Thursday, 11 March 2010

9 days to go and counting
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Ballycotton Countdown Underway

Athletics – John Cashman

Ireland’s best loved ‘10’ mile road race is once again on the radar of athletes across the county. On Sunday week all roads will again lead to Ballycotton as the picturesque fishing village in East Cork becomes the focus of the athletics calendar.
March 21 will appear on the race day diary this year, a date which is two weeks later than usual due to a clash with last Sunday’s Woodies DIY National Cross Country Championships at the Phoenix Park. It appears that Mark Kenneally who led from the gun to win the Senior Mens title could be amongst the line up in Ballycotton.

Kenneally, eight in the European Cross Country Championships in Dublin last December has the option of going to Poland for the World Championships later this month, but apparently he has yet to decide whether or not to compete.

In other news Rhona Lynch of Eagle AC, who was first lady home in the Janssen ‘4’ miler at Little Island last Sunday is concentrating on breaking the hour mark in the big race. The inform athlete who covered the distance in 1:00:31, to finish third a year ago, has already built up a tremendous reputation around the local roads having being the dominant female athlete in the Ballycotton Summer Series in recent years.

“Training has gone well since January. My ambition is to get inside the 60 minutes mark. A lot will depend on the day and conditions, but hopefully I will go close”, commented the Glanmire based athlete.

Whilst the exact line up of the elite athletes will not be known until nearer next weekend, it does appear as if there could be plenty of well known names on the start line. Following the establishment of the ‘Marathon Mission’ group last year, with the objective of increasing the standard of marathon runners in this country, a number of athletes from this group are likely to include the renowned East Cork fixture in their itinerary.
The organisers in Ballycotton have responded by offering an increased incentive for those who may have landmark times in their sights. The mens winners will get an extra 200 euro if he can get inside the 48 minute mark, whilst the ladies winner target time is set at 56:30. The first prize winner also collects a cheque for 500 euro.

The last winner to dip below 48 minutes was the great Noel Berkeley when he triumphed in 47:52 ten years ago. Significantly runner up Jamie Lewis from Finn Valley was only five seconds down in second place.
The ladies target of 56:30 might seem a more likely target as Rosemary Ryan ran 56:48 in 2008 and Pauline Curley ran 56:33 two years earlier.

With the big race coming near, the organisers just like the runners are putting the final touches to their preparations. This week has been busy with the race packages being sent out to over 3,000 addresses.

Once again the committee have stressed that those unable to run do not need to contact Ballycotton Running Promotions. The organisers do not hold a waiting list and the transfer of numbers is a complete ‘no go’ area. General expectation at this stage suggests approximately 2,500 will actually compete on the day. Last year there were a total of 2,402 finishers a figure that was only exceeded once (2006) in the 32 history of the event.

Meantime, Marymount Hospice has been selected as the charity for this year’s race and as usual a sponsorship card will be included in the aforementioned package which is being currently compiled.
As always the logistics of race day will be planned well in advance, but Ballycotton Running Promotions would be delighted to get more help on board, in such areas as stewarding and car parking. Involvement at this level means the opportunity to be part of one of Cork’s great annual sporting occasions. Tom Hartnett on 086-2386390 is the man to contact if you wish to play your part.

There is one more opportunity for runners to gauge their form before Ballycotton as Rising Sun AC will host the Paddy Desmond Memorial ‘4’ Mile Race in Ballinhassig at 11am on St Patrick’s Day. Jimmy Murray (086-3320461) will be pleased to furnish any further information to intending participants.

Finally, looking further on the horizon a new venue has been announced for the traditional opening evening fixture of the season. The Castlemartyr ‘4’ organised by East Cork AC will move a few miles west to Ballintotis where it will become a joint venture with the local Community Council. The race headquarters will be located in the Church Park, just adjacent to picturesque Loughaderra Lake.

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