Marathon 1981 - Diary of an Editor on the run

By Vincent Browne

On Monday October 26, marathon fever will reach nationwide epidemic proportions. The great Radio 2 Dublin City joggathon will see over 8,000 hopefuls setting out on the 26.2 mile course. The fact that this figure is four times the number of runners in last year's event is in indicaation of the continued growth of the jogging phenomenon. To keep this show on the road (literally) will require the efforts of another 1,000 people, including the Army, Gardai, Dublin Corporation, Civil Defence, Fire Brigade, Board of Works, St John's Ambulance, CIB, ESB, P&T, local Residents' Associations and of course officials of the Business Houses Athletic Association. Kick off is at 11.00am from Saint Stephen's Green.

All summer long almost every publication in the land, including this one, has been offering advice to would-be runners. In the heat of the moment, most of it will probably be forgotten. However, a final word - take it easy, do not rush off at the start. Surveys of split times in marathon running show that the first five miles are usually run at the overall average speed. Between the 5 and 15 milernarks runners usually speed up a little before reducing to average 15 and 20 mile marks. There is inevitably a pronounced drop in pace in the last six miles - this is fine; the crucial period is at the beginning when vital energy can be needdlessly wasted.

RTE's breakdown of the 8,198 entires reveal that 506 entries, or approximately 15% of the field, are women - a huge increase on the figures oflast year. There are over 150 entries from outside Ireland, including runners from the UK, USA, Canada, Belgium, France, West Germany, Norway and Sweden.

Sunday, September 21

So Enda Kenny TD will sponsor me only if I agree to spend a week with -him in Castle bar. It's bad enough doing the marathon but a week in Castle bar - it's more than anyone huuman being can take. Let's make a deal. If I don't finish the marathon, I'll spend a week in Castle bar surveying what "an average TD" spends his time on. If I do finish then Enda Kenny pays the Central Remedial Clinic and GOAL, the third world charity run by journalist, John O'Shea, £130 each. Training has been very sporadic which ensures that I'm going to endure another terrible ordeal, as I did on the marathon last year.

Wednesday, September 23

Jim Mitchell, who is doing a kamakasi on a fine political reputation by being Minister for Justice, tells me that he too is sponsoring me. Has this got something to do with me being on the run? Training continues to be sporadic. Basically I have attempted without much success to keep up regular runnning since last year's marathon but have managed to get out only about twice a week on average throughout the summer. Now I am managing about four times a week but hating every minute of it. My regular run is around the Dodder Valley near my home. It's six miles and usually feels like 600. For longer runs I wander off towards Stillorgan, Belfield, Eglington Road and Milltown. Am consuming vast quantities of carbon monoxide but can now outpace old ladies running for buses - this wasn't always the case.

Saturday, September 26

It's raining and I'm just not going out, so there.

Sunday, September 27

What a life. Trudged around 12 miles today and felt terrible after the first half mile. It's not my legs or breathing or feet. I just feel terrible. Why am I doing this. Is it because of some hick TD in Mayo who will bind me to a promise to spend a week in Castle bar if I don't go through with it? Perhaps. But now I'm beginning to wonder if Castle bar mightn't be all that bad.

(I see in the Sunday papers today that Brendan Daly has agreed to sponnsot me if I run into the Liffey. During most of the run today I'm trying to work out how far is it from the start to the point where the marathon course crosses the Liffey and I guess it can't be more than about 8 miles. Running into the Liffey might seem like the end of the world to most people, especially those who live in East Wall, but to me it's beginning to seem inviting. The only problem is that I might have to go to Castlebar for a week after they fish me out of the river. So that's out.

I also notice that the intrepid Kevin Marron has agreed to sponsor me if I run the entire 26 miles without stoppping. He says he will monitor me mile for mile. With Kevin Marron in the vicinity I think I could run for 46 miles without stopping, maybe even to Castlebar.

Wednesday, September 30

On the highways and byways for most of the night it seems. Up Taney Hill, over into Stillorgan, down Merrion Avenue, along the Blackrock Road, up Nutley Avenue, Eglington Road, Milltown and home. Somehow it doesn't seem so bad tonight. I think it's because I haven't been thinking of any TDs nor of Kevin Marron. I stop off in Milltown to sign on for Shammrock Rovers but the pitch there is muddy so I decide not to bother.

Come to think of it, it is nearly eleven years since I played a game of football and then it was rugby. I was a member of The Bective Third Ds at the time and my career came to an abrupt end when I informed the IRFU that I was unavailable for consideraation for the Irish team to play the Springboks because of my objections to apartheid. Somebody leaked the story back to the captain of the Third Ds and I was dropped the following Saturday. There wasn't even a whisper of protest in the newspapers at the time. Edmund Van Esbeck where were you then?

Friday, October 2

It's very cold and I don't think I'll bother. I'll do an extra bit tomorrow and then perhaps do two stints some day next week to make up for it. Anyyway I've got to see Senator. .. err ... ex-Senator P.I. Mara for a drink before he departs on a pilgrimage to Fatima or somewhere and a Controller of Programmes from RTE wants to curry favour with me later on. The same Controller has become a running freak. He ran in the London and Manchester marathons, completing both in under four hours. But then they have a lot of time for this kind of thing in RTE, for When they are not knifing someone else in the back they are fleeing from being knifed themselves.

Saturday, October 3

I did the extra bit, I swear (this had gone to print before Saturday, Octoober 3, so the man is lying - Gene Kerrigan). I felt really wonderful. Mile after mile flashed by without bother. Lost count after a while. You know how it is once you get used to this sort of thing. Your body becomes attuned to the strain and effort. You are able to face life's little crises with that much more aplomb and serenity. Us

athletes have an advantage over the rest of you drink swilling, smoke inhaling, reckless hedonists. You don't know what it's like to wake up in the morning and not be able to move your legs because of the stiffness ... I mean leap out of bed like, like, like ah ... I've got to go now and do my press ups.

See you in the Liffey, if not Castlebar.