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Friday, August 26, 2016

Guest Article by John Walsh...40 years of the Ballycotton 5 mile road race

Guest article from John Walshe where he outlines the 40 year history of the Ballycotton 5 mile road race, one of the oldest in the country.

40th ANNUAL BALLYCOTTON ‘5’ (1977-2016)

August 11th, 1977… WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

IN March of next year the famous Ballycotton ‘10’ will celebrate its 40th birthday. But let us not forget the race that started it all, and without it it’s unlikely that road running in this region would have attained the huge popularity it now has.

The date was Thursday August 11th 1977 and it was another age as far as road running was concerned. From January to August of that year, only six events on the road took place in the Cork region – the well-known Cork to Cobh ‘15’, two four-milers in Ballymore (where 26 ran), and Ballyhooly, a five-mile race in Mallow, a six-mile in Kildorrery (16 runners), and the popular relays around the Lough organised by St. Finbarr’s AC.  

August 11th was a week after that Ballymore Festival race, and commitments had been received there from most of the runners to come to Ballycotton, including winner Ray Treacy. The work in organising the race had started some weeks before, with the local shops and business people being approached for donations. One of the few firms in the area at the time contributed five pounds, as did three of the businesses. Two more gave two pounds and one pound each, and even the 50p from another was appreciated. The total came to £28.50.

Trophies and plaques were purchased as prizes, costing £29.75. Entry fee was either 20p or 30p, and no race numbers were issued. Instead, as each runner finished he was handed a card with his finishing position on it, and he then gave his name to the recorder. We say ‘he’ deliberately, for at that time no women ran such a long distance as five miles!

The race started at the old Post Office (just above where the race now finishes), and the course was the same as is used at present, although the finish was outside the School Gate. As measuring techniques were not as advanced as nowadays, it was slightly short of five miles.

Local interest was a mixture of curiosity and bemusement. Some people asked what a road race was – “is it a cycling race, or what?” When Phil McGrath and John Walshe went out to mark the road, one local person told them that County Council would object, as they considered painting on the road graffiti!

First to enter was Michael Healy from Youghal, one of the top cross-country runners in Cork at the time. Tens of thousands of entries for a myriad of events have been received since, but Michael can take pride of place as the first runner to have ‘No. 1’ alongside his name in a Ballycotton race. BLE County Board Chairman, the late Paddy Hartnett, sent the 34 runners on their way. John Murray from Ballybraher (who has also passed away) was a spectator on that fine August evening and he was asked to act as lead car, which he duly did, accompanied by reporter Joe Duggan (also now deceased) from the ‘News and Star’.

Michael Long of Leevale, along with his girlfriend Ellen, volunteered to time the runners. It is worth noting that virtually no races in those days did this, apart from maybe taking the winners’ time. In fact, in his newspaper report Joe Duggan stated that, “the time of all the competitors was taken, a rare feat in Cork in athletics.” At the finish line the numbered cards were handed out by Seamus Hartnett, there to se the race with his parents, and who would go on to be the area’s top runner in the years to come.

The other locals involved were John Walshe and Dan Donovan (who both ran the race), along with Phil McGrath and his brother Fr Tom, home from England. At the prize-giving in the local hall the trophies were presented by the late Fr Bertie Troy, C.C., Ballycotton.

The race itself saw Ray Treacy, then based in Cork and running for Leevale, wining easily in a time of 23:46, well ahead of Richie Crowley and Donie Walsh. As Joe Duggan’s report put it, “at four miles he was close on 500 yards ahead of the bunch and in parts was travelling at 14 miles an hour, timed on the speedometer of Mr John Murray’s car.”  In fact, both Richie and Donie could have been even further back as a herd of cows came out on the road (after Ray had passed) with over a mile to go and almost brought them to a standstill.

In fourth position and first novice was Noel Shannon, while Liam O’Brien could only manage fifth on the night. Murt Coleman of Liffey Valley, who had ran internationally for Ireland in the marathon and Kevin Treacy from Loughrea, both working in the Cork area at the time, finished sixth and seventh respectively. In eight was another well-known marathoner, Jerry Murphy of Leevale.

At the end of this article we publish the names of the 34 runners. Sadly, Dave Ainscough, Joe O’Flynn, Jerry Martin, Liam Horgan and Dan Donovan have passed away, but the remainder are still around and some still running, although their times (along with their hairstyles) have receded somewhat. A few have gone on to foreign lands and bigger things, such as winner Ray Treacy who is now Head Track Coach at Providence College in the USA.

THE YEARS THAT FOLLOWED…The following year, the race date was moved to June. Only 24 ran, with victory going to Richie Crowley. Of course that was his second local victory in 1978, as in March he had won the inaugural Ballycotton ‘10’. Ray Treacy returned to win in 1979 and the following year Liam O’Brien won the first of his 14 Ballycotton ‘5’ titles. 1981 saw Marcus O’Sullivan, later to become World Indoor Champion on three occasions, take the Ballycotton honours.

     In 1985, Liam O’Brien established the present course record of 23:41, but the previous year of ’84 was also special. Just four days after qualifying for that year’s LA Olympics when setting a new Irish 3000m steeplechase record at Crystal Palace, Liam showed his loyalty and commitment to the sport by turning out and winning yet another local race.

     At this stage the Ballycotton Summer Series, comprising of four races, was well established. Although the Ballycotton ‘5’ had been held in June since 1978, in 1985 it was decided to swap the August date with Shanagarry, as it seemed more appropriate to finish off the yearly proceedings where it had all started from.

     Women ran for the first time in 1979, with just two taking part, Ellen Whelan of Leevale and the winner, one Mary Dempsey from Youghal. She may be better known nowadays as Mary Sweeney and is still a regular prize-winner. Like Liam O’Brien, her enthusiasm and support of local events, as well as her love of the sport, is an example to all.

     Numbers taking part continued to increase, reaching 124 in 1982 and topping the 200 mark the year after. Of course in the past few years we have reached a new level with 500/600 now the norm for each of the Summer Series events. In 1993, 92 runners finished under the 30-minute barrier at Ballycotton and it is a reflection on present day standards that less than half that number (42) did so last year, although the number of participants had doubled.


Nobody involved in that first race could have imagined what lay ahead. The Dublin Marathon was still three years away, with London following six months later. Nowadays, the popularity of the Ballycotton ‘10’ is only too evident to all who try to enter and the numbers taking part in races – especially in the Cork area - along with the variety of events, is at an all-time high.
     A total of 190 five and ten mile races later, the statistics show in excess of 91,000 finishers. With the participation of international stars and Olympic medallists, it can be safely assumed that the Ballycotton events have now reached a global audience.

August 1977 is also remembered for another very different reason entirely. Five days after that Ballycotton race, the world was shocked to hear of the sudden death of Elvis Presley. It was, one could say, the end of a legend; although of course his music still lives on.

In its own small way, that Ballycotton race five days before was the catalyst of a movement which in the intervening years has also gained a legendary status, albeit of a very different nature. 

The ‘King’ may be dead, but road running is certainly alive and well. However, it may never have transpired but for those pioneering men (below) who turned up in Ballycotton village to run five miles on an August evening all of 39 years ago. Yes, that’s WHERE IT ALL BEGAN.

Results & photos of the Ballycotton 5 mile road race...Thurs 25th Aug 2016

A total of 542 turned out for this years Ballycotton 5 mile road race, the 4th and final race in the Ballycotton Summer Series. It was also the 40th anniversary of the very first Ballycotton 5m which was held back in 1977. There can't be too many races in the country that have been going for so long.

One feature of the results this year is the drop in the number of faster runners. Just 30 runners broke the 30 minute barrier, the lowest since 2007 despite the fact that the overall numbers this year were the second highest ever.

It's a bit clearer in the chart above for those 143 runners breaking 35 mins. That's the lowest number since 2007 again.

As for the reason? It probably has to do with the fact that the average age of runners seems to be going up. This can be seen in the club stats in that there are now fewer and fewer U35's joining clubs.

1 24:21    HANRAHAN, Mark    Leevale AC    M    04:52.1
2 26:16    MCGRATH, Sean    East Cork AC    M    05:15.1
3 26:42    CORBETT, Michael    St. Finbarrs AC    M40    05:20.3
17 28:42    COOKE, Aoife    Youghal AC    F    05:44.3   
44 31:06    SANTRY, Fiona    East Cork AC    F    06:13.1
81 32:41    KEVANY, Sinead    Midleton AC    F35    06:32.1

Results....The full results can be seen HERE

Aoife Cooke of Youghal AC..winner of the 2016 Ballycotton 5 mile road race. Aoife also won the overall series.
Mark Hanrahan of Leevale AC...winner of the 2016 Ballycotton 5 mile road race

1) Andy O'Rourke Photography has several galleries... Album 1 ... Album 2 ...
2) There are some presentation photos up on the Running in Cork Facebook page HERE

Summer Series.....

The overall results of the 2016 Ballycotton Summer Series can be seen HERE

With thanks to John Robinson of Mallow AC for compiling these.

As you can see from the chart below, the overall numbers completing the Summer Series peaked in 2014 and is about the same this year as 2015.

The percentage of women completing the series remains at about 36%.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Irish Men in the Marathon at the Olympics...1948 to 2016

Following the men's marathon at the Rio Olympics recently, I had a closer look at the history of the event since the London Games of 1948. As you can see below, it puts into perspective the performance of Paul Pollock with his time of 2:16:24. He is now the third fastest Irish man is an Olympic Marathon.

A total of 22 Irish men have completed the Olympic Marathon between 1948 and 2016. Dick Hooper completed 3 (80, 84 & 88) while John Treacy completed 2 (1984 & 1992). (DNF's excluded)

This is a breakdown per year. Note the numbers between 1968 to 1992 and the complete absence in the following Games.

Year - Venue - Number of Irish Men
1948 - London - 1
1952 - Helsinki - 1
1956 - Melbourne - 0
1960 - Rome - 2 & 1 DNF
1964 - Tokyo - 1 DNF
1968 - Mexico - 2
1972 - Munich - 3
1976 - Montreal - 3
1980 - Moscow - 2
1984 - Los Angeles - 3
1988 - Seoul - 2 & 1 DNF
1992 - Barcelona - 2 & 1 DNF
1996 - Atlanta - 0
2000 - Sydney - 0
2004 - Athens - 0
2008 - Beijing - 1 DNF
2012 - London - 1
2016 - Rio de Janerio - 3 (Max team of 3)

Following the 2008 Games in Beijing, the Irish Marathon Mission was established to improve the standards of elite Irish runners. This has been mostly financed by the organisers of the Dublin City Marathon and as you can see, it has helped in getting a full team for 2016.

An easier qualification standard for the Rio Olympics probably helped as well though.

This chart shows more clearly the times of the 22 Irish men between 1948 and 2016. As you can see, Paul Pollock's performance in Rio was faster than a lot of other Irish men in previous Olympic marathons. Kevin Seaward's time was the 5th fastest.

It''s also worth noting just how fast John Treacy and Jerry Kiernan were relative to other Irish marathon runners.

Note that these times were all set on different courses and with different conditions so we can't do an exact comparison. Still though, they are all Olympic Marathon finals so they are similar in that respect.

As a footnote, the following Irish athletes competed in the Olympic Marathon for these other countries...
1912  Kennedy McArthur (Antrim) 2:36.55 for South Africa
1964  Peter McArdle (Dundalk) 2.26.25 for the USA
1988  Peter Maher 2:24.49   for Canada

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Notice...Glounthaune 4 mile road race - Wed 7th Sept 2016

This 4 mile road race is coming up in Glounthaune just to the east of Cork City on Wednesday 7th of September 2016.

As you can see from the race flyer above, it has an Athletics Ireland permit, has been accurately measured by Jones Counter and has chip timing.

From the organisers.....The Glounthaune Community Association wish to announce the Fitzpatrick's GCA 4-Mile Run Wednesday 7th September 2016 at 7pm.

Parking will be provided at Craig's Field beside, the Community Centre and also at the Glounthaune and Little Island train stations.

The Fitzpatrick's GCA 4 Mile Run - Registration at the new Church Centre from 5:00pm on the day Wednesday 7th September 2016 - opposite the church.

Male and female changing rooms and toilets will be available at the Community Centre in the village.

AAI Permit Approved - Course Measured - Chip Timing by Premier Timing...Entry Fee: Race €10 - ...Category Prizes for first 3 - Spot Prizes...Excellent post race refreshments will be served in The Great O'Neill along with the presentation of prizes.

All proceeds go to the Glounthaune Community...For more information please contact:
021 - 4510470 from 10:00am - 2:00pm Mon - Fri

Course Preview......Full directions with maps, photos, description can be seen HERE

Notice...Kinsale 5 mile road race - Sun 4th Sept 2016

This 5 mile road race is coming up in Kinsale on Sunday, the 4th of September at 11am. The course has been measured properly by a Jones Counter and it has an Athletics Ireland licence.

Registration for the race is at the grounds of Kinsale Rugby Club which is just to the east of the town. The race starts from here and takes in a loop to the north of Kinsale before a long gradual downhill to near sea level and a finish on the main quay in the town.

There is a shuttle bus service after the race to take runners and walkers the two miles back to the rugby clubhouse.

There is a free guided scenic 2 mile walk as well for families from the clubhouse to the finish line where they can then watch the runners come in.

Preview...A full preview of the course with maps, directions and photos can be seen HERE

Dry fit top for the Clonakilty 10 mile & 5k next Sunday 28th Aug

This is the dry fit top for the Clonakilty 10 mile & 5k which is coming up on Sunday the 28th of August. As running tops go, it looks pretty good.

The 'model' is Ronan Wogan of MyRunResults who will be looking after the chip timing and results next Sunday.

For more info on the race and to enter, go to

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

From Sports Ireland...What happens during an athlete drug test?

A new video from Sports Ireland showing how athletes are tested.

Notice...Ballycotton 5 mile road race - Thurs 25th Aug 2016

The Ballycotton 5 mile road race is the last race of four in the Ballycotton Summer Series and it's coming up on evening Thursday, the 25th of August. One thing to note here and it catches people every year........the race starts at 7:30pm

Registration is at the local national school. The distance from the main parking area to the registration is about 800 metres (10 min walk). From the registration area to the start line is about 200 metres. So if you consider parking.....walking to the registration.....the queue to enter.....walk back to the car......walk back to the start........and the 7:30pm start, you can see how people get caught out.

Entries.......If you are under any pressure for time, then get changed first.....carry the entry fee of €6 in your hand.....and go straight to the start line after you register. Please note that it speeds things up a lot if you have the exact entry fee ready. €1 of each entry fee is going to a designated charity.

If you did the first 3 races then you'll find your race number HERE

The overall positions with times after 3 races can be seen HERE

Please note that the race is open to everyone. You do not need to have run in any of the previous races to enter this one. Just turn up with €6.

Post Race...If you have completed all 4 of the summer series......Ballyandreen, Shanagarry, Churchtown South and Ballycotton, you will be given a souvenier plaque.

Back inside the school, there will be tea and biscuits as well as the prize giving. The special series t-shirts for the top 50 men and top 30 women in the overall series will be handed out there.

Preview....More details on the course with maps and photos can be seen HERE

Monday, August 22, 2016

Results of the Irish Masters Track & Field Championships...Sun 21st Aug 2016

The Irish Masters Track & Field Championships were held in Tullamore on Sunday the 21st of August and there were a good number from Cork in the medals. These are some from the track events...

100m Master Men
CORR John Leevale A.C.     1st M45     11.92    
O'DONOVAN Con Rising Sun A.C. 2nd M70     14.75

3000m Master Women
KENNY Michelle     Leevale A.C.     1st W35 10:29.96    

3 km Walk Master Women   
CASHMAN Evelyn     Youghal A.C.     2nd W45 17:19.57    

200m Master Men
DENNEHY Brendan Rising Sun A.C. 2nd M65 28.92    
O'DONOVAN Con     Rising Sun A.C. 2nd M70 32.72    

800m Masters
HEALY Ann-Marie St. Finbarrs A.C. 1st W45 2:31.14    
COUGHLAN Denis     St. Finbarrs A.C. 1st M35 2:03.00    
MURPHY Michael     St. Finbarrs A.C. 3rd M55 2:30.04    
KIELY Michael     Rising Sun A.C. 1st M70 3:12.94    

5000m Master Men

MCEVOY Eamonn     St. Finbarrs A.C. 1st M60 18:11.14
AHERNE Neilus     Midleton A.C.     2nd M60 18:46.83    

400m Masters
HEALY Ann-Marie St. Finbarrs A.C. 1st W45 1:06.99
LYONS Marion     St. Finbarrs A.C. 1st W60 92.55    

KIELY Michael     Rising Sun A.C. 3rd M70 77.66    

1500m Masters
KENNY Michelle     Leevale A.C.     2nd W35 4:52.66
CASHMAN Evelyn     Youghal A.C.     1st W45 5:20.23    

COUGHLAN Denis     St. Finbarrs A.C. 2nd M35 4:09.24    
MURPHY Michael     St. Finbarrs A.C. 3rd M55 4:56.86    
KIELY Michael     Rising Sun A.C. 2nd M70 6:35.68

There were several more in the Field events as well. The full results can be seen HERE

Irish results at the Olympic Mens Marathon in Rio

In the Men's Olympic Marathon on Sunday, Paul Pollock was the first Irish man home in 32nd position in a time of 2:16:24. Kevin Seaward was 64th with 2:20:06 while Mick Clohisey who was suffering from a virus finished 3rd in 2:26:34.

These were the qualifying times posted before the Olympics...Seaward (2:14:52), Clohisey (2:15:10), Pollock (2:15:38).

There was some controversy prior in the selection process in that Sergiu Ciobanu had posted a faster time of 2:15:14 which would have been 3rd fastest. Paul Pollock was picked instead based his recent half-marathon times and the Rio result seems to justify his selection for the team.

At the front of the field, the title was won by Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya.

Gamen Rupp of the USA took the Bronze to add to the 10,000m Silver medal which he won at the 2012 London Games. It perhaps dispels the notion that an athlete has to be from East Africa to win a medal in distance running.

Back in 1984, John Treacy won a Silver medal in the Olympic Marathon with a time of 2:09:56 in what was a very hot day in Los Angeles. As you can see above, that was faster than Rupp's time yesterday.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Results of the Skibbereen 10k road race...Sun 21st Aug 2016

A total of 66 runners turned out for this years Skibbereen 10k road race on Sunday the 21st Aug 2016. This represents a drop of 44% on the number for 2015. As you can seen from the chart above, it was also down on previous wet years.

1    0:32:53    O'SHEA, Alan    Bantry AC    M    05:17.4   
2    0:34:08    COLLINS, John    Skibbereen AC    M    05:29.5
3    0:36:49    SHEEHAN, Padraig    Clonakilty RR AC    M    05:55.4   
8    0:40:15    MACKEOWN, Rosaleen    Leevale AC    F40    06:28.5   
11    0:42:00    BARRY, Ronnie    Bandon AC    F40    06:45.4
14    0:42:49    COUGHLAN, Aoife    unatt/Skibbereen    F    06:53.3    

The full results can be seen HERE

Irish trio of Paul Pollock, Kevin Seaward and Mick Clohisey in the Olympic Marathon at 1:30pm Irish time

The Irish trio of Paul Pollock, Kevin Seaward and Mick Clohisey are in action in the Olympic Marathon at 1:30pm Irish time. Updates with splits...

Results & photos of the Ballincollig 5k parkrun...Sat 20th Aug 2016

The 10th parkrun in Ballincollig Regional Park attracted 203 runners which is very much in line with other weeks.

1 Martin CURTIN 18:01 VM35-39 M 1 St Finbarrs AC
2 Niall O'CALLAGHAN 19:17 VM40-44 M 2 Leevale AC
3 Michael COLOHAN 19:20 SM30-34 M
34 Marianne HUTCHINSON 23:45 VW35-39 F South Melbourne AC
41 Nora CORCORAN 24:34 VW35-39 F 2 Eagle A.C.
42 Elaine SEXTON 24:47 SW30-34 F 3

The full results can be seen HERE

1) Joe Murphy of Eagle AC has a gallery HERE
2) Jennie Collopy has a gallery HERE

Start of the 10th 5k parkrun in Ballincollig Regional Park. Photo : Joe Murphy

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Results & photos of the East Cork Harbour Marathon, Half-Marathon & 10k...Sat 20th Aug 2016

About 860 runners turned out for the inaugural  East Cork Marathon, Half-Marathon & 10k on Saturday the 0th of August 2016. The breakdown per event was as follows...

Full 26.2 mile marathon...94

I was running in the Half-Marathon and it was certainly a challenging course. Only the last few miles of the race were flat while the first 9 miles seemed to be a constant mix of uphill or downhill running. As courses go, I thought it was a nice course mostly on quiet country roads but it wouldn't be a one for running personal best times.

Weather wise, it was certainly a lot dryer than what had been forecast. I'd imagine that on a nice sunny day, it would be a very nice route for a half.

In terms of numbers, they were pretty good. It's always going to be hard to get big numbers for a full marathon but 335 for a half and 431 for a 10k is pretty respectable for an event in rural East Cork.

1 Raivis ZAKIS  02:51:46 M (1)M35 (1) West Waterford AC
2 Chris HORGAN 03:06:19  M (2)MO (1)
3 Denis KEANE 03:09:01  M (3)MO (2) Marathon Club Ireland -
6 Rachel STOKES 03:20:07 F (1)F35 (1)Kerry Crusaders
10 Mary SWEENEY 03:31:029 F (2)F55 (1)St Finbarrs AC
35 Michelle BURKE 04:04:08 F (3)F35 (2)Pacer 4.00

1 Philip HEARTY 01:15:52 M (1)M35 (1) West Waterford AC
2 Christopher MURNANE 01:21:22 M (2)MO (1) St Finbarrs
3 Paddy KAVANAGH 01:27:00 M (3)MO (2)
18 Sharon WOODS 01:36:42 F (1)F40 (1) Mallow AC
28 Esther MURPHY 01:39:46 F (2)F40 (2) Midleton AC
42 June O'SHEA 01:43:11 F (3)F35 (1)

1 Conor GOLDEN 00:37:34 M (1)MO (1) Leevale AC
2 Michael DOLPHIN 00:37:38 M (2)M35 (1) Leevale AC
3 Kealan O'CONNOR 00:37:49 M (3)M40 (1) Grange Fermoy AC
10 Emma LEAHY 00:41:0200:41:08 F (1) FO (1)
13 Jennifer GOGGIN - WALSH 00:42:11 F (2)FO (2) Ballymore Cobh AC
20 Clodagh MCMORROW 00:43:06 F (3)FO (3) Wellness Centre Apple  

The full results can be seen on the MyRunResults website.

Photos...Updated Fri 11pm
1) There is a small gallery up on the Running in Cork Facebook page HERE
2) Mike O'Grady Photography has a number of galleries....... Album 1 , Album 2
 Album 3 , Album 4 , Album 5 , Album 6     
3) Donal O'Regan has a gallery HERE
4) David Ahern has a gallery HERE

1) From the organisers...


Results & photos of the Inchigeelagh 5km fun run...Fri 19th Aug 2016

About 120 people took part in this years Inchigeelagh 5km fun run & walk on Friday the 19th of August 2016.

16.44    1    Joe Cunningham
17.51    2    Eugene Mc Carthy
18.34    3    Paudie Horgan
20.41    11    Clodagh Galvin   
21.33    17    Jacinta O'Connor
23.21    24    Martha Hickey

The full results can be seen HERE

1) The organisers have a small album HERE