Festive fare around the fields of Athenry

Some 1,000 runners are expected to take part in this year’s Field of Athenry 10km on St Stephen’s Day.

This annual event, now in its eighth year, is a huge success story for the organisers. The first Fields of Athenry in 2002 attracted some 69 hardy souls, but this year’s race completed its 1,000 entries six weeks before Christmas.

Race organiser Alan Burke says 1,000 places were allocated on a first-come-first-served basis to ensure that the race is run in a safe and comfortable environment.

“ We were pleasantly surprised to see the race sell out within three weeks. We understand that many people will be disappointed with this development but felt that we had no option but to limit entries as the race has become increasingly popular over the seven years of its existence."

As a result registration on the day of the race will not be available unlike all other years.

Spectators can cheer the competitors through the historic Northgate Arch at the finish from 11am onwards.

Four times men's winner Gary Thornton is back to defend his title in a strong field. Catherine Conway (Mayo AC ) will defend her women's title, but she will be up against three-times winner Lucy Brennan of Sligo AC.

The famed woolly hat - this year's colour was chosen by an on-line poll on www.athenryac.com - will be available to all starters, together with the top 50 finishers earning a specially commissioned technical top.

All prizes are Galway Crystal as has been the case since the first Fields of Athenry.



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