I arrived in Galway, Ireland Sunday morning for business. Before I left the US, I checked to see if there were any races going on while I was there. Luckily, Monday was a holiday in most of Europe so there was actually a 10 mile road race scheduled in Ennis, about an hour away from my hotel. So once I arrived in Galway, I went to the bus station to find out about any connections and to buy a ticket. I set my alarm for 6AM to catch the bus at 7:05AM. I only had a 2 minute walk to the bus station. Finding the location of the race in Ennis once I arrived there would be a different story.
When I arrived at the bus station, my personal race shuttle was waiting already (see below). 80 minutes latter I got off the bus in Ennis. A quick look at my Blackberry confirmed that I had a 20 minute walk to the race location ahead of me. That would get me there with plenty of time to register for the race. Thanksfully, the Google Maps directions were accurate. Once I arrived at the street, it was impossible to miss the race headquarters. Volunteers has already created a balloon archway for the starting line in the colors of the charity organization Clare Crusaders Childrens Clinic that hosted this event and was the beneficiary of this event. This organization was rasing funds for health services specifically for children with disabilities. There can be no better way to spend your day than to support a worthy cause such as this one.
After picking up my race number, chip and race t-shirt (see picture at top of report), I had plenty of time to roam around and check out the course discription. I started to wonder if I could get lost on the course since both the 10k race as well as the 10 mile race would follow the same course for the first section of the race. Those worries were proven unnecessary once I got on the course. Everything was very well marked.
The race started just 5 minutes late. I was informed by another runner shortly after the race, that it is normal for races in Ireland to start late. The Irish are just laid back like that and I can respect that. If I had to guess, I'd say there were at least 300 runners at the start, possibly close to 500, but I won't know for sure until results are posted online. It was a sea of orange at the start. The local running club was formed just for this charity cause and their colors are orange.
I had lined up towards the front of the runners and I started to work my way up even more after the race got underway. I tried to settle in at a 7 minute pace, but my leg was still nagging me. Instead, I opted very quickly after mile 1 to slow to a 7:20ish per mile pace. I was able to maintain that pace all the way to the finish. Running slighly slower also allowed me to take in the beautiful Irish West Coast country side with its lush green rolling hills. The weather was just perfect as well. Not the often expected drizzle or rain. Instead, clear sunny skies with mild temps. If I can believe one spectactor, I finished somewhere in the top 40. Hopefully, there were more than 40 runners. The entire race was run on a road course, mostly country roads just outide Ennis, forming a loop on the northern outskirts of the town.
Once I crossed the finish line, I was directed back to the registration area were volunteers quickly handed out bottled water as well as a finisher's medal for every finisher. There was also an enormous buffet set up with anything from fruit to Kitkat bars to roast beef and cheese sandwiches. The Irish definitely know how to put on a quality race with top notch support. I am gald I had the opportunity to participate. Thanks to all the volunteers and members of the Clare Crusaders Running Club for putting on this great event. The picture below was taken at the gym of the Christian Brother's School, site for the race headquarters. Please find the race results here.