Monday 29 August 2016

Clare Cullen: Terrified for Hell and Back

Published 31/01/2014 | 16:14

This Sunday, reporters Clare Cullen, Jason Kennedy, Mark McConville and Louise Kelly will attempt the 10k ‘Trojan’ Hell and Back course. Clare Cullen is not sure she is looking forward to the experience.

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When the idea arose to wear a go-pro camera through the Hell and Back course, it seemed like a great idea – because it was months ago. Now that it’s this Sunday, I couldn’t be more nervous about it.

I’ve run several 10k races in the last two years, although nowhere near enough to consider myself anything other than a fun-runner.

I thought Hell and Back would be fun – like a fun run but with a bit more mud. My family have been slightly more negative. When I told my partner I would be doing the run, I was met with “Are you insane? You won’t be able to do it”.

Negativity from those around me aside, I was still semi-excited at the start of this week. I began watching videos online about the race and they both made it better and worse at the same time. With classic great timing, I caught the flu at the start of the week and was off work sick by Wednesday – so getting cold, wet and dirty this weekend is probably not the wisest move.

What I’m most afraid of is holding other people up. My friends have told me “don’t worry – you can quit if you can’t do it”, but I never quit. Not on a 10k, anyway! I did the Dirty Dozen across the same mountain before, a total of 19k with no training (would NOT recommend this) and I finished (Took me over four hours – it’s a touchy subject) so I should be able to finish this 10k, no matter how many walls they throw in my way. I ‘m not even worried about getting dirty (love it) or hurting myself, I’m just worried about holding people up.

Running with other people is the best and the worst at the same time. I often find myself unable to breathe, chest on fire and having to stop to try and remind my lungs how to inhale.


This is fine when you’re on your own but when other people are standing there waiting for you to get yourself together it isn’t the most enjoyable experience. I feel guilty that I’m holding other, fitter people back from getting on with it. We have the chivalrous Mark McConville running with us who has promised to boost the girls over the walls so there will be no convincing him to run on if I suddenly feel like my chest is going to explode.

I hope the Hell and Back will be as fun as I’ve been told, and I really hope it won’t be as hard as I’ve been told! First up I have the Harry Potter conference in Galway to get out of the way, something much more my speed!

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