Ryan McNelis selected for Irish Celtic Games Squad

Published in Club News on 28th July 2017

Athletics Ireland today released the names of the athletes representing Ireland for the upcoming Celtic Games to be held in Santry on August 5th (http://www.athleticsireland.ie/news/celtic-games-team-announced-2017/).  Athenry ACs own Ryan McNelis (on left of picture) will be representing Ireland in the 400m Hurdles as part of the Irish Development squad.  Ryan's selection is just reward for the hard work that he has put in over the past 6 months which culminated in a fantastic silver medal at the recent Irish Life Health National Juvenile T&F Championships where he smashed his PB by nearly 3 seconds to set a fantastic time of 56.81s.  This really has been a breakthrough year for Ryan in his first real competitive season over the 400m Hurdles, and the juvenile medal goes along with the national junior silver medal he also received earlier this summer.  We all wish Ryan the best of luck at the Celtics and look forward to seeing further progression from him over the next 12 months.

There will be 8 County Galway athletes representing Ireland at the Celtic Games - Aoife Sheehy (GCH) – 400mH & 4x400m, Lydia Doyle (GCH) – 100mH & 4x100m, Laura Nally (GCH) – 4x400m, Chloe Casey (Craughwell) – Discus, Jerry Keary (Craughwell) – High Jump, Laura Cunningham (Craughwell) – Triple Jump, Ryan McNelis (Athenry) – 400mH and Daniel Callanan-Forde (Loughrea) – Triple Jump.  Coupled with the recent inclusion of Cillin Greene and Alanna Lally at the U20 and U23 European Championships respectively there really is a resurgence in County Galway athletes making a mark on the National athletics scene. Long may this continue.

East Galway 5KM Result

Published in Results on 27th July 2017

East Galway AC's 5k race was held in Skehana last weekend (Saturday, 22 July).

Race winner was William Fitzgerald from Craughwell AC in a time of 17.48. First lady home was Sheila Reilly in a time of 23.55. Full result in PDF attached.

Thanks to all the clubs who supported the race.

New book on Ballinamore AC being published

Published in Other News on 24th July 2017

This 130 page book with numerous photographs details the achievements of Ballinamore Athletic Club in the fifty years since it’s foundation in 1965 and outlines the developments in national, provincial, county and international athletics since 1880.


(in conjunction with Ballinamore Family Festival)

MONDAY AUGUST 14th                 7.30 p.m.

Scout Hall   adjacent Sportshall

Photographic Exhibition from 7.00 p.m.

Medals for Ryan and Patryk at National Juniors

Published in Club News on 2nd July 2017

Saturday saw two representatives from Athenry AC compete at the National Junior / U23 championships.  Ryan McNelis and Patryk Woleniuk had both targetted these championships as their main summer goal and both came away with medals and PBs.  Ryan, who is a youth athlete, was entered for both the 400mH and the 110mH, both of which were at heights greater that Ryans usual heights.  In the 400mH Ryan clocked a new PB over the 3 foot barriers of 59.54 and took silver in the process.  Patryk, in his first EVER run over the 400mH took bronze.  In the 110mH the boys came in 6th and 7th in the final but both crossed the lines with smiles on their faces (OK, may have been a grimace in Patryk's case).  Patryk rounded off the day with a run down the straight in what is an ultra-competitive 100m at junior level.  Unfortunately a stumble after coming out of the blocks - which is usually one of his strong points - left Patryk fighting a very steep uphill battle and unfortunately he did not progress past the semi-finals.  The boys have both put in a solid block of training for the past 4 months, and the medals were just rewards for their dedication and the 7am Saturday sessions in Dangan.

Headford 8km

Published in Results on 1st July 2017

Headford 8km is a popular annual event for many athletes. Tonight's race marks the 13th anniversary of this race. As in previous years, all proceeds go to support people with intellectual disabilities. Although numbers were down on last year, there was still a great turn out as 238 athletes lined up to run the route. There was the usual support from local clubs including Mayo AC, Annaghhdown AC, Casrlegar AC and Tuam AC. GCH women dominated the podium by taking 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Results Men John Byrne (Mayo AC) 26:43 John Moroney 28:28 Dariusz Monkiewicz 28:45 Women Siobhan Lee (UHG) 31:33 Neasa De Barorca (GCH) 33:26 Aoife King (GCH) 33:32 Results http://www.redtagtiming.com/results/Headford8km_2017.pdf

Athenry AC athletes representing County Galway in National League

Published in Club News on 26th June 2017

At this weekends National Track and Field league, three of Athenry ACs young stars were on show representing County Galway.  This is the first year for a number of years that a mens county team was entered, and they were competing in Divison 1 in Athlone.  Galway Women had a great year last year and so they find themselves in the Premier League (again cometing in Athlone).

For the men, Patryk Woleniuk (100m and 4x100m) and Ryan McNelis (400mH and 4x400m) carried on their seasons good form to score valuable points for the county.  Ryan had an exceptional run over the longer hurdle distance, clocking 60s and finishing a close second.  This was all the sweeter for Ryan who had to jump over the 3 foot height compared to his usual height of 2 foot 9.  Ryan is still a Youth athlete and has an exciting future ahead as a junior athlete.  Ryan is on a 3 year plan to grab a European Junior standard at 400mH.  Ryan finished the day running the third leg of the 4x400m, taking the baton in last place but coming through the field to clock a 54s 400m split at changeover.  Patryk, who is a junior sprint hurdler coached by Dermot McNamara, decided not to contest the 110mH as they were at the full senior height for the league and instead opted for the sprint and the 4x100m.  Patryk has been working hard on his raw speed and this was put to good use on Sunday and he clocked a PB in the 100m.  It won't be long before Patryk is running sub-12 for the 100.  Patryk was a recent recipient of a County Galway Athletics Bursary to help further his athletic development.  Both Ryan and Patryk are in action this weekend at the National Junior Championships where both will be chasing down medals, Ryan in the 400mH and 110mH and Patryk in the 110mH and 100m.

The sole female representative from Athenry AC in the womens County Team was Aine O'Farrell.  Aine has had a great season making huge strides both in XC and on the track.  Her selected event for the league was the 3000m and she put in a great performance to finish 3rd woman in the Premier League, against some seasoned 3000m runners, clocking an 8 second PB in the process.  Aine ran a great race, latching on to the lead group from an early stage and holding on as long as possible, and when she knew that the third place was not in doubt she eased off slightly to ensure the points - no point in heroics when there are larger issues at stake !!  Her PB follows on from her fantastic performance to win the U18 1500m at last weekends Connacht Championships, clocking another large PB improvement.  Aine has set some very ambitious, but achieveable goals for this autumns cross country season and she is most certainly a name to keep an eye on.

So Day 1 of the league ended with the Mens County Team in 6th place, just 1 point behind 5th and well positioned to get themselves into the final later in the year.  The Womens team had a truly amazing set of results to top the table after Day 1 taking the scalps of some very established county teams.  Day 2 is on 30th July in Templemore.

Full results from Day 1 can be found at http://www.athleticsireland.ie/competition/results/

Thank You to Justin Lane of Tuam AC for the photograph

Rogaine 2017 (Not the hair oil!)

Published in Reports on 26th June 2017

You’ve never been truly lost until you’ve been dropped in the middle of a mountain range with a map, compass & a list of numbers as your only directions home. BUT, if this sounds like fun to you then Rogaine is the sport you want. Basically long distance orienteering, the name of the game is to score as many points as possible by hitting grid reference control points within a specified time cut off. The person with the most points at the end wins.

So this year I entered the Rogaine 2017 - 6 hour event which was being held (somewhere) in the Wicklow Mountain National Park. We were told to buy the East West Map for Lugnaquilla & Glendalough, so we knew the course would be somewhere within that area and a couple of weeks before race day the tone for the race was set when the race start & base camp location was issued as a set of grid reference co-ordinates: O077001 (Wicklow Gap).

Whilst I’ve some limited experience on mountains & have entered races before with some level of map & compass work required, this level of navigation (with no GPS back up allowed) was a new departure for me & I was really looking forward to it. I was confident in my map reading skills but I didn’t really have anything concrete to back up my confidence yet, so I had no idea how the event was going to go. The aim for the day was to finish within the 6hr cut off with points on the board. For every minute you finish over the 6 hours you are docked 100 points so a 10 min delay could wipe out your whole score (and it happens).

So I rock up to base camp for kit check early on Sunday morning & the weather couldn’t be worse for this type of event. Low cloud, mist & fog. Whilst I don’t mind running in any weather, for navigation it’s not great as you can’t sight any landmarks. I was going to need my wits about me! There was about 60 of us in the 6 hour event across 35 teams (I was a team of 1) whilst the 24hour event was already 18 hours in (a whole different type of madness), so we were all due to finish at 2pm.

8.00am rolled around & the race starts with everyone being handed an envelope with a list of 19no grid reference coordinates. It’s up to ourselves to plot the coordinates on our map & plot a route ourselves. This is the most important part of the whole event, get this wrong & you’re not going to hit any controls. I plot them out & thankfully double check everything as I had two marked wrong (This surprisingly took a half hour but it seemed to be the case for most people). Due to the weather conditions I want to omit as much open mountain as possible. In that situation you are totally dependent on your map & compass and with cloud down around your knees there’s nothing to sight off & it’s easy to go wrong.

Looking over the control locations I immediately decide to omit some of the most east & west outliers. One of the westernmost controls is located at Three Lakes near Conavalla Mountain (734m). I know this area from the Art O Neill race & it is a maze of 10 foot tall peat hags which are near impossible to negotiate in low cloud. I reckon I could lose plenty of time up there. The easternmost control is located in Laragh, five miles distant. Whilst the distance didn’t faze me & I could pick up other controls along the way, the constant five mile climb from Laragh to the Wicklow Gap didn’t appeal to me. With all controls worth an equal 100 points there was no benefit to hitting these far flung controls. (In the 24hr event the harder controls can be worth up to 400 points)

I decide to take a clockwise loop around base camp picking up the closer controls. The route would allow me use a lot of natural features such as streams & forests as guides, would omit a lot of open mountain & I’d never be too far away from base camp if I needed to chase time.

Control 1 at Turlough Hill (681m) (Irelands only pumped water storage power station) was probably the easiest on the course & most people went for it. It allowed us use the ESB service road to the top of the mountain & get some early points on the board. After this though it was using the map proper. I’m well able to read a map & know the difference on a map between a path / track / trail / road / service road etc. What I wasn’t used to was how each of these items were represented in real life (What’s a track / trail etc on the ground?). After the first control I easily lost about 15 minutes where I started to doubt myself & I had a bit of back and forth on various trails. I eventually settled into it & got a feel for the ‘on the ground’ conditions and headed for my second control.

There’s something eerie about standing on a what’s effectively a cliff edge looking down into a sea of cloud & thinking, I don’t know what’s down there but that’s where I have to go. The sign beside me stating ‘Beware edge & rock falls’ didn’t beef up my confidence much. But I knew if I went over, the natural contours would draw me down to the stream below which I could follow to the control, so off I went. Luckily enough I soon broke through the cloud line & I could pick up the stream easily enough. I followed it down to the valley floor and bar a detour around a large marsh on the low point of the valley floor I was able to follow this to the control area. It’s an amazing place, surrounded on three sides by mountains with a forested valley in front. The only sign of life I see are the herds of wild deer who are watching me from the distance. I continue along the stream & pick up the next control easily on the forest edge. It’s a confidence boost as it allows me to have faith in my navigation skills. 200 points on the board.

The next control is across the Wicklow Gap road. I know I can follow the stream out to it so continue on. The terrain is constantly changing from marsh, to forest, to boulder fields & each one has its own tests. At one point I give up on the land & decide to just use the stream (which has now grown to a small river). It’s just below knee height & is grand for wading through but it’s definitely easier than the felled forest either side. I come to a thick forest & there is no definitive track. There are a few small trails, the type you often see when you’re out walking in the woods & think to yourself ‘I wonder where they go’ but never bother to find out. Well I had no choice but to find out. It’s amazing how dark it can get under the tree canopy & I feel like a small child exploring the woods but it’s allowing me to follow the stream so I'm happy to explore. I eventually come to a bridge at a Coillte service road which I know I can follow to the main road. I also know there’s ancient walking route called St Kevin’s Way around here which would save me some time. I spot it and am delighted to see they’ve just built new boardwalks along it. Some people don’t like using these but after the past few miles I’ve had, they feel like heaven. I follow the trail to Annalecka Bridge, cross over the road into the forest beyond and pick up the next control easily enough at a forest trail end. 300 points on the board.

To get to the next point I can go back down the hill to the main road & take a new entrance into the woods, but this means dropping down from 450m elevation to 350m & I would then have to climb back up to 600m. I want to try & eliminate the climbing if possible to save the legs & energy so I decide against that route. My location is right at the edge of the map & it looks like the track I’m on might intersect with the track I want to be on but it’s off the edge of the map & I’m not sure. I decide to try it & head off but after a few hundred meters the track turns in the opposite direction I wanted so I bailed on it (Looking at the online map later I should have trusted my instincts as it looped around to meet it). I still don’t want to go all the way back to the road so I decide to cut through the forest (never an easy decision). It drops off into a small valley so I can see what’s ahead of me. The first half is old felled forest whilst the far side of the stream is newly planted forest (3 – 4 years old). I manage the first part ok (even though it’s about chest high grass) as I picked up a few deer trails & cross the stream easily enough. The new forest on the opposite side consists of approximately 8ft high pines trees & I spot a fire break (a line of about a 6ft gap between trees) which runs vertically uphill, generally in the direction I want to go. For some reason this just dead ends half way up & there is no clear way through. I have no choice but to make my own way through (Not as easy as it seems). Very soon I resemble Wile E Coyote after he’s run into a cactus, I have pine needles sticking into me everywhere. I can’t see in front of me, I can’t see behind me, the ground cover is atrocious & I end up upside down with my head in the ditch at least twice. I have no choice but to use the compass to make sure I’m heading east but you just have to go where the trees will let you at times. I come to a tall ridge in front of me & haul myself up & nearly cry with joy when I see I’m on the track. I’m on a large turnabout too for Coillte trucks so I can pinpoint exactly the spot on the map & it’s perfect. I follow it downhill to a stream from where I have a long but easy to follow trail uphill to the next control. 400 on the board.

From here I know it’s going to be tougher. I’m on the edge of the forest with Tonaglee Mountain (817m) in front of me. I’m now heading out into open mountain & will be compass dependent for the next while. I have two choices. I can climb up to the pass between Tonaglee & Lough Outer or I can contour around Tonaglee on the same level & bypass the mountain. The mountain pass means another 250m of climbing from where I am and through intermittent breaks in the cloud I can see quite a way up along some very tough terrain & don’t spot the top. It’s an easy decision, I’m going round. It adds on a nice bit of distance but it should be quicker. As I head off from the control I meet a team of lads coming the other way, one just looks at me & says ‘Jaysus, this is some slog’, I’m glad I’m not the only one feeling it.

Contouring around a mountain can be a pain. Your ankles can take a beating due to the constant strain from the angle plus your natural instinct when you come to an obstacle is to go around it on the downside so if you’re not careful you can start losing elevation very easily. So every so often I’d try to climb a bit when I saw a nice easy, clear section. During one of these I look up and about 30ft in front of me is a large stag. I reckon he’s about 8ft tall & due to the cloud all I can make out is his black outline. It’s creepy looking but he has no interest in me & saunters off into the mist. (Once they hear you coming you’re fine, it’s when you startle them you can have trouble). The terrain on this section is tough. There are a lot of large boulder fields where you really have to mind your footing or you could snap a leg easily in a hole. After what seems like an age I feel like I should be coming around the outer edge of the mountain but my compass still reads as heading south, I think I should be heading east but that would bring me straight up the mountain. I keep going south along the same level & slowly but surely I start to turn (at least the compass tells me I’m turning anyway, I can’t really tell with the cloud). As if by magic the clouds part & I have a view for miles below me. I realise the leeside of the mountain was sheltered from the wind and was covered in mist & cloud whilst the windward side was clear & I could now see where I was going for the first time in the day (after 4 hours). I look down below me & was disappointed that about a mile distant, but directly in line with me, is the base camp. I thought I was way further along on the mountain but that’s the perils of open mountain navigation, it’s very hard to gauge the ground you are covering. It at least gives me my location though & I can pick up the speed (well a little bit anyway) as I know now where I need to go.

I come round the far side of Tonaglee & have a good view beyond. I can see the general location of two more controls & reckon I’ll get to these before I have to turn back (One about a half mile distance, the next about 1.5 miles). The first is on a rock outcrop of one of Tonaglee’s lower steps. It’s at about 580m elevation so is slightly below me & looks like an easy route over. The terrain is deceptive though & I stupidly end up dropping down about 100m to a stream crossing before having to climb back up. This loses me time & on top of that my legs are telling me they’ve now had enough. I’m starting to get spasms in a lot of places & don’t think I’ll hold out much longer. I get to the ridge & after a loop of the area pick up the control. 500 on the board.

Big decision time. I have just over 1 ½ hours left & I can see in the distance the next control location at Aska Lake. Do I have the legs to get me there & back in time as there is also a control just south of here which I’m going to pick up anyway on the way back. With my legs being the deciding factor I cut my losses & ignore Aska Lake and I head directly south for what will be by last control. The downhill is painful, with each step I’m getting spasms. I’ve long since run out of water but I have a feeling the leg cramps are more to do with fitness rather than dehydration.

After a long painful descent I eventually hit the Wicklow Gap road which I have to cross. It’s the first bit of solid ground I’ve come across in 2 ½ hours & it feels great. I take a few minutes to stretch out the legs before crossing over into the marsh on the opposite side where there’s a control somewhere just a few hundred meters off the road on fairly open, marshy ground. The note with the grid reference states ‘Boulder’ so with much better visibility I reckon it should be easy to spot but after looping around a bit I hit a service road & I’ve found I had gone too far southeast. I backtrack towards base camp and I see another runner heading the opposite direction, he lets a roar that ‘it’s near the tailings pile’ and sure enough in the distance I see a tailings heap with a large boulder beside it. I get there & they’ve done a good job of hiding the control in the middle of three boulders. 600 on the board.

After an argument with some briars I make it back to the main road where I have 5.05 on the clock. I’ve covered 15 miles already & there’s just over one uphill mile to base camp. I know if I head back now I’ll be very early but I don’t think I can manage to hit another control & get back under the cut off time so off I go. I have the luxury of knowing I’m well within the cut off & can take it easy as I don’t think I could run much at this stage.

Job done & target hit of points on the board and under the cut off at 5.19. A lot of time left but not enough to do anything with. I had no illusions that 600 points would be competitive but I was happy. Looking at the results I was comfortably mid table in joint 17th position, not bad for a first timer. The winner, amazingly, hit 15 controls & still finished with 17mins to spare. On that terrain that is a phenomenal performance. Looking at the results, nine teams missed the cut off with two teams scoring -6800 as they were 1 ¼ hours late (Someone obviously got lost).

Looking back I think I missed out on two easy controls. The first through bad decisions after control 1 where I should have followed a trail up to Tomaneena Mountain before going over the cliff edge but I was still getting to grips with the maps at that stage & didn’t realise it was so close. The next was Aska Lake towards the end. With 40 minutes left on the clock it was possibly doable. But who knows?

A great event in a fantastic location & hosted by all volunteers. A big shout of thanks to Paul Mahon (Who has to be a bit sadistic to set up that course) & his crew.

Athenry Half Marathon & 5km

Published in Results on 24th June 2017

Just over 300 athletes turned up in Monivea on Saturday morning for the Athenry AC Half Marathon and 5km. Numbers were almost double the 2016 figure for the 5km and down by around 30 for the half. The weather was on our side but didn't favour those running the longer distance. It was hot and draining. The Athenry women secured 2 of the 3 podium places in the half marathon. Jane Ann Meehan was first to cross the line for the 4th consecutive year, with Yvonne Fehily taking second place. The women also secured 2 podium places in the 5km as Maggie Vahey and Tammy Corrigan finished 2nd and 3rd respectfully. Fergal Walsh won the men's 5km clocking 17:27. Others running from the club include 5km - Ronan 'Speedy' McCarthy, Enda Munnelly, Sinead Gannon, Cathal Duffy, Aoife Tuohy, Caroline McLoughlin, Mairead Tarpey, Etain Wilson, Stephanie McDonagh. Half Marathon - Gearoid Rohan (M40 2nd), David Meehan, Brian Somers, Adam Leadbetter (pacer), Rat Treacy (pacer), Martin McGrath, Michael Duane, Kenneth O'Dea, Brendan Gavin, Kieran Walsh, Martin O'Hara, Basil King, Angela McManamon, Theresa Byrne, Mairead Blake, Noel Conway, Aidan Madden (pacer), Mary Kealy (pacer), Brian Burke, Donna Lane, Philip Magnier, Sean Freeney, Caroline Freeney, Jim Leahy (pacer), Maeve Noone, Martin Hynes, Kevin Devane, Michelle Touhy, Assumpta King, Jane Mangan, Alan Treacy, Mike McDonogh (first half marathon), Marguerite Wilkinson, Elaine Treacy, Michael Glynn, Half Marathon Results Men's Paul Conlon 1:20:28 Daire Comer (Tuam AC) 1:20:38 Kevin Ward (Longford AC) 1:20:41 Women's Jane Ann Meehan (Athenry AC) 1:25:18 (for the 4th consecutive year) Yvonne Fehily (Athenry AC) 1:34:48 Maeve Flannery (Derg AC) 1:37:50 5km Results Men Fergal Walsh (Athenry AC) 17:27 Roman O'Conghaile (GCH) 18:01 Damien Ryan 18:20 Women Edel Kelly 20:15 Maggie Vahey (Athenry AC) 20:23 Tammy Corrigan (Athenry AC) 20:28 Photos on Athenry Half Marathon FB page and Athenry AC FB page! Results from today's races http://www.athenryachalfmarathon.ie/results/