Look back: ERP Cracker 5k

Today would have been ERP Christmas cracker 5K day. In face today we would have celebrated the 10th such. If you’ll excuse the festive pun, the cracker was pulled several months ago, the organising committee came to the conclusion that the health situation in the country was much more important than trying to run a Christmas race. The decision of course has been proved to be 100% correct as the race simply is not permitted under current level 5 restrictions imposed since yesterday.

We thought this morning that it might be appropriate to have a look back on previous ERP Christmas Cracker days. The first race was held in 2011, that inaugural race was won by Joe Warrne (Doheny AC) in a time of 14.43, the winner of the women’s race was international steeplechaser Sara Treacy in what remains the fastest women’s time recorded to date a superb 16.06.

The cracker starts on the track in the Stadium and then takes in a loop up through Northwood and finishes back in Morton Stadium. Pretty straightforward one would believe however the starting on the track has caused problems on a frosty late December morning. One particular year the brand-new Mondo track had held overnight water and had frozen solid turning the track into an ice rink, the local Centra Store was raided for every drum of table salt in a massive scurry to try and de-ice. In the heel of the hunt the race started on the infield before leaving the stadium and by the time the race came back the salt had done its job as the inside lane was cleared of deadly ice!

The course record was set by Mark Christie (Mullingar Harriers) in 2013, a blistering 14.22, which would have melted any ice. Coming closest to that time fresh from his European junior cross country bronze medal winning performance was Efrem Gidey last year 14.25. Efrem remains the only successful defender of the ERP Christmas cracker title having won both in 2018 and 2019. The only other Clonliffe winner of the race to date is Adam O’Brien who won in 2016. The women’s section has been won by Clonliffe athletes on two occasions, 2014 saw Hope Saunders prevail in a time of 18.22 and three years later Eleanor Alexander (18.25).

The pity surrounding the correct cancellation of this year’s race is that 2019 had seen the best turnout to date as more than 250 took part. There has been a real family atmosphere surrounding this event in recent years with many families taking part, the festive music in the stadium has added enormously as indeed has the providing to finishers by our friends in Last Lap Café of mugs of hot chocolate. The race of course is run in association with ERP with many of the runners bringing along items for recycling and going into the raffle for extremely generous prizes. Furthermore in recent years a donation from the entry has been given to Alone who provide essential services to older people. In the current pandemic more than ever the services of Alone are required. We would ask if anyone is considering how to spend the €20 entry fee which was saved this year to consider making that as a donation to that wonderful charity. The ERP Christmas cracker 5K will return this time next year.