What a way to kick start your summer
The Galway May 5KM Road Race Series goes from strength to strength with more races and many more competitors than in 2006. The final surplus of €2,329 found its way to the local County AAI to help promote and finance athletics in the county too.
The series was also blessed with uniformly dry weather through the five legs, starting at Newcastle, outside Athenry, on Tuesday, 1 May. Over 200 runners, joggers and walkers lined up and traversed a new clockwise course finishing just outside the village itself. It was literally all downhill once the runners got to the four KM mark.
Round two was in Tuam, around the same course as last year, a truncated version of their 8KM course. A strong crowd of over 200 again turned out on what was another enjoyable evening. Going up that hill just off the N17 doesn't get any easier, no matter how many times it's raced.
Craughwell was next up, again over their well-worn 5KM course. Our luck with the good weather held up with a massive 236 finishing that evening at the old railway bridge. The lads going into training at the GAA pitch just before the two KM mark didn't know what they were missing :).
The fourth leg of the series saw Loughrea being added to the calendar. The course was new to almost everyone who lined up just outside the town on the old, old Galway road. And what a treat we were in for. "Out" two KM, "across" one KM and "in" two KM with the stretch between three and four KM akin to part of the Hell of the West in Connemara such was its unremitting up-hill nature. My personal favourite race of the five this year! Gerry Ryan broke 15 minutes, good running in any company.
The last Tuesday, 29 May, saw us going back in to the other Newcastle, Dangan this time, and a cross-county course around the NUI Galway complex. A very wide start allowed traffic to settle down to manageable proportions before the course narrowed to the pathway down by the Corrib. Two laps of same. Over 275 finished that evening. Paul McNamara won his second race of the series there.
Afterwards, the stragglers retired to nearby Kelehans for some refreshments, red series T-shirts (expertly designed by Johnny O'Connor) for those who ran in four or all five races and some spot prizes. Many of them had to be chased off the premises after closing time with all the talk of how 2008 could top what took part in 2007.
Time will tell...