Paddy ran and ‘paddy tans’

A review of the 2017 Virgin London Marathon by Bogusboy

On a day when conditions were less than ideal for marathon running, Patrick Higgins literally ‘made hay while the sun shone’ and was rewarded with an impressive PB of 2:41:46. Having secured a Championship Entry with his splendid performance in Dublin in the fall, he showed great determination, perseverance and above all else resilience as the sun shone on the 37,000+ brave souls that took on the challenge. In the early stages, a sub 2:40 was a real possibility, but as was the case for so many others, the heat took its toll as he decelerated a little in the closing miles. However, when compared to many of those around him he was remarkably strong and can use this as a real springboard for a serious tilt at a sub 2:40 in Dublin in October.


While Higgins was scything through the field, many of his club mates found the conditions more challenging and less to their liking. However, those that fell back a little in the later stages and ended up being out longer that they anticipated were rewarded with rosy shoulders and sunburn that revealed the shape of their vests. They looked like boys who had spent a long day at the silage in Leitrim under the watchful eye of the Prophet! As the table below shows, many started well and gave themselves a real chance of a finish around the 3 hour mark. Brown was in real contention with a 1:23 first half, but alas it was not to be; it just wasn’t his day – the next one will undoubtedly be a good one. Strachan had been a real doubt in the weeks leading up to the big day with the recurrence of the injury that his plagued him all winter. However, as he was celebrating his 50th birthday on Marathon Day, wild horses could not have prevented him from taking the line. Like many of the NAC athletes he showed real courage in finishing, when it might have been a lot easier to step out and get the tube back to the Mall. Contrary to this, Francis Tumelty stayed the distance well and converted his sub 1:29 half into a 2:59 finish. It is now a case of marathons completed 2, 2:59 finishes 2! Not a bad stat.


Sub 3:10

With the 3 hour mark passed a number of Newcastle men finished in quick succession. Morgan took 14 minutes of his PB and secured a Good for Age entry for 2017, where a sub 3 is a really strong possibility. A genuine contender for the man of the match! Smyth was next, citing his experience of living as an antipode as the key to his success. Although, he claimed not to have ran more than 13.1 miles in training, it was not until the end that he disclosed that he had been running 13.1 miles daily for 6 weeks!!! Smyth was another who was able to maintain momentum in the heat – all that time spinning discs in Ibiza has been a good education. At the Expo on the Thursday, ‘DJ Normski’ (to give him his stage name) was recognised by the young lady from the Ibiza Marathon stall. She immediately offered him a free entry for the 2018 race. Normski gracefully turned the offer down citing the fact that he would be bruising barley as his reason.

The ever improving Carson was next home as he continues to lower his PB. He maintained form well in the later stages and was not too far behind Brown at the end. Murdock was next and another contender for man of the match as he took over three minutes of his PB. The ‘Good for Age’ achieved on a scorching day in Liverpool in May 2016 earned him a place in London and this performance earns his automatic entry for 2018 and 2019. Frank ‘The Tank’ lived up to the self-designated name with a great maiden performance. Youthful exuberance in the first half was replaced with measured discipline in the second as he came home strong. His determination was evidenced by his refusal of a rub at the 25 mile marker as he didn’t want to lower his time! McQuade was a late addition to the team and had not trained above 16 miles. While the last 10 miles marked uncharted waters, the other half of the NAC ‘Right Said Fred’ tribute band was resolute in his desire to break the 3:15 barrier – a feat he achieved with 20 seconds to spare!!!

Irish/Swedish relations were improved immeasurably as McCann and Troeng crossed the line hand in hand.  The pair met up at mile 18 and despite the insistence of the latter, the former insisted that he paced his team mate home. ‘Go on’ she kept saying. Was it the repeated regaling of the Armagh 10 story or the regular updates on what was left that motivated the desire for separation? Only 2 Parkruns was the mantra at 20. As they got to 21 it became 2 laps of the lake – a tactic that always enthused Carson. At 23 it was just a Parkrun to go and 25 it became from the doors of the Slieve Donard to the Cone of Light at the end of the promenade. Either way, Troeng, despite the suffering etched all over her face, refused to give in and ran every step of the way. Wonderwall had been part of the posse when they teamed up at 18 miles, but the conditions got the better of him and he would end up bitterly disappointed to finish in 3:29. Gallagher is made of stern stuff and no doubt will come back fitter, stronger, more pumped up and louder (if that is possible) than ever. Akin to some others, a rest from the long miles necessary in marathon preparation and a focus on shorter, sharper runs and races will rejuvenate him. Next home was Ronnie Horrox in 3:56. Ronnie is not one for going flat out for a time, but give him pacing duties and a target time to achieve and he is a machine. Once again he was on duty for Murlough’s Michelle McCann. Target – sub four hours: result 3:56:40 for both athletes. Job done, as usual! Ronnie is available for future marathons, but can only be contacted via his agent and manager! Rita Devlin and Pat Shields were both around 10 minutes below par as well – a feature of the day for many of the competitors. Both ladies had trained hard and put the long miles in. Nonetheless, how many can say they have completed the marathon, let alone in 3:36 or 4:06 as these ladies did – well done to both. In the end Higgins was unanimously declared MOTM for a performance that shone like the Blackheath sun; alas the royals were unable to present the award as they were too busy doling out water at the 22 mile marker – fair play to them!

Name Half Time Finish time
Patrick Higgins 1:18:52 2:41:46
Francis Tumelty 1:28:56 2:59:52
Kieran Morgan 1:30:43 3:01:56
Norman Smyth 1:30:40 3:03:59
Aidan Brown 1:23:18 3:07:21
Niall Carson 1:32:40 3:09:01
Phil Murdock 1:33:29 3:10:08
Frank Cunningham 1:30:33 3:13:05
Brendan McQuade 1:33:29 3:14:40
Alan Strachan 1:27:37 3:21:34
Joe McCann 1:35:03 3:23:07
Mari Troeng 1:34:57 3:24:50
Noel Gallagher 1:30:19 3:29:06
Ronnie Horrox 1:54:56 3:56:40
Rita Devlin 1:47:16 3:36:16
Pat Shields 1:56:02 4:06:32

London 2017 Results

Brendan Donnelly, now resident in London joined us in the start pen.  He had a very strong first half, going through in just under sub 3 pace, before having to pull out with injury.

Well done to the non-NAC members who joined us at various points of the weekend and added to the sense of occasion. East Down’s Dee Murray stands out for his first sub 3 hour marathon – the monkey is well truly of his back now. Robin Montgomery went well for the first half and was close to Donnelly, before injury forced him to retire. Barry Toner, son of the ‘Teak Tough Townie’ Pascal made his debut. Regrettably Pascal was unable to compete due to injury, but was very proud when his baby crossed the line in 4:14 – no mean achievement at the first attempt.

Behind every good running crew there is a fine support crew. This year we had supporters in abundance. The Strachans were joined by the Rogans to enjoy the atmosphere of the big city marathon and the 50th birthday celebration. Pat Shields brought all her children and some of those NACs who were unable to take to the start line came along to support. Thanks to Richard, Butcher, Pascal and Diana for being part of a memorable weekend. Thanks also to the many supporters from a variety of clubs who gave us much needed support and encouragement along the way.


I can see Craven Cottage from here

Before the Sunday racing got underway, the group assembled for a Saturday morning pre marathon breakfast run. This year we visited the Fulham Broadway Parkrun and were part of the field of almost 500 that completed the 5k course. Most ran conservatively to retain energy for the following day – Cunningham was chomping at the bit to ‘get stuck in’, but showed uncharacteristic self-discipline in jogging around with his team mates. Times were modest to say the least, but the atmosphere along the bank of the River Thames was exceptional.

And so another chapter of the marathon story closes. On the late flight home there was much discussion about London 2018 – some are saying ‘definitely not’ and ‘never again’ while others are talking of booking flights and hotels for next year. Needless to say there are more than a few maybes!!!


Other weekend racing news

In other weekend results Ronan McVeigh was first junior in the Ballynahinch Lions 5k, recording an impressive 18:36 in the process. This follows on from his excellent performance in the Longstone race the previous week. These sessions will leave him sharp for the forthcoming Down Schools’ 1500m on the track in early May. David Hicks was 5th in the NIMRA Fallows Mountain Race (9.5 miles).

In a tense and tight finish he was piped for 5th by a second and held off the challenge of the 6th place man by the same margin. Pete Grant was 27th, Eugene McCann 33rd, David McCann 44th, Jim Patterson 45th and Paulette Thompson 50th. The race was won by Mourne Runners’ William McKee.


Hill & Dale Race 3

This week is the 3rd of 11 races in the Hill & Dale Series. The race is Slieve Martin and begins and ends in the scenic environment of Kilbroney Forest Park in Rostrevor.