The Challenge...32 Marathons, 32 Counties, 32 Days
Gerry and Ken's Blog...
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Marathon 24 - Down
Ken and I both had a good feeling about today. Over breakfast we discussed the possiblilty of being able to improve on our fastest time to date. Not that it was unbeliveably important to us but we are a "little competitive", truth told. We agreed, now that we are BOTH enjoying good health and strength, that over the coming days we might try to go sub four hours. Our strategy would involve "having manners" over the first thirteen miles each day and then reviewing where we stood time wise. The "quarter" split of 6.55 miles read 1 hour and two minutes, within touching distance. At the 13.1 mark it read 1 hour 58 minutes; our fastest split to date for the half-way mark. This was consistent to how we both were feeling...STRONG.
At the start line shortly before 10am on a cloudy Sunday morning we had been set off by Gerry Kelly, the TV host and BBC Radio presenter. In fact we had been a guest of his on BBC Radio yesterday. He was a gent and told us quietly of his great friendship with Mullingar's favourite son, the late Joe Dolan. He is also involved with an autism charity in Northern Ireland so he was delighted to be our starting host today.
Downpatrick was the location and the route was pieced together by East Down Athletic Club. The amazing volunteers and marshalls who cheered us at EVERY turn were out in huge numbers and it gave both Ken and I a great lift. East Down is home to Joe Quinn, a legendary running coach and marathon/ultra marathon runner himself. Joe had left no stone unturned in providing us with a route that was very pleasant not just underfoot but also to the eye. Joe, a big thank you!
On our third lap of four, Ken and I chatted briefly about the possibility of running sub four. Both of us felt great as the miles climbed towards the twenty mark. With six to go we decided that today would in fact be the day and we pushed on, confident of reaching our goal. The miles flew by as we were in the company of Liam Keenan a "gentleman" who was running his first marathon in twenty seven years. Having him on our shoulder for the entire distance provided a welcome distraction as we shared life stories.
With two miles to go we knew we were well on target and barring injury we would achieve our sub-4 time. The last mile was fantastic as we were warmly greeted by the lovely people of Co. Down. Flanked by the PSNI on their mountain bikes, we crossed the line and both of us were delighted to see 3 hours and 51 minutes on the clock, our fastest time by TEN minutes.
A few mentions; To a lovely lady called Kim who battled hard despite cramp to finish her marathon in 4 hours and forty five minutes. To my cousins the Sherrys who appeared from Castleblayney, and to my brother-in-law Enda, and Ken's brother-in-law Pat, who ran with us in the second half of the marathon. Finally to the PSNI who accompanied Ken and I for the entire 26.2 miles. A big thank you. One of them very kindly remarked that this event was his most enjoyable day ever in the Police Force. A lovely compliment to receive.
A truly special day for both of us. Just 8 to go.
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