Kendall is keen in Bohermeen
By the NACRacespy
Mark Kendall showed tremendous form in recording a PB of 1:16:00 and finishing 10th overall in the Meath Spring Half Marathon in Bohermeen. Kendall, in the form of his life as he is undergoing intensive training in an attempt to beat his incredible 2:43 in London in 2012, was up with the leaders from the gun and enjoyed a consistently high tempo throughout the race averaging around 5:46 per mile for the 13.1 mile course.
At the top end of the field Gary O’Hanlon was a narrow winner over Robbie Matthews with only 4 seconds separating them. Both recorded sub 70 minute times on a mostly flat course with the occasional undulation. Kendall was justifiably pleased with his performance on the back of a 10 week programme that has seen him combine speed with endurance as he follows the rigorous demands of a punishing schedule. The Newcastle man, by virtue of his exceptional performance in 2012 has secured an English 3AAA’s entry and will be starting the race on 21st April at the front of the field. Undoubtedly this performance will convince him that his training is on track and that he can trim yet more time off an already impressive marathon PB.
Bohermeen is a small village on the other side of Navan. Notwithstanding its remote location 641 athletes (I use the phrase lightly!) took the line for what was a superbly organised race. The marshalling was exceptional and the friendly atmosphere made this a great race. Bohermeen prides itself on attracting athletes from many Irish counties and I am led to believe that at least 26 different counties were represented. After the race there was a cornucopia of soup wheaten bread and sandwiches that would rival the lavish spreads proffered by East Down AC.
Down and Newcastle were well represented. Kendall had participated in the race last year (recording a modest 1:18!!!) and has been singing the praises of the race thereafter. Inspired by this enthusiasm, some of his team mates decided to investigate first-hand the joys of this hidden gem. And so it came to pass that Paul Rodgers (himself following a punishing schedule of running and eating in preparation for London) was joined by two fine racers, Jack O’Hare and Joe McCann in a cross-border adventure. In true fashion for this unholy alliance the first stop of the day was at the Castlebellingham services, ostensibly for fuel and a visit to the gentlemen’s rest room. Typically coffee, scones, buns and other confectionary appeared on the table and showing good manners all were duly scoffed. The party was interrupted by the arrival of Messers Donnelly and O’Flaherty who had heard on the 5k fun run and thought the 180 mile round trip was well worth it – silly boys!
With their tummies as full as a butcher’s dog our heroes arrived in the thriving metropolis that is Bohermeen. The effusive welcome typified all the pre-race hype reported by Kendall. After a brief warm-up it was down to serious business – getting the vest on! One of the trio has gained a few pounds since last racing and was forced to take the line festooned in alternative kit! Rodgers set off like a man on a mission and enjoyed a good ding-dong battle with O’Hare for the first mile and a half and then with honourary Newcastle AC athlete and all-round good egg Norman Smyth. They passed each other regularly before Smyth’s endurance paid off as he finished in 1:28:18, not far ahead of the gallant Rodgers who recorded 1:28:56 in his first serious race in a long time. Paul has been recording some big weeks of training recently as he prepared for his second marathon, having completed his first in a very credible 2:49 in Belfast in 1982!!! Many pies later he has shown great resolve in following a very strict training schedule and this performance will convince him that he has the miles in his legs to run well under 3:30 when London calls on 21st April.
O’Hare was fast out of the blocks and had opened up a 25 second gap on McCann by the end of the first mile. However the latter is a renowned tempo runner and the two were re-united at the third mile marker. For the remainder of the race there was never more than the width of a postage stamp between them as they covered the miles with metronomic consistency. despite the shouts of their club mates to fight out in a sprint over the last few hundred yards they were comrades to the end crossing the line together in 1:31:25, with O’Hare given the higher placing as his bigger bely broke the finish line slightly ahead of his more svelte companion.
There were plenty of goodies to collect in the finish area and all went home with bright yellow t-shirts that motorists in the Newcastle area will notice sooner rather than later, isotonic juice, fruit, water, a running magazine and somewhat incredulously a squared notebook!
The fun runners had a very successful afternoon with O’Flaherty running an impressive 16:28 to claim second place and Donnelly recording a new PB with a time of 18:08 to finish a commendable 11th overall.
All in all Newcastle athletes unanimously concurred that they had enjoyed their trip to Bohermeen and are confident of filling a bus full of ‘maybes’ for next year.