Young guns give their all for schools
St. Killian's Athletic Club (which caters for children from the Crossabeg, Ballymurn, Oylegate, Glenbrien, Castlebridge, Curracloe, Screen and surrounding areas) held its inaugural schools relay marathon at the community field in Crossabeg on Wednesday.
Mooted by club stalwart and coach Paul Kinsella over a year ago, the present committee decided to give it a go and what a success it was. This is possibly the first time this event was run in the country at this age level and certainly in County Wexford.
The schools relay marathon has been held in Britain and Kenya for many years and caters for children under 13 years of age. The Kenyans hold this event in high regard and in Britain the competition is held every May.
Crossabeg, Ballymurn, Glenbrien, Castlebridge, Screen and Curracloe national schools expressed an interest in the venture and came along. Each school was invited to send along 30 children to compete in the 26.2 miles (42k) marathon, with the children deciding on what distance they wished to run and how often.
In all they had to run 61 and a half laps around the track with a stop clock giving the occasion an Olympic-style feel about it The weather held up and it was mild and very pleasant for the children, and those in charge of them and the athletic club officials thoroughly enjoyed hosting and running the event.
The event got under way at approximately 10.40 a.m. and immediately six children representing the six schools set off at a blistering pace and the committee wondered how they were going to keep up the pressure over 60 laps.
Yes, at times fatigue set in, but there was rotation of team members, as while one ran the others could take a breather. Into the first few laps, the children from Castlebridge school looked good and they set the standard for all others to follow.
The Crossabeg school team, while they began quite sedately, upped the pace and joined Castlebridge, and over the course of the following laps changed the lead several times with each other.
It was noted that after 37 laps (16 miles) both Castlebridge and Crossabeg were locked together and the race was truly on. Curracloe children held on tto he third place spot for most of the competition and Screen, Ballymurn and Glenbrien never gave up and smiled and cheered after the end of each lap.
The atmosphere around the field was fun and energetic, and watching the children working for each other and their team was very rewarding. It was also awesome to watch the children from Glenbrien go back up the track to cheer on their last runner and to run through the finish line with him. Team spirit and loyalty is alive and well.
The winning team came from the local Crossabeg school and they were represented by Laragh Frawley, Eimear Halpin, Jack Purcell, Ros Walker, Adam Murphy, Alanah McDonald, Eamonn Moran, Luke Corrigan, Suzie O'Gorman, Pádraic O'Carroll, Hugh Boggan, Niall Cullen, Aishling Murphy, Kaci Blach, Shane Walker, Conor Curtin, Alex Maher, Ciarán Ryan, Cathal Gormley, Eoin Molloy, Matthew Molloy, Mary Moran, Anna Doyle, Eloise O'Boyle-Ferguson, Laura Neville, Emily Fortune, Matilda Meaney, Eoghan Cullen and Billy Reck.
They finished the marathon in a fantastic time of 2.20.06, followed in second place by Castlebridge in 2.20.41. Curracloe maintained third spot in 2.21.05, with Screen in fourth place in 2.30.40, Ballymurn in 2.34.45 and Glenbrien in 2.41.22.
A perpetual trophy was presented to Crossabeg school as well as gold medals for all team members. Silver and bronze medals were awarded to Castlebridge and Curracloe schools, while Screen, Ballymurn and Glenbrien team members were awarded certificates to remember the occasion.
Great credit must go firstly to the school children and the management of the schools for participating in this great adventure and creating a bit of history here in Wexford, if not in the country.
Credit also to the members of the athletic club and in particular to Chairperson Anne-Marie Forde for selling the idea to the schools, co-ordinating the event and heading up the preparations, and to all who came along and helped out.