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  • Writer's pictureBarra Oconnell

AMSTERDAM MARATHON TRIP 2022

Sean Lucey Eagle AC

This Amsterdam Marathon idea started as a prank. My good friend Jack Murphy would constantly send me YouTube videos of Kilian Jornet or Courtney Dauwalter and show how amazing they were completing their 100 mile races over difficult terrain. He would then start saying things like we should sign up to the Jungfrau marathon or the Ultra Trail Mount Blanc. Now don’t get me wrong, this sounds amazing. However over the years I had slowly become bitter and disgruntled with all the injuries I had picked up and was afraid of completing anything. When I joined Eagle AC back in November 2015, I joined because I wanted to complete a marathon. Roll on to the end of 2016 and I had completed 2. From 2017 onwards I then came up with the ingenious idea of injuring myself every summer. Taekwondo, tag rugby (the worlds most dangerous sport) and 5 a side soccer are not good complements for running. Not for me anyway. Would I learn my lesson? As it turns out…No. I decided the best way to prepare for a virtual marathon was to do some mountain biking. Even better, crash the mountain bike, ruin my right quad and do the virtual Dublin marathon 3 weeks later. It didn’t go well. Cue more bitterness. It was at that moment I needed help. I spent a great deal of time annoying Damian Kenneally in the Edge sports telling him my problems (running ones obviously). He gave me crazy advice to give up all this foolish shenanigans and just run. It seemed to work as I hit a 10km PB a few months later. Small bit of confidence restored and it would be around 18 months to the marathon.

When we came out of the good side of Covid and we could go abroad again, my friends and I wanted to do a race abroad, for a while it was looking like a half in Rome but I wanted to try and bring my over enthusiastic friends back down to earth. We booked the Amsterdam Marathon. As well as Jack there was Alan Wong who is no stranger to marathons and David Woods who like Jack would be running his first.

Racing Resumed

So preparation began and i started signing up to races left, right and centre. The year started with the most amazing race in the world. Yes you’ve guessed it, the Valentia Island half marathon. Jack Murphy blitzed it and came 5th also getting sub 90 mins for the second time. Unfortunately, Jack got injured in this race so he was out for a bit. To be fair though Jack always comes back stronger. Alan Wong also is a man that enjoys a come back and was already completing the Cork marathon with Michelle Cheung this year. Not to be left out and also very impressive was David Woods completing a Malin to Mizen cycle in May. Meanwhile I as receiving confidence boosters completing Ballintotis and Limerick 6 mile both at 7:30 a mile pace. The rest of the summer went quite well as we slowly started increasing mileage. As Alan, Jack and David all picked up injuries over the summer I thankfully remained injury free. This was the first summer since 2016 that I didn’t pick up some form of an injury.

There was one more confidence booster to come. As Jack came back from Injury No. 2 (this was from paintballing, less said about that the better), both of us completed the Kilkenny 30km. A really good race. Testing enough with the hills on the course. It measured slightly longer with Polar telling me I ran 30.9km. Jack completed the race in 2 hrs 21 mins and I completed it in 2 hrs 26 mins. I just want to say at this point we had our lunch in Petronellas after the race and it was amazing. Fine spot for food. Not too long later and we were tapering. Alan the poor man still not fully healed but he is made of stronger stuff and was confident of completing the race.

Marathon Weekend

We flew out on the early 6 am Friday morning flight. Dropped our bags at the apartment. We stayed at the cityden bolo district. A fine 4 bed apartment with tram and bus routes right outside. The metro was not too far away. First port of call was the Heineken experience. Very nice tour great way to spend the morning as it had been raining outside. After a few Heinekens we headed to the marathon expo and collected our number, also we collected what I would describe as the nicest race t shirt I have ever received.

The Saturday was a cautious affair. As part of the marathon, we opted to do the pasta party. This would entail an all you can eat buffet and a drink as well. It was a great idea before a marathon. Carb loading is important. We returned to the apartment and watched Forrest Gump - just wanted to watch his form really. We originally thought Tom Cruise in mission impossible but his form is questionable.

The day of the marathon arrived. We were up early, breakfast finished, shower done and gels at the ready. We got the metro fairly near to the Olympic stadium, dropped our bags, completed a warm up and headed inside. Oh my word: the atmosphere was amazing. So many runners eagerly awaiting the start. There was already a crowd gathering in the stands. I couldn’t wait to get going. We started to move to where the 3:20 pacer was. Me and Jack were targeting a sub 3:30, David a Sub 4 and Alan just wanted to finish given the injuries.

We watched as the elites went off. Then it was our turn…….. I have to say the first half of the race went very well. I went through the half in 1 hr 40. Very happy with that. It wasn’t until mile 20 when I thought oh ya I forgot these get tough around now but thankfully did not panic. My pacing had gone well I knew that if I kept it below 9 minute miles I should break 3 hr 30. Unfortunately I hit a 9:25 mile at mile 23, I also stopped for a bit as I found the pace starting to get really tough, took on some energy drink and continued on. I managed a few sub 9 minute miles after but mile 26 I hit another 9:25. At 26.2 miles I checked the watch…30 seconds over. No shame in that, Kaka the Brazilian soccer player has a world cup and champion league medal but when it comes to the marathon I have the edge. The official time was 3 hrs 32 mins. Jack completed it in 3 hrs 24 mins, David Woods getting sub 4 hrs and Alan completing it in 5 hrs 36 mins. As I crossed the line there was a tear or two. A tear because after a few years where I felt I was plagued with injuries then Covid coming I feel like I’m getting back to where I need to be. I can’t wait to start training for my next event. What started as a way to bring my friends back down to earth has shot me to the moon.

So Jungfrau marathon anyone? Here guys that Courtney Dauwalter is amazing have you seen her on YouTube? Yes confidence restored and onto the next adventure.

With that I want to thank David, Jack and Alan. It’s good to have friends, it’s great to have friends that you can run with. I hope ye read this because ye were a big help in getting me there. Another thanks goes to Damian Kenneally. A man I very much admire and has been so good the last few years giving me advice.

Race Weekend Notes

Just a last few notes. Great race, very well organised. Plenty of toilets, water and energy drinks on the course. Great support all round. We flew back the Wednesday so we went to the Nemo Science museum Monday. Very good place with plenty of interactive games. Fantastic place for a family. Not great if you’re like me, an engineer who wants to build a bridge and kids won’t get out of your way. On Tuesday we did a canal cruise with Flagship Amsterdam. The hosts were excellent. They gave a great history of Amsterdam and served drinks on board. When it came to food. We had breakfast at the breakfast club and had it in Moak another day, the latter being absolutely amazing and highly recommend their pancakes. When it came to dinner we ate in Foodhallen - a cheap mans marina market really but still very nice with plenty of culinary delights. Also there was cannibal royale. Fine place for burgers and steaks. I think the pasta party is well worth adding to marathon ticket. There were various pastas there so catered for all. Plenty of nice bars too. Do yourself a favour and order a Kwak. Overall, a trip I highly recommend.

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