Easter Sunday morning saw hundreds of ‘egg-cited’ runners gather in sunny Clonaslee for the Slieve Bloom Run 10k and Half Marathon.
Trophies and cash prizes were on offer for the top three male and female finishers in both distances, as well as prizes going to first over 40 and 50 male and female finishers. All who entered online prior to the event collected their Slieve Bloom Run Easter egg and mug and lots more chocolate was handed out on the day.
Local Laois company ‘Paddyo’s Granola’ was there on the day to hand out free samples of their health food products which went down well with the runners and a some of their products were given to five of the competitors in a draw which took place just before the start.
Both events started at the Community Centre in Clonaslee. The runners set off shortly after 10.30am and whilst the 10k runners took the shorter route around Rickett’s Rock, the Half Marathon runners tackled the long drag up towards the well-known Cut Rd before going off road at Glendine O’Regan. Both routes merged at Gorragh Lower before winding their way down through the woods at Brittas Lake and passing through the village of Clonaslee.
Race organiser, Liam Dunne, said, “This is the third year of the event and the secret of the beauty of the Slieve Bloom Mountains seems to be spreading, as the race is growing in popularity, not just with the locals but with runners from all corners of Ireland. It’s great to see so many enjoying this unspoilt area of natural beauty that Clonaslee has to offer.”
In the 10k event, the first three were well separated and first man back and well clear of the field in a very fast time of 34.38 was Mick Fogarty of Athlone triathlon club. Second place went to Owen Connolly of St Michaels (36.47) and in third was Ian McManus (37.54). In the ladies 10k race it was Grace McConnell of Ballyroan/Abbeyleix who stormed home to take victory for the third consecutive year and finished 6th overall in 40.51. Next lady in was Bridget Hartnett (45.42) and 3rd lady was Helen Carr of Raheny Shamrock (47.01)
The half marathon was a tighter battle at the front with three of last year’s top five, Cunningham, Burke and Dillon setting the pace at the front and as soon as they got a couple of miles in, it was the Limerick man, Mike Cunningham of Bilboa AC, who showed greater strength on the day and started to gradually pull away and went on to win in a time of (80.09) from the Portlaoise running stalwart Aengus Burke (82.09) in second place leaving John Dillon of Mullingar (85.32) to finish in third for the second consecutive year.
In the ladies race it was a similar affair with Rachel Wisdom of Clonliffe Harriers wining in a time of 95.20 and holding off Mary Bracken Tullamore Harriers in who was 2nd (95.58), 3rd place went to Monica Corcoran of St Michaels (98.25). The rest of the field trickled in over the next couple of hours with some looking tired, some relieved and the rest just satisfied with their achievement of completing the tough but scenic course. To help all refuel there was the welcome sight of soup, sandwiches, cakes and hot drinks waiting for all finishers inside.
A big thank you goes to all the Ballyroan/Abbeyleix AC members and Dunne family who helped out on the day. Full results and photos can be viewed on www.runalong.net