Grassroots club of the Week: Inishowen Athletics Club
This will be a big weekend for the members of Inishowen AC, the most northerly athletics club in Ireland, based on the Inishowen peninsula in Co Donegal.
On Sunday, the club will organise the Ardaravan Clinic Inishowen Half-Marathon, an event with a big reputation for top-level organisation and a beautiful, scenic course. Sergiu Ciobanu of Clonliffe Harriers won the Men's race in 2013 in 1:08.05 and there is a €200 bonus prize on offer to the runner who can beat that time on Sunday.
Inishowen Athletic Club was founded in 2001 and now has a membership of more than 300 who compete across a wide range of events: cross-country, road and track and field at local, regional and national level.
This is a great all-round club, catering to all ages from Juveniles all the way through to the very successful Fit4Life section that caters to the ever-growing number of recreational runners.
The Juvenile section of the club has never been stronger, with a team of Athletics Ireland-qualified coaches taking track and field training on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. The Juveniles have been reaping much success in recent times. Seamus Harley won the Donegal U-11 Cross-Country Championship and James Loughrey won gold at the National Relay Championships. Fergus Cox won silver at the National Juvenile Track and Field Championships with a throw of 48.48m in the U-16 competition.
The club's Senior athletes have won medals in county and national championships, with the Men's master team winning bronze medals in the National 10k Road Championships in 2013.
Top Master runner Pauric McKinney continues to make a big impact in cross-country, road and track and he is the current national Master cross-country champion in his age division.
McKinney is a former national marathon and half-marathon champion who continues to compete at a very high level. On Sunday last he added to his ever-growing list of Masters titles when he won the Over-45 Men's age division in the SPAR Great Ireland Run, finishing in a brisk 33.30.
Inishowen AC also has members specialising in ultra-running events; Helena Crossan is the holder of the national 100k women's record with a best time of 7:52.45. Another of the club's top ultra- distance runners is Dan Doherty, who won the 2013 Celtic Plate 100k in 7:05.23.
The Fit4Life section of the club continues to expand rapidly and many of these Fit4Life runners have become fully fledged marathoners, with many taking part in the Dublin event. There is another area of the club where dedicated coaches help recreational runners achieve steady progress with small incremental increases in training.
Inishowen Athletics Club also organises a Summer Fit4Life 5k Series exclusively for women, with events taking place in Buncrana, Carndonagh and Clonmany. This is a very popular series that attracts lots of local entries; the events are non-competitive, with a strong social dimension.
The future looks bright for Inishowen AC with a raft of promising Juvenile athletes progressing through the club, helped greatly by a committed team of coaches and volunteers who are tirelessly improving standards to keep the club on the athletics map.
This weekend's Ardaravan Clinic Inishowen Half-Marathon will, for the first time, incorporate the Donegal Championships for men and women. All who enter this event can be assured of a great Donegal welcome in Inishowen and some stunning scenery, too.
Senior PRO: Seamus McDaid
Child Welfare: Paddy Cox