It was a glorious sunny evening with a welcome breeze for the 22nd running of the Balla races. The Balla 10k is the most keenly anticipated in the Mayo calendar and the tough course has provided challenges for all comers and all levels over the years. It was the third race in Mayo AC Move2Improve Series sponsored by C&C Cellular. Freddy Keron-Sittuk from Raheny Shamrock AC returned to retain the title he won last year and was the clear winner in a time of 33.01, though well outside his 2013 course record. Clubmate Ian Conroy was second and with Bernard Roe fourth their clubmate David Grange also finished well as Raheny Shamrocks also took the team prize.
In his prolific career John Byrne has often featured at the forefront of Balla 10k finishers and he came home third in a time of 34.09. Norah Newcombe (Ballina AC ) was the clear winner of the women's race and finished ninth overall in a time of 37.24. Following her return to her native Ballina she will be a leading contender at races in the west. Colette Tuohy displayed formidable consistency to claim second place in 39.37, ahead of Sarah Syron who is back to form with a string of excellent 10k times. Ann McDonnell ran a stormer and was delighted with her personal best of 45.41 and won in the over 35 category. Angela O'Connor continues to perform at the top level with a great time of 41.58 to win the over 45 category from Chris Gallagher second place in a time of 44.34. O’Connor, Tuohy, and Syron combined to win the women's team prize for Mayo AC.
There was keen rivalry throughout among the field of 277 runners and walkers. Anto Devaney was second in the over 35 section and he edged out John Nolan who was rewarded with a 36.43 PB. There were many others profiting from the recent 5k series and stepping up to record their best 10k times. Bernie McHugh and Mary Moylett both had strong runs coming home in just over 52 minutes.
It also gave many their final test ahead of the National Half Marathon on Bank Holiday Monday morning when the club has a record 50 plus members competing. There were presentations of National medals to a number of members for various competitions in recent times. Mayo AC's Aine Gallagher from Ballindine was also recognised with a presentation for her recent Irish record achievement in the Energia 12 hour women's event in Belfast. Brendan Conwell (organiser for the 22nd time ) thanked the 37 strong team who helped this year and put on a great event, and he recognised also the assistance of Michael McGrath and Marion Mattimoe. Move2Improve points will be awarded at all three levels based on the race results and tables will be updated shortly on www.mayoac.com The next race in the series is the Charlestown 10k on September 6.