10,000 with tunnell vision

Dec 11, 2006 [Noel Guiden] Sunday the 10th of December was indeed a most successful day in the history of Clonliffe Harriers with the Dublin Port Tunnel 10K Run proving to be a successful and enjoyable experience for all concerned, with victory taken by DSD’s Robert Connolly in a time of 30:28, in the Women’s race international rower and member of Donore Harriers, Sinead Jennings, was the victor in a time of 36:24 and in the Wheelchair event, from the United States, Marcus Costigan was victorious in a time of 31:55, the day however belonged to the cast of 10,000 who made this a spectacular event.

From early morning the elite athletes, club runners, social runners, joggers and walkers arrived heeding the organiser’s request to be in position early. Early morning conditions were somewhat bleak; a dark, wet, windy December morning. MC Brian Maguire got the multitudes well warmed up creating a fantastic atmosphere as the wheelchair athletes were sent on their way at precisely 10:45 a.m. to the cheers of the 10,000 lined up behind. Fifteen minutes later the main field was sent off heading downhill for 700M towards the tunnel entrance. Such were the numbers in the race that it must have taken 15 minutes for the entire field to filter its way into the tunnel entrance and into the surreal yellow light and the heat generated by 10,000 bodies.

At the front an elite group had already formed headed by Robert Connolly and included Gary O’Hanlon of Clonliffe proudly wearing No. 1 on his Clonliffe singlet. The first half of the race was very tough on the athletes heading uphill towards the fresh air and turn at Santry before heading back into the second tube and back towards the port area.

Robert Connolly extended his lead to take the victory in a time of 30:28 and commented afterwards: “It was a very fast and competitive race right from the beginning, everybody was going pretty hard but it was a good even surface. Most of the light down there was coming from the lead car and traffic signs, you can certainly tell there is light at the end of the tunnel. When you go through it you can see the sky in the distance. It was definitely an unusual running experience.”

The first six men were:

1. Robert Connolly (DSD) 30:28

2. Martin Conroy (Sligo AC) 30:57

3. Alan O’Shea (Bantry AC) 31:06

4. Emmet Dunleavy (Sligo AC) 31:16

5. Mick Traynor (Raheny Shamrocks) 31:19

6. Gary O’Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers) 31:26

In the Womens event:

1. Sinead Jennings (Donore Harriers) 36:24

2. Barbara Sanchez (Raheny Shamrocks) 36:53

3. Helen Crossan (Unattached) 38:11

4. Donna Evans (Monaghan Phoenix) 38:27

5. Denise Ryan (Raheny Shamrocks) 38:37

6. Sandra Armstrong (Sportsworld) 38:56

In the Wheelchair:

1. Marcus Costigan (USA) 31:15

2. Patrice Dockery (Clonliffe Harriers) 33:08

3. Garrett Culleton (Laois) 47:36

Thousands upon thousands continued to finish long after the presentation had been made to the winners, all enjoying the event despite the heat in the tunnel. All were presented with a beautifully engraved special medallion which of course will be a once off and never to be repeated, as well as a souvenir t-shirt.

The race was very well received with today’s newspapers endorsing the success of the event. It was front page news in the Irish Times and the Irish Independent noting the charity aspect of the race commenting “Many of those taking part were doing the race for charity, with the Lord Mayor’s charity expected to benefit by €50,000.00”.The Independent also carried a piece quoting The Lord Mayor`s wife`s expierence of competing in the Tunnel Run. There was also a very good report in The Examiner.

Clonliffe Harriers wish to thank everyone who took part in the Dublin Port Tunnel Run and all who helped out on the day, the athletes and runners who could not get into the race and who were still kind enough to turn out and lend a hand, all the members of the Club who helped out and all our friends from the athletics family and in particular the juveniles who turned out from Celtic AC, Rathfarnham WSAF, Raheny Shamrocks and others too numerous to mention. We would also of course like to thank the Civil Defence who were out in force and of course the Dublin Port Tunnel Project and Dublin City Council.