Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust. Jessie Owens
The Galway 5KM series went from strength to strength in 2012, surpassing almost all the records set the previous year. It was the 7th year of the series and there have now been 39 races (2006: 4; 2007: 5; 2008-2012: 6 each).
The entry process was, as usual, frenetic when it opened on Friday, 21 March on-line. Nearly 780 eventually got through by various means, the process being expertly overseen by long-time series co-ordinator, Mick Rice of Athenry AC. Entry was again €30. Super value.
The series started, as usual, in Athenry (Newcastle course), proceeding onto Claregalway (CRH), then Loughrea, Craughwell, GCH (Dangan course) and finally Tuam - a radical departure to other years and one that took some getting used to. All courses remained unaltered from 2011. The afters party was held close to the finish line in Tuam at the Ard Rí Hotel on the evening of the last leg.
Athenry had a record single race record turnout of 631. The handover of numbers went smoothly in Newcastle Community Centre, as did the race itself. Tony Killarney was delighted that everything worked out so well!
Claregalway was next, over the now familiar course, up the hill of the main road before hitting the Rock Road on a downward spiral. The finish line was gladly reached at the entrance to the Business Park.
Loughrea was next. The hill between three and four KM has not flattened out very much with the running boom that has affected Loughrea in recent years or the 5KM series itself.
My personal favourite course was next, Craughwell. Starting outside the National School and finishing where we've always, on a dry evening. I got under 20 minutes there for the first time in 3.5 years. No sign of Elvis as the stakes were higher than usual this time around: wearing a latex mask might have been the difference between doing it or not. As it turned out, I ducked under 20 with nearly 40/45 metres to spare, passing a pile of similarly stressed runners over the final KM. Athenry AC had a club record 83 runners finish that night!
Dangan hosted the GCH leg again, over the now familiar course. It hasn't gotten any easier either. Still nearly 580 runners finished that leg, with 280+ earning their series technical top in the process by running the first five legs.
The 'Big Dig' was completed when the bandwagon reached Tuam in early June, and Patricia Monaghan and her merry band of helpers had everything in readiness for a well-organised event. John Cunniffe and his crew in RedTagTiming recorded over 550 finishers in the estate behind the Ard Rí Hotel. That evening had started wet but had cleared by the time 8PM came around, and many people recorded sub-20 times for the first time ever, or for the first time in many years, including Dee Quinn of Athenry and Michelle Lynch of GCH, both of whom had chased me around earlier Tuesdays. A total of 87 runners broke the 20 minute barrier that evening.
The technical top was Maroon in colour and over 550 were now eligible for one. Jesse Owens put it well when he said, "Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust.".
There were five different winners over the 6 races with Matt Bidwell winning twice (Claregalway and Craughwell) with Conor Dolan winning Athenry, Fintan Hyland in Loughrea, Timmie Glavey in Dangan and Peadar Harvey in Tuam. Bidwell won Clareglaway in a series best time of 15:45!
The excess of €9,400 from the 5KM series was again donated to the Galway AAI county board for the advancement of both adult and juvenile athletics in the county.
All 5KM series stalwarts remain standing after the 2012 series: Gary Doherty (Athenry AC), Jim Maher (HP Running) and Tony O'Callaghan (Craughwell AC). Each have successfully completed all series races to date!