Tag: Ireland

Death-match at EAMS’ 6 Hour St Patrick’s Day Challenge in Belfast

In the pre-feminist days of the caveman there must have been many, many occasions where such a man had to fight off a rival caveman who wanted to dash his brains in with a rock, murder his children, and take his woman for himself.

A caveman death-match could have happened anywhere at any time. It could have happened on the edge of a volcano that was about to erupt or on the edge of an iceberg in a blizzard or, indeed, along by a freezing and stormy sea which is the location of my six hour endurance challenge today in Belfast. The temperature is around 0 with a real feel of -5.

So, anyway, the route we are all doing is just over two miles out and back along a coastal path and I find myself gradually warming up as I plod along at a nice, easy pace. After about 5 miles I’m feeling a bit warmer and start to think everything will go smoothly.

I’m running today with my cousin who has never run a marathon before and has the sole aim of doing the distance of one in the 6 hours. I plod on ahead of him in the first lap and decide I shall catch up to him in a bit.

The sea is grey, angry and wild, and is mercilessly attacking the shoreline as if it was its most hated enemy. The onslaught is savage and rages on and on.

Towards the end of the first lap the wind is so strong against me that I think that if somebody were to attach a string to me, and I were to stop pushing forward against it, I would surely take off into the air like a kite.

At this point I spot a cormorant on the pavement in front of me and he has his wings spread while being blown along the path. I try to take a picture of it with my phone but my hands are so cold that the touch screen thinks I’m dead.

One lap turns into two and two to three and then BAM, I am hit by a massive wave and feel as if my whole body has been frozen to the core. A high five from a runner going in the other direction makes me feel as if my arm could have shattered into a million icy fragments if he had slapped my hand any harder.

My legs go numb, my arms go numb, my face goes numb. Hell, every part of my body goes numb, but sometimes the only way to get out of hell is to keep pushing through it.

To make things worse sea salt has caked my inner thighs and I can start to feel an increasingly stingy soreness all over my man bits. This just does not feel very sexy, this is part of the experience that won’t be going in the blog, I think to myself. I decided to put it in anyway, since I’m feeling daring, and a wicked part of me is even tempted to post photos but I lack the courage since even my own family were too queasy to have a look at my suffering. Isn’t it awful how fear of other people’s opinions holds us back?

Halfway through my fourth lap my cousin waves me to a stop. His whole body is a deep pink and his eyes look like they are badly bloodshot. “I’m too cold, can I have the keys to the car? I can’t keep going,” he says. He also got hit by a wave. I give him the keys and say I’ll see him in a bit.

I plod on and on and eventually decide I shall stop after six laps, which I believed to be a marathon as it said so in an email we received from the organisers.

Coming to the end of the sixth lap, at a time of 4hours 7minutes, I still have plenty of fuel left in the tank and I know I could easily maintain my pace for another two laps and be finished under 6 hours, but rather than giving my all to the moment I start thinking of my cousin in the car, of the fact that I’d like to have the wherewithal to go for a nice meal in the evening and also have enough juice left over so that I’m not a danger to myself or others on the five hour drive back to Galway.

I think again of the death-match scenario that I mentioned at the start of this post. Fuck it, I think, if that lad trying do dash my brains in with a rock is so keen to have my cavewoman wife then he can have her without any further objection from me. Some things just aren’t worth dying for.


Photos by Elma McEvoy.


Modern Parenting

“So long, suckas!” a chirpy young child ejected as he was being pushed on the swing by his mother.

“Oh, don’t say that,” said mother, “just say ‘so long’ or ‘so long, amigos’.”

Political correctness is a very serious consideration in modern life, so serious that modern mum must teach her children what he/she can or cannot say from an early age. His/her career might depend upon it.

On hearing this exchange between mother and child, I couldn’t help but be offended.

“Amigo” is a Spanish word and this woman telling her child that “So long, suckas” was unacceptable while “So long, amigos” is acceptable makes me fear for the future of the English language since if you start to mix the two then English might devolve into some kind of strange gibberish that might aptly be called Spanglish.

I wasn’t really offended, but a language purist may have been. However, I’m inclined to wonder what will happen if we keep lowering the bar as to what is deemed to be an acceptable thing to say.

Perhaps we should all have our kids’ tongues removed now. It might be prudent to do so.

I think our new age of Political Correctness is making for an entertainment media which is so caught up in trying not to offend people that it is becoming increasingly boring, humourless, phoney and less and less worth listening to, and it’s hardly surprising. If one dares to express an opinion that a percentage of people might be offended by then there is a very good chance of being fired for it.

Political Correctness, thus, and the keyboard warriors who police it by always seeming to be getting offended by something nowadays, seems to me to be a form of censorship, the rules of which are not written down anywhere and seem to be quite random and I can’t help but think of societal structures like Communism and Fascism which were synonymous with censorship.

In Communist Poland, for example, everything western was considered evil so-much-so that if your neighbour found out you had a radio, and were using it to listen to The Beatles, he could report you to the authorities and you might well have been taken from your family in the middle of the night and never seen by anybody ever again.

The difference between Politically Correct censorship and Communist censorship, however, is that certain people who were not fond of of the latter could blame their distaste on a tangible and recognisable ideology (I.E: Communism) whereas Politically Correct censorship can come from anywhere at any time and can often seem somewhat random. This is because everybody with a social media account now has a voice and can potentially rally a percentage of the multitudes and enact a career-ending outcry targeted at anybody who dares to express an opinion that a certain percentage of people do not like the sound of.

Thus, it is clear, that if you are in the media then it is safer not to express any opinions of any sort because you might offend somebody and that could end your career.

I was with my 8 year old son when I heard modern mum teaching her son not to say “So long, suckas”, and it led to my explaining to him about the term Political Correctness. My son is bi-lingual and can speak Polish and English fluently and so I asked him if using two different languages in the same sentence made sense to him. “That makes no sense,” he said. The mouths of babes……

How To Do A Marathon Without Training

img_8532Writing this post feels kind of stupid because doing a marathon no longer seems like a big deal to me. But notice how I said “doing”, not running.

I had aspirations of running a marathon since my mid twenties but every single time I got into the rhythm of training my knees, back, or hamstrings, or something else got screwed up and my running came to an abrupt end. (more…)

Life Through a Lens

lensBabies and little children look at everything and everyone very closely, shamelessly. Everybody accepts that because they are little kids and they don’t know any better. When you get a bit older you stop looking so closely at other people for fear of being branded a pervert or being thought of as rude. If you stare at someone you perceive as beautiful, the person may feel uncomfortable. If you stare at someone else, that you also perceive as beautiful, but who has a small birthmark, then you might just spark off torrents of insecurity in the person that lead to your being a victim of the person’s subsequent wrath at the perceived attack on their self-confidence. (more…)

My Pieta House Failure


Zombie-like, at 3AM this morning, I got under an ice-cold shower to wake myself up so as to photograph Pieta House’s darkness into light walk/run. Pieta House, for anyone who may not know, is an organisation for raising awareness about suicide and helping people to steer a path out of their own personal darkness into a world where reality seems brighter and more joyful. (more…)