Ten club members had a phenomenal outing in Charleville for the seventh instalment of their excellent half marathon on Sunday 17th September. In what was a high quality field the results speak for themselves – fourth place and a PB for Jane Ann Meehan, PB’s for Gearoid Rohan, Kieran Staunton, Ray Treacy, Donal Leahy, Maggie Vahey, Esther Leahy and France's Leahy as well as great performances from Jim Leahy and a very strong race from Chris Deakin as he comes back after injury.
Race reports from three of the participants follow:
A very enjoyable day out with nine fellow Athenry AC members in idyllic running conditions; no breeze, nice and cool, no rain, very flat, as straight as the link road and as fast as Mick Clohessy speeding past ‘This n’ That’ on St. Stephen’s Day. I first did this race back in 2012 and remembered it as being very well-organised with a great quality field of runners. Nothing has changed in the intervening five years with North Cork ac again putting on a great event. Definitely one to be pencilled in to the annual fixture list. Well done to Gearóid, Jane Ann, Chris, Ray, Donal, Jim, Maggie, Esther and Frances for putting in such great efforts. Hard, smart, consistent training certainly pays off.
My own plan was to have the 1:20 pacers in sight for the first eight or nine miles and then try to bridge the gap over the closing few miles. It nearly worked out perfectly as I was gradually increasing the pace from about mile six onwards to finish just over 1:20 and got a ninety second PB.
Hero of the day award has to go to Ray Treacy who even managed to put on his cape after a serious PB effort and rescue a desolate lady from Duhallow ac who managed to lock herself into the back of her own van. The frenzied banging on the door and despairing cries for help would have given Mr. Hitchcock great food for thought. Good man Ray!
With the Athlone half no longer taking place a trip to Charleville had to substitute. The race started at 10 so it was an early meet in Athenry for the trip. Ciaran was driving so I got to act as co-pilot for the day. We arrived in good time, met with Gearoid, Jane-Ann and Chris and had a two-minute walk to collect numbers. Pre-race activities complete, a quick warm-up and we lined up at the start. The conditions were perfect and the plan was to keep with the 1:30 pacer until 10 miles then push on. Chatting with Donal he had a plan to try to keep with the same pacers. The race was soon underway and a gentle downhill start made for a quick first mile and a straight six mile run to Kilmallock. Donal was running near me and we were ahead of the pacers but we just kept going. After 3 miles I was travelling faster than the 1:30 pace but it felt OK so I kept pushing on. Kilmallock was just before halfway and the pace was starting to bite, I saw Donal as we turned left and entered the town - it helped to know that I wasn’t the only one ignoring the race plan. The next three miles were on small roads looping back to the main road. The last three miles were just spent keeping the pace constant. The downhill start meant a tough last mile but got home tired, with a PB and the sight of smiling heads with Athenry AC tops. Donal crossed the line soon after, a minute inside plan and he never got to see the 1:30 pacer! There were plenty more smiling clubmates as they finished the race. Plenty of PBs and strong running on the day from everyone. This is well run race, good course, and a good spread afterwards. A PB course if you have the work put in. A definite for the calendar next year!
I’m going to indulge in a little nostalgia first. I grew up near Dromina, a village just a few miles from Charleville. A well-known running fanatic called Fr. Liam Kelleher was our local curate for a few years back in the 80’s. You can read more about him here (http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2057660341) trust me, well worth it if you’re not already familiar with him). He failed to convert me to running or anything else, but one of his many running related enterprises was the Dromina 10 which attracted the likes of Jerry Kiernan, at his peak, our little corner of the world. The Dromina event gets a nod here (http://www.charlevillehalf.com/race-history/) on the Charleville half marathon website (scroll to the bottom). I couldn’t let it pass without a mention.
Anyway, back to Sunday. I travelled down with Esther and both of us had notions of PB’s and targets to ponder on the way. I had run it the previous year so we knew it was fair course and a good gauge of how things were going. We bumped into Jim and Frances at registration - you couldn’t swing a stick without hitting a Leahy - then met Maggie just up the road, and finally met Kieran, Chris, Jane Ann, Gearoid and Ray warming up. I sensed the nice, relaxed focus of a bunch of runners with training done who were eager to test themselves. I lined up beside Chris and Ray and the chat helped keep any tension at bay. Chris needless to say made swift progress out of sight after the start. Ray and I kept steady pace with each other, Ray about 20 or so yards ahead, a situation he rectified at around the half way point when he showed great form and pulled away steadily on his way to a super PB, one of many on the day. I kept the pace going well, dug in and crossed the line delighted with my own PB and with a little bit to spare on my target too. Esther cruised over the line shortly after with her PB and target time comfortably in the bag. The excellent results from the day saw a very happy Athenry AC bunch that had been steadily accumulating at the finish line doing a cool down together, then it was back to the cars and home.
A hatful of PB’s and great performances, a certain running mad priest would definitely approve.