My next race is the Frank Duffy 10 Mile in the Phoenix Park in Dublin this Saturday.
Part of the annual Dublin Race Series that culminates in the Dublin Marathon in October, this ten-miler will be an excellent tune-up for me for longer races to come.
This will be my third time running in this race. My first time was ten years ago, when the race started and finished on the sloping Upper Glen Road – starting downhill and finishing uphill, alas. The run-in (or run-up, even) to the finish was like Dunkirk, with bodies strewn along the roadside and others staggering forward in hope rather than expectation of reaching the line. I finished in a time of 1 hour 17 minutes, or 77 minutes.
Last year’s Frank Duffy 10 Mile was a great day for me. It was my first race after moving back to Ireland, and I turned in a new personal best time of 1:12:30, or 72 and a half minutes. While the finish line had moved to the now-habitual Phoenix Park home straight on the Furze Road, the hills remained – the second half of the race first went up Military Road and the undulating S-bends, before then going to the top of the Upper Glen Road. Anyone who set out too hard in the first 5 miles was sure to have had a suffer-fest in the second 5 miles.
However, this year’s course has lost some of those fearsome hills. Instead of heading up the Military Road after 7 miles, the route now goes out the Islandbridge gate, leaves the Park for a stretch, and then re-enters by the Chapelizod gate. From here there’s a steady climb up the Upper Glen Road for a mile, but it’s a single hill rather than having to go up and down the Military Road and S-bends as well. The last half-mile is flat.
This year’s Dublin Half Marathon in September, the next race in the series, will also skip the Military Road hill and S-bends. Why have the organisers made this change? Perhaps they want these two races to be a bit more PB-friendly and compete favourably with other events – or maybe they want to reduce the strain on runners in the second half of a long race on a potentially warm day. (Those of us who ran last year’s half marathon will remember the sight of an ambulance treating a stricken runner on the Military Road.)
Anyway, if the 2014 Frank Duffy 10 Mile course runs a little easier but still keeps a challenging hill, that’s good news for us all. I’ll be aiming to beat my current PB of 72:30 and go under 70 minutes. Hopefully my marathon training won’t have left me too tired – thankfully this week’s schedule is a bit less intense than in recent weeks.
See you in the Phoenix Park on Saturday morning!