#244 - Great Limerick Marathon Race Report

Marathon #244 Great Limerick Marathon done! Lovely day running around the surprisingly up and down course around Limerick. Last time I was here could have sworn it was flat! Managed 4:28 on post 100 mile legs which I was very pleased with and great to catch up with so many of the Irish Marathon Club guys and girls before, after and during the run! Afterwards I was incredibly surprised and honoured to be awarded Lifetime Membership of the Irish Marathon Club which was not only a huge surprise but also very humbling that my minor efforts should be recognised as such. Am very appreciative of the honour indeed and only hope that I can live up to the honour bestowed upon me. A huge thank you.


In 2011 I'd done ten marathons in Ireland and received a friendly, encouraging and welcoming response from all the Irish runners I encountered and was keen to return to the Emerald isle to run some more. The schedule didn't quite work out in 2012 but was detirmined to get across at least the once in 2013 to say hello again! As soon as Pat O'Keefe announced that Limerick was going to be his 100th that gave the perfect excuse to visit for the weekend and with Belfast on the Monday following an "easy" double marathon. I was especially keen to be there for Pat's 100th as he'd done such a great job looking after everyone at the SixMileBridge 5x5 in July 2011 where he'd unfortunately been injured and looking after me especially as I was last every day! The Irish runners are a pretty fit bunch!

We'd flown over very early on the Saturday morning in to Belfast which meant a pretty decent drive down to Limerick and a bit of a struggle to find the expo (I'd hate to be an Irish post man! The address they gave was something like University Sports Arena, Limerick. Like obviously everybody knows where that is! lol) Expo was stunningly unexciting and luckily they only had "Large" shirts left, unlucky if you were bigger or smaller though and we were there long before closing time... never a good sign!


We weren't terribly sure about parking so we decided to arrive pretty early and as luck would have it found free street parking really very close to the finish which was handy. Rachel wasn't running (as she was on a strict countdown to her own 100th) and would be returning for a dose later! Whilst the start and finish weren't in the same place they weren't too far apart so we wandered up to the start area (where Rachel wasn't allowed in) so we hung around for literally a minute before the first familiar face rolled up in the form of Martin Bush who was over for the weekend..

From there it was a steady procession of familiar faces to catch up with including the main man of the day Pat O'Keefe, resplendent in a special shirt for the day! A few photos, got caught for a radio interview and then it was off to the start pens for some more general chatter and catch up.

We were soon off and with Salt Flats 100 still very much in my legs I didn't get off to my usual "flying start" but set off fairly steadily before realising that they really didn't feel as bad as I thought they did and speeded up a bit and then followed a very pleasant 10 miles or so catching up and chatting with a whole host of familiar and not so familiar faces which was really nice, especially as the weather was unusually good for Ireland! (I'd gotten wet in 8 of my previous 10 Irish marathons!) but one by one they gradually all left me behind aside from David Brady who I leapfrogged right until the end (in his defence he had done a 50k the day before!)

One face I'd not seen was Pat and it was about halfway or so on an out and back part where I saw him well ahead of the 3:30 pace group, he was flying! I went through half in 2:05 and then I began to feel my feet rather from the sand papering the week before and my ankles weren't feeling great either and by about mile 15 those hills started getting real steep (they weren't of course) and walked up the end of one, and once you've done one... well... but was still trotting along quite happily and in the residential areas especially there were a fair few kids and families handing out "jellies" (Haribo type sweets) which were welcome as I tend to only have gels I carry as a last resort as not a great fan of them.

There was a bit of a nasty hill at mile 23 which I plodded up where I really first began to feel the "100 mile dead legs effect" and then it was quite nice and downhill generally till the end. About mile 25 I realised if a I got a bit of a move on I could get under 4:30 so trotted along slightly quicker to a 4:28 which I was pretty pleased with a week after a 100.

I'd met Rachel at mile 2, 11 and 20 as the course looped around the City for kisses and diet coke (thank you!) and managed to meet up at the finish OK although was getting a bit chaotic as a lot of the half marathoners were finishing at the same time, they set off nearly 3 hours after the marathon and then there was a 10k after that too.

We then retired to the George Hotel a few feet from the finish to indulge in a bit of recarbing and for the presentation for Pat's 100th. Lots of friends and family duly gathered and Ray (the Previous Irish Marathon Club Chairman) said some nice words and presented Pat with his shirt and medal and then I'd been given the honour of presenting him his UK blue and yellow shirt and medal which was all good!

I then have to say I was caught totally off guard by Pat as he then presented me not only with my Irish 100 club medal but with honorary lifetime membership of the Irish Marathon Club which was really rather humbling and touching and a huge honour. I really will now need to get over to Ireland more often!


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