The 2009 Vodafone C&C Cellular Mayo AC road league concluded with the ninth and final race at Westport on Sunday. This was the 11th annual road league and the most successful so far. Increasing numbers are taking part in the league and the Fit4Life programme has become another opportunity for people of all ages to get involved, and this is reflected especially in the number of women participating.
Conditions were good along this popular picturesque out-and-back 5k course, through Westport House grounds to the Quay. Gerry Ryan (GCH ) has won many races nation-wide over the past 20 years in a remarkable career, and he was the clear winner on 15.34. The popular Galway athlete won five of the six races he ran, to win the 2009 Road League with 149 points. He beat Robert Malseed (144 points )
into second place. John Byrne (Mayo AC ) finished in 16.03 and came back strongly to claim third league spot with 138.
Daniel Murray (Ballina AC ) finished fourth in an excellent 16.43 and as well as retaining the junior title he was awarded the most improved male runner during the league programme. He led home four other promising juniors who all finished in the top 20 in the 5k — James Brady, David Harper, Con Doherty, and Dean Gillespie. Martin Corcoran (Craughwell AC ) won the o40 section in both the 5k and the Road league and Ronnie Naylor retained the o50 League title. Catherine Conway has been in terrific form recently and ran a brilliant 17.38 PB in her sixth race in the league to win the 2009 title with 148 points. She pipped 2008 champion Mary Gleeson by just one point. Gleeson was second woman finisher in 18.28, ahead of Breege Blehein-McHale, 19.07 in third. Blehein-McHale was third senior (139 points ) in the league and finished off a very successful year for her on track, cross-country, and road since she returned to competitive racing in February last year. The o35 League section was a closely fought battle — Cathy Connolly ran a PB 19.56 to win with 130 points.
Rosie Hynes (Swinford AC ) was the clear winner of the junior u19 race in 20.16 and the talented 14-year old also retained the junior title in the road league. Bernie Kelly (GCH ) ran in eight of the nine races and her best six, total of 81 points, won the o45 league category as well as a very creditable top 10 finish overall. Mayo AC Club chairman Michael McGrath thanked Vodafone C&C Cellular for its continued sponsorship and Brendan Chambers for presenting the league prizes. He also thanked Mayo Sport Partnership for its support through the Fit4Life programme, Hotel Westport for its facilities, and all who helped organise the league races in 2009. The 2010 road league will soon get under way and he wished all athletes the best of luck for a fit and healthy race season.