Fields of Athenry 10k 2005

With the dust settling on another good day out in Athenry we thought it would be a good idea to jot down a few memories from this year’s race while they were still fresh in our minds. To begin with, we couldn’t have asked for better weather. A cold, dark and almost windless day greeted Athenry members at 7:30am when the race signage started to go up. St.Mary’s GAA Clubhouse looked eerily quiet at that early stage to those who knew it would be ‘abuzz’ with activity only a few short hours later. Almost two hundred entries had been received before race day and so it looked like the roads around Athenry would be busy later on.

As the runners gathered and race time approached it became clear that there was going to be some very competitive racing ahead. Many local runners and a good number of walkers were prepared to take on the challenge of six miles around the ‘Fields’ of Athenry. It was hugely gratifying from the host club’s point of view to see so many people turn out on the day and our thanks goes to everyone who took part in the event.

When the starter’s pistol rang out GCH’s Gary Thornton went straight to the front of the men’s race and it was a lead he would never relinquish. Gary has had a fine year in athletic terms. Most notably, in recent months, Gary came home first at the famous Hollymount 10k Road Race and then, only last month, he finished a highly commendable ninth at the Senior Inter County Cross Country Championships in Sligo. Gary’s winning time of 30:34 on a cold winter’s day was a superb effort and was a full fifty seconds faster than the time he recorded over the same course last year.

Hot on Gary’s heels was local clubman Paul McNamara. Despite a dose of the ‘flu Paul fought bravely to defend the title he had won in both 2002 and 2004. Even though he ran eighteen seconds faster than his 2004 timing Paul came up just one place short this time around. In the circumstances Paul had to be happy with the run although Gary will retain bragging rights for another twelve months at least. It’s worth noting that both runners broke the pre-existing course record by a considerable margin. Completing the men’s top three on the day, Michael O’Connor, also of GCH, ran a quality race finishing as he did in 31:45. An indication of the quality of the men’s race was that the first eleven runners home dipped under the 35:00 mark.

In the women’s race Lucy Brennan from Sligo AC returned once again to defend the title she won last year. By her own very high standards Lucy didn’t run as strongly as she has done previously over this course but she was still far too strong for Loughrea’s Fionnuala Keane. The first and second women past the post finished in times of 37:30 and 39:38. Fionnuala had only just come out the better of a battle with Mayo AC stalwart Josephine Gardiner who was only fifteen seconds in arrears at the close. In common with many other runners on the day, Josephine took advantage of the relatively kind weather to record a time well below her 2004 timing at the same event.

The leading junior runners on the day were Seamus Gilhooley from Athenry and Nichola O’Ceallaigh of GCH, and our congratulations go out to both young runners on their fine races.

There’s so much else that could be said about the day, and this race is about so much more than racing and finishing times, but we wanted to keep this little report fairly short. Perhaps you’ll get a better impression of the day by browsing through the photos in the gallery.

Hopefully we’ll all be around in twelve month’s time to do it all over again.

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