Fields of Athenry 10k 2006

The fifth running of the Fields of Athenry 10k Road Race went ahead on Tuesday last in almost perfect weather conditions. It had become clear quite early on St.Stephen’s morning that there would be an increased entry for this year’s race as carloads of walkers runners and supporters made their way to the Presentation College to pick up race numbers. Spirits were high all around the town as crowds mingled at registration and then moved towards the starting line at eleven o’clock.

With a revised race start and finish lines this year the race had a different feel to it. Instead of heading into town as in previous races, runners and walkers immediately headed out to the countryside surrounding Athenry and the race was on. Gary Thornton of GCH had returned from London to defend his race title of last year and he certainly lost no time this year in demonstrating his winning intent. Gary ran aggressively from the start and separated himself from the rest of the men’s field in very short order. Local clubman Paul McNamara found it impossible to live with the blistering early pace and was never in a position to mount a serious challenge for the race win. Mike O’Connor, another established GCH star, ran exceptionally well to eventually finish in third spot given that he’s currently deep into a marathon training programme. Paul McNamara and Gary Thornton have dominated this race between them and they now have two race wins apiece since the inception of the race in 2002.

Lucy Brennan races sparingly these days and it was with great satisfaction that we accepted her entry to this years event. Lucy has won the women’s division in Athenry for the last two years and we all wondered if she’d make it three in a row. As it turned out the Sligo woman almost didn’t make it into the race at all despite being in Athenry on the morning. Unfortunately Lucy misjudged her arrival at the starting line just a little and she had only a handful of seconds to spare when she did eventually line up to defend her title. True to form the Sligo AC stalwart she ran a strong race to gradually pull clear of her rivals and in the end came home with a clear margin of victory over Regina Casey and Michelle Lynch who both ran in GCH colours. Lucy’s time of 37:03 was a twenty-seven second improvement over last year and she just seems to get faster and faster.

It was also gratifying to see so many walkers taking part in the event and it certainly was a great day to stretch your legs along the country roads around Athenry. The race welcomed back many friends from previous years and it seems that we have more and more walkers taking part every year.

The organisational changes we made this year seem to have worked to improve the race for all. The registration and number collection in the Presentation College provided us with more space for administration, improved changing facilities for runners and many more car-parking spaces than before. The reconfigured course, and in particular the new finishing line under the North Arch, was complimented by many and it is obviously fast as Gary Thornton’s winning time of 30:12 indicates.

All in all, the day seems to have been a great success. The organisational committee want once more to thank the people who visited us on St.Stephen’s day to take part and we certainly hope that you’ll be back again next year for another tour around our 10K course.

If there’s anything that you think we could improve upon in terms of organisation please let us know by email and we’ll do our best to build your suggestions for improvement into future races.

Thanks again and see you all next year.

The members of Athenry AC.

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