Report by Will Greensmyth
Photos from Streets of Galway Facebook page: Click Here
Sportsworld results below along with Sportsworlds all time top 5 Streets of Galway times.
The following is a report on the 30th running of the Streets of Galway. In writing this report, I have I put aside my intense bitterness, spite and disgust at Galway being awarded the European City of Culture 2020 over the eternal city of Limerick.
Munster race reporter Will enjoying the sights of the winning 2020 City of Culture (it wasn’t Limerick)
For the uninitiated, the Streets of Galway (SoG) is a midsummers race with which Sportsworld have had a long history (see end of race report for the history). This was my first year taking part but definitely not my last. The race has lots going for it – organised by a running club, fast course, evening time, decent price. And culture. Lots of culture.
The Road Less Travelled
This year, a small selection group of SW’s “finest” toed the line – namely Bambi O’Brien, Phil Kilgannon, Packie Enright and myself. The Real Paul O’Connell was also in attendance although he was staying with his running in-laws of Crusaders AC. We were accompanied in our expedition by now two time winner Siobhan O’Doherty.
Pre-race lunch on Saturday
Siobhan and myself had quite the journey, somehow navigating ourselves from a niece’s christening in Toomevara to Galway via the less travelled backroads of North Tipperary and South Galway to arrive in time. Bambi and Phillymanjaro on the other hand set out from Dublin and had the relative luxury of the M6 to experience, enjoying a pitstop in Mullingar to pay their respects to Joe Dolan, arriving in Galway to enjoy lunch, a stroll along the prom and each other’s company.
When in Rome/Mullingar
The atmosphere was to change however when the gents realised that they had managed to book a B&B that only included the first ‘B’ and was probably the most expensive guesthouse in the country. At least they had the glamour of a roundabout to look at from their windows.
The Race HQ was on Nimmo’s Pier, named after the 19th century architect who designed some of Galway’s more distinctive landmarks including Roundstone village.
At 7pm, the race started a little away from Nemo. There was a wonderful atmosphere at the start as people warmed up for the race. Surprisingly for Galway city, there was no one playing a didgeridoo or bongos at the start line. Culture.
One thing which was clear to all was how strong the wind was. If I thought it had been tough for the Gradeds in Tallaght on Wednesday night, it was gale force strength in Salthill, to the extent that the organisers were looking for able bodied volunteers to assist in keeping their finish line tent fixed to the ground.
It wasn’t 27 degrees in Galway
The race started with a rifle shot and off we went. After 1km, we ran past the Spanish Arch. In 1588, the year of the Spanish Armada, two hundred Spaniards who came ashore after a shipwreck in Galway Bay were butchered by the locals. Coincidentally, 1588 was also the last time Galway was awarded the European City of Culture.
We then hurtled towards Eyre Square before sweeping over towards the Cathedral. It’s not the prettiest building in Ireland. So lacking in aesthetic qualities, it was recently described in an Irish Times article concerning “ugly” Irish buildings as a “squatting Frankenstein’s monster” and “a monument to the hubris of its soft-handed sponsors”. Culture indeed.
A sharp left past UCG which has over the years educated some of the finest minds in Sportsworld and we were running towards Salthill.
After 4k, we approached Pearse Stadium. Probably the worst located stadium of any GAA ground in the country and as anyone who has played there will attest, also home to what might most favourably be described as “erratic” localised wind patterns. Flags were still at half-mast following the Galway footballers capitulation at the hands of Tipperary. This section of the course was full of poxy drags and climbs that really tested us especially with the wind battering us and ruining everyone’s hair.
Pearse Stadium Location
Thankfully we were shortly onto the Prom, made famous by Steve Earle’s “Galway Girl”, and the wind was now at our backs as we kicked for home. The legs felt strong, and the stride length opened up, as Bambi said…He felt like the BFG running in to the finish.
We entered the Claddagh. Up to the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Claddagh was a distinct Irish speaking community across the Corrib river from Galway City, with its own king, who led the fishing fleet and made the big decisions. The King of the Claddagh sailed a galway hooker with a special white sail, and settled disputes between the locals. #dreamjob
Past the Claddagh, and the final turn back on Nimmo’s Pier where glory, garlands and eh…’gratulations awaited us.
Siobhan had a cracking run finishing as first lady, and adding the Streets to her list of 2016 victories. Phil and Paul O’C weren’t far behind. I was delighted with my own 30 minute effort with the King of cratloe hot on my heels. Bambi also had a great run, despite the niggles of a dodgy calf, he was well under 35 minutes. Despite being easily distracted by the amusements and fairground in Salthill.
Race Winners! (yes its August)
After Siobhan collected her prizes and we all had a chance to freshen up, there was a bite to eat before we joined up with the Crusaders and MSB gang in the Front Door where race performances were analysed over a few refreshments and some epic dancing. The much loved Kilgannon Shuffle was on show. The obligatory 2am Supermacs visit rounded off a great night. The Chief Logistics Officer, Bambi is already planning the next Sportsworld expedition. Stay Tuned.
History of Sportsworld and the Streets of Galway
For those that are interested, the SOG website shows the race results as far back as 1999. A quick analysis identified that Terenure’s finest (and Terenure’s finest blowins) have togged out for this race in big numbers on many occasions. I’m sure if the pre-1999 results could be searched, they would reveal sizeable marauding parties from Bushy Park from the first iteration in 1986 onwards. The numbers of Sportsworld have dropped considerably in recent years but might see a rebirth from 2016 on.
By way of snapshot, in 1999, we had 14 runners in the top 200, with Dave Morley (24th) and Ciara McCarthy (62nd) our top finishers.
The 1999 results also show Emily finishing in 31’45” while husband Mick (202nd in 34’36”) looks to have been pipped on the line by both Conor Kenny (200th in 34’34”) and Ruth McGann (201st in 34’35”). I hope Conor enjoys reminding Mick of that sprint finish!
A wider look at the available results shows that Sportsworld runners over the years have blitzed the 8k SoG course.
Top Five Sportsworld Women’s Times:
Sandra Gowran 29’06” (2004)
Eimear Martin 29’10” (2005)
Aoife O’Leary 29’11” (2009)
Ciara McCarthy 29’29” (1999)
Lucy Darcy 29’30” (2005)
Top Five Sportsworld Men’s Times:
Eanna Cunnane 25’16” (2007)
Dave Byrne 25’49” (2002)
Phil Kilgannon 25’50” (2007)
Paul O’Connell 26’34” (2002)
Packie Enright 26’45” (2006)
We’ve also had Aoife O’Leary finish second, Eimear Martin finish third and Crona Brady finish fourth over the years, while Eanna finished 9th.
2016 Sportsworld Results
18th O’Connell Paul 00:27:57
29th Kilgannon Phil 00:28:28
63rd Greensmyth William 00:30:19
272nd Enright Packie 00:34:28
297th O’Brien Eoin 00:34:54