Bloomsday Run: jj21k

As part of my research, I thought of creating a Bloomsday run.

People celebrate Bloomsday in a variety of ways. Some read parts of Ulysses, some recreate scenes, some dress up and eat a gorgonzola sandwich washed down with some burgundy at Davy Byrne’s pub, and doubtless, some have an assignation at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, though probably not at 7 Eccles Street.

I wanted to go for a run. But where?

You could pretty much take all of Dublin, but why not do a half marathon and why not from the Tower in Sandycove to Glasnevin Cemetery? It’s about the right distance at 21k, give or take, and there is enough interesting Joyce content along the way. So I ran stretches of it and developed what I think is an interesting run.

The route was designed to be both entertaining for runners, and also have enough content to make it interesting to readers. Joyce wove his own life and experiences into the stories he wrote and the route interlinks places that Joyce lived, learnt and loved in.

The route starts in the south and works its way north. In this way, it mirrors Joyce’s move from the south of Dublin City and into the north inner city. This journey is mapped in The Portrait and It also follows the principal direction in Ulysses.

I have been running various routes related to Joyce’s life for a number of years. There are parts of Fairview which feature strongly in The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man and Stephen Hero and there are interesting parts to run around Clonliffe College and Jones’ Road that could be featured in any route. The idea is to vary the route regularly, always providing a nice route to run and an interesting route to research.

You can see some notes about the development of the run here

Having figured out a route and talked to a few runners it seemed like a nice route to run on Bloomsday, but so what and what next?

Dublin is full of readers and runners. And lots of Joyce scholars and lots of would-be scholars. But what of those with a passing interest, who like the City, are interested in Joyce and like to run about a bit. There are fun runners and there are casual readers. What if we could get some people to run more and some to read more? So the idea of the quiz was born.

The idea is that the winner of the race would not necessarily be the fastest runner or the most knowledgeable scholar. Rather it would be someone who combined a little of both. So a handicap was born.

A half marathon is just over 21k in distance. So I set 21 questions each relating to the route and Joyce’s life and works…there is more to life than just Ulysses. The idea is that you run the route, rest and then do a quiz. You can pick easy or hard questions…and for every easy question you get right you get a minute off your time and for every hard question you get three minutes off. It all adds a little fun to the proceedings.

Paul Sweeney and I ran the route. Paul was really just helping me along and had run a full marathon two days before Bloomsday so kept with my pace. But if he ran it freely he would have finished easily 21 minutes or more before me. But in theory, I could catch him on the quiz…either way we would retire to the pub and have some fun. I would train to get faster and he would read more.

Other routes

Since setting and running the Ulysses 21k course I have made numerous other runs. These have been turned into blogposts about singular subjects. Whilst I have generally set out on these runs from work or home the intention is to develop a variety of runs, perhaps looped, of different lengths but each relating to Joyce related themes.

I developed and ran the Dubliners 21k and I have several more in production, preparing the routes, writing the blog, training for the run.

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