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

Week ending Saturday 25th Apr


A faint glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel

Is saying “the curve is flattening, we can start lifting restrictions now”, like a sky diver saying “the parachute has slowed my rate of descent, I can take it off now”? Anyone thinking that restrictions could be lifted quickly only has to think, having jumped from a plane at one thousand feet would you remove your parachute while still a hundred feet from the ground? Didn’t think so; that’s what we’re faced with when it comes to lifting restrictions. There’s still a bit to go yet. It’s all in the timing. However, despite the continuing tragic loss of life due to COVID-19, there’s a faint glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel and the discussion has moved to the next stage and how to start lifting restrictions. However, it has to be accepted that any changes will be very slow and steady, so we won’t be rushing back to training together and competing again any day soon. We’re not there yet but there is definitely reason to be hopeful that we might be over the worst.

In the meantime, we continue to encourage all our members to stay fit by training from or at home – it will help you keep in physical shape and also relieve any stress you might feel at being confined indoors for long periods of time and not seeing your friends or wider family. Don’t be getting overly concerned about having to cut back on training; research shows that you don’t loss fitness that much or too quickly just because you have to ease back in training for a while. Your general endurance levels will remain quite good and it’s really only top end speed that might suffer in the short term, but that’s also the quickest to recover. Your coach can advise how you can address that if you’re concerned; it might be as simple as doing a shorter faster interval-type session now and again. With no competition for the foreseeable, everyone should be in maintenance mode now and that will be enough to keep everything ticking over until we get as better picture on when we can compete again. There might be a temptation to sit back and do little or nothing now because resumption of competition seems so far away, but if you thought you could be competing again in August perhaps, would that change you’re thinking?

At least athletes can train alone, as long as it’s not too far from home at the moment and not for too long either. There is also plenty that can be done indoors or in gardens, so check the club and the Athletics Ireland website or Facebook pages for ideas on exercise routines, strength and conditioning exercises etc. When training outdoors, remember that you must keep within 2km of home, train alone (unless with other household members) and please remember to respect the social distancing guidelines and keep well apart from other walkers or runners you might meet on your run.

What were we doing around this time in previous years?

Around this time last year and in previous years, many of our underage athletes were looking forward to the start of the schools T&F season, others were thinking of the Leinster Relays, and some older members were tapering down for the London Marathon. Of course that’s all changed this year but while we don’t have any races to report on at the moment due to COVID-19, we have plenty of great memories to look back on from last year and earlier to remind ourselves of happier times.

In April 2018, in what many commentators deemed was the most competitive event for many years, Mullingar fielded a senior men’s team in the AAI Road Relays. Despite their relative youth, the Mullingar team of Andrew Nevin (two miles), Stephen Campbell (one mile), Padraig Moran (three miles) and Michael Moran (two miles) gave an excellent account and finished well up in the team placings against some really top class senior opposition.

Before the Great Ireland Run in April 2018 there were races for boys and girls where they had the chance to show their talents before the very large crowd that gathered for the 10k race. Mullingar athletes usually feature on the podium after the junior races and that year was no different thanks to Colin Smith who won the junior boys 12 to 15 years race.

Church Hill Running Club was a great supporter of the Mullingar 10 mile in its first two years, so a group from Mullingar headed to Kilkenny to return the favour in 2016 to run in the Church Hill 5k & 10k. Clare O’Donnell finished first senior woman in the 5k race and Tommy Conroy was happy with his race. Philip Burke, fifteenth overall, led the Mullingar group home in the 10k race, followed by Suzanne Scanlon, Richard Ferris, Linda O’Driscoll, Criona Reid (first in her master category), Eamonn O’Reilly and Lola Brogan.

For now, 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.

Finally, the Executive and members of the Club extend sincere sympathy to Michael O’Sullivan and family on the death last Monday of his sister-in-law Mary Maguire, RIP.