A 25th Balla 10k preview – submitted by Michael McGrath:
Plans are well advanced for what is being billed as the ‘Farewell’ Balla 10k Run and Walk which takes place on Saturday July 29 at 7pm.
Race Organiser Brendan Conwell has been the driving force behind the event for a quarter of a century, and says it promises to be a nostalgic occasion. It will be the 25th running of the event and the final Balla race in its present format.
The first race was held just a few miles away near Craggagh National School in 1993. The winners that day were Paddy Murray (Mayo AC) who finished in 30:51, a great time by any standards. Bernie Stankard (GCH) won the women’s race. They were two of the leading runners in the West at the time. Shortly afterwards it moved to its current scenic but testing route, starting and finishing near the famous cross in the centre of the village. Over the years many of Ireland’s leading athletes have run the one lap course. In addition, hundreds of joggers and walkers have set out on the final Saturday in July along the challenging 6.2 mile route. Many charity organisations have used Balla as their main annual fundraiser. It is estimated that around half a million euro has been raised to date through the event. This year there will be a big emphasis on the history of the event. All previous winners are being invited back to the village on the evening and it is hoped that many of those who ran there in the past will return to compete or just watch and mingle. Brendan Conwell and his small dedicated committee who have organised the event since its inception will be stepping down after the race. Brendan says that the option is there for another group or club to organise a similar Balla event in the future.
It’s expected that this year’s race will be one of the biggest to date, attracting many of the leading men and women runners from around the West and further afield, and as always joggers and walkers are all welcome. All entrants will receive a hi vis vest and commemorative medal. There are cash prizes for top finishers and age category winners. It will be interesting to see who will be the final man and woman to go on Balla 10k winners Roll of Honour which is expected to go on permanent display in the village later this year.
The main event will again be preceded by the very popular 2k for under 16 boys and girls. There will be prizes for the top 3 boys and girls and a medal for all participants. Many of those who took part in the underage race in the past have gone on compete successfully in their adult years in the 10k race. Sarah Syron is one of them, one of the current Mayo AC running stars, and she cherishes the trophy she got for finishing second under 16 girl in 2001. Since then Sarah has gone on to win numerous AAI National Senior road running medals and in 2011 was a memberf of the Mayo AC women’s team who won bronze at the European Clubs Cup race in Portugal.
There will be a carnival atmosphere in the village to coincide with this farewell race with musical and other entertainment being provided. Brendan is anxious to personally thank all the people, organisations and clubs who in their various ways made the Balla 10k such a success. A novel feature this year will be a bed push over the 10k course to raise funds to purchase a palliative care bed. The organisers of this venture are still looking for participants to help with this very worthy cause.
The Balla race has an AAI Permit through Mayo AC and a cash prize structure for men and women as follows:.
Top 3 Finishers
First over 40, 50, 60 and under 20, plus cash prize for the winning athletic club men and women’s teams, 3 to score.
Registration, refreshments and prize presentation at The Balla Community Centre. Dressing rooms and showers available at the GAA Club
Further information from Brendan Conwell 087 294 1227