I know that a lot of you are pretty new to the local running scene and may be only competing in the road races for a short time. I suppose that it's easy to think that things are the same every year but in this post, I'll outline some of the differences between now and what it was like 15 years ago.
Why 15 years ago? Well, the first race that I did in East Cork was the Ballycotton 5 way back in August 1992. I was told then that it was the last race in the series and that there had been other races in places called Ballyandreen and Churchtown South...I said Ballywhere?? Churchtown What?? Strange places that I had never heard of. So, back I went in 1993 to complete the series and I having been going there every year since, 65 now on the trot ;o)
In August 1993, they got a record entry that night with 262 runners for the Ballycotton 5 mile, a huge entry at the time. That record entry would stand for over 10 years as it has been only broken recently in the last few years. Just remember that figure, 262 runners and then compare it to the fact that there was a new record entry of 379 last Thursday night, roughly 45% more than 15 years ago.
Some comparisons....Last Thursday evening, the mens race was won in a time of 26:10. That time 15 years ago would have placed you in 9th position.
My time last Thursday was 29:42 and that put me in 30th position. Back in 1993, that time would have put me in 81st!!
Last Thursday, 38 runners broke the 30 minute mark (sub 6 min miling). Back in 1993, 92 broke it.
On Thursday, 148 runners were faster than 7 minute miling, in 1993, it was 176.
As you can see, at present the numbers are way up but the times are way down. It's not that the slower times are necessarily a bad thing. Everyone does their own thing, times are slower now and that's just the way it is. But why??
Plenty of other sports to choose from? Too busy working? Less free time for training? Or are most people just not interested in doing that level of training anymore?
Results......As for getting race results back in 1993, things were a LOT different! No Running in Cork blog back then!! ;o) .......or for that fact, no Internet! Or even or e-mail. After each race, the results would be printed or photocopied. For the BHAA races, they were posted out to the team secretary of each registered company. For the non-BHAA races, you just had to hope that you would get a copy of the results at the next race You don't know how lucky you have it now :o)
And where to from here...?? On the odd occasion, I come accross results on the net from the USA. Short races like 5k's which seem to be popular over there. The pattern in the results show big crowds with a small number of fast runners, just like the way the races here seem to be going. What conclusions do you draw from that?.....1) We are turning into Americans!! ...ohhh...scary!! or 2) In post 'Celtic Tiger' Ireland, we are now like the USA, a 'Cash Rich, Time Poor' society?
"Hi John, I personally only started to run a couple of years ago as my football "career" petered out. Originally just to keep fit but I find the road races a good way of keeping motivated to continue with something thats in someway competetive. I've spotted a few others at races too. The Cork City Marathon and relay must have a lot to do with the increased numbers also. Keep up the good work.....Anonymous"
"John, I think another factor in the slowing times over the years is that while the fields are larger, the age profile of the runners is older. So we now have more veteran runners than previously.....Anonymous"
"That was actually something that I had not considered so I checked it out. Back in 1993, the % of the field that were vets for the Churchtown South 5 and the Ballycotton 5 were 36% and 39% respectively. In 2008, the figures were 37% and 38%. So it would seem that the percentage of runners who were vets back in 1993 was the same as it is today........John Desmond"