Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Report on the 2013 Ballyhoura Active Series by Tom Blackburn

Friday, November 29, 2013

Report on the 2013 Ballyhoura Active Series by Tom Blackburn

It was fantastic to run in Doneraile on the first night back in late May with 459 runners and joggers. It was so well run and a credit to the organising club Mallow AC on the night, the beautiful weather didn’t hurt either.

This was a hard event to follow with only one race in June, the Angelsborough 10k...a brand new race on the calendar. This event was also very well run and the organisers were very professnal in the way they ran
their event, it was a pity it wasn’t better supported. This is where club races seem to do better.

The town of Millstreet in NW Cork and the Willie Neenan 10k was our next event. This also was so well run and for a first time event, it was very well supported. Great credit due to the organisers Millstreet AC.

The next event was Dromcollogher 4 mile in West Limerick. This is a race with a long history and is run in conjunction with the local festival. This was also a beautiful evening...almost too hot to run, a problem we usually don’t have in Ireland.

Back to Cork next one for the Kilworth 5mile road race. The temperatures also soared here and this two circuit course of Kilworth hill was very exposed with not a tree for shade in sight. With another race in Cork the night before, numbers were down a little on last year.

Staying in Cork, the Donoughmore 7 was next up. This was a very well established event with juvenile races and the like going on at the same time. This event has to be so well managed or it could be such a nightmare otherwise. The evening was roasting here also, the following day was the hottest day of the summer.

The last race in July was at the other side of the border in Limerick with the 7k in Kilteely, with a change of route from last year to a new venue. The committee thought they might lose a few with two unlicenced events on the same night so it was great to get the crowd that they did.

August was as busy as July with runs every Friday, the Kilmeedy festival 5 mile was next up. This was another well organised event, which didn’t get a great amount of runners but this is where local running clubs could perhaps attract a better field.

The Galtee runners GR8KM was the next run. Now these guys were very professional and all hands on deck all season long handing out fliers at every race. I was surprised this race didn’t break the 300 mark as it is an event on the rise.

Barely a week later we were back in Pallasgreen, Co.Limerick for a 10k. I thought this was a lovely course butI suppose when you run well on the night it is always a lovely course. The crowd was small enough here also, for such an easy place to find and so close to Limerick City!

The following Saturday night, the Galbally 5 mile race was run. This race in contrast to all the rest had torrential rain from the moment the run started. With the Gathering weekend on, mass in the Church, a Concert in the Community centre, and a race on there were people and cars everywhere, with the light fading and heavy rain as the evening darkened, we were happy with the numbers for a first running of the event.

The last run in the Limerick series in Emly was the 13k. This was a bold decision and even with the early start the light was fading fast but luckily with the aid of a great committee and pretty quite roads everything went off well. The numbers were small but this is a unique distance over a great course.

There were only two races left in Cork and Doneraile park was the venue for another 5k event with the Steeple 5k. It was a beautiful Saturday morning in Doneraile although the numbers were much smaller than the first race, the morning was lovely and the views, were fabulous.

The last run of the series was the Charleville International Half marathon on the Sunday morning with record numbers turning out to run the flattest half Marathon in Ireland. This was a fitting race to the end of the Series, so well organised and run on another beautiful sunny day.

This year’s series wasn’t perfect by any means. It is still a work in progress as road race series go and we will improve the series in 2014. The numbers in the Limerick side of the series were low, and this could be down to the fact that a lot of them were first time events. Another point to remember here is that some of these races were run as community events, and didn’t have clubs involved. I believe this could boost numbers, in the years ahead, clubs will need to get involved with existing races or promote new events. The length of the series I think is also an issue, rather than separate county series, maybe two series, one run in early summer on consecutive weeks, and another series a couple of weeks later with the same theme.

The emergence of unlicenced races is also playing havoc with our races, It is very hard to travel ten or fifteen miles to a race if a local community has an event on next door to you. We all want to support local, everyone wants to make the few euro. But for your own sake make sure the race is insured, as a runner AAI will not cover you if the race is not permitted. As a race organiser if your race is not insured,”YOU” the organiser are liable for any injuries.

The Ballyhoura series is well and truly over for 2013, I would like to thank everyone on behalf of Ballyhoura Active and myself, to everyone who took part in our series over the summer. It was a long series, from the 31st of May to the 22nd of September. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the clubs and community groups who ran races this year. It was a pleasure to work with you during the year, and I hope to be working with you in the new year. Also a big thank you to John Desmond for all his work over the year. His professionalism and for his very interesting blog which added that something special to the series. 

Tom Blackburn...Ballyhoura Series Co-Ordinator

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