History of the club

History of the club – (at time of 25th Anniversary Dec 2012) and updated in recent year.

When members, former members, their families, friends , supporters and guests of Mayo AC met on Saturday night Dec 1st 2012 in the Welcome Inn  Hotel.  Castlebar at the club’s 25th Anniversary function,  they had a momentous quarter of a century to reflect on.

The beginning

It all began in early 1988, when the senior sections of a number of clubs in the County amalgamated to form Mayo Athletic Club.  This new club’s aims included  ”the greater promotion and awareness  of senior athletics within Co Mayo which could eventually lead to the club challenging the larger and longer established clubs for national honours”.

Soon members wearing the club’s first vest  – green one with red hoop, very similar to the Mayo  football version of the time –  were competing all over the West in road and  cross country races and beginning to reap success. A club team was entered in the national track and field league in those early years.

The early nineties saw an increase in activity and success.  Distance runners like Paddy Murray and Dominic Regan were  leading the way in races  all over the West and further afield,  and the club won the Connacht Senior Clubs Cross Country team title  for the first time .

1991 was a landmark year for the club which had been all male up to that point.

Brenda Murphy first woman member

Brenda Murphy competing at Belleek in December 2004

A women’s section was set up and as the minutes of a club meeting at the time stated it was hoped that “this would lead to more success for the club in the years to come”.  Ballina woman, Brenda Murphy who had just won that year’s womens section of the Belfast Marathon,  had the distinction of being the first female to be registered with the club. Many more were to follow as we now know .

Soon Brenda was joined by Josephine Macken,  Noreen McManamon,  Niamh Murphy,  Breege Blehein and others. They began to bring National Senior team and individual medals in cross country road and track  to the county for the first time ever . Around this time also Mayo AC men began to win medals in the National Indoors Championships and expanding Masters competitions .

The arrival of Ann Lennon in the latter part of the nineties bolstered the club and meant that a Mayo AC womens team at full strength were always feared and admired at National championships.

Over the years, the club was aware of the importance of supporting local established events, such as Hollymount Road Races organised by Sean Reilly, and Balla 10k  organised by Brendan Conwell .

Mayo Road Race League 

In 1999, when running fixtures were quite scarce on the calendar, it was decided to set up a Mayo AC Road Race League mainly to provide  competition for the club’s athletes and those other clubs in the West of Ireland .Many of these races had a strong fund raising/charity aspect in aid of worthy causes in the area.

Mayo AC moved into the new century full of optimism. Membership was increasing,  the women’s  team were winning National events.

European Clubs Cup

They broke new ground when as National Half Marathon champions they represented Ireland in the European Clubs Cup in Italy 2002 and Russia 2003. The club also continued to win National medals at masters level. Soon the emphasis moved to building a strong Senior mens team around John Byrne, whose success in winning races all over the place was an inspiration to all. Mayo AC also hosted the 2004 AAI National Half Marathon in Breaffy, near Castlebar.

Around the middle of the decade a number  of changes were mooted. Having sought the co-operation of other clubs and race organisers,  the Road League was expanded to include all the major races in Mayo  with an increased prize fund.

In order to recognise performance and encourage improvement,  ” Irish Runner” trophies for the  most improved Male and Female in the League were awarded.

A club website was launched in 2010 www.mayoac.com

Targeting the major National road races 

A policy of targeting the major National road races – 10k,  half marathon,  and marathon – was put in place,  with the objective of  winning national individual and team medals at Senior level and across the various masters categories.

New talent

The Road League continued to discover many new talented members. They included  Mary Gleeson, Catherine Conway and others who supported the  existing experienced members, ensuring that Mayo AC  women continued to challenge for and win National senior team medals at 10k,  half marathon and marathon.  John Byrne’s success continued to inspire all around him and one of his proudest moments was when he won his first AAI  National Senior medal leading, TJ McHugh, Anto Devaney and Dave Huane  to  National Marathon Silver Team medals in 2007.

Early 2009 saw another new chapter in the clubs history when in co operation with the Mayo Sports Partnership  the club launched its Fit4Life programme in the southern part of the county in Castlebar  Ballinrobe and Ballyhaunis. This Fit4Life programme was first launched in Claremorris and  later expanded to 3 other venues. Many people took their first opportunity to get involved in the sport  for  health  benefit and wellbeing. It also set individuals  goals  which many have since achieved, whether that be  to complete a marathon or their first 5k.

Many newcomers to  Fit4Life have gone on to taste National success with Mayo AC. The late Tom Waldron, a sportsman all his life won his first AAI National medal in his age category  3 days after his 70th birthday in 2009.

Recent years have been a roller coaster for the club.  You have only to look over the reports and results  on the club’s excellent website www.mayoac.com to see the many reports  of success at local, National and International level.  Some people took on new challenges like Robert Malseed,  who was  part of +35 Team that took bronze team medals in the WMRA World Masters Mountain Running Championships Poland  in 2010.  The Senior women’s team won bronze in the European Clubs Cup Race  in Portugal in 2011.

John Byrne wins Irish vest

John Byrne achieved his lifetime ambition of wearing the green vest of Ireland in recent years in ultra and trail running.  He recently finished 5th in the IAU  World Trophy  50k in Italy.

The club has regularly featured  in the Annual  British and Irish Masters Cross Country.

In the 2012 event in Belfast,  Mayo AC had three representatives in action – Colette Tuohy,  Angela O’Connor and Pauline Moran  – another great day for the club.

Speaking of unique achievements,  one has to mention Christy O’Malley who has represented Mayo AC  in competition more times than anybody.  He is ran his 50th marathon – also his  1000th race – the vast majority in the club colours.

In  2011 again working with Mayo Sports Partnership, the club established its 5k Summer Series.  Open to all, but targeted at the Fit4Life members and fun runner/jogger, this venture has proven very popular and will certainly be expanded in the coming years.

Down the years the achievements of Mayo AC  top athletes has not gone unnoticed. A number have been awarded the prestigious Mayo Sports Star of the Year Awards  and other athletic recognition awards in the sport.


At the end of its first 25 years, Mayo AC was a very vibrant club with about 150 members. It does not have an underage section but caters for people from 18 years with no upper age limit . It does not own any facilities of its own, but is lucky to be able to avail of existing facilities at Claremorris Track and St Mary’s track at Castlebar GMIT in the local area.

Club chairman at the time Michael McGrath was involved in athletics since the mid seventies. He is full of enthusiasm about the club and its achievements to date. He says,  “despite the fact that our members are spread all over Co Mayo and many outside it and also that many members follow their own training programmes, there is always a wonderful team spirit when we meet up at competition also we have a wonderful club committee. In the past all the work was left to a few but now there a large number of people willing to take on various tasks for the good of the club”.

Michael was also full of praise for all the club’s officers  down the years. He also reflected on the enormous contribution  of the late Padraic Cullina, one of the founding members, as an athlete  coach, official and event organiser.  Padraic sadly passed away two years ago following a short illness but will always be remembered.

It is great to see that the club’s green and red vest of Mayo AC, launched  in 2001, is now as recognisable on National days as that of Clonliffe Harriers and Donore  Harriers and others who were established many years before.

Mayo AC are always seeking new members and as Michael says, “we are not forcing people to do anything;  instead we outline to them the opportunities that are there and assist them in every way we can  to achieve their dream whatever that may be. Sometimes it’s about the medals won but it’s always about the friendships gained”.

Over recent years the club has grown exponentially as the current interest in running has continued to increase. There are now 14 athletics clubs in the county.

The majority of club members in Mayo are juveniles, youths and juniors making up just over 74%, with seniors 2.5% and masters 23%.

Mayo AC masters make up 88% of their membership with the rest seniors.  This data refers to September 2020 registrations.

The poor transition of numbers from juvenile athletics to senior ranks reflects a long standing issue nationally. Hopefully with additional coaching  support at local levels and access to track and field training facilities this will improve.
Mayo AC have continued to support the new intake encouraging them to take up the club’s various training opportunities at a number of locations. Informal groups also meet up for long runs at weekends.
Move to Improve’, Club League 
The club introduced a ‘Move to Improve’ points based completion covering a number of local events to help athletes achieve better results. A ‘Club League’ runs annually with members competing in a selection of local and national events across a range of distances. Points are awarded based on finish place and for achieving personal bests.
The Streets of Castlebar 5k took place annually for three years in conjunction with Baxters, and was also an important fundraiser to support club development projects.
The 10th Annual Mayo AC Summer 5k series was held in May and June 2019. Open to all, this ‘no frills’ event takes place at five locations on consecutive Tuesday evenings . It is a very popular series and an important fundraiser.
 Some members  have competed for the first time in local, provincial and national competitions. The club has had regular success in winning medals at these events, and are particularly strong in the women’s master’s individual and team categories.
A significant mumber of members are recognised annually at the Mayo Athletics County Board Awards, when National medal winners and those who have achieved significant success receive awards.
At International level members have continued to represent Ireland in the annual British and Irish Masters Cross Country Championships. This well established event is held at venues in the five participating countries and includes individual age categories and team competition.
Pauline Moran was the W60 individual winner in Swansea in 2019 and went on to win two silver medals and Irish W60 team gold at the World Masters Championships in Poland in March 2019.
Celebrating the success of Sinéad Diver 
Also in the International arena Mayo AC are delighted and proud to celebrate the fantastic achievements of Belmullet native Sinéad Diver. In her short running career she has continued to improve and run personal bests over a range of distances on track and road from 5,000 metres to the marathon. Her IAAF profile is testament to the standard she has achieved. Sinéad is based in Melbourne and has represented Australia since 2015. Following her 2:24.11 finish in 7th place in the 2019 London Marathon she focused on being on their team at the 2020 Toyko Olympics.
For many runners – home and away – she is an inspirational athlete. She has finished in the top eight in three recent World Marathon Majors including the elite London Marathon women’s in October 2020. The crowning glory of her amazing career was her 10th place finish in the 2020 Tokyo women’s marathon in August 2021. She represented her adopted Australia at the event in Sapporo.
In 2020 the Covid-19 pandemic caused the most significant disruption to the worldwide sporting calendar since World War II.
Across the world and to varying degrees, sports events were cancelled or postponed including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics finally went ahead without spectators from July 28 to August 8 2021.
The highlight for Mayo AC and many Irish viewers was seeing Sinéad Diver run a magnificent women’s marathon at Sapporo on August 7. She was one of three athletes representing Australia. Despite the heat and humidity she ran her trademark steady pace and moved through the field from 30k to finish 10th in 2:31.14. A fantastic achievement. The full story is documented among our posts.
Mayo AC started the year looking forward to their 11th 5k Series, their Club League and to competing in all the relevant county, regional and National championships. However, like many events the 2021 Series scheduled for August/September was cancelled.
All clubs had to adapt to Covid19 guidelines and protocols set out by Sport Ireland, Athletics Ireland and Gov.ie.
Some events and training activities were allowed  under strict conditions.
Mayo AC use tracks at Claremorris and Castlebar on a weekly basis under the current guidance of club coach Matt Bidwell.
The 2021 Dublin Marathon was cancelled in July. A few races started to appear on the calendar.
In 2022 there was a return to competition and many began to enjoy road races, track and field, and cross country again.
 Championship events took place and were displayed on fixtures lists of  county, regional, and national calendars and as usual on the club’s website events calendar.
In early 2022 Mayo AC members competed successfully at three national championships – Masters Cross-country in Fermoy, Masters Indoors in Athlone, and 10k in Dublin – winning a number of individual and team medals.
The club competed successfully  in the county and regional and national track and field championships, with members winning a number of medals in each competition.
Our sprinters have organised a training group and meet up regularly for track sessions
Additionally in September members won individual age category medals and gold W50 team in the National Half-marathon at Fairyhouse.
Later in the month the club organised the inaugural Mayo AC 4  miler at Foxford. It served also as a fundraiser for the Family Centre Castlebar.
In October members competed in the Mayo Co Board cross country league and in the Connacht Cross Country which concluded in November. A club cross country training group meet on Saturday mornings.
Mayo AC 2022 national medal winning statistics show continuing success for the club in county, regional and national championship events – cross-country, road, and track and field.
Looking at our National statistics we can see that 15 members won Championship medals.
Our fifteen members medals were made up of :
32 individual (17 Gold, 7 Silver, 8 Bronze),
4 team (1 Gold, 3 Silver), and
2 International (1 Gold,1 Silver) – helping Ireland win the overall title at the British and Irish Masters International Cross-Country in Santry in November.
Pauline Moran broke two new National records at W65 10k and Half-marathon and also a World Mountain Running W65 individual gold.
We ended 2022 with the inaugural Michael’s Greenway Remembrance Run  on New Year’s Eve. Held in memory of our friend and clubmate Michael McNeela who died suddenly in October, days before he was due to compete in the National Dublin Marathon. There was an excellent turnout of runners and walkers on the 5k out and back course on the Castlebar Greenway.
In 2023 at the week-long 9th World Masters Indoor and Non Stadia Championships at Torún Poland at the end of March, Pauline Moran won six medals.

It was a unique achievement in one championship by our W65 champion.
Her total World Masters haul was: three gold – 3000m, 8k cross-country, and 10k; one team gold cross-country, one silver half-marathon, and one team silver half-marathon.
What a performance by Pauline in the 10k – first W65 in an amazing time – 42:20 – and a fourth World Masters gold. She was just over twenty seconds ahead of silver medal winner Hernaiz Del Campo Spain 42:42.
That time was ratified by the World Masters Association as a W65 10k world record.
A phenomenal performance by any standard.
In addition to weekly endurance training at Claremorris Track and Castlebar ATU St Mary’s track, the club developed coaching for sprinters with weekly sessions taking place mainly at Claremorris.
Highlight of the sprinters achievements was medal l success at the  National Masters Outdoors in August.
There was a brilliant win for Mayo AC in the 4x100m relay in 49:60. And in the final event of the day they won another
Relay gold in the 4 x 400m in 3:54.27.
The club had a record 42 competitors in the National Half-marathon Championships hosted by Tullamore Harriers AC in August.
Full details in our Club News section.
And in October, 30 members ran in the National Marathon in Dublin. Colette Tuohy was the only medal winner – F50 bronze.
 In cross-country three members – Norah Newcombe Pieterse W40, Pauline Moran W65, and Mags Glavey W70 – were selected on the Irish Masters team to compete in the annual British and Irish Masters International Cross-Country at Tollcross Park Glasgow in November.
They all competed brilliantly and helped Ireland win the women’s title. All three brought home medals: Pauline Moran W65 gold individual, silver team; Mags Glavey W70 silver individual, gold team; Norah Newcombe Pieterse W40 gold team.

Event report is here:


Hollymount International Road Races have always been well supported by the club. For the second year both men and women ran the 10k ( women used to run 6k in a separate race).

This year’s 58th edition of the famous event had an excellent turnout and there was a great buzz around the South Mayo village.

The club finished off the year with an end of season party in Castlebar. Awards were presented to four members recognising their achievements during the year


Mayo AC looked forward to another successful year in 2024.
Success began early as members won National medals in the masters Cross-Country in Dundalk in February and in masters categories 10k in Dunboyne in March.
Planning began for the 12th Edition of the club’s annual 5k Series.
Intersport Elverys came on board again as the main sponsors, along with Shaws Commercial.
Mayo AC also welcomed Mayo Mental Health Association as Charity Partners.
The series consists of five races which
takes place over five consecutive Tuesday evenings starting in mid-May and running through until mid-June.
The club continues to grow and adapt to the changing athletics environment- supporting, developing, competing since 1988.