Ballycotton Running Promotions recently published a small booklet about the very first race in Ballycotton and how it all started. It is reproduced here in 3 parts...
Part 2 of 3...
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. On the back of this little booklet we publish the names of the 34 runners (Edit..in pt.3). Sadly, both Dave Ainscough and Joe O’Flynn 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 a course record of 23:41 which still stands, but the previous year of ’84 was also special. Just four days after qualifying for that year’s Los Angeles 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 AC and the winner, one Mary Dempsey from Youghal. She may be better known nowadays as Mary Sweeney and is still winning prizes. 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 around 500 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 just half the number (46) did so last year, although the number of participants had almost doubled.
Part 3 to follow...
Part 1 of 3 can be seen HERE