If you’ve never taken part in the Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon before this year, you’re in for a real treat. If you have, you’ll know know that it’s going to be a great day.
I first took part in 2010 as part of a relay team. I ran the third leg and was totally taken in by the whole experience.
Soon I was totally and utterly addicted to running and the buzz of Cork’s streets on race day was a big contributor to that addiction.
Every year since I’ve been back, completing the full marathon five times in-a-row.
I plan my year around marathons and Cork is always my top priority. Now in its 10th year, the organisation is down to a tee and runners don’t need to worry as everything is provided for on that front.
The experience is what it’s all about and if it could be bottled people would be getting drunk on the stuff.
The week leading up to the race is edgy.
When you arrive at Cork City Hall to pick up your race pack on the Saturday or Sunday it’ll hit you. The place will be buzzing and I can guarantee you’ll get butterflies in your tummy.
The morning of the race is very strange. Waking up and knowing you have to go out and run a marathon is a unique and unsettling feeling.
At the bag drop off you’ll be hit with the smell of hot rubs and massage oils and there’s always a lot of nervous chatter going around.
The walk to the start-line is surreal and when the gun goes a mix of excitement and trepidation takes over with the first couple of miles passing by in what seems like an instant.
Long-distance running can be a very lonely discipline and I’ve competed in marathons where you don’t see another human being for miles.
It’s not the course or the scenery that makes the race special - even though both are great in Cork - it’s the people.
The kindness of supporters that take time out of their busy lives to hand you jellies and cheer you on, the kids lining up to give you high-fives, the strangers shouting your name. The Cork atmosphere is unparalleled elsewhere.
I cannot begin to articulate how important that support is to pushing a struggling amateur athlete beyond their physical barriers. When there’s no energy left spirit is the auxiliary and the Cork City Marathon provides that in abundance.
The final few hundred metres on Patrick St, in particular, are spectacular. The street is packed with rows of spectators and they’ll make you feel like an absolute superstar.
Long after you’ve forgotten the aches and pains, the chafing and even your time, you’ll remember how the crowds made you feel.
Drink it in, savour it and enjoy it.
As always, happy running.
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