Friday, 5 July 2013

Marathon No. 40

The Waterford Viking Marathon last Saturday was my 40th Marathon/Ultra and 13th this year - I certainly have gone off the deep end over the last few months. Technically Waterford was an ultra as mile 1 was in fact 1.2 miles long, adding 0.2 miles to the overall course. This was not confirmed to us until Mile 21, which made pacing the 3:15 group all the more difficult. We were over a minute behind at all the early mile markers, not willing to push the pace to catch up in case the overall distance would come good. When we crossed the halfway timing mat in Tramore about 40 seconds behind our 13.1 mile target we decided to start banking a little more time as insurance against the possibility of having to run a longer course.
Mile 14ish - Tramore Promenade
The sun came out as we hit the sea front at Tramore making for more challenging running conditions, particularly on the short sharp hill up through the centre of the town. From here to the finish the rate of attrition began to increase and the temperature increased as we returned along the undulating road to Waterford.
 By mile 21, when I was told that the course was actually 0.2 miles longer, I was about 5 seconds behind on the mile marker and only had two runners on my shoulder. Over the next couple of miles these two fell off the pace, which was made all the more challenging by the fact that I had to increase the pace marginally to build some cushion on a 3:15 finish. While it may not have appeared much, increasing the pace by 5 seconds per mile over the last 5 miles of a marathon, can be the straw that breaks the camels back for those that are running at the limit of their ability. My fellow pacer was about 40 seconds ahead of me at mile 23, obviously more concerned than I about making the 3:15 deadline ;-).
The last few miles of the course was all about trying to encourage those that I came across to run with me to the finish, with all but one unable to take me up on my offer. So over the last mile I had one guy with me, who ran ahead to come in under 3:14,  followed by yours truly in 3:14:27 - delighted that I had the endurance base to complete the course the day after racing a 10k PB. One of the guys who had dropped off the pace at mile 22, suddenly came sprinting out of nowhere to collapse across the line a few seconds under 3:15, straight into a waiting wheelchair and the medical tent - reminiscent on my own wobble across the line in Dublin 2011.
 Apart from the serious error over the length of the opening mile, the marathon was well organised and supported on what turned out to be a beautiful if somewhat warm day on an interesting and challenging course. Apparently the City Council extended the barriers on the mile 1 out and back section along the City Quays to avoid roadworks, inadvertently adding 0.2 miles to the course without informing the organisers!!!

That's the end of marathons for a few weeks as I am steering clear of the Sixmilebridge 10 in 10 in order to save my marriage ;-) With 2 down and 8 to go, best of luck to all those competing.


  1. Great pacing job. Last thing you need is a marathon .2 miles long!

    I've got a side bet that Thomas is headed for divorce after the 10 in 10 ;-)

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