‘Inside The Race’ Blog 3 of 3, Races from the Race Directors perspective.  

‘Inside The Race’ Blog 3 of 3, Races from the Race Directors perspective. 

Race Day review: The 35th Annual Tommy Ryan Memorial Carrigaline 5 Mile February 18th, 2024

Well, the day we were preparing for finally arrived last Sunday Feb. 18th and after some restless sleeping it was an early start for the 2 race directors.  Earlier for Ruairi who is compulsively early for everything and more or less on time for Karen as usual.  The early start does have its benefits when you are treated to a lovely sunrise and the promise of a good morning for racing. 

First thing on the agenda is to meet with Lucy from Myrunresults.ie. Lucy was due between 8am & 8:30am, following her long drive down from Dublin. She arrived in high spirits as usual, and immediately got to work setting up the finish line gantry and timing mats. We unloaded the water for the finish line water station area and headed down to get the hall set up for the event. As soon as the hall doors opened at 9am the room became animated, with registration set up under the watchful eye of Grellan McGrath, prize area and PA set up, catering getting ready with Danny Luxton at the helm to get the Burkos on the boil, Eagle AC members delivering food, and even some early racers arriving. 

By this stage both Pat Murphy and Denis Looney are out on the course and start line & finish line set up, and Daniel Dransfield in the lead car is driving the course to ensure all is good out there, this has been done several times in the lead up to the race, but a final check is always essential. 

Next up is to check that the Portaloo’s are delivered and set up at the start line and we check in with the ambulance crew to ensure that they are on the way and ready for action. Parking needs to be managed at the community centre and Martin O’ Leary is on duty here. 

It’s always nice to be in the hall to meet some of our runners, when possible. Cork has such a wonderful community of runners and there are always so many familiar faces and long-time supporters of Eagle AC races. We really do appreciate when they turn up year after year. 

By 10:40am things start getting very real and we need all runners to head up to the start line, it’s a bit of a walk from the hall, so we really need to see the hall clearing at this time. A lot of our Eagles are double jobbing also, so we ask them to take up their roles as steward, bikers etc. for the duration of the race. Elaine Guinane is in full chief steward mode by this time, on the phone to ensure everyone can find their appropriate spot, handing out Hi-vis jackets, and again double checking and briefing the stewards and the bikes. She is invaluable on race day and plays a central role within the club every day to be honest. 

It’s almost ‘GO’ time & about now things can get a bit tense…

Final checks with the lead car, checks with timing company, checks with chief steward, check with bikers, is everybody read to go?

The answer is YES, and we are ready for the briefing to the runners and the race countdown to start. 

10:59 Get John Meade to stop talking about how well Ryan Creech did today and get behind the start line ….

11am is GO time, and with thanks to Michael Ryan, Tommy’s brother, the runners are off. 

Start line photo by Siobhan Russell Photography

This is a memorial race for Tommy Ryan a former Eagle AC runner and we are honoured to have his 3 brothers present Michael, Paul & Pat and Pat ran the race again this year.


Once the runners have left the start line, we get to the finish line as quickly as possible to see that they pass through this easily. This was a sticking point last year and an area of improvement and things move much more smoothly as they head out of Waterpark and turn left onto the 5-mile course. 

Next for the race directors there is the task of ensuring the start line area is clean and returned to pre-race condition. 

Then it’s back to the finish line to see the winner re-enter the park. We had had some feedback from stewards on the course, so we know that John Meade St Finbarr’s AC is holding lead position on the day and as long-term friend of the club we are delighted to welcome him home as our winner (26.49). Second home is a relatively new Eagle man Adam Doyle (27.24) with an excellent performance, and 3rd home was Sean Twohig (27.33) another St. Finbarr’s man. 

For our ladies we are delighted to welcome Hannah Steed Leevale AC (28.47), our most recent Fota Cheetah Run winner as our first lady on the day, Breda Gaffney (31.11) Mallow AC another inspirational Cork Runner in second place, and the much-loved Lisa Crowley (33.15) Watergrass hill AC in third. 

If you would like any more information of the race and our winners that can be found here: https://www.eagleac.ie/post/race-day-review-the-35th-annual-tommy-ryan-memorial-carrigaline-5-mile-february-18th-2024

We stay at the finish line for as long as possible to welcome the runners in and congratulate them on their run, there is a super buzz about this part of the race. Photos, interviews and social media videos are in full flow.  By 12pm it’s time for the Race Directors to be back in the hall to ensure everything is running well and we are ready for prizegiving. On re-entering the hall, the atmosphere is electric which is amazing to see, everybody seems to be in great form with the post-race high that a sunny day can bring. The post-race spread with teas and coffees in full flow our MC Mike McGrath is ready to kick into gear and capture the crowd with his spot prize quizzes and prize giving speeches. Our photographers Joe Murphy, Mick Dooley and Graham Meikle this year are in full flow taking pictures of all the prize winners and our charity partners.

John Meade 1st Male

Hannah Steed 1st Female

Conor & Caoimhe Foroige

Carrigaline Meals on Wheels 

By 1pm its clean up time, the finish line area cleaned & checked, and the hall must be cleaned up and ready for its next event. Then just like the 35th Tommy Ryan Carrigaline 5-mile race comes to an end for all its participants. 

For the race directors there are a few more jobs to be done: 

All the food left over from the day is brought to Penny Dinners for their evening soup run with great thanks to Ed Fitz for arranging this. 

There are bills to be paid, unclaimed prize winners to be followed up with, thank you letters to be written to the sponsors, a website article to reflect on the day itself and to highlight all prize winners and last but certainly not least the Runners Diary final blog to be written. The accounts will be finalised, and charity donations will be prepared but this looks to be exceeding 1,000 this year which is amazing. Our course bonuses were not won this year so Coughlan DeKeyser Architects our course bonus sponsor, kindly added this to the charity donations total. 

There are certainly highlights to the day but in terms of things that make Race Directors happy I think this might be number 1 on Ruairi Egan’s list; a Strava report from one of our runners last Sunday, an on-time departure and a perfectly measured course:

We learn something new every year, and we try our best to make continual improvements to the race. Some are small adjustments to the hall set up or directional signs, others require some extra input like the fact that the traffic was heavier this year than it ever has been for our runners, we will look at how this can be alleviated for next year. We are more than happy to take all feedback on board. 

In summary the 35th running of the Tommy Ryan memorial Carrigaline 5 Mile was, in our eyes, a great success. We are so pleased with how it all went this year, and the feedback has been very positive. We have such an incredible team at Eagle AC to run these events and we are incredibly grateful to all involved.

Thank you to the Runners Diary Podcast for allowing us to share our experience as race directors of this fantastic event with you. Thank you to our sponsors The Edge Sports & Coughlan Dekeyser Architects, to all our participants, and a special thank you to all our Eagle AC members for making this event possible. 

 We look forward to next year, but before that we are already kicking into gear for our Cheetah run 2024 in Fota Wildlife Park on May 16th and we would be delighted if you would join us there too! 

Signing off from the 35th Annual Tommy Ryan Carrigaline 5 Mile 

Karen Bevan & Ruairi Egan, Eagle AC Race Directors 2024.

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