Wet, muddy and cold. That’s the only way to describe the last marathon of the year. At 8am on New Year’s Eve, myself and 32 hardy souls from around the country gathered at the Le Cheile AC clubhouse in Leixlip, whereupon we were bused out to Westmeath. We went through the usual pre-marathon pictures and chatted with each other about plans for 2013, before leaving Furey’s bar and trudging down towards the start-line. I knew we were going to be running alongside the Royal Canal – however, I did not realise it was going to be a “cross-country” affair…
Completely flat course they said…. it’ll be grand they said….
And so it was with some trepidation that we set off. With all the fundraising activity in December (together with your general Christmas madness) I was feeling pretty exhausted the day before. Given that was the case, I was surprised to find myself ticking along quite well for the first 15 miles, jumping over most of the gates along the pathway.
(Editor’s note: If you should find yourself passing through gates on a country-marathon, never ever do this…it’s not big and it’s not clever!)
As expected, the course was almost completely flat, with the only real inclines being at the road crossing points and the bridges. However, the muddy conditions underfoot significantly increased the difficulty. At best, your legs would be shredded from trying to push off without a firm footing. At worst, it became impossible to go any faster than a light jog. At about the 12 mile mark, I put my foot in a rabbit-hole and hit the ground – thankfully I wasn’t injured. All that being said, my biggest problem came from my own lack of foresight. I hadn’t ran a self-supported marathon in months, and had neglected to bring any supplies other than a few small bottles of water. From about 18 miles in, Finn O’Mara, Brian Ankers, Finn O’Mara and myself walk-jogged in a group – 4 minutes on, 30 seconds off. As you can see, by 23 miles in, I was in serious trouble. By that stage, I had very low levels of sugar and electrolytes in my system and had almost fainted twice. Apparently, Finn was somewhat concerned about me falling into the canal at one point….
As has been in the case in the past, I owe a lot to the generosity of my fellow runners. As they passed by, the guys from Le Cheile AC were generous with chocolate and energy gels, and Finn actually stayed with me through the last three miles. And then, finally (almost miraculously), it was over!
That is the smile of a guy with 20 marathons in his past, and a lot of junk food in his near future….
We’re only slightly over €160 short of the target of €5,000 for ReachOut, with a few sponsorship cards still to collect, so fingers crossed we’ll meet that goal. For my own part, I’d just like to say a very sincere thank you to everyone who helped me through the year, whether by donating, or by spreading the word about the campaign. And of course, have a great new year, hope it brings you guys health, happiness and prosperity (along with plenty of worn-out running shoes). :-)
Photos courtesy of Rory Mooney (see his original set on Flickr here), Pat O’Keefe and Eamonn Dargan.