I went to the the Ballinamore 5km & 10km on Wednesday evening, (August 15th), and took part in the 10km run.
I have been running for the last 30 years and have ran 14 marathons, thousands of other distances from 21km to 5km, as well as two Dublin-Belfast-Dublin maracycles. I have coached youngsters in athletics in Boyle and I have belonged to Sligo, North Roscommon and Carrick AC clubs during that time. I have organised runs and charity teams for the Dublin Marathon from the North West for many years. I know what it is like to train to get better times, and, sometimes, just to be able to complete an event.
Attending this race by the Ballinamore AC was probably the highlight of my running career to date. First off, Mr and Mrs Griffin and a whole team of volunteers organised the event and it was run perfectly. No hassle getting our numbers; T-shirts for every entrant; shower and changing facilities; stewards on the course; water stops too; and plenty of local support for both races.
The double Olympian, Colin Griffin, came down especially from his celebrations in Dublin and he started the race. (I remember him doing the same before the Beijing Olympics, four years ago.) After the race Colin talked to so many of us and I am still in awe of this lad who was so pleasant and polite to us all. He had no problem standing in for photographs with any who asked.
On top of this, I met some lads I had known and trained many years ago, who are now grown up. It was such a joy to see these lads with one of them taking bronze in the 5km. We asked Colin to stand in for a photo with us and he obliged. Colin headed back to Dublin for the rest of the celebrations after handing out all the prizes to the winners and runners up.
Colin’s parents, who are the mainstay of Ballinamore AC for so many years, could not have been more helpful, checking to see if we were all OK at every juncture.
After all these years in athletics I am so delighted to see such ordinary humble people, who have achieved so much, being concerned for us ordinary folk. There were so many volunteers and sponsors that made this evening the most memorable for me and, I’m sure, for all who took part. How lucky we are to have such people on our doorstep.
To Colin, his parents and every single person who helped out at the race, I raise my hat to you all, and, from my heart, I humbly thank you. A night I will never forget.