Paul McNamara Wins St Patrick's Day Race in Dublin

Published in Other News on 17th March 2006

On a bitterly cold St Patrick's Day morning. our very own National Short Course Cross Country Champion, Paul McNamara, carried the form he showed in winning the National title last week to record a victory over 4 Road Miles in the Phoenix Park KBC sponsored St Patricks Day Race. Battling the elements was necessary as the temperature hovered at little over freezing, with the wind chill factor on the open stretch between 2 and 3 miles biting through the layers worn by most runners. Added to the chill were hail stones at various times, and a challenging course down through the Glens and up the zig-zags to the Papal Cross, before a flat finish along the main road through the Park to the gates of Farmleigh, and a welcome cup of warming tea back at Castleknock College.

I'm afraid I haven't got the time for Paul yet, but I also took part as a final build up for Connemara, and ran 29:30, then ran it again as a warm down and training run, this time jogging it in 40 minutes with a friend.

Ian Egan - Super Miler!

Published in Other News on 14th March 2006

Johnny O'Connor Predicts Victory
Johnny O'Connor Predicts Victory

It was cold and blustery last Sunday morning as a hardy group of Galway runners lined up for a dash over a measured mile around the Ballybrit racecourse. This was an informal workout for all concerned but the fact that athletes took part from a number of Galway clubs was evidence that they appreciated the opportunity to blast a quick mile. The mile-long course was undulating and included a long stretch into a cold and stiff headwind. Despite the tough conditions Ian Egan of GCH posted a highly respectable winning time of 4:40. Close behind was Mark Davies of Craughwell AC, and Pat Hannon of Loughrea AC chased the two leaders home. In terms of the conditions, the wind and cold certainly added around fifteen seconds to each of the finishing times in comparison to a calm day. It was also interesting to note that the first five runners home were each from different Galway clubs. There's clearly an appetite for this sort of informal racing event out there and hopefully more such outings can be arranged over the summer months.

There was a short prize-giving afterwards where these brave souls were rewarded with some small prizes. All of our thanks go to James Corbett and Dave Dunne who arranged the event and also to Kathryn Casserly who assisted at the finish line.

A good morning's work!

Hopefully we'll have a few more.

Ian Egan GCH 4:40
Mark Davis Craughwell AC 4:50
Pat Hannon Loughrea AC 5:00
Brian O'Connor Athenry AC 5:05
Mike Tobin Craughwell AC 5:07
Emmet Farrell Craughwell AC 5:08
Seamus Gilhooley Athenry AC 5:09
Alan Burke Athenry AC 5:20
Johnny O'Connor Athenry AC 5:24
James Lundon Athenry AC 5:27
Brendan Monaghan Tuam AC 5:38
Michael Rooney Athenry AC 5:45
Michelle Lynch GCH 5:51
Richard Monaghan Tuam AC 6:31

Paul Mc Namara - Double National Champion

Published in Other News on 13th March 2006

Paul McNamara - Tymon Park
Paul McNamara - Tymon Park

Photo Credit: Alan Cowzer (

(Mary Porter's audio report on the weekend action now attached to this report.)

Athenry AC's Paul McNamara claimed his second national senior athletics title yesterday in Dublin's Tymon Park when he crossed the line first at the AAI National Short Course Cross Country Championships. The event, which was hosted by Rathfarnham AC who are to be congratulated on a fine event, saw Dublin runners to the fore in both the men's and women's senior races. It was however our very own Paul McNamara who took home the men's senior title with a powerful display of front running. Paul shared the pace with one of the emerging young stars of Irish Running, Mick Clohissey of Raheny Shamrocks, for the majority of the race, with Paul's strong fininshing kick just proving decisive at the 'business' end. Great credit must go to young Mick Clohissey for such a quality performance, his day will surely come before too long.

Paul is also the reigning national 10k Champion on the roads and if he can hold this form into the track season he might just complete the hatrick and add a track title to his alreading full portfolio of race wins.

In the women's senior race Raheny Shamrock Orla O'Mahony crossed the line ahead of Linda Byrne of DSD.

Our warmest congratulations go to Paul on a great race. Long may his good form continue.

Wind Back Wednesdays

Published in Reports on 8th March 2006




Welcome to Wind Back Wednesday. A new feature where we reproduce a story from the depths of the Athenry AC newsreel. We start off with a Mick Rice account of his 2006 Ballycotton 10.

Of Spritzers And Sprinters

Pre-Ballycotton Meal '06

Pre-Ballycotton Meal '06



Thursday 2nd March ”“ 03:28pm: On the phone from work to my wife, Margaret.

Mick: “Yeah, I feel a little queasy, Declan says there are a lot of people out with a stomach bug, but I don't think I could have that, I’m not too bad.”

Thursday 2nd March ”“ 07:49pm: Sitting with forehead pressed against the top of the kitchen table.

Mick: “Margaret, get a gun, a big one, and shoot me now. Please!”

Friday 3rd March ”“ 10:31am: Slumped on the couch with a pale green complexion.

Mick: I could just go to the race and take some photos. I might be all right by Sunday. You never know.

Margaret: If you try to go to that race, I will shoot you.

Saturday 4th March ”“ 09:46am: Nibbling tentatively on some toast.

Mick: Listen Margaret, I’m the boss in this house and if I want to go down to Ballycotton I will.

Margaret: Is that right?

Mick: Please! Can I go? Please?

I arrived at Lotamore House in Tivoli just outside of Cork at around six in the evening. I had an hour or so to relax and stretch out after the car journey before heading into town with some teammates for a pre-race bite. A motley crew of seven runners and helpers met up at Scuzzi’s Italian Restaurant to consider the following day’s adventure over slightly dodgy pasta and pizza. The campest waiter in Cork considerably enlivened proceedings at our table. Imagine Julian Clary on speed and with Cork accent and you’ll get the picture. Further entertainment was derived by all from the ‘four-cheeses’ VS ‘four-seasons’ pizza fiasco and Brian O’Connor helpfully topping up glasses of white wine with iced water.

Race morning arrived clear and bright with a strong breeze. I’ve always thought of this as Ballycotton weather. An early departure from Tivoli for the race ensured that most of our contingent managed to get parked within a reasonable distance of the action. Certain annual rituals have to be followed. I had to buy a t-shirt in a slightly surprising colour and I had to have a rummage through John Buckley’s display of running gear. I’ve yet to come across better service or value for money on running gear anywhere else in the country. The crowds everywhere were noticeably up on previous years. Even early in the day large groups of happy runners were everywhere. Familiar faces were around every corner. John Walshe drove up and down the road in a state of semi-controlled panic. TJ Beatty strolled around with a smile from ear to ear. Perhaps he knew something we didn’t or perhaps it was because he wasn’t running this year. Who could tell?

The excitement was building as ‘showtime’ drew near. The fifteen-minute delay, which was greeted by many with a groan, came as welcome news to me as it gave a little more time to stake my claim at or near the front of the throng. My philosophy on this issue is simple. I know I’m not quick enough to deserve a place in the front rank of such a competitive race but very little fine-tuning is possible in the midst of huge crowds. I try to get right up at the front for the start and then accept whatever happens. This year I was leaning on the crash barriers behind the ‘real’ runners.

The time was here. Hands had been shaken and ‘good luck’ was wished. Three, two, one: Bang, we’re off. As we started down the hill my legs felt completely dead. I suppose standing squashed on a start line for forty-five minutes will do that to you. Try to find a stride; try to find a rhythm; try to conserve and try to float on the downhill. Mile one is a 5:50, that’s fine. Club mate Brian is still on my shoulder. It’s comforting to see another maroon and white singlet close by. Brian really looks the part in dark wrap-around shades and long confident stride. He stays ten inches ahead of me and to my left as we move into the second mile. Runners stream by on both sides and it’s hard to keep your head. Pace becomes more difficult to judge in such a melee. It’s so disconcerting to see literally hundreds of people sprinting at the start of a ten-mile race.

The second mile marker flashes by: 5:46 and that’s ok as well. I still feel ‘okayish’ but the effort is starting to bite just a little; not a great omen after two miles of a long race. Mile three is a chance to consolidate. The initial downhill stampede has gone and legs are no longer fresh but if I can set and keep a good pace from this point on, perhaps something worthwhile can be built. As the third marker passes with a 5:51 split I can feel Brian fall slowly off my shoulder. Only half a mile earlier he had looked strong. Brian is such a talented runner that I suddenly doubt myself. Am I pushing on to hard? At this stage I’m starting to struggle into the headwind and decide to concentrate on battling the wind rather than my doubts.

For miles four and five I try to hop from group to group. I’m starting to pass many of the people who had flashed past in the first half mile. Because of the wind, runners tend to collect in small groups of four and five and I try to move up gradually, slowly, painfully from group to group. These two miles show splits of 5:51 and 5:55. I’m slowing. Halfway was achieved in 29:13. My hopes of a finishing time in the low 58:00’s were receding rapidly. After halfway we found the first extended stretch where the wind helped rather than hindered. My breathing had been very laboured, sore almost. More than once I consciously tried to draw air deeper into my lungs as I had found my breathing growing more shallow and my pace starting to slacken.

Mile six was a 5:53, I was just about holding onto the pace and passing people in bunches, but couldn’t get into any sort of a groove. Fatigue was starting to drag me down and my stride became shorter. Feck it! This hadn’t been in the race plan. Having done more long training runs than usual in the early part of this year, I could have hoped for a strong finish and thankfully, and eventually, I started to find some strength in the last few miles. Mile seven was 5:49 and I was starting to regain some control of stride and breathing. Mile eight was not one to go ‘bonkers’ in, as I knew the last couple included some sharp uphill stretches and so I was happy with another 5:51 mile.

Next came the ‘fun’ part of the Ballycotton course. As each runner had dashed enthusiastically away from the start and down these hills, less than an hour previously, we had availed ourselves of the glorious benefits of gravity. Now with eight miles in our legs we had to pay the ferryman. What runs down, unfortunately, must also at least try to run back up again. Even though I thought I had recovered my composure a little over the previous couple of miles with a wind at my back, I knew that these hills were tough enough to hurt.

I didn’t want to over-think this part of the race either and so I just picked a spot on the road about ten yards ahead, stared at it, and plowed forward. As we got closer to town there was much more vocal support and I could feel the encouragement lifting me. I was completely satisfied with a 5:59 time for the penultimate mile, as I knew it included the sharpest of the hills. All that was left now was a final blast for the sanctuary of the finish line. I was trying to make sure that I finished amongst the top one hundred runners in order to earn the special t-shirt that is given to the runners who fill those finishing positions. I had two such t-shirts at home and I was chasing a third. Caution was thrown to the wind, oxygen debt was embraced and there was only one thing up for debate: would I puke before the finish line or after it?

I was done. Hands on knees and desperately gulping down air. Stewards immediately moved us forward, politely, efficiently and firmly. I was given a mug, great! I was given a ‘Top 100 Finisher’ t-shirt, fantastic! Another year done and we’re not dead yet. Final mile had been a satisfying 5:42 for a 58:28 total which was good enough on the day for 49th place overall and 5th v40. I was happy.

Post race was a time to smile and enjoy the chat. Most of us had run good races and all of us had enjoyed ourselves. I heard no complaints. How could anyone complain? We talk and we smiled and we promised to do it all again next year. Many of us will cross paths much sooner than that, but even those days won’t be like the ones we spend in Ballycotton.

Liam Mycroft's Ballycotton 2006 report

Published in Reports on 7th March 2006

Another March and another trip down to West Cork and the Ballycotton 10. This is a classic road race that has been going for 29 years, and has increased in size from the 30 brave souls who competed back in the 70's to yesterdays 4000 entrants (although only 2800 completed the course).

It was a cold spring day when I left Dublin at 7 am to drive the 175 miles down to Cork, and clear roads meant I made the journey in little over 3 hours, beating the road closures around the small coastal village of Ballycotton, and making the local car park. The race wasn't due off until 1:30, so plenty of time to meet up with friends and take in the coastal air before warming up and stripping down a good hour before the start so as to ensure a good starting position. With narrow roads, and over 4000 entrants, we are all felt it wise to get as near to the front as possible.

The race start was delayed by 15 minutes to account for the numbers, and despite a few youngsters being up front with us, we were all in good spirit. The marshall who shepherded the youngsters to the sidelines with a couple of minutes to go before the start deserves credit for diplomacy and avoiding the sight of young kids getting trampled when the gun went.

Now, at the start of the year I was aiming at running 80 minutes for this race, given where I was at Xmas, but a good race last month over 5 miles, clocking 36 minutes, saw me changing my goal and looking nearer 75 minutes as a target.

To this event I started off, knowing that the first two miles are downhill, and as this is an out and back course, the last two miles are uphill. So, try and go off steady, hold the middle of the race, saving something for the finish - at least that was the plan!

The first mile was good, ran 7:05, a little fast maybe, but the good positioning at the start line meant little weaving was required, and I maintained this pace thru 2 miles, clocking 7:09 for mile 2. Now this was too fast and I knew I needed to reign back a little, as I didn't want to blow up, so I consciously slowed down, no doubt causing others to wonder what was up, and probably cursing me, but I checked right back running around 8 minutes for Mile 3, and allowing others to pull ahead. I have to confess I wasn't pressing my watch each mile, so the splits are from memory (I wrote them down as best I could recall not long after finishing), but there were clocks at many of the mile markers and timekeepers calling the times at each mile. Mile 3 was actually my slowest mile.

I was around 10 seconds faster for each of the next 4 miles, and feeling good at this pace, around 7:50 and with 3 miles to go I was checking my body out and by now was running alongside a young woman. I'm not sure if I was pulling her along, or she was pushing me, but we were certainly running together. We never spoke but we ran in tandem for most of the second half of the race, and although she wouldn't know it she certainly helped me out, keeping my pace - Thank you..

Knowing that the last mile and a half were up hill, I was ready and raring to take on the challenge. Myself and my new found running partner were pushing up the first climb, passing people, and I was feeling confident. A check of the watch saw that at Mile 9 I would almost have to run sub 7 on the last climb to break 76 minutes, a time I didn't feel comfortable in achieving. But I got my head down, and pushed. I lost my partner, but continued to push hard, passing many runners, and targeting a woman runner I had seen at Mile 1, who was well ahead of me.

Well, I didn't quite catch my woman runner, but I caught everyone else and my last mile was 6:56 seeing me home at 1:15:50 and a new M45 PR. Sadly the official results have me down as 1:16:08 which I know to be wrong, but I hear tonight that the official time clocks went down during the race so they were left with hand timing, but I know what I ran and am pleased with my run. Connemara and the Marathon in 3 weeks is next - I'll keep you posted!


A Great Weekend in Ballycotton

Published in Club News on 6th March 2006

Ballycotton 06
Ballycotton '06

John Walshe and his tremendous team in Ballycotton Running Promotions are yet again to be congratulated for another fantastic running of the famous 'Ballycotton 10' yesterday. In bright sunshine and the very odd hail shower almost 3,000 runners took their chances on the roads around the small Cork seaside town. Despite the increase in numbers over previous years the organisation was flawless and the stewarding effecient, professional and polite. All of the athletes here in Athenry AC offer our warmest congratulations to John and the rest of his team for a thoroughly enjoyable race.

An so to the Athenry results. There were a number of good performances on the day. James Lundon and Brian O'Connor were notable for knocking huge chunks off their previous best performances and Liam Mycroft made a welcome return to something like his best form. Although all three of these three runners can hope to improve on these time as the summer progresses, they must be well pleased with their races yesterday.

The Athenry runners are listed in the official results as follows;

Place Name Time
49 Mick Rice 0:58:28
101 Brian O'Connor 1:00:42
231 Peter Delmer 1:04:59
253 James Lundon 1:05:46
276 John O'Connor 1:06:23
300 Alan Burke 1:06:56
471 Michael Rooney 1:10:14
506 Dave Dunne 1:11:03
835 Liam Mycroft 1:16:08

Congrats also on fine performances to Tommy Joe Whyte from Tuam AC, Bernie Kelly from GCH, and Mark Davis and Mike Tobin from Craughell AC.

Mary Porter's Report from Galway Bay FM is attached Below in mp3 format.

Clubperson of the Year - February Update

Published in Club News on 2nd March 2006

Fellow Comrades,

As we head for the Ballycotton 10 and the Connemara International Marathon our latest club project is shaping up nicely.

Between January and February, 12 Athenry AC members have attended 6 different events across the country. This is a great start to 2006 for the club as the brighter evenings are only starting to kick-in making training and motivation a lot easier for most of us.

As you can see from our “Clubperson/Athlete of the Year” chart, Alan Burke at 10 points is busy flying the flag wherever he can and 23 of us haven’t even started our racing for the year yet. I’m sure by the end of March more of us will be off the ground and hopefully some injurys will be on the mend.

Good luck to everyone heading to the Ballycotton 10 and “go neirí an bothar leat” at the Connemara International Marathon on the 26th.

Winter miles, Summer smiles,

Ultra Runners Make Their Mark in Taiwan

Published in Other News on 27th February 2006

Four Irish Ultramarathoners put up a tenacious performance in Taiwan over the weekend. The team representing Ireland at the event included Galway's own Richard Donovan as well as Tony Mangan, Martin Rea and Eoin Keith. All four runners took part in the IAU (International Association of Ultrarunners) 24 Hour World Challenge in Taipei (Taiwan). This gruelling event drew together most of the best ultramarathon runners in the world for one day's extreme racing. The event involves athletes completing as many kilometers as possible within the allocated 24 hour time limit. Many athletes will complete the event without any significant breaks.

The Irish foursome racked up some serious distances between them with Tony Mangan proving most to the team total with an impressive personal total of 228.229 Km (141.82 Miles) which was good enough for 16th place overall. Martin Rea completed 192.931 Km (119.88 Miles, 41st place), Richard Donovan contributed 163.958 Km to the total (101.88 Miles, 55th place) and Eoin Keith completed the team scoring with 145.192 Km (90.22 Miles, 66th place).

These were indeed courageous performances and were good enough to place the Irish team 11th in the International Team Competition.

Congratulations to the Irish Team.

Paul McNamara Shines in Santry

Published in Club News on 27th February 2006

Paul McNamara - Inter Clubs 2006
Paul McNamara - Inter Clubs 2006

Photo by Alan Cowzer (

Athenry AC's Paul McNamara ran superbly well in the National Inter Clubs Cross Country Championships in Santry last Saturday to finish in fourth place in the men's senior event. Paul, who's training has been badly hampered in the early part of this year with both illness and injury, was competitive from the start. An early breakaway group of seven runners, including Paul, would clearly dictate the outcome of the race running clear as they did in the early stages. Athenry's finest also exacted some small measure of 'revenge' over his close friend and training partner Gary Thornton of GCH for finishing ahead of him in the Proactive Fields of Athenry 10k last St.Stephens day. Gary who has run superbly well this year and last posted a fine eleventh place and was followed home closely by his clubmate Mike O'Connor. Athenry AC was also ably represented in this race by Alan Burke who flew the club colours with great distinction. Our congratulations go to both Paul and Alan on fine races against a high quality field.

Alan Burke - Inter Clubs 2006
Alan Burke - Inter Clubs 2006

Photo by Alan Cowzer (

Results have yet to be posted on the AAI Site but unofficially the finishing order for the senior men's race was as follows ;

1. Vinny Mulvey
2. Mark Christie
3. Cillian Lonergan
4. Paul Macnamara
5. Peter Mathews
6. Mark Kenneally
7. Joe Macalister
8. Mick Clohissy
9. Mark Hanrahan
10. Joe Sweeney
11. Gary Thornton

Hot Stuff for Marathoners..!

Published in Club News on 22nd February 2006

Yoga - Smaller

Tracy O'Mahoney who runs the 'Hot Yoga' Studio in Galway has extended an offer to all Athenry AC members to take part in her classes in Galway. Very frequently runners have difficulty with flexibility and Tracy's classes may be just the ticket for loosening up before your next Marathon or as part of an ongoing flexibility maintenance program.

Tracy says, "We currently have some members who are training for marathons and in the week up to their marathon I allow them to do as many yoga classes as they want for free. The yoga I do is quite strenious and is done in a heated room (not less than 105 Fahrenheight) and the runners find it great for stretching and loosening out before a long run. In the meantime if any of your members would like to try out the yoga please come along to a class for free - make sure that you tell me that your in an Athletics club. If you have any queries you can call me at 087 2642922 or visit my web site at

  • Hot Yoga
  • I would like to extend this offer to your club, i.e. you're more than welcome to attend as many classes as you wish (for free) in the week previous to a marathon. You do not have to be a member previously, nor do you have to join.