DDAC athletes relax after competing in the Rathoath Half Marathon.
Following on from last week's exciting array of events, the athletes of Drogheda & District A.C. knuckled down to a hard week of training in the searing heat of Ireland's second summer, in the lead up to one of the region's most highly anticipated races.
The sun was blazing, the competition fierce, and the stakes were high as DDAC athletes descended on Fairyhouse Racecourse for the ever-popular Rathoath Half Marathon.
With temperatures already soaring at 20 degrees as the race began at 9:30 AM, the day promised to be a true test of endurance. This highly competitive event, known for its relatively flat course and challenging finish, attracted elite athletes from across the region, including some of the top talents in the sport.
Ratoath is renowned for its mix of downhill stretches, short climbs, and a torturous finish on the racecourse grounds. The first half featured a fast downhill start, allowing the runners to build momentum early on.
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However, the second half of the race presented a series of short climbs, testing the athletes' strength and determination. The final two miles proved to be a gruelling lap that could be especially punishing on a windy day, but fortunately, the wind was mild. Nevertheless, the relentless sun was beating down, added an extra layer of challenge to the finish.
DDAC athletes showed their mettle in this intense competition, with 36 of them taking on the event with standout performances throughout the morning.
First to cross the line for DDAC was Stephen Kelly in an impressive 1:16:50, Johnny Breen was next on 1:21:27, showing remarkable endurance and determination throughout the race followed closely by Colm Reilly completing the course in 1:22:07, all three displayed exceptional strength and stamina, testament to their dedication to training for the Dublin Marathon.
Fiona Kenna led the way for the DDAC ladies with an outstanding time of 1:31:57 followed closely by her ever-strong training partner Dominick Branigan who showcased his determination with a time of 1:31:59.
Paul Reilly conquered the challenging course with a strong finish of 1:36:53, Michael Walker displayed incredible tenacity, finishing in 1:44:14, showing ever improving results throughout the year, Eimear Marron completed the race in 1:45:18, highlighting her strength and endurance on a day where the sun was relentless.
Other noteworthy results came from Emmett Steenson with an impressive time of 1:56:25, Unai Diaz-Orueta in a swift 02:09:20, and Karen O'Connell and Fiona Branigan, displaying their remarkable perseverance, finishing in 2:05:44 and 2:13:56 respectively.
As the scorching sun shone unabated DDAC athletes took on the formidable challenge of the Dromiskin 5K later that Saturday evening. The course, though fast-paced, was far from a walk in the park, featuring gruelling hills around the 3rd and 4th kilometres. But the thrill of the race was undeniable, with a lightning-fast downhill finish for the last kilometre that set hearts racing.
In total, 16 determined DDAC athletes lined up at the start, ready to leave their mark. First home for DDAC was Colin Leonard blazing through in an astonishing 16:07 taking 5th place overall and clinching 3rd place in the Men's Team category.
Not to be outdone, Ruaidhri Nolan claimed the top spot in this category with a remarkable time of 16:39 and also contributed to the 3rd place in the Men's Team. David Gallagher and John Reilly clocked in at 17:34 and 17:37, respectively, both helping secure 3rd place in the Men's Team category. The dedication didn't stop there, as Brian Harvey put in a solid effort at 20:05.
Meanwhile, Eimear Knowles led the charge for the DDAC females, crossing the finish line in 20:57. Other noteworthy performances included Hugh Callan at 21:27, Yvonne McMahon at 22:09, and Sinead Weldon, who not only finished strong at 22:37 but also secured 3rd place in her category.
A special mention goes to Nuala Reilly who showcased her remarkable endurance and determination by not only participating in the Rathoath Half, finishing with an impressive time of 01:53:13, but later in the day fearlessly tackled the Dromiskin 5K, completing it in 26:09 and securing an impressive second place in her category at both events. Nuala's double triumph is a testament to her unwavering dedication and love of the sport.
All of DDAC’s runners demonstrated their unwavering commitment on Saturday, with impressive achievements, even in the face of searing temperatures, and their impressive results at both events are a testament to their sheer determination and passion for running.