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

Week ending Saturday 13th June


Close finishes in the Social Distance League

Round 3 last Saturday concluded a successful Social Distance League where club members timed themselves for a 5k or 10k distance over three weekends. Results were submitted each week and a league table was produced based on graded times. Maurice Looby took a clean sweep in the 5k competition with three impressive solo runs. Evan McCormack was second fastest man in the previous rounds but a stellar run by Liam McGlynn saw his graded time just pip Evan at the post for second in round 3. Pauric Brady was back on form and pushed hard to ensure he was in contention for a place on the league podium.

Race leader in the 5k league, Brigid McCabe, took on the 10k distance this week giving her competitors a chance to make up some much needed scores. Sinéad Whitelaw took advantage of the opportunity with her fastest run of the league but missed out ever so slightly on claiming the position of first woman, falling victim to Áine O’Reilly’s graded time. Michelle O’Halloran ran her race of the season so far jumping up the table to finish third woman, ensuring the final results were far from being decided.

It was no surprise that Maurice Looby was declared winner of the 5k league after he set the standard in round 1, but few would be familiar enough with the grading process to realize the competition was wide open. The fact that Brigid McCabe finished second overall shows just how talented she is and what great form she is showing. After a scare in round 3 for Evan McCormack, he held on to second place on the men’s podium with Liam McGlynn, an athlete who shows he can switch to competition mode when necessary, third man.

Áine O’Reilly had to watch Brigid McCabe claim the 5k title in the women’s race but held on to secure second spot in a closely run event. Sinéad Whitelaw’s return to form helped her leap ahead of Patricia Broderick and Michelle O’Halloran to take bronze in the 5k league.

Tom McGrath and Eddie Newman traded places in the 10k with Eddie the victor in round 3, just ahead of Tom. Alan Crowley continued to improve and another personal best for the distance saw him home as third man last Saturday. But it was the ever impressive Brigid McCabe who really mixed up the scoring for the 10k competition with a run that put her among the race leaders, taking valuable points from the chasing pack. Behind her Mary Stuart and Terri Greene continued to challenge for the top woman spot. Both women recorded their best performances of the competition but Mary came out on top this week. After sampling the 5k distance last week, Criona Reid was back running 10k and ensured a very impressive Amy Mahony wouldn’t have it all her own way in claiming a podium finish.

Taking turns at the top of the table meant Tom McGrath and Eddie Newman shared the spoils as victors for the 10k competition. Amazingly three athletes, Alan Crowley, James Cribbin and Stephen Naughton had equal scores after three rounds and they finished in joint second. James Keegan, who has won many of the recent club leagues fell victim to grading this time around but still managed to get on the podium in third place. There was no social distancing for our lead women where Mary Stuart and Terri Greene both accumulated the same score to be declared league winners. Amy Mahony’s streak of personal bests leaped her ahead of Criona Reid and after a closely fought league the two women finished second and third.

The Social Distance League has proved to be of great benefit to club members in a time when no public races are currently scheduled. Fifty Harriers took part over three weeks and donated almost €700, which will be returned to the local economy in the form of vouchers for many businesses closed due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

The beginning of a return to general training at the Club

Like all athletics clubs, we were delighted with the news announced by Government last Friday that increased the size of outdoor training groups from four to fifteen and extended the distance we can travel to train from 5k to 20k. From this week, everyone in the club can potentially return to training. We say potentially, because there are still age restrictions of no younger than 13 and no older than 70, and the limit of group size to 15 (one coach and 14 athletes) and even a limit on the number of groups at the club at the same time, means we can’t have hundreds training at the club at the same time like we were used to before Covid-19. Recent trial sessions with groups of 4 worked well and this week we’re going to try sessions with a few groups of 15 and see how it works. It’s going to be challenging getting everyone eligible back to training at the club and we’re going to have to do things differently for some time, so we’re asking everyone to remain patient for now.

Part of the Athletics Ireland protocols we must follow is robust contact tracing. This means everyone that is going to train at the club must pre-register for each session and their attendance recorded when they arrive. The link to pre-register is e-mailed to members, so it’s vital that we have the correct e-mail address. If the club coaches don’t have your mobile number and e-mail, they won’t be able to contact you and invite you to sessions. The response to the request to update contact details remains patchy, a little over one third have submitted their up to date details, so we’ll repeat it. All club members, or their parents or guardians, need to send an e-mail to info@mullingarharriers.com, using “contact” as the subject, with phone number, e-mail address and home address (with Eircode, if known). This request applies to everyone in the club. When reviewing the responses so far, of interest is that quite a few e-mail addresses are different to what the club had on record. How can we e-mail you the link to pre-register for training if we don’t have your correct e-mail address? Without confirming these contact details, you will not be allowed to attend training sessions at the club grounds. In fact, you won’t even be contacted and invited in the first place, so it’s up to you.

What were we doing this time last year?

We should have had the younger Leinster Juvenile (u/9 to u/13) T&F last week and be looking forward to the older Leinster Juvenile (u/14 to u/19) T&F this week-end, but of course everything is either postponed or cancelled this year.

Around this time last year, Claire Fagan competed as a guest in the Galway Senior T&F Championships and comfortably won the 10,000m in 36:01.98, which was inside the “A” qualification standard of 36:05 for the European u/23 T&F Championships in Gävle, Sweden in July. It was great to achieve the standard so early in the season and she could focus on her preparations to be in the best possible shape for her first Major Championship.

Seventeen of Mullingar’s younger athletes were in great form at last year’s Leinster Pairs and u/12 and u/13 T&F where Matthew Molloy (600m u/12), Conor Liston (600m u/13) and Kyle Faherty (90m u/13) were crowned Leinster Champions and Jamie Wallace (600m u/13) won a bronze medal. Competition was fierce in every event. Cian Corcoran reached the final of the 600m u/12, Katie Kilmurray (60m u/12) and Eoin Donohue (60m u/12) made their semi-finals, and also competing with great spirit were Blaise Drummond and Cathal Donohue (60m and 300m u/9), Darren Corcoran and Aaron Wallace (60m and 500m u/10), Niall Brady and Luke Greene (600m u/12), Arthur Drummond (60m and 600m u/12), Muireann Donohue and Orla Manning (80m and 600m u/13), Alex Lynch (600m u/13). It was great to see all the Mullingar athletes competing with great energy and enthusiasm over what was a very long day for some of them.

Last June, David Fagan took on the challenge of the Wicklow Way Ultra Marathon Trail Race, a 127km run starting in Clonegal, Co. Carlow on a Friday evening and finishing in Marlay Park, Dublin on the Saturday afternoon. The route had 3,000m of climbs and the event difficulty was categorised at 10 (“extreme”). It might have worried some that one of the Aid Stations along the route was called “The Dying Cow” but we can only assume that as a Veterinary Surgeon, it didn’t faze David! There were no stewards along the route, so he had to be self-sufficient and among the required equipment he had to bring with him was waterproof jacket and trousers, mobile phone, head light and spare batteries, reflective upper outer layer, map of route and compass, food and drink, whistle, gloves and hat, a foil blanket and a tracker. Bad enough running 127km but lugging that load along with him must have been torture. David finished in 17 hours 51 minutes, to place eighteenth out of 100 starters, though only 53 finished, proving his incredible mental toughness and physical endurance.