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Ballycotton Running Promotions - A Personal Appreciation

BALLYCOTTON RUNNING PROMOTIONS - A Personal Appreciation by Cork Athletics Webmaster



ballycotton mugs 1985 2017 ba

 My collection of 33 consecutive Ballycotton 10 Mugs, from 1985 to 2017 (with one missing due to mishandling by 'someone else')


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Related Article:

End of Era as Ballycotton 10 and Summer Series Both Finish



Last July, I had heard whispers that the Ballycotton 10 might be coming to a close, however Ballycotton Supremo, John Walshe, in his usual unique and amiable fashion, refused to be drawn on the matter. Nevertheless, when the news broke yesterday afternoon, it still came with a deep sense of nostalgia and remembrance of wonderful times, in both senses - occasion and running times.

Each and every Ballycotton race carried it's own unique characteristic and all were wonderfully clockwork.  It is safe to say that, in organisation terms, they were without parallel.

Behind the scenes, there were many, many people who kept a low profile, out of the limelight, maintaining a low profile throughout the 40 years the group had been running.  Sadly several of the organisers are no longer with us, R.I.P. 

For me, one thing - and an important one at that - stands out: during my thirty three years running a total of 155 Ballycotton Running Promotions races, I always had a friendly welcome and appreciation from all the organisation.....something that I hope I reciprocated....AND they are all nice people, to a man/woman.

As someone involved in athletics, as administrator, race organiser, measurer and runner, I appreciate, with a sense of awe, what the Ballycotton Running Promotions group have done over the years, and the legacy that they leave.

My Ballycotton Experience

Having run 155 Ballycotton races - 33 consecutive Ballycotton 10's (1985 - 2017), 121 Ballycotton 5 Summer Series races (missed 5 since July 1986) and one Shanagarry Christmas 5k - there are many standout memories - too many to relate here, but I will outline some.

My first Ballycotton race was the Ballycotton 10 in 1984. There were 646 finishers, and we had all just sauntered into Ballycotton, just an hour or two before the start, parking in any spot we could find - none of these outlying fields or shuttle-buses. I finished in 72:54, in 405th place. I was hooked.

In the early years, I had two goals - Break 60 and get a Top-100 'Brag Shirt'.  I came close but never achieved either goal in Ballycotton. My fastest times were 60:10 (twice), 60:12 (twice), 60:14 (twice), 60:15 and 60:20.  I could hammer 60 elsewhere, but never in Ballycotton. The nearest I got to the T-Shirt was 129th.  Thoughts of attaining either goal disappeared years ago, with inevitable advancing age, health issues and the results of non-running injuries.

With the huge growth in numbers running Ballycotton every March, 'Ballycotton Sunday' became a day out, arriving down in time to make 9:30 Mass, and the chat outside afterwards.  Following this, it was down to the hall - most 'newer' runners won't remember the original hall, the inappropriately named Cliff Palace (LOL). In the hall, we met up with more friends and acquaintances and outlined our personal challeges for the day, and, often, perhaps unwisely, threw down a gauntlet or two to our rivals.  A key part of the day was acquiring some of the Ballycotton merchandise - for years, some of my 'best', most worn t-shirts, hoodies, jackets and bags have been, and still are, Ballycotton items.

In the car, always going home with a sense of satisfaction and achievement at the end of the day, we would relate our individual experiences and ask the inevitable "how long do we have until Ballyandreen?"

The Summer Series

My first Summer Series race was Churchtown South, in 1986. The following year, the 'Top 50' t-shirts were introduced and like most, I love a target. looking back, I still laugh at my experience in Ballyandreen that year. Coming down the hill, with 400m to go, I lost my car keys, so stopped and grovelled in the bushes to find them before continuing, finishing in 30:48.   At the end of the series, I made it into the Top 50, in 50th place, in an aggregate time of 2:00:30.  For many years after that, the Top 50 qualifying standard increased - I missed 'the cut', in the early 90's, in 51st place, with an aggregate time of 1:53:17! ...this year 50th place was 2:09:55.  My best year was 1989, when my overall time was 1:52:46 - Ballyandreen 28:23, Shanagarry 28:04, Churchtown South 28:10 and Ballycotton 28:09.

My favourite race in the series - and my favourite race overall: Shanagarry. I liked the long drags where I could make ground on my peers, then the 'bitch' at 4 miles. If you had the strength to kick-on after that, you could bury the opposition. These days I found that it was myself that was being interred! I didn't like the final 600m though. The downslope finish played into the hands of the speed merchants.

My least favourite: Churchtown South: The two lapper was tough, with it's narrow twisting sections.  With the road narrowing after the hall, and the 'green line' down the middle, if you didn't get into your running position pretty damn fast, you were left for dead. You had the climb to the village, past the graveyard - many people, even long term participants, never realised there is a graveyard near the 2 mile mark, such is the concentration on getting up the hill. At the top there was a short respite, but the climb from the start line to 3 miles isn't as apparent, but is as tough as that at 2 miles.

Each of the 4 series races really was unique. Ballyandreen with it's 'Beast' coming up to 4 miles, and the long run for home, from 4 miles.  The final race in the series, Ballycotton, was another tough one, with the long drag before the 3 mile mark, with the final 'killer' section, just before the turn, that gets steeper and steeper.

What now? Dunno...This leaves lots of gaps in my running calendar....Can't just slot in any old top class race...Ballycotton races are irreplaceable

Nevertheless, my wife reckons that there is a silver lining = no more "Why do we always have to arrange our holidays around Ballycotton?"

If they were easy.......we probably wouldn't bother.

They were great! Well organised, well run, value for money and run by a great crew.

Take a Bow Ballycotton! You leave a great legacy and many, many unforgettable and wonderful memories.

Thank You!


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