Week ending Saturday 1st August
Great Mullingar Run is a great success
After a long competitive drought stretching back 20 weeks to the National Masters Indoors in early March it’s terrific to be able to report this week on some live athletics competition involving Mullingar athletes on the road and on the track.
The Great Ireland Run has played host to the National 10k Road Championships for a number of years, but the 20th annual running of the event, along with every other road race scheduled over the last few months, was postponed due to Covid-19. In an effort to keep athletes active and motivated over the summer months, the organizers of the event arranged a “virtual” competition, where runners time themselves over 10k with a GPS device and submit proof of their times online.
To coincide with the virtual event, Mullingar Harriers organized a 10k for club members last Saturday morning, dubbed the “Great Mullingar Run”, and almost 40 seniors and masters took part. The race was held on the Royal Canal Blueway and the Old Rail Trail Greenway, under strict social distancing measures, and it included a 5k event in which over a dozen of the clubs juvenile members participated. Ross Killalea led the 5k runners home with Grace Byrne first of the girls.
The Great Ireland Run has always been well attended by Mullingar athletes and with our senior women winning the team competition last year, along with both our over 50 men and women master teams finishing on the podium, there was a big effort by Mullingar athletes to feature in the virtual version of the event this year. James Keegan was first over the line on Saturday morning in 35:16 followed just a few seconds later by Gerard Gavin in second and Maurice Looby third. The effort invested by Harriers was soon evident with a number of race finishers gasping for air while lying on the ground exhausted and a handful more recording personal best times for 10k.
Liz Carr, who last year led our women home to the team title, was the quickest of the women on Saturday in 38:18 followed closely by Áine O’Reilly in second and Amy Mahony third. But racing at the Dublin Graded Meeting in Santry on Wednesday evening it was Claire Fagan who recorded the most impressive time for a Mullingar athlete over 10,000m when she crossed the finish line in just 34:46.8. Joan Flynn was unable to run on Saturday but that didn’t deter her from recording the second fastest time of our women members, clocking a solo 38:08 ensuring that before our own Great Mullingar Run the women team was in contention for the win.
The cut-off to submit times for the Great Ireland Run was midnight Sunday and as we went to press awaiting the official results, the Mullingar Harriers women team may once again have been victorious, as they currently lead the standings. Not only is the women team leading but Claire Fagan leads the overall women entries. The Mullingar men, a team consisting entirely of master athletes Gerry Gavin, Maurice Looby, Tom McGrath and Alan Crowley, are in second position. These are fantastic results from the club for a competition that was open to all athletics clubs in the country.
After the race, runners and volunteers had the chance to share war stories and catch up over a cuppa at an outdoor socially distanced social morning back at the club grounds. With drinks provided by Bell Lane Coffee and more than enough treats to refuel after the race, the post event catch-up completed the structure of a typical road race, helping to fill a large void in the athletics calendar caused by the cancellation of so many races.
Big personal bests for Claire Fagan and Colin Smith
Normally taking place on eight evenings over the summer, but reduced to three this year, the first outdoor T&F fixture of the 2020 season, the Dublin Graded T&F Meeting, was held in Santry last Wednesday evening.
In the women’s 10,000m, Claire Fagan put in a great effort to finish a close second in a magnificent 34:46.8, a massive personal best by 1 minute 15 seconds, and as a measure of the quality of that time, it would have placed her just outside the top ten in last year’s European u/23 T&F Championships in Sweden, where Claire competed. In the men’s 10,000m Patrick Muldoon was very satisfied with his time of 37:22.8 to finish well up in his master category.
There were five races in the men’s 1,500m and in the first race the two Colin Smith from Mullingar competed; two athletes with the same name from the same Club, truly a race commentator’s nightmare! The older Colin finished strongly in sixth place in 3:57.5, and the younger Colin ninth in 4:04.2, which is a big improvement of ten seconds on his personal best for the distance. Some confusion on timetable start times meant that the athletes in the second race hadn’t as much time to warm up as they thought they had or would have liked. Brian Martin was the best of the Mullingar trio in second place in 4:12.0, Andrew Daly seventh in 4:19.4, just ahead of Lorcan Mullen eighth in 4:19.6. These times don’t do them justice but reflect the effects of a reduced warm up, but they were still happy to finally get a race on the track this season.
Well done to Dublin Athletics for organising the event under the restrictions of the current Covid-19 protocols, not least being numbers in the stadium limited to 200 people, which presented significant challenges in ensuring everyone vacated the stadium as soon as possible after their event to allow others to enter for their events.
Shauna Leydon competes in Tipperary
Moyne, near Thurles, Co. Tipperary was the venue for the Moyne AC Summer Games last Saturday afternoon where Shauna Leydon competed in the 100m. Running in the first of three races with the winner decided on times, Shauna ran well on her first outing of the season but finished out of the prizes on this occasion. Credit to Moyne AC for live streaming the event on their Facebook page, as the limit of 200 in the grounds at any time meant spectators and coaches weren’t allowed in, but they could follow the action from outside. These are the innovative initiatives that these Covid-19 times are throwing up and it was great to see technology being used to such good effect.
Leinster T&F Fixtures
Athletics Leinster met last week and decided as a consequence of the Government decision not to move into Phase 4 of the Reopening Roadmap that the Leinster Juvenile u/17 to u/19 T&F scheduled for 1st August has been cancelled and the Leinster Junior, Senior & Masters T&F scheduled for 8th and 9th August has been postponed to the following weekend. The postponement is on the assumption that Phase 4 goes ahead as planned on 10th August and entries won’t open until Phase 4 is confirmed. If it isn’t, then this competition will also have to be cancelled. Unfortunately these decisions have had to be taken as it isn’t realistic to comply with the 200 limit on outdoor gatherings, with ground staff, officials, athletes warming up, competing and cooling down, not to mention coaches, parents and spectators all part of the 200 number.
Finally, the Executive and members of the Club extend sincere sympathy to Shane Canning and the Canning family on the death last month of his grandfather, Joe Canning, RIP.
For the latest news, results and details of upcoming fixtures check the Club’s Facebook page of the website at www.mullingarharriers.com.