Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland

Monday, October 13, 2008

Guest Article.......'Running for Dear Life' Michael Sexton
"The following piece was written recently by Michael Sexton for a Toastmasters meeting and he has very kindly sent it on to me. Some of you may remember that a few months back, Michael had a piece on this website which outlined his initial introduction to a road race in Cork. In this article, Michael describes what the current running scene in Cork is like. It might be especially useful to anyone just starting out and visiting this website for the first time.....John Desmond"

Title: Running for Dear Life Michael Sexton
Mr Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters and most welcome guests,
Hard work never killed anyone…. But why take the risk? So said Ronald Reagan. This evening I am going to talk about road running. My main message is that by the end of this speech you will be able to identify road running as a big activity in Cork city and county. I am going to talk about the various events that occur, the organisations that keep it going before finishing up by discussing jogging in general.
First and foremost is the Cork city Marathon. The original marathon was run by a Greek soldier Pheidippides in 490 BC when he ran from Marathon to Athens to say the Greeks had won a victory over their bitter enemies the Persians. Personally I feel he took the gloss of it myself by dropping dead on the spot but I guess he immortalised the event. The Cork City Marathon last year was resurrected not after 2500 year gap but after a 21 year gap and it has been a great success. Last year 3750 athletes ran and this year 4550 men and women participated with no fatalities I might add.
I believe one of the reasons for the success is that it is held on the bright and sunny June Bank Holiday Monday morning and secondly relay teams of up to five people can run. So it is not that big a struggle – one can train for it and still keep a social life. Last year I ran seven miles this year I ran nine miles.
Along with this the Cork Business Houses Athletics Association arrange around twenty races throughout the year, most of which are 5 KM or 5 mile races. These races can be in Ovens, on the beach in Youghal, the Marina, Glanmire, etc. Shortly in fact there will be a 15 mile Cork to Cobh race if anyone is interested.
Ballycotton host the annual Ballycotton ‘10’ every March where up to 2200 athletes run. This apparently is supposed to be one of the best ten mile races on these islands. Not sure why but presumably it is because of the incline, countryside, road surface and organisation of the event.
Just last Thursday week I ran a 5 mile road race in Ballycotton in their summer series. It was a glorious evening. It was like being on a Greek holiday with blue skies, balmy breeze and the sea nearby. At any rate it was announced that 379 men and women participated which is up from 278 for the same race the previous year. So running is getting bigger and bigger.
Many towns such as Kinsale and Cobh start off their weekend summer festivals with a road race. Last summer I ran in the 5 mile road race around Kinsale. I was expected a lovely balmy evening with yachts and sea and the like. Instead it was like something out of the Onedin Line with the mist and rain. At one stage I was expecting the Marie Celeste or the Flying Dutchman to come out of the fog. I guess you win some you lose some.
To keep all this going of course there has to be some organisation. Since matters are well organised here in Cork road running is on the up. We have the aforementioned Cork Business Houses Athletics association who as volunteers man the roads with stewards, pick decent routes where there is little inconvenience to drivers and the like, have the big clock so we can all get our times and in short take it seriously. These races only cost a fiver and it is made quite clear that participating at all stages is the main thing. At recent races they seem to be looking for more volunteers as the numbers running increase and increase.
Along with this a chap John Desmond updates a blog with the venues and maps and comments of all the races. This would be one of the main reasons I and probably others got involved in these road races. Not only do I know the route but I also know how to get to the route. If you’ve only taken up road running over the last year how to get to the race is a very important thing to know.
There is also the specialist running store of John Buckley Sports. John himself would be a former international runner having won three gold medals at the World Masters Championships at Malmo – met off the plane by the Lord Mayor Falvey with his medals and so would have a certain authority on it all.
To talk a little about jogging, a few years back I read a biography on Nelson Mandela. In it he mentioned how he used to run every morning while he work as a lawyer. At any rate on the TV this summer I saw Nelson Mandela celebrate his ninetieth birthday. Running must be good for you, it was good for him. Actually as I reading the book he mentioned how they had three soccer leagues going when he was imprisoned. There must have been an awful lot of people locked up.
So, more and more people are realising the health benefits of running. The gear is much better now, especially the shoes and more and more people are aware of the importance of warming down and stretched, thereby preventing various ailments and knee problems.
Interestingly in that race where 379 people ran 15 years ago 262 people ran in the same race. That night 92 of them ran the five miles in under thirty minutes. Last Thursday week only 38 did the same. In fact my evaluator tonight Dave Moran used to do a bit of running in his day as a triathlete. Dave even managed 10 miles in 60 minutes. I feel that deserves a medal. So while more people are running yet the times are lower. This indicates to me that more and more people are participating for the health benefits.
I used to get caught up in the times. I ran that race in 44 minutes. I ran the previous one in 40 minutes. I was a bit disappointed and I said it to some people. They said to me:
I can barely run for the bus! 44 minutes, 144 minutes who’s counting?
And so to conclude my main message here tonight is that road running is a growing activity here in Cork. There are a multitude of events such as the Cork city marathon, the Ballycotton 5 series and those organised by the Cork Business Houses Association and they all have an increase in participants. All these events are well promoted and organised along with being great value for money. In general jogging as a pastime is on the way up.
As I mentioned at the beginning about why take the risk about being killed by hard work what has happened is that more and more people are realising that there is no hard work involved and are in fact pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome received while to participating in these very healthy events.

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