I once saw a bumper sticker that read ”If the valleys of Wales were flattened out it would be bigger than England”

The same could be said for Donegal, versus Connaught at least. We all know it’s hilly, most of us have gone buck ape at one stage or another when that song comes on in a nightclub or late bar- however to get the full appreciation of those hills you must race them.

Unlike previous sporting obsessions I have put a lot of research into Ultra running. Podcasts are just a fantastic medium, I really like Ger Prendergast, Rich Roll, following Damian Browne (@auldstock) on the gram and of course probably one of my favorite reads (Audible, which my wife does not consider reading) was David Goggin’s ”Cant Hurt Me”.

I get such a kick out of Goggin’s every time he puts up a video, ”Shut the fuck up mother fucker” – would give a great summary of what he says and it is really awesome to listen to regularly.

This season much like a fan boy I really took all of that ”Cant hurt me” book on board, it was all about building a callous mind and seeking out those 5am long runs starts in sometimes horrendous weather in order to get 40 plus km runs in without leaving my wife too long without help with 3 smallies on a Saturday morning.

The Rocks N Rolling 63km Ultra Marathon was no different. Harold the organizer announced before we started that this was the last one. Numbers were too low to continue in the future. I know now why.

Upon the starting klaxon the lead runner took off, I know that these Ultra runners are a real eclectic bunch. And I honestly thought that the start would be chilled out Gentlemanly affair. ”Would you like to take the lead Sir, why thank you Sir I will do so now with haste”

Nope, this Nordi took off. I’d say at approx 4:45 pace. Three or four went with him. and even though I went up to Moville to win and hoped to at least place. There was no way I was going to get stuck in at that pace, that early in that race.

Once you exited Moville you were straight into a 20 odd% kicker of a climb and I just let them go and focused on myself. Some folks were chatty, there were couples and groups behind us at this stage doing it together. I was just really looking forward for things to space out so I could be on my own.

You follow the shoreline, the water is crystal. I guess It would have been nice to have blue skies to enhance this look more but thankfully it was overcast for the day. And I still received a sun burn. Following the leaders out of Moville, I was constantly climbing , dropping slightly and climbing again until you hit the first proper climb outside of Greencastle.

From here it was 8 kms of climbing, around Inishowen Head. You are looking all over the Causeway coast. It is so high and the roads so bad that there is a sign that reads ”Not suitable for cars beyond this point”

I was in 5th, 3rd and 4th place were running together. I thought they were buddies and I was doing my best to put as much pressure on them. To split them up. I felt they were really supporting each other. On the really steep climbs they would walk where I would run which narrowed the gap. But they were always about 2 minutes ahead of me. It turned out , when I got talking to one of them after they did not know each other. They were just telling each other their life stories!! With me in Navy seal mode.

The race was mainly on fire roads at this stage, very stoney. The first half marathon took 1:56, for perceptive my PB in March was 1:26. It was just constant climbing or, knee popping descents. Where there just seemed to be a lot of strain on my knee caps.

A drizzle set in and apart from my foot steps all I could hear was a cuckoo, and for company the blackest Hare I have ever seen and a curious fox.

In 5th place and really starting to feel the strain at 30kms we came to a grave of a Spanish Armada Galeon. That’s if you can see it apparently. To get there was more adventure race than Ultra. A wet slippy path where I fell. There was a local with a brolly sitting on a rock like a Hobbit from the lord of the rings giving directions. From here it opens out into one of the most amazing beaches I have ever seen in Ireland. Jurassic rocks pointing out of the sand like great big tusks that needed to be climbed over and slipped on and then a beach jog back onto the road.

I could see the two BFF’s in front, and at this point, below me running together on the beach. I decided that there was no reason to keep chasing and to focus on finishing the race and holding onto 5th.

From 32kms to the Marathon 42kms was an absolute drag, my main nutrition was cashew nuts. I started to take gels every 5kms from here and I popped some electrolyte tablets into water bottles. I completed the marathon in 4:06 and was able to recover somewhat on a flatish piece of actual tarmac for about a km, then it was into byroads and fire roads again.

Listening to ”Ger Prendergasts” pod on the way up to Moville with Jeff Butler regarding Marathon Des Sables. Jeff talked about walking parts of MDS. There is nothing worse than hearing about having to walk parts of a race, and when I saw the Bff’s doing it earlier I saw it as a sign of weakness. But at this half way stage I understood that walking steep parts 13% to 20% made sense. Once over the crest I would kick on running again. I did this about 8 or 9 times.

From 45 kms on I gave 5 kms each to my kids. 45 to 50 to Danny, 50 to 55 to Naoise or Ni Ni as we call her. And 55 to 60 to Dara.

I cant really describe much here because when I get to this stage of a race I always bring my head to another place to help with the strain or pain. This is where the kids come in. They carry me.

I do remember however how foggy it was up top at this stage. And out of the fog one of the Bff’s had been dumped. Nice one.

I could see he was suffering, I knew I was going to catch him on a hill. I just wanted to make sure I could make it stick and not only go pass him. But keep going ruling out any tit for tat. I was patient and waited for the right spot, downed a gel and went for it. I just pretended I was physically fine and got a real kick and release of energy going into 4th place at this stage of the race.

Once the crest of that hill was taken, it was pretty much downhill. I had left the final 3kms for Jasper.

Jasper is the name of the room that my wife stayed in Hughs House. Hence the picture above with my son Danny. The picture has a funny thing going on around my fingers of my right hand. Might be easily explained. Or whats the point in explaining. Leave it as something special.

(https://barryloftus.wordpress.com/2019/04/09/marathon-des-sables-and-hughs-house/ )

I do not know anything about Jasper, his or her parents, his or her story. All I know is that he or she did not make it. Like many of the children of parents that stay in Hugh’s House.

It was Jasper’s job to carry me down that hill as fast as possible, it was Jasper’s job to keep the twangs of hamstring cramps away. It was Jasper’s job to keep me close to 5ish min pace at this stage of this race. Jasper did it, I completed an absolute humdinger of a race in 4th place 6 hours and 21 minutes.

I crossed the line scanned, and sat down. Soup and a wrap provided. My buddy and fellow member of Crossmolina GFC coaching staff came in soon after, calling me expletives. But I could see he was stoked. He and his partner Julie on a romantic weekend away. lols. (My Mrs would stab me at the suggestion of such a weekend away from the kids)

Thanks to Harold and all the Volunteers in Moville, Barr’s B and B and everyone in between for a wonderful experience. Smaller numbers in races are really cool in a sense that everyone gets to know everyone else. It is a far more intimate experience versus over 2000 competitors in an Ironman.

The Rocks N Rolling 63 km Ultra has left me with more questions than answers. If the course had been flat, how far can I run in a race? I can feel a physical and mental yearning to push the distance now to 100kms. The only way I can describe it is that I have found more gears. And it feels very natural to run longer and further. Much like our ancestors did. Centuries ago. Up top on those hills chasing, I felt closer to the bronze age than titanium.

The journey as always is becoming more and more fascinating.

Roll On Marathon Des Sables for Hugh’s House 2020.


Marathon Des Sables and Hughs House


Writing or Blogging has become somewhat cathartic over the last few years. I have one half written book, and another project that was to become a published short story to raise funds for ”Hughs house”.

This short story is a fictional tale based on the real life events of a little girl called Dara. It is finished, but prior to taking it any further I asked for help from the big smoke writing factory – specifically Elizabeth Murray. I had hoped that through this critique. I could publish the story to raise funds for a very special house we stayed in whilst Dara took her first tentative steps in life.

With the critique, we both realized that i was trying to squeeze too much into a short story. And this story could possibly form the basis of a novel. The story as fantasy fiction but based on a  real life event is quite sensitive not only for obvious reasons but also from a societal standpoint. And even though many months have passed since this story started, I personally am still, and quite possibly never will be over the trauma that was experienced within the walls of those maternity wards.

This novel will be written, but may never see the light of day.

But the walls I hold dear, and often think about are the walls of Hughs House. This great Georgian hulking urban warmth. Nestled in between centuries of human transience. When in life you are stripped down to the most raw state, left with a bare bones of emotion to find a welcoming place that understands and allows is very hard to explain. To find an understanding in walls. That can just let you be, and be there at your most vulnerable is both something I would not wish on anyone but at the same time glad that it is available, if the worst ever came.

”Hughs House provides family accomadation 365 days of the year for parents who have ill children in Temple St, Holles St, The Coombe and Rotunda hospitals. See http://www.hughshouse.ie/

So rather than wait for god knows how long to finish a novel, I will be participating in next years Marathon Des Sables in aid of Hughs House.


”Marathon des Sables, or MdS, (French for Marathonof the Sands, also known as Sahara Marathon) is a six-day, 251 km (156 mi) ultramarathon, which is approximately the distance of six regular marathons.”

To be honest after what myself and Alma went through, I found it very hard to get back on the bike in the shed this winter,  and get Triathlon ready. I felt the life had totally been sucked out of me. I thought if i rowed back the distance from Ironman to sprint Triathlon it would work. But my heart was not in it. All i wanted to do was run. And run long.

Preparations are well under way, and via the coaching from @stephandonnellytri I am slowly but surely being transformed into a plant based runner. I have a 63km Ultra next month which will be the real start. But i have undertaken some really long training runs already. I love the sense of adventure, solitude, and thought of filling my camel back with water – and running what now as of this weekend will be 44km training run.

Even though I enjoy the solitude, I am also looking forward to running in the desert with 3 lads that I know. All equally up for and looking forward to the challenge ahead.

I have only ever done one day events, a multi day event camping out in the Sahara is both exiting and daunting at the same time. Having to carry all of your kit including food throughout in that heat will be difficult I am sure. But we will be well prepared. And as always I will not be going over there to make up the numbers.

The costs borne to do the event will be out of my pocket.

All monies raised through a funding page will be given to Hughs House to be used as they see fit. I will be posting up details of how to contribute to this cause in the lead up to my first Ultra Marathon which is next month https://extremenorthevents.com/rocks-rolling-ultra-marathon/





Ironman branded races make a big play on “Why we Tri”. A wordplay on the reasoning behind bothering to put oneself through hours of being uncomfortable.

Why I did the Dublin City Marathon, has its own Prism. Imprisoned with respect for the privacy of others. It has it’s own story. It has it’s own life. Why I did yesterday, was to express the darkness and cruelty as much as the humour and light.


Why is it that some people come into one’s life for such a brief period but yet leave such a lasting impact. Through action not words. Without pushing an agenda, a softly approach.

Last May Deca Man Ger Prendergast came down to do StrandMan. Ger is doing 52 Ironmans in 52 weeks for mental health Ireland. Whilst we all raced a half Ironman on one of the hottest days of the year, Ger did a full. On his own. Ger is a vegan. He does not drink alcohol. I found this out, post race around about my 8th pint of special. A seed was sown.

Two months later whilst getting a lift from Ironman Estonia registration, back to our accomodation, a fella who has not publicly talked about an alcohol free life – we will call him Danger – Talked about a book by Alan Carr “The easy way to control your drinking”

‘Pah’ I said in that rental car. “I love pints. I am not a big drinker. I love going down for 2 to 4 pints, coming home having a few glasses of wine and watching Netflix with Nobody annoying me. I love that”.

During post race Ironman celebrations. Having been on the beer all day. I questioned Danger. He talked about the book. The differences. The life. Seeds were sown.

That night, I got absolutely fucked up. Myself and the two remaining Westport girls were the only surviving members of a large group. Beer moved to Gin. Because you know. Classy.

I got malogen. Up to and including showing how I was still physically fine after Ironman by doing press ups on the night club floor.

The bruise and swelling on my nose from falling on my face after the first press up was the only injury declared in customs upon arrival home.

I have known for a long time that my level of alcohol intake was not conducive to what I do. The best and worst part of me is that I could drink a pint after work and a bottle of red wine at home on a Friday night. And then get up the following morning and do 6 hours on a bike or run 30km no problem.

If after an occasion, be that a party, event and or stag. I could get up, pause a hangover, train and then resume said hangover. There should be a study done as to how this is possible.

Bottom line, some may see this alcohol intake as a lot. Some may say it’s a little, but I see now it was ridiculous considering what I do on a day to day basis.

I started to listen to “How to control your drinking” on audible during our family holiday in early August. Maybe those seeds had started to sprout or it was intrigue.

Without giving anything away. If these words resonate, I do not want to spoil the book for you. You will know what I mean when you read or listen to it.

7 days in to a 14 day holiday I had my last drink.

Why leave myself so open here?

A week after that we had our 22 week anomoly scan for our third baby. Re read paragraph 2.

Last week, a Tuesday before a Sunday marathon I decided I would do it. I have not trained specific endurance since late July. It is the equivalent of playing some League football in the summer and then deciding to line out in the County Final.

How I did this, I put down in no small part to the fact that I was alcohol free since mid August and vegetarian since close to the same time.

I was nervous on the start line owing more to the level of preparation. Frantically looking for the 3:30 balloon Pacers , only to be told they were in the second wave. My plan was to keep the powder dry for the first 25kms.

Keeping a close eye on my heart rate and pace I would check myself regularly. It’s very easy kick onto a faster pace and get sucked in by the crowd and fellow competitors. For the most part in that first half i felt good. In some parts great. And I looked forward to seeing my wife and bump outside the coombe.

Keeping a sharp eye coming towards Dolphins barn I could not see or hear her and knew something was up. But also knew if she had gone into labour whilst racing word would have got to me on the course.

Reaching and passing the half way point I started to feel the pinch. I had hoped to maybe open up the choke and start running at 4:30 km pace but I knew that it would now be a struggle to hold 5:00km pace.

From here on in it was all about my kids. I imagined them willing me on in their own voices, it dulls the pain. Without proper training , everything down to tendons and ligaments have not experienced proper training load. Those voices carried me the whole way to 40kms.

I was saving the last 2 Kms for our bump. We know who she is. We have named her. It was her who was carrying me over those 2000 plus metres.

I started to tear up a bit with about 800 metres to go.

I spot Ciaran Maguire. Myself and our bump drop a gear to take him out. We like beating the jackeeeeen on their own turf.

I sprint to the line and finish 3:34. 17 minutes outside of last year’s time.

Nature can be cruel. But it ain’t as tough as our baby girl.


Ps. Due to the nature of chip timing I actually started ahead of Ciaran as he was behind me in the pen. So he bet me by a minute. Not annoyed about this at all. Cough.

5 Thing’s Ironman has taught me about business


Keep going

Lanzarote is billed as one of the toughest long distance races in the world. Being my second I was cocky as hell. I even invested in a snazzy pair of new speedo goggles a few days before the race.

The swim start in lanza is the stuff of legend. Totally unnecessary. But legendary nonetheless . Two and a half thousand athletes are funnelled through what could be described as the width of a room.

You hit the water like a missle and are soon engulfed. The washing machine goes into its last spin cycle whilst at the same time getting kicked and punched in the face.

My snazzy speedos were expedited from my face. Never to be seen again. There is no hand up in air. “Sorry gents I seem to have lost my water spectecles, any chance you old chaps would have a spare? ”


The only option was to put the head down and somehow using jedi powers find my way without the ability to see.

Exiting the Australian exit for the second 1.9k looped I screamed Goggles like a recently felled Hollywood screen soldier looking for a medic. And with a stroke of luck I got a pair!

Lesson: When you can’t see shit, keep going. You may be helped by a random stranger


Having the best kit means nothing

In the same race towards the end of the 7hr bike leg I arrived at the second lowest point in my life . (The lowest is a doozy)

On the second last climb. I was willing my €4.500.00 Trek 7.5 speed concept time trial bike up that bastard mountain. Grinding the gears, at the corner of my eye I could see something starting to creep past.

I looked to my left. A British army soldier, riding a €400 fixed gear bike was about to pass me out. It get’s worse. On the back of his bike was the Japanese flag with the image of Hiroo Onoda.

Who the jaysis is Hiroo Onoda you may ask.

He is buck, a few buttons short of a remote control- that kept fighting in the second world war 29 years after it ended because he did not know the war was over.

lesson: No matter how much you have. Someone with less is doing more. Keep grinding.


Life low

Yet again the same race . And people wonder why I will not go back there.

Towards the end of the lanza bike, I was, bonking (body has ran out of nutrition to fuel) like no one has ever bonked before.

There is nothing left in the tank. But you have to somehow keep going.

Draughting ie. Staying behind another rider to gain aerodynamic benefit from the rider in front, is illegal in most triathlon races . There is supposed to be a 12 metre gap between each cyclist. In order to prevent cheating.

Not only did I draught behind another athlete, that athlete was; Female. Old as fuck . So old in fact Wayne Rooney would have been all over her. She was a granny. No offence to granny’s anywhere.

But then, as a 33 year old man. On a €4.5k bike draughing behind a Rooney groupie it was my greatest low point. And what made.it worse was, one of those bronzed continental types passing as I was draughting giving me a disapproving shake of the head.

lesson: If its embarrassing but its getting you to your destination. Suck it up.


Everybody hurts Everybody cries

Everybody around you suffers too

Sure there has to be a sad song!

It is easy to get sucked into your own self in these drives of motivation . However everyone around you takes the blows as much as the individual racing.

Be thay at home tracking, or there on site frantically fretting about the health of their own loved one.

Everyone has their own personal drip drip drip of cortisol. They feel every bump on the road to the start line never mind the finish line. They are as emotionally corded to a dream. As much as the dreamer, he or she. But without any comparative release of chemical to that of the main card .

Lesson : those who follow and execute dreams drain the emotional resources of those around them.


It happens

I get a lot of comments from folks after I post regarding my trend to always comment, on some sort of bodily fluid ejection. What you take from that sentence depends on how corrupted you may already be. Seek help.

But it does happen. People do shat themselves. The old 50/50 the joke is as old as endurance racing or two day drinking itself.

Do not trust a fart lads. It may destroy you . And whatever you do, please preempt this scenario by not wearing white all in one triathlon gear . Beacuse the result is hard for the duck running athlete in front as much as the horrified individual behind.

Lesson: err on the side of caution .

7th and Down

Tallin 7th and down

We had a fantastic Yoga teacher on the recent qualification I did this year. He taught yoga philosophy. I always remember great teachers, how they leave you with something. A road to follow.

He was full of stories, and yoga stories trip balls. But this special one I was saving for this Ironman.

The Ram mantra in yoga means super conciousness, truth and virtue. But it can still mean many other things and be taken many other ways depending on who, what,or why.

When Gandhi was shot in 1948 at point blank range, he could be heard saying “Ram Ram Ram” in his dying moments he could be heard reciting a mantra.

Upon hearing this, I knew this mantra was going to work for the marathon leg of Ironman Estonia. “Ram Ram Ram”.

Then another endurance junkie friend told me to give a lap to someone. So each 10k lap was named either Danny or Naoise.

Are you still with me?


Try swimming what should have been 3.8km but turned out to be 4.02km in a sea aptly named baltic but without any salt. But with added diesal tasting water who’s fumes got into your teeth.

Nobody could see shit, at least twice I thought- That must be it, only for another turn. That swim leg seemed like an ice age. And I was happily surprised to finish 4k swimming in 1.09.

“Danny ram ram ram, Danny ram ram ram, Danny ram ram ram”

Not taking any heed of pace, no heart rate monitor. No gels whatsoever. “Danny ram ram ram”

Part of me laughed at those Russians, it was either a Vitaly or an Andrei bombing past. Doped to the gills, never mind draughting! Men the size of Aiden O’ Shea. Tree trunk legs. Huge. Like a train, hurtling past. One buck had a special holder on his race belt for an inhaler. I shit you not. Nearly blew a fuse laughing .

I just felt my way around that 180k bike. First 90 in sub 2:40ish. Going hard but holding back at the same time . My pee pee game was good. Happy to pee on the bike, knowing that I was hydrated and thus so more than likely not going to cramp on the run.

I met and past Ciaran, doing our now customary “ah jaysis” and kept going. Just 1km per hour faster mind. This was the strongest I have ever been on my bike .The course suited being flat. Then the heavens opened, lightning and claps of thunder and boiling rain. I felt sorry for the awesome volunteers. I don’t think those Estonian military recruits volunteered to protect random byroads versus their borders but they were also awesome nontheless.

After being passed by many juiced riders and draughting pelotons. At approx 160km on the bike I threw skin in the game and went draughting too. At this stage with all the rain, the roads were like a bottle and motorbike marshalls had backed off even though their stewarding of the rules were as effective as an ash tray on a motorbike. So I also broke the rules.

I got in a stick and rode hard, too hard. Sure as hell I cheated then took the wrong line into a roundabout locked up and had to eject. Better than Goose. I waited for the canopy, but ended up in a ball on the grass. No dramas I was fine, bike was fine. Up and at it, junior b shhhtyle.

I bonked a bit towards the end of the bike. I lost 5 mins approx. One mad viking type gave me a gee up and I got home . PB 5:18 bike.


Ok Danny get me through this first 10k.

“Danny ram ram ram” I needed him, the marathon course was in parts. A joke . I would not tolerate it for StrandMan. The hills I did not mind even though hard to get done. Turns, I get it. Its a city there are going to.be turns. Crowded, fine. But if AGS scaoffolding had seen the state of the temporary bridge erected they would have taken photos on how not to do it. I am sorry for being negative first timers . But at €550, not good enough. At one downhill turn there was a ball of concrete left- and close to that barriers way too tight for two streams of runners.

Some may say teething problems, I say bollox . Ironman is a billion dollar company this was basic stuff.

“Danny ram ram ram”

Get me too the turn around Danny, just clipping those kms. The volunteers were awesome. The feed stations awesome. Even with pickled cucumbers and black bread. I stopped at every station. Staying away from gels, an unnecessary evil imo. “Danny ram ram ram” Get me home Danny. Then Ni Ni has me.

Naoise is feisty, she is not two yet. But she will claw the eyes out of your head to watch paw patrol . She talks to you when she wants. Watches paw patrol when she wants.

“Ni Ni ram ram ram”

Take over Ni Ni, get me to the turn around. Shit starts to get real now. Fatigue is setting in “Ni Ni ram ram ram” but Ni Ni claws that lap for me. I meet “ah jaysis” himself. Going in the wrong direction. Looked like it was all over. Gi issues. But in the most impressive and truely awe inspiring fashion. He soldiers through 37km of puer torture. Kudos.

“Ni Ni ram ram ram”

I had to pee, not on myself. Im good but not that good . But happy . Hydrated. The heavens.opened again. It was like a trail run. These random Tallin volunteers in the biblical rain helping for a free tshirt from a billion dollar company were amazing. Kept smiling, kept encouraging. “Ni Ni ram ram ram” get me home Ni Ni.

Danny is like his mam, relaxed. Sometimes he just heads to bed because he is tired. I needed him for that third lap. “Danny ram ram ram”

This mantra never stopped throughout. I observed but the record never stopped playing. It got me through, it kept my pace. It kept my heart rate. It kept me. “Danny ram ram ram” Get me home Danny. Get me to Ni Ni.

Ni Ni takes over. Its all Ni Ni. “Ni Ni ram ram ram, Ni Ni ram ram ram, Ni Ni ram ram ram”

Get me home girl, get me over the line. Help your Daddy finish. Get me a good time. Around the corners, over the concrete, up the death trap into the park. “Ni Ni ram ram ram”

Onto the cobbles burning my feet one last time. Come on Ni Ni, get Daddy home. 800mtrs. “Ni Ni ram ram ram” 200 mtrs. “Ni Ni ram ram ram” finish .

For the 7th time. I do not hear Barry loftus you are an Ironman. And nor do I give a fuck.

I could not talk for approx 30 minutes.

I went to the maximum on each discipline. I did a personal best of 10 hours and 26 minutues for 226km. With Danny and Ni Ni every step of the way.



I have being soaking up peoples experiences and thoughts about StrandMan for the last 24 odd hours.

My perspective is an unusual one, as having put the race together. I got to race and experience it from an athlete and organizers perspective. So I write this with two hats, and it makes my head hurt.

My overall emotion over the last few weeks has been anger. Anger at the bollox that we are being fed regarding the Wild Atlantic Way. This golden goose marketing strategy that sets the right tones but is backed up with supermarket pan pipes rather than a concert orchestra. (I hate pan pipes by the way).

I wrote a blog fueled by red wine just over a week ago. Thank god I deleted it because I went full metal jacket. This Wild Atlantic Way is a load of bollox unless people that live on the damn thing can do something on it that benefits other people that live on it.

There is no point in one state department promoting something, when the state does not tackle an industry that prevents ordinary groups and business’s from investing in goods and services that promote and create commerce in an area devoid of investment.

If the state can not tackle the insurance industry, what the feck are we going to do if the polar ice caps melt and the Russians start sailing their Atlantic fleet along the Mayo coast, looking to open up a soft front on the edge of Europe. Tin foil hat time. Maybe.

What saved the event, was what made the event. The fabric of community.

And that community is not just the community of Crossmolina. It spreads from Carabine’s Centra in Bangor to the Athlete that traveled from Dublin. The absolute frustration of not being able to secure insurance in comparison to everyone you meet either saying no problem or going totally out of their way to help. That industry is literally stifling growth.

At so many points I thought why do I do this to myself, my wife at this stage continues her silent protest of giving ”You do this to yourself looks”. Why bother, whats the point, feck this, feck everything, I make promises to myself about focusing on my own business and what I can control. Never to bother my bollox ever to run an event ever again. I’m done.

But then, with insurance secured. And event a go.

I drive down to Gortnor Abbey Pier Lough Conn on a Sunday morning at 05:20. And it is like a scene from a novel. The sun is rising from the east, the condensation coming from the water, a glow, the warmth, picture postcard mountains in the distance reflecting a slight reddish color.

I just took a moment and thought this is fecking awesome.

Transition is set up already thanks to AGS scaffolding. Athletes are starting to arrive, some nervous, some buzzing. Jonny comes down with tunes blaring like some home boy in Compton.

Registration is in full flow, and things are starting to flow. Deca Ironman Ger who starts just after 6am in order to complete his full Ironman Distance 3.8k swim 180km bike and 42 km run, can’t see shit in the water. Water safety are tasked to guide and follow, It’s so bright the bouy’s can not be seen.

Everybody hates travelling with me. If I had my way we would be in Knock airport 4 hours before a flight to gatwick. And I mean in the airport, not parking the car with 4 hours to spare. Something might happen.

I start roaring athlete brief 6:45 am. Paddy heads to transition with a wheely bag like he is in the terminal. They know I am not messing with time so brief starts on time.

Hitting the water prior to race start, it is like a bath. I have never experienced Lough Conn like it was yesterday. Clean, warm, clear water.

A drone flies overhead, ready for the off. 10 second count down and race is on. I just feel relief not having to think for 5 odd hours.

I just followed the crowd knowing Stephan and Ciaran would be in mackeral mode. The swim was gorgeous, It was nearly hard to focus. Out of the water in 37 mins I was happy enough. On the bike getting ready for the pain. Garda Pat is on point waving me on at the main road and I am off proper.

Everyone talked about how they were going to take it easy on the road to Bangor. Myself included. Save the juice for Ballycastle to Crossmolina. Where the road is in absolute shite, Mayo Co. Co. ……..

This of course went out the window. Hammer went down. In my head ahead of me was Stephan, Paul, dave, Jonny and Ciaran. I knew I had to go hard in order to give myself any sort of a chance for the half marathon.

Just outside Dooleeg, Paddy- the guy with the airport bag in transition. Pulls up alongside me. ”I’m fucked” I think damn right paddy you fecking cyclist. He then puts the hammer down and drops me. Whatever Paddy, you have to run a half marathon off this bike. Good luck red lining son.

I’m starting to enjoy it now, no traffic, no wind. My buddies who are motorbike Marshall’s pass me. I think this is so fecking awesome. Then my heart drops when I see the high viz surrounding a cyclist. Immediately thinking the worst. Everything ok Jonny? ”Just a flat” NICE ONE!!!!!!!! I put the hammer down.

Going through Bangor, Mandy from Centra is manning a nutrition station. Soon later turning for Balinaboy I see a white dot, must be Ciaran. At this stage feeling super good I reach and pass him. But I never really pulled away only putting about a minute on him from Glenamoy to finish.

Coming around by Belderrig was just something else as the Atlantic comes into view, hugging the ceide coast, some of the best Triathlon sights I have ever witnessed. Descending into Ballycastle when the bay came into view was like the Mediterranean. That shimmer from the water.

I took from the feed station set up by the Ballycastle ceide half marathon group.

I knew the road from Ballycastle to Crossmolina was going to be rough. It was beyond that. It has been carpet bombed. The surface is brutal, around kincon it is like speed bumps. You are going through gears, up and down off the tri bars never finding an ounce of Rhythm. Still going as hard as I can I can feel my right glut and lower back starting to lock a bit.

99km done, i’m back in just over 3 hours. I see Paul running, I reckon he has 15 minutes on me. Ciaran is like a bad smell. He Won’t go away.

I ran pretty well for the first lap, 4:10 to 4:30 ish pace. Stopping at Gordon’s transition. John is reading a book, at a table that would not look out of place selling Lemonade in the deep south. Isotonic in, water in, and gels in. I’m running well and start to think about closing the gap in front. Cyclist Paddy will be in a ball crying around one corner or another I am sure.

As I come to my own home, my fam, mam and kids are out in the garden like they are on craic cocaine. I’m laughing now but at the time in full race mode you are just trying to remain calm!

Lap one done and a bit of a buzz around transition. Onlookers starting to come down for a look, family, friends, members from Liquid Motion Tri. It’s awesome. Lap two goes relatively well but I was just wanted it all to be over now. I remember looking at my watch with 9km to go thinking a sub 1:40 run was on the cards. Then on lap 3 the cramps started first a golf ball in my left hamstring then my right quad started went full Alien Sigurney Weaver mode. A local trainee nurse was at the shrine, an avid marathoner herself. She had one look at the twitching and understanding the mindset decided to leave me alone.

It passed having thought I might not finish with the cramping, I just started running to finish, Slowing down and walking where needs be. Snipers everywhere, right calf cramp, goes away. Sniper, left calf cramp. Goes away. Sniper, hamstring cramp.

Who laps me but the cyclist himself, flying. No top on full Chuck Norris mode. I was losing the will to live.

It’s all about completion at this point, just get to the finish line which I did. 20k in 1:46 finish time 5:29. 5th place.

As an athlete disappointed. To train as hard as this and go as hard as this, to be so off the mark is disheartening.

As an organizer, now that my head was up. I was for the first time to see that other perspective. The faces, the joy, the pain and the happiness of my fellow competitors. Everybody was buzzing. One by one they crossed in sheer delight. No matter what position they came in. The look of accomplishment made every bit of cortisol released in my system over the last few weeks worth it.

I forget, StrandMan is mental. 2k swim 100k bike including the ho chi min trail and a 20k run in the hottest day I have ever experienced in Crossmolina was a feat of endurance that some were experiencing for the first time.

It did not matter if it took 4:30 or 8:00 hours. Everyone ground out and turned a half ironman into I believe a 3/4 Ironman.

I am very gratefull to my wife for putting up with me, my Dad for being race director, my mam, fam and kids on craic, all the volunteers that helped out with transition, nutrition stations, Guards for providing cover, my 3 biker amigos, water safety, sponsors Mattie, Reel Deel Brewary, Connacht whiskey Distillary, Molloys Pharmacy, Michael Hopkins Cycles, O Malleys Bar and Grill, Cezary.

Without them the race would not be possible.

But my greatest thanks goes to the Athletes that had feck all training done and went out and completed that race yesterday. This attitude makes me want to go again with this race in 2019.

Provisional date will be the Sunday of the Crossmolina festival in mid July.


It’s not the distance but the pace that kills.

Not waiting around for the 1:30 baloon for this year’s Ballina Half Marathon I decided, to take off on my own steam for the first time ever in a long race. Previously I would have paced off someone , but with Ray Mc on his holiers and Ivan the great injured the only others I knew ahead of me we’re John Byrne, Micheal Canty and Dwayne I’ll be pacing off those lads when we are racing as octogenarians.

The weather never seems to let us down for this race, I have a nice singlet sunburn from yesterday. However that wind was cat. I’d like to think it cost me a minute. Certainly burned me out. My legs felt very heavy 10km in, I don’t know whether this was the pace I took out at or whether my form is not on point. Either way after 10k I was looking forward to the gradient heading south but that coincided with wind so it did not feel like speed as per previous years. The old road back to Beleek was a total drag and I was just willing my head into the woods.

It’s a bit of a false ridge being able to see Keane’s shop and pub from Beleek feeling like you are close but still having 6 k to go. To be honest being there in those woods at the hour mark I thought holy moly you are on for 1:25 ish here. I felt like Mo farah for about 2 minutes until Gary from Leeds just knocked it into cruise control and breezed past me. I was out of gears.

It was a real grind from there on in, I felt like I had something to lose. My pace slowed right down to 4:30 pace sometimes getting back to 4:10 but I had nothing in the tank. At this point I always break it down to the shortest goals.

Get to bachelor’s walk, get to the bridge , get to the quay road. At the quay road I was at about 1:20. Just wanting it all to be over. The reserves are gone and any hopes of a strong finish out the window. I kept saying forget the watch and just focus on what’s left but you still try and calculate your finish time in some sort of game. It does not make any difference as speed will not increase. To decrease means stopping so you just keep that pace maintenance to get to the line.

Creggs road has this insanely slight gradient that sucks the bejaysis out of you. It’s not a hill, just a gradient increase. Coming around the bend I could see the clock just go into the 1:28 minute, and was not interested in some sort of a kamikaze burst of madness so I just coasted to 1:28:20.

The progress is in the fact that I did the Ballina half 7 years ago in 1:50 ish. If you had told me then I would do it in 1:28 I would have laughed. Now here I believe with a stronger finish I’m closer to 1:25. Why? Just belief. Maybe not that course but certainly flatter, cooler and less windy.

The progress is being delivered through my coach who has re mapped my former Gaa components into endurance. That is a blog in itself so I won’t delve further.

But what I can delve on, which is awesome is the likes of Paul Hogan, Frank Reape, young Fox and Colm Reilly.

I can feel those mo fo’s breathing down my neck. And I am fucked if they will beat me in a long distance race. I know we’re all nice nice. And they are sound men. But competition is competition. They are flaking themselves. Their gains do not go unnoticed.

I can’t stress how awesome this is to have locally. It drives me to get up this morning. Dying. It drives me to get more out of myself. Not only to keep the wolves from snapping but also to take a few scalps along the way.

It’s just my opinion. Take it with a pinch of salt. But I think competition is the greatest asset in keeping your mental and physical health. It creates a natural furnace. Heats you when you need it. Focuses you when you are idle. It is not financially or socially motivated. It is just pure.

Singlet, shorts , shoes and watch.

Run MO FO. I’m watching you.