Thursday 21 November 2019

Athletics: Kenneally bidding to get over 'the wall'

Cliona Foley

AS a health professional and fitness expert, Irish international Mark Kenneally knows exactly what marathon runners mean when they talk about 'bonking'.

More commonly known by social runners as 'hitting the wall', he was still shocked at the dramatic effect it had on his still impressive 2:17:22 debut at the distance in Vienna last weekend.

"At 22 miles, I was still on course for two hours and 12 minutes to 2:14 but unfortunately I bonked badly and suddenly went from running 5:05 (a mile) to a six-minute pace," he revealed.

A physiotherapist who runs his own practice in Celbridge, Kenneally had left no stone unturned in his preparations.

However, despite taking on drinks and energy gels during the race, the experienced Clonliffe man felt first-hand what happens to the body when it totally depletes its energy stores and completely runs out of gas.

"Physically I was fine up to that point and afterwards too, once I'd got some food and fluids into me, so I don't think there was anything wrong in my physical preparation," Kenneally said.

"The way my body just shut down so quickly indicates that it was purely nutritional."

He was among the leading group right up to that point but eventually finished 20th after being forced down to a mere jog over the last few miles, when he experienced severe dizzy spells that verged on full black-outs.

"Vienna is a beautiful city and I went in later to have a look at the sights," he said. "I was admiring this central square which apparently we'd run around a few times but I couldn't remember any of that!"

Yet his finishing time was still the second fastest marathon by an Irishman in three years, only bettered by Martin Fagan's 2:14:06 in 2008 and just pipping Sean Connolly's 2:17:23 debut a week earlier.

With Olympic qualification now firmly in his sights, Kenneally plans to run his second marathon next autumn and hopes that Athletics Ireland will select him to run in the European 10,000m championships in Oslo on June 4.

His debut time was just 82 seconds outside the 2:16 marathon qualifying time that Athletics Ireland have set for this summer's World Championships. And Kenneally is not one bit fazed that the Olympic marathon 'A' standard has just been set even lower.

"Look, 2:15 is still very achievable," he said. "I honestly wouldn't want to go to London on the 'B' standard because 2:18 simply wouldn't be good enough to be competitive in the Olympics."

Elsewhere, inaugural Dublin marathon champion and Olympian Dick Hooper is coming out of retirement to run another 26-miler.

He's one of 31 Raheny Shamrock members who will run a marathon leg each in their 407-mile Malin-to-Mizen Relay on the May Bank Holiday weekend to raise funds for Crumlin's Children Hospital.

Donations can be made online at or by calling into any bank and lodging to TSB account number 18648414 (sort code 99-06-40, account name Raheny Malin To Mizen).

Irish Independent

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