To get to the finish line, you'll have to try lots of different paths Amby Burfoot
The Galway 5K series continued to grow in 2014, surpassing almost all the records set the previous year...yet again. It was the 9th year of the series and there have now been 51 series legs since early May 2006.
The entry process was, as usual, frenetic when it opened on Thursday, 13 March at 8pm on-line. Six hundred got through on ActiveGlobal.com; the entry process being overseen by long-time series co-ordinator and founder, Mick Rice of Athenry AC. Entry was €30 and if you hadn't registered within 35 minutes, you missed out.
The series started, as usual, in Athenry (another new course, starting close to the train station and doing a figure of 8 to finish near the pitches in Raheen), then onto Loughrea, Maree (welcome aboard!), Claregalway, GCH (another new course starting and finishing under the new grandstand in Ballybrit racecourse) and finally Tuam. The "afters" party was again held close to the finish line in Tuam, at the Ard Rí Hotel.
Athenry had a record single leg completion number of 699. The handover of numbers went very smoothly at the new Athenry Medical Centre beforehand, as did the race itself, over what felt like a very fast course. Tony Killarney and Athenry AC were delighted with the organisation of the event, the course and a dry evening.
Loughrea was next, over the now familiar up-and-down-and-up-and down course. The evening was challenging with heavy rain greeting the runners, as it has on a number of years in the past at this venue. It didn't dampen the spirits of the runners or Loughrea AC though. This venerable club added a nice touch to their leg, having a race clock at the one mile mark, to mark Roger Bannister's first sub-4 mile on that very day 60 years before (6 May 1954).
Maree was next, taking the place of Craughwell. A cool but dry evening greeted the competitors at the Maree Community Centre. The course was basically the same as that used for the Boston Scientific charity 5K over the previous few years, a loop that took in the entrance of Renville Park. It was a fast course, even with an uphill finish and a lot of good times were recorded that evening, with numerous very efficient photographers on hand to capture the finishing line action.
Claregalway was next, with Andrew Talbot and crew serving up a quality race. It even stopped raining about five minutes before the off. This was confidently predicted by the race director at 7pm, to the incredulous runners who were congregating in the Business Park, sheltering from the rain at the time. Over 250 people earned their technical top with their 4th race finish - four were required to earn the technical top, down from five in recent years.
Ballybrit racecourse hosted the GCH leg for the second time, on a beautiful evening for racing. The runners started and finished under the superb grandstand. GCH put on a great show with efficient parking and stewarding at all times on show. The course was modified to make it more straightforward and was a fairer test of the competitors. The course was basically two laps of the racecourse itself. It was the 50th leg in the series since 2006.
Patricia and Brendan Monaghan and all in Tuam AC were well prepared for the series finale in Tuam, starting and finishing close to the Ard Rí hotel, in what has turned into the fastest course on the series, not for the first time either. The evening stayed dry but cloudy. Many runners ran big PBs that evening over the new very familiar course. For some outstanding information on the 5K courses run this year, check out mareeac.com!
The technical top was royal blue in colour and 666 were eligible for one by now. Amby Burfoot put it well when he said, "To get to the finish line, you'll have to try lots of different paths."
In the female category, Regina Casey won five of the six legs, with Sinead Brody winning the GCH leg. Regina ran a superb 17:32 in the last leg in Tuam. There were five different male winners, with Peter O'Sullivan winning twice (Loughrea and Maree), while John Greaney (Athenry) , Owen Byrne (Claregalway), Conor Dolan (GCH) and Matt Bidwell (Tuam) each won one leg. Bidwell won Tuam in a series best time of 15:23!
The excess of €10,437 from the 5K series was again donated to the Galway AAI county board for the advancement of both adult and juvenile athletics in the county. All three 5K series stalwarts remain standing after the 2014 series: Gary Doherty (Athenry AC), Jim Maher (HP Running) and Tony O'Callaghan (Craughwell AC). Each has successfully completed all 51 legs to date (2006: 4; 2007: 5; 2008-2014: 6 each)! All three are delighted to have reached 50+ intact, though each has his own tale to tell as to how close each of them came to missing a leg over the 9 years of the series. Adrian Fitzmaurice has been at all 51 legs but stewarded at one Claregalway leg, finishing all other 50! So close but...
Thank you, Mick Rice, for making the 5K series the outstanding success that it has been since it started over 9 years ago. It is the highlight of the year for many road runners in Galway. Long may it continue!
Race Number Director Date Athenry 699 Tony Killarney 29 April Loughrea 638 Martin Smyth 6 May Maree 658 Catherine Bourke 13 May Claregalway (CRH) 571 Andrew Talbot 20 May Galway (GCH) 573 Cormac O'Connor 27 May Tuam 612 The Monaghans 3 June
Races Ran Per Person Number Six 215 Five 285 Four 166 Three 81
Gender Number Male 387 Female 403