Another perfect day for running. Registration was busy and after collecting my number I bumped into the Galway XC champion who coincidentally was attending a massage course at the gym. Well that was my perfect opportunity to get the big man to have a look at my dodgy knee and he spent 10 minutes working on my left quad which was as tight as a nuns nasty. Thank you Jason.
A quick 3km warm-up and then on to the start. I had a bit of a panic as I thought I'd left my timing chip in the car but then realised it was part of the race number. What a muppet. The course looked to be a flattish one, though it was a very twisty affair, with a mixture of terrain that included road, gravel paths and grass. The race started and I took the lead as we started a mini-lap around the university car-park whilst following the lead cyclist.
After completing the lap we were already running into the back-markers but the cyclist had done a good job moving everyone over to let us pass. It was then onto clean road and the lead group included myself, Andrew Annett and John Greaney, We proceeded to run through the Corrib village and then onto Dangan. I was still leading but as soon as we hit the paths around Dangan Andrew took the lead leaving me chasing. I wasn't feeling great and struggled a bit around this section and sure enough Andrew started to pull away.
At around the 4km mark I was still in second place, with John a bit further back. I'd say Andrew had about 10 seconds on me so I thought the race had gone. Some great support running around Dangan with the likes of Gary Thornton and the 2 Brian's cheering me on. The river path on the run back to the Corrib village has been improved and by the time we reached the boat shed at 6km I got the feeling that Andrew was starting to slow. Sure enough I started to reduce the gap and by the time we stepped off the gravel with about 1200m to go I hit the lead.
With tarmac underfoot I immediately felt a lot stronger. I felt in control and knew I could run a decent last km to hopefully close out the race. The last km was full of twists and turns and I was of the mindset that it was 3 minutes of hurt and then it will all be over. With about 600m to go we could see the finish line to the left but there was another loop to run around the quad before crossing the finish line for the win in a time of 26:30. Andrew was a few seconds back in second with a hungover John finishing in third in a shade over 28 minutes.
Happy with that. It's a nice feeling winning a race by catching someone at the death but to be fair to Andrew he is in a different class to me and will only improve from here on in if he can remain injury free. The presentation followed the finish and then a quick 3km warm-down before heading to the gym for a quick shower then off to work. All up 14.0kms for the day.
A huge well done to the organisers and volunteers of the race. With over 400 in the race a huge amount of money will be raised for Jigsaw. Here's a photo of the start:
Here are my splits:
4km 3:22 (13:19)
8km 3:13 (13:11)