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Clonakilty Waterfront Marathon

07/12/2013

Dumfries Running Club's Jo Zakrzewski headed over to Ireland this weekend to run the Clonakilty Waterfront Marathon with a friend. The race is billed as Ireland 'toughest course' due to the 1300 feet of elevation gained, with resulting steep downhills, and Jo certainly found it very scenic...

Unfortunately an injury interrupted her friend's training, forcing a revaluation of goalposts and so they decided that Jo should run the race herself and then be around at the finish to support him.

Apart from a small rain shower before the start, the weather seemed perfect for the runners taking part in the marathon - about 9 degrees, with barely a breeze. The event also hosted a half marathon which started 800m down the course 5 minutes ahead of the full marathon, so that the marathon front runners only had a few people to negotiate in their first couple of miles before they branched away from the half route.

Jo had decided to run a sensible race knowing that the second half of the course, which contained the majority of the hills, would be by far the most testing. A small group of up to 7 runners soon separated from the rest of the field with everyone taking turns at the front as they wound up and down the country roads, with sweeping views out to sea from the hilltops. The early stages of the race continued in this very sociable manner.

The group was starting to stretch out as they descended a steep hill into the halfway point at about 1 hour 25, but regrouped on the 2 mile long incline. Her usual running terrain around Dumfries certainly helped Jo contend with the hills as she often led up them, but dropped back on the descents. After a particularly steep descent down to the coast, they started up the "hill to end all hills" in the 21st mile. This was a significant point in the race as the pack was then reduced to 4, and by the end of the descent the top men then turned on the gas.

Jo steadily increased her pace to run the last few flat miles at her fastest pace of the day, and was amazed to come home as 1st Lady just behind the 3rd placed man, in a time of 2:48:41!

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