Easter Sunday was blessed with fine weather for the inaugural Slieve Bloom Run as the runners arrived in their droves from all corners of Ireland to gather at the community centre in Clonaslee and run off the excess easter eggs.
A week prior to the event there was approx 90 entrants ready to tackle the challenging climbs of the SBR 10k and Half Marathon course and the event was reaching it’s predicted numbers of approx 100 entrants.
But this was all about to change at the foot of the Slieve Bloom mountains as the number of entries in the last week and on the day exceeded the expected amount to reach almost 200 participants.
The event was open to walkers and runners, but with only a handful of walkers the runners made up most of the field. The walkers set off at 9.30am and the runners gave chase after their later start of 10.30am
Soon after the start the field split with the 10k runners taking a sharp right turn towards the well worn roads and local walking route of ‘Ricketts Rock’ which offers fine views over undulating and winding narrow lanes. The Half Marathon runners commenced their race with a long challenging climb straight up The Cut road.
After reaching the entrance to Glendineoregan approx two miles later they got their first respite from the long climb as they descended down the forest track for another one and a half miles, where soon after the first water station the runners u-turned back in the opposite direction.
The 10k race was won by Fergus Hogan from Kildare who found it easiest over the hills and took the lead to come home first in a time of 42.28 close on his heels, however, was Grace McConnell who had a fantastic run to finish first lady and second overall (42.48). Grace runs for the recently established and very successful Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District.
Right behind Grace it was local man Chris Hartnett from Rosenallis who arrived at the finish (42.55). Followed closely by Seamus Quinn, Declan Conroy and David O’Brien. second female was Sinead Rigney of Tullamore Harriers in 10th place with 3rd lady Daria Piwowarczyk coming home in 21st position. Tullamore Harriers ladies took the only team prize in the 10k event and the first local runner was Edel Gilsenan,39th overall.
In the Half Marathon first to conquer the hills over the distance was the very experienced and well seasoned Aengus Burke of Portlaoise AC in a time 79mins 22 secs. Aengus was followed in by Eddie Garry (80.10) of Tullamore Harriers. Next in was the ever improving John Kirwin of Ballyroan Abbeyleix who ran a fine race to take the third spot.
In the ladies race it was another well experienced athlete, Olivia Sheerin of St Michael’s who arrived over the line first in eighth overall. Second lady was Ruth Kelly running for Sportsworld and third was Stephanie Bergin also of Sportsworld.
In the half marathon team prizes it was Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District taking first team prize for the men and Tullamore Harriers again taking the ladies team prize.