Inside The Race

To start we’d just like to say thank you very much to Damian and Brian for our inaugural blog post request!! We are happy to be your ‘Test Monkeys’ in another exciting Runners Diary Podcast adventure. There is no stopping you guys, you really are inspiring the running community of Cork and beyond, along with promoting physical activity and encouraging participation with your 5k a day January challenge.

As runners we are all familiar with club races from a runner’s point of view, we see a race advertised that we fancy, enter online these days, turn up on the morning, get shown where to park by some hi viz volunteers, collect our number, warm up and race. Afterwards we geta bite to eat, a cuppa and chat with everyone, sometimes maybe even a prize, then off we go. Sounds simple! So, what’s really involved behind the scenes of these events? How many people does it take to put on a race safely and successfully, when do preparations begin and what kind of jobs need to be done that you might never think of as a runner? Well, we’ll try to bring you behind the scenes of the annual Eagle AC Tommy Ryan memorial 5 miler, now in its 35 th year, in this short series of blog posts.

Being the current race directors, we are following in the footsteps of many very experienced club members and race directors who have been responsible for the successful running of this event for the past 35 years. Since 2009, these have included Joe Roche, Denis Looney, Ed Fitzgerald and Tracy Cotter.

So, getting down to the business of organising our race. We have just passed the one month out from race day mark and here is where we are currently at: Race preparation commenced back in September 2023. With the dates agreed upon, Pat Murphy, who is our competitions secretary and an encyclopaedia of knowledge in terms of running events, made the application to Athletics Ireland for the race permit for both our Carrigaline 5 mile in February; our Cheetah run in May.
This road race licence is important in terms of insurance & safety of all concerned and ensuring consistency in race organisation across the country as the courses are measured by AAI Approved Course Measurers. Ours is an AAI Measured course by John Quigley. More Information can be found here

In November we needed to check in with our sponsors to confirm that they were happy to continue with their generous contributions to the event. The Edge Sports have been the official sponsor of our event going back 12 years now and we are ever grateful for their
support. Last year we were delighted to welcome Coughlan Dekeyser Architects onboard, and they provided the new course time bonus. This was very exciting to watch at the finish line last year with Pat Hennessy just missing out and Lizzie Lee coming home strong to claim the bonus. We are happy to report that our generous array of prizes are ready and waiting again this year.

All the practicalities of the race organisation continue in December. The Carrigaline Community Hall was booked for the post-race celebrations. The entry systems were arranged with – Details on this process can be found here. This then led onto booking the timing company, and here have been our reliable partner here for the past 5 years.
There are decisions to be made on race entry price and trying to keep this as fair as possible. The goal with the Carrigaline race is firstly that it is a fundraiser for 2 local charities, Carrigaline Meals on Wheels and the Foroige Heron Project. The ‘Carrigaline 5 mile’ is a long-standing road race in Cork, and we do want to keep the traditional road races running where possible. This race is not considered a fundraiser for the club, we are happy if it breaks even each year and that everyone has a great day out!

By late December we called on our talented Flyer Design Guy to get the Race Flyer ready to go for the entries opening date.

This year we opened entries in January, as we found the December entries to be slow last year and we hoped to make the most of all your New Years Resolutions! Also, as everyone is out and getting their 5K a day done in their Runners Diary Challenge, they are going to be in super shape for a February 18th 5 miler!
The beginning of January was a lot about advertising and race promotion. Social media plays a big part here now, but also linking in with the bigger running blogs in Cork. The Runners Diary (of course), Cork Athletics by John Quigley and Running in Cork by John
Desmond. We try also to link with the local community newspapers ‘The Carrigdhoun’, and more national sites such as also kindly share our event, there are plenty more and sorry to leave anyone out. We also need to give thanks here to all the local running clubs who share our race both within their club and on social media also. Red FM with Ruairi O’ Hagan were even involved last year so we felt like real celebs! (Nervous ones!)

Nervous race directors getting ready for a Red FM interview

One of the most important jobs in January is the organisation of all our club volunteers. We do this by having some steadfast ‘Area Leaders’. Elaine Guinane is our chief steward; she knows the course like the back of her hand. She knows exactly where all the stewards should stand, she knows every junction, by-road, and possible obstacle on the Carrigaline route. She has a rock solid tried and tested race day plan that always comes together. This requires a whole lot of club volunteers, family and friends are often roped in here too, to act as stewards, cyclists, and in various other roles to ensure the course is safe. We work alongside Elaine in terms of the route risk assessment to ensure our runners safety on race day. Danny Luxton our Catering leader is also called into action in January to organise the catering equipment hire, take note of offers of food from club members and again he needs bodies to help on the day. Eagle is a superb club to turn out and help with these races when needed and we know how lucky we are that everybody works together so well.

This is also the month for contacting the local Gardai, the Ambulance personnel, our charity partners, our photographers, and the always essential Portaloo people! We will be chasing down our last year  winners from Cork to Australia, to get the perpetual trophies engraved with their names and be ready for their new 2024 winners.
We will continue to try and push entries for the race, so be prepared for some reels, some
competitions, and requests to please share and tell your friends to join in our 2024, 35th
Annual Tommy Ryan Memorial, Eagle AC’s Carrigaline 5 Mile.
That’s where we are up to now and we will be back again with a ‘Race Week’ update and again finally with a ‘How it all went’ update after everybody crosses the finish line.
So, while the faces you see and often you hear about are Ruairi and Karen, it’s a team effort with so many people playing a part to hold these club events safely and successfully.

Thank you for reading.
Ruairi Egan and Karen Bevan
Eagle AC Race Directors

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