The Galway 5K Series ran another outstanding set of races this year, its 14th. Brendan Monaghan (and his wife Trish) was a very capable co-ordinator, his second year at the helm. Brendan was ably assisted by the participating clubs, as well as the local county board executive.
The web site Active.com handled the deluge on Friday, 22 March @ 8PM when online entries became available. Over 750 people entered via this mechanism within the first 90 minutes. Cost of entry was €30, as has been the case for many years. A limited number of others were able to gain entry through their local athletic or running club.
There were some changes to the series this year: Claregalway (Clare River Harriers) gave way to Tuam, who were delighted to be back in the series after a three-year hiatus. Athenry moved to 4th while Tuam were 5th, with all the other legs in the same place as 2018. Red Tag Timing provided expert & efficient electronic timing services, as John Cunniffe has every year since 2010! Full results were up on www.redtagtiming.com and an SMS text sent to all finishers, where possible, by 10PM each race evening.
Caltra had a near record crowd on a beautiful Tuesday evening in late April. The start was delayed for a short while, partly to allow the last few runners get to the start without being run over as the community centre and number pick-up was over 1.5KM down the course.
Craughwell was next up on 7 May. The evening stayed dry, over the now traditional loop, the only course that has stayed pretty constant since the very first year back in 2006. The Elvis leg and he did make an appearance both before and after! Another almost record crowd that evening, now only eclipsed by the opening day crowd in Ballybrit in 2017 (736 versus 746 finishers). Seven less ran in Caltra the week before, 729.
The Loughrea leg was run over the new usual Tulla Hill circuit. A very sunny evening. The midges did not help, going up or down the infamous hill, that hasn’t flattened out much over the years. Only 49 broke 20 minutes there. Loughrea AC always put on a great show for visitors and this leg was no different.
Athenry stayed dry and it made for a fast evening with 91 breaking 20 minutes. The same course for the last few years, the figure out 8, starting on the link road and finishing near the level crossing on the Ard Aoibhinn side.
Tuam was back on the 5K Series circuit with a new course; the motorway cut a serious swart through the old course, especially near the start and up Ballygaddy Road. The new course started on the inner bypass near the leisure centre, and went up into the square and then out the Dunmore road before looping up and down the bypass between it and the Milltown road, to finish in Parkview Drive near the Palace Grounds. The evening stayed dry but was overcast and muggy enough.
Kilcornan was quite wet. Times were good, surprisingly so. Smallest crowd of the series but conditions and the general difficulty of the course probably did not help. It didn’t stop many others turning up and collecting their earned 5K Series t-shirts though. Copious amount of tea/coffee and other refreshments were on hand in the hall for all.
The series technical top was purple and 718 were eligible to receive one. “It’s not about the legs, it’s about the heart and the mind,” said Eliud Kipchoge. John O’Connor (Flickr: 77edenhill) was at all six legs again and recorded the action in many albums of top-quality images, available in high resolution on that excellent photo-sharing web site at no cost.
Regina Casey (GCH) won the three legs she ran in, with a best time of 17:35 in Caltra, as well as Athenry and Tuam! Janeann Meehan (GCH) won in Loughrea, Grainne Ní Uallacháin (GCH) in Craughwell and Edel Kelly (Athenry AC) in Kilcornan. Cathal O’Reilly (Loughrea) won two legs, Caltra and Athenry, while Jack Miskella (Craughwell AC) won on his home course - passing his home in the process - with Rob Lennon (Castlegar AC) winning in Loughrea, Ross McGuinness (Craughwell AC) in Tuam and Matt Coffee (Castlegar AC) in Kilcornan! Cathal’s time of 16:23 in Athenry was the best time of the series. Shauna Bocquet (Craughwell AC) competed in three legs and recorded 15:19 in Athenry, only four seconds down on her previous year’s best time in the series also there.
The 5K Series excess of €15,076 was given to the Galway AAI county board for the continued advancement of both adult and juvenile athletics in the county. This is the 11th 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, continues to bear the brunt of this work, for which the organisers are all deeply appreciative of his efforts. The series organisers would like to record their thanks to main sponsors this year, Windsor Galway Renault, as well as the Health Service Executive (HSE) for their very long-term support of the series.
Both 5K Series stalwarts remain intact after the 2019 series: Tony O’Callaghan (Craughwell AC) and Gary Doherty (Athenry AC). Each has successfully completed all 81 legs (2006: 4; 2007: 5; 2008-2019: 6 each year). Several other people have run most of the legs during this time: Adrian Fitzmaurice (80), James Lundon (78), Jim Maher (77), Tony Nevin (73), Martin Keane (71) and Peadar Nugent (69).
Race Number Sub-20 Director Date Caltra 729 69 Michael Fallon 30 April Craughwell 736 73 Brian Gorman 7 May Loughrea 663 49 Martin Smyth 14 May Athenry 690 91 Brendan Monaghan 21 May Tuam 638 78 Michael Duane 28 May Kilcornan (GCH) 583 57 Brendan Kennelly 4 June
Races Ran Per Person Six 217 Five 277 Four 224 Three 91
Gender Participation Male 547 Female 450
Club Athenry AC 101 GCH 71 Craughwell AC 43 Loughrea AC 36 Tuam AC 35 Castlegar AC 27 Clare River Harriers 25 Caltra & District AC 15 East Galway AC 12 South Galway AC 11 Maree AC 10 Corofin AC 9 South Galway AC 7 St. James' AC 4 Ballinasloe & Dist AC 3