That was one difficult race. In fact, I think that has to be one of the hardest races I have ever done, more about that later.
What did I think of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin Half Marathon? Well, to be honest, I wasn’t that impressed with it. It was a very poorly organised race and there were lots of complaints about it afterwards on their Facebook page.
To begin with, the start of the race was at 08:30 am, whilst the tram that we had to catch to the start line was the first one of the day. As you can imagine, it was quickly overcrowded. The local transit authority really should have put extra transport on for the day as it was a nightmare getting to and from the race.
The start and finish were at the same location for the Half Marathon, so they had a tent for bag drop. We didn’t really have any problems, but I know others were waiting for an hour to reclaim their bags, which at the end of a half marathon is not acceptable. Apparently, the 10K was even worse. They had a point to point race and their bags were loaded on trucks and then dumped, in no particular order, in the tent at the race village. People were having to duck under tables to find their own bags.
At the start, there were desperately insufficient toilets, that led to some people becoming very anxious that they would miss the start of the race. I always find that at all races you find non-runners in the toilet queues, they really should have separate facilities for those not running, or they should wait until after the start so that people who are actually running can use them!
We started in corral number 10, which was clearly marked on our bibs. Corral 10 was towards the back of the corrals and there were no PA speakers there, so we had no idea if the race had started or what was going on at the start line. From a safety point of view, this should be addressed. What if there was an incident at the front? Additionally, there were no marshals monitoring the rear corrals, which of course meant some of the more inconsiderate runners were jumping in the wrong corrals. At other races I have been to, marshals are stationed at each Corral to check you are entering the correct area for a safe and efficient start. This really is unacceptable for a race of this kind; Gayle and I had paid a lot of money to enter the race and it felt like no effort was put in by the organisers, no consideration for safety or for ensuring everyone was able to enjoy their race.
We managed to get started and hit the streets of Dublin. The race originally promised a run through the city centre, with an amazing atmosphere and inspiring bands throughout the course. Well, that didn’t happen!!!! It seems the original route had to be changed because the Pope is visiting the city in a couple of week’s time. No big issue, we will run the new course. We were doing absolutely brilliant, in fact by 8km in I glanced at my watch, did a few quick calculations in my head and thought we were on for our fastest half marathon this year, which gave me an extra spring in my step! Then we got to around the 9km mark and we hit what can only be described as a mountain, I have never run up anything so steep. I live in Wales and we have lots of hills around us, so I am used to running up gradients of all kinds, but this was something else! We started to run up the hill but quickly found that it was far too steep to keep going. Everyone around us realised the same thing and we all ground to a halt as one. Not great having a hill of this gradient and magnitude right in the middle of a race. Their website doesn’t give a route profile, so not being local, we had no idea that this hill was going to be there! When we finally got to the summit, we were met by the front-runners on the opposite side of the road. We could not help but notice they were coming up another hill towards us and reality dawned on us. There’s another awful hill somewhere ahead of us! From a psychological point of view, this completely threw me; from a physical point of view, I was well and truly knackered.
From feeling great at 8km through to 10km, I went downhill very quickly (excuse the pun). We had to fall back to run/walk. Don’t get me wrong, we did a lot more running on this occasion that our other half marathons this year, but I felt beaten. I tried not to berate myself, we were still moving forward and I was going to complete the race!
The bands on the route were not brilliant, they were mainly acoustic solo artists who, in a majority of cases were shouting songs out of tune. There was no atmosphere out on the course, with very few people coming out to support us. Some of the marshals, although I know they are volunteers, were more interested in their mobile phones than what was going on with the race.
I finished with an official chip time of 02:50:10, nowhere near the time that I had in mind, but hey-ho, let’s chalk it up to experience. If it wasn’t for those hills, we would have definitely run the complete course and finished with a great time, it was just unfair that we were not informed about it beforehand.
From a positive point of view, the finisher t-shirt was really good quality and something that I will wear on future training runs. The medals were also good quality and well designed.
During the weekend, Gayle and I managed to scoop four medals each. One for the 5km race on Saturday, one for the Half Marathon, one for completing two races over the weekend and finally the ‘World Rocker’ medal because we completed two races in separate countries. Remember the races we ran at the Liverpool Rock ‘n’ Roll weekend.
Would I run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin half marathon again? Definitely not. It was a poorly executed event, with little regard for runner’s safety or enjoyment, zero atmosphere and a terribly inappropriate course.