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How Far Did YOU Run in the Cork City Marathon

 It's All About the SPR!

 Article by John Quigley, AIMS/World Athletics Grade 'A' International Measurer


ccm south link 2022 photo gearoid o laoi ccm south link 2022 photo gearoid o laoi spr


These images, from Gearóid Ó Laoí's photo, showing very experienced runners approaching Boreenmanna Road, on the South Link, and illustrate very clearly, the differnce running the SPR can make. Surprisingly, everyone is 'glued' to the left-hand side, whereas they should be on the extreme right, close to the centre-margin

Last Sunday's Cork City Marathon and Half-Marathon were measured, over the past few months, to AIMS/World Athletics standards.  This certifies that the course is at least the specified distance

Courses are normally measured starting from the finish line, back to the start, so rou're going in reverse to the runners direction. Because of issues like the South Link Road, where you'd be cycling against traffic, and the Jack Lynch Tunnel, where traffic is manic at the best of times, the Cork Marathon's measurement takes place over four separate Sunday's, early in the morning.  In normal circumstances, the Marathon would be measured in a single session...but the First Rule of Measurement is 'Go Home Safely'

The South Link, South Ring Road, Tunnel and Tivoli sections are done with Garda 'Protection', with several large Garda 'Jeeps' acting as shields/protection, keeping traffic back .....Imagine, driving at 100kph, on the South Ring, approaching the Jack Lynch Tunnel, and coming across a cyclist cutting across the road in front of you!  RTE News that evening "An auld fella, who shoulda know better, became roadkill, cycling all over the road on a dual carriageway!"

So... Measurement is taken seriously, and personal safety even more so.  Having done all of this again - certification lasts five years, so it will need to be done again before the 2027 event, unless the course changes - it's dissapointing to see so many runners, particularly those at the front of races, 'running all over the gaff'

At the expo in City Hall last Saturday, I gave several talks on the routes, and gave lots of tips on where to run the SPR - Shortest Possible Route

The areas I stressed primarily were the section from Christy Ring Bridge to Ladyswell Brewery, on the way out and back, the section between 4 Miles and the Tunnel. The Tunnel itself and the South Ring to Mahon Point slip road, from Mahon Point slip road to the Dog's home are MAJOR areas where you can lose time/run long...and most do!  The next big 'loss making' section is the South Link, particularly from the Elysian to Boreenmanna illustrated earlier, however the biggest 'loss maker', after the Tunnel/South Ring/Mahon Point section, is Curragh Road to Tramore Road

Tunnel to Mahon Point

The entire length Tunnel itself was measured along the centre wall, yet pretty much everybody ran along the other lane, with many close to the opposite wall. After this, on the approaches to Mahon Point, most were out in the road, whereas it was measured, for the most part, in the hard shoulder, close to the edge of the tarmac

SPR - How to run on a 'twisty road'

This is where the course is measured 'Line of sight...Bend to Bend'. Why run a longer distance?  You've trained for months... and then underperform because you run farther than you need.  The strategy should be the same for your shorter races too.  The primary reason for not running the SPR is when you're heading into a strong headwind...and you're sheltering behing someone bigger than you <grin> ....been there done that!


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Examples of the SPR on winding roads

spr bends

spr street

Crossing street diagonally


spr 1

Heading towards Tivoli, these runners are pretty much 'On The Money', running the SPR


spr 2

Positions not too bad, but further out than I'd like to see


spr 3

One of the pacing groups, with the Pacers way over on the 'wrong' side of the road...Ah Lads!'re supposed to leading the pack!  SPR!!!


spr 4

Most people more or less OK, but several running very long .....guy in cycle lane doesn't appear to have a number, so may be just out for his own Sunday morning run

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Cork Athletics County Board is a constituent member of Athletics Ireland. Cork Athletics is the governing body, administering athletics, track and field (T&F), cross-country (XC) and running in county Cork. The Board comprises elected representatives of constituent athletic clubs and running clubs. Cork County Board AAI organises Championship races and competition, including road, track & field (T&F) and Cross-country (XC), at junior, juvenile, senior and masters levels, and selects representation for the county. In addition, training and education is provided for coaches and officials. The Board also regulates the Athletics Ireland race/event permit (licence) process for county Cork.
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