Olympians gather in Loughrea for anniversary celebrations

This weekend Loughrea hosts a special athletic event as part of the athletic club's 40th anniversary celebrations.

The action starts tomorrow evening with a once-off seminar at which a host of athletic personalities will speak. Olympians Catherina McKiernan, Olive Loughane, and Pauline Curley will be the guests at the event, which will be chaired by Irish Times sports columnist Ian O'Riordan.

The seminar will be followed on Saturday by Loughrea Athletic Club's traditional five-mile road race, which starts and finishes at the Loughrea Hotel and Spa. The race, to be held at 2pm, will be preceded by a junior fun run at 1pm.

Friday's seminar, entitled "Success in Middle and Long-Distance Running", begins at 6pm and is open to the public free of charge.

Guests include well known long–distance runner Catherina McKiernan, who won four consecutive silver medals in world cross country, and the Berlin, London, and Amsterdam marathons. Olive Loughnane is the town's most recent Olympian, having competed in Beijing, and although she now lives in Cork, Loughnane's former home club is Loughrea. She posted Ireland's best record on the track at this year's Olympic Games, finishing seventh in the 20km walk.

The third Olympian is Pauline Curley, who is a member of the Tullamore Harriers Athletic Club. She received a late call-up to the Beijing Olympics, having run well inside the B standard time of 2:42. Well known in Galway athletic circles, Curley has won the Streets of Galway on four occasions.

Other guests include dietician Maria Keane, AAI regional development officer Paul McNamara - a member of Athenry AC and former member of the Irish team for the World and European cross country championships and the holder of 15 national gold medals, coach Robert Denmead, sports physiotherapist Eilis Dolan, Jim Hogan, who represented Ireland in Tokyo Olympics (1964 ) in 10,000m and marathon, and Vince Regan, a native of Loughrea and founder member of the Association of International Marathons and Road Races.

The guests will each speak on a running-related topic followed by an open forum involving a question and answer session.

Saturday's race will include categories for senior and veteran men and women. All participants will receive a special souvenir of the event.

Entry fee is €15 for the senior race for those who pre enter on line at www.runireland.ie , while entry on the day before 1pm is €20. Junior fun run entry fee is €5, and all entries for the fun run close at 12 noon.

For further information contact Barry Beirne (club secretary ) 086-1777736 or Darragh O'Brien (club chairman ) 087-9004525.


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