I signed up to the Farranfore St. Stephen’s Day 5k Race just a few days beforehand. The fear of racing after the Christmas day feast deterred me every other year, but after a couple of years of no road races at all, I decided the time had come to stop making excuses!

An early morning of showers gave way to glorious winter sunshine for the 60th Annual Farrenfore Road Race. This year’s race attracted a field of 301 runners, which included Olympian Michelle Finn, as well as a few brave souls who told me they were hoping the run would cure their Christmas hangover! There was a great atmosphere beforehand, lots of cheerful, friendly faces and a fantastic buzz around the place. It really seemed like everyone was genuinely delighted to be there, after last’s year’s race, like so many others, went virtual. The morning kicked off with a 2K Fun Run, which had nearly 100 participants and was full of lots of smiling young kids & families with buggies in tow.

I spotted a few friendly faces I recognised from running groups in Tralee & unashamedly invited myself to join their warm-up, which consisted of a very easy 14-minute jog and 4 X 200m sprints. The start & finish of the 5k race was at the Kerry Mill in Farranfore, running close to the cross-roads in Firies and returning via the same route. The pre-race nerves didn’t get a chance to kick in at all, until I was at the start line looking at the hill ahead of me, but even then, I felt markedly more relaxed than I usually do!

The gun went off and pure adrenaline forced me up the hill without too much exertion. Before I knew it, I was taking advantage of the downhill reprieve that followed and happy to be back to the flat part of the course. I tucked in with a small group of runners, we got a nice rhythm going, and it wasn’t long before we were approaching the small uphill to the turn-around mark of a little cone. I was totally immersed in the buzz of racing & the encouragement from onlookers and fellow racers was fantastic. It was great to see the crowds of runners coming towards us as we headed home and the ensuing nods, waves & cheers of encouragement, on both sides, made the next kilometre fly by. I could see Niamh, the 3rd lady, ahead of me for the whole race but couldn’t quite muster the energy to catch her! As we hit the last uphill in the 5th Kilometre, the fatigue had kicked in and my pace slowed but once I got to the top, momentum gathered in the little pack of racers around me, adrenaline building up again with a downhill finish line in sight. The last few hundred metres felt like a sprint as the racers beside me powered on until we crossed the finish line, all delighted to be done!

My goal for the last couple of years was to get a sub 18min 5k so it’s not an understatement to say I was over the moon to come in at 17:23. I honestly questioned whether my watch might be wrong! Obviously, a testament to the success of Emily’s ever demanding training sessions!

First 3 Men & Women:
1 15:13 Oisin Spillane M Sen Tralee Harriers
2 15:58 Derek Griffin M Sen
3 16:02 Aogán MacDomhnaill M Sen West Limerick AC

1 16:05 Michelle Finn F Sen Leevale AC
2 16:19 Sorcha Ní Dhomhnaill F Sen Donore Harriers
3 17:20 Niamh O’Mahony F Sen An Ríocht

Full results here

This was the second win in 8 days for the spectacular Michelle Finn, who won the Newmarket 5k on the 19th of December, and then went on to win the Togher 5k on the 28th of December, the day after her Farranfore win!