I'd heard mixed reports on the course ranging from "not too bad after the first hill" to "all hills apart from the flat section along the motorway". I'd go with the latter, a very undulating course. Not steep hills, but long drags that really had you working.
I got a taste of the first climb as you exit the town on the warm-up. I bumped into Colm and we jogged a few kms. The weather was mixed, windy and raining one minute, then it would clear the next. Thankfully for the race the weather behaved.
Of the course, it was a P shaped affair. The loop was probably just over a mile, with the balance being made up of the road out and back into town. There seemed to be a decent turn-out and we were soon underway.
I went to the front with Roger Barrett and we ran stride for stride up the first hill. After that, there was a long downhill section where we passed through the first mile. Then more climbing and on a few occasions I threw in a few surges which were all covered off. I think it was somewhere before the second mile that I managed to open up a small gap and feeling good I was again trying to lift the pace.
The section along the motorway was great. Nice flat terrain running with the wind and I felt strong and was opening up a nice lead. That was short lived as I turned off the motorway for the run back into town there were more hills and I started to struggle. That's how it remained for the last couple of miles, just gritting it out. The start of the last mile was the long uphill drag, then a nice descent before a flat section of about 400m to the finish line.
I crossed the line in 26:04 for another win and although the time wasn't particularly quick, it's still the equivalent of a sub 26 minute 8km on a challenging course. Happy enough with that given I've raced 3 times in 8 days.
I finished up with a couple of miles warm-down so that's 13.2km for the day. Another good race in the Mayo league. I'd recommend these races to anyone thinking of giving them a go.
Here are the mile splits:
Total 26:04 (3:14/km pace)