On Saturday August 11, the 33rd Streets of Galway will be held, bringing thousands of runners though the heart of the city.
For the past few years I have been running it, partly because of the annual challenge of it, but more so for the invigorating sense of freedom one gets by running through the streets of the city where we live and work. How often are we walking those streets, only wishing we could break into a jog or sprint. It would get us where we want to go quicker, instead of having to shuffle along avoiding loose cobblestones.
I also run it for the reason that a few years ago when I was lying ill in the HDU ward at UHG, I vowed that if I ever got out of that bed and learned to walk and run again, I would use every ounce of energy I have to make the most of every minute. The time when you are deprived the opportunity to do things is the exact time you most want to do them.
And so every time I run the Streets, I feel a particular poignancy when I turn the corner at the hospital and think of my room and I try in some inexplicable way to send a bit of my energy to whomever is lying in my bed at that particular time; hoping that it might encourage them to have the same hopes and aspirations.
Last August, as I left the house to come in town to run the race, a 50-year-old friend of mine who was visiting with his family wished me well and joked about me making it home within a week. Three months later, he passed away suddenly, so this year when I run, I carry with me, the memory of his well wishes and the sadness of his passing.
So, this year, if you can run or walk fast at all, run the Streets for someone who would only the opportunity to do so.
“Neither O ne Mac shall strutte ne swagger thro the Streetes of Galway” — so said the byelaw enacted in 1518. 500 years on, strutting and swaggering are permitted, if not encouraged, during the Galway Clinic Streets of Galway 8k Road Race.
Now celebrating its 33rd year, the ethos from the start to the present day has always been “sport for all”. The race attracts runners of all standards and ages from all over Ireland, from elite international athletes, to athletic club runners and fun runners. Where else can you run with spectators and tourists cheering you on at every corner, the traffic stopped to let you own the streets for one night only.
But the Streets of Galway 8k is not just a race or a run — it is a community effort organised superbly by Galway City Harriers Athletic Club (GCH ) who organise an event that has been at the heart of Galway life for more than three decades and onwards it will go, especially now that it has been sponsored for the next two events by the Galway Clinic, which is after all, a very suitable fit.
At around the 6/7 k mark, when you run past Pearse Stadium and down Rockbarton and come out onto the Prom, it is a moment that I wish everybody in the city could have. At the end of such a run, the sight of the sea makes you glad to be alive. It is a feeling we all should share.
Closing date for entries this year is August 9 so you have a week left to get on board and share this experience. You don’t have to be a great runner, just have a great spirit.
Everyone has a reason to run the Streets and a special memory of doing it.
This year, create your own memory.
Entries are still open but you’d better hurry. Remember in the Streets, you are only running against yourself, but with the support of those running with you and cheering you on.