Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: September 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Cork runner from Aherla in fatal road accident...

A sad piece of news this time. This appeared in Fridays Irish Examiner......

Prison officer hit by truck.........Friday, September 30, 2011
GARDAÍ are appealing for witnesses to an accident which claimed the life of a prison officer in Cork city. John O’Riordan, a married father with a young child, died after he was hit by a truck at about 1pm yesterday. Mr O’Riordan, who lived in Aherla, had been working at Cork Prison when he decided to go jogging at lunchtime.

A brother of Natural Gas band founder Tim O’Riordan, John had been running between Meelick Park and Mervue Lawn in Ballyvolane when he was hit by the truck. Mr O’Riordan was pronounced dead at the scene and the roadway remained closed for a number of hours as gardaí carried out a technical examination.

A colleague described him as one of the most popular prison officers at the jail. "He was an amazing character who could tell a great story. He was also an avid runner who went for regular jogs during his breaks," the colleague said. Gardaí have asked witnesses to contact Mayfield Garda Station at 021 4558510..................End

Race notice...Rosscarbery 5k - Sat 1st Oct 2011

This race in the coastal town of Rosscarbery in west Cork starts at 3pm on Saturday, the 1st of October. The 2 lap course is approx 5 kms and the entry fee is €5.

Press release.......
Ireland’s ‘Forgotten World Champion’ Runner
to be Honoured with Plaque and Annual 5km Run
He defeated America’s finest athletes at New York’s Madison Square Garden and other venues in the USA, and now Timothy Jerome O’Mahony, aka ‘The Rosscarbery Steam Engine’, is receiving long overdue recognition - more than 110 years later - when a plaque in his honour will be unveiled at his birthplace in the small West Cork town of Rosscarbery on Saturday 1st October 2011.
The unveiling will take place at 3pm that day and will be conducted by guest of honour, legendary sports commentator Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh.

At a time when the GAA was actively involved in track and field sports, T.J. O’Mahony was GAA Irish Champion in the quarter-mile (400 metres) in 1885, 1887 and 1888 and Irish Amateur Athletics Association (IAAA) champion in 1886, before grabbing all the positive headlines as part of the GAA’s ‘Gaelic Invasion’ tour of the USA in 1888, when some of the country’s finest hurlers and track and field athletes were dispatched to promote Gaelic sports in America.

While hurling proved of great curiosity to the Americans on the unique tour by 48 Irish sportsmen, it was O’Mahony’s feats on the track - defeating the best the US could offer - that made the newswires, with gushing headlines like “Unconquerable Steam Engine”. The American athletes were the international benchmark on the track at the time and he beat the USA Champion in some style. This was before the era of the modern Olympics and he was described at the time as the de facto World Champion.

“This is a very appropriate time in our history to honour a great Irish athlete,” said Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh. “In the 1880s, an economically challenging time in Ireland, for ‘The Rosscarbery Steam Engine’ to achieve what he did was remarkable. He is an example to our young people that Irish athletes from even the smallest towns and villages can take on and beat the world’s best.”
The son of a shopkeeper, Timothy Jerome O’Mahony was born at home in Rosscarbery town in 1864 and trained in all weathers in a local field (even after school), with no coaching, his powerful and distinctive rhythmic style of running earning him the moniker ‘The Rosscarbery Steam Engine’. He was also the first Secretary of the local Carbery Rangers GAA club in 1887.

After his feats on the US tour in 1888, over 1,000 people turned out for a celebratory torchlight procession through the small town to give him a rapturous hero’s welcome home after the long boat-trip across the Atlantic. He retired some time later, moving to Dublin where he filed stories as a sports reporter. He died in Dublin in 1914, aged 50.

Some of his times...(Quarter Mile = approx 402 metres)
Times of O’Mahony’s Roll of Honour - Quarter-mile distance wins
All run on natural ground (grass/dirt) and subject to weather conditions, except Madison Square Garden (boards track).
Irish National Titles:
All-Ireland Athletics Championships (G.A.A.), Waterford, 1885:  60 seconds
Irish Amateur Athletics Association Championships, 1886:  53 and 2/5 seconds
All-Ireland Athletics Championships (G.A.A.), Kerry, 1887: 57 seconds
All-Ireland Athletics Championships (G.A.A.), Limerick, 1888: 53 3/5 seconds
Gaelic Invasion tour, USA, 1888
Exhibition run, Manhattan Club Grounds, New York: 56 seconds
Competitive race, Beacon Park, Boston: 54 secs
The American Championship, Manhattan Club Grounds, New York: 52 1/2 seconds
Madison Square Garden, *half-mile* distance race: 2 minutes 3 1/5 seconds,

(Updated 23rd Dec 2011)

Ireland’s forgotten champion: ‘The Rosscarbery Steam Engine’

One of Ireland’s greatest pre-Olypic era athletes is finally being remembered and honoured.

“To the younger generation of athletes the ‘Steam Engine’ is only a name, but to the athlete of a quarter of a century ago the pseudonym calls up visions of exciting finishes and heroic deeds on every track from Dublin to Cape Clear and from New York to San Francisco… his early demise is little less than a national loss.”
-    Obituary by ‘Carbery’ [journalist], The Cork Examiner, September 14th, 1914

He defeated America’s finest athletes at New York’s Madison Square Garden and other venues in the USA, and now Timothy Jerome O’Mahony, aka ‘The Rosscarbery Steam Engine’, is receiving long overdue recognition - more than 110 years later - when a plaque in his honour will be unveiled at his birthplace in the small West Cork town of Rosscarbery on Saturday 1st October 2011.

The unveiling will take place at 3pm that day and will be conducted by guest of honour, legendary sports commentator Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh.

At a time when the GAA was actively involved in track and field sports, O’Mahony was GAA Irish Champion in the quarter-mile (400 metres) in 1885, 1887 and 1888 and Irish Amateur Athletics Association (IAAA) champion in 1886, before grabbing all the positive headlines as part of the GAA’s ‘Gaelic Invasion’ tour of the USA in 1888, when the some of the country’s finest hurlers and track and field athletes were dispatched to promote Gaelic sports in America.

While hurling proved of great curiosity to the Americans on the unique tour by 48 Irish sportsmen, it was O’Mahony’s feats on the track - defeating the best the US could offer - that made the newswires, with gushing headlines like “Unconquerable Steam Engine”. The American athletes were the international benchmark on the track at the time and he beat the USA Champion in some style. This was before the era of the modern Olympics and he was described at the time as the de facto World Champion.

The idea for the Gaelic Invasion was came before a meeting of the GAA Central Council at Limerick Junction on July 5th 1888, when a committee was formed with the objective of sending two teams of hurlers and athletes to the USA the following October “to show our exiled countrymen beyond the Atlantic the enormous progress made in reviving the grand old pastimes, and that the ‘Ould Country’, despite the numerous disadvantages under which it labours, can yet produce bone and muscle second to none in the world”. Any surplus raised for the tour or from the events held there would be diverted into reviving the Tailteann Games, “of which our forefathers were so proud”.

Over in the Big Apple, the New York Herald newspaper did its best to convey American enthusiasm for the tour, claiming the US athletes were putting on their best war paint and licking their lips at the thought of encountering the Irish athletes.

While the journey across the Atlantic was jovial and plain sailing, the Gaels were about to walk into the crossfire of an uncivil ‘war’ between the two leading athletics bodies in the US, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and the National Association of Amateur Athletes of America (NAAA). To their credit, the GAA – not wanting to get involved in the row – stuck to their original agreement with the NAAA despite overtures from the increasingly more powerful AAU. Alas, it was a principled position they took, but one with damaging financial ramifications for the tour and, as a consequence, the hoped for revival of the Tailteann Games back in Ireland.

Nonetheless, the Irish sportsmen were buoyed by the excitement of their arrival in the New World.

The invaders first outing was a ‘warm-up’ exhibition of hurling and athletics contests among themselves in order to run out their sea legs, before approximately 6,000 people at the Manhattan AC grounds. The hurling match was rapturously received and involved some “remarkably brilliant” play, but the athletes were still below par from the journey and even the Irish 440 yards champion, O’Mahony, clocked by his standards a modest 56 seconds.

Boston, though, was to be the first real test for the athletes, with an international contest against “the pick of the New England athletes” and took place at Beacon Park before an enormous attendance.

Previewing the contests, the Boston Sunday Globe said: “T J O’Mahony is another Cork county boy who has shown his heels to Clarence Smith [US half mile champion]. He comes from the land whence came Jeremiah O’Donovan, who adds Rossa to his name to indicate his town. O’Mahony lives at Rosscarbery, county Cork. He defeated Smith for a quarter mile at Limerick in 55 3/5 seconds, but he has done several seconds better on another occasion. It may be added the course at Limerick was heavy and slow.”

According to the Cork Examiner on October 6th, “Ten thousand people paid gate money and five hundred carriages were on the ground.” Our man, TJ O’Mahony, won the quarter mile in 54 seconds and was warming to the task, as were his colleagues: of the ten athletics events, the Gaels won all but two.

After the Boston successes, both hurlers and athletes moved on to give exhibitions in other towns and cities in Massachusetts before heading back to New York’s Manhattan Grounds to make, for October 13th, “a bold bid for American Championship honours”.

Alas, the continual travelling and giving of exhibitions took its toll during the subsequent American Championships, with the Gaels winning just three of the 16 championship events. According to Sport, “The Rosscarbery Steam Engine did, perhaps, the most meritorious performance in beating Moffat, of Toronto, in the quarter mile in a good time of 52 ½ seconds over such a slow, sodden track.”

Indeed, reflecting on this event some weeks later, the Sport correspondent was fulsome on his praise. “Good old TJ O’Mahony,” he wrote, “proved that his title of Steam Engine is fully deserved by beating in hollow fashion a big field of the best quarter mile runners in America… O’Mahony would have beaten this time [52 ½ secs] had he been pressed, and it is generally conceded that over this distance the Rosscarbery man would have had few superiors if he had proper opportunities for training. There is little doubt about it that, properly brought out, the Steam Engine would shake 51 seconds.”

New York’s at Madison Square Garden was the next key venue for the touring athletes. With the covered stadium “lighted with an electric light”, the track “made of boards” and over 3,000 spectators in attendance, the scene was set for some cracking contests and the Gaels were ‘well up for it’ and, it should be noted, the Irish runners in the party had never run on a wooden track before.

While there were 15 separate events (plus heats), the Sport reporter was clear about who stole the show: “The half mile was the surprise of the day, being won by the redoubtable and unconquerable Steam Engine. Thirteen faced the starter, but the following were the only runners of importance – JW Moffat (champion half-miler of America and Canada)…W Phibbs…JC Devereux… and TJ O’Mahony… O’Mahony, who was going splendidly, ran one of the finest races which could be witnessed, and won what looked to be a hopeless race by one of his proverbial rushes. At the second turn for home, which was only about 80 yards from the tape, O’Mahony, who was coming on to win the race nicely, got knocked in on the boards and consequently out of his stride. The Rosscarbery man quickly got back, but the race looked a hopeless one for him; however, by the aid of grim, unflinching determination, and an extraordinary spurt, the Steam Engine managed to catch Devereux and won by half a yard. Time, 2 min 3 1/5 seconds. I need hardly say that the popular O’Mahony got quite an ovation, which he deserved, and the cheering was both long and loud.”

The Gaelic Invaders then moved on for further hurling and short athletics exhibitions in Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Manhattan before returning to the centre of the Big Apple for two days of rest as well as official receptions, before departing again by steam ship to head for home.

Greeted by a large number of townspeople at Queenstown in the early hours, the team’s arrival was a loud and celebratory affair. With “the lion of the returning party, TJ O’Mahony, the Rosscarbery Steam Engine, coming in for more than ordinary congratulations”.

The hurlers made a strong impression in the States, and athletes accredited themselves with some notable achievements, the Rosscarbery man being a standout success: “TJ O’Mahony and TM O’Connor, in addition to Mitchell, won for themselves the proud title of Champion of America,” said the Sport newspaper. “The Steam Engine ran in splendid form throughout the entire tour and it would have required a strong opposition to have beaten him level in the quarter mile or the half [mile]. Though O’Mahony has not gone in to any extent for the half -mile, still I believe if he trained specially for it that he has no superior over the distance in Ireland. His winning the half as Madison Square Garden was a wonderful performance.”

On returning to his west Cork town, O’Mahony was greeted by wild rejoicing and a torchlight procession by over 1,000 people “all anxious to get a glimpse, if not to grasp the hand, of the hero of the hour.”

Of the man himself, we know he was born in 1864 and educated at the local Ardagh Boys’ School. He took up running at an early age and it is said he trained in a local field, about a mile to the west of the town, with great dedication after school was over. He was the first Secretary of the local Carbery Rangers GAA club in 1887 at a time when athletics were very much part of GAA activities. Deciding to break out of his purely local reputation as the best quarter-mile runner in West Cork, O’Mahony, at age 21, entered that distance in the first ever All-Ireland Athletics Championships at Tramore, Co. Waterford, in 1885, which he won in 60 seconds. The following year he won the Irish Amateur Athletics Association (IAAA) quarter-mile in 53 2/5 seconds. In 1887, he was back at the GAA championships, this time in Tralee, Co. Kerry, which he won in 57 seconds. He was close again to his best time the following year in Limerick, with a time of 53 3/5 seconds.

Of course, the variation in some of the times must take account of the fact that these races were run on natural ground and hence were subject to the affects of the weather, the going often ‘heavy’. Neither was there digital timing.

Sadly, despite considerable research no photos can be found of O’Mahony, but he was described by Carbery in the Cork Examiner as “standing some five feet eleven, and weighing around fourteen stone, he always suggested a combination of activity and strength unique in its blending.” His distinctive rhythmic style of running earned him the moniker ‘The Rosscarbery Steam Engine’ with a signature burst of pace in the final straight which blitzed his competitors.

We don’t know what led to his death of cardiac disease and, ultimately, cardiac failure at the age of just 50 at Hendrick Lane, near Smithfield in Dublin. In the same obituary in the Cork Examiner, Carbery added: “A powerful and picturesque personality in the Irish athletics world…his early demise is little less than a national loss.”

That TJ O’Mahony’s grave stone has crumbled to dust in Glasnevin (plot RH272) is to be regretted, but hopefully something can be done to reinstate one reflecting his status.

That he will be remembered in Rosscarbery by the unveiling of a commemorative plaque brings great credit to all involved in renewing a sense of pride in a once-forgotten, but now remembered, and recognised, man who was an inspirational figure and a genuine local and national sporting hero.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Reebok pays $25m fine over toning shoe claims...

The US Federal Trade Commission have fined the sports shoe manufacturer Reebok 25 million dollars over unsupported claims for it's Easy Tone and Run Tone shoes. Reebok had claimed that these toning shoes would "strengthen and tone key leg and buttock (gluteus maximus) muscles more than regular shoes". The US FTC ruled these advertising claims were false.

Toning shoes - which are designed with unstable soles so leg muscles have to work harder in order to maintain balance during everyday activities - were the fastest growing segment in the footwear industry in 2010, with sales soaring to $1.1 billion from $350 million in 2009, according to Matt Powell, an analyst with SportsOne Source. The shoes were sold at a premium of roughly $100 a pair.

Adidas, the parent company of Reebok said that they had settled with the commission "to avoid a protracted legal battle". "Settling does not mean we agreed with the FTC's allegations; we do not," Adidas added.

The FTC said Reebok began making the claims in early 2009 and provided statistics about the alleged benefits. The $25m penalty will go towards consumer refunds. "The FTC wants national advertisers to understand that they must exercise some responsibility and ensure that their claims for fitness gear are supported by sound science," said David Vladeck, director of the FTC's bureau of consumer protection.

And the moral of the story? As with all advertising, be sceptical with any claims made. The running shoe market is huge with billions of Euro/Dollars worth of shoes sold each year. In a crowded market, claims are made to try and stand out from the crowd. So whether it's the usual running shoe, the latest and greatest or those minimalist barefoot type shoes, do your homework before you part with your cash.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The cost of organising a major Marathon...

So just how much does it cost to organise a major Marathon? Obviously there are a lot on factors to take into consideration. Things like how big the event is, if it is run in a major city with lots of busy roads or in the countryside with only a few road junctions to worry about.
For people new to the sport, there are obvious things like the t-shirt, medal and bottles of water. Behind the scenes however are the less obvious costs which all add up. The graph on the left shows the percentage costs involved in a typical marathon in the United States.

The average marathon there now costs $85, up 30% or so in the last 5 years. In Euro terms, $85 is approx €62 which is comparable with prices in Ireland. The video clip below gives an outline of the costs....(advert at start).

Sarah Palin runs Half-Marathon in Iowa

I came across this news item recently. The controversial American politician Sarah Palin took part in the Storm Lake Half-Marathon in Iowa at the start of September. Running under her maiden name of Sarah Heath, the 47 year old Palin ran 1:46:10 and finished 2nd in the Over 40 womens category which is pretty impressive (Results HERE).

It is rumoured that she is getting ready for a full Marathon which may be used as a qualifying time for a future Boston Marathon. She has already completed one Marathon back in 2005 when she ran 3:59:10 in Anchorage, Alaska.

Other famous American politicians to run Marathons were Al Gore who ran 4:54:25 in 1993 while he was vice-president and George W.Bush who ran 3:44:52 in Houston, Texas in 1993, eight years before he became president.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lizzy Hawker from England sets new 24 hour world record...

More news from the crazy world of Ultra running........A new world record was set in the Commonwealth Ultra Distance Championships in Llandudno, Wales on Saturday the 24th of September. Lizzy Hawker from England broke the world best 24 hour performance by a woman on the road by covering 246.408 kms (just over 153 miles). That distance was 3.423 kms further than the 18 year old record of  243.657 kms set by Sigrid Lomsky of Germany.

What was also remarkable about the performance was that not only was she the first woman but she also finished ahead of all of the men in the race. In fact, the first man finished 3 kms behind. It is often said that while men are obviously faster and stronger over short distances than women, the difference between the genders begins to diminish over the very long distance events.
The 35-year-old Hawker, who had won the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc race only 4 weeks earlier in August, also broke the long standing British and Commonwealth 100 mile record on her way to victory. Helped along with a diet of banana bread, a combination of jam and cheese sandwiches and melon, she never faltered after taking the lead and held a two lap lead by the end (Course was 1 km loop).

“I really didn’t know what to expect because it was my first race over the distance on the road,” said Hawker, who used to work as a scientist at the south pole with the British Antarctic Expedition.
“I didn’t have any huge expectations going into the race. It was just a case of staying fully focussed and blocking out the pain. “It did hurt – a lot – but I’m really pleased to have won and taken the world record. It was also great to demonstrate just what women athlete’s can achieve by beating all the men.”

The full results of the race can be seen at

Lizzy Hawker has her own blog at

Monday, September 26, 2011

Looking back...Cork womens mini-marathon in 1986

The Evening Echo Womens mini-marathon is 30 years old this year. This post looks back 25 years ago to the year 1986 when the mini-marathon was just 5 years old. At that time, it was run over a 10k course and was won by Yvonne Murray from Scotland, one of the leading European middle distance runners in the 80's and 90's.
She had just won the bronze in the 3000 metres in the European Championships in August in Stuttgart in what was then West Germany. Just one month later, she took part in the Cork Evening Echo Womens mini-marathon.
She would later go on to take bronze in the 3000m at the 1988 Olympics and win gold at 3000m at the 1990 European Championships and the 1993 World Indoor Championships.
A short race report with the times of the first 40 runners can be seen HERE
How many of those 40 names took part in the 2011 race?.............more info in the comments below.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lizzie Lee wins 2011 Evening Echo Womens mini-marathon - Sun 25th Sept 2011

Despite an awful morning of heavy rain, the skies had cleared up nicely just in time for the 2011 Evening Echo  Womens mini-marathon. It is estimated that some 10,000 or so took part in this event which raised a huge amount of money for various charities.
The race was won by Lizzie Lee of Leevale AC in what was a close contest between two of the finest runners in Cork with Clare McCarthy of St.Finbarrs AC a very close second.

Orla Drumm of UCC finished 3rd

Carmel Crowley of Bandon AC and Martina Kiely of St.Finbarrs AC...4th and 5th

Niamh O'Sullivan from An Riocht AC in Kerry...6th

Sinead Kevany of Midleton AC and Carmel Parnell of Leevale AC...7th and 8th

Niamh Roe of Eagle AC finished 9th

Ann Donnelly of St.Finbarrs AC, Niamh Walsh of Leevale AC and
Mary Sweeney of St.Finbars AC...10th, 11th and 12th
Times for the first 12...
1 L Lee (Leevale) 21:58; 2 C Gibbons-McCarthy (St Finbarrs) 22:05; 3 O Drumm (UCC) 22:26; 4 C Crowley (Bandon, F40) 22:53; 5 M Kiely (St Finbarrs) 22:58; 6 N O’Sullivan (Riocht, F45) 23:46; 7 S Kevany (Midleton) 23:54; 8 C Parnell (Leevale, F55) 23:59; 9 N Roe (Eagle) 24:34; 10 A Donnelly (St Finbarrs, F50) 25:02; 11 N Walsh (Leevale) 25:09; 12 M Sweeney (St Finbarrs, F50) 25:19.

1) Small gallery of the first 17 finishers HERE
2) A large gallery by Gearoid O'Laoi HERE
3) A gallery of 80 photos by Adam Duchnicz HERE
4) A slideshow of 349 photos by Joe Murphy of Eagle AC HERE
5) A large slideshow of photos near the 3 mile mark by John Quigley of Eagle AC HERE

Patrick Makau sets new Marathon record of 2:03:38

Kenyan Patrick Makau won the 2011 Berlin Marathon on Sunday, the 25th of Sept. His time of two hours, three minutes and 38 seconds was 21 seconds faster than the record set by Haile Gebrselassie on the same course back in 2008.

"In the morning my body was not good but, after I started the race, it started reacting very well. I started thinking about the record. I didn't have any problems in the race. Last year I had some problems with my soles inside my shoe, but today everything went very well." said Makau.

The previous record Haile Gebrselassie failed to finish having experienced apparent stomach problems around the 27km mark.

2006 - First in 2:05.56 (fastest time of year)
2007 - First in 2:04.26 (world record)
2008 - First in 2:03.59 (world record)
2009 - First in 2:06.08
2010 - Did not compete
"Gebrselassie, the 38-year-old double Olympic champion at 10,000m, had also been looking to post a fast time and ease the pressure on him to qualify for the Games ahead of strong Ethiopian rivals.
But he found himself forced to step off the road midway through the race as Makau, sensing the Ethiopian great was struggling, upped the pace"....BBC News
Just to give you some idea of the pace, a 2:03:38 Marathon is an average of 4:43 minutes per mile or 2:56 minutes per km.

Robert Heffernan qualifies for 2012 London Olympics...

Robert Heffernan (Togher AC) and Brendan Boyce (Letterkenny AC) have achieved the Olympic qualification standard in the 50km walk in Nuamburg, Germany (Sat 24th Sept 2011).

Rob finished second in 3.49.30, this follows on from the personal best he set at the IAAF Race Walking Challenge in La Coruna last Saturday in the 10km walk when finishing sixth in 39.19 minutes.

Brendan Boyce achieved a personal best of 3.57.58 to finish sixth just inside the qualification standard of 3.59.00 to achieve the standard for his first Olympic Games.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Preview of the Evening Echo Womens mini-marathon - Sun 25th Sept 2011

Although it is advertised as Munsters Premier 4-Mile Road Race, it is in reality a 3.8 mile charity walk/run with a small road race at the front of it. In the past, it used to attract a lot of fast runners but in more recent times, there have been a lot of issues with runners unable to get near the front and be able to start ahead of the mass of walkers. As a result, many runners avoid it. In the last year, they hae introduced a tag system so hopefully this might improve things.

Tag or no tag, if you intend to race it then you need to get to the start early! There are somewhere in the region of 11,000 women taking part and when there are that many people, it is going to be very crowded.

Remember it starts at 1pm.

Course...The start of this race is on the Centre Park Road.

Mile 0-1....The first mile or so is very flat with only a slight uphill around the 0.8 mile mark as the road joins the Marina. This should be a very fast mile as long as you stay clear of the mass of runners/joggers/walkers/prams....etc.

Start of the Marina section near the 1 mile mark 
Mile 1-2.....Dead flat along the Marina. Probably the most scenic part of the run. Again, it should be a very fast mile. If you have started too fast, this is about where you should find out. Pace yourself for the first 2, you can pick it up over the last 2 if you have gone too slow.

Looking back at the course at the end of the Marina near the 2 mile mark

Mile 2-3....This section includes the only real hill. There is a nasty pull from the 2 mile mark up to St.Michael's church, a distance of about 300 metres......

Start of the only real hill near the 2 mile mark

You are going to lose some time here. After that, it's reasonably flat with a slight fall downhill into Beaumount about the 2.7 mile mark. Then past the AIB bank and Post office and take a sharp right down Maryville Road. Around the 3 mile mark, there is a very steep downhill section. By far, the hardest mile.

Mile 3-3.8....After the initial downhill section, the remainder of the mile is flat with the finish on the Monaghan Road, near Kennedy Park.
....and finally, it is worth mentioning what a significant event this is for the city of Cork. With around 11,000 taking part and many getting sponsorship, it is probably no exageration to say that several million Euro will be raised for various charities. For many of those taking part, it may be closest they ever get to any sort of road race.

The Confessions of Eddy Hellebuyck...The dark side of distance running

I came across an article some time ago on the Runners World website called 'The Confessions of Eddy Hellebuyck'.

Who is he?

Eddy Hellebuyck was born in Belgium and was one of the main Marathon runners from that country in the 1980's and 90's. Aged just 23, he ran a 2:13 Marathon in 1984. In the late 80's and early 90's, he ran Marathons all over the world, running most of them under 2:30 (PR 2:11:50) and collected a lot of prize money as a result.  In 1996, he represented Belgium in the Marathon at the Atlanta Olympic Games. By the year 2000 and aged 39, his times were beginning to drop and his racing career was going into a decline.

By the late 90's, the illegal performance enhancing drug EPO was making it's presence felt in the running world. 'EPO....A hormone produced by the kidneys that stimulates the production of oxygen-bearing red blood cells, EPO appears naturally in the body. The pharmaceutical version was developed in the late '80s to boost the red-blood-cell counts of patients suffering from anemia associated with kidney disease. An increased level of EPO in the body can enhance the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood and, hence, a runner's endurance.'

While operating a training camp for runners in the USA, Hellebuyck claims he was introduced to the drugs then. By 2001, he had started to take EPO and his times and career got a new lease of life. Running now as a veteran athlete, he could earn serious prize money again. In 2002, he ran a 2:19 Marathon before going on to run 2:12:47 in 2003 at 42 years of age. In that year, he earned $55,300 on the race circuit.

In January 2004, all of that came to an abrupt halt. In his own words............"Then one morning, all of a sudden, just before breakfast, the guy from USADA was knocking on the door. He said he had missed me when he came by the week before. I had been away from the center working out at Balboa Park, and he wanted to test me now. He had his credentials and everything. He was from the UCLA lab, I think. He took my urine sample. I think I had put down a unit of EPO two days before. I was probably just inside the 48 hours. I didn't really think about it. Probably since 2001 when I started EPO, I must have passed 10 or more tests. I wasn't too worried. I was just focused on my workout that day."

Except he didn't pass. Hellebuyck received notice of his positive drug test in late March of 2004 and was banned from competiting. With his career and reputation in ruins, he initially denied everything and appealed the decision but to no avail. Eventually in 2010, he confessed and told his story to the Runners World magazine.

The full 9 page story can be seen HERE.

It gives an insight into the world of those cheating in the sport and the cat and mouse game they play with the authorities as they try to evade detection. According to the World Anti-Doping Agency, one in ten elite athletes are now using drugs to cheat.

In response to this problem, there will be a record number of tests at the next Olympics coming up in London in 2012. Whether this weeds out the cheats in the sport remains to be seen.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Changes to the race calendars on the blog...

Most of you will have noticed that I have two race calendars in the right sidebar menu on this site......One for Cork races and one for Munster races. Looking at the traffic figures, I know a lot of people use only the Cork calendar. It does however mean that I end up having to update two calendars every time I hear of a race in Cork and that takes time.

So in a few days, I will be closing down the Cork race calendar and will be updating only the Munster one. All of the Cork races there are very easy to pick out as they are colour coded in Red and White. There are plenty of races elsewhere in Munster that may also be of interest to runners in Cork.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top Tips for Considerate Athletes

The following 'Tips' were compiled by John Schofield of and are re-printed here with his kind permission...

Tip 1...Ensure that your entry form is completed as illegibly as possible. This means that the Race Director and/or the results guy can have a good laugh, on the morning of the race, trying to decipher your scrawl, when they've nothing better to do. Also, if you belong to one club of several in a town, just mark the town name for the club. The organiser is bound to know which club you're in!

Tip 2...Don't mark your sex/age/date of birth on the form. Reason? See 1 above. It adds a bit of interest to an otherwise mundane job as you try to calculate an age category or to remember whether Frances and Lesley are male or female. Or just put an initial for your first name and don't tell us your sex. We can work this out from your handwriting.

Tip 3...Turn up with one minute to go before the 'off' and insist on holding everyone up while you run to the start line, then run back to registration to get some pins, then find someone to put your number on your back, then on your front. No-one minds a latecomer, especially if the rain is horizontal. After all, you're paying a premium for being a latecomer (maybe it should be £5 extra in the last 10 minutes....)

Tip 4...Wear your number on your back, inside your shorts, on your other jumper (the one in your car boot), on the tracksuit you left with your wife at the start. You spoil all the fun if you just pin it on the front of your vest! Or wear it upside down, for a bit of variety. Especially good with numbers like 966, 161, 66 and so on. Some organisers spoil things, though, by printing stuff on the number in an effort to get you to wear it the right way up! But then, you could always fold up or cut off the silly printed bits and still get your number upside down......

Tip 5...After crossing the finish line, ignore those pointless chaps in the yellow jackets shouting at you to stay in line and keep moving. What do they know?!!? You've just run a race, for goodness sake. They've just been idly standing around all morning. As soon as you've crossed the line, stand around yourself and have a good chat with your mates over the barrier. The results can easily be re-compiled after you've pointed out where everyone else came in behind you. Better still, just duck out of the funnel (see tip 8).

Tip 6...Don't just get your race souvenir and wander off for your hotpot. Why not jog back out to meet your friends who still have to finish and then run back in with them. After all, the timekeepers will recognise you from the first time you finished and they wouldn't be daft enough to note you down again, would they?

Tip 7...Alternatively, why bother to enter at all? Just put on your shorts and join in the fun. The event makes enough money anyway AND you get a free souvenir AND you didn't want to be on the results anyway (but you ran across the finish line just in case...)

Tip 8...Of course, if you don't want the souvenir you've paid for, just duck out under the funnel tape between the finish line and the number recorders. That way, you'll avoid the silly woman with the medals, mugs or whatever and it's a real hoot watching the faces in the results room when they try to work out where all the extra times have come from (it's usually the other way round, with more numbers than times, so you'll be correcting an imbalance, won't you?)

Tip 9...So that you can get away quickly, find out where the results are being compiled. The chap in there won't mind a bit of a rest for a few minutes from typing in all those numbers. He'll happily stop to chat with you and let you know where you came and what your time was. He'll also enjoy a lengthy discussion about whether your time was recorded correctly. In fact, it would be an ideal opportunity to tell him that you actually finished several places ahead of where your number is on the sheet, because you stopped to have a chat or a stretch after the line. If you can't get to results, the timekeepers usually don't mind being interrogated while you stand over their shoulders or in front of them or whatever.

Tip 10...At the prize-giving, it helps if you can wait until all the prizes have been distributed before you point out that your age category is wrong or that you ran in your wife's number and she had yours. But that should have been obvious to the marshals at the finish, shouldn't it? It's always easy to get prizes back.

Tip 11...There's the main race and there's the fun run. You've entered one but you fancy doing the other instead. No problem - just pin your existing number on and do whichever you want. Even more entertaining if the race organiser has used the same type and range of numbers for both races!! (What a fool)

Tip 12...Don't forget to forget the SAE requested - nothing we like better than addressing and making up our own envelopes and paying for postage out of the tight race budget! Oh, and don't forget that you don't really have to sign that cheque you're sending (if you remember to enclose it!). And you wouldn't be daft enough to sellotape your cheque to the entry form, would you?

Tip 13...Isn't GPS a wonderful invention? Now you can plague the organiser before/during/after the race with how you dispute his distance(s) and that the course is really 250 metres long/short and that's spoilt your pb and you won't come back again next year because the course isn't accurate and anyway you didn't tell him there was a 50 metre climb at half way and ............... (yawn!)

Tip 14...Back to the SAE - if it's self adhesive, make sure you fold it back on itself so that it's well and truly stuck together and it has to be ripped apart to use it. "Stamp?" - that's the S in SAE! And actually writing your name and address on the envelope just takes all the fun out if it!

Tip 15...Just so nothing gets lost, remember to staple EVERYTHING together when you send in your entry! Staple the cheque to the entry form, staple the entry form to the SAE (if you've remembered to enclose it) and then staple the flap down on your envelope so it goes right through the lot. Nothing better than unpicking staples in front of a roaring log fire on a winter's evening.....

Tip 16...You're one of those few runners who plans their race diary in advance and enters races just as soon as the entry forms come out. The problem is that when you get your race numbers and information packs back, you pile them all together at home. On race morning it's a bit of a rush, and grab a number from the pile. Unfortunately the number you grab is next week's - at today's race it's the same as the number allocated to a LV60 runner .

Tip 17...And whilst we're looking at race numbers.... You keep all your old race numbers as souvenirs. Trouble is, you keep them in the same place as the races you've just entered. Now which is the number for this year's race? If only the race organiser had printed the year on the race numbers, but of course he didn't (what a fool) so that he could keep his costs (and your race entry fee) down by buying in bulk and using his stock over a year or two.

Tip 18...All runners should expect mile or kilometre markers to be accurate to the inch, as all race organisers have the local authorities in the palms of their hands and can arrange for lamp-posts, street signs, trees and so on to be moved so that they are in just the right place for the signs to be affixed! Also they can arrange to have "Warning - mile marker coming soon" signs set out as well so that you don't miss the markers as you run past staring at your GPS!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Alistair Cragg sets new 5000 metre record...

Alistair Cragg of Clonliffe Harriers set a new Irish 5000 metre record last Friday evening in Brussels by running 13:03.53, an improvement of 0.4 seconds on Mark Carroll’s 13 year old record of 13:03.93 which was set in Berlin in 1998.
Cragg finished in 5th place in a world class field in what was the last Diamond League meet of the year. The race was won by Imane Merga of Ethiopia in 12.58.32. Cragg’s time is almost a four second improvement on his previous personal best of 13.07.10 which dates back to 2007, also set in Belgium. It is also the 10th fastest time ever by a European.

A video of the full race can be seen at this LINK

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Results of the Charleville Half-Marathon - Sun 18th Sept 2011

This was the first year of this Half-Marathon in Charleville in North Cork and it has got off to a great start with well in excess of 400 runners turning up for this race.

The mens race was won by Alan O'Shea of Bantry AC in time of 67:00, just over 30 seconds ahead of Vinney Mulvey from Raheny Shamrocks AC. That time was actually nearly 2 minutes faster than the Dublin Half-Marathon which was on the day before and had over 8,000 entries.

The winner of the womens race was Angela McCann of Clonmel AC making it two in a row in more than one way. Not only did Angela follow up on her win in the Cork Half-Marathon in Blarney a week earlier but she also ran in the Dublin Half on Saturday making it two Half-Marathons in two days!! Those Tipp women are tough cookies ;o)

Angela won the race today in 81:04 (Dublin = 80:21) and had a comfortable lead of over 2 minutes on the second woman home...Tracey Roche of Dooneen AC.

Photos...(Updated 20th Sept @00:15am)
1) A slideshow of photos out along the course by Joe Murphy of Eagle AC.......HERE

2) Another gallery from Joe Murphy of runners finishing......HERE
3) A nice slideshow of photos from Ann Murphy HERE

The results can be seen HERE

The Baldwin Street Gutbuster...the steepest road race in the world?

The annual 'Baldwin Street Gutbuster' race went ahead on Sunday the 18th of Sept 2011 in Dunedin, New Zealand. What is unusual about this race is that it was run on what according to the Guinness Book of Records is the 'Steepest Residential Street in the World'.

The course is some 350 metres long with a climb of appox 70 metres resulting in a 19 degree or 35% slope. The race itself involves running 350 metres to the top and back down again. The current record which was set in 1994 is 1:56 and the winning 2011 time was 2:32.

Pictures from the BBC News website

To put that in comparison with some local hills, the famous (...or is that infamous?) Patricks Hill in Cork City has an ascent of approx 40 metres over a distance of 250 metres. There was a charity race up this hill back in 2010 on the same weekend as the Cork City Marathon. It also features regularly on various cycling events.

Another Cork beauty is Strawberry Hill just off Blarney Street. It has an ascent of approx 50 metres over a distance of 370 metres.

Nothing as bad as Baldwin Street though!

Are there any steeper roads in Cork / Ireland?

Begooly AC present cheque to Irish Disabled Sailing Association...

Members of Belgooly A.C. recently presented a cheque for €860.00 to the Kinsale Branch of the Irish Disabled Sailing Association. This was the proceeds raised from the recent Kinsale Regatta 5 Mile Road Race back in late July.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Preview of the Charleville Half-Marathon...Sun 18th Sept 2011

The next big race is of course the Cavanaghs Charleville Half-Marathon on Sunday, the 18th of Sept at 10am. The last time there was a medium distance road race in this area was the Charleville 10 mile race back in the early 90's. After that race finished, there used to be a race series on Friday evenings during the summer months before they too eventually faded away.

The new Ballyhoura race series was restarted in 2010 and now, a new Half-Marathon in Charleville is going to continue the long tradition of medium distance road races in this area. Please note also that part of the entry fee is going to St.Josephs Foundation.

Directions.....The venue for the race is at St.Josephs Foundation on Bakers Road. This road runs parallel to the main road through the town. If you are coming from the direction of Cork City then take a right as you enter the town...
...past the graveyard.....and then left on to Bakers Road.

If you are coming from the direction of Limerick City then after you pass the Topaz station on the left as you enter the town, take a left before you get to the main church. The turn will be signposted for Killmallock....

...then left at the next T-junction and then right on to Bakers Road.

This is an overview of the town.....
It clearly shows Bakers Road parallel to the main road and the approach roads. Follow the stewards directions on the day for parking. The changing facilities and showers are in the local GAA hall (pictured in map) which is right alongside St.Josephs...

Parking.......Parking will not be available on the St. Josephs site unless absolutely necessary. There is adequate parking in the schools and Dunnes Stores car park which are both adjacent to the site at St. Josephs. People will be directed by Marshalls to the parking areas. There will be no on-road parking allowed by the Gardai.
Race Pack Collection / New entries....New entries will be accepted on Saturday in the Charleville Park Hotel and on Sunday at St. Josephs Foundation. It needs to be confirmed that Relay entries will be accepted on the day....The entry fee for the Half-Marathon on the day is €30. (See updates at the bottom of the post)

Race Pack - T-Shirt, Race Number and Timing Chips...The first 300 individual entries will receive a race t-shirt in their race pack. All individual participants will receive a timing chip, race number, 4 pins and a Mahers Sports 10% off voucher. There will be separate queues for new entries and Race pack collection on Saturday and Sunday so please observe the signs.

Weekend schedule...Saturday 17th September...3pm to 9pm – Race Pack Collection/ New entries – Charleville Park Hotel
Sunday 18th September...8:30am to 9:30am - Race Pack Collection/ New entries – St. Josephs Foundation Hall, Bakers Rd. Charleville
9:30am – 3 Buses depart St. Josephs Foundation for 3 Relay Changeover points – Relay participants will travel on bus for their specific leg of the relay.
9:50am – Half-Marathon participants assemble at start area (For safety reasons, runners will be asked to start in areas which are appropriate to their pace i.e. Sub 1hr 30, 1hr 30+, 1hr 45+, 2hr+ (Pacers at front)
10am – Race Start

Team Relay event........All relay participants need to assemble at St.Josephs before 9:30am to collect their 4 numbers, 1 chip and 1 rubber wristband. Each runners needs to wear a race number and the last runner will need to put the chip on their shoe. Buses depart at 9:30am. The rubber wristband will be given to the first runner at the start and passed along to each member of the team during the race. The final member of the team should cross the line with the rubber wristband on their wrist.
There will be 3 buses to take each individual member of the team to the location they have chosen. The Buses will be numbered according to which station the participants are going to....Bus 1 – 5.3km Change-over point, Bus 2 – 10.6km Change-over point, Bus 3 – 15.9km Change-over point. Runners will return to the start/finish area on the bus at the relay station which they finish at.

Water Stations...There will be bottled water and/or cups available near each of the relay stations at approx. 5km intervals and at the finish line.

Post-race Refreshments and Food.....They will tea/coffee, sandwiches, cakes, etc. They will also have a special section for Coeliacs who require gluten free food and non-buttered sandwiches for those with dairy intolerances.

Safety...There will be over 120 voluntary stewards and runners are asked to keep on the left hand side of the road at all times on the course unless otherwise instructed by a Marshall or Garda.
Course Details......One of the main features of the course is that there are plenty of long straight and flat sections of road. It goes from the town of Charleville in N.Cork to the town of Kilmallock in SE Limerick and back again.

Start......The race starts on the grounds of St.Josephs Foundation.......straight through the main gates and right...
...and after approx 600 metres, you turn right at the next T-junction and head east. As per the race instructions, you should stay on the left hand side of the road...

Here you pass the cheese factories and pretty soon, you start to leave the town as you head towards Kilmallock. At this stage, there are some small climbs but these will be all downhill sections in the later stages of the race.

From here, there are a few minor bends in the road. Just after 2 miles, you come to the steepest hill along the course and strangely enough, it's man-made. Up ahead is an old bridge under which ran the old direct railway line which went from Cork City to Limerick City...

As a hill, it's pretty short and you have the benefit of a downhill on the other side. After this, the road begins to run parallel to the main Cork to Dublin railway line. Considering that these rail lines were laid for steam trains in the mid 19th century, the road here reflects this.....dead straight and very flat.
The first major junction and the first changevover point is at approx 3.2 miles.....

Note that this is the start of the looped secion taking in the town of Kilmallock. Once the loop is completed, you will be retracing your steps back to Charleville and the finish line.

At approx 5.2 miles, the roads turns away from the railway line and heads towards the town of Kilmallock. This was one of the principal walled towns of the province of Munster in medieval times and almost seventy percent of walls are still standing today. There is plenty of evidence of this along the race course...

.......though the arch.......left and the next junction and through the town....

.....and then left at the main church in the town...
...some bit of slight uphill running here and very soon, you are onto a very quiet country road...

There are a few bends but the road is mostly flat and straight. Near Mile 9...
.....and just before the 10 mile mark, you approach end of the looped section......

You now run back towards Charleville and the finish line in St.Josephs.
Overall.........A fast accurate Half-Marathon course which will suit anyone trying for a personal best time. With part of the entry fee going to St.Josephs Foundation and the long history of road races in this area, it should attract a large crowd.
Update.........Fri 7pm
1) The first 20 entries on Sunday morning will get tech top t-shirts so arrive early! Entries open at 8:30am.
2) There are no relay entries on the day but they will accept the next 20 as they have only 20 places left on the buses. There are 27 teams entered so far (Fri 6pm)
3) The Charleville Park Hotel will be doing a special discounted food offer in the Charleville Park hotel for all participants who present their race number.
4) Charleville Half Marathon Accommodation.........The Charleville Half Marathon have organised special room rates at the Charleville Park Hotel for participants who want to travel to the race location the night before the start. Runners who are intending on participating are asked to contact the hotel on 063 33708 or email to ask for the following special rates for the Half-marathon on Sunday September 18th. These are very reasonable rates for a four star hotel. Race numbers and chips can be collected at the hotel the night before the race.
The following rates are available for participants:
 2 Nights B&B+1 Evening Meal @ €109pps
 1 Nights B&B + Evening Meal @ €80pps
 1 Night B&B @ €60pps1 Night Room Only @ €50pps
5) Showers.........There are showers available at the GAA changing rooms which is beside the GAA Field away from the main clubhouse.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Charleville Tech Top shirts...

The dry fit T-shirts arrived on Wednesday at the Ballyhoura South-East Limerick office. Pictured above.........Michael Herlihy wearing the large and Anisa Carol the small. Picture also includes Fergal Somers of Ballyhoura Fáilte who are supporting the race through the Ballyhoura ACTIVE series