Pic: Donal Foley
By Jimmy Rhatigan
I’D WALK a million miles for one of your smiles, My Mammy.
The hit of yesteryear from Al Jolson and the Everly Brothers would have been a fitting anthem at the first staging of Ireland’s Medieval Mile Run at the heart of our city on Friday.
The mammies, daddies too were certainly smiling as they dashed through our main streets with their beloved sons and daughters, family pride in a race of courage.
On a somewhat surreal occasion of running under a sky illuminated by Christmas lights, over 650 men, women and children braved the cold and revelled in the warmth of camaraderie as our High Street of beauty broke a smile of winter welcome.
The event, fulcrum of an active weekend for UNICEF that supports deprived children, was a huge breakthrough in family fitness and healthy exercise and two amazing races that brought sensational times heralded the birth of another Kilkenny gem.
Brilliant course could attract world attention
We now know we have a brilliant circuit, a picturesque course that could attract world attention in the competitive field of athletics and the comparatively laid back but hugely important arena of healthy living.
The first staging of Ireland’s Medieval Mile Run by Kilkenny Recreation and Sports Partnership (KRSP), at the behest of our county council, was a smash hit.
Hurling hero, Michael Fennelly, straight from a gym workout, started the event at the Parade stretch between our castle and design centre and entered into the spirit of the occasion by trotting the first 400m with up to 200 children in tow.
A preparatory programme at seven local primary schools, as teachers readied children to run a mile, had borne fruit.
The sight of the young ones and their parents galloping down the Parade together and into High Street was a joy to behold.
The course, much of it down hill was hardly an energy sapper and, as final results indicate, was a wonderfully precise circuit on good surfaces that led to fantastic times.
First home was army captain, James Ledingham, on 4 minutes, 21 seconds, Eoin Everard on 4 minutes, 22 seconds and Brian Maher on 4 minutes, 23 seconds.
All three are members of the internationally acclaimed Kilkenny City Harriers.
Their terrific opening times suggested that a four-minute run could be imminent.
Seamus Nugent, community sports development officer with the KRSP was delighted with the inaugural run.
“On a cold night, and on roads that were gritted by our county council, the times of the first three to finish were phenomenal, a tribute to their talents and to a great course. This is Ireland’s biggest Mile Run and people are already talking about next year,” he told The Reporter.
At the start, runners swept up the castle road to a 180 degree turn at Nuncio Road and then, at hectic pace, High Street was the destination.
It was on to Parliament Street for an Irishtown finish.
Children were delighted to collect completion stickers and they enjoyed warm apple juice in a marquee at the Mayfair Car Park next door to the Watergate Theatre.
History was made, the first light fantastic was completed in style and 2018 will bring another city centre performance of run, buddy run.