Galway City Council pulled out all the stops to get the new path at the back of the golf course finished and opened last Friday, just in time for the annual Elverys Galway Bay Half Marathon & 10k. The path was destroyed in the storms last January. ‘It’s one of the most scenic parts of the course so we were very concerned that it wouldn’t be repaired in time.’ comments Ray O’Connor, Race Organiser, ‘but the City Council did a tremendous job and the reaction to the new course from participants was overwhelming. Moderations made to the route which minimised the length of the run on the Causeway was also a big factor for people who had taken part in previous years’. The event facebook page is full to the brim of positive comments about the spectacular views, excellent course and smooth operation of the event.
Just short of 3,000 people took part with over 2,500 registered to run across the two main events – a 10K and a Half Marathon. A further 100 plus ran with Marathon Club Ireland and corporate teams from HP, Medtronic, Aerogen and over 200 of the Elverys Sports Staff and Suppliers made up the rest.
This year saw a huge surge in the number of overseas participants – all coming to Ireland to run along the world famous Galway Bay. The highest number of overseas runners and walkers were visiting from the USA, followed closely by the UK, then Germany, Canada, Belgium, New Zealand, Australia, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.
Local Businesses including Elverys Sports, RunIreland.com, Fallers Jewellers, The Claddagh Arts Centre and The Galway Bay Hotel, helped showcase Galway as an activity holiday destination full of tradition and culture. ‘Linking the prizes to the world famous Claddagh and Galway Bay is part of the strategy to turn this run into a destination holiday event to further boost Tourism in Galway City and Salthill and extend the summer season beyond the Oyster Festivals’ says Angela Geraghty of Proactive, the Galway based Marketing Agency who successfully promoted the event both domestically and overseas. Fallers Jewellers sponsored Gold Claddagh rings for the winners and the Galway Arts Centre donated a beautiful unique piece of Bog Oak art and a Connemara Marble Engraved piece for other prizes.
The two day event included an all day Expo on Friday in the Elverys Sports Store in the Galway Retail Park. Guest Speakers included TV fitness Guru Karl Henry who also ran the half marathon, double Para Cycling World Title holder Dr Eoghan Clifford, Wheelchair athlete Jerry Ford who completed his 293rd Marathon at the event on Saturday. Valerie Fogarty from Marathon Club Ireland also spoke about the surge in interest in running Marathons and how anyone can do it if they have the right support.
‘We’re so buzzed up after the weekend that we’re already planning next years event. With the space and facilities in South Park and the positive assistance of Galway City Council we believe that this event has the potential to grow into one of the major athletics events in the country. We couldn’t do it without our team of marshals and friends from Athenry AC who help every year – their expertise in race management is what makes it so enjoyable for the organisers and the participants.’ says Ray.