BHAA RTE 5 Mile Report
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The rain and cold didn’t deter us. This was after all one of the top races of the BHAA road-racing season. Everyone looks forward to the iconic 5-miler, set on the roads surrounding, and grounds of, the RTE in Donnybrook. It starts on Aylesbury Road, turns in after about 100m into the RTE lot through which it traverses onto Nutley Lane, down Nutley Road connecting Nutley Lane to Aylesbury and back again, four times. It sounds as though it has a few tight turns, but in reality there aren’t many and it is generally regarded as a PB course. It has the additional attraction of finishing next to the Fair City set.
So, on Saturday morning we all turned up at the RTE in the pouring rain, more than 200 of us. Registration went smoothly and after a warm-up, which some conducted in the covered car park near to the RTE social club where registration took place, we all waited patiently for the race to start. It was held up for a brief moment as race starter, Terry Clarke, informed us that the Gards were not quite in place for the road closures, but then we were all on our way, dodging the enormous puddles and the odd bollard (thankfully manned in order to give us advance warning).
The race was graced by the presence of Sean Hehir, just 13 days after his ultimately fruitless efforts in the Rotterdam marathon to qualify for next year’s Olympics, but he felt he was ready for a good 5 miler. Sean led the field at a cracking pace and soon put significant daylight between himself and the following pack, a lead which was not to be threatened. For a couple of miles Stephen Moore managed also to separate himself from the pursuers, but he was ultimately reined in by eventual 2nd place finisher Paul Fleming, who had started out carefully because of the cold conditions, having been unable to warm himself up adequately before the race. It was the second year in a row for Stephen to finish in third place.
On the women’s side, Iast year’s winner Ilona McElroy set the pace together with club-mate Marie Hyland, running the 5 mile distance for the first time. Unfortunately, both were slightly under the weather and the cold and wet did nothing to improve their condition. So perhaps it was no surprise when National 50K champion Orna Dilworth came storming through the field, first passing Marie who by this time had begun to experience cramp in her calves and then Ilona, Orla coming home to take first place with a cushion of some 20 seconds. Masters runner Florence Curley, just returning from a frustrating injury and really only running because she was to make a speech after the race on behalf of BHAA athlete of the year Ann Woodlock, also had a super race, coming through to take 3rd spot.
Dee Ni Chearbhaill, who is having some success this year, won her age category, as did Mary Watters and Sheelagh Jones win theirs. Suzanne Martin was a surprising 2nd in the same category as Dee, but otherwise there were some familiar faces walking off with the prizes, perhaps with the exception of Fergal Roche, a colleague of Paul Fleming, who took the honours in his age category, so that together with another age category winner John Todd, they walked off with 3rd team prize in the A division, behind Bank of Ireland (led by Thomas Sherlock who came home 4th overall in the individual category) and ESB (with a team which included Ger Forde with a PB time). As usual there were the races within races, small victories without material recognition, all of which adds to the challenge and fun of BHAA racing.
No BHAA event is complete without a fine spread at the end, and so it proved to be. The prize-giving was enhanced by the presence of RTE Sport’s Joanne Cantwell to award the prizes and a lovely speech from Florence Curley on behalf of Ann Woodlock. Another great day in BHAA racing!