Keenan and Agar take gold

The first leg of the Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District’s inaugural ‘Get Fit For Summer Challenge’ took place last Wednesday night with a 4 km race anf fun run in Abbeyleix.

The first leg of the Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District’s inaugural ‘Get Fit For Summer Challenge’ took place last Wednesday night with a 4 km race anf fun run in Abbeyleix.

It was the first organised run to be held in Abbeyleix in many years and it proved to be an outstanding success, with 194 runners, joggers and walkers registering to participate on the night.

Race Headquarters was the beautiful Abbeyleix Manor Hotel, who proved superb hosts on what was a special evening. The weather was kind with the showers that were forecast staying away. The stage was set and with participants arriving in their droves even from as far away as Templemore and Carlow, confidence soared as a warm glow descended on proceedings.

When athletes from some of our neighbouring athletic clubs began arriving a competitive edge was also guaranteed. However, the dominant theme of the night was one of participation, and fun filled healthy activity. It was wonderful to see so many beginners taking their first baby steps into the world of running and fitness, a world that has enriched the lives of many of club athletes.

The race and fun run began at the Manor and headed up Main Steet before turning right at the traffic lights. From here the athletes went up the Ballinakill Rd and at the Garda Station they turned left to go up the hill on to Old Rathmoyle Rd. After traversing this old renowned part of Abbeyleix the runners came out onto the Ballyroan Rd, where they turned left to begin the run downhill back into Abbeyleix and down Main Street to finish at the Manor.

The race was won with a commanding display by the inform veteran Ciaran Keenan of Ballyfin AC in a very impressive time of 13.30. We now have a course record for any challengers next year. Ciaran was chased hard by the youthful Cormac Kelly, St Abbans with Shane Delaney, Ballyfin AC in third. Our own James Hamm was next finisher in fourth overall.

Onto the ladies, where Theresa Agar (St Abban’s) finishing 11th overall in a time of 15.04 was our inaugural ladies winner. Paula Grant, Portlaoise AC was second with Ballyroan Abbeyleix and Districts Michelle Fitzpatrick, third. Everybody was a winner though, none more so than all those people who completed their first event. We had an enthusiastic group of people from the Maldron Hotel, replete with their own t-shirts who added a special touch of colour on the night.

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 had cash prizes for the leading man and woman along with two cash spot prizes and numerous other spot prizes. We would like to show our appreciation to the following local Businesses who donated both cash and spot prizes for distribution on the night, Andrew Shiel, Michael McDonald, Savour Cafe, The Flower Shop, Ego Boost, Horse n’ Rider, Leinster House, Anita’s Hair Salon, Casserley’s Chemist, Helen Casey Hair Salon, Tom de Vesci, Bramley’s, Morrissey’s, Quinns’s Coffee Shop, John O’Donnell Chemist, Jade Palace, Benny’s Bar, Derry Connolly - Post Office, Fyffe Drapers, Glenbawn Service Station.

We now look forward to the second stage of of our Get Fit For Summer Challenge which is pencilled in for Thursday evening 26th April. Race headquarters is Whelan’s Lounge in the Village. We would like to thank each and everyone who came and supported our first ever event and you can be assured that a warm welcome awaits you all when we meet again in Ballyroan on Thursday.