A runner must run with dreams in his heart. Emil Zapotek
The Galway 5K Series moved into its second decade of existence with another excellent set of races this year. Some more records were broken, in the 12th iteration of the series. It welcomed aboard another new co-ordinator, the extremely venerable Andrew Talbot (Clare River Harriers). He came with bags of experience, self proclaimedly having been on the roads of Galway – literally speaking – for over 50 years. No one knows more about road running in Galway than this gent does and he proved it this year. He even got to run five of the legs himself, all pretty niftily too for a gent of his many years. BRADLEY RENAULT continued to sponsor the series, as did the HSE in their own smaller way.
The web site Active.com did not blink an electronic eyelid on Friday, 24 March @ 8PM when online entries became available. Over 750 people entered via this mechanism, with nearly 700 entering in the first 30 minutes alone. Cost of entry was €30, as has been the case for a number of years now. If you hadn’t registered by 9PM, you were out of luck. A limited number of others were able to enter through their affiliated club, to bring the numbers registered to near 1,000.
There were some substantial changes in the series this year, especially the sequencing of the legs, with GCH first up, at Ballybrit around another slightly-changed course on a bracing April evening. Number pick-up was under the new stand like last year. Red Tag Timing provided expert timing services, as John Cunniffe & Co have every year since almost before the flood i.e. 2010! A record number finished that evening, 746.
Caltra & District were next up. Caltra! Where’s that? Google Maps may have helped many people safely find the place. For those who didn’t travel, or who got lost on the way (probably somewhere between Mountbellew and Castleblakeney), ye missed a fantastic event. A lovely evening, on a fast course, with the locals coming out in force, both to spectate and steward the half-panhandle course. This course would also be used for the County Championship 5KM later in the year. Caltra took the place of Tuam in the 5KM Series, who could not participate this year due to the impending opening of the M18 which cut their course in two.
Craughwell attracted a massive crowd the week after. The usual start and finish: outside the primary school to the old railway bridge near the modern level crossing. The only course that has not massively changed over the lifetime of the 5KM Series! ‘Nirvana’ cross takes longer to round as the years go by and the race was a painfully slow one for me personally, especially after turning that corner to get to 4KM. The lack of early-season training really showed that evening. Elvis looked shook at the finish, obviously. At least 109 people broke 20 minutes, on a lightningly fast course.
Loughrea’s course was the same as last year. It stayed dry for the duration of the race too but the ground was wet underfoot. The finish line is well back up the road to Tulla Hill. Not a course for PBs. Loughrea AC were out in style and a goodly numbers of locals cheered on the race too. One leg closer to the series T-shirt.
Claregalway unveiled their new 5KM course, starting outside the main entrance to the new secondary school, and finishing halfways up the driveway of the same school. This course had been used earlier in the year for the local club’s 5KM, so it was no surprise to those who had done their homework. The course still included Rock Road, going down. It was a misty evening for running with the organising club, as always, in top form.
Athenry again hosted the last leg of the series. The race HQ was the Raheen Woods Hotel, both before and after the race. The start was at the pitches in Raheen. The finish was at the Athenry Primary Care Centre. It was a warm and sunny evening, which suited some but not others! There were a lot more refreshments available this year.
The 2017 technical top was red in colour and 683 were eligible to receive one by the Athenry leg. Emil Zatopek said, “A runner must run with dreams in his heart.” John O’Connor (Flickr: 77edenhill) was at all six legs again this year and recorded everyone equally for posterity in 20 albums of top-quality images, available in original resolution to all at no cost.
Conor Dolan won four of the six legs, with Kevin Bartholomew (Claregalway) and Mike O’Connor (Athenry) sharing one leg win each, the latter winner’s time being by far the fastest recorded in the series this year, 15:57. Sarah Collins (Ballybrit & Caltra) and Barbara Dunne (Claregalway and Athenry) won two legs each, while Jane Ann Meehan (Craughwell) and Caron Ryan (Loughrea) won one leg each, with Sarah running the fast women’s leg in Caltra! Except for Shauna Bocquet, of course, who competed in five of the legs this year and recorded an outstanding 15:05 in Athenry.
The excess of €16,492 from the series was given to the Galway AAI county board for the continued advancement of both adult and juvenile athletics in the county. This is the 9th year that an excess has been generated and on all occasions it has been given to the local county board, for which the board are deeply grateful. Martin Smyth, 5K Series treasurer, presented the cheque to the county board at its monthly meeting in September.
The two 5K Series stalwarts remain standing (surprisingly!) after the 2017 series: Tony O’Callaghan (Craughwell AC) and Gary Doherty (Athenry AC). Each has successfully completed all 69 legs (2006: 4; 2007: 5; 2008-2017: 6 each year). A number of other people have run at least 66 legs each: Adrian Fitzmaurice, Jim Maher, James Lundon and Tony Nevin.
Ballybrit (GCH) 746 Brendan Kennelly 25 April Caltra 571 Michael Fallon 2 May Craughwell 711 Brian Gorman 9 May Loughrea 602 Martin Smyth 16 May Claregalway 613 Tom Kilgarriff 23 May Athenry 685 Kieran Guiry 30 May
Races Ran Per Person Number Six 196 Five 290 Four 197 Three 95
Gender Participation Number Male 534 Female 479
Club Number Athenry AC 126 GCH 94 Craughwell AC 57 Tuam AC 38 Loughrea AC 33 Castlegar AC 28 Clare River Harriers 21 Caltra & District AC 16 Corofin AC 16 South Galway AC 16 Maree AC 14 East Galway AC 13 HPE Running Club 13 DXC Galway Running Club 5 CL Conamara 4 Corrib AC 2