Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: National Half-Marathon in Athenry...Too far to travel??

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

National Half-Marathon in Athenry...Too far to travel??

The Athletics Ireland National Half-Marathon was held in Athenry, Co.Galway on Sunday, the 2nd of September.

The results can be seen HERE

Scrolling down through the results, it becomes very clear that there seems to be almost a complete lack of runners from Cork clubs taking part. And it's not only Cork clubs, there is an absence of runners from Kerry, Waterford, Limerick and Tipperary as well.

Was it just too far away? The drive from Cork to Athenry is around 2h 50m. Last year, the event was in Waterford City and there were plenty of runners from Cork there......(1h 50m drive). Is it that people won't travel so far for a Half-Marathon? Plenty of people seemed to have come across from Dublin but that is a two hour drive on a motorway.

Was it the fact that there are so many Half-Marathons in Munster? Between mid August and late September, there is a Half-Marathon in Clonmel, Blarney, Dingle and Charleville. Are runners just opting for the local events instead?

Was it a lack of publicity? For example, 400 runners turned out in Athenry last Sunday. 690 turned out in Waterford last year.........and it's not like there is a shortage of runners in Galway.

Is it a combination of all the reasons above? Comments?


Anonymous said...

Derry - Athenry = 4 hours 7 minutes. City of Derry second team in both senior and masters plus no of individual medals. Foyle Valley also fielded a team. Cork runners want everything on their doorstep?

Anonymous said...

To be honest Cork runners very rarely travel outside munster for a race, but then they dont have too plenty of races close by and Blarney on this weekend.

Anonymous said...

I think it shouldn't matter where or how far it is it's an All Ireland it should be everyone's priority to run it. As far as Cork runners not travelling Cork had several runners in The All Ireland Cross Country in Sligo last year, Tipperary had only 2 runners competing 3 if you include Sergiu Ciobanu who finished 2nd overall who runs with Clonliffe Harriers but is based in Cahir Co.Tipperary
The day of teams sending buses is sadly dying out it used to part of the fun and banter to travel up, Maybe a lot of runners attended the Electric Picnic.

Iain Shaw said...

The lack of Cork representation was indeed very noticeable and it was said to me by many people both during the event and at the prize giving.

The numbers in Waterford were bumped up as the HM 'Challenge' was pushed very heavily in 2011 and 240 (approx) opted for the challenge with 450 entered for the championship. We had 338 in the championship on Sunday and 62 took up the 'challenge'. However Waterford always does attract a good crowd (and it is a fantastic course) as they had 430 running in 2008. Waterford also attracted 430 runners in Dungarvan in 2003 which completely bucked the trend of less than 200 runners in a HM championship.

I don't think you can say there was a lack of advertising, it was very evident on the AAI website and all club secretaries would have received notification of the event and therefore should have pushed this out to the 14,351 registered senior and master athletes in the country. Athenry AC website, and RunIreland also carried adverts to what is the target audience and so I don't think it can be that no one heard about the race.

Turn out from Galway clubs was also less than I had expected, with it being within the county and i really don't have a good explanation for that. It was well known locally that Athenry AC had the HM champs before it was publicised to the rest of the country and should have become pretty much the focus of those athletes. Athenry AC put out 40ish athletes (ie 10%) and we still provided nearly 100 stewards/organsiers. We were unfortunate that Galway also hosted the Ironman 70.3 at exactly the same time and that took a lot of athletes away from the HM as both participants and marshalls etc.

So why was the attendance poor, I really do think it is due to the large amount of races now on the calendar, and athletes becoming distracted by local races and not giving the national events due respect. A brief scan of RunIreland showed 8 other road race events on Sunday that clashed with the HM, including one unpermitted race less than 5 miles from the HM, and I know a good few AAI afilliated members ran in that race (5K/10K), there was also a HM in Mayo (again unlicensed I think). Last year there were 3 races listed on RunIreland at the same time as the National HM (including the Mayo HM).

So I think it is up to the clubs, across the country to really stress the importance of national events, for club committees and club captains to ensure that teams are got together for championships. Without that drive for clubs to compete against each other at the national champs we have to look at what our clubs are becoming - local social/jogging clubs ? Supporters of local charity races only ? The sport will suffer as a result of poor support of national events, as our highest level competetive edge is blunted.

Having said all that, it will be interesting to see what happens next year. This years National HM was meant to have been incorporated into the commercially organised Rock and Roll HM in Dublin, which alas did not take place, but I see that this already has a date in the 2013 calendar and I think you may well see the National HM going there. One of the interesting factors is that the RnR HM is scheduled for the start of August which is a month earlier than the National HM has been for the past 15 or so years. This places it (assuming RnR does become Nat HM) smack in the middle of some other national champs - league/masters TnF etc and I really can't predict the effect of that.

Iain (Athenry AC)

Anonymous said...

Shame that Cork did not send a good contingent to Athenry, its not far distance for what is a National Champs. National Championships sadly no longer seem to no longer be the priority in some club, with runners content to run in more local, regional races. Athletics Ireland should have a major media campaign to advertise it too.

Ed, Cork.

John Desmond said...


I looked through the results again and I could only find one club runner from Cork. I couldn't find any from Waterford.

I could understand that perhaps the distance might result in lower numbers from Cork but to have just one club runner is unusual to say the least.

I'd suspect that most Cork club runners will be doing the local Half-Marathons instead.

Anonymous said...

I was at the half ironman in Galway. Plenty of cork ppl there. As mentioned, plenty of local half marathons, only one ironman event a year..

Anonymous said...

I guess I should comment as I am that one runner from Cork :-)

I ran this race as I am originally from around that area in Galway. Most of my club mates are targeting the Blarney or Charleville half marathons. We are a small enough Athletics Club (11th biggest in Cork according to your chart today ) so I cannot speak for the bigger clubs and why they didn't have representation.