One year as an ASICS FrontRunner

As soon as applications opened in January 2018 I applied straight away. I had read about ASICS FrontRunner in 2017 and since it’s a brand I always wear I felt it would be a huge opportunity so I thought really hard about what I had to say. I talked about my love of running and how I got to where I am but I was filling it out more in hope than expectations. The thoughts going through my head were that I’d never be picked, sure I’m not an elite runner, I don’t have many followers on Instagram and my story wasn’t very exciting. But if I didn’t apply I’d have no chance. Then an email came in February from Holly Rush and Gareth Pashley. As I started to read the email I couldn’t believe it, I had been chosen as one of the lucky few for 2018. At first I thought it was a joke so I quickly did a bit of research on Holly and Gazz and then it hit me that it was true, I was picked, one of 4 Irish representatives. It was amazing to see the other successful candidates. How lucky am I to be joining them on this amazing team. I quickly learned it doesn’t matter how many social media followers you have or if you are an elite runner, it is about your love for running and sharing that experience. You just need to look at the team to see we are from all different backgrounds, different disciplines and different levels.

First Meet up – Beast from the East

So the first meet up was being held in Birmingham around the IAAF World Indoor Championships. A weekend of meeting the team, running, photoshoots and heading to the Championships. I booked my flights as soon as I knew the plans. But the exciting build up to the weekend was soon in doubt due to the beast from the east weather system. Low temperatures and heavy snowfall meant by the time I was to fly out on Friday morning the airport was closed. I changed my flight to Saturday morning but the same thing happened then. No launch weekend for me. The photos of everyone who did make it was amazing and the stories of the lengths people had to go to just to get there showed how eager everyone was to meet the new team.

Wiggle and ASICS Global Running day

My first chance to do an official event with ASICS came on Global Running Day when I headed to Wiggle HQ where we would do a run and a try on of the new Gel Kayano 25. This also gave me a chance to meet up with another FrontRunner team member for the first time. Sarah Renshaw and I were chosen due to our love of Gel Kayano. On what must have been the hottest day of the year we joined the staff of Wiggle on a lunch time run. The staff got a chance to try on Kayanos and take them on a test run. We had all level running with us on the day, even one who had just returned to running after a long spell out due to a crash. I really enjoyed sharing my love and knowledge of Kayanos with the staff and definitely look forward to doing more events like this.

Warrington Summer meet up

My first full weekend with the team came in July when we headed to Warrington. I was nervous as most had already met up and I didn’t know how things would go. I had followed all the team on Instagram so it was like I knew them all already. But I don’t know why I was nervous, everyone was so friendly and welcoming. We started the weekend on the Friday night with a table quiz and followed it up on the Saturday morning with a parkrun. After this we were treated to presentations from Holly, Gazz and Jan Erik and then from Stuart Holliday who is an ASICS Team Psychologist. The fun part was yet to come as we had our school sports day. The competitive nature came out in all of us even if we didn’t have too much success Team Ireland finished strong with getting the best result in the long jump. That night we all left our running kit in the rooms and dressed up for a casino night. That was great fun and me going all in to get Blackjack on my last hand to get the highest winning on the table created a good buzz. Of course it was all fake money which made it easier to throw it all down. No FrontRunner meetup is complete without a bag full of kit. Lucky I booked checked in luggage for the trip back

Dublin Marathon Meet up

The autumn meet up was scheduled for Dublin during the Dublin Marathon weekend. No plane for me this time, just a short drive from Cork to Dublin to meet up with the team. You can read more about the Dublin weekend here. It was great to have everyone in Ireland for this meet up and help make it a stress free lead up to my new marathon PB.

What are the best things about being part of the team?

Of course the biggest benefit everyone would see is all the kit. Getting to test out new runners and have the right running kit for the time of the year. I will have to buy a new wardrobe to store all of it. But I quickly learned it isn’t all about the free kit. The meet ups were great fun and meant getting to know people out of sporting scene. Being able to get advice from so many top athletes, to being able to answer questions I might have, training and injury tips, motivation to try new things and the excitement following the huge achievements of the team. Being in the company of some amazing people is a huge benefit. To hear their stories and what they have been through to get here would motivate anyone to get out and be active. I have met some truly wonderful people in the past year, people that I will always stay in contact with. And it is not just the UK and Ireland team, a recent work trip to Berlin gave me the opportunity to meet up with some of the German team go running with them.  I would encourage everyone to submit an application.

Las Vegas – Run the Strip thanks to R’n’R Marathon

So it all started with an email to say I was one of the finalist for Dublin Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon Rock Idol. This was a competition where there was a finalist picked from each province and an extra one from Dublin. This started  a stressful couple of weeks in the search for votes. I think people were avoiding me as I was constantly reminding everyone to vote. I can only thank every single person who voted for me. The effort they went to was out of this world and on August 3rd the announcement came with

I had won and now it was time to relax and finally get excited about the trip to Vegas. In my head I had won it 100 times and had everything planned, so to know it was real meant the countdown could begin. I got to meet the other idols at Dublin Rock ‘N’ Roll Half marathon, some who I still keep in touch with and follow their journeys on social media.  It was a tough course but enjoyed the race. It also meant I had part one of the world rocker medal complete. I had done Lisbon R ‘N’ R half last year but missed Dublin so now I had my chance to do another race abroad.

Here we come Las Vegas

The long trip with Martha to Vegas began with overnight in Dublin before flying to London and then on to Vegas. Lucky I hadn’t been to the cinema in a long while because I had plenty of movies to watch to pass away the time. We eventually arrived at our hotel (Park MGM) at about 8pm. 1st thing we did was get some food in Shake Shack before deciding we should get an early night. Jetlag truly kicked in and we were both up at 3am and heading to Dennys for some pancakes. After another quick nap we decided to travel to the expo. We took the monorail and it was quick and easy to get to the convention center from there. It was one of the larger expos I have been at. Picking up my numbers were quick and easy. I strolled through the stands, we could definitely have spent a lot with the amount of choice but said I’d stay firm, I have so much already. We met Stacey from R’N’R who ran through some of the events for the weekend and there was a quick video to make. I thought it was going to be a few questions but it was more of a promotion video. Being Irish I was typically uncomfortable behind the camera but I gave it my best go.

I’ll have more than this medal this weekend

Being interviewed at the expo

Friday night was all about the VIP night in Hyde @ Bellagio. We walked to to the Bellagio and handed over our VIP passes and danced, drank and eat the night away. Ozomatli were the entertainment, I hadn’t heard of them previously but they had the crowd on their feet the whole night.

Enjoying our night

We booked a helicopter trip for early Saturday morning. We wanted to make the most of the trip. So we got our limo to McCarran airport and off we set towards Grand Canyon. The weather was perfect for it. The views were amazing and it was worth getting up at 6am for. Three Helicopters set off at the same time full with a large group from Scandinavian and us gatecrashing their fun 🙂

Getting back on the helicopter

View from the bottom

After that fun morning it was time to get a quick power nap and relax before heading to take on the 5k with Martha. We got the monorail out to the Festival Grounds. No fear of getting lost or worried about where to go since everyone on the train were going to the same place. Just like everywhere in Vegas we had to walk through a hotel and casino to get where we needed to go. We got into the grounds and found where we needed to go. Even with so many thousands of people there I managed to bump into one of the other idols who I was up against for the prize. Tracey Burke was out here to do the 5k and half and had great results over the weekend.

2 Rock ‘N’ Run Idols

Martha hadn’t had much time to prepare for this 5k and I know she would have preferred to be walking the strip than taking on a 5k in Vegas. The corrals were crazy but we found a section to make our way in. We had a long wait to get going but once we got going it opened up fairly quickly. Martha kept focused and I kept quiet. She ran down the kilometers and as the race went on her confidence grew and she got faster and faster. I was extremely proud of her as she pushed her way to the line. A very impressive finish and her 1st race in over 3 years complete.

Deserved medals

Medal number 1 for the weekend

It was an easy trek home via the Monorail again. Of course I went straight to Shake Shack yet again. They will almost know me by name now. Sunday morning we headed to the outlets and did some shopping. I planned to stay off my feet as much as I could but that is definitely hard to do in Vegas. I had some subway and when we got back to hotel I had some pizza. Having a race in the evening isn’t unusual back home but not the half distance. So trying to decide when to eat, drink and rest was hard. My main worry was I’d be hungry half way through so eating plenty early I hoped would help me out.  We walked to the starting area and into the VIP tent.

VIP treatment

Having the VIP area was brilliant. No queue for the restroom, an area with foam rollers which I took advantage of, food that was perfect to fill the gap and easy area to bag check. I was able to relax with some chicken sandwich and gatorade while Martha got to sample all the food. We were right at the stage for Capital Cites but I was concentrating on the race and had to head off early as I was in the 1st wave and wanted to be close to the front to help me get into my rhythm.

Almost ready to head to start

Start line

With Dublin only being 2 weeks ago I really didn’t know how to to approach the race. I had kind of decided to go out as hard as I can and see how long I could hang on. I said to myself I’d go close to 6:30 / 6:40 min per mile. This is a good bit faster than my PB pace but since I already achieved my goals for the year if it all went wrong I didn’t have to worry. I do need to test myself. There was great atmosphere at the start line. Plenty of nervous people around while the countdown to the start ticked down. So I took off strong and with huge crowds around it was hard not to get too excited. There was the smallest of elevation rise on the way out of Vegas and passing the sign. I managed to do 6:31 and 6:30 for the 1st two miles. That was steady and as we turned and headed back towards the strip there was a noticeable elevation fall which I knew I would try take advantage of. The crowds going down the strip were amazing. The sun was going down now so it was finally getting dark. As we passed the start line again there were huge crowds still going through the starting shoot. It was then I could truly see the number of runners taking on the races today. Miles 3 to 7 were consistent and I was really happy how things were going. (6:27, 6:30, 6:31, 6:34, 6:36). I passed through 10km in 40:42, which is my 3rd fastest 10km I have done. Certainly not something I would have expected. Things going through my head was what if I didn’t have a marathon 2 weeks ago. But I kept the head down and said I’d keep going.

Passing the Vegas sign

After mile 7 things started to slow down. I could see as we were going down towards Fremont Street that we’d have to work our way back up as well. Not sure did that play with my head but my legs started to feel some pain. Probably was a bad idea going out so hard to begin with. 6:45, 6:56; 7:05 rounded out 10 miles. I passed the 10 mile mark in 66:40. Considering my 10 mile PB is 69:11 that was a huge boost. I gave it all I could but the next 3 miles were tough. The atmosphere around Fremont Street made me forget about my pain for a few minutes but that was soon behind me and I knew I’d have to drag myself home. I had passed a big number of runners in the 1st 10 miles and I could now see those catching me and passing me. A 7:24 and 7:36 for mile 11 and 12 meant I have lost a huge amount of time in recent miles. PB was gone and now it was a case of trying to finish it out and maybe still break 1:30. I knew it would be close but a 7:42 13th mile finished the chances of break 1:30. I pushed hard to the finish and couldn’t believe it I just missed the sub 1:30 with a time of 1:30:15. The 1:30 pacer was just behind me (he would have started further back) and in my head I was thinking maybe if I did go out with him I might have had a better chance of breaking 1:30 with a more consistent run. But when I look back on it I have to be happy with my performance.With the race being almost straight up and down with very few turns it definitely could be a PB course. My 3rd fastest half marathon only 2 weeks after smashing my marathon PB has to be a win.  I gave it my all and my body felt it. I grabbed water, chocolate milk and pretzels to replenish. I was delighted to get the medal around my neck and now began the long walk to out of the runner area. I posed for many photos and smiled to hide the pain but I was done and it was time to meet Martha but not before picking up my remix and world rocker medal. Plenty of bling from the weekend. I was 155th out of 17100 overall, 16th out of 816 in my division (M30-34) so definitely can’t complain about that.

Showing off my collection in the club

After getting my bag I headed to Drai’s Nightclub in the Cromwell hotel. Does it feel right walking into a club with shorts and singlet? Maybe not but this is Vegas. I got my massage and food and met Martha. She made the most of the VIP experience and had met another runners wife. Martha and Arden were able to pass away the time while Ezra and I were running outside. The club was a great venue and was nice to put my feet up and enjoy everything that was on offer. It was great that Martha met someone as that meant she wasn’t on her own and she was so busy chatting she didn’t even see my calls 🙂 It was good to share our stories after the race and best of luck to Ezra when he takes on the marathon distance.

Enjoying the VIP night after the race

One of my photos on the walk back

And there was only one place to go to finish off the weekend. Yes – Shake Shack. Even the people behind the till mentioned “You got the same last night, didn’t you?” I had to laugh, when it was close to the hotel and very tasty I had to have them. I do badly need to fix my diet once back in Ireland. Since I’ll be cutting my training for a few weeks I better also cut my calorie intake.

Another shake and my medals.

After a long day it was time for an early night. We were on the go since we got here so a good nights sleep was needed. It was the 1st night we didn’t feel jet lag and we weren’t up at 3am looking for food. When we did get up it was time to go get pancakes for one last time before packing up. I’m glad in the end with the later flight because we had so much packing to do. We got ourselves organised and checked out. A quick Uber to the airport before starting the long trip home. LAS to LAX to LHR to DUB. Close to 22 hours travelling from when we left for the airport to landing and then a drive to Cork home. The trip ended up being a bit longer due to being on the runway in Heathrow for 2 hours due to rivets being missing on the plane. I guess it was important to put them back in 🙂

View on flight from Vegas to LAX

What a great weekend and again I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me and helped me win the Rock ‘n’ Run Idol competition run by Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin marathon. What an amazing prize to win. I always looked at the possibility of doing Las Vegas race but the cost of getting there meant it was always going to be hard to do. It was a once in a lifetime chance and I’m glad to have done it. It wouldn’t have been possible but for the hard work of family and friends who pushed hard in the weeks leading up to the voting deadline. And even after that both Martha and mine families helped us out hugely by minding George while we were away. The hardest part of winning the trip was that we would be leaving him at home but they took great care of him that no doubt he enjoyed his holiday as well.

Now it is time to put the feet up for the rest of 2018 and start again with big goals for 2019.


Dublin Marathon 2018

Build up

The build up to the race went better than expected. I avoided any serious injuries and managed a half marathon PB in my block of training. I used many races as part of my runs to help break up the long runs. With the help of the St Catherine’s members doing the marathon we put in some excellent and tough long runs. These gave me the confidence I needed and for the very 1st time I managed to get a 21 mile run in as part of the block of training. Thanks to Brendan, Keith, Pat and Ted who joined me on those long runs. My goal was set at 3:30, I felt I could achieve this.

Race weekend

The weekend started with a wedding in Cork on the Friday. My alarm was set for 5am on Saturday where I set off on the drive to Poolbeg parkrun. The weekend was not just about the marathon but the ASICS Frontrunner team were having our meet up. We would be racing, pacing or cheering on at parkrun but plenty of other activities throughout the weekend. I got up there in time and managed to get in a couple of photos on the beach before everyone came along. It was great to see everyone and catch up, some team members I hadn’t met before so it was a good way to get to know more about each member. We see each other everyday on social media and we probably know more about each other than some of our friends but you can’t beat a face to face meet up and hear some stories, get advice and get to know each other even more. I was cheering on and it was great to see so many of the team have top performances as well as pace excellently and a few PBs in there as well.

Once that was done it was time to get some photos in before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the expo. I found myself on stage with Holly, Lauren and Kerry. I nervously answered a few questions. Time then to collect my number and meet up with Damian and a few club mates.

We headed out that evening then to the Irish Whiskey Museum, I learned a lot from it, some history that I didn’t know that I feel I should have know but of course I was never going to have the tasting but it was good to watch everyone’s faces as they tried it out. Food and awards followed before I jumped in a taxi home, of course I was going to have an early night big day tomorrow.

Race day

The extra hour in bed made no difference to me as I was up nice and early. The excitement was starting to hit but no nerves. Went down and met the team and had breakfast. Porridge, toast, egg and a bowl of Coco Pops was the perfect combo. We had a taxi booked for 8:15 so we didn’t have the extra few miles, anything to save the legs. The weather was perfect. There was a worry it would be extra cold and I brought layers just in case but in the end I only needed arm warmers. We got a quick snap, dropped off our bags and then Peter, Holly and myself made our way right to the front of the wave. Sarah, Becca and Lotta stayed further back. We were being brave standing on the line, now just to control ourselves. I had decided I’d go for 3:25, this would give me a buffer if I needed it.

Off we go

The countdown was almost at zero and then bang, its time to go. I sprinted off like I was doing a 100 meter race, but once I got around the corner I calmed down and decided it was a good time to get into the correct pace. Holly caught up with me and I could only laugh as she was wondering what was chancing us as we went off so fast.

Since we were in the 3rd wave it was extra important to be up the front. It was a strange feeling having open roads in front of us as we went through the 1st few miles. We would meet some of the runners from the 1st two waves but overall we had plenty of space to get into a proper rhythm. Holly had decided she would pace me around, with the crowds behind it would be impossible to meet others on the course, so looks like I was stuck with her for 26.2 miles. Going through the course it brought back memories of 2 years ago and flashbacks to parts I could remember. The 1st 5 miles flew by, 7:39, 7:43, 7:44; 7:41 & 7:41. You are into Phoenix Park at this point and you hit some big pockets of supporters. It was getting noticeably busier alright but with a long straight ahead of us in the park it was easy to find space. It was going through the gate at the end and back on to tight roads was when things started to tighten up a bit and it wasn’t long until we started to hit the large pack of runners from the 2nd wave. As you come back into the park it has a lot of twists and turns and the crowds got even bigger.

The never ending drag with some downhill for a break

The next 5 miles (6 to 10) looked like 7:42, 7:47, 7:31, 7:40 & 7:39. I remember thinking at mile 6, “damn I have 20 miles to go, how am I going to do that”. I needed to get that out of my head and break it back down. There was huge support by Chapelizod and that definitely got the hairs standing up as I knew what was coming next after the Rock ‘N’ Roll half had this as its last few miles. In this section Holly had to inspect the portaloos a couple of times but she came sprinting back, no such thing as slowly catching back up. We met some great characters as we moved through the crowd here, Holly took the chance to take out the gopro and ask them a few questions. We had a guy in full army clothing, 2 guys dressed up as a rowing boat running together, Jerry who is one of Corks most recognisable athletes and top wheelchair athlete, Sonic made an appearance as well along the way. What faced us next was pretty much a long drag through half way. It was great to see Sarah R and Alechia at about mile 12 for a bit of support, the crowds are huge but its always good when its someone you know. Miles 11 to 15 were 7:45, 7:43; 7:49; 7:48 & 7:45. I passed through half way in 1:41:50, that was a whole 10 minutes faster than I did 2 years ago. I was feeling good through 15 miles but the race was only getting started then. Mile 16 to 20 looked like 7:40; 7:45; 7:45; 7:42; 7:41. I was really surprised with my consistency here. It certainly didn’t feel like it but I was knocking out some steady miles. But after this is where the marathon really begins, it is the time where people start to slow down

The miles started to get hard, almost as hard as the Jelly Beans

Miles 21 to 26 were 7:44; 7:46; 7:39; 7:33; 7:52; 8:00. This is where things started to get tough and if I was on my own I’d have so easily have given up or dropped off the pace. I felt a bit light headed at around mile 21 so I asked Holly to grab me jellys next time she saw someone giving them out. And she did, I grabbed them, threw them in my mouth and was expecting some soft haribo but instead they were rock solid jelly beans. My back tooth didn’t agree with them and next thing I know I’m chewing on bits of my tooth. I had somehow cracked my tooth on a sweet – I couldn’t make it up if I tried,  now I am down the majority of a tooth. Hollys response to it was – you are lighter now so you can run faster. Good advice.  So I had to forget about the tooth and continue on, but I was starting to struggle to stay focused now. My legs were getting tired, my head was saying you are done and I wanted to slow down. This is where Holly really offered the best advice and support. We took it one mile at a time and she ran in front and I had to keep up. It could have been so easy to just say no but I had to dig deep and say I can do this. I knew we had a good downhill and flat finish so I just needed to get to there. When I look at my mile splits now I see I wasn’t struggling physically and I was tipping away at a good pace. But just before mile 25 was where I was looking forward to all day. The ASICS Frontrunner cheer zone was located here. You could hear them from far down the road. What a bunch of legends. Cheering & motivating people a lot longer than I was running the marathon. The good vibes as I ran through gave me the much needed energy, you could really tell they were enjoying it.    Looking at mile 26 will annoy me though, just because every other mile was below 8 minutes but as you can see I did lose some time over the last couple of miles but I’m not going to complain too much about that.

And the shuffle to the line

The last few 100 meters felt like they would never end. The crowds on either side were huge but I was just looking ahead at the finish line. Holly kept encouraging me right up to the line.  It worked and I crossed the line with a massive PB finishing in 3:23:26. A hug for Holly for getting me the PB, picked up my medal and then got my phone out and powered it on as I wanted to check how everyone got on. My phone started alerting with everyone I was tracking and some amazing results there.


There are so many people to thank:

Martha for giving me the time to put in the long runs, the short runs and the races, which meant I was out of the house a lot. It isn’t easy with a 2 year old and she sacrificed plenty of mornings and evening so I could train to get the target I wanted.

St Catherine’s members for the training. From speed work to long runs it always helps to have a good team around you.

Damian for all the advice on the build up to it and for years of encouragement. He helped me break 4 hours 2 years ago and he smashed through the 3 hour barrier this year.

ASICS Frontrunner team for keeping me relaxed on the build up to the race right up to when the gun went off. They offered great advice and gave me the confidence on the day and the work they put in at the cheer zone was appreciated by all.

Gazz & Holly for giving me the opportunity to be part of the frontrunner team and to run the race with ASICS and have the best kit for it. I hadn’t planned on doing it until they provided us with the chance. And then a huge thank you to Holly for her help on the day. I definitely would not have been able to do it on the day without her. Maybe up to 21 miles I’d have been ok but I would have fallen away after that but for the advice and encouragement she provided. It was really enjoyable to run with such a great runner who made things look effortless. No doubt everyone will want her as a pacer now. You can thank me later Holly.


After relaxing with a hot chocolate it was back to the hotel for some downtime. I do regret not joining the team at the cheerzone. You can check out the fun they were having here. That evening we all went out as a team for burgers and some celebration drinks (water for me). My burger was gone in seconds. Some went the extra mile and went out in fancy dress. My evening was about to end early after a long day but a call from Damian meant I was back out to meet him.


What can I say, this weekend went perfect. The race was the icing on the cake. The frontrunner weekend really helped relax me before my ‘A’ race and I’d like to thank the frontrunner team for everything. I really can’t wait for the next meet up. I’d definitely advice people to get out and do Dublin next year. The support was exceptional, the organisation was perfect and the course it tough but fair. To have over 16,000 finishers and have it run so smooth shows you how well this race is run and no wonder it continues to sell out and is a must do race. Well done to everyone who took part in the marathon, park run and cheered everyone on. Each of your deserve to the celebrations. Some amazing results out there.

What next

It is time now to relax and use Vegas half marathon as a fun day out. I don’t see myself racing for the rest of the year and come back fresh next year for more big challenges.

Photography – Carel Du Plessis CDP Photography Ltd & Jack Schofield Stage 7 Photography

Dungarvan Tri 2018

Dungarvan was last Tri last year and it was to be the same this year. You can read how that went here.
The build up to it wasn’t ideal. A total of 70km cycled in the previous 7 weeks was never going to be good prep but after having my best race of the year in half marathon the Saturday before I felt fit and ready for the challenge. Then Sunday came and I hurt my back. The next 3 days were spent slowly walking around the house trying to mind my back. Sitting for more than 10 minutes hurt and it looked like I’d have to skip the race. On Thursday evening I went for a slow swim and it went ok. On Friday I went for a slow 5km jog and was fairly stiff after it. But I was able to do it so I went ahead and started to get my kit ready for the next day.

Race Day

I was up early to have small breakfast and load everything into the car. Got down there in good time and just like last year the weather was looking good. I got registered and proceeded to get my bike racked and my transition area set up. All the club were in the same area so we were all kind making sure we had enough space to lay out our kit right.

Swim 00:29:06 (9th of 143)

The swim is always my favourite and look forward to getting under way. The swim had an Australian Exit which always makes things interesting. It was a beach start and as soon as the countdown was complete off we went. Sprint into the water only for all but the bravest to slow right back down as we ran over rocks after rocks. Clonea beach is shallow so it was a a small bit of running and dive, followed by up I get again another bit of a run and dive. I got into a good rhythm straight away and even though it looked smooth from the beach there was a bit of a current which meant you were fighting against that the whole way out to the 1st buoy. Around the 1st buoy and then straight line to the next. I found myself right next to teammate Shane. When we got to the next buoy we had to go back at an angle to the exit. It was fast on the way back in. I can a good push from many waves, felt like I was flying at times. I got out of the water and around the flag. I was 11th after the 1st lap. Straight back in and dealt with the Australian Exit a lot better this year than last year. This time it felt like I was going nowhere trying to get to the first buoy. But once I got to it I was able to get around and find that rhythm again. On the second loop when we got to the second buoy you had to go at the opposite angle and toward the lifeguard building. I was feeling good and pushed on. When I looked at my time I was a bit disappointed and was a lot slower than last year. Almost 4 and half minutes but it was a lot tougher swim and definitely was a bit longer. To my surprise I was 9th out of the water

T1 00:01:47 (47th of 143)

Hit T1 and Brian and Shane were in there at the same time. We were close to each other coming out of the swim. I was throw out by the fact my fulfill bar was taken from its wrapper so I had no fuel, and I was hungry. Put my socks on and took my time getting ready. Then it was time to motivate myself for my least favourite part of the day.

Bike 01:18:34 (77th of 143)

What can I say about the bike that I haven’t already said before. Because there were so many sprint cyclists on the road I felt I was going well on the bike. The course has a lot of ups and down and is fast start, tough after the turnaround and fast finish. I kept to a good pace and before I knew it I was going through the sprint turnaround. At that time I was wishing to myself that I could turnaround there as well. Hitting the 20km mark which was a small bit after the turnaround point I was averaging over 30km/h but that was mainly aided by the fast downhill we hard before the turnaround. At the turnaround point I was told I was 33rd through, so that meant 24 people passed me up to then. Unfortunately we had to go back up it and I felt I was going backwards. This didn’t help my average and did take it out of me and took a while to recover on the flat. Once frustrating thing was the trains of cyclists (mainly from the same club) passing me. With drafting being illegal that did annoy me as that was an even bigger advantage to them as they were gone within seconds of passing me. But I was there to race my own race and struggled on. Comparing to last year I averaged 1.5km/h faster. So even though I had done almost not bike training this year I did better but it wasn’t as windy this year also. I had a lot more pass me on the bike right up to the end.

T2 00:01:24 (83rd of 143)

It may feel like I stopped for a cup of tea with the time spent in T2 but after being passed by a few just before the end of the bike I was behind them going into T2. And 1 person missed his rack space and had to double back (you know who you are Aidan :-)). I didn’t mind and there was a bit of joking between us. Got my stuff together and on went my new Asics Dynamis 2 which make it very easy in transition, no worrying about tying laces and off out to the other part of the race I don’t mind.

Run 00:44:09 (13th of 143)

First thing I did to throw me off was when I was re-configuring my watch selected bike instead of run for the last part. So straight away I couldn’t use my watch for lap times etc. Well it had 5km lap splits. But that is probably a good thing. Go out and see how I would do. Last year I set myself a goal to have at least 4:30 min/km but failed to do that so that was this years target. I knew I could catch a few on the run and make up for lost time on the bike and I did that straight away. Martin gave me a nice slap as I passed him, I think that help me speed up – mainly to get away from him :-). It is interesting comparing last year and this year, even though my pace was much faster this year it had the same look on the graph. I slowed down in the same parts and picked it up again in others. I was hungry during the run and started to struggle a bit but was able to keep a decent pace. I had one person pass me throughout the run and he was out of sight in no time. That was close to 8km in and he finished strong. I still think doing more work on the bike will also help my run leg. I was happy to cross the line and grab some water and cakes.

Overall 02:35:02 (28th of 143) 

I was delighted with the way the race went after the week I had. I didn’t think I would get near last years time but there was only 1 minute of a difference and that was mainly due to the tough swim. I picked up time both on the bike and the run so overall it was a good day at the office but also shows yet again I have to work hard on the bike. For me it is easy to skip

Thanks again to all in Tried & Tested Triathlon Club for putting on another great race this year. I will be back next year to see where I am at and see if I actually do put more effort in getting out on the bike.

Jailbreak Tri

This is a race I’ve always wanted to do so I jumped at the chance this year. Being a member of Cobh for 3 years it felt like a home race for me and was good to meet up with the them. It is always a very well run races, one of the reason it is national series again this year, but I have seen the planning that has had to go in to it and what a great team effort. I registered the night before after having a day out with George in Fota Wildlife park. Home then to get all my kit ready for the next day.

I got up early and packed up the car and headed to Cobh. After I parked up the car I headed to transition and met up with some of the Blackwater crew and Cobh crew. The views out to Spike were perfect. it was going to be a great day.

Swim 31:19 (71 out of 256)

I don’t think there could be a more epic swim for a triathlon in Ireland. The swim takes you from the former prison island of Spike to Cobh across the world’s second largest natural harbour. It does mean an earlier start as you have to get boat across to Spike but that adds to the tension and excitement for the day ahead. Once we jumped on board and the boat got moving all we were doing on the way over was getting our sighting sorted, knowing which building to look for. The large red dot was definitely helpful. Once we got over there was a short briefing and into the water we went to get ready. It wasn’t long until the swim got going and even though it was a mass start it wasn’t too crazy due to the size of the swim area. My plan was to aim for the cathedral up the the last white buoy and then drift left into the exit. I definitely must have been too far right as I didn’t come across anyone the whole way. I was sighting as often as I could to make sure I wasn’t going off in the wrong direction but I just kept the swim steady. It was a really great view when looking at Cobh from the water but it felt I wasn’t getting any closer. I eventually got to the ramp and that is where I finally met some swimmers. Timing wise I was a bit disappointed, I felt I had a better time in me but when I look back I didn’t push myself hard enough and that showed with a number of people who I’d normally be close to beating my by over 2 minutes. It was my 1st Olympic of the year so I will know for next time.

T1 0:1:10 (33 out of 256)

For once my T1 seemed to go well. Out of the wetsuit and on with the socks and bike shoes, helmet glasses and number. It is tight transition but no one in my way so got out quick. Time to job on the bike now.

Bike 1:08:44 (175 out of 256)

Out on to the bike the only real climb was straight into the race. Fresh legs and out of the saddle straight away to get up over the small climb. Now it was time to see how I felt. The bike is always my weakest and I haven’t done much mileage this year. After only about 2km I felt a pinch in my calf, a common occurrence on the bike which I haven’t got to the bottom of yet. Even though I was being caution I found my pace was good. The wind was blowing in all direction so it was had to tell was it the wind that was helping me keep the pace going. Even though I felt I was going well there were people passing me the whole time. I wasn’t going to let it bother me and just kept doing what I had to do. It was pretty much flat all the way out past Fota and through the roundabouts and on to the road to Glounthaune. I was still keeping a steady pace and I was on a road I was used to from my days living in Cloyne. The road is in a lot better condition than what I remember, a few bad spots but overall it was good. I was counting the kms to the turnaround point as I knew there was a chance to pick up some pace going back to Island Gate. My calf continued to cramp up every so often but i was able to manage it.

There was good support out along the way and plenty of people still passing me. It got a bit hairy at the roundabouts again as traffic built up but the marshals were doing a great job. Back into Cobh and all I was thinking was that this reminds me of Cork to Cobh run, I’d almost prefer to be running it today. It was a fast finish and support going back into Cobh really helped push to the line. Just about got off the bike at the dismount line and off into T2 after doing my fastest average speed on the bike for a tri. Just over 31kph, funny thing was I was so far down in the bike positions even though I did my best bike to date. But definitely is a fast cycle if you are looking for a good time on the bike.

T2 0:01:04 (83 out of 256)

Felt okay going into T2 and calf was fine as soon as I got off the bike. Racked the bike, off came the bike shoes and on with the runners and the helmet off and out on to the run course.

Run 0:39:31 (40 out of 256)

Now the question was how to attack the run. I wasn’t familiar with the course but did know it was a bit shorter than the normal Olympic distance. So I decided just go out as hard as I can and see how things work out. A nice cool sea breeze faced us as we ran along by the water and I felt good. Then came the small energy sapping hill just after 1km. I attacked it and still felt good, when you took the right turn to head back to Cobh the heat was intense, there was no breeze to give some relief. Grabbed plenty of water at the water station and off I went on the second lap. It was the same thing each time, except one difference, each time I went up the hill I got slower and slower and the side heading back into town got hotter and hotter. So when I finally took that 4th band for my final lap I was delighted and that climb felt like Everest but it was the home stretch. The support gave me the boost I needed and finished as strong as I could. I was off the pace I wanted to be for the day but taking the conditions in to consideration I should be happy. And overall I ranked high on the run so shouldn’t complain.

Overall 02:21:50 (80 out of 256)

I can’t decide how I felt about my performance, disappointed with swim, bike for me was good and run was tough but it was for everyone. There was a very competitive field there as well. But I guess overall since it wasn’t my ‘A’ race I should be happy with my performance. I’d like to thank Cobh Tri Club for putting on a great event and I’ll be back next year once you promise the water will be that calm again. Everything ran so smoothly from start to finish and we don’t see the work behind the scenes. Take bow and know that you truly deserve the National Series. Now its time to work on the bike a bit more and get ready for more racing the coming months. I will always have great time for the Cobh crew because without their support when I started out with triathlons I’d still be afraid to do more than 250 meters in the water haha. If I can build on this race I’ll have a good year. And hope to see many of the faces today at one if the Blackwater races on the 12th, with Olympic, Sprint and Try a Tri on the day there is plenty for everyone.

*****And if you get time please vote for me as I am the Munster representative in the Rock N Roll Idol Competition and I am in with a chance to win a Trip to Las Vegas Marathon. More details here . Every vote counts so thanks a million*****

Thanks to the following for capturing the day in photos (of me)
Damien Jackson (
Michael Buckley Photography (
Colm Mc Donagh Photography (

Schull 2018

Tri season is finally here and it was time for me to return to Schull. After missing last years race I wanted to come back, I’ve done the race three times previously so it is good to compare where I am now.

After setting off before 6am it was a nice drive down. I got my traditional car space and registered. The water was as calm as I have ever seen it, no wind and plenty of heat. As per usual it took me forever to get organised. You would think after 4 years I’d have setting up in transition perfected but definitely not. Once I got everything together I went around and had a chat with the Cobh team and a few others there on the day. The good thing for me was that there were no nerves I was out there to enjoy myself. I was in wave one so once briefing was done it was down to the water.

Swim 13:03 (47 out of 283)

The start of the swim was like a proper washing machine but it didn’t take long for it to open up in front of me and had clear water. With the water being so smooth it wasn’t hard to sight. 1st turn was good, everyone must have been in a good mood in the sun as there was no bunching at the buoy. The next one to site was hard so I just followed the kicking legs in front of me. I had a person on my toes the whole way to the 2nd buoy and it continued right to the ramp. I guess that person was racing smart and letting me do the work, everyone few seconds a tip on the toes and couldn’t shack it. Got to the ramp, had a little stumble and over the timing mat. Happy enough with my time.

T1 2:29 (75 out of 283)

There is a nice run up out of the water, you don’t move too quick so gives the time to get out of the wetsuit. Enter T1 and got off the wetsuit quickly. Took the extra few seconds to get my socks on and into the bike shoes and continue the long climb to the mount line.

Bike 44:05 (160 out of 283)

Now this is where it is never pretty. As far as Schull cycle goes it is one of the harder ones. It’s up and down on an out and back course. I’m not strong on the bike and when I’m climbing I feel like I’m going backwards. After short flat section you are straight into the 1st hill. It takes me some time to get settled into the bike so an early hill didn’t help. My 1st 2km was my slowest 2km split by a good distance. I knew I just needed to hang on and even though plenty of people passed me out I knew I just had to get back to transition. The downhills are enjoyable but of course you knew just around the corner there would be another hill. Time wise it was slower than time but I hadn’t put the bike work in this year. I just about got off before the mount line.

T2 2:03 (75 out of 283)

I really need to practice dismounting the bike while leaving the shoes on the bike, especially when it is a long downhill run to T2. I was holding back hoping not to fall. Bike racked, helmet off and quick change of shoes and off I went. Back on the long uphill to the start of the run.

Run 20:06 (23 out of 283)

Just like everything in Schull it includes hills. But when it comes to running I don’t really mind that. You are straight into a hill and it didn’t seem to bother me as I pushed up it. My plan was to go as hard as I could for as long as I could. The heat was starting to pick up and you could really feel it. I was bang on 10 mins at the turnaround point so I couldn’t complain with my effort so far. I could feel the tiredness starting to kick in and any up hills I could feel myself slowing down. I knew there was a good downhill to finish with so main thing was to get up to the top of that and let gravity get me home. Crossing over the line in official time of 20:06 meant it was my fastest sprint run. Delighted with that. Next goal break 20 mins

Overall 1:21:48 (77 out of 283)

Overall I was delighted with my race today. With injury affecting a large part of this year already I knew had I a long way to go to be race fit. I had a good swim but the bike still has a lot of work to done on. I felt great on the run and picked up most of my time there. If I could get my bike right I’d really knock a good bit of time off. I was just under a minute faster overall compared to the last time I did it, with all the gain coming on the run. Well done to everyone racing this week. Well done to Schull for putting on another great race.  I’ll be back again next year and see my progress (or lack of it).

Year on year comparison

Year Swim Bike Run Total Time
2014 11:53 * 48:35:00 23:39 01:28:55
2015 13:33 49:26:00 21:37 01:30:06
2016 12:24 43:19:00 21:30 01:22:32
2018 12:52 44:01:00 20:07 01:21:48

*Swim was 500m

How I got to Tri

With triathlon season very close to starting for me, a question I’m regularly asked is how I got into triathlons. Here I describe the long path into tri which I’m so glad I took

Growing up in Ireland playing Gaelic Football and Hurling was something that you did from a very young age. I played it with my local club and school. While in school I’d do a bit of swimming and running but my 1st love was always football. Being part of White’s Cross as we ended almost 50 years without a top level championship for our grade in 2006 was one of the biggest achievements with them, along with captaining our Minor, U21 and B team.  I had my ups and downs playing football. Injuries, moving to Dublin and falling out with coach meant I struggled to hold down a regular starting place with the 1st team but still had 3 more championships, 7 cup medals and 4 league medals to show for it. I always had the 2nd team which meant I got to enjoy playing regularly but it was with them that I had my biggest injury and started my path down the triathlon route.

Celebrating 2006 Championship with Damian

2011: 1st step to being a triathlete

I had just returned from a trip to Austin in May 2011 and I had a game to play. I was jumping up for the ball and got a push in the back and fell awkwardly straight on my shoulder and right then I knew something wasn’t right. One of my teammates pulled me up off the ground without knowing what had happened and my shoulder popped back in but I feel that may have caused the long term issues.

After many trips to physio, scans and exercises I knew I had to keep active so that I wouldn’t lose my fitness. So on June 14th I bought a new bike and that evening went out with my brother in law Robert for my 1st cycle. I had planned to only do a short one but ended up with a 33km cycle. The end aim was to do the Sean Kelly Cycle 90km cycle which I signed up for. To mix things up I decided to do an adventure race in Killarney. It was a mix of mountain running, cycling, kayaking and more running. It was torture from the beginning and I knew I’d have to work hard on my running going forward.

No lycra at the start

Killarney adventure race

2012: 2nd step to being a triathlete

After spending most of 2011 after my injury doing cycling I started to look at doing a bit more running. And it was 2012 where I did my 1st road race. Damian and I finished the Mallow 10 in March and the running bug hit then. I continued to try get in as much biking as I could but I preferred running so it was easy to forget about it. I did another adventure race in April and completed my 1st half marathon at the Cork half in June. I ended up doing 2 more half marathons in Dublin and Clonakilty to round out the year where I went from doing no running to doing more of it than cycling.

1st Half Marathon

2013: Time to try a tri

Well I tried cycling for one year, running for another year so what would 2013 bring. It started with focus on running. I completed my 1st marathon in Rotterdam in April but with another leg injury I decided to do a bit of swimming for recovery and also to help with my shoulder which continued to give me trouble. I made a full return to football as well. The love of the game started to come back but in the back of my head I also thought what if I put together swim, bike and run and try a triathlon. So I then went off and bought a wetsuit and looked up what race I could do. June 29th was the date. I decided to do a try-a-tri in Tralee. Short distance but it would give me the feel of its something I could do going forward. The 1st open water swim I’d do would be this one. The one thing I remember from it was looking at the sprint and olympic distance swims and thought people doing that must be crazy. So when I started the race I flew off in the swim but started to get tired towards the end of the 250m swim. On to the bike and after an awful T1 I got out and did the 15km, nothing spectacular but happy to get it done. Then the run, it was to be a 2.5km run but ended up being 3.5 after being directed the wrong way. Once I crossed the finish line I knew I had the bug, I needed more. I wanted to go again.

Tralee try-a-tri

So on July 28th it was time to race in Kilkenny and another Try-a-tri distance. Of course to make the day even more fun I had a football game a few hours afterwards. This race didn’t go as well as Tralee, it was a tough swim, very long transitions and had the game in the back of my head. But once I finished I was happy I did the race. I didn’t have a plan to do another one for the year and I wanted to work on my swim and bike.

Finish line of Kilkenny Tri

2014: Time to up my game

With plenty of football to play during the year I decided to I needed to join a tri club to help improve and learn from others with similar interests because if I didn’t then football would take over and I’d have no structure. So I joined Cobh Tri Club and they were welcoming and certainly did help me understand transitions, be more confident in open water and have fun along the way. My first sprint distance tri ended up having a shorter swim due to the weather conditions and choppy water, not the ideal start but it also meant I had more time to make sure I was ready for the distance. 2 weeks later I tackled my 1st complete Sprint Tri and it was a great experience knowing that I could do it and power through on the run.

1st Sprint Tri

Of course in my madness I signed up for London Olympic Distance and I will always remember the fear the night before when I looked at the swim distance. Since it was in the dock you could clearly see the long straight lines. My stomach turned a bit but in the end there was nothing to worry about and I completed it and wanted more. I completed the season with 2 more Sprint distances and was already looking to next year and trying to see what I could fit in.

1st Olympic Distance Tri

2015: Time to up the distance

So after booking another trip to New Zealand I found Challenge Wanaka was on while we were there. I had to do it, this meant half distance race on the other side of the world. This was not something I thought I’d ever be capable of but it meant raising my game and distances. It was an early season race but was an amazing experience and it cemented why triathlons were the way to go.  I also did 3 sprints and an Olympic distance race as well. I completed New York Marathon and Amsterdam Half marathon to round out the year. I played a few football games throughout the year but it became harder and harder to fit the games and training in.

Epic View on Bike – 1st half distance

2016: Focus on Triathlons and Running

I finally decided it was time to focus 100% on Triathlons and running in 2016. Trying to fit in football when training wasn’t working and could not give either my full attention. With the plan to do Challenge Galway Half I really wanted to give it my all and have a result that I’m happy with. So finally it was time to retire from football. 2016 saw my highest mileage on the bike, running and my swim sessions meant I got a bronze medal in the Lee Swim. My training meant I finished Galway in 5:37 which I was delighted with. I felt strong throughout even though the swim and bike were a lot tougher than expected due to windy conditions. With triathlon being my focus for the 1st half of the year, the 2nd half of the year was all about running. Finally broke 4 hours thanks to pacing from Damian in Dublin Marathon. An injury just before Dublin meant I wasn’t fully fit going into it and for the remainder of the year but it was a successful year and the plan would be to build on it in 2017.

Challenge Galway Run


I would say to anyone out there, don’t be afraid to try something new. Challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone and see what happens. At least if its not for you then you can say at least you tried. It was the best sporting decision I made and I look forward to continuing my triathlon and running adventures with the biggest goal of completing and Ironman in 2019, all from someone who struggled through 250m swim to begin with. I have met some great people along the way and have had some fun times. Its not all about winning or suffering, its about getting out there to enjoy a challenge. Go on, you won’t regret it.

Brighton Half Marathon

Myself and Damian decided instead of buying each other Christmas present we’d plan an away half marathon. We did our research and chose Brighton. It was easy to get to from Cork and looked like a great course. So we booked our hotel and the plan was set. After a great end of the year where I had a huge PB in my last half marathon finishing in 1:28:35 and then finally broke 19 minutes for 5km finishing in 18:41, I was hoping for something in 1:27 for Brighton. Unfortunately that plan was put to bed in the 1st week of January when I pulled my hamstring at a park run. It meant for the rest of January I only managed 6 runs, some of them at not much more than walking pace. I had to skip my 1st main race of the year which was a 10 miler and Brighton was in doubt for me now. It was further in doubt when I was involved in a car accident where I ended up in a ditch after hitting black ice and spinning a couple of times. My shoulder was tender for a while after it. Some physio on both a dodgy hamstring and shoulder was badly needed. It must have been a good wake up call because from there I started to increase my runs slowly but surely. I got in a 10km and 14km the 2 weeks before Brighton. It gave me the confidence to go out and enjoy Brighton half, I surely can at least finish it.

Race weekend

We set off for Brighton with a smooth flight and perfect timing for our train from Gatwick to Brighton. From there we walked to the hotel. Looking up the weather we were in for a cold weekend. We needed to make sure we have plenty of layers to keep us warm at the start line. After we settled into the hotel we looked up where we could get some food and we went with Pizza, then back to the hotel to watch match of the day, get our gear ready and get an early night.

Brighton Kit

We were up early, had our porridge and then made the 1.6 mile to the start line. We had to pick up our numbers on the way. It was a nice walk to the start line, the sun was rising and even though it was cold once you were moving you wouldn’t feel it too much.

View on the way to race Brighton

The crowd was starting to pick up and you could see a lot of nervous people around. We made our way to our coral. Damian was in front of me but either way I was always going to go to the back of mine with my goal time now no longer realistic. It was funny to think my last foreign half was the complete opposite, I was feeling fit but the weather was hitting 30+ degrees Celsius.  Here it was closer to 0 degrees with a feel of -8. I had settled on 1:55 time for today. Only thing in common was clear blue skies. I just wanted to go out and get the mileage in to see if there is any chance of me making the Manchester marathon.

Keeping warm before race

Keeping warm before race

Brighton Start

The race kicked off on time which was welcome in the cold. Within a 100m the 1:30 pacing group passed me and moved on fairly quickly. I wasn’t going to get carried away. Within 500m we made a U turn and set off on a gentle climb and headed off on the 1st out and back part of the course. Almost straight away I found it hard to hold back my pace, was running under 5 min per km but was comfortable so said I’d stick with it. I was enjoying the way the run was going and was able to take it all in, getting to look out to sea and seeing everyone work hard. I was only 4km into the race and even though the temp was low I started to warm up. I was wearing more than I would normally do for a race but it was technically training for me. I saw the leaders coming towards me and Paul Pollock was looking strong and already a long way ahead of the chasing pack. Here I decided to take out my phone to grab a picture of Damian on his way back. He was looking strong and high up the field.

Damian looking strong

At 5km you made a sharp U turn and head back the way we came. I was under 25 mins for that split (24:21), a bit faster than I planned. I might as well keep going. At about 7km it was time to take the outer layer off and roll down the arm warmers. Next off came the headgear, oh how I wish I wore a singlet now. It was amazing to see the crowds coming towards us. I really didn’t realise the race was this big. The runners just coming. At about 9.5km we turned off to our right for the only part of the course where we weren’t running along side the sea. The last “climb” was when we came back onto the main road and it was a short drag. I only realised it later in the day when we were walking back to the hotel.

At just under 13km we met the leader again. Paul Pollock still looking good. No one was going to catch him now with about 2km to go for him, funny to think I still have 8k 🙂 I was feeling a bit overheated even with the gear I had on, so I made sure to take plenty of water on. One thing people can forget about on cold days is to take on water as you may not feel you need it. On this next out an back I was trying to keep an eye on the faster runners who were across the way in the distance. I couldn’t see Damian as buildings and the Brighton Huts were blocking the view. I hit 10 miles at about 1:17. I was happy with that, it meant I was still going a lot faster than I planned but I was feeling good and pace was spot on the whole way so far. Now it was time to turn around and head for home.

We got to run along side the Brighton huts for most of this and it was very interesting to see. I hadn’t seen them before and didn’t realise people would be hanging out there what the race and have their own set up in them. It was fairly cool. What wasn’t cool was the cold wind in our face. It was going to be a tough 3 miles back as we were right by the sea.

I really did enjoy being able to take in the surroundings and to see the smile on every kids face as I gave them high 5s. I managed to I kept to my pace even after Darth Vader passed me 🙂 I did start to feel a bit tired coming into the last 2km. Only on the last km did I decided to pick up the pace to break 1:42. I know I wasn’t out there to do a time but it was nice to be able to push for the last km to break 1:42, it was my fastest km of the day. It was through the finish line and to meet Damian who managed an unbelievable 1:20:16. Great result for him and no doubt he will break 1:20 next time out.

Brighton Stats

Brighton laps

Overall I really enjoyed the race. It was well organised, nice course and easy to get to. Only negative would be that it is early in the year but fits well if you are training for an early marathon. We have already discussed heading back next

The heat of Lisbon

Back in February when looking for a race to do in October we looked at maybe a trip back to Amsterdam for the half was the best option. We then came across Lisbon Rock n Roll and we quickly changed our minds and now this was the one to do. We hadn’t been to Lisbon before and it was €20 to do. Sure you couldn’t go wrong. Flights were booked and then it was time to forget about it for a long time. Of course with the 1st half of the year being a write off for me this was quickly turning into my A race of the year. Having broke the 40 minutes for 10km a couple of weeks beforehand I was finally back in good shape and feeling confident. We had a look at the weather the week before and then realised that this may not be an easy day. But it was still going to be fun in the sun.

We were up early on the Friday to fly to Lisbon from Dublin. Perfect flight and soon made our way to the apartment. It was very fancy and in a great location close to the metro station and easy access to the expo and race from there. After we took a stroll around Lisbon we went for a short jog to loosen the legs. It was a slow steady paced jog but unfortunately for me with about 4km in I seized up. I got a striking pain from my glute into my back. It was a slow slow jog back to the start. I stretched it out and hopefully was only pains from sitting most of the day. We went and got food and settled in for an early night.

Friday night run

Friday night run

Saturday was about the expo. We headed up there and were met with a huge queue. We decided to head to the pub and watch the Liverpool v Man United and get some food. Standing in the queue might have been more entertaining. We were reading comments on facebook of people waiting 3 hours to get into the expo so we were in no rush to join the madness. After a stroll around the shopping center we eventually decided to join it. It was 57 mins from when we started queuing to picking up the race number. A quick stroll through the expo and off we went. Just like everyone else there we were surprised to find that we had no safety pins for our numbers. We joined many others in the search for them in the shopping center. Luckily we found some and then headed back to the apartment. Food and some time in the pub was called for that night. I think I may have eat 2 full chickens, I got a bit excited when ordering but it was good food.

Expo Queue

Expo Queue

Calorie Loading the night before

Calorie Loading the night before

Race Day

Alarm was set for 7am. And we needed that alarm as Joe and myself slept well. Kev had already left for the full marathon and I didn’t even hear him leave. We jumped on the metro and we followed everyone else to the change over and then on to our final stop. We were met with huge crowds when we got there as everyone was waiting to get on the buses to the bridge. We stepped outside and soon realised that there were no queues outside and we jumped on a bus straight away. What felt like a marathon in itself we finally got off the bus and made our way through the crowds to get as close as we could to the front. We didn’t succeed here and there were 1000s in front of us when the race started. It took 7 minutes to get across the start line. But now it was time to put the head down and go for it.

Calm before the start

Calm before the start

Not looking too happy here

Not looking too happy here

A long way to the start line

A long way to the start line

The Race

Putting the head down and going for it was impossible. As the crowds was crazy and with no waves it meant you and so many people in front of you who were at walking pace. I was in and out and around, stop start, slow down speed up, all to try and get out of the crowds. I knew this was a bad idea and normally I’d take the hit at the start but I’d have been there forever if I waited for it to open up. It was just before 5km before we started to come off the bridge and it was a nice downhill curve off it. It wasn’t possible to take the shortest possible route due to the crowds so I had to take the turn wide. Not long after this was the 1st water stop and the only band I remember seeing. Unfortunately this is where the course excitement ended and it was just a large industrial area for as long as I could remember. Maybe it was the mix of that and the intense heat but the wheels started to come off and very rapidly as well. After moving along steadily for 8km my pace slowed but was still under 5 min km up to the 11th km. But then on the 12km I had to give in. I slowed to a walk before stopping completely. I was trying to decide would I walk off or continue. Eventually I convinced myself to use it as a training run and jog it out.

The long drag to Marquess of Pombal Statue

The long drag to Marquess of Pombal Statue

It continued to be slow miles until we got back into the center. I stopped to get a layer of sunscreen put on to me and I knew one of the hardest parts of the course was to come. This was the long drag to the Marquess of Pombal Statue. I stopped at the water stop and a couple of times on the way up. I had nothing and the long drag took it out of me. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other knowing at the turnaround I’d be on the home stretch. Not long after the turnaround I saw Joe on the other side. I gave him a shout and then I realised that was a bad idea. It wasn’t long before he joined me, I gave him the motivation he needed. He ran a more consistent race than me but having him there gave me that extra bit of energy. Our pace increased on the downhill and we were pushing each other the whole way. Neither of us wanted to to give an inch. We were passing plenty along the way. Which made change from the previous 8 km. We were getting close to the end and just before the line I had one final push in me and finished in 1:48:03 and Joe just behind me.

At least I got the medal

At least I got the medal

It was definitely the hardest race I had done and was grateful for the ice pop after to cool down. It hit 33 degrees out there and I didn’t race to the conditions. After hanging around the finish line for a while it was back to the apartment to shower and cheer on Kev to the finish of the full. Fair play to him. I jogged some of the last km with him. Total respect to him for finishing it.

Jogging with Kev

Jogging with Kev

We were hungry

We were hungry

After the race we took a trip to Castelo de Sao Jorge. Great views of the city and helped distract from the disappointment of the race. The walk up to it definitely worked the legs even more.

Castelo de Sao Jorge

Castelo de Sao Jorge

Views of Lisbon

Views of Lisbon

The Good

  • Lisbon is a really nice location and I’d like to go back
  • The race was cheap to enter
  • Getting around Lisbon and to the Expo and to the start buses was easy
  • Good atmosphere in the center of the town

The Bad

  • The Expo. Both the mess up with the queue and the lack of anything happening there
  • No safety pins
  • The long trek to the start line on the bus
  • The time it kicked off. Due to heat the heat it should have started a lot earlier
  • No waves – why ask for predicted time if nothing is going to be done with it
  • The middle portion of the race was boring and through industrial part of town
  • For Rock ‘N’ Roll I don’t really remember any bads
  • Water station to spread out in the heat


Would I do it again, no. But there are supposed to be other races in Lisbon that are better run. I would definitely go back to Lisbon but for a global brand to get so many things wrong really surprised me. I know for sure many people will not be back supporting this race

1km Splits

1km Splits