The beauty but the beast

by Thomas Brackmann

When you read books about triathlon races that you have to finish once in your life there are races such as Challenge Roth in Germany for its great atmosphere and fast course. Or there is the dream destination of Hawaii for all those that are good enough to qualify to race at the World Championship. But then there are also smaller races with stunning landscape in combination with a challenging course such as the one at Wanaka on the South Island in New Zealand.

Race Dream comes true

Since I started Triathlon in 2015 I always wanted to go there to take on the fight with the nature and myself. In February 2017 I did the long trip from Saudi Arabia to the Pacific to combine a wedding participation at the beginning of the trip followed by visiting some countries before the race (Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Cook Islands). Otherwise it would have been too expensive travelling such a long way. Disadvantage: Continuation of race preparation while travelling and using a rental bike on the race to travel more light.

Preparation with Swim – Run focus

I seriously started just 6 weeks before travelling to New Zealand with the focus on Swim and Run since I believed the choppy 15 degrees water will kill me (as a bad Triathlon swimmer). I trusted my running strength would bring through the Trail Run with 300 m ascent by training regularly 50 km in the Diplomatic quarters in Riyadh. For the bike I just pulled out some 300 km weeks at mostly flat terrain or on a gym bike since the ascent was described as just 1000m. I strongly believed I could handle it with mental and physical strength to make a personal best by finishing in sub 12. Go big or go home.

Just before the race – Shocking news

On Arrival in New Zealand just 2 weeks before the race I met a pro Triathlete that raced the course 6 times before and he predicted that it will take me around 3 hours longer than my personal best. In these days the temperature and the chilly heavy Kiwi winds would demand everything from the sportsmen and women. He gave the advice to get neoprene gloves and shoes and even a second neoprene cap. For the bike and running leg he recommended to have several layers that are wind and rain proof to stay warm and dry.  “You have to eat more than ever, and you have to wear warmer than ever”, he said. He made a bet for a beer that I will finish in 15 hours. He was so sure about it that I lost my confidence at all and I regretted that I didn’t train more, harder, better. I felt like before my first ever Ironman: Unsecure, excited, and nervous.

Sharing the pain is half the pain

Luckily I could join my feelings about the race together with former Riyadh Triathlete Joanna Bolton that prepared the last 4 months for her first long Ironman distance. Together with the support of a nutritionist and coach she was very well prepared but still excited about her first long distance adventure – especially for this tough one. Usually first timers go for flatter courses such as Ironman Austria, or UK, or Challenge Roth by chance. But her debut would be a real killer. Of course the reward for all upcoming pain would be the stunning landscape with lakes, mountains covered with snow, and green Italian style trees.

Keep it small and simple

The Challenge Wanaka festival saw around 2000 participants for the kid’s races, the Half Iron Distance and the Full Distance. But for the full Ironman distance  only 150ish people joined. That was a bit disappointing when waiting at the start line. Maybe the reason behind was that Ironman Taupo (on the northern Island was set up just 2 weeks later). Also the cheering audience alongside the course was quite small. Nevertheless they supported the triathletes with joy and happiness.

Good weather conditions on race day

For days Joanna and I were following the weather forecast. And we were really lucky. On race day morning there was nearly no wind and 9 Degrees Celsius Air temperature. That meant no waves in the freezing 15 degrees water. Neoprene wet suit was allowed – same as neoprene extra cap, hand gloves and shoes. We had only the extra cap on to minimize the heat loss. Imagine crystal clear, flat water surrounded by mountains where the peaks are covered by snow. Fabulous! Nevertheless the cold water felt like thousands needles in your hands and feet.

Brackmann (1)

Surprisingly the swim went extremely well and I could pull out a personal best – side by side swimming with Joanna – per coincidence. Together we also mastered the T1 – Transition, put 2- 3 long sleeves on in expectation of the cold wind on the bike.

Rollercoaster on bumpy roads

Everyone was happy being out of the cold wet and was seeking to get quickly warm on the bike ride. Aside of the layers when riding the bike it was also an obligation to have a thermal layer in special needs bag since the weather conditions in New Zealand can change very quickly.

Brackmann (2)

After a short while I realized the road conditions were not as great as they seemed by riding it by car. The surface was very bumpy. So the whole body shook up all the time. There were some peaks on the bike course but I felt ok. “Damn I should have made more hill training”, I shouted when it came to even more hilly terrain. Nevertheless the track was similar to the profile of the Humps course in Riyadh. But the beauty of the lakes surrounded by green hills and snowy mountains covered up all bad thoughts. Joanna was in a great shape and lost only around 20 minutes against me on her TT Bike. Always having a smile on when I saw her at turning points. That was the indicator for me that she has still resources left on the run and her anxiety before the race were obsolete.

Trail running as its best

I felt great prepared for the run course since I made several sessions in Diplomatic Quarters, made best times on short races in Riyadh. So what might happen? Coming from the bike I directly felt its not easy today. Legs felt not fresh as in my previous triathlons. But I started ok on the trail run with ups and downs but soft graveling surface – just like the material in the Riyadh DQ. Aid stations were around every 2 kilometer with banana, water, mineral drinks, and salty crackers. People were friendly and made a great job. Even I know when they shouted: “You look great” – I knew different being covered by salt and sweat.

Up and downs with big surprise

The first 7 km were pretty flat and I had a good pace. Personal best would be possible. But I got trouble with nutrition. Couldn’t eat the carbo gels anymore and tried banana instead. But it felt not the same. In addition the terrain changed and the next 10 km were a permanent up and down, full of roots and big stones. The run was not easy anymore. But this part was close to a river with fabulous blue color. In all the pain I thought – that’s the reason why I came here for. Great! I was so happy after this ups and downs. But the joy lasted only for 1000 Meter.  After around 18 Kilometers there was a steep hill on a road. I thought: “Are you kidding me? That cannot be”. I remembered the Dirab Bike training from the past with such challenging hills. It was such a great effort to run this hill. After I mastered this piece it was a pleasure running downhill to see the lake again and finishing the loop on the trail. In the finish area lots of people were cheering the triathletes.

Beer will be waiting

Out of the blue the pro athlete that I made the beer bet with before the race called my name and was impressed by my performance. “I want that beer”, I shouted to him happily since I knew I will win the bet and even believed I could have a great second loop. On my turn I saw Joanna just 30 minutes after me performing in a great way – still with a smile on her face. It was her day!

The second 21 kilometers where too much and I was disappointed by my favorite discipline. While having 2.10 hours on first loop I lost 10 more minutes on second loop. Due to the challenging terrain and not enough carbo intakes I finished the marathon only in 4.30. Not acceptable! Nevertheless on finish line I got the beer, the medal and a bit of sunshine at Lake Wanaka. In the moment on finish line I am always happy that the pain is over.

Lessons learnt for future races

For future (not only Iron distance) races I need to check up the whole race details over and over to be better prepared – especially when trying to get hard and towards personal best times. In addition I strongly believe that before spending thousands of Dollars for a superb bike better spending couple of hundreds for a superb coach. That makes you faster, leaner and meaner on each race track. So I can start now for the next races in 2017. Highlight will be Double Ironman distance in June. Ambitious goal: Sub 24 hours.

Brackmann (3)

Reflection on RRR 2011-16 & life on “the other side”

Dear All,

6 months out from the sands of Arabia, the dust is settling on my return to the Emerald Isle. The week before the season ending 5km, I was informed that my employment may be ending and so the end of my stay had begun. As I said at that night’s pre –race speech, I landed in Saudi Arabia in February 2011, without RRR, I’d have departed in March 2011. Was blessed to meet Marc Krouse on the second day and this was a direct introduction to the club.

My first race was a 30km on ROC Compound, 6 loops of the American owned property. Mukhtar reminded me it was the only race where he beat me!!!!

I was thrown into the mix running my first of 6 marathons with the Club, 14 days later. This event had a total of 40 runners.

That season was completed in the normal fashion before the summer break where my focus was on the next season and in particular the Dublin Marathon in October. The DQ loop was a blessing and despite the heat it was a regular trail run. Back in those days RRR had running groups out on a Thursday Morning. Claes Spong a regular, along with Margo Benning and a group from Salwa Compound.

The new season and a new rival, the one and only JP (Jean-Pierre Berthiaux). Getting the better of him on a 5 miler on Eid Compound (Race #2) definitely touched a nerve. He was irate at this newcomer beating him and not sure what to think, however the friendly banter and a good relationship grew. On that particular season on the second 5 miler, it was a prediction race. The clock was covered, race watches banned, each runner wrote a predicted finishing time pre- race. To my amazement I completed to the exact time 32:40.

The DQ training definitely showed as I completed Dublin marathon in 3:08, 11 minutes quicker than the previous year.

Dubai Marathon in January 2012, RRR sent a strong team of 20, crossed the line 3:05- a stress free run in 96th place with Mo Foustok on 2:52. Liz Laughton, the then Chairperson was the first female home. RRR got 5th place in the team event. The following week I won the 30km in 2:08 at the ROC Compound, a winning margin of 12 minutes. Margo Benning was a great encouragement on the day.

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The marathon that year was a tough one in the rising heat. Highlight was getting the better of Gathon, a French national who was extremely competitive. We were together until I let loose at 37km to beat him by 7 minutes. Joined the committee at the end of season party.

Summer again and the DQ, with the same objectives. The famous Camp JP (Third Airport) was a regular outing. Chris Dennison a regular running partner at that time. Dublin went well with a PB 3:03.

A season highlight was getting past Gary McGregor in the marathon. Passing at the 34km mark was a great achievement as he was saying pre- race 3:10 was his target. Another great rival which was in good spirits of course.

My fitness slipped the next two seasons, combination of an excessive work load and life in general. Saying that in 2013, put 7 marathons together. Bahrain Road Runners in February, London and Boston within 8 days of each other, the   notable ones. The Boston Bombs and the distress caused will be etched on my mind for ever. The races came and went as the records will show. Working on the committee a real highlight and meeting so many people.

Another highlight was the 5km run at Kingdom Compound in 2014, where for the first lap went toe and toe with “big beard” before breaking him to win by 23 seconds.

People came, departed and some returned, Gary in particular a welcome renewal of the rivalry.

Getting past Gary on the 2014 Dubai at 28km, his only words were, “Cusack you’re a machine”. JP finished 100 metres in front of me, and of course he beat me, the only thing was he started at the front (the exact frontline), I was 31 seconds in the lead, something we discussed on the flight back….. JP was aware that  I was close as Richard Slater was shouting my name from the grandstands. JP just looked around at that point. JP was impossible to beat the next season however only getting the better of him once. Last season I beat him each time, something I was aware off entering what was to be my final race (for now at least). JP you’re a legend in my and other people’s eyes and a huge thank you for the memories and training tips.

Then there was Thomas Brackmann, who transformed from a 3:55 Dubai in 2012 into a total different animal. He once told Mukhtar he enjoyed beating me. Thomas I recall you walking up the hill in Dirab not so long ago, see you at a race in the near future, inshallah. Fair play you showed the Iron man mentality.

My nearest and dearest friends Mukhtar & Claudine, “the good woman”. Words cannot describe the contribution and the friendships formed to get through the challenges of the desert. Long may this continue.

Then Chris Nixon, a likeable character, who thrived in the art of running, leading to Chairperson. Getting the better of me at the 10km finishing line in Al Bustan in 2015 was upsetting. Decided to put 30 minutes between us at the Dubai Marathon the following week. Records show it was 31 minutes!!!!!! It took Sandra to settle him down (Dubai 2012 wink wink).

Mo Foustok is someone we all look up to, those DQ runs together really brought me on in leaps and bounds. I recall meeting him early on the run and completing the loop in 1:14, the legs had been stretched just a little. Thanks Mo, congrats on the new arrival.

We lost a former founder Paul McPartland in the summer of 2015, being a fellow Irishman his loss to all 3 Clubs and his contribution will never be forgotten, rest in peace Paul.

Apart from Dubai, there was Abu Dhabi Striders and RAK half marathons, all very enjoyable. The undoubted highlight was Wadi Bih 2016 – a 72km trail run in Oman, with an elevation rise of circa 1300mm. As this was a challenge beyond any limits, Claudine, Pierre and 2 others travelled from Riyadh. The training from October until February was ramped up, with 250km clocked up in January.

The inspiration behind this was Chris Denison, a former Chairperson based in Abu Dhabi. Off we went, camping on the beach for the night, waking up at 3:30 before starting the journey an hour later. The first 2 hours in darkness under the guidance of head torches. Getting to the summit and u turn in 20th place, eventually getting across the line in 11th, 7:27, the idea of resting took on a new meaning. It was as close to putting my life on the line, the direct midday sun for the last 8km a breaker for the best prepared.

20161120_171637Since my return in July, have completed 11 half marathons, 1 of these in Manchester where I up with Mukhtar and Victoria. 5 x 10kms and a 5km. All good fitness tests partly in the lead up to the Chicago Marathon on October 9th. This race arrived too early, with a hectic work schedule, jet lag, turned up at the start line with little motivation and feeling drained. I ploughed on for a 3:33, a race for most, I found it to be a complete struggle where I just couldn’t lift it.

Working in Dublin, the natural place to train during the week is the Phoenix Park. With a “running boom” in the country, the amount of runners is just a joy to watch. The long evening are a challenge to be honest, thankfully this winter so far has been quite mild with little rain.

For 2017, my plans are sketchy. Lots of regular events at home. Abroad eyeing New York in November and Berlin (If Mukhtar goes as planned!!!!).

The Christmas break will give an opportunity for the long runs, not ruling out Dubai or Muscat in the very near future.

In contact with the Ultra runner Chris Denison, trips across the Irish Sea a definite.

A day rarely passes with thoughts on RRR, the people, and the continued success and joy it brings to your hearts. It’s a great product and dovetails as a much need outlet in the kingdom. Running on Ranco Farm, my favourite by a long way, there is something unique on the course, with the hanging branches being a real feature.

A thank you to all, committee under the leadership of Richard, past committee members, fellow runners and others I cannot name all (apologies), but you know who you are. The continued success and growth will ensure a healthy future.

In summary, without RRR my stay in the kingdom would have been short lived. Highlights on my 6 seasons was meeting my now wife, Cristina Gelasin, having two gorgeous children, Oisin & Einin.

RRR second on the list with so much to look back on, followed by the Hash, Tri Club & Naomh Alee GAA Club.

God bless you all, don’t be a stranger, your always welcome to this part of the world. Best wishes for 2017 and let the journey continue.

Padraig

padraigcusack@gmail.com

00353 870637396

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Thomas Brackmann – Ironman Mallorca

Ironman abroad but at home

If you want to combine a nice challenging Ironman Triathlon Race with the spirit of vacation but still having the being home feel – then Ironman Mallorca is the best option for an average Riyadh Triathlete expat. Nearly 80 percent of all participants in Mallorca are either British or German. No wonder the island of Mallorca is a favorite touristic spot for both: Germans and British for their summer holidays. In 2016 Ironman Mallorca took place for the 3rd time on 24th of September. For me it was perfect because we had a long weekend due to Saudi National Day.

It should have been my 2nd Ironman Race in 2016 after Frankfurt in July. But after terrible accident I had to cancel my planned personal best time in Frankfurt and I wasn’t sure if I can get recovered from my collar bone injury until Ironman Mallorca even. Despite of having a break of any kind of sport activity in June and July I believed my body would heal and I could catch up with all training that I assumed to have in for having a descent finish. From previous Ironman races I knew how to quickly getting back into shape, balancing the progress to prevent injury but also keeping an eye on the healing bone.

Final preparations

Knowing there will be an open water ocean swim and considering swim my worst discipline plus constraints because of my damaged shoulder I tried to put more effort in swim preparation. I ended up with a weekly mileage of around 8 Km in the pool.  The longest shot was for about 5 kilometers. Similar I did my training with the bike. Mallorca is quite hilly and has an ascent of about 1500m in total. Therefore I trained in Dirab and made as well long shots with a day mileage of up to 200 km. Weekly mileage for 3 weeks in a row: 300 km. Plus I trained with our best bikers in town: Irish Powerman Gareth Gallagher, Swedish Kona hope Kris, 3 x Ironman Finisher Katharina, and Wheelers Chairman Clemens. So I could steal some tips and mental support. For Running I didn’t put that much effort in. I had max only 60-70 km on the weekly clock. The muscles and the limited time were the constraint here. In total I focused on long shots. No sprints, no intervals, pure mileage here. Even with running hero Majed I had only a coffee for psychologic preparation.  So I felt ready for my third Ironman. I knew: When I enter the water I will finish the race and get the medal. I aimed to finish in around 14 hours considering all constraints that I faced.

Arrival and rental Bike

I arrived 2 nights before the race at Palma Airport and I had pre-arranged a personal driver that should bring me to a bike rental place (Palma on bike). There I ordered a Carbon race bike since Riyadh Airport still were not able to transport my bike, a shipping were too complicated and anyways I wanted to return via Algiers (Algeria) to get a country point. So I thought overall racing an Ironman on a descent Road bike should be ok. I made the fitting just as a quick 5 minutes job (saddle height, breaks, gears) and fixed extra TT Handle bars. So it was sorted. My hostel was only 500 meters away from the Expo Area so I could walk to Start, Finish, and registration. Basically that’s the good point in Mallorca that a lot of accommodations are close to the race area. Furthermore lots of them have a connected restaurant in pedestrian area with sea / harbor view. Perfect for the after race party / drink.

The day before – Business as usual

The day before the race is business as usual: Easy peasy swim together with a Triathlon buddy from Germany in the clear water of the lagoon of Alcudia. Surprisingly I had a great swim. No pain. We tried both: Swimming with and without wetsuit. Afterwards I had my traditional Pizza-before-the-Race for lunch plus a glas of red wine. Per coincidence I had a glas of red wine before Ironman 70.3 Bahrain 2015 and Ironman 70.3 Busselton in Australia 2016. In both cases I had fast races the following day and was very happy about my overall result. So I believed in the power of pizza and wine. Never change a running system. Strangely in the evening before the race management announced no wetsuit competition. Usually the announcement takes place on race morning 1 hour before the start.. Nevertheless I was prepared for all. Early bed time, lots of water, and alarm clock set for 5 am. Excitement? Yes. Ok. A bit. Nothing major. Not like before other races. I didn’t expect a personal best time – too much limiting factors were in place. But I also knew I will finish. Period!  The question was only in what conditions I will manage the pass the finish line. Lack of training, training in a rush and still not yet 100% recovered. But at least the head was fresh and ready for action.

Ready steady go and swim

I had the best sleep ever before any triathlon: Deep and long. I was quite relaxed. I knew what’s coming now: Preparation of Bike with bottles and final check of transition bags with running shoes, gels, sun glasses etc. Then the surprise: Wetsuit allowed. For me as injured bad swimmer it was great. So: Quickly back to hotel and getting ready. Wetsuit on, warm up, stretching, waiting. Finally the start. It was in waves. Bad swimmers start at the end of the field. The top crowd at beginning. That should reduce anxiety for beginners and makes it smoother. It was straight 1.2 km out and turn towards the land again and having an Australian Exit at km 2.4. Meaning:  You have to run out of the water and run into the water again. Luckily I didn’t have any pain and could do my steady pace. Typically I lose the direction but this time it was quite ok. Extra turns as usual. I idn’t get cramps like in my previous ironman races. So I could swim without any interruption. I ended up with 1.36 hour. In the field it was still a bad time. But for me only 6 minutes slower than my best time. Surprise. That gave me encouragement for the bike.

Bike – Raining Ironman

My plan was to have an average pace of 30 Kilometers / hour during the bumpy and hilly roads on the first half to save energy for the big hill at km 105. It has an ascent for around 10 kilometers and a curvy downhill. After up and down at 120 Kilometers I planned to speed up and to see how much reserves I still have left since I couldn’t really train hill training before and was still a bit afraid of going downhill. Even riding on this road bike and not my own TT Baby I made good progress and everything was according to plan (Drinking every 10km, a Carbo gel every 20km, taking minerals at each aid station etc.). I passed all people in front of me because my swim time was that bad.  Then I entered the hill and was surprise about the climb. It was ok. So my training was enough apparently. But I also saw the dark clouds coming up and suddenly it went dark. A thunderstorm came over us with heavy rain. I was not looking forward to the downhill if the rain sustained. Luckily when I reached the top the rain stopped. All people I passed uphill got me when it went down. I was so afraid of falling again, also having a bike that I am not used to. However the curves were really narrow. I saw behind the little walls of the curves. It went straight down 400-500 meters. If you don’t get the curve, you will get the dead. For sure. The pace went down to 5 Kilometers per hour. That was my average speed sometimes. I hoped to speed up between 120 and 180 km to clock sub 6 hours. But reaching the valley the rain started again. I was meanwhile 45 minutes behind schedule. Wet all over. The socks, shoes – all drained by water. Luckily it wasn’t that cold. But the rain and the water on the streets cost an average pace of 4 – 6 km / hour.  The roads made people fall since it was very slippery. Meanwhile the sight was just about 30 meters. So I had to slow down again. At the end of the 180 km I still felt fresh. 6.27 Hours.

Dark Man running

Somehow I dreamed to make personal best still (sub 12). After bike I had only 8.10 hours. If I could run far below 4 hours then I could make it. Even feeling not that well prepared for the final Marathon – the temperature was just around 20 ish degrees and the rain stopped in meantime. So I started off quite nice. Unluckily my watch didn’t show me any pace anymore. Maybe it is not water proof anymore, or the battery died. However I couldn’t control my pace. Stupidly I had to ask other people about the pace they have to get a kind of clue about mine. Somehow I got tired and didn’t have my pacemaker watch with me so I made a just- run- through- Marathon out of it. But also being happy that I reached this far. At the end I could finish in 4.12 having 10 kilometers an hour. With a proper watch could have made maybe sub 4 hours. End result 12.29. Personal best times in transition. Aside of no injuries and shoulder pain free after the race – a positive result.

After an Ironman is before an Ironman

After having some days of break I start preparation for Challenge Wanaka in February 2017: More speed work, more intervals. I believe I can make it in below 12 hours even it’s a hard race since the water is choppy, hilly bike leg and the marathon is more a trail run. But people say the landscape and views are stunning. That could balance out the harsh conditions.

by Thomas Brackmann

Mpi completes 2014 NYC Marathon!

Mpi paris 2014When my sister told me in September that I could have a bib for the NYC Marathon I thought wahou !!! YES !!! ok !! let’s do it !!! I had 2 months to get ready,  … even if it was still quite hot here in Riyadh I was over-motivated to wake up early in the morning … and thanks to my co-runners’ friends support & advice Claudine, Claudio, Nicole, Christophe & co  … I was prepared as much as I could be for when I got there …

Even though, I was stressed …

I deeply wanted to get under the 4 hours !!! ( I did 4:07 two years ago in Dubai).

But moreover I really wanted to enjoy it !! For godsake it was New-York !!!

Of course it was freezing that day (-7degrees felt temperature), it was very windy also but it was sunny !!

It is a huge marathon so you get there by bus 3 hours earlier … you wear extra-clothes that you will throw away before the start (26 tons of clothing were collected from this year’s 50,000 NYC marathon runners !!)

… but as soon as it started, on the bridge with the statue of Liberty on my left, !!! & Manhattan further … I kept telling myself that I was here to enjoy it !!!! I almost cried several times … too many emotions … passing by a church at eleven with the bells ringing !!! … arriving in front of the Times Building & others … and two of my sisters there at the km30, and on the 5th avenue 2 miles before Central Park  …  & so many people cheering names with funny signs and playing music along the whole marathon. I felt overwhelmed with love and energy.

I didn’t get to the finish line alone, I carried multiple people in my mind and heart throughout the race. And if it wasn’t for each one of them believing in me when I was struggling to believe in myself, I wouldn’t have made it…. So thank you so much my family, co-runners here in Riyadh and friends …

The NYC marathon will always be in my heart as it gave me so much more than it took from me !!!!

I have a little marathon blues now … you keep your goal in mind for 2 months then suddenly it’s over. Oups…

Fortunately we have the Riyadh road runners races coming !!! and I felt so proud to wear the new season RRR tee-shirt that day !!

See u soon ….

Mpi

Padraig returns to Boston, April 2014

PC Boston 2014My return to this great event was rubber stamped in late September, with an automatic place. It was a personal wish to pay my respects to the events of 12 months previous. Walking down to the registration expedition ,the theme was evident “Boston Strong” People were in good form determined to “bring back the finish line” another theme for the event. A notable feel of spring was in the air although it was cold enough. The 5km race warm up race was held on Saturday morning and with an 8am start, being very cold I was glad to complete in 21:45, a placing of 676 from 8642 who finished it. Was a loop around the park, down Boylston Street starting and finishing on Boston Common Park.

Monday morning Patriots Day arrives and a 5:30 am wakeup call in preparation for the main event. The historic course starts in the rural New England town of Hopkinton. The runners were transported from the city in school buses, a 1 hour journey. I

On arrival to Hopkinston at 8:30am, we were directed to the Athletes village in the secondary school grounds, and everything you possible wanted pre race was readily available.

On arrival it was apparent the weather forecast was correct, warm n sunny, not ideal for the task ahead it must be said.

The race commenced at 10am, along route 135 passing through Ashland, Framingham, Natick & Wellesley to where it joins route 16. The course follows through Newton Lower Falls, to Commonwealth Avenue turning right onto route 30 at the fire station. It continues through Newton Hills, bearing right at the reservoir onto Chestnut Hill Avenue.

The route then turns right onto Hereford Street & left onto Boylston Street, with the finish line at Copley Square.

Off I went from wave 1 coral 7 on a relaxed pace. A timer was placed every km. There were few spectators as the course ran through mostly forest with the small towns scattered. After 2 miles the reality of running two marathons back to back kicked in, how was I going to get through was foremost on my mind. The heat was certainly a factor in this negative thought. Stead pace and no cause for panic the route was rolling out in front of me. Arrived at Wesley College, well there were hundreds of teenage girls hanging across the barriers screaming and shouting holding signs, all of a seductive nature. Sure tradition being I stopped to give 3 girls kiss’es, more time onto the clock!!!

With this much needed inspiration I ploughed on at this stage, facing a continual climb and accent. My mind was turning to “heart break hill” and sure enough it arrived in front of me. Steadily I crossed the summit to a brilliant atmosphere on the decent. The last 5 miles into the city was lined with supporters who could only inspire in my attempts to cross the finishing line. Arrived in Boylston Street crossed the line in 3:30:51 a placing of 9598, reasonably happy with the terrain that was thankfully behind me, the excessive heat compared to last year and the London Marathon 8 days previous.

I plan to return in 2016….

On medal collection I proceeded to collect my baggage. In the afternoon I boarded a bus to New York and met up with my brothers, Edward & Gerard for 2 days.

Padraig