Sunday the 30th of November proved to be yet another fantastic day in Castleblayney as the people of North East literally turned up in their hundreds to play their part in the McMahons Supervalu Castleblayney 5K. Shortly after 10am an army of volunteers gathered in the Glencarn Shopping Centre so that the registration process would be quick and easy for the large crowd anticipated.
When the Guest Speaker Pat Divilly from Divilly Fitness arrived at 1pm, he was taken aback firstly by the large crowds but more so by the great sense of community at the event. The Race Stewards Committee had worked hard with the local Gardai to insure that Main Street and the other areas of the town were closed off, so that the Runners would have a clear and save passage from the start right through to the packed finishing area in the middle of the town.
The Race field had a large number of Athletics Clubs present, with runners coming from as far field as Dublin, Donegal, Belfast, Galway and Mayo with the age profile varying from the very young to the not so young. The GAA community turned out in large numbers with eighteen clubs entering the “Fastest GAA Club” while some thirty five athletics clubs were represented in the “Fastest Athletics Club”, with Scoil Mhuire na mBuchaillí deserving special mention as they registered over 50 Boys along with a further seven staff members.
Pat Divilly offered the Runners/Walkers some advice from the platform before Operation TransFAUGHmations Tom Miller took the huge crowd for a warm up to Katriona and the Waves “Walking on Sunshine”. When Faughs and Monaghan legend Gerry Fitzpatrick sounded the horn for the start of the race there were nearly eight hundred Runners /walkers registered.
The elite athletes such as Michael McKillop, Conor Duffy, Dessie Duffy, Shane Boyle and Shane Brady were quickly off the mark with Conor laying down an early marker by making it first to the turning point. The field had been well spread out after 1KM and it wasn’t long before all participants had found their rhythm.The Race route was lined with a huge number of supporters as they clapped each individual home to the main finish line which was on the Main Street. It wasn’t long before Conor Duffy wearing the Glaslough Harriers vest came sprinting down the Main Street to huge applause and cross the line in first place with a time of 15.23; indeed the win capped a great few days for Conor who was chosen on the previous Friday to represent Ireland at the 21st SPAR European Cross Country Championships which takes place in Samokov, Bulgaria on Sunday December 14th.
Conor was followed shortly after by Michael McKillop (2nd Male) in 15.59. The first female was Olivia Martin from Bohermeen Club in 19.30 and for the second year in a row the 2nd Female went to Donna Evans in 20.12. Senior Faughs Footballer Benny McElroy won the Fastest Castleblayney Faughs person in an excellent time of 18.53 but the biggest cheers were reserved for all the participants of the Operation TransFAUGHSmation who stayed to applaud each other home on completion of their race. In the Fastest GAA Club, the Doohamlet GAA Club won the bragging rights for this year while the fastest Athletics Club also left Castleblayney for its new home in Clones thanks to three of their team finishing in the top sixteen.
After the race all participants and supporters attended a packed Glencarn Hotel, were Patrick Mc Fadden and his staff supplied free Tea, Coffee and sandwiches to all. The audience was entertained as local athlete Aidan Campbell held a question and answers session with Colin Regan from the National Health and Wellness Committee, Jason Hughes and Tom Miller from Operation TransFAUGHSmation programme as well as motivational speaker Gerry Duffy.
Pat Divilly was the Clubs special guest speaker on the day and was highly impressed with the day remarking that “This really is a special event, I heard quite a bit in advance from different people who have attended in the last couple of years but to honest with you I am blown away with the Community spirit in Castleblayney. The fitness programme run by the Faughs Club called Operation TransFAUGHSmation is very special, it really does seem to be the “Fun way to a healthier lifestyle”. I would like to congratulate everybody who took part in such a great day”
When asked about the whole event, a clearly delighted Tom Miller replied “This year we had a mixed crew of people who were new to the programme plus a large crowd of people who had completed Operation TransFAUGHSmation in previous years which worked really well. The main aim for everyone at the start of the programme was to be able to run/walk the Castleblayney 5K and as we have seen everyone achieved that goal today to say I am proud of them all would be an understatement but credit must be given to all the participants who have been nothing but great craic and the community spirit created at Opertaion TransFAUGHSmation is something really very special.” It was clear to all that Stephen Dignam Senior Chairperson of the Faughs Club was equally delighted “Today is about what we as the Faughs Club can offer back to our local community, hopefully everyone has enjoyed the experience today and will have gone home happy. I know today we missed one of our race organisers, the late Pauline Devlin, hopefully Pauline and indeed the greater community of Castleblayney are proud of what was achieved today, I know I certainly am”.
Next year race date will be Sunday the 29th of November 2015, I recommend that you put the date in your Diary, it really is a great occasion. Well done to all, WooHoo.