2015 saw the 10th running of the Galway 5k Series. The 5k distance is the perfect mix of speed and endurance and is accessible to all. It both challenges and rewards in equal measure. This year saw club members topping the podium, a number of personal bests and with some completing the series for the first time marking a great achievement for all. To mark the 10th year six members of Craughwell AC were asked to contribute a race report on one of the legs. I hope you enjoy it…
Some of the Craughwell AC members who took part in this years series.
I would like to thank Sharon Conroy and Maree AC aswell as John O'Connor for the use of their photographs for this report. Sharons photos can be found at the Maree Athletics Club Facebook page and Johns at 77edenhill on flickr.
Race One: Athenry Tuesday 28th April
It was cold, wet and windy not what you expect for an evening at the end of April. Still over 700 hardy souls turned up on the night and ran! Living in Athenry I would usually run to the start line as a warm up, but when my fellow club mate Rena Deely called to say she would pick me up I was quick to accept her kind offer. As we drove through the town there was some very brave runners warming up. I chose to wait in the car as long as I could, and would not have needed much persuasion to sit this one out! At 7.50 I pulled myself together made some attempt at a warm up with Noel Gorman another Craughwell AC man and a regular face at the 5k series.
The start was tighter than other years but I had positioned myself well so that I could get away easily with the hope of not getting boxed in on the first hill going out the Tuam road. This is a course I am very familiar with. I use these lit pathways all through the winter to clock up miles on cold dark evenings. Quick kilometre out the Tuam road, left turn down the new bypass, let again back towards the town with a right before the level crossing, another right up past the Raheen Woods, right again onto the bypass, and a quick right for home. This is a fast course for some…
This year I had a goal and a plan. After four years running the series, it was about time for me. Having broken 22 minutes for the first time in Tuam in 2014, and only recently managing to repeat this in Loughrea at the beginning of April the aim was to hit 21.30ish by the end of the series. I only had four races to do it in as I already knew I was going to be out for two.
All I wanted from Athenry was to dip under the 22. With this in mind I kept the pace steady. Over the hill and past the first Km marker. Lots of support out on the course for the club. I could hear the names of fellow club members being called ahead and after my own. Always gives a lift when you hear your or the Clubs name being called.
Top of the hill and onto the straight. Breathing ok, legs feel grand, left turn onto the new bypass, preferring to run on the road path looks very crowded. Having a look around to see if I recognise any of the people around me from other years. Few familiar faces so happy enough, seem to be on track. Another left turn heading back in towards Atheny town, another small hill here, up and over.
Quick look at the watch 3k done, over half way there and beginning to pass a few people now. Trying to decide if this was a good thing or if I am pushing too hard and will pay for it later. Pass the Health Centre, and remind myself of the importance of cooling down after the race and stretching (wonder whose voice I could hear in my head). Hit the corner and turn right up past the Raheen Woods. Still comfortable, not straining yet. Mentally telling myself that once I hit the 4k marker then it’s all out. Quick little downhill after the hotel and it’s a sharp right turn onto the bypass again. Just over a ¼ of a mile to go, one lap of the track… This time last year I was telling myself to slow down as I had an exam the following morning. That thought spurred me on. No such excuse this year (thank God). Trying to keep my breathing under control. I was beginning to hurt as we turned the last corner for home, took another quick look at the watch. I think I’m going to make it, although my ability to do maths and run at the same time has proved very unreliable in the past. Not this time. Crossed the line with the time on the clock at 21:59, chip time 21:52. Delighted. Now all I had to do was knock 22 seconds off that…
With nearly 40 club members taking part there were some great performances and one or two PB’s on the night.
Race Two: Loughrea Tuesday 5th May
It was exciting to be heading off to Race 2. Getting back into the discipline of being organised for Tuesday nights, having running gear ready and arranging the carpooling were all additional tasks to add to the To-Do list of a busy summers evening after a day’s work. But you get home, heat, and eat, the dinner you have already prepared; sort out the kids for evening, and next thing you are in your running gear and can’t wait to be out on the road.
Race 2 in Loughrea, always a tough one, slow hill at start, remember the huge puddles to negotiate last year and that killer of an uphill Km before the lovely run into finish line. However on the way to Loughrea, the running buddies have heard that the route is changed!! Apparently we have a loop or 2 of the town… Fantastic news, no hills this should be fun. Not planning on breaking any PBs this year as the training isn’t in legs, no speed work or anything done this spring. Sorry coaches not your fault just didn’t get to training.
Great start, got parking looking out at lake. Walking down to race start the buzz on street was infectious. Great seeing all the familiar faces, the club colours, the warmed up elites, 10 mins to start so fabulous to have the hall and loos so handy. Got advice on new route and actually looking forward to new challenge now…
No watch anymore so was just going to run comfortable… Gun went, huge crowd on Wide Street looked amazing. Running to end of street past church wondered how we'd fit around tight corners but we did…
Loved running through streets in sunshine, the supporters clapping us on, and the odd passer by walking their dog, gazing at us strangely. Got through the first loop around and was feeling good. As we turned into Main Street for second time a big black cloud appeared and suddenly there was a really heavy rain shower beating down on us. Huge Rain drops on our faces with the sunshine disappearing. Holy god I was beginning to wish it was only the hill we were facing, panicking wondering what the wind would be like as we left the narrow streets. Got up past school which used to be finish and I’m going @&/€, if it was the old route we’d be finished now!!!
Loved running by lake, even in the rain, kept reminding myself to breathe and breath, felt I was running a bit faster and getting into a rhythm but now where was this finish line... Didn’t feel we had walked that far from car.... Finally there it was the finish line... Crossed it... 25:16, feels faster than last week… Had to keep walking and walking, my heartrate and breathing were still high… Made it to water station.. So glad to have it over ... Thrilled faster than last week... Running Buddies crossed and we were thrilled with ourselves. Super to have 2 done... LOVE the discipline and the routine. Will definitely put in effort for next time... Love running...
Chip time confirmed 25:04 1 minute 22 seconds faster than last week.. Objective for next race set. A Under 25. Can’t wait till 3 - ah no I’m marshalling no worries there’s also weeks 4 5 and 6.. Don’t you just love 5k series..
Race Three: Craughwell Tuesday May 12th
The third leg of the series took place in Craughwell on the 12th of May on a fine summers evening. Seven hundred participants took part, many from Craughwell, hoping to record good times on home turf. While the first two kilometres favour the runners with a nice downhill run, the final 3 kilometres pose more of a challenge with a few tough hills to encounter along the way.
Having run this route many times in training sessions, and hoping to achieve a good time, my aim was to make up time on the first two kilometres downhill run through the village and then push on for the final few kilometres which, undoubtedly, are much tougher.
There were many sterling performances by Craughwell AC members on the evening. Damien Larkin finished strong in second place under 17 minutes. Tom Prendergast was second home for Craughwell in 17.25 minutes. Johnny Lane was third home from Craughwell. Mike O Mahony and Mike Walsh finished on the 19 minute mark.
The Craughwell ladies were not to be outdone. Shauna Bocquet finished in a time of 19.31 while Fiona Kelly and Helen Hallinan recorded PB’s on the evening, finishing well under 25 minutes
But surely some of the most inspiring running came from some of newer members who started fit for life earlier this year. Many completed the challenging route and were greatly supported by the home crowd. They have come such a long way in the space of a few months.
As for me, I finished in a clock time of 19.28, it was a PB that I was hoping for. It was tough but very rewarding. Having started running with Fit for Life in 2012, with a minute on and a minute off, I’ve come a long way. I have to thank Val for her persistence and encouragement when I started out over 3 years ago. Little did I think then, that I would be able to complete a 5k, let alone a marathon.
Like many, I will look forward to 2016 which will be the 11th year of the 5k series. Hopefully, there will be a good presence from Craughwell AC.
Race Four: Claregalway Tuesday May 19th
This was my fourth year to run in the series and I quite enjoy the pace and social aspects of the series, I like it’s no nonsense turn up , run and go home attitude.
The Claregalway race evening was the Fourth race in the series held on the 19th May , I had ran the first two of the series in Athenry and Loughrea and helped marshal at the third at our own club event. My times were 22:51 in Athenry and 21:48 in Loughrea, so I made a huge improvement between the two and I was hoping to match the Loughrea time in my next race.
I was looking forward to Claregalway after my week’s break from it. I was managing to get in a few runs in the week so I was happy with my training. The series so far to this race had seen Plenty of Craughwell AC athletes up in the top few home and with many getting well under the elusive 20 min barrier.
The weather was good for running with the rain showers holding off, It was the eve of my 10 year wedding anniversary so I was optimistic thinking the famous first km hill at the start of this race surely couldn’t be as difficult as ten years of marriage ( joking of course ). The route is a loop starting from inside the Claregalway corporate park turning left onto N18 and left again at Lydican road. Lydican road then has two sharp lefts looping it back onto lakeview and onto N18 again with the finish to the entrance to the corporate park.
I arrived earlier to all races this year to get in more warm up Kilometres before the race , trying to get in at least 2.5 – 3km warm ups but this evening I arrived a little later than usual and dropped the car as soon as i saw the cars parked by the roadside on the approach. I met Johnny Lane who had just arrived also , we ran to the business park to the start of the race, with his stride slightly longer than my own this warm up was at good pace and probably served me well for the race start. I noticed a sign stating the Galway City Harriers race was to be held the following week in the Galway Airport which verified the rumour I had heard after the Craughwell race.
Big crowds again swarmed the business park, some warming up, some looking for a loo and the rest chatting away. We made our way to the congregated start of the race for the usual race formalities. I mingled into my position back behind the elite and had the usual small talk to familiar runners in the huddled quarters waiting patiently for the Garmin to locate the satellite. Our ultra-inspiring Club member Shauna Bocquet heading out first (22mins22seconds finish time), and the main race commenced shortly afterwards.
The start was manic as usual with the gateway and piers providing their usual obstacle on exit of estate but once you turned onto the road the congestion eased , I have tended in previous races here to keep to the outside almost playing with the approaching traffic as I wanted to attack the first hill as best I could. This plan was interrupted as our race was violated by noisy sirens and motorcycle escorts passing at speed against the flow of the race with presumably had the royal visitors to Galway and the other dignitaries heading to Sligo. Strangely it mentally gave me a break from the hill as I had a silent rant above the irrelevance of the monarchy but it did keep the race tightly packed up the hill. I checked my watch at first Km marker and I was around 4m 15secs which I was happy with, I pushed on the next km as I knew I had another hill to hit mid-way on the race route and managed it similarly in around 4m 15secs. I noticed another club member Steve Carty just 50 yards in front of me and thought I may be going way too hard as he should have been a little further in front of me at that stage. In all these 5km races in the series you tend to see the same few competitors running at your similar pace and they become your targets or you remember them passing you on the last few yards of the previous race and you want to return the compliment to them in this race. This race route is my favourite as it seems to have all the components a race should have, uphill, downhill, flat section, a few turns, a sneaky hill and a fast finish.
As I’m running hard I try distract myself away from the gentle pain for a few moments, and at about 2km into the race on Lydican road you turn the 90 degree corner, you can glance back into the field on your right hand side and there is a beautiful larch clad contemporary home which was recently built which I stole a few moments admiring it.
I was keeping my position on my third kilometre with just a handful of runners passing me which was building my confidence and I hit the 3k marker at 4m 20secs. I was very happy with this time as my target kms pace was 4m25secs and my breathing was going okay but then that sneaky hill happened and I slowed my next kilometre by about 15 seconds than the previous km. One advantage of a hill is the descent afterwards and the hill down is steep and your pace naturally propels and is quite exhilarating here. The last kilometre is always make or break in a 5km to me, if you do not push it then all your hard running was to no avail. I had allowed some familiar Maree AC, Loughrea AC and Galway Harrier runners by me on the 4km and so I pushed to pass them before the finish line which I managed to do this time, having these targets definitely helped for my last km and I completed in around 4m 20secs, my overall time was 21m 45 seconds which was a PB for this year’s series but still well away from dipping under 21 minutes this year. The N18 finish straight is improved this year by the extra width in the concrete paths going into the business estate which gives plenty of space for last sprint duals. As with all the races to date, Craughwell supporters are out in force cheering and encouraging all athletes.
Plenty of Craughwell AC runners came in in good times, Mike O’Mahony got that important second the right side of 19 minutes. Stellar performances by Damien Larkin who won this race in 17mins 26secs and by Tom Prendergast who positioned 4th in 17:52 and running strongly also were Mick Walsh , Johnny Lane ,John Fitzpatrick , Liam rabbit ,Tony Nevin and Steve Carty. Athenry’s Jane-anne was first lady home in the race, Craughwell’s first lady was Shauna Bocquet followed by Linda porter and the every race PB-ing Aideen Gilchrist. Craughwell’s Niamh Flavin was out of the country this week and would have been in the reckoning with her series times if she completed it.
The Post race chat and water drinking was followed by a warm down loop of the course with John Fitzpatrick and Steve Carty which gave the evening a better than average workout. This was the first time both these lads trailed behind me ever as they had completed a warm up loop of the course before the race and they were starting to feel the effects of their efforts. All in all, a very enjoyable race & evening.
Race Five: Carnmore Airport GCH May 26th
Aideen Gilchrist Gillespie
So this was the flat one! Thank God, I needed a break from hills especially after Claregalways unexpected sneaky hill around the 3km mark last week-it was a shocker!
It was also my first night wearing my Craughwell AC Bib. As I was walking into the Airport after parking the car, I heard a “come on Craughwell!” a nice boost before I had even warmed up. It was a lovely evening for a run so there was no excuses this week- flat course with little wind-I was prepared to give it my all! Got there around 7:30 and went on my usual hunt for the ladies facilities-this was my routine before the warm up. The queue was long. Very long. I was beginning to bite my fingernails wondering if my routine was foiled and it was. I ended up running to the start line (guess that that was my warm up!) I had a minute to spare to throw in a few stretches. This route was new to everyone so nobody knew what to expect which created an air of anticipation among the gathering at the start. I met fellow Craughwell AC ladies Niamh, Breda and Gretta who were looking forward to the race. I felt a bit like a sheep penned in waiting to be dipped though as there didn’t seem to be much room at the start line, it was a bit tight for such an open area.
We were off-it took a while to cross the start line-I must have got caught at the back again but I tore off trying to get settled in a spot where I didn’t have to sidestep people or get in anyones way either this took about the first km which was a good distraction because when I looked up all I could see was the trail of people ahead running down the runway –we looked like ants. I don’t know if that was a good thing seeing the path ahead-personally I think trees and winding roads serve as good camouflage to what lies ahead but this was open space and the path lay right in front of you-showing you how far you had to run…TWICE!
We completed the first loop of the runway-slight dip at the end of the runway but not a “hill” compared to other races. Passed the start line for the second loop- my head was beginning to create the negative vibes and feeling a small bit sorry for myself as I knew what was ahead. At this stage the pack was well and truly spread out now in a neat formation, the elite pack were the far side of the runway on their last km as I tried to conquer the fourth km. Lucky things I thought-they are nearly finished! Started talking back to myself to shake the negativity off-Get the job done-nearly finished just 1 more km –don’t leave anything behind! I didn’t want to be thinking after the race-yeah I should have ran the last km harder, so I stopped feeling sorry for myself and put the boot down. It paid off. I had broken the 23:00 mark with a new PB 22:58. The good thing about the club bib is that other people from the club who didn’t know me from Adam pulled me in for a group photo at the end of the race which gave a great sense of club spirit. It was true when they said it was a flat course and a lovely evening for it but I think it was a psychological issue with the “openness” of the course-I didn’t feel the enthusiasm to run as much as the other courses. I guess I’m a hard woman to please!
Race Six: Tuam June 02nd
Tuam, the fastest town in Ireland. Well for most people doing the 5k series it's certainly the fastest town in the series, with many PBs made there. Maybe it's because we have a few hard weeks of racing behind us and all that hard running has paid off. Maybe it's because it's a slightly downhill course. Or maybe it's all psychological, at the finish line every Tuesday you'd be sure to hear “ah you'll beat that time in Tuam".
The Tuam leg of the series has always been good to me. I did a PB there a few years ago and was sure I would be on for beating it this time round.
I arrived at about 7:20, parked up and headed for the Ard Ri hotel to collect my tee shirt. There was very little wind and the temperature was just right for the race. 20 minutes to start time I did a warm up run of about 1k and up to the start line I went. There were a few Craughwell singlets to be seen but not as many as previous weeks. I found out later the traffic on the way to Tuam was chock a block.
I started the race about 3 rows back and as usual at the off I ended up being passed by 10-20 people. I started into a pace that was about 3:30 for the first km and as we wound through the backroads of Tuam I gradually moved towards my target pace 3:40. 2nd km all was going well until all that lovely downhill section was in my rear view mirror and the road flattened out. I struggled to keep the pace up for the next 2 kms. My 3rd km was 3:58. My 4th km; 3:56. When your pace drops so much you ask yourself questions and make up so many reasons to slow down to a comfortable pace and maybe enjoy the race for once!
There is very little to enjoy about a 5k except for the finish line! I had put the thought of a PB in the back of my mind as I rounded the corner onto the N17 and that punishing drag for a few hundred metres to the 4 km mark which is usually the marker for most aspiring PBers to give it socks down the hill to the finish. I looked at my watch at the marker and it read just a few seconds over 15 minutes. This got the legs going again as I realised that there was still a chance of a PB. As I was doing the maths in my head I heard heavy foot stomps behind me as we had about 800m to go. He soon passed me but I was determined to finish with him this week as he was making a habit of passing me in the last Km. I pushed on passed the hotel but couldn't see the finish line. I stuck with him as we rounded the left turn for the finish and I just pipped him on the line. I got a slight glimpse of the clock on the way over the line 18:59 again! The same time that I did in Claregalway and 4 seconds the wrong side of my PB. Maybe next year or maybe with the old finish line!