Blackrock was buzzing on Saturday, September 27 as people started to arrive for the Blackrock AC Four Mile Road Race, this year being held in memory of two local athletes, Stephen Carroll and John Newman.
The race organisers were estimating approximately 250 based on the pre-registration figures however, the gods were on their side and a glorious day brought a further 100 last minute registrations to bring the total gathering at the start line to over 350 athletes.
The atmosphere was terrific, made all the more special by the fact that this year North East Runners rowed in behind Blackrock AC to help out with the event, showing the great cooperation between the two clubs.
Local traders and businesses were also keen to lend their support, with sponsorship from Carroll’s Hallmark, Mace Blackrock, Daniel O’Connell Solicitors and Fyffes. Tracy Dunne from Element Design also sent support by designing a superb new race poster and flyers to help with the promotion.
Further support came in the form of spot prizes generously donated by Wogan Interiors, Wella (Procter & Gamble), Shane Donohue of Chiron Healing, Barry Casey of Rock Fitness, Soilse Candles, Doohan Financial Planning, the Home Bakery, Harrison’s Blackrock, Halpenny’s Coaches, Mimi’s Bakeaway, Tony Kieran’s, Nutti, Fusion Hair Salon, Bradley’s Pharmacy, Murray Pharmacy Dungarvan, plus spot prizes from local residents Alan Tinsley and Sinead O’Callaghan.
A real feature of this race was the collaboration between the various clubs with Setanta Triathlon Club not only lending their gantry but even the combined resources of Alan Gray and Kevin Hamill to erect and dismantle it on the day. North East Runners also lent considerable support, with organisation, marshalling, and a huge field of participants.
The field was all the more competitive this year with an influx of runners from clubs slightly further afield, many of whom made their trip worthwhile by securing prizes for themselves. International athlete Mark Christie (a sub four minute miler and 13.28 for 5k) put it to last year’s returning winner, local man and international athlete Gary O’Hanlon, putting in a compelling lead early on in the first mile and going on to win very convincingly in a new course record time of 19:07.
Fresh from his win at the Dublin Half Marathon, and our only previous winner, Gary O’Hanlon, running for Clonliffe Harriers secured second place with a time of 19:44. Third man over the line was another local favourite, Brian ‘Figo’ McCluskey, with a time of 20:34.
This year’s field saw a very strong junior contingent with athletes from 16 years taking on the stunning four mile course. The fourth and fifth runners home, taking 1st and 2nd respectively in the Juniors category, were Garry Campbell from Dunleer AC and Cathal Doyle from Clonliffe Harriers.
Sixth runner home was the 1st in the Over 40, North East Runners’ Maurice McMahon with Liam Cooney from Boyne AC and Aidan Cunningham, North East Runners, taking 2nd and 3rd respectively.
The first female to cross the line was the enormously promising 16-year-old, Hope Saunders from Clonliffe Harriers, in a time of 24:30. Local runner Mary Laverty from North East Runners came in 2nd place with a time of 25:19. Another Clonliffe Harriers athlete took 3rd place with Laura Tuite securing a time of 25:49.
The first junior female to cross the line was Alannah Cooley also from Clonliffe with Seaghna Campbell from Dunleer in 2nd. The Over 40 female field was hotly contested, with Nadine Gray securing first place in a time of 26:24. Second lady home in this category was Fiona Finan, with third place going to local runner Linda Meehan.
We were also very thankful to Feidhlim Kelly from jumpingthegun.ie who came from Dublin to do the race commentary. Feidhlim ensured that all 350 runners got a mention as they passed the finish line both on the first and final lap. This added to the occasion and with Feidhlim’s athletic connections it is sure to enhance the profile of the race going forward.
The representation from other running clubs in the area was exceptional, with the likes of North East Runners, Drogheda & District, Dunleer AC, Clonliffe Harriers, Glenmore, Star of the Sea, Newry Runners, Slieve Gullion, Jackie Agnew Fitness, Setanta Triathlon Club, JMAC Fitness, Rock Fitness, and many others sending great numbers to take part.
Of course the host club had a huge representation from their newly formed Fit 4 Life section, with Tony Richardson being first male to cross the line for the club, and their very own Una Breen, who also coaches the juvenile section, being the first female from the club.
Blackrock’s own Kyle Norton put in a fantastic run, accompanied by Shauna Cahill throughout until, with an incredible final burst of energy, he bolted into a sprint to the finish gantry to rapturous applause and support from the onlookers.
This was a special race from so many reasons, with the prize giving proving particularly poignant as Ian Carroll, father of the late Stephen Carroll, presented the new Stephen Carroll Memorial Cup to the men’s winner, Mark Christie.
The Carroll family were on hand throughout the event lending their support. They have expressed their sincere gratitude to everyone who made this fitting tribute to their late son Stephen such a tremendous success.
The female winners were also in for a treat as they had none other than Georgina Drumm, vice-president of Athletics Ireland, on hand to present their prizes.
Local publicans, The Stone House, put on a superb spread for the runners and the great Blackrock Bake Off saw the collective culinary talents of the locals lay on a truly impressive range of cakes and goodies.
Praise has come in via text, email and Facebook to the race organisers. Particular mentions have come in for the community, the sponsors, the scenery, the course route, the marshals, and the incredible support the whole way around the two lap course.
The race organisers have expressed their sincere gratitude to the sponsors, spot prize contributors, marshals, local gardai, local traders, the Stone House, and the local residents – all of whom made the race all the more special this year.
This is one for the calendar for every runner for the last weekend in September 2015. Roll on next year!