quiet while other parts are maybe 3 deep with spectators cheering all the runners on.

On leaving the park for the second time in the Chapelizod area just watch for the steep descent followed by the nice climb about a mile later to get the legs working. Sarsfield Road may not be the same as around the Highmoss of Derrytrasna. Kind of funny but having completed Dublin marathon each year from 2006 it has only been in the last few years that I was actually able to pick out some of the landmarks like Kilmainham Gaol, this was only possible by sitting down and watching a video of the route (do a search on youtube or the Dublin marathon website for a link). I usually only see about 6 or 8 feet in front of me especially near any of the hills because I think it makes them look flat. Watches will be checked as you near the Crumlin Road for your half way splits.Keep an eye or ear out for some of the many ‘Cheer Zones’ of music / bands / cheer leaders. The support around the course is right up there with London and if you have your name printed on the race number or t-shirt you’ll get plenty of encouragement but don’t make the mistake of thinking ‘Who was that?’ or ‘How do they know me?’

A big barrier is the Lucozade wall around mile 19 which is there to help you by getting extra energy but don’t make the mistake of taking anything new on race day. If you are lucky enough you’ll get you lucozade from the Gooch Cooper. Another hill to follow near the UCD flyover, not the worst hill you’ll ever run but it comes at a time when you’d rather it didn’t.Ballsbridge and you’re near there, you will pass the RDS where you collected your race number and enjoyed all the free goodies at the Expo

Another of the route changes means you don’t have to run around by Trinity College, instead you have a clear runway to fly along. If you are lucky you might even get your photo in next year’s Programme ;-)If you are looking to do the marathon don’t forget to book early to avoid the price increase. Looking forward to this years as it will be the first time (that I can think of) it’ll be held on a Sunday.Review by Barry Shanks