Bank of Ireland Runway Run, first ever of it's kind in Ireland, at Shannon Airport Running shoes instead of aircrafts pounded the Shannon Airport runway for a short period into the early hours of this morning as 1,200 hardy souls took part in the first ever runway run at an Irish airport.
The Bank of Ireland Midnight Runway Run at Shannon saw 1,200 runners make history as they raced their way along the unique 5km running track.
All landings and take-offs were temporarily suspended for the night-time Shannon Airport organised event, which raised over €15,000 for the Samaritans.
Led by Irish rugby legend Keith Wood and marshalled by almost 200 volunteers, including squad members of reigning All-Ireland U-21 champions Clare, the Runway Run proved a memorable night for all, not least Rory Maloney from Waterford who grabbed a piece of running history by becoming the first ever winner of such a race in Ireland, with a personal best time of 15mins 4secs.
The winner of the women's race was Íde Nic Dhomhnaill, Newecastlewest who came home in 18mins 1secs.
Speaking afterwards, event ambassador Keith Wood, who was recently appointed Chair of the Healthy Ireland Council, said the event was as enjoyable as it was novel.
"I know from the organisers here at Shannon that they could have filled twice the 1,200 event capacity but I'm not surprised as it was such a unique event. We have landed on and taken off from this runway so many times but how many of us actually ever got to get out on one, let alone run a race on it. No wonder it was such a draw.
"It was a great idea by the airport as it is always great to be part of a 'first'. Into the bargain it promoted healthy activity and raised a lot of money for a great charity in the Samaritans so in every sense there were winners all round here tonight."
Shannon Airport CEO Neil Pakey, who started the event with a night-flare said: "Shannon has scored a huge amount of firsts over the years and this was another and a very novel one at that. The atmosphere was electric, right from the warm-up in the terminal building itself with 1,200 people being pumped up by 'Mr Motivator' Richie Clifford to the sea of orange t-shirted runners at the starting-line.
"It was a different speed to what normally goes on along a runway but very impressive times were posted, with the winner coming in with a personal best, so runners were clearly driven on by the uniqueness of the occasion.
"We are particularly delighted to have been able to generate €15,000 for the Samaritans, largely thanks to Bank of Ireland and their huge support for this event and they deserve tremendous credit for coming on board."
Said Bank of Ireland Regional Manager Southwest David Merriman, "To create such a unique event, particularly at the busiest time of the year for the airport, shows the real-can do attitude at Shannon, which is of course such a key part of the infrastructure of this region. When they approached us to sponsor this great event, we jumped at the idea. We are all the more delighted to support it as the proceeds go to such a great charity."
Participants came from as far afield as Dublin, Mayo and Cork, with, of course a strong local contingent, among them Hazel Greene from Clonlara, Co. Clare. "It was such a great idea and to be part of something unique like this was brilliant. The runway was brilliantly lit and there was a fantastic buzz and excitement out there," she said.
The airport found a cap in the schedule and temporarily closed the runway from 10.45 p.m. for the event, allowing plenty of time the race on Ireland's longest runway.
It commenced at the terminal building from where runners, all of whom were chip-timed, embarked on a triangular, brightly lit course that took them out onto one of the airport taxi-ways to the main runway. They then proceeded down the main runway for just over 2,200 metres before turning back onto a second taxi-way that took them to the finish line back near the terminal building.