The ‘Belle of Ballincollig’ festival features among other local events a five kilometer road race. While this has been running for several years it was my first time running it, despite living locally. This year’s race was held last Thursday, June 4. The race was basically organized by Ballincollig GAA, which accounts for its slick organization, to some extent by its own people but also by the capable race organizers from the world of local running which it brought on board. These included Eagle clubmen Pat Murphy and Mick Dooley.
Talking to a clubmate before the race led to the conclusion that he had picked up the idea that this was a fast course, but where he got the idea I don’t know as the promotional material for the race made no such claims. This was as well as the course is anything but flat. The race begins with a 600 meter steep hill and later includes one major drag and several short but steep hills. The one benefit in this is that the finish is back down the same hill as we came up at the start, which is lovely for a sprint finisher such as myself. This is the hill which goes down from the East Gate to the GAA club and Regional Park.
This hill is so steep that at one time I used to practice hill training sprint repeats on it (much to the delight of the local kids who thought I was a bit strange, to put it mildly). The race itself was tough but exhilarating. I find it interesting that many club members, especially those more into the longer distances, absolutely hate five kays. The pain is over a lot quicker than in a marathon! I took it easyish going up the hill and didnt really get motoring until the main drag, which begins a bit after the mile mark and is one kilometer long. It was good to start passing people and dualling with others. I managed to keep up the pace and burn people off even up the short hills. The roads were open and the race organizers advised the runners to stay on the left, but I ran the angle to give the shortest possible distance (nobody else seems to have done this around me) and made good progress. With six hundred to go the downhill was wonderful, and passing a couple of dozen, to finish in 20.55, my fasted time over the distance for two years, despite the hilly course. On the way down I passed club colleage Maura O’Regan, and suspect it is the last time I will finish ahead of her as its great to see her making a comeback after a break.
The grub was served in the GAA pavillion where prizegiving also occurred. Typically of such races, the amount of prizes and age categories was not great. Its hard to beat the BHAA for prizes, but of course few turn up at these races for prizes. Your racing against yourself, and when you win that’s the best prize. I list the Eagle finishers below, but I spotted a couple of our ladies there who did not register as Eagles so these are not included. There were over three hundred competitors.
7 18:26 O’CONNOR, Pat Eagle AC M40 05:55.9
27 19:10 WALSH, Patrick Eagle AC 06:10.0
33 19:34 PIOTROWSKI, Richard Eagle AC M60 06:17.7
65 20:51 TWOMEY, Cathal Eagle AC 06:42.5
68 20:55 COTTER, Paul Eagle AC M50 06:43.8
71 20:58 MOORE, Gregg Eagle AC M40 06:44.8
73 21:04 REGAN, Maura Eagle AC 06:46.7