The Galway 5K Series ran another outstanding series of races this year, its 13th. It welcomed aboard a new co-ordinator, Tuam AC’s Brendan Monaghan (and his wife Trish). Brendan was ably assisted by the participating clubs as well as the local county board executive.
The web site Active.com handled the entry load without issue on Friday, 23 March @ 8PM when online entries became available. Over 750 people entered via this mechanism within the first two hours. Cost of entry was €30, as has been the case for many years now. A limited number of others were able to gain entry through their local athletic or running club, to bring the numbers registered to over 950 in total.
There were some changes in the series this year, especially the sequencing of the legs, with Caltra first up, on a changeable late April evening. First-evening number-pack pick-up was in the spacious local community centre at the bottom of the village, a full KM away from the start line – no other warm-up was necessary. The finish line was in the village itself, outside the old GAA pitch. Red Tag Timing provided expert timing services, as John Cunniffe & Co have every year since 2010!
Craughwell was next up on the first day of May. The evening kept dry for the leg, over the next traditional course. The series has been run over the same basic course every year except one since the very first year back in 2006. Elvis made a fleeting appearance before and after the race; the passing years are not being kind to him as he slows up.
The Loughrea leg was run over the new usual Tulla Hill circuit. The sun shone for some of the race; the rain stayed away but only just. Loughrea AC and Martin Smyth – with his Race Director’s hat on – put on a good show for the year’s low finishing leg number of 576. It was their loss and cost a goodly number of people the 2018 5K Series t-shirt.
The Claregalway start and finish moved to the environs of the new secondary school in the last few years. It makes the race a much fairer prospect as the hill on the Oranmore road out of the village is now hit one KM in, not 100M as was the case when the race started on the road into the local business park.
Athenry started on the new link road and finished near the level crossing, which made for a much fairer and quicker course. There have been so many different courses in Athenry that it is hard to recall one from the other nowadays. The basic course is still the same, with a figure of 8 that takes in the Raheen Woods Hotel, the new Medical Centre, the community pitches in Raheen and the water tower on the Tuam Road. It was a warm evening too, I seem to recall.
Kilcornan was a highlight of the series for many, the first time a leg has been held here. It won’t be the last. The start and finish lines were less than 70M apart and overlapping, which made the loop an almost perfect 5K circuit. The course was pretty tough, and times were down 30 seconds or more across the board. The wooded section is very scenic if one had the time to stop and smell the flowers; most didn’t! 5K Series t-shirts and copious amount of tea/coffee and other refreshments were on hand in the hall just a short sprint from the finish line.
The 2018 5K Series technical top was mostly yellow in colour and 647 were eligible to receive one by the Kilcornan leg. “It's something in me, deep down, that makes me different in a race,” said Eamonn Coghlan. John O'Connor (Flickr: 77edenhill) was at all six legs and recorded the action in many albums of top-quality images, available to all in high resolution on that photo-sharing web site at no cost.
Regina Casey (GCH) was the star of the series, winning the five legs she ran in, with a best time of 17:18 in Caltra. She ran all her races in sub-18 minutes too! Áine O’Farrell (Athenry AC) in her Leaving Cert year won the tough Loughrea leg in a strong 19:08. Kevin Mooney (Craughwell AC) won the last two legs, while club-mate William Fitzgerald won in Caltra in 16:42, Paddy O’Toole (Westport AC) in Craughwell in 16:14, Philip Niland (Celbridge AC) in Loughrea in 17:15 and Rob Lennon (Castlegar AC) in Claregalway in 16:40! Shauna Bocquet (Craughwell AC) competed in all legs this year and recorded an outstanding 15:15 in Athenry, ten seconds inferior to last year’s time but over a slightly different course.
The 5K Series excess of €15,979 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 10th year that the surplus has been given to the local county board, for which the board and all its constituent athletic clubs are deeply grateful. Martin Smyth, 5K Series treasurer, presented the cheque to the county board at its AGM later in the year.
The two 5K Series stalwarts remain standing (hobbling?) after the 2018 series: Tony O'Callaghan (Craughwell AC) and Gary Doherty (Athenry AC). Each has successfully completed all 75 legs (2006: 4; 2007: 5; 2008-2018: 6 each year). Several other people have run at least 70 legs each: Adrian Fitzmaurice, James Lundon and Jim Maher. Four others have run at least 60 legs each: Tony Nevin, Martin Keane, Peadar Nugent and Alan Burke.
Finally, we remember Sinead Brody who passed away a few weeks after Kilcornan. She ran five legs in 2018 and was a regular fixture in the 5K Series over many years. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.
Caltra 612 Michael Fallon 24 April Craughwell 627 Brian Gorman 1 May Loughrea 576 Martin Smyth 8 May Claregalwa 627 Tom Kilgarriff 15 May Athenry 614 Michael Duane 22 May Kilcornan (GCH) 600 Brendan Kennelly 29 May
Races Ran Per Person Six 188 Five 263 Four 196 Three 87
Gender Participation Male 513 Female 441
Club Athenry AC 112 GCH 90 Craughwell AC 57 Castlegar AC 42 Tuam AC 32 South Galway AC 24 Loughrea AC 22 CRH 20 Corofin AC 16 Thermo King Running Club 14 Caltra & District AC 13 East Galway AC 8 Maree AC 6 HPE Running Club 5 St James AC 4 Ballinasloe & District AC 3 DXC Running Club 3 Corrib AC 2