Huge congratulations are due to Galway based Gary Thornton who battled some of the most extreme conditions on the planet to place first in the North Pole Marathon.
The Galway City Harriers athlete, who is also a school teacher, beat a number of other international competitors to win the race Marathon in an impressive time of 3:49:29 hrs
The -30C temperatures coupled with difficult underfoot conditions for the race made for and extremely challenging event. Thornton said it was the “most surreal running experience of his life”. Holding a marathon PB of 2:17 hrs, he said it was “very tough after the first third of the race” and a “mental battle to get to the finish”. (npmarathon.com)
Gary’s wife Elaine Barrett took part in the half marathon on the same grueling course and finished in a time of 4.54.16 hrs. Tuam AC’s Ian Egan also made the trip to the North Pole to and placed 19th in the men’s marathon in a time of 6.42.10 hrs.
Folks, an awful thing happened in Boston today, innocent runners and spectators being killed and maimed. It's the first time I can remember a race being the target of terrorism. It's impossible not to think about it and realise that someone we know could have been there, could have been involved. As far as I know, no one from our club was running.
Hopefully the authorities will find and imprison the perpetrators very soon.Category: Running News
I couldn’t sleep. The butterflies in my tummy were circling like the Hitchcock film The Birds. Clock finally went off at 5.50 and I got up – wrecked. This was going to be a day I was never going to forget for the rest of my life. It was Connemara Ultra Marathon day at last. Weeks and weeks of training and preparation led me to this morning – and I got up absolutely jaded – typical!
Prep was meticulous. My wife Claire always marvels at how I prepare so well for a race yet when I’m sent to town for the groceries, I always forget the milk! One of life’s mysteries! My two great girls Amy and Grainne had my food bags ready and packed. Ray said to make them visible – by golly they were visible. From “Hon Kilconieron” to "Never give up Daddy” in bright colours, they were going to be the easiest recognisable bags by far! Anyway – gear on – vaselined to the point I felt as if I could glide the course – I hit off.
All farming duties were handled by my beautiful (but long suffering!) wife Claire and my 3 great kids. Never drove through Galway so easily – so I made the bus handy. Twas then things started to sink in. The bus was full of people doing exactly the same as me! Thing is – they all looked so sane! They ranged from beautiful peaches (girls), to crusty ould lads (that would be men!), and absolutely every thing in between. For some reason at that point, the nerves took over. I suddenly felt like a 5 year old on my first day at school checking my bags of food made by my kids – a strange change of roles!
We got there – as expected highly organised – Ray reigns supreme at his job. The briefing was funny yet poignant and without further ado we were bussed the mile or to the start. I felt strange – sharing such elusive company as Keith, Gerry and Vassiliy etc. but also loads and loads of first timers just like myself. I tried to make conversation but it was very cold and people weren’t in the mood for talking.
After 10 minutes, Ray and Alan let us off. It was great to go as we were freezing. As we passed through Maam Cross the few people there cheered us on but it was humbling to see the greatest Ultra runner of them all Mick Rice give his club mate a big roar as we hit west. He will be back next year.
Off we hit for Recess – wind in our backs –God this is lovely I thought. I made some conversation with some lads but they were going too fast for me – so I had to pull back at 5 miles as I wouldn’t make 10 miles if I kept going at that pace. I had hoped I wouldn’t pay for that later.
My first food bag was at 10 miles. It was very welcome. I got very emotional as I hated dumping the hand crafted bag with all the inspirational logos designed in my honour. It was at this point I noticed the wind. It was quite cold – blowing into my right cheek as we approached Lough Inagh. I didn’t realise we were at the full marathon start point until I was right at it. Ignorance of the course I suppose. I decided to use the portaloo. No one around I thought. To my shock – Marek my TG4 cameraman mate was filming me as I was going into the loo and as I came out Deirdre Quinn hollering at me and JAL going strong with the camera! So much for doing your business in Connemara!! It was great to see them though. James was giving me sound grown up advice while busy with the camera and Dee was her usual “Go on Athenry” self. It was heartening to see them and indeed I was quite sad leaving them. James was concerned that I was going a bit quick and advised me to pull back a bit. I hoped it wouldn’t come back to bite me later.
As I left them I started to tighten up a bit I my chest as the wind picked up. My times dipped a bit as my legs started to feel a bit heavy. Nothing to worry about I thought - it’ll pass.
It didn’t pass. As I turned right near Letterfrack on to the N59 - I was worried. Had I gone out too fast – yes – gobshite as always trying to be the big man. Had I not enough clothes on – deffo – I was freezing as now the biting east wind was in my face. A sudden fear set in on a steep uphill as both my legs started to cramp up. I had to stop. I hadn’t cramped in years and I was never more prepped for a race. What’s going on?? I got going slowly again after it seemed half the world passed me and was glad to get to my second food station on 23 miles.
My legs were heavy, my chest was tight and my times were slowing rapid and I hadn’t even got to Leenane!! I looked down at the food bag and my daughters’ inspirational logos and started to work out a few things in my head. Ok – at this pace and with the way I feel, I’m not going to break 6 hours. Am I going to finish at all? I never had a DNF in my life – by God I’m not having one today – not while clutching a bag with “Go on Daddy” on it! If this was the last thing I was going to do I was going to do this for my kids. If it takes all day I’m not going to let them see their Daddy as a quitter.
So gears down and on I trudge to Leenane along Killary Fiord. Even though I had a reprieve on the head battle – I thought these few miles into the village were the hardest bit of running in my life. In fact – to date probably the toughest thing I ever did in all my life was to get to Leenane. My relationship with Killary is seriously broken down at this point and will take a lot of mending. The cold – oh the cold! With no gloves and no sleeves and a bit of blind panic – I wanted to lie down and die! I had the idea of zip locking the food bag onto alternate hands just to keep some heat in my fingers. It really helped – needs must.
Finally I made it to Leenane – shattered, freezing, demoralised and my times completely gone down Killary Fiord in the east wind. I had two pairs of socks so in the village I had the idea of taking off one pair and putting them on my hands! Ok not so hygienic but I didn’t care. Again I felt emotional dumping the colourful and inspirational food bag which had literally carried me thus far.
Twas at this point I saw George and Ruthann. God it was great to see two familiar faces. George ran towards me and encouraged me on and Ruthann was so inspirational telling me it was shorter to stay going. It was just what the doctor ordered and for some reason at that point my mood changed.
As I left Leenane, Ruthann and George and that dreaded Killary, my spirits picked up as did the strength in my legs and chest. The wind – though ever present – was blowing into my left and didn’t feel quite as bad. It is by far the most scenic pert of the course and indeed a lovely half marathon course. I had a resurgence of power and energy and my times actually climbed back to near where they should be at this point – sadly I would never regain what was lost and would be lucky to break 6.20.
With that in mind – I started to enjoy myself. Lots of people – halfers, fullers and ultras and the craic was good. As I started to pick off some runners I felt the encouragement from them and it gave me great strength. The Ultra on my back was a great source of pride in myself for getting this far and started to feel good about it.
My last food bag was at mile 32. I was going to enjoy this one as it was my last. The guys manning the food stations from miles 32 to 37 were from Clarinbridge GAA and Camogie so the banter was good.
My legs felt good and my times kept improving as we hit the last hill before home. I climbed it like it wasn’t there! Oh – if I could have ran like this at mile 25! Still I was happy – a strange sense of childish happiness just like I’ve done something I shouldn’t! As I started to hear the public address I couldn’t take the smirk off my face. I think I was smiling for a full mile and a half going at 8 minute pace! You can see Maam at a mile out and it’s all downhill. I was waving at the people – you would swear I won the bloody thing!! With 400 to go I met Chris and Orla – my two neighbours who helped me through so much in the last few months. The perfect people to see at this point.
The waterworks started as I approached the finish – familiar faces were there – James, Iain, Andy and Ray and congrats all round. 6.21 was the finish time. I started to explain why it took so long – but I was told to shut up – I had just conquered the Connemara Ultra for the first time. Worry about the times another day – I was told.
Probably the most humbling moment of all was to be presented my medal by Mr Ultra himself – Mick Rice – who said I did a great race. Again I started apologising for the time but was put in my place and told to enjoy the moment. I rang home – to great congrats and told them how the food bags carried me home – in every way!
It’s a humbling unforgiving course with nowhere to hide – and there were places where it won some battles but I did win the war and I conquered the Connemara Ultra! If I can do it - -anyone can and I mean that!
It was late. I was a long time on the road and all I wanted to do at this point was to get back as soon as possible to the most important people in my life – my family. It was a wonderful moment when I got home. I again explained how the food bags with their inspirational messages altered my mood at critical times and literally carried me home.
At this point I want to thank my 3 wonderful kids – Amy, Gráinne and Michael for totally supporting their mad Daddy in doing what he does. And to my rock – the person who has moulded me into what I am, who encouraged me to go out for a run 5 years ago, my loving wife Claire. I’m certainly not perfect husband or father material but they have encouraged and inspired me on this journey and will on many more and to them I am eternally grateful.
Patrick Forde - April 2013.Category: Race Reports
A 5k time trial will take place this Wednesday 17th April 2013 for all fit4life and senior members. Registeration will take place at Craughwell N.S. from 6.30pm to 7pm. We hope to see all our senior and fit 4 life members there.
We would like to wish our very own Ann Moran the very best of luck running in the Boston Marathon today. Hope you enjoy the marathon Ann and we are looking forward to reading all about it on your return.
1. What running shoes do you train in?
My Vibram Bikele are number 1 but I ran the Ultra in my Sketcher Bionics Go Run - another beautiful minimalistic shoe.
2. How many miles did you run last week?
Just the Ultra - 39.3 miles!
3. What’s your favourite racing distance?
Has to be the Marathon. There's nothing to beat conquering another regular one or attempting a new one - and they are an excuse to travel the world!
4. Where’s your favourite place to train?
Simple - The woods in Dunsandle any time of year - pure heaven. Can't wait to get back there next week.
5. What’s your favourite event or race each year?
For a club event - the DCM will always be the big one, as I don't train with the club with work, its a great opportunity to meet old and new faces wearing the Maroon and White. On an individual level, the Ballyvaughen Burren Marathon is an annual pilgrimage for me. There is just something magical about the place that brings me back each year.
6. What annoys you most at races?
The Portaloos. Has anyone ever had a good experience of one? If someone comes up with a better idea they will make a fortune! The Flush thing seldom works - I don't want to see what the last guy was eating!
7. What race, that you haven’t yet run, would you most like to take part in?
I like to push the boat out a bit - so I'd have to say one that Ruthann did in Africa - the Marathon des Sables sounds exciting!
8. What was your best-ever running performance?
My 3.16 last year in Dublin is my best - but my 18.59 at Tony's race on New Years Day this year still baffles me. Don't know where that came from!
9. What was your worst-ever running performance?
My First Marathon was the now discontinued Galway Bay Marathon in October 2009. Went out too quick - I still do- tied up on the second lap - walked, crawled and shuffled home in 4.20. Ended up being passed out on the prom by an elderly couple out walking their dog!
10. What’s the strangest thing that you’ve ever seen on a training run?
Two Bulls started fighting each other (over a female no less - we never learn) as I approached on my run one morning. That run quickly turned into a speed session as I got the hell out of there before they turned on me!
11. Favourite piece of running gear?
My Garmin - lost without it. My radio would also be up there. I love listening to the Marathon Training Academy podcast and I love all kinds of music. Pink's song Try is my favourite running song at the minute - it seems to speed me up a bit always.
12. Who would you most enjoy beating in a sprint for the line?
Niall Callanan. The day will come Niall - watch out!
13. What was the best bit of training advice you were ever given?
I've been given it from James and I've shared it out to many : The day you feel good, run like hell cause there'll be plenty days you won't feel good. Simple but true.
14. In ten years time will you still be running?
I'd like to think so. With running you make it up as you go along. There are no boundary's to what you can strive for and achieve.
15. If for some reason you were told you could never run again, how do you think you’d react?
Not good. I'm not great with bad news and that would be right down there. I know I am blessed to be able to do what I do and it all could end so easily. I've seen it first hand with people in my family.
16. Have you ever been bitten by a dog while running?
Yes. Only once and he didn't do it again. Enough said.
17. Have you ever had to stop for an emergency "Paula" during a race?
Not in a race. Often on a training run. Same place all the time -can't say where!
18. Favourite post-race food?
Hard to beat going as a family to Supermacs on O'Connell Street after the DCM - loaded with vouchers - eating exactly what you want. Look forward to it every year as its a real pig out! But otherwise its the bowl of porridge with natural yogurt, nuts, honey and cinnamon . The only job!
19. Most embarrassing ever running-related moment?
Coming across a couple making out in a car in the woods in Dunsandle while out for a run late - too late - on a Summer Saturday night. I knew them so it was awkward for a while after!
20. The greatest Irish Athlete of all time is/was?
Probably Eamon Coughlan. What he achieved broke moulds on a world stage and he is still encouraging people to out and run. Had the pleasure of meeting him at the DCM expo. He still is very enthusiastic about the sport.Category: Athlete Profiles
(Photo by Don Nyhan)
Lennane seemed strangely empty in the hour or so before the Half Marathon start on Sunday. However closer inspection revealed the whereabouts of the 2000+ starters behind every available wall, truck, pub, outsized runner, etc., trying to get shelter from a gusty wind blowing from the East.
It made for a tougher day than usual climbing the hills while negotiating the blasts but most runners knuckled down and got on with it. One UK competitor did tell me however that he missed being able to take in the scenery through having to lean into the wind so much.
Times were down on other years overall but it didn't take from this event, now long established as a major race and tourist attraction in Connacht. Johnny O'Connor tells me that 70 coaches are hired to ferry the runners and spectators from Galway and Clifden to the three starting points. The logistics of this very unique race require a lot of thought.
Patrick Forde and long time Athenry AC member Aaron Turner were the only Athenry AC male representatives in the Ultra this year, pretty amazing with all the success the club has had in various ultras over the years. Patricks time of 6:21:10 breaks down as averaging 9 mins. 40 secs. per mile, and yes he did run in his "barefoot" style running gear as distinct from shoes. A photo of Patrick's feet from Portumna last year is shown below. Martina Passman, who will be returning to Athenry AC in the upcoming transfer window, continued her ultra journey with a very fine 6:32:15.
A few sentences on the connemarathon website caught the eye: "It was lovely to see Simone Grassi's parents and friends cross the finish line too. Great people paying special tribute to a great man!" Simone was a two-time winner of the Connemara marathon (2008, 2009) and died in January of this year having walked the race in 2012. See a description of his participation in 2012 at http://www.connemarathon.com/simone-grassi-returns-different-circumstances. Rest in peace.
Eighteen from Athenry AC ran the Half and Bridget Ann Walsh representated us in the Full (BAW has been at every Connemarathon and apparently completed all but one of the marathons).
The Irish Times has some great photographs at http://www.irishtimes.com/news/connemara-international-marathon-1.1351783.
See the results at http://www.connemarathon.com/2013-results.Category: Race Result
Tuam AC members have taken part in some of the worlds great races down through the years including the London, New York, Paris and Dublin Marathons and this week a new destination will be added to the Tuam list when Ian Egan takes part in possibly the Worlds toughest race, The North Pole Marathon. Ian flew to Norway late last week on the first leg of his journey and has now transferred by helicopter to base camp at the magnetic North Pole where the thermometer is reading -14C. Ian won the first Tuam 8k race back in 2005 and is still going as well as ever and we are also delighted to report that another well known Galway runner Gary Thornton is also taking part in the race. Gary also won the Tuam 8k and set a course record in the process. We wish both of these runners all the best and we will have full results and hopefully first hand details from Ian next week.
Despite injuries, last minute bouts of sickness and general disorganisation, Craughwell AC fielded two strong teams at the national road relays in Raheny today. In perfect if breezy conditions the veteran men's team of Mark Davis (1 lap), Gerry Ryan (2 laps) and Martin Corcoran (1 lap) won a historic Bronze in the M35 in 20:00 exactly. We came up hopeful of a chance, but doubts quickly crept in when I lined up at a very crowded and youthful looking startline!
The medal was a great achievement considering the average team age of 47, and we beat several strong relatively young teams including Clonliffe Harriers and others :-). I actually led for about the first 800m and as the unfamiliar pace started to bite in slipped back to about 5th or 6th at the changeover. It's a good feeling knowing you are handing over to the likes of Gerry Ryan!
The final day of the National Juvenile Indoor Track & Field took place in Athlone on Saturday with the National finals of the indoor relays. The club came agonisingly close to the podium with a fantastic performance in both the U19 and U17 girls 4x200m races to take 4th place in both races – with the U17 girls having the consolation prize of setting a new club record of 1.49.73 in their heat.
U19 Girls 4x200m - 4th place in National Relay Finals in Athlone
Claire Ryder, Sineád Gaffney, Jessica Heneghan, Maireád McCan
A number of Craughwell AC athletes featured prominently last weekend while representing their parishes in the Galway Community Games cross country on a bitterly cold day in Bushfield Loughrea
Finbarr McFadden (Craughwell) took 2nd place in the U12 boys 600m with Sean Cannon (Oranmore) 4th and the Craughwell team of Finbarr McFadden, Kyle Moorhead, Darren Lyons and Darragh O'Connor taking silver in the team event. Craughwell's Rebekah Flynn and Penny Wells placed 8th and 9th in the U12 girls 600m- very impressive performances from both girls. Abigail McNally (Kilnadeeemna) and Shauna Tobin (Craughwell) placed 4th and 5th in the U13 girls 1200m while Oisin Lyons (Oranmore) won the U13 boys 1200m and Dearbhaile Walshe (Ardrahan) took the silver in the U14 girls 800m.