Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Ballycotton Countdown
4 Days To Go

Ballycotton's Record Breakers

(article John Cashman, Evening Echo Tuesday March 1st)

Preparations are now at a very advanced stage for next Sunday’s thirty fourth running of the Ballycotton ‘10’ Mile Road Race. As the organising committee countdown to 1.30pm on Sunday next, across the country many runners are fine tuning their training as they look forward to what is one Ireland’s best loved road races.
As in previous years demand for the 2011 race exceeded the entry limit, with the organisers realistically expecting close on 2,500 runners to go the start line, from the original 3,265 entry recorded on deadline day back in December.
This weekend’s race again highlights the huge surge of interest in road running which has swept across the country in recent years and whilst many of the Ballycotton bound athletes will be travelling on a familiar journey, Sunday will also represent a first involvement for hundreds of others.

Significantly although numbers have soared particularly since the turning of the millennium the overall standards amongst the elite runners has dropped considerably, a fact reflected by the number of long standing course records.

Gary Staines of Belgrave established the course record of 47:00 back in 1995 whilst the women’s record of 55:28 was set by Marian Sutton of Westbury only two years later. Overall of the top twenty times clocked in the 33 year race history only three were produced after 2000. These stand out performances were by 2004 winner Charles Kiplagat (48:00) and the first and second place runners a year later, Dave Mitchinson (48:26) and Jackson Kipngetuny (48:30).

From a local Cork prospective four timer Liam O’Brien, who incidentally now plays a huge role in the organisation of the race, produced the fastest ever time by a Cork athlete when clocking 47:57 in his third win back in 1988. Liam still holds the course record in the Over 40 category having recorded 50:06 in the 1995 race.

In terms of the other overall veterans records, St Finbarr’s Flor O’Leary has the distinction of holding the current Over 60 (59:15) and Over 65 (64:19) records. His club mate John Buckley remains top man Over 50 having finished in 54:09 thirteen years ago. Meantime Mary Sheehan of Grange Fermoy set a new standard in the ladies Over 50 category when she crossed the line in 67:40 just three years ago.

Participation levels from local Cork athletic clubs is again extremely high with locally based Midleton AC having a total of 115 entries alone. Included in this figure are many Ballycotton newcomers along with established course veterans such as Donie O’Connell, Danny McCarthy and Tom Cody.

Up to the start of this week, the organisers were still awaiting confirmation of the make up of the field in the elite category. Some of the country’s best know names were in action at the weekend’s National Cross Country Championships, and were unlikely to make a decision regarding their participation until mid week.
Corkman Alan O’Shea, winner in 2007 may yet be at the start line, whilst local Ballyandreen native Sean McGrath who has been in excellent form in recent weeks, will be hoping to be amongst the front runners, having finished fifth in both of the last two years.
Whilst Sunday’s race is likely to again attract huge number of spectators, demands on the organising committee continue to increase. Extra participation levels along with extra watchers mean increased traffic in the general race vicinity. On Sunday, the usual park ‘n’ ride system will again be in operation, with major traffic restrictions in the region from early morning.

Additional stewards are required in various areas of the course. Those wishing to give a helping hand are asked to contact Tommy Hartnett on 086-2386390