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Athlone 3/4 Marathon by Gillian

Athlone 3/4 Marathon

With a slight nip in the air and my bags packed, I began my journey to Glasson Golf Club and the start line of the Athlone 3/4Marathon.  After a nice relaxing car journey down to Glasson and the car parked up, I made my way to Race HQ. I was to collect my race number and to tuck into a freshly backed scone with melted butter and strawberry jam, and of course a cup tea.  Stomach full and number attached, all I now had to do was to relax until 10.45 when we were to be summoned to the car park for a pre-race briefing. Then it was on down to the start line.

Quick background to Gillian: Running 5 years now- originally it was for fitness and had the aim of running in the Dunshaughlin 10KM in 2010. Well once I ran my first 10KM, I got the bite and a friend suggested I do the Pheonix Park Race Series in the build up to the Dublin City Marathon 2010. I entered each race and completed them, and loved it and so decided to do the marathon – my first in 2010. In my first marathon, I finished in just under 5 hours but undaunted I kept going back and in 2012, I did my best time so far in Dublin, running 4.15.56 (a time I hope to beat this year)…This year I have been running and lifting weights in the gym .. although only running 3 -4 times a week & lift weight 3 times a week also it seems to have helped my running – i’ve a better core & posture – and although a slow start to the year, my last 3 races have been a PB’s by minutes rather than seconds ..

Athlone 3/4 Marathon race

It is a misguiding course, allowing you to have a false sense of security that this is an “easy course” with the first 3 miles being nice flat and downhill.  It gives the impression of a few rolling hills but mainly a flat course.  But whoever said Athlone was flat, obviously never ran this neck of the woods.  As you head into Glasson village, crossing the main road you turn a sharp left and this is the start of the hills, from here on, it is onwards and upwards.  It does break you in gradually, with a nice long drag up and the  first water stop comes at the right time (not only water was available but watermelon, oranges and jelly sweets) and from mile 5 to mile 8 you have one continuous hill.

I must mention at mile 7, the most enthusiastic and motivational Road Marshall is shouting words of encouragement to each person before they turn the corner – and I’m thinking to myself isn’t he great and then I turn the corner myself and I am faced with a steep incline that continues all the way to mile 8 – as I am running up this hill I can still hear him shouting and I smile and chuckle to myself and forget the burning pain in my calf from the exertion of going up this hill for a few seconds.

Mile 8 to 15 is a mixture of nice hills and rambling drags  and equally nice downhills with flat bits in-between, where I get to stretch out the arms and legs and regroup my thoughts. But then mile 16 arrives … A sharp uphill presents itself and this is where the real race begins.  Testing every bit of my body and taking every bit of energy out of me, I just keep thinking only 3 miles to go (forget it 3.65 miles to go) and that it really just can’t get any worse than this and then I hit mile 18 and I am faced with the most awful uphill drag for 1 full mile.

At this point my range of thoughts are going from telling myself “less than 2 miles left” to “go on you can do this” to prayers to less than lady like expletives… With every step my muscles are screaming for me to stop, but the brain is saying go go go, and as I get closer to mile 19 and the finish line, i get a new surge of energy but alas there is still 0.65 miles to go.

I can hear the commentator  at the finish and the road beneath me is turning into a down hill and as I turn the bend, I can see the most beautiful sight and no it is the not rolling fields to the backdrop of a lake – no I can see the flags of the finish line, and the entrance, the last 200 metres on a good down-hill and I run as fast as I can to the finish, where I find relief in the watermelon and oranges and fruit cake. They never tasted so good .

Gillian’s Athlone 3/4 Pointers

Athlone ¾ is one of the best race’s to enter and a must do at some stage.  It is great prep for Dublin, Amsterdam and New York Marathons or any other Marathon on that time of the year. It tests you and is a great indicator of what time you can/can’t do in a full marathon.

It’s not a race for someone who is injured or returning from injury.

And it is possibly one of the few race’s that if avail of food along the course will probably put on weight by the end.

It’s a must do race and one I look forward to doing again next year

Race Report by Gillian O’Regan


  1. Emer Fitzsimons says

    Great write up Gillian… well done on a great run.Best of luck on the 27th at the DCM….

  2. Siobhan Foley says

    Well done Gillian, not only on the running but on the write up too. I look forward to doing this race with you next year. Keep up the great work and wishing you an abundance of luck in Dublin on the 27th.


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