The third annual running of the Cullohill Christmas Cracker 5k was held on Sunday December 28th.
There was a huge turnout of almost 300 people which made for a hugely successful and positive experience for everybody. The local Cullohill Athletics Group must be commended on the success of the race. The weather, although cold, was ideal with a dry and bright morning adding to the festive spirit.
The race began just up from the Catholic church with the early stages of the race all uphill at Belmount. The opening kilometer being all uphill made for a tough opening until the athletes passed Cullohill GAA field on the right where the athletes had a welcome relief as the road swept down to the five cross roads.
At the five cross roads the athletes turned left running along Aghamacart passing the Church of Ireland on the right. This section was relatively flat and about 2.5km into the race the runners took a left up by Shanbally. They then faced a gradual climb before turning left up Parknahown Lane. The climbing continued until the the athletes reached the bridge over the motorway at which point there was a fast sweeping descent down into the village.
Soon after the start Tony Reilly threw down the gauntlet to his rivals at Belmount and the only one to respond was Stephen Hunter. Tony’s brave start up the hill proved decisive as he began to pull away from Stephen. A group containing Riobaird Miller, Cyril Cuddy and James Hamm were moving very well behind the leading duo.
At the five cross roads Tony had broken clear and Stephen, recovering from a recent bout of illness began to fade. In the meantime James Hamm, running an outstanding race, broke away from Cyril Cuddy and Riobaird Miller and challenged Stephen for second spot. The strong running Reilly swept down into the village to win in a very fast 16.26. James Hamm ran a PB as he finished hot on Tony’s heels in 16.40. Riobaird Miller looked set for third but in the last 100 metres Stephen Hunter sprinted past both Cyril Cuddy and Riobaird to lay claim to one of the beautiful cut glass trophies on offer.
The womens race was dominated by local heroine Avril Deegan as she led from start to finish to win in a time of 18.50. When Avril was announced winner in the hall afterwards the cheer was huge and fitting for Cullohill’s young Leinster Champion. In fact all six senior prize winners are out of the Nuparc Wellness group coached by Ian and Teresa Wilson. Grace McConnell ran strongly to take second in a time of 19.01 with Pippa Hackett claiming third in 19.15. First juvenile boy was Rory O’Connor, followed by Darragh Kelly, with Jack O’Connor and Gavin McGreal joint third.
The juvenile girls were led by Lucy O’Connor, closely followed by Faye McEvoy and Blaithnaid Deegan.
We then retired back to the Community Hall for refreshments and prize giving. The local organising committee had a veritable feast awaiting the chilled runners and walkers. The Committee would like to wholeheartedly thank the following sponsors, Ian and Teresa Wilson of Nuparc Wellness who kindly sponsored six magnificent engraved cut glass trophies for the top three men and women.
Kieran McEvoy of Oldtown Construction, Seamus Comerford of Actec Security Systems and Deirdre Woods and Chris Simpson of the Leinster Sports Clinic and Paschal Bergin of Bergins Filling Station. We would also like to thank all the stewards who voluntarily marshalled the course ensuring a safe experience for everyone. Finally all proceeds will be given to organising an exciting weekend holiday for all the children in the Cullohill Athletics Group.
Mens Race: 1st - Tony Reilly 16.26; 2nd - James Hamm 16.40; 3rd - Stephen Hunter 16.52; 4th - Riobaird Miller 16.53; 5th - Mark Hackett 16.58; 6th - Cyril Cuddy 17.10
Ladies Race: 1st - Avril Deegan 18.50; 2nd - Grace McConnell 19.02; 3rd - Pippa Hackett 19.15; 4th - Breda Mahony 19.37; 5th - Louise Mahony 20.12; 6th - Michelle Keenan 20.35