For an village with a population of around 70 people, Saturday was a busy old day in Reaghstown. Around about 700 people descended on the tiny settlement this weekend. 405 of them took part in the sixth annual Wild Goose Chase, a handful watched on while 250 guests were in town for a wedding taking place in the church up the road.
Bigger than ever, the Wild Goose Chase has been a fixture in the calendar of locals and visiting runners from around the region too for years now. In there was an almost 20% increase in numbers participating. Funds raised are split 50-50 between Ardee Hospice and Westerns GFC continued redevelopment.
“It’s become such a community thing,” organiser Lorna Kane told ThisIsArdee.ie. “The community comes together and they do be looking forward to it. They all start coming up to the track with the Chasers for training 12 weeks before the Wild Goose Chase. There’s a real buzz around the community.”
The relatively new Reaghstown Chasers walking group, who used the running and walking track around the pitch at the local GAA club ground for their regular meet ups, not only come out to compete at their home event but attend walk and runs all over county and beyond all year round. They’re alsmost like walking, talking advertisements for the WGC and their relationships formed with other groups means the Reaghstown event is isn’t short of attention these days.
“The group has started up and that’s given us a bit of momentum,” Lorna adds. “Runners are great, they are very supportive. It’s a big family community. Everyone wants to pull together and get everyone involved.
“It’s a focal point for the community now. They love it. Reaghstown is such a small place, it’s very unusual for us to have such an event. It’s like a carnival atmosphere.” Racegoers had to do without the church car park on Saturday, that was needed for the wedding. “They were waving at the runners as they went by,” Lorna says.
Being in attendance at all these various runs, walks and marathons, Lorna is a familiar face on the circuit and she was able to convince renowned ‘Oueen of Marathons’ Collette O’Hagen to come and launch the event on Saturday.
“Colette has become a friend of mine over the last few years, at different events. She has 516 marathons done now, Dublin was her 500th. She’s great and she’s very supportive and she’s going to come back and do a talk for the group as well. She’s a lovely lady and she’s very good.”
Shane Toner was the first 10k participant over the line in a time of 33:27, a full 35 seconds ahead of his nearest challenger John White. Paudi Martin finished third in a time of 38:43.
The first female over the line was Carrick Athletic Club’s Anne Linden in 39 minutes and 42 seconds. Michael Lundon was the first to complete the route in the Over 45 category – while he was also the first Ardee & District Athletic club man to finish. He finished ninth overall with a time of 41:24
Club mate Leo Farrell wasn’t far behind, completing the course in 42:30. Westerns GFC clubman Tommy Durnin was the first team player to run the route. He managed 42:07. Dylan Ogle, Terence Sweeney, PJ Marron, Andrew Murray, Trevor Baylon and Anthony Durnin also completed the 10k.
The very first person to come over the line – this time in the 5K – was Robbie Carr. He ran the shorter route in 18:32, 25 seconds ahead of Adrian Black who claimed second prize.
Stephanie Byrne was the first woman to complete the 5k, in a time of 19:40. Eithne Gorman of Carrick Athletic Club finished in 20:46. Leo Maguire, with 21:15, was the quickest under 16 athlete to get over the finish line. Ellie Rose Ward was the fastest Under 16 girl.
The fastest Westerns GFC player in the 5k was James Ward with a time of 22:13. He finished 46 seconds ahead of his nearest challenging team mate Ciaran Scriven with Patrick Kerley further behind.