Michael Manning Memorial Dunshaughlin 10km Race Report 2018
Just last week I was running past a couple of lads in Trim, the annual Braveheart 5km trail run was wrapping up and one comment alerted the curious head in me, hard not to I suppose.
“Will you be racing Dunshaughlin this year?”
“I will to be sure and you?”
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world. she’s going to be warm”
“Wouldn’t have it any other way”
“Exactly, we’ll give it a lash, see how we go, we’re not getting any younger!”
Those few words got the head thinking about when was the first one that I remembered? Almost certain it was ’84. Now ’84 was memorable for lots of reasons but for me it was first time I got to see a real road race in my club. The idea of running out the Ratoath road to Donnelly’s cross, back in around Lagore to the village in and around a half an hour was mad. Still is. The next few years came and went and all us young lads would have ‘jobs’ on race day. Filling drums of water. Filling cups of water. Handing out cups of water. Picking up empty cups. One year a few of us got promoted and were assigned new jobs. Five of us packed into the back of Domo Moran’s van and down to the start.
“Right lads, when they start, you make sure you start your watches, Right? Have we got that?”
This has to be right, right?
And GO GO GO!
“Make sure you’ve those watches started lads. C’mon”
Away we go in the van, young ones and young lads, but all lads at the same time. After a couple of minutes, the van stops. Mile one mark.
“Right, who’s out first, hop, remember to call it good and loud, have you got it?”
Door slides shut and on to mile two. Drive on, then three, four and five. Same instructions every time. I remember thinking this digital watch better not stop whatever else happens. Runners streamed pass, frothy phlegm that didn’t quite make it to the hedge stuck to some cheeks. Famous club singlets proudly worn, reeking of sweat from all-out effort. The odd grunt thanked us young lads as times were called out as loud as you could until everyone passed you by. Then it was a wait for a lift back to the finish. Even back then, the detail. It was all about the detail. Get it right and it will be right.
Each year, the lads would add a little something extra to the race, prize categories, result sheets sellotaped to the walls, tea and sandwiches, chip timing, course record bonuses, race t-shirts, race video. Learn a little each year and get ready for the next one. This year is number 39, Father time has put his arm around the shoulders of a few lads, some a little too early, others were ready if ever you can be ready. Most of the original lads are now flanked by the next generation watching, looking and learning. An army of volunteers helping to make it right on the night.
The men and women on the hill in Glasnevin deliver a great weather forecast, even the ones that cause squinty eyes when running in the sideways rain. They’re used to getting things right. From the Tuesday before race day, you’re looking for a good one. This year they helped us yet again. They do make the weather you know. I was thinking about the two lads from Trim and wondered how they’d get on with the he-e-e-at.
Tea. Lots of tea and biscuits. A raspberry roulade appeared with the tea at one of the meetings. A roulade.... gorgeous it was. It’s the little things I thought. One purpose only for the tea meetings, get it right and we’ll be good to go again next year.
Traffic signage, distance markers, safety barriers and everything else checked and rechecked. Race day arrives and a little after 3 o’clock, the set-up begins in the hall. Tables, chairs, speakers and most importantly, the burco boilers for tea. Then a lull settles everything for about an hour.
Where did the past year go to? The early birds appear, numbers collected, t-shirt pocketed and away they go again. Over the next hour and a half, the hall is alive to the sound of pre-race banter and slagging. Coloured singlets from Raheny, Rathfarnham, Donore, Trim, North Belfast, Armagh, Drogheda, Mallow, Sligo, Mullingar, Galway and everywhere in-between having numbers carefully pinned onto them. All great clubs with great histories of their own. They’re helping us make some of ours now. The 30-minute call to race start was given, then 20 and not long after that, the hall goes quiet for the last time before the crowds return for the spread and post-mortem after the race.
Up at the start, recognition for friends passed was respectfully given and we hope they would approve of how we were doing. 3.. 2.. 1.. and on one of the widest starts in Ireland, almost 800 race to the first bend, past the Community College and into the village. Some running cute, others running easy and more than a few hero's enjoying the moment throwing plans out the window and just going for it! It’s warm now, the Met Eireann station over the road in Dunsany measured just over 17 degrees Celsius at the start, feels a lot warmer in Dunshaughlin.
The reason the almost 800 were here, was here. The serious business of racing. The Michael Manning Memorial is Ireland's oldest 10km road race and was well and truly under way. A group of twelve men edged a few metres clear going past the Arch bar and turned the corner off the main street to break the first mile in 4:54. A fair gallop already but plenty in the tanks if needed. This group included Hiko Tonosa (DSD AC), Freddie Keron Sittuk and Mark Kirwan (Raheny AC), the 2017 champion Sergiu Ciobanu (Clonliffe Harriers), Conor Bradley (City of Derry), Paddy Hamilton (Armagh AC), Mark Mc Kinstry and Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers), Eric Keogh (Donore Harriers), Paul Moloney (Mallow AC), Tom Fitzpatrick (Tallaght AC) and Emmett Dunleavy (Sligo AC).
Crossing the road at Christy Foleys and out towards Ratoath, something was missing. He loved the race, every year he would be out at the gate, the black and amber flying proudly even if a little worn but forever welcoming the next generation to give their best as they headed out into the country. A gentle clap of hands that welcomed more than most. Jim Gilligan put it best during his graveside oration, everybody knew Patsy.
Racing through 2km in 6:07, passing through Bonestown and Rackenstown, threats of a breakaway were quickly closed down so from now it was going to be a little cagier. From 4km to 5km the group eased off a little covering it in 3:14, the slowest kilometre of the race for the winner. This brought the tightly bunched leaders group through to half way in 15:28, just the blink of a slow eye separating twelve of Irelands top 10km road runners. At this stage Noel Cullen’s 29:21 (Clonliffe Harriers) course record looked secure for another year at least.
At Dunshaughlin we especially like it when some of our hero's turn up to race. This year, we had a Rio Olympian. Kerry O'Flaherty from Newcastle & District AC made the trip to the Royal county with a plan to give the course a lash. At the first mile mark, Kerry was already in control and showing a steely determination to deliver. Borris O’Kanes Siobhan O’Doherty was within ear shot and not too far off her shoulder was Una Britton (Kilcoole AC) with Jane Bandila (Dunboyne AC) and Grace Lynch (Iveragh) in hot pursuit.
Turning right at Donnelly’s cross and passing the one of the many water station, it was a hot day and some took advantage to cool a little. Down the hill and right over Greenhills bridge to the first noticeable rise in elevation since the start. Passing over the names of club members, a la Tour de France style, they continued to mile 4 in 19:36. Hiko surged, Freddie followed, the rest couldn’t.
Around the next few bends and with the Lagore hill in view, there’s nothing a tiring runner enjoys more in a 10km road race than 500 metres of rising tarmac on a pin straight road. There were no chasing rabbits when this road was built! Hiko had been putting the squeeze on and gradually eased a few more metres in to the space between him and Freddy who having finished third last year was keen to at least finish one place closer to the tape.
At the top of the hill and five miles covered in 24:33, Hiko Tonosa had maintained his lead over Freddy. Freddy, Sergiu, Conor and Emmett had less than a mile to play their trump cards but the swift running front runner had plenty in reserve and rounded the final turn with 100 metres to go. The 2018 winner crossed the line in 30:16 and once again the record set back in 2000 has stood the test of time. The €500 course record bonus from The Kia Race Series would be safe. Little did we think that long after the Millennium Bug had threatened to cause havoc to microwaves and toasters around the country that Noel Cullen’s 29m 21secs would still be the marker to beat at Dunshaughlin going on 19 years. Freddy finished strong to take 2nd place ahead of City of Derry man Conor Bradley 30:35. Just 25 seconds separating the top five men. Close but no cigar. The 35-minute barrier came and 60 finishers had managed to dip under this marker further illustrating the strength of the field.
Kerry O’Flaherty had the threat of company turning right over Greenhills bridge (6km), the threat was from the girl from Borris O’Kane. Feeling strong she closed the gap to about 80 metres and with Una stepping closer into frame, the women’s race was again coming down to a tight squeeze. Into the final kilometre Kerry knew that without a hiccup she would be first across the line and sure enough, seconds later the Rio Olympian broke the tape in 34:36 to join a well-regarded list of Michael Manning Memorial Dunshaughlin 10km winners. Siobhan finished 2nd in 34:58 with Úna just a further 7 seconds back in 35:07. More than 40 women dipped under 45 minutes, great to see.
It was a continuous steam of finishers for the next 30 minutes or so with fist pumps and yelps of delight echoing the sound of pb’s being broken. Age group category prizes all filled quickly showing how clubs from all over the country love to race Dunshaughlin. For the first time, the men’s team winners were Rathfarnham AC with all four home under 34 minutes, Dunboyne AC took the women’s title with all three home in just over 40 minutes. Top class running for sure. A flavour of race day is available on Evan Scully’s youtube channel https://youtu.be/Crsz120tmMU and full results are available through www.popupraces.ie . The P.J. Fagan award for first vet went to Paddy O’Toole (Westport AC) 32:42. The Charlie O’Brien Cup for first male over 55 was won by Gerry O’Connell (Marino Institute) 35:44. First Dunshaughlin woman was Breda O’Connor 43:26 and first Dunshaughlin man was Terry Brady 35:51.
Dunshaughlin AC is a running club within the community, we can’t thank them enough for helping us every year. Started back in 1979 by a group of young lads who simply wanted to run, I don’t think they could have ever dreamed that the race would become what it is today, the go to 10km road race on the Irish road racing calendar.
I saw a few of the young lads of today handing out water at the finish line, young lads and young ones together, great to see it. Here’s to hoping they all become the lads of tomorrow. I’ve a feeling we’re in safe hands. After all it has to be right, right?
Oh and the two lads from Trim, they were sitting on the chipper wall beside the finish, enjoying the vacant stare you fall into after emptying yourself over the last 500…
“Will you be racing Dunshaughlin next year, it’ll be the 40th?”
“I will to be sure if I’m still here… and you?”
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world. she’s going to be warm, warm and special, especially for the 40th”
“Wouldn’t have it any other way”
“Exactly, we’ll give it a lash, see how we go. we’re not getting any younger!”