Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: August 2019

Saturday, August 17, 2019



At last night’s GSK 5-Mile road race in Dungarvan, the penultimate event in the Intersport Elverys/Asics Summer Series, a special presentation was made to Jim Veale to mark his many years stewarding at West Waterford events.

Jim – father of James, a man so associated with athletics not only locally but on an international level – has been involved with the club since its formation back in 1994. He is an ever-regular at all the local races and in particular at the club’s famous Winter League which takes in 13 Wednesday nights from October to February.

Whatever the winter weather, be it hail, rain or snow, Jim has be there in his fluorescent jacket making sure the runners make their way in safety around the streets of Dungarvan. He is seen here receiving his presentation from Gerry Cantwell, another loyal servant and athlete with the West Waterford club over the years.


A list of John Walshe's guest posts can be seen on this page.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Inchigeela Festival 5k Cancelled

Please note that the Inchigeelagh Festival 5k which was supposed to be held on Fri 16th of Aug 2019 has been cancelled.

Running in Cork Facebook page now has 16,000 Followers

16,000 Facebook Followers....... The Running in Cork Facebook page continues to grow and now has over 16,000 followers!

If you're on Facebook and you aren't following then you can find it HERE

Race calendar passes 1 million pageviews....... Another milestone reached earlier this year was when the race calendar passed the one million pageviews mark! That's broken down into roughly 700,000 pageviews of the calendar on the Running in Cork site and 300,000 pageviews of the identical calendar on the Running in Munster site.

Now just to clarify, that doesn't mean 1 million people have looked at the calendar! If you were to look at the calendar say once a day then you would generate 365 pageviews in a year.

Still though, one million pageviews is still pretty huge for a race calendar covering just the southern nine counties of Ireland.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

A look at the numbers for the East Cork Harbour Marathon

I recently had a look at the numbers taking part in the East Cork Harbour Marathon and put together this chart shown above.

As you can see, the numbers for the Marathon have been steady at around the 100 mark for the last few years.

The Half-Marathon had a record turn out this year which was up 8 on last year.

The one that's really taking off though is the 10k. This has jumped 55% in the last two years.

You can find the results and photos for the 2019 event at this previous post.

Forecast for good weather next week...

At the moment, the Jet Stream is right above us and it's dragging in a constant stream of low pressure systems from the Atlantic. The net result is that it's a bit hit or miss as to whether it's going to be wet or dry for any particular race or running event.

The long term forecast however is for a high pressure system to be the dominant feature over the country towards the second half of next week (22nd Aug on). This doesn't automatically mean it will be sunny but it should result in dry conditions.

There are loads of races to choose from next week. Have a look at the race calendar HERE

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Notice : Charleville Half-Marathon - Sun 15th Sept 2019

The Charleville Half-Marathon is coming up on Sunday, the 15th of September 2019 at 10am and it is widely recognised as being one of the fastest courses in the country.

This is also an ideal race for anyone preparing for the Dublin City Marathon as it should give you a good guide as to what your target pace for Dublin should be.

Note there is a limit of 1600 entries and it sold out in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The entry fee is €40 until the 27th of August and then it's €45 until the 10th of September. 

No Race Day entry available.

2hr 30min time limit due to organisational and safety constraints. No Transfers, No refunds, No deferrals are allowed due to organisational and insurance constraints.

Dry fit top for the 2019 Charleville Half-Marathon

Course Preview......You can see a preview of the course HERE

Results of the Cork BHAA Musgraves 5k - Tues 13th Aug 2019

There were a grand total of 478 finishers for this years Cork BHAA Musgraves 5k road race.

As can be seen from the chart above, the numbers seem to jump around quite a lot from year to year. It may possibly be due to what other races are on the same week? This week, there is hardly anything on locally where as next week, there seems to be loads.

1 Alan O'Shea M1 00:15:10 Mercy Hospital
2 Alan O'Brien M2 00:15:14 McCarthy Insurance Group
3 Joe Cunningham 0/45B M3 00:15:18 Eli Lilly
46 Carol Finn F1 00:18:01 Finn Physiotherapy
58 Claire O'Brien F2 00:18:30 Dept of Ed F-A-1
63 Niamh Roe F3 00:18:49 Dept of Ed

Full results

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Five ways to look after your joints

There was an article in the Guardian newspaper recently with some tips on how to look after your joints. This is perhaps all the more important if you are running and training on a regular basis.

Some of the key points outlined were...

1) Maintain a healthy weight
For every 0.5kg (1lb) lost, we reduce the weight going through the knee joint at each step by 2kg (4.5lb).

2) Exercise
A common misconception is that people think exercise will aggravate joint pain but strengthening the muscles around joints is important. Body weight exercises such as squats and lunges, and light dumbbell exercises such as bicep curls are recommended.

3) Vary your routine
They recommend a mixture of impact and non-impact cardio for good bone density and strength training (ensuring guidance is sought for correct technique). They also warn against over-stretching: “It can take the joint past its natural physiological range, which can cause damage to the joint and surrounding structures.”

4) Eat a Mediterranean diet
A diet high in fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and nuts can help protect your joints. They recommend a Mediterranean-style diet, high in monounsaturated fats such as olive or rapeseed oil, with plenty of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds as well as one to two servings of oily fish each week.

5) Practice good posture
Maintaining good posture is key to preventing joint issues and especially your back. It is also important to wear the correct, supportive footwear for exercises and activity.

The full article can be seen HERE

2019 Inch Festival 5k cancelled

Someone was asking me about the Inch Festival 5k race in Mount Uniacke near Killeagh in East Cork and whether it was on this year. I checked with the organisers who confirmed that it wasn't.

As can be seen from the chart above, it peaked in 2016 but went into decline over the next two years.

There does seem to be a define contraction in the number of races now on the calendar. So far in 2019, we have seen the Blackwater 10 mile, Clonakilty 10 mile, Shannonvale 10k and Carrigtwohill 5k races go and there are probably a few more that don't spring to mind.

On the Cork BHAA front, the Merck and CPO races were cancelled.

Will there be more in 2020?

Monday, August 12, 2019

Notice : Valley Rovers Camogie Club 7km run nr Innishannon - Fri 23rd Aug 2019

This 7km run near Innishannon is coming up on Friday the 23rd of August 2019 at 7pm and the entry fee is €10.

The race HQ is at the Valley Rover GAA grounds which are to the north-west of Innishannon. Coming from Cork City, the easiest way to get there is to turn off at Halfway for Crossbarry. Keep going straight and at the crossroads where the Schering Plough plant is located, take a left. The GAA grounds are up this road.

The organisers have said it will be timed and a full list of results will be published afterwards.

Preview......A preview of the 7km course can be seen HERE

Notice : St.Luke's Home 5k road race, Mahon - Thurs 5th Sept 2019

This is the fifth year of this 5km race in race and it should prove to be a popular one again. The St.Luke's Home 5km run is on in Mahon on Thursday the 5th of September 2019 and it starts at 7pm.

Registration: Primo Events or on the day between 2pm and 6.30pm at St. Luke’s Home.

Pre-entry link...

Amongst the many spot prizes for the pre-registered runners will be 2 holidays sponsored by RCI (7 nights luxury accomodation abroad) which will be drawn at random from all pre-registered runners.

The organisers ask that all participants arrive early and allow plenty of time to enter and to get to the start line which is a few hundred metres away. Runners can also avail of the off road parking in the Cork Camogie grounds which is just across the road from St.Luke's.

Here are some of the reasons why it should get a good turnout......
1) It is at a time of year when most of the mid-week evening races have stopped.
2) It is in Cork City with a huge number of runners within its catchment area.
3) Fast accurate 5km course.
4) 80% of it is on a quiet public walkway.
5) Finishers get a 20% discount voucher for John Buckley Sports which could easily result in savings in excess of the entry fee (valid until the end of Sept 2019).
6) All proceeds go to St.Lukes Home which is a registered charity.

....and a draw for a 7 day holiday for pre-reg runners!

BodyMechanics, a private Gym based in Douglas, specialising in Personal Training and Nutrition,  are supporting the race this year.

From the organisers......

Prizes : 1st, 2nd, 3rd Male/Female

1st in other categories (Male over 40, 50 & 60 and Female over 35, 45 & 55)
Wheelchair Athlete

Entry Fee: €15

Entry Includes: Timing Chip, On course water and refreshments, tea, coffee and sandwiches for all competitors at St. Luke’s Home after the race.
Goody bag to include, running buff, 20% Discount Voucher from John Buckley Sports, drink and snack.
Registration: MyRunResults or on the day between 2pm and 6.30pm at St. Luke’s Home. 

Course Preview.......A preview of the course can be seen HERE

For more info, go to... 

Notice : Churchtown 5 mile road race - Fri 23rd Aug 2019

The Churchtown 5 mile road race in North Cork is coming up on Friday the 23rd of August 2019 at 7pm.

Organised by Churchtown Road Runners AC, this race is just 4kms off the N20 Cork-Limerick road so it's pretty easy to get to.

From the organisers.....The Churchtown 5 Mile race takes place once again on Friday 23rd August 2019 at 7pm. Our main sponsor is once again AV Pound. Registration for the event takes place in the Community Hall from 5pm to 6.45pm. 

Entries are once again only €10. 

Parking for the event is at Churchtown GAA Complex, where there are changing and shower facilities also.

The race starts and finishes outside the GAA Complex. The start of the race is a fast downhill section through the village of Churchtown, passing the Market House, Community Hall and Boss Murphy's pub. Just after passing Boss Murphy's, the route takes a 90 degree left turn, passing the statue erected in memory of one of Churchtown's most famous sons, Vincent O Brien. The rest of the first mile from here is flat. Just as you pass the 1 mile mark, you meet the first hill of the route, on Windmill Hill. To your right the old ruins of a windmill still stand. This hill is then following by a slight downhill and from here to the halfway point it is predominantly downhill. At the halfway point there is a water stop. There is then a slight drag up to the 3 mile mark. From the 3 mile mark, you have a fast downhill section before the biggest hill section leading up to mile 4. While this hill is a challenge, you are well rewarded in the last mile section, which is a very fast mile. The start of the last mile is a very fast downhill section, which then levels out before your last short hill brings you to a half mile from the finish line. As you pass Egmont Agri on your right, the course once again turns to a slight down hill, with the last 300m a very fast downhill section. Tea, coffee and refreshments will be supplied in the Community Centre prior to prize giving. 

We have over €1600 in prize money up for grabs with a wide variety of age category prizes also. Once again this year we have an added €100 to the winning prize if the course record is broken. The male record was set by Niall Shanahan of An Bru AC in 2018 with a time of 25:41. The female record was set by Rosemary Ryan of Dooneen AC in 2017 with a time of 30:13.

We continue our male and female team prizes again this year. Last year our winners of the Burton and Egmont Perpetual Shields were Mooreabbey Milers AC (male) and North Cork AC (female) teams. The top 3 male and female finishers from a club count towards team prizes. No mixed teams. Open to all AAI registered clubs.

This year we have teamed up with Homeless Help and Support, Cork as a charity partner. We will be hosting a "recycle centre" for your old runners. If you have an old pair of running shoes at homes still in wearable condition, bring them along on the night and you will be entered into a draw for a new pair of runners and gait analysis to the value of €150, kindly sponsored by Fitness Solutions, Mallow.

Directions.... The village of Churchtown is just 4kms west of the N20 Cork-Limerick road in north Cork.

The road junction on the N20 next to the railway crossing is shown below. It is about 5.6kms north of Buttevant and 8kms south of Charleville.

The race HQ is at the Churchtown Community Centre....

There is parking at the GAA grounds which is just 200m from the community centre. The start and finish points of the race are outside the GAA grounds.

Notice : Rathcormac 4 mile road race - Thurs 22nd Aug 2019

This 4 mile road race in Rathcormac is coming up on Thursday the 22nd of August 2019.

Registration from 6pm in Rathcormac Hall
Entry Fee €10 - Must be Over 16.

Features of the Race:
Chip timing
AAi Permit
Flat & Fast Course
Lots of prize Catergories
Raffle & Refreshments

Rathcormac is located between Cork City and Fermoy. Coming from Cork City, just turn off the M8 at Watergrasshill (Exit 17) and follow the old Dublin road north. Coming from the North, take Exit 15 on the M8 and drive south.

The 4 mile course is to the east of Rathcormac. There are some small hills but there are plenty of flat sections as well. Race HQ is in the Community Hall.

A preview of the course can be seen HERE

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Results of the Route to Crook 5 mile - Sun 11th Aug 2019

129 turned out for this 5 mile run from Goleen to Crookhaven in West Cork.

Results HERE

Results of the Kilworth Festival 5k - Sun 11th Aug 2019

138 turned out for this years Kilworth Festival 5k.

1 Paul Duggan St. Finbarrs AC 18:05 M50 157
2 James Condon Kilworth 18:46     SM 190
3 Micheal Cronin Youghal 19:26 SM 194
5 Courtney McGuire Clonmel AC 19:56 SF 171
7 Roisin McLaughlin Grange Fermoy 20:23 SF     195
13 Sandra Flynn West Waterford AC 22:04 SF 177

Full results

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Results & Photos of the Ballincollig 5k parkrun - Sat 10th Aug 2019

277 turned out for this weeks 5k parkrun in Ballincollig Regional Park.

1 Kevin O'BRIEN    16:43    SM30-34    M1
2 Mark GREGORY    18:46    VM45-49    M2
3 Stephen SHANAHAN    18:52    SM20-24    M3
22 Emma O NEILL    21:56    SW25-29    F1
25 Alison DONNELLY    22:11    SW20-24    F2 Togher AC
26 Mairead PEREZ    22:21    VW45-49    F3

Full results

1) Derek Costello has three albums
...Part 1 of 3
...Part 2 of 3
...Part 3 of 3    
2) Joe Murphy has two galleries

Results & Photos of the Glen River 5k parkrun - Sat 10th Aug 2019

A drop in numbers this week probably due to the East Cork Harbour Marathon and the poor weather forecast. In the end, conditions were dry for the 59 that turned out.

1    Willie WALSH    19:35    VM40-44    M1    Carraig na bhFear AC
2    Tony CAMBRIDGE    19:45    VM50-54    M2    Eagle A.C.
3    Brian LINEHAN    20:16    VM55-59    M3   
12    Debbie THORLEY    23:39    VW40-44    F1    Sunshine Coast Tri Academy
21    Aoife O'NEILL    25:53    SW30-34    F2   
24    Olive MCCARTHY    27:06    VW45-49    F3    UCC Staff Athletics Club

Full results

1) The organisers have a gallery HERE

Results & Photos of the East Cork Harbour Marathon - Sat 10th Aug 2019

The main man Jerry Forde at the start of the 2019 East Cork Harbour Marathon. Photo: Ed Fitzgerald

It looks like the rain held off despite the forecast for this years East Cork Harbour Marathon, Half-Marathon & 10k.

1 Thomas BAKER    02:49:50 1    M (1)    M50 (1)    Navan A.C.
2 Cornelius MARSHALL    03:00:17    106    M (2)    MS (1)    St Finbarrs A.C.
3 Ronald BARNHOORN    03:15:40    55    M (3)    MS (2)   
7 Jean LUCEY    03:24:35    21    F (1)    FS (1)   
12 Sarah OPPERMANN    03:33:21    126    F (2)    FS (2)   
14 Claire MCCANN    03:36:13    108    F (3)    FS (3)

Marathon results

1    Kevin O'LEARY    01:13:36    768    M (1)    MS (1)    East Cork A.C.
2    Mark SMITH    01:15:09    808    M (2)    MS (2)    Eagle A.C.
3    Kenneth KELLEHER    01:19:14    698    M (3)    MS (3)    East Cork A.C.
13    Liz NYHAN    01:32:55    536    F (1)    FS (1)    West Waterford A.C.
15    Linda O'SULL IVAN    01:33:01    784    F (2)    FS (2)    Watergrasshill A.C.
17    Jenny MILLER    01:33:49    512    F (3)    FS (3)    Cork Tri Club

Half-Marathon results

1    Gary WALSH    00:36:05    1722    M (1)    MS (1)    Bweeng Trail Blazers
2    Ken INCE    00:36:29    1471    M (2)    MS (2)    Watergrasshill A.C.
3    John O'BRIEN    00:36:34    1224    M (3)    MS (3)    St Finbarrs A.C.
27    Jennifer GOGGIN WALSH    00:42:43    1110    F (1)    FS (1)    Carraig na bhFear A.C.
29    Siobhan O'LEARY    00:42:49    1617    F (2)    FS (2)    Midleton A.C.
41    Ciara MAGNER    00:44:51    1520    F (3)    FS (3)    Watergrasshill A.C.

10k results

Photos... (Updated 15th Aug 10:22am)
1) The organisers have a few photos HERE
2) Katie Pierce O'Shea has 400+ photos HERE
3) Barry Moran has over 1300 photos HERE 
4) Maan Photography has 300 photos HERE

First 3 men in the marathon

First 3 women in the Half-Marathon
Marathon start. Photo : Ed Fitzgerald

Friday, August 09, 2019

Results of the GR8KM race in Mitchelstown - Fri 9th Aug 2019

Despite the damp conditions, a total of 185 runners turned out for this years GR8KM race in Mitchelstown.

1 Niall Shanahan     An Bru AC 24:35 SM 38
2 Charlie O Donovan     Leevale AC 24:49 SM 7
3 Paul Moloney     Mallow 24:51 SM 36
10 Niamh Moore     Leevale AC 28:48 SF    13
11 Angela McCann     Clonmel AC  29:13 SF 165
20 Linda Grogan     Dundrum AC 30:24 SF 117

Full results

The race was organised by Galtee Runners AC.

Photos... (Updated 12th Aug 2019)
1) Gerard O'Sullivan has a large gallery HERE

From us all involved in Galtee Runners...We thank you all for supporting our GR8 and really making the effort to attend on what was a wet dark ould night but none the less a reall super super night
To be fair, us runners love running in the rain😀 and boy did we all run last night with leevale AC Niamh Moore setting a new women's record and collecting the winning bonus. Also must be noted that clonmel AC Angela McCann gave Niamh a super run for the money, she also was faster that previous record finishing 2nd
In the men's, 1st 3 breaking the 25 min mark, An Bru AC Niall shanahan here taking the 2019 title

Again well done to all
Especially all our reliable and kind volunteers either out on roads or in making tae, we really appreciate it

The beanie, what a response, all loved it and will be seen near & far

Weather Forecast for the 2019 East Cork Harbour Marathon, Half-Marathon & 10k

The 2019 East Cork Harbour Marathon, Half-Marathon & 10k is coming up on Saturday the 10th of August and the weather forecast isn't looking great.

Rain.... A low pressure system is slowly passing over the country on Saturday which means that the rain is never too far away. It's a bit hit or miss as to whether there will be rain but some showers may be possible.

Wind... Whatever about the uncertainty about the amount of rain, there is little doubt that it's going to be windy in the morning as the centre of the low heads away to the north-east. There will be a strong breeze from the west which will feel especially strong on the high ground from miles 5 to 9 in the Half-Marathon.

For the 10k, it's pretty simple. It's a strong headwind for the first half and then a strong tailwind for the second half.

Cork County Council give planning permission for new dental school at UCC Farm

The UCC Sports Grounds in Curraheen better known as the 'Farm' has been used by many runners for training over the years.

Cork County Council have now granted permission for a five storey dental school on the site.

It is expected that construction will commence in the summer of 2020 with a target completion date of early 2022.

Notice : West Waterford Greenway Half-Marathon - Sat 14th Sept 2019

The 3rd West Waterford Greenway Half-Marathon is coming up this year on Saturday the 14th of September 2019 at 9am.

Please note that demand for entries has been very high and there are only 30 places left now!

Entry link HERE

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Notice : GR8KM race in Mitchelstown, NE Cork - Fri 9th Aug 2019

The GR8KM organised by Galtee Runners AC coming up on Friday, the 9th of August 2019. As the name suggests, it is an 8 km road race on the roads around Mitchelstown and considering its proximity to the several major roads, it is likely to attract runners from North Cork, Limerick and Tipperary.

With the M8 motorway, Mitchelstown is only 50 kms or a 35-40 minute drive from Cork City so it's an option for city based runners as well.

They have the same 8km course this year with €200 on offer to anyone breaking the 8km course record (male & female). The race is sponsored by Kerrygold Park. ..

From Galtee Runners AC...  Galtee Runners with Kerrygold Park are proud to present our 10th Annual GR8 8km road run. As it's our 10th year, we will be giving out a special Beanie hat to every runner!

Our new route introduced in 2017 is ideal for getting some PB's and it is also without some of those dreaded hills!

Our HQ for this year's GR8 will once again be the Mitchelstown Leisure Centre and registration will begin here at 5:30pm on Friday 9th August.  

Entry for the run is just €10 with all category prizes on offer and all entrants will be chip timed. The race itself will begin at 7:30pm SHARP

All levels of ability are welcome and we hope to see as many numbers out as possible. What better way to run off those cobwebs from the Bank Holiday Weekend!!

**Course Record** :: We are delighted to announce that this year's course record prize has been kept at €200!! Last year 2018 winners were Clonmel AC's Kevin Maunsell and St Finbarrs AC's Martina Kiely and they set new course records with 23:57 & 29:18 respectively... Can these be beaten this year? 


The race will start and finish at the the Mitchelstown Leisure Centre which is just behind the Tesco shopping centre.

Preview... A preview of the 2019 course with maps, photos and directions can be seen HERE...

Results of the Cork BHAA DePuy 4 mile - Wed 7th Aug 2019

257 turned out for this Cork BHAA 4 mile in Ringaskiddy.

1 Alan O'Brien M1 00:20:42 McCarthy Insurance Group
2 Michael Corbett 0/45B M2 00:21:03 News Vendor
3 Barry Donovan M3 00:21:13 Kerry Group
47 Linda O Connor 0/45J F1 00:27:01 Musgrave F-A-2
56 Orla O'Rourke 0/50K F2 00:27:40 Keen On Sport
60 Anne Bamford 0/45J F3 00:27:55 Dept of Ed

Full results

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

New path in Ballincollig Regional Park now open

The new path in the eastern part of Ballincollig Regional Park is now open to the public.

As can be seen from the photos, the Council workers have made a great job of it and should be a welcome addition to the park.

Hopefully in time, this path will eventually link up to a path by the River Lee and into the city.

Notice: Elaine Lehane Memorial 5k in Doneraile Park - Sat 7th Sept 2019

This 5k in Doneraile Park in North Cork is coming up on Saturday the 7th of September 2019 at 11:30am. It will be on the usual 5k course which is accurately measured and there will be results with times afterwards.

This race is being organised by Mallow AC and proceeds go towards Marymount Hospice.

Doneraile is located just to the north-east of Mallow so access is very easy from the N20 Cork to Limerick road. If you are coming from say South Tipperary, then it's just off the N73 Mitchelstown to Mallow road.

As for Doneraile Park itself, it really is a lovely spot. It's basically an old country estate and is now a grassland park with some small forested areas. On a sunny day, it's a superb spot for a race.

Preview.....Directions, photos and a preview  HERE.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Notice: East Cork Harbour Marathon, Half-Marathon & 10k - Sat 10th Aug 2019

This event up coming up on Saturday the 10th of August 2019...and there is a choice of a full 26.2 mile marathon, a 13.1 mile half-marathon and 10km race (6.2m).

Update 6th Aug 2019 : This event has now sold out!

Update 31st July 2019 : Please note that there are fewer than 50 places left now!

Monday, August 05, 2019

55-year old woman sets new Lands End to John O'Groats record

55-year-old ultra-runner Sharon Gayter has just the fastest person to travel by foot between John O'Groats in the far north-east of Scotland to Land's End in SW Cornwall.

The 822 mile route covering the length of Britain took 12 days, 11 hours, 6 minutes, and 7 seconds, more than 4 hours faster than the previous record set by Marina Anderson in July of 2008.

As well as covering the required distance, there was also the additional challenge of sleep deprivation as she only managed to sleep an average of three hours each night.

The men's record which was set in 2001 is nine days, two hours, and 26 minutes.

Photo : Izzy Wilkinson

Sunday, August 04, 2019


(By John Walshe, Midleton & District News, July 21, 2019)

Twenty-eight years after they first met in Ballycotton, a Liverpool running couple recently returned to the seaside village to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary.

John Kelly and Michelle McGrath travelled over for the Ballycotton ‘10’ road race in 1991, both as members of two different Liverpool running clubs. Staying in Seaspray Guesthouse in the village, love blossomed and three years later they married – and even spent part of their honeymoon back where their romance began. 

Although born in the UK, with a name like Kelly there is no doubt that Irish ancestry figures greatly in John’s background. “My grandfather was from Pontoon in County Mayo, my dad was born in England but was back in Ireland within five days. I started running at school aged 11 and then I joined Liverpool Harriers where we had some very good runners such as John Woods [Irish Olympian] and Geoff Smith [twice winner of the Boston Marathon],” he recalls.

John and Michelle Kelly pictured on Ballycotton’s main street
In a stellar running career which includes a personal best of 48:22 for 10 miles, on that occasion in Ballycotton back in 1991 John finished fourth in a time of 49:59, just three seconds behind Liam O’Brien in third place. A twice-winner of another famous race, the Hollymount event in Mayo, John returned to Ballycotton on several more occasions and one in particular has special memories: “My favourite was in 1997 when I ran 51 minutes and finished just behind John Ngugi, the 1988 Olympic 5000m gold medallist and five-time World Cross-Country champion.”

Michelle started running as a member of Mick and Emily Dowling’s Sportsworld club in Dublin, regular visitors to the Ballycotton race in the 1980s. “My older sister Mary lived in Liverpool and I used to go over on holidays so I decided to go for a year and I stayed and never looked back. I joined the South Liverpool club and when they were coming over to Ballycotton they teamed up with Liverpool Harriers so that’s where I met John Kelly. I remember coming over on the ferry that John actually gave me his coat to lie down on, so that was the start of it!”

Michelle’s best time in Ballycotton was 66 minutes and one of her proudest moments came when she made the prize list. “I remember coming up to the corner before nine miles and there was one Irish lady in front of me who I recognised and I got a second wind and passed her. I didn’t realise until the prizes came out that I had just made the top 15, and a prize.

After getting married in Tuam in July of 1994, such was their fondness for Ballycotton that they included the village on their honeymoon travels. “We even stayed in the Seaspray and Mrs Whelan presented us with a lovely pottery jug which we still have,” Michelle recalls.

This year, to celebrate, their silver jubilee, they also travelled to Bere Island where they ran the Midsummer Run 10km after a parkrun in the morning. Now happy to run together, they’re not too concerned about times. “We did around 62 minutes for the 10km, maybe once a year I do around 22 minutes for a parkrun 5km,” says John, although, like all runners, he still admits it’s hard not be able to do the times he was once capable of.

Having such affection for Ballycotton, how has the village changed in their eyes over the past 25 or so years? “It has changed a lot; it’s a lot more built-up and there’s an awful lot of cars. What you also notice is that there are no shops any more,” admits John.

“It’s nice in some ways, but not in other ways,” adds Michelle. “We love the place and love the scenery but have never seen traffic like this. I suppose it’s a sign of the times, even in Bere Island at the weekend there was a lot of traffic there when you consider the population is so small.” 

They say old habits die hard and before breakfast at the Schooner Bar B&B whey they stayed, John and Michelle headed out on a five-mile run on the Bog Road to Ballinamona and back, finishing with a nostalgic trip up the main street where it all began for them 28 years ago.
“Ballycotton has special memories for us and of course we’ll be back again. It was nice today to just go for a run and relive it all,” they say in unison.

Michelle and John finishing the Bere Island 10km