I kept a lid on the celebrations yesterday evening and awoke to a glorious day - very still and sunny and looked to be just about as good a day for racing that you could hope for.
The race this year had been moved from Renmore into the centre of Galway. Upon arrival I ran the guts of the course with Sean and Timmie and I have to admit I did have my reservations about the route as there were lots of areas where traffic could be a big issue. In what turned out to be a superbly organised event, the marshaling on the day was first class and I didn't hear of any problems. Well done as it must be a logistical nightmare to put on a race like this in the city centre.
A good turnout with over 300 toeing the line. This race has very fond memories for me as I have managed to win it the last couple of years so I was keen to put in a good performance. The gun sounded and Kenny Rogers went straight to the front leaving me and Damien Landers from Clare chasing.
The first km was into a slight breeze but the pace was quick. I went through the first km in 3:02 and Kenny had already opened up a slight gap. As we made a right hand turn just after 1km I was already feeling the pinch and I was trying to hang on to Damien without much joy. There was a slight climb at this point as we made our way through a few back streets before crossing the main road and then taking a left hand turn along the canal. Damien was still just in front and Kenny had opened up a decent lead. Somewhere along this section I closed in on Damien and I think we swapped the lead a few times.
A right turn at the end of the canal as we ran round the back of the Cathedral. I was now in second position. I was feeling a bit better and tried to force the pace but that proved fruitless. A few more turns and we were then to make the climb up to Eyre Square. This is the part of the course I enjoyed the most - especially the run up the pedestrianised section along Shop St. Despite it being slightly uphill, we were getting some great support from the crowd and it had a really nice vibe about it.
Upon reaching Eyre Square it was time to push for home. I was still in second and Damien was still in touch and I could hear that one other runner was fast approaching. Running down by the docks I missed the 4km marker but knew that it was going to be a quick finish. The last section along the Long Walk was hurting. With about 500m to go Paul Buckley went past me but I managed to summons up a sprint finish as soon as I spotted the Spanish Arch and thankfully I managed to regain second position crossing the line in a time of 15:54.
Pleased as punch with that. Nice to get under 16 and some more good racing in the process. Kenny won the race in a super 15:35 so he was in a different class today.
The first 4 of us ran the course again as a warm-down. All up 14.5kms for the day. I really enjoyed this race and I have nothing but positive feedback. A real treat to be able to run around the city today and the great weather was a bonus.
Here are the splits:
4km 3:14 (estimate)
Here are some photos courtesy of the race's Facebook page.
The start chatting to the opposition (Paul #305, Kenny #312)
And they're off:
The finish at the famous Spanish Arch:
Another one at the finish where I look like an old man: