Arrived in good time to register and then run the 3km loop in reverse as a warm-up. My initial thought was that it wasn't flat, but at the same time the hills didn't look too taxing. The road surface was pretty good except for a small road which was 2 strips of road with grass growing in the middle. Plenty of breeze around and would you believe it was 16 degrees. All in all not too bad.
I lined up at the start and all the usual suspects were there from the Mayo league. I couldn't see any obvious gun runners but at the same time there were lots of unfamiliar faces. The race started and we had a slight climb up to the high street which we basically had to cover 4 times (1km and then 3 x 3km). I was in 4th or 5th position, with some runners going off the front. At the 1km marker (3:27) I had decided that the km markers were dodgy (time to ignore the watch) so I just focused on chasing down the leaders.
Slowly but surely the gap started to close and I had Roger Barrett for company as we hit the front. That was how it remained for the majority of the race. I would sit in behind Roger, then try a surge (usually on a downhill section) that he would cover off with ease. I would then go into recovery mode ready for my next surge. After the first lap (approx 4km) we were nicely out in front and we continued our battle.
The second lap was fairly uneventful. Roger was doing the majority of the work in front and I would sit behind and continue my surging. To no avail. I couldn't see any easy way of winning the race at this point as every move was being covered so I thought I'd stick in for as long as possible and try and pull something out of the bag on the last lap.
At 7km we crossed the finish line ready for the last lap. Not too much was happening. I lifted the pace in a few spots but wasn't doing any damage. I'd say I'd tried at least 7-8 surges at this point so I'd almost resigned myself to a sprint finish. As we approached 9km there was a slight uphill before we took a left turn onto a main road. I took off again and to my surprise I opened up a slight gap. I then pressed for home with 800m still to go. I wasn't feeling too bad, and after rounding the final corner I was confident I had the race won. I ran the final couple of hundred metres hard which was slightly uphill which had me crossing the finish line in 1st place in a time of 32:47.
A solid win in a time I was very happy with. That said, all the gun runners didn't show which was a bit of a shame for the organisers as this race has a really good tradition. But as one of the lads said "You can only dance with the ladies in the hall". I really enjoyed the race with Roger and I'm sure we'll have a few more battles next year!
I finished up running a couple more laps of the course so all up 19kms for the day. Well done to the organisers on putting on a great event. There were loads of prizes at the end, plus more than enough food and drink to keep everyone happy. All for the bargain price of 15 Euros.
A good confidence booster 2 weeks before the half. I had that extra zip in the legs today that you don't get when you race frequently as I have been very guilty of doing. So a big week next week, then I'll taper down for the half.
Only 67.6kms for the week. But it was a reduced week of training that was much needed. Time for a few beers now.
5km 3:26 (16:30)
10km 3:16 (16:17)