Fits Do Race Reviews: The 2023 Dublin Marathon

On Sunday, October 29, I ran my 43rd marathon, the Irish Life Dublin Marathon. It was a really fun one! All the marathons I have run have a ‘story’ and have their highs/lows. As cheesy as it sounds, each marathon is special in its own way. But this particular marathon was probably one of my favorites! (Catch up on the full list of marathons I have completed HERE!)

This post is my recap of my personal experience at the 2023 Dublin marathon. If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, here is a quick list of the top things I loved about the Dublin Marathon:

  • The crowd support! Even in the pouring rain, the Dubliners came out, and they even came out with their dogs. I counted nearly 400 dogs cheering for us. The crowd support was close to what you see at the World Majors. Really incredible.
  • The course! Dublin is a mostly flat course with a few rollers. It starts and ends at the same place and gives you a big loop tour of the city, showing off some fabulous parts.
  • The weather! I know, who loves the weather when it was downright pouring for parts? Yes, it did rain off and on, but the rain kept us cool. The high temperature was 55F or 13C. I run much better on a chilly day (vs. a hot sunny day like Vienna 2023.)
  • The logistics: Running an international marathon isn’t exactly easy, particularly for Americans, but Dublin is a relatively easy flight from most parts of the U.S. and a very short flight for me, since I am living in London at this time. We also stayed at the Merrion, which is right by the start and finish lines. It was walkable to the expo as well. The logistics for everything -finding a place to stay, places to eat, etc. were all very easy. I also liked running a race that was just a full marathon, not a half marathon with some people running a full. (Dublin was more like one of the World Majors in that way, with just the 26.2.)
  • The celebration! Dublin knows how to celebrate and it seemed like everywhere we went, there were other finishers out celebrating.

Okay, that’s the high level summary, here’s my detailed race report!

We arrived in Dublin from London Friday evening and made our way to our hotel, The Merrion. I highly recommend the Merrion for the marathon as it was in a great location for the start and the finish of the race. The course is a big loop of Dublin, so it starts and ends in the same general vicinity.

Saturday, we did a 3.8 mile shakeout run around the city center.

After the run, a shower, and breakfast, I met an old coworker for coffee before we went to the expo. The expo was held at the Royal Dublin Society, or the “RDS.” There were 20,000 marathoners- and no other distance for this race event, which was rare but kind of nice!

After the expo, we took a tour of Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells and the long library. That tour was less than an hour, so we weren’t on our feet an exceptional amount.

We met up with my sister and her friend for dinner at Cirillo’s, which was right outside our hotel. I had a margarita pizza and a lemonade. Perfect pre-race carbs.

Race morning:
Since the start line was right outside of our hotel, we didn’t really have to get up early. Plus we gained an hour of sleep with the time change for daylight savings, which was a treat!

Fuel: I set an alarm for 6:30 am; I ate a bagel with peanut butter, drank a glass of Liquid IV and some coffee. Throughout the race, I took a GU gel every 45 minutes (plus one about 30 minutes before we started), plus the gels they handed out, plus some orange slices from spectators. I prefer to over-fuel than under-fuel, if my stomach can handle it. I drank water at every aid station; it may have been cooler and raining, but I still knew I needed to hydrate.

The aid stations were at least every 2-3 miles. They handed out small plastic water bottles at each (not cups) and at about 1/3 of the world stations, they handed out cups of orange Lucozade. There were also two official energy gel stations. The spectators handed out tons of candy and oranges.

Some runners complain about the water bottles, and though it’s not very green, these bottles were rather small and easy to run with as you drank from them.

The start:
The start was well organized with 4 waves, each starting 20 minutes apart. There were sections of the course were pretty narrow, so it made sense that they spaced us out quite a bit. During the race, I never felt alone, but also never felt very crowded.

Dustin was in Wave 1, which started at 8:45 am. I was in Wave 2, which started 20 minutes later at 9:05. We didn’t need gear check bags since our hotel was so close to the start/finish, though I did have to stand around in the rain for about an hour, so I did wish I had brought a throw-away shirt or a garbage bag to wear as a poncho. But I’d much rather be cold at the start than hot like I was at Vienna last April!

Cold and wet!

Wave 2 started right on time; I would say 75% of the other runners were Irish. I wasn’t able to verify that stat, but its just a guess that it seemed like most everyone there was Irish based on their accents. Similar to other European marathons, there are a lot less women than men running; I would guess about 25% women, though Dublin is trying to change this by incentivizing more women to run with better odds in the lottery for entry.

Let’s start this race! Here are my splits from my Garmin.

Mile 1: 8:41
Mile 2: 8:35
Mile 3: 8:45
Mile 4: 8:27
Mile 5: 8:33
Mile 6: 8:31
Mile 7: 8:36
Mile 8: 8:42
Mile 9: 8:24
Mile 10: 8:29
Mile 11: 8:51
Mile 12: 8:39
Mile 13: 8:41
Mile 14: 9:08 – I stopped to use the bathroom at one point, I think it was this mile. No lines along the course and plenty of porta-potties.
Mile 15: 8:30
Mile 16: 8:24
Mile 17: 8:52
Mile 18: 8:24
Mile 19: 8:42
Mile 20: 8:33
Mile 21: 8:54 – Mile 21 and 22 included the biggest hill on the course, Dublin’s version of Boston’s “heartbreak hill!”
Mile 22: 9:38 – more hills
Mile 23: 8:58
Mile 24: 8:59
Mile 25: 9:05
Mile 26: 8:36
Final 0.2 (0.44 on my Garmin): 8:01
Official finish: 3:50:08

I knew I was close to a Good for Age for London (sub 3:50) but in the last mile I did some math and knew it wasn’t going to happen. That’s okay though! I have already run London and honestly, I was very happy with my personal performance; I felt like I paced myself honestly and consistently. The slower miles were on the hills. I didn’t go out too fast or blow-up, but ran a smart-for-me race that felt really good. I smiled the whole way (it really helps, even when its hard to do.)

The Dublin marathon course was a nice big loop; I love a loop course: no repeating sections, no weird out-and-backs, you start and finish at the same place (close to our hotel), and you see a grand tour of the city of Dublin!

After the finish, the runners were shuffled through the corrals to get our medals and our bag of snacks/SWAG. I have noticed that most European marathons don’t give out as much food after a marathon as the American marathons do, just a bag with some crisps and a Lucozade.

The finish line was a little slow, as it seemed like they were trying to squish a lot of runners through a small corral, so it felt like a lot of really slow walking, but I have definitely experienced worse (NYC has a very slow finish!)

I had my phone on airplane mode in my Flyout sports bra, so I took it out and was able to quickly connect with Dustin. I was smarter this time and kept the phone in a ziplock bag; at Vienna, it wasn’t raining at Vienna, but I was dumping a lot of water over my head to cool down and it soaked my phone and temporarily caused it not to charge afterwards.

This time at Dublin, it was raining quite a lot, and the same issue might have happened, except for the plastic baggy.

Dustin finished in 3:13- he was pleased with that time, considering his hamstring issue earlier in the training block, his extra stress & travel leading up to the race, and the inevitable head cold that he had (not Covid and it was only just starting when we arrived, of course the marathon effort might have exacerbated it.) Anyways, our hotel was so close to the finish, that he had already gone back and showered and come back to the finish to cheer for me by the time I found him. Pretty slick!

We went back to the hotel again after we connected so I could shower and then came back out to the finish to cheer for my sister Erin. (She also enjoyed Dublin!)

After we saw her finish, we quickly made our way to the other side of town for a Guinness brewery tour at 4 pm.

The Guinness tour was a fun way to celebrate!

Though we enjoyed the Guinness tour, I probably should have had some real food before a beer, ha!

Fortunately after the tour, we met up with my sister at Gotham Cafe near Grafton Street for some actual food, which was grand. Cheers to Dublin!

Overall, I give the Dublin marathon a 10/10! It’s a marathon I would consider doing again, even though I don’t really want to repeat marathons, as I want to see as many places through running as I can. But if you’re looking for an international marathon that isn’t that hard to get into (technically it was a lottery, but all four of us got in), with a relatively fast course (some hills, but still pretty fast), easy logistics, and a fun culture, then Dublin is the marathon for you!

’m linking up with Running on the Fly and Confessions of a Mother Runner; check out their blogs to connect with other fitness bloggers for workout ideas and inspiration!

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