This is what 1,600 runners look like on the streets of Mullingar. Photos: John McCauley

‘Every county represented’ as 1,600 people run Mullingar Half Marathon

A record 1,600 people took part in the Aon Mullingar Half Marathon on St Patrick’s Day this year.

The event, which was in its eighth year, is believed to have surpassed last year’s total of €33,000 raised for local charity TEAM.

Some €3,500 in prize money was allocated for the various winners in age and gender categories, which attracted a high calibre of runners to Mullingar.

Kenyan runner Peter Somba was first home, for the second year running, finishing in a time of 1h 9m, followed closely by Mullingar man Andy Nevin (1h 12m) and Ronan Potterton in third (1h 13m)

The women’s race was won by Dublin runner Fiona Stack in a time of 1h 21m ahead of Athlone AC's Kate Kelly by just seven seconds, and Noreen Brooder (1h 22m).

Race director Ken Whitelaw said the event was a huge success.

“It was a super event, we had about 1,600 registered and about 1,400 finishers,” he said.

“It was a huge turnout and was great for the town.

“Somebody came from every county in Ireland to take part.”

Mr Whitelaw said business was booming in Mullingar over the St Patrick’s Day weekend thanks, in some part, to the additional footfall the race brings to the town.

“From a tourism point of view, it puts Mullingar on the map, which is great,” he said.

“A lot of people would have stayed in hotels and B&Bs the night before, so it brings in lots of business.

“We even had over a dozen people travelling from abroad to take part, from as far away as Japan even.”

Mr Whitelaw thanked all those who made the event such a success. “The whole town was supportive, everyone got behind it,” he said.

“Westmeath County Council were great, the Civil Defence provided great support on the day, the Annebrook House Hotel, and of course TEAM.

“This is their biggest fundraiser of the year, it’s absolutely vital for them, and they really appreciate everyone’s effort in making this happen and the funds it brings them.”

Mr Whitelaw also thanked the organising committee, who are all volunteers, and all marshals who spared their time on the day – including The Downs GAA, who helped with litter pick-ups along the race route.

Deputy Robert Troy, a member of the organising committee since its foundation, said he was delighted to see such a turnout in aid of TEAM.

“It’s a very worthwhile cause,” he said.

“We have a shelter here on the Green Road to provide emergency accommodation for women who have to leave their home through domestic violence or maybe people who have become homeless.

“It’s a really important service being provided in Mullingar and the money raised in the half marathon is critical to their annual funding.

“We presented TEAM in excess of €30k just before Christmas at the launch of this half marathon, from last year’s event, and we have every expectation of surpassing that this year.”

Deputy Troy, who completed the race this year, said it was a “very positive day for Mullingar” and thanked the “huge amount of volunteerism” that made it happen.

The Aon Mullingar Half Marathon started on Oliver Plunkett Street at 10am on Sunday and the runners made their way to The Downs and back along the Royal Canal to the finish in Mullingar Town Park.

An additional 400 people took part in a 5km run in town on Sunday to raise money for the St Patrick’s Day parade. Ken Foster of Mullingar Harriers won in 17:01. The women’s winner was Theresa Hughes of Athlone AC in 19:13.s