The Challenge...32 Marathons, 32 Counties, 32 Days
Gerry and Ken's Blog...
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Marathon 31 - Leitrim
Brian O' Driscoll, Amy Huberman and their guests had filled the car park of the setting for our thirty first marathon just four weeks before. They had got married on day two of our challenge. Today was day 31 for us and today it was the turn of the lovely people of Leitrim to appear, dressed not in black-tie and gowns but in lycra, shorts and running tops. In March we had only three people signed up for our penultimate marathon but today 95, yes ninety-five, runners/joggers and walkers appeared at the start line. Ken and I were in complete shock. Lough Rynn was the stunning setting and the crowd that greeted us ensured an enormous windfall for autism charities in Leitrim and a registration delay which was very welcome.
Ciaran Reidy the general manager was on hand to ensure proceedings went to plan. Ciaran and the friendly staff of Lough Rynn have been great friends to our challenge, hosting our crew not once but twice over the past 32 days. It is a special place in a special location. Go visit!
One of the "Rock and Roll Kids" of Eurovision fame back in 1994 Charlie Mc Gettigan was there to blow the starter's whistle and shortly after 10am we set on a four loop course meandering around the estate. It was a warm Sunday morning and the atmosphere was even warmer. So many new friends to meet and some familar faces from home turning up in support.
(GD) After my exertions of running a fast marathon the day before I had felt a tiny twinge in my right knee in the last few miles but today it made itself known from the off. The pain was at all times relative but it was sore for the entire run of 4 hours and 2 minutes but it never really caused undue concern, as I knew Noeleen would be able to iron it out AND we had only one more marathon to negotiate.
The route was gorgeous and each loop brought us back to the stunning castle building, built by the Clements family in the late 18th Century. Our Leitrim friends of Mary, Bernadette, James and Lisa deserve huge credit for ensuring it was a great success. To all of these people and to the 95 runners, joggers and walkers who turned up, go raibh mile maith agaibh !
Special mention (if I may) to my sister Katherine who walked a half marathon today. Another expression of gratitude to Ken's brother Barry whose sporting prowess is reserved for a surf board fuelled by wind. Undetered by having no training done Barry announced over breakfast that he was off to walk 26.2 miles. The table watched in shock as he left the room at 8am to ensure he would be home before the last runner would cross the line. This was in keeping with the efforts that hundreds of people had made to make their own personal contribution to our challenge. Barry crossed the line in six and a half hours, and Ken was a very proud brother as he waited at the finish line for him to appear. Ken himself found the day quite hard himself crossing the line 3 hours and 54 minutes. Another valued crew member, David Cahalin, despite having NO training done ran a half marathon in support of the event.
The last 500 metres of my run was memorable as I was greeted by the young sports stars, boys and girls of the Gortletteragh GAA club, a tiny hamlet village that we had ran through four times earlier that day. Co-ordinated by Madeline Doyle (other half of our crew member Brendan) they were all togged out in their club colours and it was a wonderful sight. Also running the final yards were the O'Brien children (friends from home but originally from Leitrim) and young Paul McCool, an eight year old future sports star for sure.
A bout of food poising later that day for me meant a challenging evening lay ahead, culminating in a late night visit to a medical clinic in Mullingar to get some assistance. Many thanks to the medical team on duty that night.
Tonight we are back on familiar ground!
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