#245 - Belfast Marathon Race Report

Marathon #245 Belfast Marathon done! Always good to see the Irish (and not so Irish familiar faces at the start and finish, and their backs the rest of the time! Bit of a tough day at the office today after the first 10 miles or so, always an interesting tour of the city, I just had the extended version today on rather dead legs and sore feet not anywhere near healed up yet from last weekend's adventures! Looking forward to an easy weekend next week!

This was the second time I'd done the Belfast Marathon. I'd previously had a go in 2011 (#62 - I have been busy!), at the back end of my first Quad and was keen to return at some stage as I had rather enjoyed this one.



We'd gone to the expo straight from the airport on Friday, this was in a large marquee in front of the Town Hall. Well the number pick up itself was in the Town Hall, the tent was the Expo. So that took a good three minutes to scout for any freebies and bargains... free pen and a Daily Mirror buff in exchange for an email address and phone number. Not a bad deal.

We'd driven up to Dundalk following the Limerick Marathon the day before so was still a decent drive up to Belfast and to find some parking. Asking a few locals the day before they universally declated that parking in the multi-story car parks was the way to go. So up early and off to try and find one, which we did and think we were there rather too early as it was deserted! A bit of a doze and another car or two arrived but that was about it... where everyone else parked was a bit of a mystery!

We'd been told that the Irish guys would be meeting in front of the Town Hall from about 8.00 or so (for a 9.00 kick off) so we duly wandered around there. The benefit of the multi-story car park was that it was close... but expensive (£19.50!). Which may explain the absence of many others...

Had a nice catch up with some of the guys who had run the day before and a few others who we spotted there, Selina Da Silva and Ken Beggs (with ever supporting wife Anne) especially good to see as not chatted for a while.


Being an Irish event it seemed compulsory to be some kind of confusion at the start. I recalled from last time that they have several events going on all at once, including a walk and a huge relay (I'd guess at there being 5 relay runner teams for each marathon runner). Obviously the walkers weren't started at the back but seemed mostly to be just behind the Kenyans! So after the "start" (i.e. nothing much happens for 5 minutes) we were off along a nice wide road in the heart of the city.

The first mile or so was generally weaving in and out of all "Kenyan" walkers who were ahead of us. (Rachel was doing this race on fresh legs not having done Limerick and thought I would go charging off, but I was on pretty dead legs so we stuck together)... note to Belfast Marathon RD - get the walkers to start at the back five minutes after the runners, would help!

The first ten miles or so go through the assorted "zones" of Belfast which is quite interesting. I was slightly disappointed that there wasn't the pagentry of 2011. That had been the Royal Wedding weekend and in a couple of places there were literally a wall of Union/St George/Ulster flags or their variants. The Catholic areas also seemed to have more flags before or maybe just my imagination. Perhaps a sign of the times of the easing tensions that the zones seemed less demarked than before. Some of the "DMZ" type areas I noted have building works going on for example. At some point here we overtook Kate Jayden, always easy to spot in her multi-coloured running gear!

At around mile 10 comes the "Hill of Doom" its not that steep, but goes on for the best part of three miles. (And that's on the back of a more or less steady rise since about mile 7) This was about it for me, after running steadily enough my legs weren't in to this hill at all, not least as at the bottom was an unofficial aid station with broken Easter eggs to munch on. I grabbed more than I should have and meandered up the hill munching them (was hungry!). One thing I do like about the bigger marathons (and that's not much!) is that there are often unofficial aid stations handing out such goodies!

Kate overtook us at some point (and went on to do a great negative split) and eventually, finally reached the top and a nice down hill for a mile or two which led to the dull part of the course, a few miles along a coastal path and then through the industrial wastelands before heading back in to the city proper for the last 3 miles or so.

Really wasn't much go left in the legs by the end, and the endless procession of relay runners speeding past the whole day it seemed was a bit depressing (and a couple of the changeovers were very chaotic) and eventually arrived in the finish line at Ormeau Park.

The best thing there was the freebie crisps! Grabbed a couple of packets and wished I'd gotten more, in fact later tried to break back in but was no way to get through the security! A finish area chat with Selina again then the bus back to the city centre and all done! A pretty poor 5:28, only 12 minutes quicker than 2011. Really was feeling the deadness in my legs, Salt Flats 100 still very much in there, the blisters on my right foot I think were making me move oddly causing some left ankle & knee soreness. Doubles the weekend after 100 mile events aren't the easiest! But a good weekend away and good to catch up with the Irish guys and girls again!

Things I Learnt

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