The fourth stage of the our Get Fit For Summer Challenge was held on an idyllic early Summers evening in Ballinakill with the staging of the 6k race.
Ballinakill carried on the momentum gained in the earlier races with a huge turn out of 214 runners, joggers and walkers.
We designed a very spectator friendly two lap route through some lovely rural byways. The run began on the Main Square before heading down the village and taking the first left turn out of the village. After about 600 metres the athletes took another left turn in the direction of Heywood passing the Masslough on the right hand side. The athletes again turned left running past the swimming pool before coming back out onto the Main Street.
The runners continued in the same direction as in the first lap small lap only this time they took the 2nd left turn onto the Castlecomer Road. Continuing in the direction of Castlecomer they then took the first left turn which brought them back up to the old entrance into Heywood and on past the Masslough again. The run continued as in the first small lap with the finish just before the junction with the Main St. Overall it was a testing course with a couple of tough hills to negotiate.
Soon after the start a small breakaway group containing Cullohill 5k winner Ciaran Keenan - Ballyfin, Riobaird Miller Ballyfin AC winner in Ballyroan and newcomer Brian Swaby from Waterford AC broke clear. This group stayed together until about the 4k point when the strong running Swaby broke clear of the Ballyfin AC duo. This was the
decisive move in the race and the determined Swaby put clear daylight between himself and Ballyfin men with some strong uphill running.
The strong running Swaby continued to pull clear and he was all alone as he finished to win in a fast time of 20.21. Ciaran Keenan finished a highly creditable second in 20.42 with Riobaird Miller third in 21.08.
The ladies race was also an exciting affair as Teresa Agar lined up in her bid for a third win in the series. She duly obliged, winning in a time of 23.01. Sinead Eacrett from St Michaels had her third straight podium placing, finishing a great second in 23.30. Local Heroine from Ballyroan Abbeyleix & District, Michelle Fitzpatrick finished a gallant third in 25.42.
After her third placing in the Abbeyleix 4k, Michelle is having her best season to date. First U-16 Boy was Ronan Quinn in a brilliant time of 25.35, while the first Juvenile girl was Cullohill’s Avril Deegan in 26.50.
We then retired back to the Cliffords Pub for refreshments and prize giving. The club would like to thank all its members and friends who ensured copious amounts of tea, sandwiches and cakes awaited the athletes in Cliffords. We would like to thank Cliffords for their generosity in providing tea and coffee as well as their excellent premises.
We would also like to thank all the local stewards for their safe policing of the race. We had cash prizes for the first three leading men and women and leading U-16 boy and girl along with numerous other spot prizes.
Well done to each and everyone as you are all winners for making the evening an outstanding success. We would like to thank each and everyone of the athletes/walkers who participated and we are are indebted to you all for making our inaugural Get Fit For Summer Challenge race in Ballinakill the huge success it was. We are already preparing to welcome you to Raheen next week.
Mens: 1 - Brian Swaby 20.21; 2 - Ciaran Keenan 20.42; 3 - Riobaird Miller 21.08; 4 - Cyril Cuddy 21.40; 5 - Shane Delaney 21.44; 6 - James Hamm 22.00
Ladies: 1 - Theresa Agar 23.01; 2 - Sinead Eacrett 23.30; 3 - Michelle Fitzpatrick 25.42; 4 - Pippa Hackett 26.04; 5 - Norah McGrath 26.38; 6 - Avril Deegan 26.50.
U-16 Boys 1st - Ronan Quinn 25.35; U-16 Girl 1st - Avril Deegan 26.50.