Thousand-yard stare. (Photo credit: Jordan Cummins.)

Jim “Cinnabon” Stagg had a ding-dong battle with a fellow Stablemate at the Warriors Run 15K in Strandhill, Co Sligo, Ireland. The route was a devilish mixture of road and trail, with a sickeningly steep climb up and down a mountain thrown in for good measure. The middle-aged buck clocked a superb 65:18—and finishing 11th overall shows he still has the hind legs to bounce through the countryside.

The west coast of the Emerald Isle served up typical conditions; howling winds and enough showers to flood your mammy’s hanging baskets. Jaysus. Stagg knew what he was getting into though, as this was his third time competing in seven years, with a course PB of 63:10.

The Stable News’ rambunctious rambler, Ally “the Chin” Smith, was having a sausage roll and a piping hot coffee from his Thermos flask when the pastry boy crossed the line and spilled the beans: 

“Go on, Stagg! Let’s hear all about it, then.” 

“I travelled down from Dublin yesterday and picked up my bib on Friday evening. Headed across the road to a nice tapas restaurant to fuel up for race day. This suited me, as I like to follow Stazza’s ‘Optimum Sports Nutrition’ advice of eating my meals off small plates. Had pork belly, prawns, calamari, chorizo, morcilla, patatas bravas, and a nice mushroom bao bun and felt well set up for the next day.” 

“Small plates, you say? The only place near me that has small plates is Mr Basrai’s World Cuisines, and I wouldn’t recommend going there before race day, ha-ha.” 

“Thanks for the advice. After that, I headed back to Stablemate Joe’s house. He lives locally, and I actually won a prize to stay in his house a few months back, so I decided to cash that in.” 


“Although he hit me up for extortionate cleaning and admin fees on checkout, so I will definitely be wary of these sorts of competitions in the future.”

“Hahaha. How did you find the course? I’ve just been walking over Knocknarea, and my legs are shot.”

“The race itself is very difficult. It starts down by the beach on the road, but even the first km has 32m of elevation, so you don’t really get to settle into it at all. After 1km or so, I found myself beside Stablemate Turlough; I knew it was him pretty quickly, as he was getting lots of shout-outs from the crowd. I was just ahead of him as we went off-road and started the climb.

A pastoral scene.

The climb was torture from the start, as it was steeper than a church spire, and we were running over slippy tufts of grass.

Turlough passed me early enough. I was struggling, but Stazza had prepared me for this. He warned that the steepest section of the climb would feel like running through water in a non-heated swimming pool. I thought, If John can push through it, so can I.”

“I’m not too sure if he’s speaking from experience or from other racers’ recollections.”

“Ha-ha, it helped regardless. Not long after this, I managed to pass Turlough and then began the descent.

Stalking his prey. (Photo credit: James Connolly Photography.)

I went down at a decent pace, but by the bottom, my legs were in bits. Just as we got back onto the road, still going downhill, Turlough went flying past me again and off into the distance. From here, it was about 6km to home. I hung on and finished about 30 seconds behind Turlough; one other guy sprinted by me on the home straight, too. Due to the nature of the course and conditions, I wasn’t sure what to think of my time of 65:18, but Stazza assured me finishing 30 seconds behind Turlough was a great result for someone like me.”

“Someone like you? Give yourself more credit, my man. This was a brutal course, and you’ve done yourself proud. You only joined The Stable in January, so you’ve no idea what you will be capable of in the next six months. Big progress and PBs are coming your way. Are you signed up for Dublin?”

“Yes, I am. The big DCM on October 29.”

“Lovely stuff; there’s a ruck of Stablemates entered. You should rent out a room in your gaff and claw some of those cleaning expenses back, ha-ha. Well done again, Jim.”

“Thanks, Ally. See you in a few weeks.”

The Stablemaster had enrolled himself in the Chin’s “Social Media for the Over 50s” course:

“‘Instagram: The Ultimate Guide… As if I need a full lecture on the subject … I just need a bit of help posting stories … And funky graphics … I’ll get Ally to deal with it (he’s half my age), and I can get back to my beloved art—the Weekly Training. 

Jimbo, we will use this little ditty as a nice springboard into the marathon bridge and have you ramped up for Dublin … A seriously great effort on a torturous trail … If you ever fancy doing it again, you might just pip Turlough to the post, hee-hee.”