Wednesday, October 31, 2007

2007 Irish Marathon Championships

Before I go and start a few posts about my holiday, I'm going to mention the last race that I took part in this season - the Irish Marathon Championships. In addition to the Cross Country Championships back in July this was one of my other major goal races for the season. I was well prepared for it and had been looking forward to it for some time.

The race was held in Carlingford like last year over a different course. The marking last year was suspect (to say the least) and I was a little scared that something might happen in this years race. The race started at a gentle pace with neither myself or Conor McConvey going particularly hard as neither of us wanted to go off the front and possibly get lost. The race trundled along for the first hour with the lead group getting whittled down to about 4 or 5. On the biggest climb of the day Conor and I broke ahead only to have to stop at the top to find our way (at which time people started to catch us again). We headed after the markers but eventually the markers ended – my fears had been realized – we were off the track. By now our group was 4 with James and Joe joining us. We turned around and started heading back up the 100 vertical meters we just descended eventually bumping into the rest of the people that were behind us. The lead 'group' was now 12 strong. I'll cut the rest of the post pretty short as I'm still pretty pissed about what happened and I want to try and not rattle on too much. Basically, another few kilometres later the trail brought us into an adhoc campsite (who camps in the middle of trail). The Scouts that were camping there told us all to head left and sure enough, there were markers showing the way. We ambled along for another few kilometres (I was at recovery level speed for much of this :( ) then Conor, Joe and I broke off from the others. Shortly after this the 3 of us split up (slightly) – this was the final split of the race. I rode in second place for the final 10-15km having to stop and check directions from time to time. I eventually finished about 2 minutes behind Conor, Conor having just won his first Elite National title – or so we thought. The second place meant that I was selected for doping tests – an interesting procedure. Peeing into cups and being followed around – ahh, the life of an Elite cyclist ;)

Conor and I reaching the masts in first - don't the bikes look well!

Weather conditions were a bit crap!

Mel riding away...

Sean and Mel after the race

Afterwards, we found out that pretty much everyone in the race did a slightly different course – the lead 12 cutting out a section of singletrack. (The campers told us to turn left when we should have gone right – they even moved markers to fool us!) This meant that the “powers that be” decided to unchampionship the event. I was pissed about this for more reasons then I will mention... No one who raced had any qualms about the finishing order. I'm actually glad that Conor beat me in the race, I would have been devastated to have won and then the championship robbed. I feel bad for him...

There is a report available here.

Anyway – that was my last race of the year. A real let down from an organization etc... point of view. Marathon courses should not be run over open mountain. I love having a huge big lap, but ONLY if it is well marked and marshalled. The 8 laps in Coed Y Brenin was pretty boring, but at least I could race! I was glad to be heading to Tanzania 2 days after the race.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Coming home tomorrow...

Our trip to Africa has almost ended. Today Mel and I went down to the beach and we are heading out now to pick up some final bits of shopping then it's me packing up the bikes and Mel packing up everything else (who has the best deal?) before we head off for a final dinner over here with Paul and Ellen. My fingers are crossed that Mel and I will be bumped on our return flight home with BA due to them losing my bike for 4 days on the way here. It would be a great way to end the trip :)

Sunset in Zanzibar

EDIT: In the end, BA bumped Mel and I to World Traveller Plus for the way home but somehow managed to leave (well, it was Heathrows fault) our bags in London. They arrived safely the following morning. Still - I was happy with how BA treated us.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Another picture from Kili

Only a week left in the trip - back in Dar at the moment and going to Zanzibar tomorrow morning.

Another picture from Kilimanjaro at around 4,000 meters.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

On Holidays...

Mel and I are in Tanzania at the moment on Holidays. I'm up in the mountains at the moment but will write something about the Irish Marathon Champs and what ew have been up to when I get back to Dar es Salaam (where my brother lives).

Mel and I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro last week. At 5895m it's pretty high. This is Mel at 4600m. It was DAMNED cold!

Tons more higher quality pictures on the way :)