10 MARATHONS IN 5 DAYS!
EOI MARATHONS STYLE!!!
EOI Marathons never do easy. 2014 saw 10 marathons in 10 days with courses rotating between the coastal course of Clontarf , and its 7 miles of beach per marathon and a 2500ft elevation on the Howth course. If madness is going to be punished, these are the courses and men to give it to you…..EOI Marathons motto of “Marathons for marathon runners” really should come with a health warning and the new tag line of, “Only the certified need apply!” So, between all the tears and cheers of 2014 for all the finishers and the champions, Brian O Kelly (setting an Irish and unofficial world record breaking time in the process) and Lillian Deegan, some crazy Phillipino called Rolando Espina was heard to shout out ‘imagine doing it all again in just 5 days!’ as he sat there peeling off dead toenails…… Suddenly a wry smile appeared across the face of, the soon to be 2015 Race Director, Frank Mc Dermott………..5 marathons in 5 days and all in Howth… a master plan would begin soon…
Its 4am the alarm goes beep, my heart goes blop…the day has arrived. It’s August 4th 2015 and the first day of the record breaking 10 marathons in 5 days as part of the EOI Marathons running festival. It also includes 5 ultra marathons in 5 days, 5 marathons in 5 days as well as incorporating daily half marathons and 10k races and all running in conjunction with each other. I note as I walk to registration that it’s a red sky and as my old gran would say ‘red sky in the morning, shepherds warning!’ even the gods knew better than us what lay ahead. As I prepare for the start I’m met by plenty of friendly running faces from around the country that I know for a long time, and by the new….nervous Italian, Aussie, South African and British runners but the conversation is always the same, how’s the body, any injuries, you’re in for the 10? Ye mad bollix!!! So at 5.50 am the EOI hierarchy give out the course instructions, take the mandatory photo and then my club Dublin Bay RC are issued with their own set of instructions or standard pep talk and its always straight forward and rings through….enjoy when you can, endure when you have to and DFU!!! It’s now 5.59, I look around the start and it’s a sea of DBRC blue and I’m buzzing and proud to have so many team mates around, running all different distance challenges. I’m in the 10 in 5 and I’m joined by club members Brenda O’Keefe, Lillian Deegan and Mark Conlon….I’ll be in strong company.
Day 1: Marathon 1
BANG….its 6am, we’re off…I would love to say that I can describe every mile and scenic view as Andrew Greaney can, but the truth is I never notice anything when I run. It becomes a numbers game for me, time, miles and for the next 5 days, laps…40...39…38... I try to keep it calm but my legs and brain are fighting, one is thinking of the next 4 and a half days, the other is thinking time….I pass the water station finishing the first lap to a round of applause, I’m buzzing….I come around again for the half way mark and my mind starts to play the games already and I ask the question that will haunt everyone who marshalled that week…WHERES PAUL MURPHY?? I’ve gotten to know Paul over the last 2 years and he is a gentleman both on and off the marathon scene but he is also one hell of a competitor knocking out sub 3 marathons when in form and just over 3 when injured, so I am always nervous of Paul, as he can punish you badly when he wants …and not forgetting the unknown Italian Daniel Alimonte?? It all kept me on my toes…lap 3 and 4 came and went and I just kept the head down and managed a respectable 3.23 and first place finish, even if the Italian Daniel did frighten the hell out me with a sprint finish but he did forget to mention he had one lap left!!!
Day 1: Marathon 2
2pm…we are off again only this time RC Frank has decided, in his sick mind, that all afternoon courses should be in reverse…the pain of elevation is immediate!!!,I’ll be honest from this point onwards it really does become a bit like Ground Hog Day! I remember being very fortunate to have club members Stephen O’Reilly, Dee O’Malley and Aoibheann Gaughran run a couple of laps with me, as I made the very amateurish mistake of not taking in enough food during the rest period and faded badly but Aoibheann’s talk of badgers pulled me through and I got home in 3.34 but God I’m tired! This Howth course with all its elevation is unforgiving whether it’s going up or coming down! 4 days to go and I’m already dreading it...
Day 2: Marathon 3
6am and off we go and everyone looks stiff and sore, whether you’re a 10 in 5er, a 5 in 5er, or an ultra. It’s damp and cool; this can’t be summer weather….. It should be warm, with warm muscles and a joy to run in but eventually it does get warmer and as I start my last lap the drizzle begins but I manage to come home in 3.35 and I make a beeline for food, Liege, our sports masseuse and some rest…
Day 2: Marathon 4
Anti clockwise around the hill again, good God I’m really starting to hate the afternoon runs! Not only is it now drizzling heavily in the village but its monsoon weather at the Summit and you can’t see your hand in front of you and you start to question your sanity?! But, as I pass club members Brenda, Mark, Lillian and friends Jerry O’Connor, you realise you are all in this together and part of a record breaking challenge and something very special. Everyone is always encouraging, no matter what stage or how sore they may be. As I pass each lap water station, I still ask the question…WHERES PAUL MURPHY!!! I have the man on the brain! I come home in 3.40 and it’s the last of first place finishes in this challenge, from now on its tired legs and survival mode…
Day 3: Marathon 5
6am looks a lot better in the sun and with a temperature increase. I get to spend half of this marathon with club team mate Dino Higgins who is putting in a stellar performance in his 5 marathons in 5 days category, so much so that on the road he has put himself into 2nd place overall and I’m happy to follow his heels for a while. But way out in front today is day tripper Jamie Killen and he is making me work just to keep him in eye shot but eventually he’s gone and I come home in 3.43…I’m halfway home and 20 laps down!!!
Day 3: Marathon 6
Just as we start, I glance over my shoulder and see Jamie Killen, the fecker is back for the afternoon and he looks so strong and fresh and Jesus, am I jealous!!! Jamie is a super marathon runner and always makes it look too easy but today as he glides up the hill I feel sick looking at him, my brain screams chase and my legs cry shut up!! Even worse, the famous words from Frozen… Let it go, let it go! On the plus side, today I’m joined by club mate and old school friend Stephen(mobo)Boyne and he recalls the stories of our stupid teenage years... but poor Stephen is also very squeamish, so when the lining of my stomach tore and I started to vomit a little blood he was heard to screech STOP,STOP NOW!!! So glad I didn’t listen to him and came home in 4.08. However, surprisingly, the motivational speech of the day came from Gary Reinhardt, as I lay over the water station before my last lap, vomiting, he kindly taps me on the shoulder and informs me “Jamie’s only 15 minutes ahead and you could catch him if you took your finger out!” Thanks Gary!
Day 4: Marathon 7
Please let this day be over and tomorrow we can celebrate…I’m tired, I’m sore and I’m very hungry. I can’t keep any foods down but as always with this week of running, in my time of need, there always it seems to be a DBRC club mate to pace you through and give support. So enter today’s hero Darren Sheridan. Darren recently came runner up in the Irish 12 hour race in Belfast and was now lying 3rd place overall in the 5 ultras in 5 days. So we suffered together for 2 or 3 laps, too tired to laugh or talk but nodded knowingly and came home in 4.05 but still consistently asking the ‘WHERES PAUL MURPHY?’ question. I could finally forget about the Italian!!!
Day 4: Marathon 8
This one is a big blur. I was extremely fortunate to have club mate Frank Morrow keep me company for 3 of the laps, I don’t remember talking or listening (sorry Frank) but just being grateful to have him there, he kept me watered and motivated and I’m very thankful.
Day 5: Marathon 9
BEEEEPPPP! It’s 4am, the alarm goes off and I’m happy to get out of bed, it all ends today. I may be tired. I may be sore but I’m grateful this will soon be over. Everywhere I look at the start, I see friends. Everywhere I look, I see DBRC tops and I feel so emotional, better keep the shades on! The words of encouragement from people are amazing, there is a real party feel to the morning and the excitement in the air is invigorating. Then suddenly we are off and instantly I’m surrounded by my chaperones, Stephen Boyne and club mate and friend John Fearn. As always with these 2, the conversation and slagging never stops, it’s hard to believe they stop for air! As the laps tick by, probably a little too fast, but my pacers are not listening to me and are desperate for Steve to run his first marathon in sub 4 and I’m being dragged along with it and before I know it on this extremely warm Saturday morning its over…3.57 and minus a couple of toenails but I’m home…..36 laps down and only 4 to go!
Day 5: Marathon 10
Frank Mc Dermott has many stories and many sayings but the one that sums up this particular time for me is “It’s all getting emotional!” and that’s exactly how I felt. I worried when people said “You’ve done it champ” or “Well done champ”, the hugs and high 5s only unsettled me more. I may not have been in this position in a 10 in 5 before but I’ve messed up enough races in the closing miles to know nothing is over until you finally finish. Would I be the DBRC member to make the biggest DFU ever….. Yet again, a big number of runners turned out for the last marathon and I was overjoyed to be running with 2 friends who I owe a lot of my running background to. The first is Lorcan Carr, he was my first marathon running buddy when I decided to leave the world of triathlon and take up long distance running. The other being Graeme Colhoun, who thought me so much about distance running when I started and encouraged and listened to me talk shite for hours on end about running! So anyway, we all went off, some like hares and some like snails (me). The 36 previous laps had taken their toll but it all seemed to going to plan and I decided on the last lap I would walk the first half of the hill with my club mates Frank Morrow and Richard Beades. As I tried to run again, my body went into shut down, my running became a shuffle and my shuffle lasted another 4 miles to the end, when I came home in 4.16. But as I shuffled up the last 400 meters to the finish and seeing all my friends and family, the pain disappeared. I clasped the hand of my boy Oisin running over the line, and it dawned on me how it had all come full circle. I had started running marathons nearly 4 years ago to raise funds for Temple Street Hospital with my 20 marathons in 6 months, to help fund the ward that had taken such good care of this little boy, and now we would cross the line together...
38 hours, 29 minutes, 43 seconds and a trophy too big and vulgar to put in the house (according to Lisa!) An Irish and world record breaking event and I honestly now know why it had never been attempted before. Without the support of my family I never would have tried.
There are so many people to thank, so many people I will forget to mention so please forgive me if I miss you out….
RD Frank Mc Dermott and Gary Reinhardt and all your EOI team of marshals, medics and volunteers, it could never have happened without you, THANK YOU so much.
Dublin Bay RC members, your help, company and words of support, I could never have gotten so far without you, I hope I did you proud and didn’t do a DFU!!
All EOI Members who ran over the 5 days no mater the challenge or distance, every one of you did yourself, your families and you club proud.
Liege Miere…...my body would never have got through this without you.
Lastly the amazing 10 in 5ers
Paul Murphy, beast mode everyday and the reason I constantly looked over my shoulder.
Daniel Alimonte, crazy Italian!
Lillian Deegan, 1st female and a powerful performance.
Mark Conlon, fantastic running everyday by the people’s Bob Geldof! (And he’s hot!)
Jerry O’Connor, mister consistent, everyday Mr Cool kept the head down and got through...
Brenda Miere O’Keefe, the people’s champion. If there’s a challenge, this lady will be up for it and most probably win if not close…
WELL DONE ALL AND THANK YOU EVERYBODY.
EOI 10 Marathons in 10 Days (Sept 12th - Sept 21st)
300,000 steps to victory !
Based on the average gait, a person will walk/run 30,000 steps during a Marathon. Can you imagine multiplying this by 10 and doing this task over 10 days. And so it was – The East Of Ireland 10in10 Marathon Challenge was born. The 10in10 was the brainchild of EOI founders Ger Copeland and Frank McDermott. EOI had already been revolutionary a year earlier by introducing affordable marathons to runners and proved that a quality event could be provided at a fraction of the cost currently being offered by other providers. I asked Ger “Why” do all of the work to setup this daunting task. He responded “It’s the Challenge – It’s the next step after a 4-in-4 and it will provide a good platform for the 10-in-10 runners to hopefully get much needed sponsorship for the event’s chosen charity “Temple Street Hospital”. Many of the 10-in-10 runners used the mycharity.ie website to try and collect sponsorship for the hospital. The organisers also have committed to donate any surplus monies produced from the 10in10 to the charity so a huge hat off to all involved for their benevolence.
And so to the task itself – This would involve running the 26.2 miles each day over two courses. The first was based in Clontarf which was basically a flat course with a deceiving beach section and the second was a tough beast of a marathon which involved a 400+ feet climb over the hill of Howth and you had to do this 4 x times. One thing which all runners doing any EOI marathons find is that the lads have some deal done with God or the Devil on the weather front. I would say about 95% of EOI marathons have been ran in fine weather and this 10 day event was no exception. We have had amazing weather for September and this greatly added to the enjoyment of the event. The day typically started out by people meeting up for roll call at 8:30am with the start kicking off at 9am. Clontarf was the first course and before the start we all talked excitedly and nervously about the daunting task which lay ahead. Personally the biggest worry was injury. My personal plan was to run and walk a good bit of each marathon and hopefully get over the 262 miles without injury. Of course others (Like Brian O’Kelly and Barry Casserly) had different plans and would run each and every one of the 10in10 marathons at breakneck speed. The first day brought runners from the wind instrument in Clontarf, along the promenade down onto the beach (for about 1.5 miles) and then back onto the cycle path which leads to Sutton cross. At this hour of the day the entire course was fairly free from pedestrians, etc. so it was a nice way to “ease” into the event. The only difficult section of the course is the beach. We know there are living things on and under the beach but the beach itself really has it’s own personality and unless you traverse the beach every day you probably wouldn’t notice this. I have ran the course many times and have found it from day-to-day to have totally different characteristics. One day the beach will be pretty even and hard underfoot (which for me is good) and then another day the beach will be pure powder which is a killer on the Achilles. However, during the event the beach was in a really bad state. It was very uneven, with loads of flotsam and jetsam littered throughout. Kathleen Cheshire did point out that it looked like the lifeguards huts were gone from the beach and it possible it was seen as off-season and thus they (whoever) weren’t doing any maintenance on the beach. Anyway – it did mean the beach section (for me) was the least favourite part of the course.
As with all of the marathons, runners typically would break up into their own groups and some would be running the course alone. This would not possibly be by choice but rather by the pace each runner was holding. I’m one of those runners that’s happy with my own company and I had loads of fresh music to keep me going over the days. Of course as these were either out and back or looped courses, you would meet people all the time. And what a course of runners it had. We had the legend that is Dave Brady who has ran over 400+ marathons and was on course to run 100 marathons in this calendar year alone – A true legend. We also had a recently crowned Centurion Kathleen Cheshire who always has a smile for ya on the course. All of the other runners were well known in the marathon circuit and all are well on their way to reaching the 100 marathon milestone. Of course we did have one bit of celebrity type presence in the form of Ray Cassin. Ray had a huge entourage each day providing drinks, gels, massage, etc. to Ray during his 10in10 task. At every turn his group were dotted around the courses providing support for Ray but also, kindly, provided sweets and water to anybody that needed it. It was great to see and gas craic. All we were missing was a clacker board and the film crew and we could have been in Hollywood.
So – Day 1 was over and all runners made it back safely and all with good times. We received our brand new EOI medals (very swish) and received a much needed coke and crisps, etc. to replenish lost salts, etc. I would also like to say a huge “Thank You” to Ligi (sp?) who provided us with massages after each day. I believe this 10-minute rubdown really helped loosen up the fascia and I believe it really helped reduce any possibility of injury. Unfortunately we lost Seamus Dornan to injury on that day. Hat off to him for struggling on to walk the rest of the marathon to complete day 1.
Day 2 lead us to the beautiful down of Howth. Again a beautiful day. As I knew I would be slow on this course (which I feckin hate) I opted for the early start of 8am. Like a lot of other runners, I respected the daily slog for Ger of setting everything up and didn’t want his and the other volunteers’ day extended due to my slow course time. For me it was always the first few steps which would let me know if all was ok with the body and I was not injured. I could feel the calf muscles were indeed tight but thankfully, after a few miles, everything loosened up and I was able to run the bits I was going to run on (I had planned to run the flat parts of Howth and powerwalk the rest). I never thought I would say that I actually have changed a bit regarding the Howth course (i.e. not liking it). I now think Howth is a little more interesting than Clontarf. The only real obstacles we had on the course was cars parked at the graveyard on the way up the first hill and the lads installing the water meters (Bastards !) as we come back down into the village. Usually downhill running is a joy and way easier than uphill but the hill back into Howth is so steep that it is very hard to put the breaks on and as such, is a killer on your quads. I also note from the day that the human body (or mine) is crazy. On the first downhill I had a pain in my right knee. However on the second and subsequent loops – nothing. Happy days. So day 2 down and again – all runners made it home with the lead runners completing the course in a faster time than the previous day –truly amazing. On finishing the day, some of us would retire to the Abbey Tavern for a well earned Heineken Shandy. NOICE.
Day 3 for me was actually day 4 for other runners so we were back on the Howth course again. Again – starting out on each day was a bit of a test and the day off (due to my son’s birthday) did me good and I got around the course 10 minutes faster than the previous day on that course. A good day had by all with amazing weather and thankfully all runners made it home safely.
Day 5 led us back to clontarf. At this stage all runners were opting for the early start I think more as a way to get the marathon over before the crazy heat of the day took off (it would be 20+ degrees at 1pm). Again – all runners made it back safely. We did have a good laugh afterwards in the Yacht bar.
Unfortunately Day 6 was to be my last marathon of the 10in10 due to family reasons. I started off the day with the same worries that I would find some debilitating injury during the first few miles but I was grand and truly amazed that the body can put up with this sort of torture. However, I did notice that I was really jacked and started to walk (just for 20 seconds) a lot earlier in the course. I also knew that I had the unenviable task of trying to make up the 26.2 miles I had missed on the previous Sunday. The plan was to do the marathon, take a quick break and then plod on an do another loop of the head (6.58 miles). Again – the weather, course, obstacles, etc. were the same but my mind-set was in a good place. So I plodded on and around the 4 loop course. I really did want to take it handy as this would be my first “Ultra” during the 10in10. I even went into the Italian chippy at the end of the village and savoured a ’99 (Yummy) which cooled me down and provided that sugar kick to get around the last loop. On completing the marathons, I took a quick break and a massage (heaven) from Ligi. A quick top-up of water and I was off on my “Ultra” section. Again – I was slow but was amazed that my body was refreshed and I was able to do the loop in 1:21 (pretty much the same average as the previous loops). Happy and content when I landed back in Howth. Nobody was there (understandably) but Lillian Deegan kindly came out of the Abbey Tavern to greet me home and let me know that peeps were having a quick one there. I went in but was penniless (as my wallet was in the car but the lads had my keys). Anyhoo – Jerry O’Connor, James and Mark bought me a shandy so by the end I was well relaxed and rehydrated. We had a good bit of crack in the pub but I was gutted to hear we lost Gary Seery and Darren Sheridan to injury on this day. Again – Injuries heal and these two fine runners will be back on the road in no time.
So – Alas – Day 6 was my last hurray. I won’t go into the details here but continuing was not possible. All I could do was watch on from the side-lines with sorry, envy, pride and admiration for all of the remaining contenders. Brian Ankers kindly keep the score sheet updated and published each evening and again, I was amazed at the consistency of peoples times (and not just up and the front of the field). Alas we lost Eric Hewston to injury on day 8. Eric is a true fighter and battled through some really tough days with problematic Achilles forcing him to walk a couple of marathons. Again – we will hopefully see Eric back in good health really soon. One thing Eric can be thankful for is he won’t have to listen to me singing the Diving Comedy song “Eric the gardener” again (phew!).
The final few days are hard for me to report on as I was in absentia only to say the remaining runners proved they were really made of the right stuff and battled on to complete the 10in10. There were a few blips in times but “Boy” on the last day people did super times for their final run and some completed the Howth time in the best time they had done it over the 10 days. Mind boggling for sure.
And so it was done. There were drinks to be had and war wounds to be shared and this was done in the Abbey Tavern. Brian O’Kelly was crowned winner of the event, having won 9 of the 10 races and dark horse Lillian Deegan won the female winner. It was indeed a special event which has brought a lot of great runners together and I believe the team are a lot closer now due to what was shared over the 10 days. Here’s hoping this will become an annual event.
To close we would like to say a special thanks to Ger Copeland (Race Director) for keeping the whole show on the road and the marshals who attended each day with a smile and great support for every runner. I would also like to extend our thanks to Ligi who did some fantastic Physio work on us each day and I really believe this kept injury at bay for most of us. We would also like to extend our huge gratitude for the support provided by the following sponsors:
Abacus Building Contractors
Comerford & Brady Trophy Shop
East of Ireland Marathons
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