Week ending Saturday 13th 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 last Wednesday evening. 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 two this week 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 two or your place and time will not be recorded.
European Race Walking Team Selections
Last Wednesday Athletics Ireland announced a team of six athletes to compete at the European Race Walking Team Championships in Poděbrady, Czech Republic, in two weeks. A full complement of four senior men have been selected in the 20k walk, with the experienced Brendan Boyce (Finn Valley) and David Kenny (Farranfore Maine Valley) joined by the up-and-coming Mullingar Harriers duo of Oisin Lane and Matthew Glennon. With three to score, this squad will have one eye on the team standings. Similarly, with two to score in the u/20 event, Jake O’Brien (Moy Valley) and Andrew Glennon will be looking to make an impact both individually and as a team. To put the event into perspective, this is the race walking equivalent of the European Cross Country Championships, so having two men on the senior team, both making their debuts in senior International competition, is a real milestone for Mullingar Harriers. Having Andrew on the u20 team is the icing on the cake! Having three of the team of six from one Club is amazing and is testament to the tremendous coaching work being done by Michael Lane.
Royal County 5k
Organised by Meath Local Sports Partnership, with the support of St Brigid`s AC among others, the Royal County 5k took place on the May Bank Holiday Monday (1st May) where 167 toed the line. Jacintha Reilly had a very strong run to finish fifteenth overall and sixth women in 20 minutes 03 seconds. Following in fast behind only a few places back was Stephen Naughton (20:40) winning his master category.
Road race roundup
Mullingar Harriers athletes were busy on the road race circuit last Sunday morning.
Race four of the Offaly race series, the Ferbane 5k was very well supported with just over 300 runners from Clubs throughout Offaly, in addition to many from neighbouring Counties taking to the start line in a very well organised event. After three races, the Mullingar women team was second non-Offaly Club, so were looking to build on that. Delighted to lead the Mullingar women team home was Linda Cunningham in 22 minutes 12 seconds, and with great support from Caroline Mullen (22:42) and Brigid McCabe (23:32), taking first place in her master category, the Mullingar women finished second non-Offaly Club team, consolidating their overall second place in the series. Also competing was Nicky McCabe and his time of 24:32 was good enough to take second prize in his master category, giving all the Mullingar athletes plenty to celebrate.
A long established race with a great 6k route on the outskirts of Navan Town, the annual Navan AC 6k attracted 327 entrants. This year, the race was part of the 50th Anniversary celebrations of Navan AC. As always, it was another great Meath race of high quality and having a quality run to finish in seventh place was Evan McCormack in 21 minutes 17 seconds, placing second in his master category. Following Evan in was Susan Glennon in 23:40, the sixth woman to finish, then Stephen Naughton (25:14) and Alex Sheridan (25:55) taking a prize for second junior man.
The Straffan 5k and 10k in Co. Kildare were fundraising races for Straffan Community Hall. The 5k race attracted just over 200 finishers, including Caitlin Murray who was very happy to finish in the top twenty women places in 25 minutes 26 seconds. Catherine Gavin opted to run in the longer 10k and finished well up overall in the field of nearly 100 runners, the seventh woman to finish and third in her master category, in 53 minutes 18 seconds.
Club’s youngest athletes to compete in Tullamore
The Midland Inter-County Juvenile T&F Match between Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath will take place in Tullamore on Friday week at 6pm. This is an ideal competition for our younger members to take part in and boys and girls from u/9 (born 2015) to u/14 (born 2010) can compete. This is a really a low key very friendly competition and a chance for everyone to try several events – sprint, middle distance, long jump, turbo javelin or shot. There is no pre-selection – just turn up and compete. This is an ideal competition for our younger athletes and newcomers and we expect to see all our younger Club members take part. Please wear your Club vest, or at least something maroon (not GAA), so everyone knows you’re from Westmeath. Finally, just like our own new all-weather track, only 5mm spikes or runners are allowed on the track in Tullamore.
Leinster T&F outdoor dates
Please take note of the Leinster T&F dates. The Children’s Games (u/9, u/10 and u/11 compete as a team of two athletes) and u/12 and u/13 individual T&F on 4th June and entries close 24th May; Combined Events on 10th June and entries close 31st May; sprint relays on 11th June and entries close 31st May; and finally the u/14 to u/19 T&F on 17th and 18th June and entries close 7th June. All entries are on-line and we’ll use the Heja groups to let parents know how to enter. Individuals enter themselves but the Club enters relay teams and the teams of two in the Children’s games. Parents of our younger u/9, 10 and 11 athletes need to let coaches know as soon as possible if their children are available and want to compete, and most importantly, who they want to compete with in the team of two.
For older members, the Leinster Junior, Senior and Masters T&F takes place on 27th and 28th May in SETU Carlow. All entries are on-line and these athletes enter themselves. Entries will open soon, so keep an eye out and don’t get caught by the final closing date next Wednesday, 17th May.
Check the Club’s website at www.mullingarharriers.com or its Facebook page for all the latest news.