Here’s a moral dilemma worthy of your Solomon-like wisdom:
If you were running in a race, on the cusp of a hard-earned personal best time, and suddenly saw a 20 euro note (or 20 pounds or dollars or whatever) on the road, would you stop to pick it up, despite the risk of missing your PB or colliding with runners behind you?
This brain-teaser arose for me this morning in the Frank Duffy 10 Mile around the Phoenix Park in Dublin. Around a mile and a half in, as the tightly-packed field of competitors passed the cheering wildlife of Dublin Zoo, I glanced down at my feet just in time to see a folded-up 20 euro note beneath me.
So, focus on the PB or try to turn a 20 euro profit on the race? Of course I’d go for the money, and don’t say you wouldn’t either. Alas, I was going too fast, with too much traffic up in my rear bumper, to pull up and risk missing my PB or even getting a race-ending shunt from behind.
This raises an interesting follow-up question: what amount of money lying on the race route would make you stop to pick it up, and potentially miss out on a personal best time? A twenty could get you a post-race meal or taxi, and even a tenner would give you some small post-race treats. But a fiver might not be worth endangering your PB.
I missed out on financial gain but at least I cashed in on my athletic prowess. I finished the Frank Duffy 10 Mile in Dublin this morning in 1:07:08 – a new personal best time by over 5 minutes and my first sub-70 ten-miler.
(You can check the Frank Duffy 10 Mile 2014 results online or in Monday’s Irish Independent.)
Sub-70 was my plan A, with plan B a new PB to beat my time of 1:12:30 from last year’s race. Basic survival, as innate as the instinct to pick up money found on the street, was my baseline plan – Dublin Marathon training had left me tired all week, and I wondered if my midweek long run would prove to be folly.
But it was too late now for second or even first thoughts. In the starting corral I drew my sword and, at the signal, charged down Chesterfield Avenue with a field of almost 6,000 other runners. The race was on!
That 20 euro windfall was the main talking point in the early miles of the race. Despite my natural self-interest I felt a bit sorry for whoever lost their funds for a post-race taxi or lunch or beer. (Twenty euro wouldn’t get you all three.)
But there were others in the race who were, quite frankly, acting the eejit and looked set for a worse fate than mere financial loss. If you take part in races you know some of the types – runners taking selfies; runners wearing earphones and weaving across the road while browsing their playlists; runners wearing unsuitable clothing. (I passed one guy in mile 2 who was wearing a short-sleeved smart-casual cotton shirt. Not a t-shirt, but an actual shirt with a collar and buttons. Just ahead of him was a guy in a black, sleeveless, padded body-warmer – on a sunny August morning.)
The busy field, bulked out by these Darwin Award contenders, might explain why the number of spectators was noticeably lower for this year’s race compared to last year’s – perhaps last year’s crowd have joined in. Chesterfield Avenue was lined with parked cars a good 45 minutes before race time, much earlier than for other events, but when we ran down it the second time for miles 5 to 7 there was hardly anyone along the route. (As the second pass down Chesterfield Avenue goes along the footpaths, the lack of pedestrian obstacles was welcome.)
As for my progress, I ran a steady pace for most of the race except for speeding up in mile 3 and slowing down in the last mile when we had just tackled the only climb of the route, a mile-long drag up from the Chapelizod gate to the park. By that latter point I was driving on fumes.
That said, my sub-7-minute mile pace felt comfortably hard, if you know what I mean, for most of the ten-mile trip. Getting to the 9-mile marker right on the hour mark, I knew I could just sail in for a sub-70 PB, and that’s a great feeling. All those threshold runs in Tymon Park had paid off.
This year’s course was a good deal faster than last year’s, though – the Military Road hills were gone, replaced by a brief sortie from the Park to follow the flat Chapelizod Road. The weather was ideal too; sunny but still cool enough for a refreshing breeze and some shade in spots. The unusually disorganised baggage tent and the small number of portaloos were the only black marks for another excellent organisational effort.
Next up for me is the Dublin Half Marathon in September, along much of the same Phoenix Park route as today’s ten-miler. Dublin Marathon training manoevres will continue too, of course.
See you back in the Phoenix Park in September, then – and mind your money.