Inaugural Heart of Laois 10k a huge success

The Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District club hosted its inaugural flagship road race, the ‘Heart of Laois 10K’ on Sunday May 27th in Abbeyleix.

The Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District club hosted its inaugural flagship road race, the ‘Heart of Laois 10K’ on Sunday May 27th in Abbeyleix.

It was the final leg of the clubs hugely popular Get Fit For Summer Challenge series which attracted large numbers of club runners, recreational runners and walkers to Abbeyleix, Ballyroan and Durrow.

We had a fantastic field of 220 athletes of all abilities on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year to date. The weather while beautiful and long awaited was not ideal for distance running as it was so hot. However the stage was set and with large numbers of club athletes arriving from as diverse locations as Kenya, Australia, Cavan, Wexford, Tipperary, Kildare, Offaly and of course our own lovely Laois the stage was set for a great race.

A huge competitive edge and fantastic spectacle was guaranteed with the presence of 2 international calibre athletes in the shape of Freddy Keron Sittuk from Kenya and Sergio Ciobanu from Moldova. Freddy who prefers to go by the name Kiprotich is a professional runner from Kenya with a Marathon best of 2 Hours 14 Mins set in China in 2011.

Sergio who is living and working in Co Tipperary since 2005 and runs in the colours of the famous Clonliffe Harriers, is a prolific road race winner in Ireland and is a two time Irish marathon champion. He took time off from work this year and returned to Moldova to train full time in an attempt to qualify to run for his adopted country in the marathon at the 2012 London Olympics. In April he ran 2 hrs 15 mins 25 decs in Rotterdamm, 25 agonising seconds outside the A standard.

On the womens side we had Beijing Olympian Pauline Curley from Tullamore Harriers and Siobhan O’Doherty from Borrisokane. Siobhan was a second place finisher in the 2011 Ladies Mini Marathon. Besides from these we had many high quality club athletes lining out guaranteeing a colourful and highly competitive spectacle.

Race headquarters was the beautiful Abbeyleix Manor Hotel and we had a carnival athmosphere laid on with music and commentary provided by DJ Mark Neilon.

The race began at the Manor Hotel, headed up Main St and continued out the Portlaoise Rd. At Tonduff Cross the athletes turned left, crossed over the old railway bridge and then kept left at the Monument junction continuing on straight across the Mountrath Rd and down along Blackhill. This downhill stretch was particularly fast through Oldtown and upon reaching the Ballacolla Rd the athletes did a u turn almost immediately heading back towards Tullyroe. At the end of this road the athletes rejoined the Mountrath Rd, and turned right towards the traffic lights. At the lights they turned right and ran the final 1km back to the finish at the Manor Hotel.

The race was won convincingly by the Kenyan Kiprotich in a blistering 30.48 and in the process claim the winners cash bonus by finishing in under 31 minutes. Sergio Ciobanu had to be content with second in a fast 31.29. Army man Eddie O’Neill of Tinryland AC took 3rd in 32.30 with Tallaght AC’s marathon man Eoin Brennan 4th in 33.06. Siobhan O’Doherty was no less impressive in claiming the ladies top spot in 36.08. Pauline Curley finished 2nd in 37.00. Theresa Agar took 3rd in

41.27 with Cullahills Louise O’Mahony finishing 4th in 42.13. Our own Tony Reilly took top spot in the M40 category with Niall Coppinger Tallaght AC taking the over 50 top spot. Jim Boland Sli Cualann won the M60 category. Sportsworlds Ruth Kelly won the ladies over 35 with Jacqueline Patrick Greystones AC winning the F45 category.

We had 2 special prizes for the first non - club athletes. The mens winner was Patrick Corrigan and the female winner was Joan Mahony, one of the Cullahill sisters. We then retired back to the Manor for refreshments and prize giving.

The Abbeyleix Manor Hotel are to be complimented for sponsoring such a wonderful headquarters and refreshments afterwards. Without such hosts the event would not have been the success it was. We would also like to thank the local Gardai and all the stewards who voluntarily gave of their time for the safe policing of the race. We also thank the Order of Malta for their assistance. It must be said that the local business community in the area were so generous in their support of our race and we are so grateful. We would like to show our appreciation to the following who donated both cash and spot prizes for distribution on the day, Cemex, Fruit n’ Nut Shop Portlaoise, Seamus Delaney Publican

- Ballyroan, Liam Fitzpatrick Tyre and Battery, Pat Fogarty Sales and Services -PFS, Fyffes Drapers, Bonham Bros, Martin McDonald Photography, Michael Lawlor Forklifts, Super Valu Abbeyleix, Clelands, Abbeyleix Credit Union, Kloset - Naas, Tullamore Hardware, FBD, Durrow Credit Union, PJ Delaney - Gleeson Group, Padraig Purcell Fruit & Veg.

Well done to each and everyone as you are all winners for making our inaugural race an outstanding success. We hope you spend many happy and healthy hours training in the special commemorative tshirts we designed for the occasion. We would like to thank each and everyone of the athletes/walkers who participated over the four Get Fit For Summer events in Abbeyleix, Ballyroan and Durrow. We are indebted to you all for making our inaugural Get Fit For Summer Challenge and Heart of Laois 10k the huge success it was. We are already looking forward to making next years challenge an even bigger and better event for you to look forward to.