The 2011 Ras an Spideil 8km road race which took place on Sunday 29th May last was held under ideal weather conditions as 117 athletes took part in the inaugural Connemara event. A vast field consisting of experienced competitors to recreational walkers took to the staring line with the scenic Spiddal Promenade and Galway Bay making for the ideal backdrop to the picturesque route that lay ahead.

Matt Bidwell of Galway City Harriers made the early running in a group also consisting of East Cork’s Diarmaid Collins and Ennis Track Club’s Brian Murphy with Brian O’Connor and Tomas O’Dowd - of Athenry AC and Liquid Motion Tri Club respectively - following closely.

From the very start Carmel Brannigan set the pace in the women’s event, but was followed in quick succession by Louise O’Rourke of Craughwell and Trisport’s Marie Boyle, with Fit For Life’s Sinead Brody maintaining a senior medal contention throughout.

The latter stages of the race saw noticeable gaps begin to emerge in the senior men’s event as GCH’s Matt Bidwell pulled away from the chasing pack to finish the testing course in a superb time of 27.06 almost a full minute ahead of East Cork’s Diarmaid Collins (28.02) with Brian Murphy of Ennis Track Club also finishing strongly to claim bronze in 28.14.

The senior women’s race made for more closely contested affair with Carmel Brannigan (36.16) crossing the finishing line with just six seconds to spare over second placed Louise O’Rourke (36.22) of Craughwell AC with Trisport’s Marie Boyle taking bronze in a n impressive 36.43.

In the Over 40s event, Mark Breen of Athenry AC took gold in a time of 31.39 with Mary Kealy of Craughwell AC taking the women’s title in a time of 37 .36.

The Over 50s gold medals went to Craughwell’s Brian Murphy (33.16) and Galway City Harriers’ Bernie Kelly (38.09) respectively.

The Over 60s title went to Martin Keane of Athenry AC in a time of 41.42 while Annamarie Faherty of Trisport claimed the women’s title in a time of 45.13.

In the Over 70s event Liam Lowry (no club) came away with gold.

John Mac Sweeny

13 years 1 month ago

You used "inaugural" in description of this race. Well there used to be a road race 15 years ago as I ran it in 1996. I do remember a serious climb being involved with a downhill afterwards fairly close to the finish during which I [as was/is my usual custom] lost a few places that I gained on the climb. I wrote down the race distance as 5.75 miles in my running diary and I suspect that it was either advertised as such a distance or I measured it by car in those pre-Garmin days!