A: Grange, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, Ireland | E: info@mullingarharriers.com

Can the club reopen soon for training? (17th May)



The long-awaited phase 1 of the Government’s roadmap to opening up society and the economy starts on Monday 18th May. In accordance with specific Government guidelines, Sports Ireland has given Athletics Ireland permission to allow all athletics clubs to return to limited activity from 18th May. For any club to reopen and resume training at their grounds, they must first carry out risk assessments, prepare a plan to resume operations, develop protocols and then strictly adhere to the guidelines. The club committee is currently studying the guidelines carefully and hopes to make a decision soon on whether or not it is possible for the club to meet all the requirements and reopen the club grounds for training.

However, before everyone gets too excited about the prospect of returning to training at the club soon, it should be noted that only the grounds (tracks) can be used and the clubhouse (and gym and toilets) must remain closed, you must live within 5km of the club, be no younger than 13 years of age (or older than 70), only groups of four are allowed – that’s one coach and three athletes, and 2m social distancing must be adhered to at all times, including when actually running in the little group of three athletes. Looking at the current paid up registered membership, two thirds of our members live beyond 5km, one in five is under 13 years of age, eleven are over 70 years of age, and altogether less than ninety members out of the entire membership lives near enough and is the right age to use the club grounds in phase 1. A further limitation is that a club coach must be present and only three of our coaches live within 5km, so apart from very few members being eligible to train at the club, we have very few coaches to take the sessions, so the numbers at any training session will be extremely small, perhaps as low as ten? A lot of work is needed in advance to make sure we can meet the guidelines in full. Is it worth the effort for so few? Looking ahead to the next phase of the roadmap on 8th June, when travel distance is extended to 20km and “small group team training” is allowed, perhaps it would be more practical and useful to wait until then before we return to training at the club grounds? We’ll await the decision of the club committee and will advise members through social media and the club website in due course.

We continue to urge members to do their best to stay fit by training at home in the meantime to keep in physical shape. When training outdoors, please remember to train alone (unless with others from your household) and follow the guidelines on travel, cough etiquette, social distance and keeping well apart from other walkers or runners you might meet on your run.

What were we doing this time last year?

Last year in Lithuania, at just 16 years of age, Oisin Lane was one of the youngest competitors in the u/20 men 10k race walk at the European Race Walking Cup. Oisin was eligible to compete as a junior for another two years, so it was really always about gaining valuable experience of competing at this level. However, clearly not overawed by the occasion, he turned in a great performance to finish in a new personal best time of 45:17. This should have been a stepping stone to this year’s World Race Walking Team Championships in Minsk (Belarus) earlier this month, but of course that fixture was a casualty of Covid-19, so he has next year’s European event to look forward to.

On home soil, a number of the Club’s underage athletes were in great form at the Leinster and the Connacht Schools T&F Finals and twelve of them qualified for the All-Ireland Finals. The qualifiers were Shannon Liston, Phoebe Bate and Jennifer Fidgeon (Loreto Mullingar), Ross Killalea (Colaiste Mhuire), Andrew Glennon, Matthew Glennon, Charles Okafor and Aimee Wallace (St. Finian’s College), Oisin Lane, Jayne Walsh Smith and Aisling Lane (Mercy Ballymahon) and Bea Drummond (Athlone CC).

Over 50 of the Club’s youngest athletes aged 8 to 13 years of age competed at the annual Inter-County T&F Match between Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath in Tullamore Harriers Stadium. Always an extremely popular event, our young athletes certainly enjoyed it and lots of them visited the medal podium regularly throughout the evening, including Morgan Corcoran, Emma Higgins, Katie Kilmurray, Orla Manning, Tianna O’Leary, Alicia Ripley, Josh Scahill, Shane Canning, Cian Corcoran, Conor Corcoran, Darren Corcoran, Callum Costello, Kyle Faherty, James Flynn, Cillian Galvin, Luke Greene, Conor Liston, Oliver Lynch, Matthew Molloy, Luke O’Leary, Will Scahill, Conor Sherwin and Jamie Wallace, all contributing to Mullingar’s impressive medal haul of 32 medals.

The club grounds and clubhouse continue to remain closed for now. Our website www.mullingarharriers.com and Facebook page will have updates. We need to continue to do what is asked of all us all to keep our communities safe, so stay home and stay safe.