Firstly condolences must go to all the family and friends of Ricki Savage who tragically died after completing the race. Being the good person that he was Ricki set up a charity page for his run. You can donate here. Although, unfortunately, Ricki couldn’t be saved the treatment given to Ricki highlights the excellent work done by St. John’s Ambulance and the emergency services during all big running events. Thankfully death or serious injury while running is extremely rare. The risks from not taking part in physical exercise are far greater than the risks of being physically active. RIP Ricki.
Again the Dublin Marathon was well organised with a record number of about 14,500 entrants. I slept very badly the night before and after tossing and turning from 4am so I got up at 5am to eat. I was glad to see that it wasn’t raining (although the ground was wet) and it was relatively warm. I made it to the bag drop are at about 8.15am. After dropping their bags most people carried straight onto their starting area but the orange wave runners had to double back against the flow of people coming in to drop their bags. Ideally there would have been a separate exit lane for the orange wave runners to get to their start positions. There were also huge queues at the toilets but that’s always the case. The laneways near the start are crammed with guys relieving themselves, ideally the organisers would put a few urinals there too. Having said that these were minor issues.
It was about 12 degrees at the start so much warmer than last year when it was less than 5 degrees. I felt unusually nervous at the start. I’d managed to get very close to the front as I remember one marathon when I spent the first 15 minutes trying to get past people in front. I started slowly and my Garmin was going a bit mental so it was hard to get my exact pace in the first couple of miles. As we headed up the North Circular Road (mile 3) I was struggling to stay with the 3 hour pace group and feeling quite jittery. Once we turned onto Chesterfield Avenue (mile 4.5) I’d managed to latch onto the back of the 3 hour group but there was quite a strong headwind and the group started to split. I remembered a Tour de France stage where the main bunch split in a crosswind and Mark Cavendish sprinted to latch onto the back of the breakaway! I decided to expend some energy to bridge the gap and have a bit more protection in the headwind which worked well. I had to take a toilet stop and I was afraid I’d lose some time. I waited until the top of Upper Glen Road (mile 7) to go as I’m a good descender. It took about 45 seconds to get going again but I went down the hill at about 5min 50sec per mile pace and was back with the 3 hour pacer about a mile later as we hit the steep Chapelizod hill. I started to feel a bit more comfortable and on the Crumlin Road (mile 12) moved slightly clear of the pace group. However there was a strong enough wind so dropped back into the group for the comfort of a bit of slipstreaming. By halfway I was starting to struggle with the pace again not helped by the poor road surface or the wind.
I was still struggling to hang on to the pace group when, surprisingly, I saw my parents at mile 15. They’d never watched me in the marathon before and I thought I’d see them at the finish so it gave me a lift to see them. Any thoughts I had of dropping out were eliminated by seeing them there! Last year I’d suffered a lot on the run through Terenure (mile 16/17) but I felt more composed this year. Even though the hardest parts was to come I felt renewed confidence and managed to dig in from miles 18-21. This is the hilliest section of the course but I felt confident I’d get through it okay. My drinking strategy was more sensible this year as I took some fluid at every station (even though the general confusion would cost you a few seconds) and had 4 gels with me for the race. I was with the lead sub-3 pacer now and this group had thinned out to just a few runners. Unfortunately I dropped my last gel at about mile 23 but didn’t let it bother me too much. I was feeling okay now and focussed on the back to the sub-3 pacer as there was a slight headwind on the way into the city centre. The crowds were big now and the noise was a great morale booster especially when I saw my girlfriend and some friends. I was feeling strong as we turned onto Pearse Street (mile 24.5) so I began to move ahead of the sub-3 pacer trying to balance a maximum speed (about a 6min 20sec pace) without hitting the wall. Unlike last year it was a great feeling going into the last mile certain I’d get under 3 hours. As I was coming to the finish line I realised I might get under 1:59 so sprinted the last 80 metres or so to finish with a 2:58:56 PB time (last year was 2:59:40). My first half was 1:29:26 and my second half 1:29:30. As it was a lot warmer than last year I felt quite good afterwards and didn’t descend into convulsive shivering. It was great to meet my family and my girlfriend afterwards too.
With no Africans running this year (due to the sponsors coming on board too late) there were Irish winners in the men’s, women’s, and wheelchair races. It’s great to see Irish winners but hopefully the Kenyans and Ethiopians will be back again next year.
1 – Seán Hehir – 2:18:19, 2 – Joe Sweeney – 2:19:26, 3 – Sergiu Ciobanu – 2:22:02
1 – Maria McCambridge – 2:38:51, 2 – Claire McCarthy – 2:39:27, 3 – Fiona Stack – 2:49:07
1 – Paul Hannan – 2:34:38, 2 – Jim Corbett – 2:37:27, 3 – Patrick Monahan – 2:38:54
1 – Ciara Staunton – 3:26:21