On the drive to Tuam I was thinking that if I could run under 26:30 I'd be happy. A sub 26 would be exceptional. Conditions were cool (8 degrees) and there was a stiff breeze but compared to my previous 2 races you would take it. After a rushed registration I went out and ran about 3kms warm-up. Then lined up at the start.
Sean Hehir and a guy from the North (Paddy Hamilton) were the stand-outs in the field. So for me it looked to be a race for 3rd. My old sparring partner from the Mayo League Roger Barrett was also there. That would at least give me a good marker and someone to hang on to. The race was underway with very little warning and I couldn't believe the pace at the start. Everyone seemed to be running way too fast and I just tried to settle in and hope that some runners would soon come back to me. The course itself was sold as being very fast and flat and it didn't disappoint. I glanced at my watch at 1km and it showed 3:08 (see splits below) but that was the only time I checked the watch until the finish.
Through 2km and I was hanging on to Roger and sure enough most of the quick starters had been reeled in. As expected Sean and Paddy were eating up the road in front with me and Roger left battling for 3rd. The next couple of kilometres were really tough - we had the benefit of the wind at the start but after making a left turn it became more of a struggle and I started to lose touch with Roger. At the same time I was aware that another runner was very close behind so at least that kept me focused.
By 4km we took another left turn for some respite from the wind. This section of the course was great. Dead flat and very easy to lift the pace. I'd managed to catch a glance behind to find that it was Peter O'Sullivan from Craughwell AC who was matching me stride for stride. At this point I attempted a couple of surges but these were covered off by Peter. Despite this I still felt good and thought I still had a chance of catching Roger who looked to be about 50m further up the road.
This straight section continued for 3km. Just before the 6km marker I think I finally opened up a small gap on Peter. At 7km we were greeted by a small bridge which was the only noticeable climb on the course, then after that it was the last kilometer. I was confident I'd done enough for 4th place but with about 500m to go I was aware that Peter was closing back in. Sure enough at 200m I looked round to see that he was only a few meters behind and that was the trigger to put the foot down until I crossed the finish line. So 4th place in a time of 26:18. Happy days.
Some congratulations firstly. Roger ran a really strong race today finishing 3rd with a time of 25:51 - sorry I couldn't give you a better race today! Peter ran a big PB of 20 seconds and looks to be in great form. The first 2 guys were again in a different class with Sean running 24:10 and Paddy 24:14. A great day and well done to Tuam AC for putting on an enjoyable race which had 630 starters!
I finished up with an 8km warm-down (another lap of the course). I was knackered come the end of that and had to rejuvenate with coffee and biscuits back at the presentation.
A total of 19kms for the day and 93.4km for the week.
Here are the splits:
1km 3:01 (I mis-read the watch during the race - I thought it was quick!)
4km 3:32 (13:10)
8km 3:16 (13:08)
In summary a very quick first 2kms, then a slow 2kms into the wind. Finishing the race strongly the last 4kms. Great racing!