It’s a year since I was at the soccer ground at Gortakeegan in Monaghan. A lot has happened since then. On the last visit, Monaghan United FC drew 0-0 with Shamrock Rovers in the Airtricity League Premier Division. Roddy Collins was managing the team and Stephen Kenny was in charge of Rovers and I interviewed both afterwards. Collins now manages Athlone Town and Kenny is at Dundalk. Within a few weeks of that match, during the mid-season break, the Mons had pulled out of the league and professional football.
Yesterday I passed through the same club rooms and dressing rooms as the runners and walkers prepared for the sixth annual Blackwater 10k. This time, I knew that the soccer club is now devoted to youth teams only, some of which have performed well in their various leagues. But the building was buzzing as the dozens of volunteers sorted out last minute arrangements for registration, marshalling and catering.
Monaghan Lions Club with their President Ann Bowe was one of the groups helping with the organisation. Around 1200 runners and walkers took part in the event and hundreds more arrived to cheer them on. This year Monaghan Special Olympics had been designated as the charity to be supported and many of their members with families and friends as well as helpers turned out for the event.
The course was out the Newbliss Road towards the entrance to Rossmore Forest Park. However it followed a different route this year as part of the forest is being cultivated by Coillte and the paths on that side were not in a suitable condition for runners. The first 10k competitor to cross the line in a time of 33 minutes 50 seconds was Simon Ryan and Donna Evans the first female in 38 minutes 47 seconds. My neighbour from Tydavnet John James McKenna ran it in 1:14:29. Each runner was given a special chip which ensured their time was recorded when they crossed a rubber mat at the finishing line. The list of finishing times for runners can be found here. Another neighbour George Meehan did the walk.
Well done to all those who took part for the run or just for the fun and helped to raise money for some very worthwhile causes. Great work done by all the backroom teams as well to ensure that the event passed off smoothly, including members of Monaghan civil defence. Sean McCaffrey from Northern Sound provided commentary before and during the race.