19 April 2021

50K Virtual Ultra 2021

 


We are delighted and proud of nine of our Senior & Master Athletes who are taking on the challenge of running 50k virtually. Five of these athletes are using this run in the hope to raise much needed funds for Ardfert National School school hall on May 15th. All nine athletes have been training away behind the scenes with the last few months under the watchful eye of coach Artur Nowak, whom is taking part also.
Our club members currently in training:
Linda O'Sullivan
Moira Horgan
Margaret Carlin
Kirstie Nowak
Peter Jackson
William Brick
Andreas Weiss
Denis Foley
Artur Nowak

Gofund me page is setup for Ardfert National School so anyone can support our athletes and help in community project the same time.

08 March 2021

Dan Murphy, The Golden Boy from Ardfert by David Kissane

  Dan Murphy

The Golden Boy from Ardfert
By David Kissane
It’s a long way from Ardfert to San Sebastian. It was even longer in 1970. Northern Spain. Basque region. Probably nobody from Liscahane on the Tralee road leading out of Ardfert had ever been there. The furthest away from home that Dan Murphy had ever been. Sunday, January 25th. A nice fourteen degrees and firm underfoot. Not as warm or as firm as in Lismore, Co Waterford where he had won his second Munster junior cross country title a week before. Left a certain rising star called Niall Cusack from Limerick back in fourth place that day. Dan Murphy takes off his tracksuit top and looks down at the green singlet. He is the captain of the three-man Irish junior team. The three-leaf shamrock on his left chest and a tingle in his stomach. What a few years it has been in his life of eighteen years and his running life of four years! What a week gone by in competitive cross country! “A something given” as Wordsworth said.
He had arrived in the house of his neighbour from Ardfert, Tom O’Riordan on Thursday night. Quiet south Dublin. He wasn’t the first and wouldn’t be the last athlete who would be fed and rested in the O’Riordan house. And got nuggets of advice from an Olympian too. Tomo himself could have been on the plane to Spain with an Irish senior team the next day. But you had to be invited to this cross country event in San Sebastian and the Irish seniors hadn’t been impressive enough in recent international tests. The junior team only was invited. They got the message on New Year’s Day 1970. John Hartnett of Grange AC was announced as captain, Dan Murphy of St John’s AC, Tralee and Eddie Leddy of Ballinamore AC with Seán Fitzell as manager. Heartbreak shortly after when John Hartnett got injured and couldn’t travel. A broken leg from four years previously had flared up again and put him out of action for ten weeks that December and January. Tom Gregan of Clonliffe Harriers AC got the treasured place. Three travelled. Three to run and three to score in what was effectively a European cross country championships. Meant a lot for the new BLE athletics body in Ireland. Success would mean international recognition. Defeat could mean a long wait for future invitations and loss of status. No pressure lads!
Over a good dinner and a cup of tea, Tomo gave advice to Dan about possible tactics and what to expect from the new cross country atmosphere. Then Dan would be driven to Dublin airport while Tom O’Riordan would return to South Dublin to write up a preview to that Sunday’s Quinlan Cup road race in Tullamore which had over 460 entrants. That would be run at the same time as Dan was lining up for his first international cross country.
And now it’s Sunday in Spain as Dan lines up with the other 118 invited runners. The Irish boys have been over the flat green course and sense speed will be important. Especially at the finish. He is excited by the cheering from the masses of Spanish athletics fans who are present. The San Sebastian event is a tradition. Established in 1956, it has gained iconic status. There are no women’s races here till the next year, 1971. But with local races for young and old and the international senior and junior invitationals, the crowds have gathered from all of northern Spain for this traditional late January occasion.
Not a lot is said by Dan as the stand-in captain. He has jogged on the beach in San Sebastian with his two team mates and Eddie Leddy notices his strong legs. “That’s from running in Banna Strand” Dan tells him. “The sand strengthens you up.” Eddie will never forget that piece of advice. Dan’s spirit and his strong body have done the talking over the past year with the help of those notorious Banna-Barrow training runs with his Ardfert neighbours. And again last Sunday when he led the four mile race from start to finish in Lismore. Imperious. A clenched fist and a look in the eye is enough. Job to be done. Let’s do it. The cows will have to be milked next Tuesday when he gets back to the Murphy family farm in Ardfert and the new-born calves will have to be checked later. But not now. But there is no tomorrow at this moment. Only the here and now. Even the usually feared English singlets are not noticed but the Spanish team look focused. Brace for impact, lads.
And then the bang and the rush at the start of the 6,200m run over the flat terrain. Comfortable in the leading group from the start, Dan was in the top three with a mile to go and then Ramon Sanches Ferreira of Spain made a dash for home. The Ardfert athlete went with him and fought to keep him company and was aware of the olé olé olés of the home support. Ferreira sped across the line in a time of 19:32. Settling for second and distracted by the occasion for a moment, Dan learned a valuable lesson when Pat Standing of England passed him at pace as they approached the finish. A test of character. Dan revved up further and caught the white vest before the line in a time of 19:37. Only five seconds behind the winner. Sweet. That was a second place gained instead of lost. Sweet also when Eddie Leddy came romping home in 5th followed by Tom Gregan in 13th to give Ireland the runner up team position, behind Spain and ahead of England.
The bliss that so few can know. Three eighteen year olds making Europe their own. Success behind and the world ahead.
While Dan Murphy was basking in the Basque sun and savouring the emotion of his first international individual honour that Sunday afternoon, his team mates in St John’s AC were winning the team title in the Kerry intermediate cross country championships in Ballybeggan, Tralee. His neighbour in Ardfert, Patrick O’Riordan was just pipped by Jerry Kiernan for the bronze. In 5th position was Hugh Murphy, younger brother of Dan. In the village of Ardfert itself, it was a lazy January Sunday afternoon with a few of the GAA people selling tickets for the upcoming club social in Ballyroe. But no one knew till much later that the village had a new international star in cross country. They did know the following Tuesday when Tralee UDC honoured Dan with a civic reception. There was the Irish team trophy and his own medal. And a transistor radio which was part of the prize. A handy yoke in 1970! The rest and digest stage was enjoyed.
…………………………………………..
Dan Murphy was born in Liscahane, Ardfert in 1951. Went to Ardfert NS and became interested in boxing in his early teens. Neighbours Patie and Willie Maguire sparred with him in the Murphy house. To get fit for boxing, they ran. Up the road was a man with a keen eye for running talent. Patrick Griffin was secretary of St John’s AC in Tralee in 1966. St John’s was the nearest athletic club four miles in the road. He saw the boys running and asked them to have a run with himself one evening. They did. He asked them would they like to run with St John’s. The Maguires did and were seen training more often around Liscahane. Patrick Griffin asked Dan again one evening after the cows had been milked and said there was a youths cross country championships in Sneem in South Kerry the following Sunday. St John’s needed a runner to fill the team. Reluctantly Dan said ok and off they went. November 27th, 1966. Dan came 7th in the race won by Joe Clifford. There were 35 runners and immediately the newest runner caught the running bug. Who can describe how the mind and heart feel when the legs carry you with abandon across winter fields? Who can articulate the nearest thing to freedom, to the birds of the air and the stars in the sky? Who can explain running?
And so Dan Murphy the athlete was born. The next year, 1967, Dan won the Fr Dan Browne senior road race in Farranfore at sixteen years of age. In his first juvenile race at Munster level that year he came second in the U16 event in Kenmare. Like a whirlwind he won or was placed in road, track and cross country races in Kerry in 1968 and capped the year off by winning the Munster novice cross country title in Listowel. Success continued in 1969 and he kick-started the year with his first national success. He won the Munster U18 title in Dromoland, Co Clare, leading his Kerry team to bronze medals. The Kerry athletes who followed him home were to have success in the years to come: Sonny Fennell (3rd), Tadgh O’Donoghue (6th) and Jerry Kiernan close behind. By February of that year he had won twelve of his last fourteen important races.
Then came his first All Ireland appearance. The national junior cross country championships were held in Mallow in February. In a hotly-contested race, the Kerryman was beaten by Eddie Leddy of Leitrim. Not a good day for his Kerry team either as they were pushed into fourth place after a technical slip-up. Listowel native Willie Curtin had come from England for the race and came third individual but had not been named on the Kerry team. A learning race. There is no mercy in sport. Including athletics and cross country.
But there was a silver lining in that silver medal as Dan Murphy got the news of a place on the Irish junior team for Scotland. Saturday March 22nd came and found him in Clydebank in Scotland in an invitational international race. His first international. He finished 18th and was a scoring member of the Irish team that came second. He was surprised that team mate John Hartnett of Grange AC came 4th and Eddie Leddy 6th, a long way ahead of him. An inspiration to train harder.
Back home in Ardfert, training was done at night (nobody would be seen training during the day) either in Banna or on the fierce road course that is “back Scrahan and down Sliabh”. The road to hell many labelled it, especially if there was no moon out to light your path. If there was a moon, it was eerie and full of shadows on wintry nights. Up hill and down slopes and potholes with stars shining in them. Patrick Griffin, Patie Maguire, Pat O’Riordan, Joe Duhig, Liam O’Riordan and Tom McGrath and more. No mercy, no waiting, no prisoners. Plausible reality. Welcome to Ardfert.
A busy summer of open sports and championships followed. He won the Kerry 5,000m title in Listowel during the summer. He followed the spirit of local athletics and he recorded a time of 4-36.7 on giving (or unforgiving) ground in the open handicap mile at Knocknagoshel Sports in August. He beat Seán O’Riordan, brother of Tom who was home on holidays from the US in that race. He brought the year to a close with a brilliant win in the Munster intermediate cross country championships in Killavullen, Co Cork where team mate Sonny Fennell was 5th. Somebody said afterwards that he had a chance of making the Irish team for the race of his life the following January. In Spain. And the silver medal. The day of his life.
And his last full year in Ireland as an athlete was to be 1970. The year of Spain and so much more. After the Irish team for Spain was announced on New Year’s Day there was joy in Ardfert.
A bounce in Dan’s step as he faced the starter on Sunday January 11th in Farranfore for the Kerry junior (now U20) championships in Farranfore. He would have been aware of the buzz that was around his presence now that he was an Irish international and shyly acknowledged the congratulations of supporters, officials and his co-athletes on that cold January day. He glided along in the aura of stardom in the sticky terrain of Farranfore. Led from gun to tape and a 200 yard victory over rising star Sonny Fennell of Tarbert, running with Listowel AC. The eighty miles a week training schedule was paying off with farm work acting as a warm-up and a cool-down. These were unreal days with his family, his village and his club as the athletics world reached out its arms to him to encourage and share in the magic of Dan-ness. He trying to keep a low profile and saying “sure it’s just another race!” about the upcoming trip to Spain.
And there was little time to think as up came that Munster junior championships in Lismore the following Sunday, January 18th. A battle with Ryan of Cork but Dan was unbeatable that month and so was in a good place in his head as he headed to Spain. It was also one of the best ever performances by a Kerry team so his rising tide was lifting all boats.
Then the individual and team silver in San Sebastian and out again the very next Sunday, February 1st. St Brigid’s Day and a new spring and teacht an earraigh. Wexford Racecourse and his first All Ireland at intermediate level. To understand what the importance of this day was, we have to realise that intermediate was the grade below senior, which meant that all ages and abilities were involved. It was the inaugural running of the event over six miles. There were 340 athletes milling at the start. Spikes and elbows and knees and the smell of Deep Heat and embrocation. A human race in all its rawness and reality. A test for the best on the day of the fray and unforgiving if you were making excuses. Dan Murphy made no excuses. His tactics were simple. If you had the talent, the stamina, the head and the heart for it. Stay with the leading bunch until half way. Then edge to the front and then hell for leather for home. It didn’t work too well at the start as Dan was left lost in the crowd for the first mile. Surprised at the rush and noted for the next race. It was survival of the fittest and he was fit so he worked his way through the forest of runners and did hit the front at three miles. There at the front was the upcoming star from Leitrim, Eddie Leddy. He had ambitions too. Dan tried to break away but the future Olympian understood Dan’s danger and went with him. Revealing time now as they shouldered-to shoulder the next two miles with mud and scraws flying off their powerful heels and the crowd enthralled and roaring. And then with a mile to go, the Kerryman felt fresh air in his face as the Leitrim man’s breathing faded back and he won with fifty yards to spare.
The excitement from the supporters, both partisan and neutral was a memory-clinger because the Colosseum of Ancient Rome would not have produced a battle so noble. Young gladiators born to run and wanting to win. The fact that they were both juniors added to the charisma of the occasion. Those present knew they had experienced something special and that they would experience it again soon. Cross country in all its glory…one of the joys of the 1960s and now the 1970s. Hope was in the air for the sport and it was being talked about in bars and homes that night as people relived an emotional experience. The newspapers were giving glowing accounts of cross country battles like this one in and Dan Murphy and Eddie Leddy and the 338 other runners were ambassadors for cross country that day. The gathering in groups afterwards, the steam of the athletes, the cups of soup, the banter about the going, the team possibilities, the rush for the line in the last mile, the spike cuts, the saliva wiped from mouths, the red cheeks, the after-elation…Children who were present emulated them.
Two weeks later the All Ireland junior cross country championships were staged in Grange, Co Cork. The club of John Hartnett who had recovered from his leg injury. And he proved it when he won with gusto from Eddie Leddy with Dan Murphy in third. Another learning experience after a hectic period of high-octane activity. But the upside was that Dan led Kerry to bronze medals in the inter-county event. This time Billy Curtin from Listowel was on the team and the Kerry athletes, the county board and the supporters who travelled had a day to remember with Dan creating the possibility and the reality of success on the national stage.
No real rest. Two weeks later on March 1st and the national senior cross country championships in Thurles. The Kerry county board had done their homework and persuaded Tom O’Riordan to declare for Kerry instead od Dublin. Not a lot of persuading there and Tomo may have mentioned it first! He had seen Dan Murphy’s progress over the past few months and saw that there was substance to the situation. This was the top standard for Irish cross country runners. A big step-up again for Dan but he saw the fire in Tom O’Riordan’s eye and swore he would not let the county down. Tom went on to win the title for the second time in three years. Dan was to finish eight after the seven and a half miles of texture-testing torture. Beaten in the run in by John Sheridan of Dublin. Interestingly he strode home eight places ahead of John Hartnett who had headed him in Grange two weeks before. The Kerry team were a creditable seventh in the inter-county table. Progress made.
Two weeks later again and Dan appeared in his third international cross country in Vichy near Paris. A brilliant victory for arch rival John Hartnett and the Kerryman back in 20th. Exhaustion setting in after a hectic season.
The summer of 1970 brought track appearances on a number of fronts, including a silver medal in the Munster 5000m to John Buckley of Cork in a time of 15:10 and he improved that time later at the famous Banteer sports with a third place at senior level to Tom O’Riordan in a time of 14:24. On the way, Dan beat Jerry Kiernan in the Kerry 5000m championship race in Killarney. The national junior 3000m brought him a silver medal in Glenstal later and who beat him? Eddie Leddy! Talented athletes learning from each other and pushing each other to excellence. In July he won the national army 5000m title in Dublin as he became eligible by enrolling in the local FCA corps in Tralee with some of his Ardfert and St John’s AC co-runners that summer.
September brought another international appearance. The European junior athletics championships in Vichy. September in Paris. This time on the track. Left Dublin airport on the Wednesday and easily qualified in the semi-final on Saturday and dreamed of Sunday’s final. However, a frantic pace by Korchenkov, the Russian talent, caught him out and he finished in 10th in a time of 8:43. Track was never to be his favourite.
Around this time he attained a role which will be forever his! He became the first chairman of Ardfert AC. The group of Ardfert athletes who had been the mainstay of St John’s AC in Tralee decided to go on their own. And they did. Brave move. Bravery was never a problem in Ardfert. No looking forward to the past here.
That winter brough some rest and a Kerry sports star award from the Tralee Junior Chamber of Commerce. He had it all right there in his hands then. County, Munster, All Ireland and International medals. Carpe diem. It was a good Christmas in the Murphy household. Joy to the world.
The new year of 1971 brough news from the US. On January 15th the Cork Examiner announced that Dan Murphy had been awarded a scholarship from Washington State University. A chance to develop as an athlete and a man. And see the world too. When he got the news himself some time earlier, he probably took it in his usual “Well… maybe… OK…I’ll go” way. He was 19 years of age on the verge of 20 in a month. The world was his.
And there was one sign-off to complete on his career in Ireland. The Munster junior cross country in Knockraha, Co Cork. His final race before he boarded the plane to Washington a few days later. And being Dan Murphy, he signed off well. He took the gold medal ahead of Mick O’Shea of Limerick and Tony O’Leary of Cork. They were to be the next generation. Athletics doesn’t wait too long. A special one for his new club also, Ardfert AC as they clinched the bronze medals in the club race with Dan Murphy, Pat O’Riordan, Willie O’Riordan and Hugh Murphy earning the points. Band of brothers.
That was Dan’s last serious medal in Ireland.
He went into action straightaway for Washington State College in the US and finished a brilliant 4th in the NCAA cross country championships in 1971 behind Olympian Steve Prefontaine. The Ardfert man was just 16 seconds behind the Oregon athlete and just one second behind Mike Slack of North Dakota who got the bronze. And Dan led his Washington State University team to the silver medals in a hotly contested battle, ahead of iconic colleges like Pennsylvania and Villanova.
A year later, 1972 in Houston, Texas in the 34th NCAA cross country championships, Steve Prefontaine was injured while Dan Murphy came a great 5th with incredible consistency. In his other NCAA cross country races he was a leading scorer for his college.
While in the US, his father passed away, bringing with the challenges of losing a father who, along with his mother and siblings had encouraged and nurtured his running career with a quiet family pride.
Racing most weekends then and piling on the training, the body began to feel the effort of the three glorious years that Dan made it happen. He returned to Ireland around 1975 and took over the family farm. Around that time he told me once that his calf muscles were all knotted from the relentless running. He did make a return to cross country at county level for a while and joined the new St Brendan’s AC club in Ardfert from its inception in 1987. With his quirky sense of humour and his nous of all things athletic, he was a privilege to be around. On one occasion he jogged his way through the Kerry masters’ cross country, chatting with some co-competitors in the last lap. When I told him that we were beaten by a point for the gold medals in the team event, all he said was, with a glint in his eye, “If you had told me there was a team event I would have ran faster!”
He had married and raised a family in the following years but tragedy struck when his wife died some years later. Life, like sport, can be cruel.
His last role in the club was to be a guest at the thirty year celebrations of the club foundation in 2017. He was at his best that night. He chatted about athletics and about life and had that sense of humour peculiar to him. When I asked him his opinion on what spikes were the best for a master athlete to wear, he looked at me with that glint again and calmly stated “What do you want spikes for…you’re not going to get any faster at this stage!”
Talking about his old sparring partner in cross country from his home in Tennessee, today, Eddie Leddy, twice Irish Olympian in 1972 and 1976 and US outdoor 10,000m champion in 1976 spoke with pride about Dan Murphy. He said “I loved Dan…he was both an absolute gentleman but also had this wicked competitive spirit: he would run you down in competition. I thank him for what he did to inspire me to be a better athlete”.
Dan was laid to rest in Ardfert on Thursday, 4 March 2021. Sympathy to his family, friends, neighbours and co-athletes.
You can all be assured that the golden boy of Ardfert will not be forgotten.

10 February 2021

Club notes - February 2021

  • St.Brendan’s AC Virtual 5K 

St.Brendan's AC invited all runners and walkers to take part in their inaugural St Brendan’s AC Virtual 5K run which was held on the weekend of Friday January 15th -17th.  We asked everyone to Run or walk 5k in their own locality, where they added their results to MyRunResults between Friday to Sunday through a results portal. 

Entry Fee was 10 euros per entry with Optional Purchase of custom designed T-Shirt and medal. Family Entry Options were also available for 2 adults and 2 children.

As the athletic club caters for all ages from Juveniles to Masters. St. Brendan's  AC also has a Fit 4 Life group which is very active on a weekly basis.

Due to the year that it was, the club were unable to hold their Annual Banna 5k/10k Run in August 2020. As this is the only fundraiser for the year by St.Brendan's AC, support to help raise much needed funds was needed to enable us to provide training and development of all our athletes, through this virtual event. The idea to progress with organising this event came about, when training for our Fit4Life group continued throughout the year virtually and was a huge success within the club, creating great banter and laughter amongst the members. When we could, according to covid guidelines and athletic Ireland guidelines, we also continued training for the juveniles and masters in groups, which we found very beneficial for everyone. We then decided that a Virtual Race was the best way to demonstrate the benefits of the training sessions.

Under the guidance of David Butler (Race Director of the event), the virtual 5k event became a huge success. We were hoping for at least over 100 entries but received a total tally of 250 entries by the end of the weekend. This was absolutely phenomenal support to receive. The entries covered not only local people, but people in other counties such as Limerick, Cork and afar. It was also great to see so many juveniles taking part also and families out enjoying the event.



All this created a great atmosphere amongst the club and everyone who shared their experience with us, a virtual online party was held.
This support will help us with training, new training facilities and development of our athletes when normal times resume.
Great feedback was received which started our year off on a very positive note and we hope that we can meet everyone again in August for our Annual Banna 5k/10k road race.
But in the meantime we would like to thank everyone for their support and we are delighted that everyone who has received our custom designed T-shirts and medals are very happy with them.
Everyone seems to be happy which is sending positive vibes to the club. We would like to thank everyone again for their support of our event



  • The athletic community received sad news of the passing of the Late Jerry Kiernan. Jerry being a native of Listowel and Dublin had a very successful athletic career which led to the Olympics. He will be sorely missed amongst the athletic community. Ar dheist dé go raibh a anam dílis.


  • (not) parkrun


In the absence of Saturday parkrun, parkrun Ireland have commenced (not) parkrun.  This allows parkrunners to still do their 5k, but this time within their own area, and at a time and day to suit themselves.  You are allowed to record one (not) parkrun each day with your fastest time being recorded on the weekly total.  If you’re new to (not) parkrun, don’t be shy.  You can register on the following link: https://www.parkrun.ie/register and log your 5k time.  Please include St. Brendan’s A.C. as your home club. 

Over the past few weeks the following members have been actively recording their (not) parkrun:


Juveniles - Katie Butler, Zach Walshe, Aaron Horgan, Kevin Horgan.

Adults -      Ursula Barrett, Moira Horgan, David Butler, Paudie Dineen, Peter Jackson, 

                  David Kissane,  Artur Nowak, Dan Pierse, Pat Sheehy.


  • Membership for 2021:

Membership is open for the 2021 season and St. Brendan’s AC has welcomed a number of new and returning members to the club this year. We are looking forward to seeing everyone again in person when group training returns.

A change for the club this year (2021) has seen St. Brendan’s AC moved to use a wholly online membership system from athlete through to registrar. The system we are using is hosted by Athletics Ireland and allows key self service functions like applying to join the club and membership renewal. The online system can accessed via this link https://membership.athleticsireland.ie/clubpage/St.%20Brendan's%20A.C.%20(Kerry)


Further information on club membership and benefits of the same are available on the club’s blog on this link.

http://stbrendansac.blogspot.com/p/forms.html


Juvenile membership (U8-U18) is priced @ 30 euro

Senior membership (over 18+) is priced @ 40 euro

The club offers a range of family discounts, for example:

Two juveniles memberships @ 50 euro

Three juveniles memberships @ 70 euro

One senior and one juvenile membership @ 60 euro

Athletic competition starts at the U9 age category (from the age of 8 upwards)


All club members from 2020 should have received a link for renewing their membership via email. If you have any issues with this process or have not received the mail please get in contact with the club and we are more than happy to assist.

For any queries on club membership or family discounts please contact club secretary Irene Butler or club registrar David Butler @ 0877985557.

St.Brendan's AC would also like to give a very warm welcome to all new members who have joined the club recently. We are looking forward to sharing the roads with you all in the near future, when restrictions lift.


  • Training news

  • Strength and conditioning virtual sessions:

Restrictions mean no competition but it's the ideal time to run strength and conditioning sessions for our athletes. It is the staple of every winter season and at St. Brendan's A.C. we are continuing this element of the programme through virtual sessions on Zoom. 

 

The sessions focus on improving performance and preventing injury by strengthening stabilising muscles and improving mobility and balance. Athletes are also working on their cardiovascular fitness with a few pulse raiser exercises thrown in. The social side of training together has always been important and there is still a bit of banter and story telling when members catch their breath.




So every Thursday coaches Kenneth and Ursula run the juveniles session for the athletes at U13 and older from 7-8pm and from 8pm the seniors and masters athletes are put through their paces by coach Ursula. There's no need to worry about the weather as the sessions are beamed straight to member's homes to the phone, tablet or laptop so all that is needed is some device with internet connection, a little space and plenty of energy. The sessions are free for members so anyone who wants to join the club for the year to join in can do so here. The sessions cater for all abilities and all exercises are demonstrated and explained so are suitable for everyone.

  • 50K Ultra training group



For the last number of weeks, a group of a dozen club members started training with the aim to complete a 50km run on the weekend of 15/16 May by taking part in Kerry 50K Ultra or complete a Virtual run in Ardfert if the Tralee event is not able to go ahead. The 16 weeks training plan prepared by Artur Nowak, Athletics Ireland Level 2 Endurance Coach is free to registered club members and includes individual running sessions, mobility and strength and conditioning Zoom sessions. For most club members in this group this will be the first time that they go beyond marathon distance but they all have experience in long distance running and looking forward to the challenge and it’s great to see both genders are equally represented.
Some members will be fundraising for different local and national causes and we will post more information when this is confirmed.


  • Meet the coaches

Ursula Barrett is an Athletics Ireland Level 2 Jumps coach and also a masters athlete competing in sprints and long jump. She also has a degree in sports science and masters in motor development and works as a lecturer in the health and leisure department of Munster Technological University. Ursula has been running the strength and conditioning winter sessions as well as coordinating the Fit4life programme for the past few years but is planning to help out more with the juveniles over the coming year.

As a competing athlete herself, Ursula's favourite event is Long jump and she is looking forward to the planned facilities in Ardfert which include sprint lanes as well as a high jump and long jump area. 

"I am looking forward to working with the younger athletes, especially in long jump, and having our own long jump pit in Ardfert will be a game changer allowing regular technical training on our doorstep".  Ursula has had to move much of her coaching online over the past year setting virtual challenges for the Fit4life group as well as delivering classes through Zoom since Christmas.

"Hopefully we can get back to face to face training soon as all of the coaches are missing coaching the athletes in person so as soon as restrictions are lifted we will be back in action".

  • Blast from the past
  •  May 1971 - David Kissane finished second in the North Munster Schools senior 5000m in 17:30 (inside Neil Cusack's record).


  • May 2007 - After 10 years St.Brendan’s AC is crowned again as Kerry Track & Field Champions.
  • GPS in running world

Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) is used in modern running watches and smart phones for displaying various data like: distance, elevation, speed. GNSS is using GPS, GLONASS and/or Galileo systems.There are several differences between them like the number of satellites each system has in its constellation and positional accuracy, but the key difference is the country of origin of the GNSS. GPS is owned by the United States, GLONASS is owned by Russia and Galileo is the EU's project.

  • GPS or Global Positioning System is a satellite navigation system owned by the United States. The satellite constellation was first launched in 1978, which makes it the oldest navigation system ever. And that’s perhaps the main reason why it is so widely used everywhere around the world. The positional accuracy of GPS is up to 5 meters under the open sky, which is pretty good.

  • GLONASS stands for GLObal NAvigation Satellite System, and it is owned by Russia. In many ways GPS and GLONASS are practically the same thing. The one thing that you might benefit from is the fact that GLONASS satellites offer a precision accuracy range of 4.5 to 7 meters.In practical use, people usually find GLONASS to be slightly less accurate than GPS.

  • Galileo is the youngest of all of these navigation systems and it is a project being developed by the European Union. The main purpose of Galileo is to provide a high-precision position system independent of GPS and GLONASS, so that European nations don’t have to rely on US or Russian satellites. Also, Galileo satellites are supposed to offer better accuracy than both GLONASS and GPS – it is estimated that civilian users can expect accurate positioning up to 1 meter, which is quite impressive.European satellites also offer better positioning services at higher latitudes compared to both GPS and GLONASS, which is one of their main advantages. Additionally, Galileo is actually more reliable in urban environments, where tall buildings can easily block satellite signals. Using a combination of GPS and Galileo is great for getting around unknown cities, especially in Europe.

What Is The Benefit Of Using More Than One GNSS?

  • When you are using just GPS, your device can choose between 30 different satellites to pinpoint your signal. But when you use GPS with GLONASS or with Galileo, that number of visible satellites is almost double. This does mean that the device is able to pinpoint your exact location faster, and in some cases even the positional accuracy is improved. Keep in mind that your receiver needs to connect to four satellites to determine your location – when you’ve enabled both GPS and GLONASS or Galileo, the device simply has more satellites to choose from, allowing it to be faster and more precise. GLONASS is generally more precise in mountainous regions, while Galileo offers better accuracy in urban environments. When you combine either of these two systems with GPS, your receiver will usually be dead on about your location.

Most watches will be using minimum 2 of these GNSS systems for better accuracy but this never be absolutely precise when measure a distance - your watch or smartphone is calculating distance from data it is receiving from satellites using an algorithm. 2 people running side by side with 2 different watches could have up to 5% difference in distance covered. One study found that errors could be as much as 9% on shorter distances and another study conducted on 56km distance found up to 1.9% difference.

GPS accuracy and power saving

In some watches you can define the GPS fix interval using the GPS accuracy setting - the shorter the interval, the better the accuracy during exercise. By increasing the interval and lowering the accuracy, you can extend the battery life.

Example of the Suunto watch setting below.

GPS accuracy options are:

  • Best:   ~ 1 sec fix interval, highest power consumption

  • Good: ~ 5 sec fix interval, moderate power consumption

  • OK:    ~ 60 sec fix interval, lowest power consumption

  • Off:       no GPS fix






22 January 2021

Patrick O’Riordan – True Grit by David Kissane

 On Friday night Patrick O’Riordan travelled to the St Brendan’s AC AGM. It was his 33rd AGM of the club. Unbroken chain. It was also the shortest distance he ever had to travel to an AGM. About three metres. From his kitchen to his living room. His first zoom AGM. Virtually real.

It is indeed a virtual weekend for the club as the first St Brendan’s AC Virtual 5K is being hosted all weekend. Did mine yesterday morning. Out of bed early, locked and loaded for a decent run. The 1K standard warm-up jog followed by a routine series of Ursulated rotations and twists and turns. Then over to Mr Garmen and off like any sixty seven year-old pretending to be forty. Then as the adrenaline hits home I can hear the theme tune from Chariots of Fire playing in my brain and then Sissel sings Shenandoah. Then a Chopin waltz on the road. Strains of Johnny Cash singing The Battle Hymn of the Republic. The bare melancholy of the January trees blend with the beautiful presence of imagination and the hope of spring around the corner. There is poetry in my plod, savouring the delicious wonder of the running wander. I have a claw in my paw. Runuary bliss. I am Michelangelo and the Cistine ceiling is taking shape. Sixty seven and in heaven. Mr Garmen bleeps to tell me I am well ahead of schedule with the first two Ks. It’s an out and back course so I turn at 2.5K and bang! There is a counter-play to the perceived second half. A westerly strengthening wind hits me full on from expanding forehead to tapping toe. It’s a brake, a wall, a hindrance, a go-back shout from nature. Now the early wind-assisted pace makes sense. We don’t always notice the wind at our backs. Now I try to swim against Storm Virtual but there goes my hope of a decent performance as breathing and muscles and bones conspire with the wind to teach a humility lesson. The rest is a weak mono-movement. I fall across the finish point a broken runner. Virtually destroyed. When I hear that over 200 runners around the county and beyond supported the Virtual Run, then positivity returns and sure running is only a recreational thing anyway. Now who says that?
It’s a virtual state now. A virtual open sports? A virtual relay run? A virtual decathlon? A virtual track and field championships? There must be an app. A zoom world. People attend meetings in pyjamas. Electronic platforms. Hybrid AGMs. Group cams. Zoom buddies. People bursting in to the background looking for their runners during a live zoom. A cat leaps onto the laptop. Toilets flush in ear-range. Running gear visible on the bookshelf. Strange profile pics. Expleting when you think you’re muted. Gas world since our borders were rebranded by Covid. But it works.
As Patrick O’Riordan zooms out, elected once again as St Brendan’s AC president for another year, he probably passes his medal-holder in the hallway. Medals there stretching back to the days in the mid-1960s when he visited Murphy’s house on the Tralee road. Boxing was the game then. Dan, Hugh and John Murphy along with Patie Maguire were all good at boxing and to get fit, they ran. The fourteen year old Patrick joined them on the runs and was hooked. For a lifetime. The next step was to join St John’s AC in Tralee, the nearest athletic club. Road running and cross country excited Patrick and the other boys and they discovered that other fellas couldn’t keep up with them. The more they trained the luckier they got! In 1968 Patrick collected his first serious medal when he finished second to future Olympian Jerry Kiernan in the county U16 road championships in Listowel. He beat future Kerry football star Jimmy Deenihan that day in a hotly contested race. Patrick went to see the top athletes in the country in the national senior inter-counties and inter-clubs in Mallow that same year and cheered on his neighbour Tom O’Riordan (competing for Donore Harriers and Dublin) to a great victory over Mat Murphy (Rising Sun AC) and Joe O’Keeffe (Civil service AC). Patrick’s attention was equally focused on the junior race where Eddie Leddy (Leitrim) - his brother PJ was 7th in the senior race - had a fine win in a field that was graced with many future stars including Neil Cusack and John Hartnett. He wonders what happened to the pioneering women who were in the intermediate medals that day (there were no senior women): N Bowe (Tipperary), E Mountain (Waterford) and K Curley (Galway)?
Then the first Munster medal came. It was in 1969, the year of the first man on the moon. Patrick’s career went into orbit with a provincial medal achieved as a member of the Kerry U18 bronze medal-winning team in the cross country championships in Dromoland, Co Clare. The race was won by team mate Dan Murphy, ahead of Tony Durack of Clare with Kerry’s Sonny Fennell (Tarbert) in third. Tadgh O’Donoghue (Kenmare) was the next scorer in sixth position followed by Jerry Kiernan and John Galvin (both Listowel) and Patrick in close pursuit. The same year Mallow was the venue for the national championships and Patrick was on the U18 Kerry team that came 4th. By the end of that year, Patrick had recorded his first serious victory at county level when striding home first in a senior five mile handicap race in the Cows’ Lawn in Listowel ahead of team mate Pat Griffin with Donal Crowley in third.
Patrick’s first All Ireland medal came the next year (1970) in Grange, Co Cork when he was a member of the Kerry U20 team that got bronze in the national cross country championships. There were 190 runners in the race including his younger brother Willie. Then to Killarney in March for the Kerry senior cross country championships where he took bronze, and he completed the year with his first county championship cross country win. With a gritty run, now on a success-plateau, he won the Kerry intermediate cross title in Tralee. He enjoyed the celebrations that night in Ardfert and in the course of the post-race chat, the idea of starting a club in Ardfert was floated. Their identity needed to be reprofiled. When the Ardfert athletes woke up the next day, the idea hadn’t gone away.
And so by 1971, Ardfert AC was set up and had a dramatic early achievement when the team came third in the team race at the Munster junior cross country championships in Knockraha, Co Cork. Patrick was second team scorer for Ardfert AC (behind Dan Murphy who won the title for the third time) and Willie O’Riordan was close behind. Then later in the year, the new club hosted the county senior championships in the Cúl Trá in Banna and Patrick O’Riordan collected the silver medal behind Jerry Kiernan and led his club to bronze medals. More celebrations that night for the new club, now airborne although the earlier loss of Dan Murphy to Washington State University was a huge one.
The favourite training course for the Ardfert AC boys was the Banna-Barrow-Carrahane-Banna five mile circuit. Not for the faint-hearted with soft sand, road, dunes and mud in a sickening mixture of torture. Counter reformation stuff. They ran to find out like a painter paints to discover. On cold winter nights when the boys were getting ready to go to Banna, Patrick liked to “warm up” by placing his feet in Mikey O’Riordan’s oven in the Stanley range. Off down then to Banna and dash out of the car and hell for leather down the beach. Pebbles and stones flying off the running shoes if the tide was in. When God created Banna He was showing off. They could feel its feelingness. On one occasion, a man walking the beach in the dark of a November night was frightened out of his wits when he heard heavy breathing and footsteps in the darkness and ran for the dunes to escape from what he thought were the fairies from one of the local forts. Another night the group waited in the car for a bitter north-west shower of hailstones to clear before heading into the razor night. They waited and waited but the shower persisted and in the end came home runless because the Fugitive was on TV and couldn’t be missed. And the heat from the Stanley had worn off the toes. That was the exception that proved the rule because Patrick and his club-mates were ruthless.
Patrick made a dramatic start to 1972 with an inner freedom articulated by running. He won the county U20 (junior) cross country title in the Cúl Trá, leading the Ardfert AC team to gold in the process. Billy White Farranfore AC was in second and Kevin Tangney (Scartaglin) in third. While cross country and road running were the first loves of the Ardfert man, he soon made his mark on the track when racing to bronze in the 1500m later in the 1972 Kerry track and field championships on a misty June day in Ardfert sportsfield.
The next year brought silver in the county senior cross country championships in Farranfore behind the impressive Derry McCarthy (Farranfore AC). Patrick always liked the wrath and naked severity that Scahies offered to the cross country runners. He gloried in its primal muddy otherness. True grit. The following years saw the Ardfert man on the Kerry team for the national cross country championships in Mallow and Roscrea. Patrick’s visit to Mallow in 1974 on the Kerry team was a memorable one. There were atrocious conditions after a week of wind and rain but Tom O’Riordan (third) led the Kerry team to an overall fourth place and they received a special award for the most improved team. Donie Walsh (Leevale AC) and Dessie McGann (Civil Service) took gold and silver in front of Tom O’Riordan. The forever runners. These guys were jiving when the rest of us were learning how to walk. The day was memorable before the race when a Kerry team member was accidentally locked into one of the dressing sheds and was released only minutes before the start. The Ardfert team members and supporters, all six of them, were travelling home in a Morris Minor when a tree fell in front of them. The driver boldly drove on under the falling tree like Evel Knievel and came out safe at the other end.
Then hurling with St Brendan’s took over for Patrick for a number of years. Indeed he had been able to partake of both athletics and hurling up to then. He had already won a county minor hurling championship medal in 1969 when his running career was blossoming. As a competitive defender, he won two county senior hurling championship medals in 1975 and 1986 with a number of other grade medals in between and after.
An expert driver and a lover of cars, one of his favourite machines was a white Ford Capri with which he and others traversed the roads of North Kerry in the summer of life. Spring Shows, ploughing matches, football and hurling matches (not in that order), international cross countries, coursing. Stories to be told.
While Ardfert AC discontinued in the 1980s, Patrick was involved in the formation of the new club, St Brendan’s AC in October 1987 and was elected senior secretary. He went on to serve his time in the county board as treasurer and to lend assistance whenever needed. One of his proudest days in sport was when St Brendan’s AC won the Quill Cup for the first time, closely followed by the club’s top club in Munster award. Still keeping a super(natural) level of fitness, he went on to compete at veteran (master) level and broke new ground with successful appearances as a relay runner, long jumper and high jumper from O35 up to O65 . His consistency in the masters’ long and high jumps at national level is nothing short of phenomenal with gold and silvers by the chestful, the most recent coming in 2018 in Tullamore.
There is always a hint of joie de vivre when Patrick recalls his days in athletics. The famous Kerryman photograph of the athletes washing in a hole of water in Scahies after the county senior cross country championships in 1973 is remembered with humour. His plan to up his raining to two days a week a few years ago was received with amazement by those who train every day. Patrick maintained that a six-day rest period is vital for freshness. His favourite circuit for a run in recent years is his beloved Cúl Tra circuit: from Banna Prom north towards the Black Rock, then right by the lock-gate and onto the Cúl Trá and back by the road. I have ran that course with him (usually behind him) many times. I noticed a few years ago that he got into the habit of bringing his dog, June with him. When I got cheeky and tried to run past him, I swear to God that he had the dog trained to run across me, breaking my stride and ensuring that no passing out was allowed. When June passed on to her doggy heaven, he trained the amiable Abbey to do the same.
Patrick admits that he had very few poor races in his long career as he searches through the layers of the past. He does cite a Cork to Cobh race back in the 1980s as one of the worst. The body didn’t like the questions it was being asked. Any run over five miles was a no-no after that.
Well known far and wide as an athlete, a hurler and as an Atlantic Oils man (he was recruited by its founder Denis Horgan), he also knows every corner of North Kerry and its people and beyond. Conversations with him in his favourite Abbey Tavern, McElligott’s, Kirby’s or Kate Browne’s was always an education in itself (and will be again when normality returns).
And he’s not finished yet! True grit.