There was an exchange of warm smiles and friendly gestures at the start line of Sundays's FIT Race series but there was no doubt that the top brass had one thing on their mind – to race hard and race smart.
Dublin 2013 Marathon winner Sean Hehir looked relaxed but determined leading the field in Phoenix Park as he tore past 2,000 plus entrants on the 10k double-loop course. A finishing time of 30.40 put him comfortably ahead of ultra distance world qualifier Gary O'Hanlon on 31.33 and Alan Kenny of 3D Tri on 33.52.
Age and experience provided the winning kick for Catherina McKiernan in the women's race as she reeled in the pack coming through the 8k mark. Her winning time of 34.28, ahead of Sarah Mulligan on 34.43 and Claire Gibbons at 34.47, put this tight-finishing trio well within the top 10 overall.
Enjoying the warm spring morning were a 30-strong all-women running group from Redcross, Co Wicklow. The Fitness For You group, led by coach Mel Rawl, embarked on a couch-to-5k programme a little more than eight weeks ago, many only running 5k for the first time in Sunday's race.
"I joined the group with my granddaughter Natalie and I am just so proud of the changes that she has made," said Catherine Kennedy.
Eleven-year-old Natalie is the youngest in the group and since joining the programme she has blossomed. "She is in great shape now, her self-confidence has really improved and she has even started doing gymnastics," beamed Catherine.
Entrants to the 5k single-loop course got an opportunity to fully appreciate the speed and skill of the 10k leaders as they caught up with them on the course.
"I was dizzy just watching Sean Hehir run by me," joked singer Brian Kennedy after the race. "I am not really a runner, so having Síle Seoige running alongside me chatting and telling stories for much of the way got me through it." Brian was part of the BodyByrne Group who raise money for a number of charities throughout the year including Autism Ireland.
The 5k race was won by Kevin Baker of Mullingar Harriers (16.04), and new to running Karen Holmes (22.24). Runners-up in the 5k included: Hadrien Garnier 17.46; Tony Cahalan 18.22; Maija Rumjanceva 22.36; and Dianne Hunt 22.39. Winners received a generous cash prize and footwear by Skechers.