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This coming Monday, thousands of runners will brave the Dublin Marathon. I ran that Marathon in 2005 and 2006. I’m often asked what running a marathon is like. As a roundabout way of answering that, here are 10 of my marathon-running memories…

1. It is not the race itself but the preparation that is the challenge. I found completing the 20-mile training runs on my own far harder than running 26.2miles on the day itself, with all the atmosphere and support of the event.

2. Speaking of the preparation, what a drag it was when people kept asking me ‘So what distance is the Dublin Marathon?’ as if marathons are different lengths in different cities.

3. On the day of the 2005 race I had a pleasant chat at the starting line with an experienced marathon-runner from Boston. As we set-off, he asked: ‘So tell me, dude, what do you use to stop your nipples from bleeding?’ I didn’t have a clue what he was on about.

4. I shall never forget that plump, ginger-haired female runner who, around mile 15, shouted ‘Ah, fook it’, and squatted down on the road for an actual poo, right in front of us all.

5. I know!

6. Then there was the elderly spectator, around mile 19, whose method of encouragement was to shout over and over ‘Just tink about da Guinness, just tink about da Guinness, just tink about da Guinness…’

7. I realised, around mile 22, that both my nipples were indeed bleeding profusely. I must have looked like I was lactating blackcurrant juice.

8. And yes, the feeling of achievement and relief as I passed the finishing line was truly amazing.

9. In honour of the mile-19 supporter, I did have ‘da Guinness’ later that night. Indeed, I found that just one pint in the aftermath of a marathon is enough to take me beyond tipsy. Sláinte!

10. For days after the race I suffered such extreme soreness in my quads that I could only walk downstairs backwards. I also caught a cold. Irony alert: as I slowly hobbled downstairs backwards, snot bubbles blowing out of my nose, I must have looked entirely unathletic.

So, good luck to everyone running the Dublin Marathon on Monday and indeed anyone who runs a marathon in the future. Just tink about da Guinness…

14 Responses to “What it's like running a marathon”

  1. Sam says:

    Amazing. Laughed a lot at this!!

  2. YB says:

    Very amusing, Chaz. Will you run a marathon again?

    • Chas Newkey-Burden says:

      Thanks. Ooh, maybe. I quite fancy doing one in 2013. Either Dublin again or maybe Jerusalem. Not sure, though. The training dominates your life for four or five months before. It’s such a big undertaking.

  3. Israelinurse says:

    I think you should come and do the Sea of Galilee marathon.


    I promise to be there with water, towels and blister treatment. And lots of cheering, of course!

    We don’t have Guinness in our kibbutz pub, but I can offer you a pint (well, half a litre) of Murphy’s Irish Stout or Newcastle Brown Ale on draft.

    • Chas Newkey-Burden says:

      Thanks – tempted!

      I’m teetotal nowadays but I’m sure they do Diet Coke (or is it called Coke Light or something in Israel) at your kibbutz boozer!

      A family I’m friendly with in Windsor is thinking of making aliyah to live in the Golan. They’re great fun and extremely interesting people – I can already see you, them and I hanging out one night in the north!

  4. Shira says:

    I thought about prolonging my 10km run but thanks to you I now know better. I only had my family’s bad knee history… gosh they don’t tell you about those other things.
    But why diet coke? We are very proud of our Black (root) Beer industry:
    And it’s completely non-alcoholic, I don’t know what the poster was thinking?

  5. Damian says:

    Absolutely hysterical Chas…having done a couple of half marathons, I can safely say I’ll never reach the dizzy and most impressive heights / distances you and other full marathon (so, how long is the one in Dublin?!?!) runners! Keep on running…and blogging!

  6. Steve Wenick says:

    Aye laddie tink’n about da Guinness reminds me that Marathons are only for the stouthearted.

  7. Brian Sacks says:

    Hi Chas
    With your awesome capacity to read, I expect you read my account of my 2006 marathon, with the same final experience of “for the following few days I could not bend down and could only walk down stairs backwards.” – or, to put it another way, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-hCuYjvw2I

    Never had the nipple problem though – is there something wrong with me?

  8. test says:

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  9. What’s up, just wanted to say, I enjoyed this article. It was practical. Keep on posting!

  10. [...] know this joke is true because I’ve run two marathons. (See – I just told [...]

  11. [...] A quick note on my running: over the past 12 years, it has been one of the few consistents in my life. I’ve run several 10Ks, a few 10-mile races, many half marathons and even two full marathons. [...]

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