On Your Marks – Herald Sept 12

With so many “new” runners pounding the pavements, membership of Athletics Ireland is likely to reach 40,000 this year – the highest figure in some years.

Of that figure, over half is made up of juveniles, but the good news is that the numbers of senior and, above all, masters (men and women over 35) is growing all the time.
That’s largely thanks to the Meet and Train ethos of the Fit for Life  movement, designed to persuade men and women of all ages that regular running  is the simplest and most natural way of staying trim and fit.
Clubs that have embraced this ethos have seen their numbers explode. Most successful is Galway City Harriers – the largest club in the country. GCH organises regular Fit for Life Leagues and has an adult membership of almost 600 from a total of 856. Not far behind in Kilkenny City Harriers with 700 members, 300 of them adult, while Craughwell and Athenry are two other Connacht clubs that make encouraging adult runners a priority.
West Waterford, based in Dungarvan,  has used regular leagues for over a decade to bring in adult members and currently has over 200 on the books. Not bad for a town with a population of  only 8,000! Clonmel also has an adult membership of over 200, as has Midleton.
In Dublin, close to 5,000 are members of 53 clubs. Of those 2,242 are adults and most aged over 35. Crusaders tops the list with almost 300 adults, Clonliffe has over 200, while Dundrum South Dublin, with 609 signed up, has the biggest overall membership. The largest senior clubs in Leinster are Dunboyne and Drogheda and District, both with about 250 adults and an open door policy when it comes to newcomers of all standards.
So the message to clubs is clear. If you want to bring in more adult members, put out the welcome mat.
As for those of you who so far haven’t joined a club, what’s keeping you? Joining a running club is the cheap ‘n’ cheerful way of getting fit  – you’ll get faster and you’ll make lifelong friends.
With a nip in the air, now is the perfect time to join up. It will change your life! 
* Update:  Hearing rumours of clubs near Dublin charging €400 for family membership and €200 for one child. Time for a survey of membership fees; any comments? 
With the Dublin Marathon looming, longer races are dominating the calendar and half marathons attracted big numbers at both ends of the country last week. Omagh’s Stephen Duncan won the Waterside Half Marathon in Derry for a fourth consecutive year in a time of 68 mins 53 secs, while  Fiona Stack from Donegal was a surprise winner of the women’s race in 82 mins 20 secs. In Blarney, Co Cork, Michael Herlihy of North Cork won the  John Buckley Sports Cork Half Marathon in 70:44, with Emma Murphy of St Finbarr’s the first woman in 82:12. Abroad, Barbara Sanchez of Raheny Shamrock and Marathon Mission ran a personal best of 1:15.57 in the Copenhagen Half Marathon.  Leading the entry at Saturday’s Dublin Half Marathon are Joe McAllister of St Malachy’s, sixth and best of the locals in last month’s Frank Duffy ’10’, and Barry Minnock of Rathfarnham WSAF.
A few shorter races worth mentioning: on Saturday the SBR club in Ferns hope you’ll make a evening of it at the annual Mick Murphy 4-mile, starting at 5pm. After the race, participants can relax in the “The Courtyard” and watch themselves in the race video while enjoying the generous refreshments. Entry is €17 or €20 on the day and there’s a €2,000 prize fund. A week later, on Sunday September 23, a top class field is expected at the Rathfarnham WSAF 5km in Dublin, where again, runners of all standards are welcome. Entry is €20 with a Sub-4 techie t-shirt for the first 800 to sign up.
Athenry’s Ruthanne Sheehan broke a 16-year-old Irish record when she ran a total distance of  229.3km at the World and European 24-Hour Track Championships in Katovice, Poland. She finished 7th overall and 5th European. John O’Regan of St Coca’s was best of the Irish men. O’Regan, who won the Belfast 24-Hour race in July, was running with a group of four including Sheehan, and improved his personal best to 229.6km.
Brian McMahon of Clonliffe Harriers produced the best Irish mountain running performance since the glory days of John Lenihan and Robin Bryson when he finished 6th at the WMRA Long Distance Challenge in Interlaken, Switzerland. McMahon ran the gruelling course around the Jungfrau mountain in 3 hrs 7 mins 44 secs. 
Clonliffe’s Gary O’Hanlon and Kerry Harty of Newcastle were the winners at the Bohermeen 5-mile. O’Hanlon had beaten Tomas Fitzpatrick of Tallaght and KCH’s Brian Maher to win the Lakes 10km in Blessington a day earlier. Patrycja Wlodarczyk of Raheny won the women’s race.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply