Do or not not. There is no try. Yoda
The Galway 5K Series celebrated 10 years in existence with another excellent set of races this year. All existing records were broken again, in the 11th iteration of the series. It welcomed aboard a new co-ordinator, Gerry Carty (GCH). He came with bags of experience, being The Streets 8KM race director on multiple occasions in the very recent past. A title sponsor was secured for the event for the first time in BRADLEY RENAULT. The HSE also provided some much-appreciated sponsorship to this great event.
The well-worn on-line entry process didn't stretch ActiveGlobal.com as much as previously on Friday, 11 March at 8PM. Seven hundred people entered via this mechanism. Cost of entry was unchanged at €30. If you hadn't registered by 8:20PM, you were out of luck. A limited number of others were able to enter off-line through their affiliated club, to bring the numbers registered in the series to over 940 – a 14-fold increase on the number of people who finished the first ever 5KM leg back in May 2006.
There was substantial change in the series this year with the sequencing of the legs, with GCH first up, reverting back to Ballybrit on a crisp April evening. Niamh Hennelly was race director. Number pick-up was under the new stand. The course was slightly altered on the other year it was held here, and but for a few spits of rain after 8PM, the leg went off without any hitches. Red Tag Timing provided time services, as John Cunniffe & Co have every year since 2010, when the event became too large to be safely hand-timed. www.redtagtiming.com saw a lot of activity each Tuesday evening of the series!
Craughwell was next up and a record number of finishers was recorded (724 and up two from the previous record 722 who finished the week before in Ballybrit) on a very fast course [for me anyhow!], from the school to the old bridge. Keith and crew did the needful, as they always do. The less said about Elvis the better.
Loughrea attracted a smaller crowd, partly because the weather in the hour before 8PM was broken? The course was slightly changed, with the start further back closer to the town centre, with the finish halfway up the traditional fast finishing straight. The Martin Smyth-inspired logistics worked out fine as it kept the crowd off the intersection at the local Gaelscoil.
Tuam was roughly over the same course but without the hard 90 degree left turn in the housing estate close to the finish line. This caused some confusion last year as some kept going instead of taking the left turn. The new highway caused some changes in the course but none of them unduly affected the runners, at 500M and again at 2.5KM. There were serious traffic issues getting into the town and many runners − upwards of 100 − missed the race as a result. One must leave lots of time to make Tuam on 5KM evening.
Claregalway was exactly the same as other years, with the start at the turn inside Corporate Park and the finish at its entrance. No traffic jams that evening. There were substantial road works at the Community Centre, for the new school, and it made the road there a bit rougher than usual, but not unduly so. Nothing has changed on Rock Road though.
The first shall be last, and it was the case with Athenry. The race HQ was the Raheen Woods Hotel, both before and after the leg. The start of the race was away over on the Tuam Road near the water tower, which was a decent warm-up on a lovely late May evening. The finish was at the Athenry Primary Care Centre, much closer to the hotel than the start. It was a warm evening, which suited some but not others!
The 2016 technical top was black in colour and 708 were eligible to receive one by the Athenry leg. Yoda put it, in only the way he/she/it could, "Do or do not. There is not try." John O'Connor (Flickr: 77edenhill) cannot be forgotten: he was at all six legs again this year and recorded everyone equally for posterity.
Regina Casey won four of the six legs, with Grainne Ní Uallacháin (Claregalway) and Deirdre Brophy (Ballybrit) sharing one leg win each. Gary Higgins (Tuam & Claregalway) won two legs, while Matt Bidwell (Athenry), Owen Byrne (Loughrea) and John Greaney (Craughwell) and Philip Niland (Ballybrit) all won one leg!
The excess of €14,330 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 8th year that an excess has been generated and on all occasions it has been given to the local county board, for which they are deeply grateful. Martin Smyth, 5K Series treasurer, presented the cheque to the county board at its Annual General Meeting in November.
the two 5K series stalwarts remain standing after the 2016 series: Gary Doherty (Athenry AC) and Tony O'Callaghan (Craughwell AC). Each has successfully completed all 63 legs without fail (2006: 4; 2007: 5; 2008-2016: 6 each). There are a number of other people who have each run at least 60 legs each: Adrian Fitzmaurice, Jim Maher, James Lundon and Tony Nevin.
Mick Rice and Alan Burke were both presented with specially-commissioned sterling silver medals by the Galway AAI County for their 10 years working on the series. The presentation was made by Brian Bruton in his capacity as Galway AAI County Board chairperson in Athenry after the last leg.
Race Number Director Date Ballybrit (GCH) 732 Niamh Hennelly 26 April Craughwell 734 Keith Devane 3 May Loughrea 662 Martin Smyth 10 May Tuam 586 The Monaghans 17 May Claregalway 637 Andrew Talbot 24 May Athenry 658 Valerie Glavin 31 May
Races Ran Per Person Number Six 240 Five 261 Four 207 Three 91
Gender Participation Number Male 509 Female 482
Club Number Athenry AC 120 GCH 85 Craughwell AC 57 Tuam AC 53 Loughrea AC 43 HPE Galway 26 Maree AC 25 Corofin AC 23 Castlegar AC 19 South Galway AC 17 CRH 13 Corrib AC 11 East Galway AC 11 Caltra AC 1