Alan Worrall reports from Ballycotton: In 2013 the great Kilkenny hurling team fell at the final hurdle to a youthful Clare team in their quest to win 5 all Ireland Hurling titles in a row. In Ballycotton today the drive for 5 was achieved by the one man show Sergiu Ciobanu. Since 2011 Sergiu has owned the title of the king of the roads in Ballycotton and rightly so. Without doubt the Ballycotton 10 is one of the greatest of races on the domestic running scene in Ireland.
These 5 titles in a row were achieved in near perfect running conditions under rare sunshine for this time of the year. Sergiu absolutely blitzed the entire field with superb front running over a testing course. He is now up there went some of the greats of the Irish running who have won this great race. On this performance everything augers well for Sergiu’s next big challenge a Spring Marathon in April. Leading on we all hope and pray to a place on the Marathon starting line up in Rio 2016 for the great man in the black and amber.
The best advice when running the Ballycotton 10 any year is get there early. Heeding this advice I arrived in Ballycotton at 10:45a.m. Even though the race was not due to commence till 13:30hrs. The planning and mobilisation of the race is brilliant and one must consider that it is all voluntary. What started out as a small race of 31 competitors in 1978 now boosts and entry of over 3,500 competitors?
This year alone the entry places were booked up with in hours of opening such is the appeal of the race. This is a fine tribute to “Mr Ballycotton” John Walshe and the organizing committee. The village on the morning of the race is a Mecca for runners. It’s all there, the marquee where you can change and get a well deserved massage from the onsite physios. There is the official merchandise of the race where you can get the much sought after tee-shirt with the logo of the race. Plus JohnBuckley Sports, will kit you out in the latest running gear. .To the race itself. We all lined up at the start of the race waiting in anticipation for the gun to go. At 13:30 hrs the echoes of the song the Ballycotton 10 could be heard from the tannoy. “Well were all hear again for the Ballycotton 10”.
The first two miles are down hill so you need to pace yourself as we have to run these last two miles on the way back. The course is shaped like a spoon and is run on country roads which have a number of cross roads and T-junction’s where the supporters watch the race. The crowds at these positions are quite large and the noise and atmosphere is brilliant, very like a big city marathon atmosphere. We run past the world famous Ballymaloe House. At 8 miles is the dreaded return to the village via the hill which we ran down earlier. I dig deep and push on to the left is the Grotto. No time to say a prayer and there’s the finish I cross the line in 68 mins 38 secs. 2 weeks lost with an injured foot plus my final semester for my MSc has pushed my running into the proverbial pits, roll on June.
On crossing the line if you are in the first 100 you get the famous top 100 T-shirt. On the way up the hill to collect your running gear each competitor is given the famous Ballycotton mug.
Finally it is back to the car and the long drive home. Just to finish well done to the other Clonliffe Harriers who ran today along with Sergiu.
Our numbers participating have dwindled since from the highs of a few years ago when the black and amber was well represented. So maybe next year we as a club might get a large group to travel. In the case of Dublin Clubs, Raheny Shamrocks had a big number along with Donore and DSD plus I spotted some Tallaght A.C vests.
To finish up” a Classic race at a Classic distance” as the Ballycotton 10 motto goes.
Here’s to 2016. Did anyone mention the drive for 6, if Carlsberg did dreams??? – Alan Worrall