Achill Island Half Marathon
July 5, 2014
Temp: high 50s and sunny, with occasional random sprinkles
What I wore: hat, short sleeve shirt, Skirt Sports Happy Girl skirt,
PROCompression socks, and my trusty Altra Intuitions
This race did not start until 10:30am, so I slept until about 8 and then had breakfast at the B&B we were staying in. The morning before I had a huge Irish breakfast, but I knew my stomach would not like to run on that. Instead, I had a few pieces of bread with jelly. I had been panicking about the weather for days as it had been cold and there had been more than a few torrential downpours. Shockingly, it was sunny with a light breeze at the start, so I left my jacket and arm sleeves with Beer Geek. I did not regret that choice.
We all gathered at the start line in Keel, Ireland. With both a half marathon and a 10k, there were quite a few people hanging out, but the start went smoothly and I quickly settled into an easy pace. The course was one big loop that would take us around a mountain, past a beach, and back around the other side of the mountain. The first four miles were nice, easy rolling hills which is my favorite type of course. (Although the elevation map indicates it was all uphill, hmm…) Around mile 6, I tried to take a picture as I could see for miles and there was a line of runners as far as I could see. Unfortunately, I totally failed. Just as I hit a huge hill at mile 8, my Garmin died. I have no idea what its issue was, but I was running by feel for the rest of the race. I survived the hill at mile 8 and was getting back in the running groove, when I hit mile 9. I’m pretty sure that about 3/4s of that mile was uphill. (Guess that’s what happens when you run around a mountain!) I walked for nearly a mile and then was able to run until another huge hill at mile 12. The rest of the race was pretty easy and I had enough gas left in the tank to race it home.
- This was the prettiest course I’ve ever run! The Irish countryside is beautiful, as were the beach views.
- The support was awesome. Even though we were running out in the middle of nowhere, there were plenty of water stops as well as roving bikers with supplies. Near mile 11, there was a van with loud music and people handing out Haribo gummies. I also grabbed an orange slice a little further down the road.
- The after party had great food. I got a sandwich, yogurt, cereal bar, water, and a Red Bull energy drink.
- The location. I love love love Achill Island and the Bervie where we stayed was lovely.
- The hills. This was definitely one of the harder courses I’ve ever run. I’ve been embracing hills lately and I still could not run them.
- The wind. I seriously thought I was going to be blown off the island a few times. In fact, at one point I was running DOWNHILL and felt like I was running backwards!
- The shirt. OMG, the color is blinding. (It did add to the view as we ran though!)
The medal says basically “I came I saw I conquered” in Gaelic.
Would I run it again?
I wish. I know I likely won’t get the chance again, but I highly recommend it. It’s a small town race with great organization and a lovely course. Definitely a race to consider if you are looking to race in Ireland!