Published in Reports on 18th November 2015
There are mornings you wake up and look out the window and say to yourself “Today is not a day for running” and crawl back in to bed. When the tail end of storm Abigail is still battering the landscape there was more than ample reason to crawl back in to bed on Sunday morning (Nov 15th), but this was the Hollymount 10k, a race steeped in Irish road running history, and with this being its 50th Anniversary the hour long journey had to be made. Slightly reluctantly the wet gear was on and the bag was packed full to the brim of warm gear for the horrid wind and rain that would be waiting at the finish line after. Myself and 6 other brave Athenry AC souls made the hour plus drive to the hallowed roads that had felt the feet of many noted Irish and overseas athletes in the past, John Treacy, Noel Berkeley and John Woods to name just three. A long list that goes back as far as 1966 and in parts reads like a history of Irish road running. On the drive in to town we passed by a cycling race that was also taking place, the pain on the faces of the participants was just another stark reminder of what lay ahead. “Why do we do this to ourselves” were the only words I could hear running through my head. Parked up the car and proceeded to registration, Mick Rice, Gearoid Rohan, Rodney Bell, Patrick Forde, James Lundon and Michael Glynn......ahhhhhhh some friendly Athenry faces and all of a sudden you don’t seem so wet, cold and alone. Suit up, warm up and lets go. The junior race set off at 12, the ladies at 12:30 and with the men due to go at 1 the warm up was done quickly and we were set for the off waiting patiently at the start line at 12:50. This alas is where I must throw in a slight complaint, the men’s race didn’t start until 1:20 and although conditions had eased (very slightly) standing around for half an hour in the cold does not appeal to many runners. Anyway, with time to chat at the start line Mick’s advice was to start slowly, hold a little bit back. This was 3 laps of a 3km+ course, so the first lap was to be almost a reconnaissance mission, then push on for the last 2. Sound advice as always from the ever knowledgeable Mr. Rice!! But of course we are runners, and runners are that strange breed that once the gun goes off all sane thoughts and tactics go out the window and it’s straight in to the pain zone. The race head straight up a hill and straight in to a head wind up through the town, thankfully this is where the cheering support had gathered as with 3 of these to do this is where it would be most needed. The rest of the course is relatively flat but with the wind blowing hard if you weren’t running in a group you were running in to trouble which most of us seemed to do on the day. This was not a day for fast times, this was a day for toughing it out. We had entered a team to try nab a few prizes and speaking to the crew at the end that seemed to keep everyone pushing that little bit harder when the going got tough, if you saw a Tuam AC or GCH singlet sneaking up on your shoulder the job was to keep it at bay. The job was done well and Athenry AC managed to snag 3rd place in the team event with Gearoid Rohan 37:57, Mick Rice 38:55, Rodney Bell 39:47 (a fantastic time in the conditions) and myself (Ronan McCarthy) 42:30 scoring the points. The other 3 members that braved the elements were Patrick Forde 43:20, James Lundon 46:59 and Michael Glynn 1:07:37. A huge effort by all on a tough day, hats off folks. The race itself was won by Matt Bidwell of GCH in a time of 33:10, he was pushed all the way by fellow Galway athlete Jason Broderick of Craughwell AC (33:22) with Louis Rogers who had travelled all the way from Liverpool finishing 3rd in 34:08. An honourable mention here to 4th place finisher Gerry Ryan of Craughwell AC with a time of 34:30, also snagging the O50 category in the process. The ladies race (6k) was won by former European champion and all round Irish legend Catherina McKiernan in a time of 21:41 but she didn’t have it all her own way with GCH’s Regina Casey keeping her company until the last few hundred metres and coming home a brilliant second in 22:07. All in all once the race was run and the souvenir t-shirt (and 3rd place team prize) were packed away we had soon forgotten about the conditions on the day. It was great to be a part of such a historical race and also to watch a true Irish hero in Catherina McKiernan in action in the race before us. Special mention here to new club member Rodney Bell for dipping under the 40 minute mark, the only Athenry AC man to better his target time on what was definitely not a day for doing so. Ronan (Speedy) McCarthy.