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AnneValley 5 Mile Challenge 2010


Saturday 13th February 2010-02-15 Alan Campbell A two hour plus drive is not the ideal preparation for a 5 Mile Challenge but as far as I am aware, St Valentine never promised an easy road, and if he did, he never had the pleasure of coming face to face with Anne Valley on Valentine’s weekend.

Before anyone screams slander, Anne Valley is not some scorned lady but it is the gloriously beautiful landscape that resides between Dunhill and Annestown on Waterford’s Copper Coast. The stretch offers the background to a race of growing popularity, and on its fourth run last weekend, I joined growing list of admirers…but not without some pain.

I have only run two races in my life before, the Loughrea 5 Mile (when it was the Great Ireland Run) and the Ballycotton ‘10’, both of which were tackled long before the Celtic Tiger roared…so while I am not exactly a highly tuned racing machine, I had experience!

The plan was to travel on Friday evening but events conspired against me and I was left with the option of taking in the Anne Valley 5 Mile Challenge as part of a circa five hour round trip, or just do what I have being doing intermittently over the last few months – going out for a run on a loop that depending on my energy levels would never usually waiver outside the 25 to 27 minute mark.

The race was due to start at 12 noon which meant I had plenty of time to watch the enthusiastic walkers and Under 14’s getting ready for their earlier departures. By the way, if you have never been to Dunhill, it is a beautiful village perched on the slopes of a valley and on this particular Saturday, the bright spring sunshine made fast times possible and a rare Ireland victory over France in Paris even more so!

When it came to 11.45am, and after I had squeezed into a race teeshirt that fitted me more like a tank-top, I and the other 362 competitors made our way to the start line which is a half a mile uphill from Dunhill. It was there that my lack of preparation was beginning to tell already. While some advised going on a high tempo half mile burst to get the heart rate up before the race, I was inclined to think that this race could take me 35 minutes (a lot more than I was used to running), so pure self preservation kicked in and I allowed some exertive comrades ready themselves while I stood around talking to eight people who had travelled from Burnley in the UK…which made my journey that morning from Maynooth seem all the more reasonable.

The Anne Valley Run would not go amiss in a theme park, where you are strapped in for fast descents, climbs, and high g-force corners. The first ¾ of a mile is a steep downhill run into the bottom of the valley, where you turn right for Annestown. The road levels off before you start a long uphill climb into Annestown village, where you turn left, drop down a hill again, follow the beach, go across a bridge and then rise again.

I was still feeling pretty good at Annestown and I had picked out my targets to stay within reach of. However, despite the upbeat tunes being blasted in encouragement from Annestown beach, a tough uphill climb out of Annestown wasn’t made any easier and by the time I reached the top, I was feeling the challenge.

A serious of short sharp ups and downs were met through mile three, taking you past Dunhill Castle, before embarking on the climb back out of the valley. If there is a steeper gradient of the same distance in any road race in Ireland, could I be informed now please! While I didn’t keel over, this was the point where I knew I could be a lot fitter. Those three or four runners I happily passed earlier in the race cruised by me now, but to stop pushing would have been a shame.

It’s all down hill for the last half mile into Dunhill and while others could probably capitalise on that for a fast finish, I just tried to keep one leg in front of the other. I glimpsed at the clock as I crossed the line and saw a time that I was more than happy with, and gladly received my specially made Gallweys chocolate gold medal, banana and bottle of glenpatrick from some very supportive organisers.

Harney’s local pub then supplied tea, sandwiches and cakes so people could relax after what many described as a hard but exhilarating run. The Burnley international team were delighted and were already making plans to make the Anne Valley Challenge an annual weekend expedition but one man summed it up better than another.

Gerry Forde, from Blarney in Co. Cork, takes his wheelchair onto the starting line for races most weekends. His wheelchair is currently damaged but waiting for a new one did not stop him entering this race. It must have been hell on that final ascent out of the valley.

‘Gerry, tell me, how was that race and the last climb compared with other races?’ ‘Tough’ he said, before letting off a beaming smile ‘It was tough alright’. Looking around at the smiles elsewhere, almost all would joyfully concur. It is no wonder that road races, and particularly friendly well organised races such as this, are growing in popularity.

From AnneValleyRunning.com

Well done to all who took part in the 4th Anne valley 5 mile challenge. The day was a huge success. We had record numbers in all 3 events.365 in the main race, 88 juveniles in the 2 km and 150 walkers and fun runners. It was fantastic to see so many familiar faces from the Monday night track and the winter league.

A big thank you to all our stewards, many of whom were injured club members! And not forgetting the injured gardai too!

Congrats to our first clubman home Frank Quinlan in a wicked time of28.32 and Diane Behan our first lady winning o40 category. Well done too to Conor Quinn who was 3rd overall in the u14 and 2nd boy.

Full list of results, times and photos can be got from the official race website www.annevalleyrunning.webs.com.

All proceeds raised from the day will go to the worthy Jack and Jill foundation. At the moment the figure is exceeding 6500 euro so well done again to all involved.