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Wednesday, November 21, 2018


In this guest post, John Walshe looks back on the career of Tony Simmons who was one of the top runners in the UK back in the 1970's. The article also recounts how in one race, Tony Simmons ran a huge negative split and still won the race. Food for thought?


The programme for this year’s Cork City Sports contained an article on the meeting of 1978 which took place, for the one and only time, at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. The reason for the move being that the Mardyke was in the process of changing to an all-weather surface while the CIT arena had yet to be developed.

Steve Ovett, then in the early years of a famous career that would bring Olympic medals and world records, was the main attraction. The previous year at the Mardyke, Ovett had defeated Eamonn Coghlan over one mile, 3:59.1 to 4:00.8, before going on to Midleton the following night where he beat John Treacy over 5000m.

Conditions at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on that July evening weren’t conducive to spectacular times with a blustery wind and a grass track that lacked the manicured surface of the Mardyke. Over the final lap of the mile, the famous Ovett kick came into play and the 22-year-old was untroubled when winning in one of his slowest ever times of 4:08.3.

Another visiting runner who tasted success that night was Tony Simmons in the 5000m. After Neil Cusack led for the opening mile, Simmons took over and built up a big lead over favourite Gerry Deegan. The Luton runner crossed the line almost one hundred metres clear, just scraping inside 14 minutes with his time of 13:59.4.

Tony Simmons was one of a number of top-class British distance runners who performed with distinction on all surfaces during the 1970s and his career was certainly marked by longevity and consistency. Born in the town of Maesteg in Wales on October 6th, 1948, in 1963 he established a world best mile time for a 14-year-old of 4:29.5. Some 25 years later, aged 40, he was still capable of running 23:51 for five miles on the road.

In the years between, he would post impressive PBs of 13:21.2 for 5000m and 27:43.59 for the 10,000m and compete at Olympic, European and Commonwealth level. At the 1974 European Championships in Rome, he was narrowly beaten (four-hundreds of a second) by Manfred Kuschmann of East Germany in the 10,000m.

Two years later he finished fourth over the same distance at the Montreal Olympics. After winning his heat in a swift 28:01.8 three days before, Simmons’ time in the final of 27:56.4 was just 1.4 seconds behind Brendan Foster’s bronze – the only British medal won in track and field at that Olympiad. Simmons later admitted he hung back to avoid carrying one of the chasing pack to within range of Foster.

But it was the year of 1975 that Tony Simmons achieved what every English runner strived for in those days – victory in the iconic nine-mile National Cross-Country. The fact that it was held over his home course at Luton made it all the more sweeter, as he moved away from Bernie Ford with a half mile to go to add his name to an illustrious roll of honour.

His diminutive build – standing 1.70/5’ 7” tall and weighing 56kg/124lb – seemed ideally suited to the marathon and later that summer it looked like he was on for a fast time at the AAA championship at Stoke-on-Trent when opening up a lead of almost two minutes after 15 miles. However, after succumbing to the dreaded cramps in his hamstrings at 22 miles his race was at an end and he was forced to drop out.

So when 1978 came around, Simmons was again prepared to have another crack at the classic distance. But it was a few build-up races to the marathon that caught the imagination, one in particular which certainly could be described as ‘remarkable’, as the title to this article suggests.

Twenty miles was a popular distance back in the day before the half-marathon came into vogue, seen as the ideal stepping-stone from the 10,000m (and 10-mile) to the full marathon. The most famous race over the distance was the Finchley ‘20’ in April, usually acting as the Inter-Counties championships. Held over a four-lap course at Ruislip in West London, it had a chequered history with the course record of 1:39:01 having been set by Bill Adcocks in 1972.

First held in 1933, the race had an unbroken sequence and even World War 2 failed it to halt its progress. It was ironical, then, that this year’s event last March succumbed to the Artic weather that prevailed and for the first time in 85 years it failed to go ahead.

With the AAA Marathon scheduled for Sandback in Cheshire on May 7th, Simmons felt he needed to do a ‘20’ in preparation but only decided to do the Finchley race an hour before the afternoon start on Saturday April 15th. His coach at the time, Harry Wilson (who also advised Ovett) told him not to run, so a compromise was reached. Simmons would run the first half at a ‘training pace’ and then he could race the second 10 miles. And that is exactly how it turned out.

At the end of the first lap, Simmons was back in 76th place. His time of 27:30 put him two minutes and 20 seconds behind the leading group headed by former winner Harry Leeming, the second fastest-ever over the course with his 1:39:18. Over the next five miles Bill Padgett went into a narrow lead over Dave Clarke, passing the halfway mark in 50:27. Simmons at this stage was three minutes in arrears, his 53:35 moving him up to 41st place.

Simmons switched into overdrive on lap three, picking off the runners one by one and the result of his 24:19 lap was that he was now in fifth, one minute and 45 seconds behind leader Clarke. With about two miles to go, Simmons passed Clarke and strode home an untroubled winner by 57 seconds in a time of 1:41:55. Negative splits may be the way to run, but Simmons’ 10-mile clockings of 53:35 and 48:20 certainly took it to a new level!

On the three-lap course at Sandbach, Simmons finally proved that he could run a fast marathon when taking the AAA title in 2:12:33, then the sixth fastest on the all-time British list. On June 24th, 10 days before he ran in Cork, he set what was then considered a world best time for the half-marathon when he ran 62:47 at Welwyn Garden City.

However, at the European Championships that September in Prague, Simmons could only manage 2:15:31 for 13th place, well behind Leonid Moiseyev of the USSR who won in 2:11:58. Maybe, like a lot of runners before and since, the marathon distance just wasn’t for him.

But, as he proved over a long and brilliant career and especially during that spring and summer of 1978, from the roads of Ruislip and Sandbach to the playing field of Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Tony Simmons was certainly one remarkable athlete.

John Walshe's full index of articles can be seen here...

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Major flooding at the 2018 Venice Marathon

The next time you encounter a few pools of water out on a race course, spare a thought for those taking part in this years marathon in Venice when parts of the course were under water!

With heavy rains and high tides, participants found themselves having to run through ankle deep water in the final few miles. The leading man and woman who were on target for 2:09 and 2:26 finishes respectively ended up with 2:13:13 and 2:31:30.

CIT Sports Seminar Series - Nov 2018 to Apr 2018

The Cork Institute of Technology in association with Cork Sports Partnership are organising a series of sports seminars which should be of interest to many people.

The first one is coming up on Wednesday the 21st of November 2018...

Monday, November 19, 2018

Cork runners medal at the British & Irish Masters Cross County Championships

A number of runners from Cork won individual and team medals at the British & Irish Masters Cross Country Championships which were on in Swansea over the weekend.

Full results...

1) There is a small gallery of photos of runners from Cork here.

Some of the medal winners from Cork are shown in BOLD below...

Lizzie Lee sets new course record to win Stook 10 mile

Following on from winning the national Marathon title in Dublin at the end of October, Cork runner Lizzie Lee was back in action on Sunday at the Stook 10 mile in Kilkenny.

In a modest sized field of 289 runners, Lizzie broke the old course record  by 3 mins to finish in 1h 00m 37s. If that time looks a bit slow then it's because it was a really tough course!

1. 60:37 Lizzie Lee Leevale Athletic Club
2. 64:24 Isobel Oakes (unattached)
3. 67:58 Grace Reilly Portlaoise A.C.

Just three men finished ahead of Lizzie in this race organised by Gowran AC.

Stook 10 mile photos...

Stook 10 mile results...

Notice : Great Glenville 4 mile race - Sun 25th Nov 2018

The annual Glenville 4 mile road race is coming up on Sunday the 25th of November 2018 and it should be of particular interest considering its proximity to Cork City.

In terms of getting there, the village of Glenville is only 5 miles or 8 kms from Watergrasshill and the M8 motorway.

The race starts at 11:30am and the race HQ is the Glenville Primary School. The village is pretty small so the race HQ, start and finish point are all close by.

Preview.......You'll find directions, maps and a course profile HERE

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Results of the Skibbereen 10 mile & 5 mile race - Sun 18th Nov 2018

This was the first year of this new 10 mile road race in Skibbereen and the numbers were pretty modest. In the 10 mile race, there were just 86 finishers which is low enough while there were 83 finishers in the 5 mile.

Going back a few years, the number of finishers in races in West Cork was pretty good but it really seems to have dropped off of late.

10 mile
1 Denis Lyons     St Finbarrs AC       1:00:06     SM
2 John Collins     Drinagh   1:01:08     Sm
3 Pavel Hensirouski     Clonakilty       1:01:31 sm
25 Deirdre McCarthy     Rosscarbery       1:15:17 sf
28 Dympna McSweeney     Dunmanway       1:16:43 sf
29 Julie O'Brien     Ballydehob       1:16:56 sf

Skibbereen 10 mile results...

Skibbereen 5 mile results...

Looks like there was a bit of a mix up in the 5 mile. See message below from Denis McCaul.

Results of the Cloyne Commons 4k race - Sun 18th Nov 2018

Cloyne Commons Challenge 4K Series Race 1... Sunday 18 November 2018. 9:30 am

1 0:13:03 O'RIORDAN, Niall An Brú M40 05:14.9
2 0:13:14 O'SHEA, Barry Midleton AC M 05:19.3
3 0:13:25 KELLEHER, Kenneth East Cork AC M 05:23.8
22 0:15:28 O'BRIEN, Claire Watergrasshill AC F 06:13.2
35 0:16:48 LEAHY, Eileen Midleton AC F 06:45.4
53 0:17:53 KELLY, Christine Aghada RC F 07:11.6

Provisional Results for All Competitors in finish order. Pace Race Race
Place Time Name Team Race Age Category min/mile
1 0:13:03 O'RIORDAN, Niall An Brú M40 05:14.9 5 1
2 0:13:14 O'SHEA, Barry Midleton AC M 05:19.3 118 2
3 0:13:25 KELLEHER, Kenneth East Cork AC M 05:23.8 25 3
4 0:13:28 O'DWYER, Finbarr Leevale AC M45 05:25.0 267 4
5 0:13:45 SHEEHAN, Nigel Youghal AC M 05:31.8 194 5
6 0:13:50 SHEEHAN, Kieran Watergrasshill AC M 05:33.8 94 6
7 0:14:08 INCE, Ken Watergrasshill AC M 05:41.1 23 7
8 0:14:10 HANNON, Tim Midleton AC M 05:41.9 114 8
9 0:14:16 CROWLEY, Tim East Cork AC M 05:44.3 97 9
10 0:14:33 CREMIN, Mike Unattached M 05:51.1 115 10
11 0:14:35 O'SULLIVAN, Ray Aghada RC M 05:51.9 106 11
12 0:14:42 COLLINS, Trevor Naas AC M40 05:54.7 242 12
13 0:14:52 WALL, Donogh East Cork AC M 05:58.8 257 13
14 0:14:57 MALONE, John Youghal AC M45 06:00.8 69 14
15 0:15:06 AHERN, Derek Midleton AC M40 06:04.4 14 15

Cities turning their backs on hosting Olympic Games

There is an interesting article on the BBC new website about how the Olympic Games is in trouble as fewer cities seem willing to pay the cost of hosting them.

Olympic Games: Why cities are snubbing the 'greatest show on Earth'

Notice : Duhallow 10 mile road race in Newmarket - Sun 10th March 2019

Duhallow AC will be holding their annual 10 mile road race in Newmarket in North-West Cork on  Sunday the 10th of March 2019.

This is the date that was traditionally used for the Ballycotton 10 mile road race.

There will be a dry fit top for the first 500 to register.

You can enter at this link...

The 10 mile route is an out and back course and it can be seen below. Parts of the course will be the same as the Newmarket 5k course which is held every December.

As can be seen above, there is a climb before the 4 mile mark but the last 3 miles are nice and fast.

The club website is

Over 10,000 entries sold already for the 2019 Dublin City Marathon

Sun 18th Nov 2018... Now 13,300 gone
Wed 14th Nov 2018... Now 12,500 gone.
Wed 7th Nov 2018... Now 10,000 gone.
Sat 3rd Nov 2018... 7,000 gone.

It's hard to believe but 10,000 places for the 2019 Dublin City Marathon have been sold already!

The entry fees are broken down as follows... Entry fee:  The first 7,000 entries are at €70, the next 7,000 are at €80 and the last 6,000 are at €90.

Amazingly, the first batch of 7,000 were snapped up by Saturday the 3rd of November, just 6 days after the 2018 event! By Wed 7th, it was at 10,000. That means there are now less than 10,000 left.

Although 12 months is a long time to plan ahead, you should probably be thinking about entering if you are interested. If nothing else, you should keep a close eye on the entries to see how things progress.

The entry link is

Saturday, November 17, 2018

New resurfaced athletics track in Limerick

I came across this photo showing the newly refurbished athletics track at the University of Limerick.

The surface of the old track was in a pretty poor condition and the new blue one should make it one of the best in the country.

Results & Photos of the Ballincollig 5k parkrun... Sat 17th Nov 2018

 There was another big turn out for this weeks 5k parkrun in Ballincollig Regional Park with 357 taking part. That's well above the average for 2018 which is 293 so far. The average since it started is 266.

With the new 5k parkrun starting in the Glen next week, I wonder how the numbers in Ballincollig will fare?

1 Damien GERAGHTY    18:57    SM30-34    68.87 %    M1    Sportsworld
2 Unknown
3 Alan O'SULLIVAN    19:17    VM35-39    68.37 %    M3
39 Anna KLIMEK    21:59    VW35-39    68.01 %    F1
43 Olga O'SULLIVAN    22:11    VW40-44    69.35 %    F2    Eagle A.C.
70 Gillian FLYNN    23:30    VW35-39    64.40 %    F3


1) Collette Ryan has a gallery on Google Photos
2) Joe Murphy has a gallery on Facebook (Album 1)
 with a second one here (Album 2)

Friday, November 16, 2018

Friday Fun : Delayed Flight Training

Friday Fun : Delayed Flight Training

Notice : Cloyne Commons 4k Series - Nov 2018 to Mar 2019

This 4k series in Cloyne in East Cork will be held every month from November 2018 to March 2019.

Each one only costs €5 to enter.

4k is a bit of an odd distance but it's a good distance to gauge your fitness. As you train over the Winter months, you can do a comparison between your times to see how you are progressing.

Entries on the morning of each race.