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

Pat Finnerty Memorial 5k League 2023 – Round 1 (3rd May)


Pat Finnerty Memorial 5k makes a welcome return

The last time we held the Pat Finnerty Memorial 5k was as a single race in 2019 and 2018 and we have to go back six years to 2017 for the last edition of the Pat Finnerty Memorial 5k League, but after a six year absence, the League made a very welcome return to Belvedere on Wednesday evening 3rd May. Pre-race online entries were boosted significantly with new registrations on the night, and no doubt many were attracted by the lovely mild dry calm evening, ideal for a 5k through the beautiful woodland trails in Belvedere. Using a new course, keeping entirely off-road through the woods, the runners were taken on some familiar paths but also some new very interesting paths, showing Belvedere off at its very best.

The event was well supported by our own members and it was great to welcome many newcomers, and of course to welcome back many familiar faces from previous years, including Martin Buckley of Tyrrellspass Castle whom we believe has taken part in every League since they started decades ago. Numbers were a little down on the opening night of previous years but we still had a good competitive field and we know from experience that numbers will grow in the coming two weeks. Thanks to the chip timing system the results were posted shortly after the race on the My Run Results website. We know not everyone can enter for the full series, but if you can only run one or two nights, online entries are open again and of course we’ll also accept individual entries on any night. All proceeds will go to the North Westmeath Hospice, so we’re asking everyone to sign up and support this very worthy cause. There is an option to donate to the Hospice when submitting your entry and we’ll also take donations on the night for anyone that wants to give more.

Just after 8pm, the in-form Vinny Connolly (Mullingar Harriers) went off fast from the start, with only James Keegan (Mullingar Harriers) for company and the rest of the field followed. Vinny never let up the pressure and by mid-way he was out on his own, though James still continued to chase him and by now had opened a big gap on the field that ultimately proved impossible to close. Vinny romped home in 15 minutes 37 seconds, with James second in 16:41 and Conor Leech (Na Fianna AC) third in 17 minutes exactly. The first woman to finish was Fiona Gettings (Longford AC) in 17 minutes 57 seconds, and in a terrific battle behind, Sinead Whitelaw (Mullingar Harriers) put in a big surge over the final kilometre to close down and pip Emily Grennan (Tullamore Harriers AC) right on the line to finish second to Emily’s third, though both were credited with 18:22.

First three men and women aside, there was great competition right through the field in the various master categories too. Full results of the race are available on www.myrunresults.com. With the best two of three races to count, there’s still time to enter the League, either online or on the night in the Courtyard Café.

Round 2 on 10th May should see another good entry and we’re appealing for participants to come early, especially those who will be registering for the first time and those looking to run just the single race. Many thanks to everyone who gave up their free time and helped out on the first night taking entries, organizing car parking, helping as stewards on the course etc, and we appeal to everyone who can spare a couple of hours to help out again this week. Thanks also to the staff of Belvedere House and of course to Westmeath Civil Defence for their invaluable input providing first aid and ambulance cover.

Finally, it’s really important to remember to bring your number with the timing chip for Round 2 or your place and time will not be recorded.