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

Week ending Saturday 16th May


Happy birthday to George Bell

We don’t normally note member’s birthdays, but of course we’re not in normal times at the moment, so we’ll make an exception for one of the Club’s longest serving and faithful members. George Bell won’t mind everyone knowing he is the oldest member of Mullingar Harriers, and last Thursday he celebrated his 83rd birthday. Being one of the founder members, an honorary Life Vice-President and someone who has been at every event – athletic and social – organised by the Club since it was founded in 1975, we could not let the occasion pass by without marking it. Because of the current restrictions due to COVID-19, a birthday “drive by” was organised by members of the Club in association with our friends in the Midland Tri Club, Lakeside Wheelers and the “Kit-Kat” Club, with whom George also has strong links. Faithfully recorded by Tom Shaw for posterity and posted on Facebook for all to see, it is clear that those who took part in the cavalcade enjoyed doing it and there’s no doubt that George himself thoroughly enjoyed it too and was delighted to sit at the gate to his home on a beautiful sunny May evening and greet so many friends out to wish him a very happy birthday. When this awful pandemic is over, George is looking forward to celebrating his birthday in a more traditional manner! Everyone at Mullingar Harriers AC wishes George a very happy birthday.

On the athletics front, in a press release last Thursday from Hamish Adams (Athletics Ireland CEO) and Georgina Drumm (Athletics Ireland President), it was confirmed that all National events that were to be held in May, June and July have been postponed until after 1st August. Athletics Ireland is liaising with Sport Ireland and the relevant Government authorities to determine the specific implications for athletics clubs and athletes with regard to the guidelines on relaxing restrictions in a phased manner in the coming weeks and months. Athletics Ireland is actively considering new dates for competitions and events that are feasible to host after 1st August and will communicate these decisions to Clubs as soon as possible. Among the core principles informing how competitive athletics can return, are following all Government guidelines on any transition back to activity, with the aim of ensuring the continued safety and well-being of the athletics and wider community; ensuring all competition and events are safe and focus on the well-being of athletes; awareness that a lead-in training time is required for athletes in clubs before any competition can resume; the need for innovation around athletic competition and events if restrictions on social distancing remain; and producing guidelines to mitigate risk to enable competition within Government guidelines.

It is still very uncertain when or even if we will have any T&F competitions this year or when road races can be held again, but we continue to urge members to do their best to stay fit by training at home 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, 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?

Needless to say there is no Pat Finnerty Memorial 5k this year and during the week we had to take the regrettable but inevitable decision to cancel the Mullingar 10 mile road race that was scheduled for 25th July, and with no realistic possibility of finding an alternative date this year, it is cancelled until 2021. It seems to be all bad news on the competition front of late, but we have plenty of great memories to look back on from last year to remind ourselves of happier times.

Last year, we held the Pat Finnerty Memorial 5k from the club grounds and we had hometown victories in the men and women races thanks to Timmy Murphy (15:29) and Elizabeth Carr (17:31). Gowran AC hosted the Leinster Novice and Master Road Championships last year where Eddie Newman ran the Master Men 6,000m only a week after running a terrific 2 hours 49 minutes at the London Marathon, so he wasn’t entirely sure how his weary limbs would hold up. The 6,000m race was four laps of the 1,500m course, providing spectators with plenty of action to enjoy in the pleasant cool overcast conditions. As it turned out, Eddie needn’t have worried, settling quickly into his running and covering the distance without any problem to finish well up overall in 21:24 and comfortably winning his master category by nearly a minute.

The club grounds and clubhouse remain closed until we hear that we can relax controls and life can begin to get back to normal again. 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.