Runners line up for the start of the inaugural Ashling Murphy Four Mile race in Tullamore
FOUR months after Ashling Murphy was killed while going for a run near Tullamore, an estimated 800 runners took part in a memorial race around the town in her name.
Kathleen and Ray Murphy, parents of the 23-year-old teacher who was murdered on the bank of the Grand Canal on January 12, presented prizes to the top female finishers in this morning's run.
Organisers Offaly Athletics confirmed afterwards that the Ashling Murphy Four Mile will become an annual event.
“To get those numbers taking part was just brilliant. We're going to build on that for next year and hopefully we'll hit over the 1,000 mark for next year,” said Darren Butler, chair, Offaly Athletics county board.
“We all know what happened Ashling. Some of the clubs contacted me and said they wanted to run their own individual races so I said we'll wait until the dust settles and the county board would hold a four-mile race with all the clubs involved.”
Fearghal Leonard, a runner with the Tullamore Harriers athletics club, is a first cousin of the late Ashling and he consulted the Murphy family about the plan for a race.
“The family gave it the thumbs up and they were very supportive and we're delighted to have them here.”
Along with Ashling's parents Kathleen and Ray, her brother Cathal and sister Amy attended the event and traditional music was played by former colleagues of Ashling's in Ballyboy Comhaltas.
Groups of musicians played continuously at each mile marker along the route and Ray Murphy then joined them on stage in O'Connor Square with his banjo after the race.
Members of Kilcormac/Killoughey GAA and camogie ran the course as a group in honour of their former clubmate Ashling.
The race attracted entries from all over the country and the winner of the women's race was Lizzie Lee, Leevale AC, Cork, who ran the marathon in the 2016 Olympics and whose victory in Tullamore coincided with her 42nd birthday.
Sinead Whitelaw, Roscommon Harriers AC was second woman home and in third place was Fiona Gethings, Longford AC.
The overall winner was Peter Somba, Dunboyne AC, with Mick Fogarty, Ferbane AC in second place and Michael Murphy, Tullamore Harriers, third.
The event was open to walkers too and hundreds took part, including many with their children.
Darren Butler thanked the Offaly Athletics sub committee which organised the race, including Mary Daly, competitions secretary for the county board, Louise McEvoy, Kilcormac/Killoughey, Brendan Donagher, Daingean AC, Joe Joe McCann, Edenderry AC, Paul Buckley, Ferbane AC, Mark Kearney, Naomh Ciaran AC and Fearghal Leonard, Tullamore Harriers.
John Cronin, president, Athletics Ireland and Mary Daly joined the Murphy family for the prize presentations.
There were many sponsors and organisations which provided assistance including Donal Rigney Hire Depot, Nissan Garage Tullamore, Camcor Cycles, Order of Malta, Bank of Ireland, Offaly County Council, Ballyboy Comhaltas, Premier Foods, Bridge Centre, the gardai and Tullamore Camera club. Some donors wished to remain anonymous.
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