Olympian Aoife Cooke burns up the road to take record in Eyeries

'The Wild Atlantic Way, certainly lived up to its name as a blustery wind added to the already difficult undulating course'
Olympian Aoife Cooke burns up the road to take record in Eyeries

Aoife Cooke, winner of the Eyeries five-mile in a course record time, being congratulated by organiser Mark Gallagher. Picture: John Walshe

IN one of her race appearances since competing in the marathon at the European Championships back in August, Aoife Cooke demolished the previous course record when winning the Eyeries five-mile road race on the Beara Peninsula.

The venue, situated on the Wild Atlantic Way, certainly lived up to its name as a blustery wind added to the already difficult undulating course. However, it didn’t deter Olympian Cooke who improved on what was already an impressive course record of 29:59 set by Hannah Steeds last year when finishing fourth overall in a time of 28:42.

“It was tough,” admitted the Eagle athlete who had won over the half-marathon distance at Blarney four weeks before. “The last mile-and-a-half was all hills; I didn’t know the course beforehand so I think I was better not knowing.

I might run the Waterford Half-Marathon next month but I’m really looking towards the spring for a marathon, maybe Rotterdam or Hamburg." 

Second to Cooke in 32:39 was Rosaleen MacKeown from Leevale with Rachel Hawker (Kenmare) taking third in 33:53.

Along with Cooke’s performance, an exciting men’s race brought this year’s four-race Beara AC Autumn Series to a successful and enjoyable conclusion. This saw a race-long battle between Donal Coakley (Leevale) and Anthony Mannix from the Cork Track Club, who had defeated the Leevale man at the recent Rebel Run 10km.   

A see-saw battle all the way came down to the last half-mile where Coakley used his downhill skills to advantage as he moved away to win by exactly half-a-minute in a fine time of 26:59. Third was unattached runner Nick Hogan from Clare in 28:32.

“I nearly fell at the start, on the steep downhill,” admitted the winner. “Anthony got a big gap on me at around three miles but then he started to come back to me a small bit. I knew if I had him within 50 metres I would be faster on the downhill as I have a bit of an advantage with the longer legs.” 

Although Coakley hadn’t run all four races in the Series, he had won two at Allihies and Bere Island, his wife Rhona Dempsey, running for St Finbarr’s, had completed all and she was crowned overall women’s champion ahead of Anna O’Neill (Doheny) and Genevieve Colins (Beara).

The consistent Patrick McCarthy from Drimoleague deservedly took the overall men’s award ahead of Danny Manning and, fittingly, Mark Gallagher of the promoting club, the main driving force behind the event.

Eagle runners Denis Browne, Marcella Mills, Elaine Guinane and Ruairi Egan at the Eyeries Road Race. Picture: John Walshe
Eagle runners Denis Browne, Marcella Mills, Elaine Guinane and Ruairi Egan at the Eyeries Road Race. Picture: John Walshe

RESULTS

Men: 1 D Coakley (Leevale) 26:59; 2 A Mannix (Cork TC) 27:29; 3 N Hogan (unatt, M40) 28:32; 4 G Lordan (Clonakilty RR, M40) 28:44; 5 S Dineen (unatt) 29:17; 6 H Browne (West Muskerry, M40) 30:16.

Women: 1 A Cooke (Eagle, F35) 28:42; 2 R MacKeown (Leevale, F45) 32:39; 3 R Hawker (Kenmare) 33:53; 4 K O’Sullivan (Beara, F35) 35:12; 5 K Bevan (Eagle, F40) 35:42; 6 G Collins (Beara) 37:20.

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