Sunday, May 3, 2009

Finito capito

Like political careers, athletic ones tend to end in miserable humiliating failure, and mine just did in the ultrarunning equivalent of getting it all in with pocket 2s in the first hand of the WSOP main event because you thought the other guy was at it but actually he had aces.

Three hours into this year's World 24 hour championships in Bergamo I was already in trouble, and three hours later accepted the pointlessness of flogging a dead horse any further and limped back to my hotel for a good kip. No excuses: the simple fact is that the desire and tolerance for extreme discomfort and pain that is essential to being a top class ultra runner is no longer there. I never managed to convince myself that running for 24 hours yesterday represented anything other than supreme pointless folly. In fact, my overwhelming feeling from the moment the race started was what a horribly boring thing it was going to be to run for 24 hours. I have nothing but respect for those who dedicate themselves to it, particularly my teammates Eoin Keith (who broke his own national record and in coming 5th achieved by far the highest ever finishing position of an Irishman) and Eddie Gallen who delivered another sterling performance.

Congratulations also to the Italian organisers who put on the best race I've ever been part of. I wish the same could be said about the Irish end of things but it was the usual shambles featuring runners in ancient gear because the national federation had not provided new stuff, and an incompetent "team manager". More on that another time perhaps.

In the mean time, it suffices to draw a line under an ultra running career that started as an unexpected bonus at the end of my marathon career, provided me with many happy memories including what it feels like to win a 60K race in central Park in the greatest city on earth, a 50K in the only hills in Holland, a 6 hour indoor race on a roller skate rink in the Czech republic, and a 24 hour national championship in 35 degree heat and 90% humidity, and probably ended effectively as soon as I captured my first major poker title.

Finally: the agony and the ecstacy of ultra running finds no better summation than the Frenchwoman who ran for 24 hours to claim the world championship only to find she had failed by a mere 11 metres to capture the world record too.


Unlucky Doke... pity about the poor show by Team Manager/Federation support, but I think all sports in Ireland (bar FAI) get sweet FA support from the state or revelant bodies.

Still listing your achievements, you should be proud of them, all those fine accomplishments. This week's race was just a blip, you had an off day. Maybe you are right, it's time to step back from ultrarunning but don't give up running just yet! You'll find that mojo again... The big win is around that corner!

See you at the tables!

Be proud of all you have achieved Dara. If it's over then it's over; it comes to all sportsmen at some point. It's only sad when the sportsman in question can't see it.

More time to concentrate on poker & taking down another big one.


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