The 36th annual Ballycotton 10 took place on Sunday March 3rd. The Ballycotton 10 is a 10 mile road race which has been running since 1977 and is the oldest official run in Ireland.
Mairead and I set off for Cork on Saturday March 2nd after enjoying the buzz of the ‘Rocky Road’ in Kinvara and watching with anticipation as all our clubmates participated and did brilliantly.
We stayed in Cork city with Mairead’s friend, Orla. It was around 9pm when we arrived in Cork so rather than eat out at that late stage I decided to have pizza at Orla’s house and Mairead chose the healthier option of pasta. We woke up refreshed after a reasonably early night and set off for Ballycotton which was roughly 45 minutes away from where we stayed. We arrived in the cark park around 11.45 am which gave us lots of time to before the race start time of 1.30pm to soak up the atmosphere. Despite the day being really cold and overcast there were fabulous views of Ballycotton Bay. I can only imagine how beautiful it would have been in the sunshine. When we reached the village our first stop were the portaloos (of course), of which there were many and the queues were ok at that stage. The race was very well organised, with all race packs being mailed to entrants a month or so in advance. As a result of this there was no need to register on the day.
We headed for the mini expo which was set up in the school hall where some local sports retailers such as John Buckley Sports had set up. After more customary trips to the portaloos we made our way to the ‘no frills’ baggage drop area which basically was a field where we picked up a number, attached it to our bag and left it in a hedge wherever you could find some room. One other runner joked that he was going to mix up all the bags and it would be at least the following Wednesday before we would find them.
At this stage it was time to do our warm ups and head to the start line. There were roughly 2700 runners at the start line so at least it was sheltered there. As we waited , a friendly girl from Midleton AC came over and introduced herself as Anne telling us she was a friend of Val’s. Without any delay the race started at 1.30pm. Support was fantastic with large crowds at most of the mile markers. There was also a race official at each mile announcing the race time in 10 second intervals through a loudspeaker. Our first water stop came at mile 3 and at that stage we had settled well into the race and were enjoying the craic along the way while doing some pr work for the Craughwell 10. The course was scenic and flatter than I had imagined. Mile 6 to 7 was a long drag up to a narrow road. After our second water stop at mile 7 we saw the famous hill which wasn’t actually too bad and definitely our Ballymanagh training really stood to us. Lots of other runners had been telling us about the challenging hill at the end and our plan was to keep some reserves for it but that hill never really came as badly as expected. Between mile 8 and 9 there was about 300m of a steep hill within a gradual incline. Again it actually wasn’t too bad, thanks I would say to Tony’s Wednesday sessions.
On finishing we were given a commemorative mug, a banana and a Mars bar. I would highly recommend putting the ‘Ballycotton 10’ on your list of ‘must do’ races.