1 degree celsius and sunny with a light to moderate northerly wind – this was the weather that greeted the runners for the Barcelona Half-Marathon early on Sunday morning (8:45am, 11 February). Not the picture we normally associate with that part of the world, but after all it is mid-February. No worries about heat exhaustion then. Not weeks of preparation, not even months of preparation, rather years of preparation go into realising the potential of an endurance athlete. Local man, Eoghan Totten of Newcastle & District AC, is no exception, just turned 25 last month he has been running for around 10 years and as many of his earlier rivals have dropped away from the sport, he has persevered, knowing that he might not have been the ‘fastest kid on the block’ but that he had an engine that was suited for going long.
Planning a debut in the marathon in London in April, Barcelona was a stepping stone on the way. Racking up 125 miles per week since late autumn, he believed that he is in the best shape of his life. His personal best over the half-marathon came last September when he registered 67 minutes and 21 seconds at the Great North Run and followed this up with 30 minutes and 39 seconds for a PB at the Swansea Bay 10k and a victory in 50 minutes 32 seconds at the local Armagh 10 miles road race.
11 weeks to go to the big day in London and he knew that this weekend would give him a real sense of how his preparations are going. A start among the big guns from Kenya, Ethiopia and all across Europe saw him settle into his running and he was through 5k in 15 minutes 41 seconds in 39th place overall. A faster 2nd 5k of 15:24 (31:05 to 10k) saw him move through to 32nd place. He’d moved into 30th by 15km after a 15:45 3rd 5k (46:50 to 15k) and passed the 10 miles mark at 50 minutes dead. A 16:01 final 5km saw him reaching for the finish line in 32nd place overall in a time of 66 minutes and 14 seconds – a massive 67 seconds inside his personal best from last September at the Great North Run. To put it into some perspective this is running 21.1km at 3:08 pace or 13.1miles at 5 minutes and 3 seconds average…
Hard work pays off… this ranks him 7th in Ireland (since 1 January 2017) and gives him an outside chance of selection for Ireland for the World Half-Marathon Championships in March in Valencia. Most importantly however is that he knows he is moving in the right direction towards his marathon debut in London. Next stop is the fast Trafford 10k in 3 weeks time where he hopes to dip under the 30-minute barrier for the first time.