2021 Highlights

2021 Highlights

As we come to the end of another great year with Blackrock A.C., we look back on some of the highlights of 2021. Having been almost entirely virtual from March onwards in 2020, it felt like a bit of an explosion of activities this year with members taking part in races across Ireland and further afield. Blackrock A.C. younger sections had a lot of fun at events and collected so many medals too. There is also a growing focus on high-performance athletes who have represented the club at a national level. More of that to come in 2022! There has also been huge activity across the Fit4Life, Men and Women’s sections.

Below we share with you some of the personal experiences of our members from 2021 as well as some fantastic sources of support.

Amazing Juvenile Performances

The amazing performance of our juveniles in the Dublin and the National championships was a highlight for me. The dedication of the club’s young athletes to train was rewarded with superb performances.

Sources of support?

Patricia Forde, Jamie Kennedy, Dermot Hughes, James Dowling and the rest all gave so much support throughout the year. And Gerry – obviously!

Ambitions for 2022?

Get my running back on track, starting with Bohermeen in March. Build up to a marathon. A real one. Not a virtual one

Johnny Sheehan Fit4Life

Girls Leading the Stampede at National Cross Country Championshipssources

Watching our U11 girls leading the stampede of 200 athletes off the start line at the National Cross Country Championships was brilliant to. It happened at Gowran Park, Kilkenny only a few weeks ago on December 5th. 

Congratulations to Robyn Kennedy who ran an excellent race to come home in 3rd place overall, while also picking up two more bronze medals in the team competition for Dublin as a county and a region. The U11 girls’ team placed a highly respectable 4th place overall.

Coach David Furey

Blackrock A.C. Under 11s Cross Country 2021

Children’s Academy National Indoor Arena Training

Blackrock A.C. Children National Indoor Arena

The children attended the National indoor Arena in Abbotstown on 21 November 2021. This was their first experience training on an indoor track.

The coaches and the children alike had an amazing experience, they were so excited and motivated throughout their drills. A huge thank you to the commitment of all their parents for supporting them to drive out to the venue.

Also a big thank you to the parents who gave additional coaching supports on the day with little notice. It made the event more organised and was a great help to the coaches, and the children greatly benefited from this.

Sources of support?

Darren Hannify – a parent has been such a support throughout the last year. Darren has jumped into volunteer and help support the coaches with very short notice. He has great energy and enthusiasm with the children and we have been lost without his support.

Ambitions for 2022?

To support the children to continue to enjoy attending training every Sunday. To build their confidence, motivation and commence their first competitions in February.

Coach Amanda Balfe

First Cross Country Race of the Season

For most of the u10s, due to the disruption of COVID, this season was the children’s first taste of Cross Country racing. Despite the nerves and uncertainty of a new challenge, we had over 20 of our boys and girls run in the first league and then all of the following events.

The season finished with our u10s finishing the season with a 100% Blackrock AC record of wins in the boys league events (Josh Hunt winning league 1 and 2, and James Brennan winning the final league 3 fixture), a Dublin Championship Gold for Josh, 8th place for James and a team silver medal for the boys.

Our girls narrowly missed out on team bronze at the Dublin Championship after top 10 finishes from Lara Woods and Isla Maher. Lara and Isla also narrowly missed out on a top 6 league position.

Sources of support?

Head Coach Audrey Burns was the driving force in gaining such superb participation from the children, making all the races real “events” organising party bags and tasty hot chocolates for all competitors.

Ambitions for 2022?

More glory and most importantly fun for the 2012 group with the same level of event participation.

Coach Paul hunt

Winning Gold in the Dublin Outdoor Championships

I started training very hard in the summer of 2020, originally preparing for the indoor competitions scheduled for February 2021. Sadly after 6 months of training, all indoor competitions were canceled due to covid so I set my sights on the outdoors.

I continued training very hard throughout the winter and spring and made significant progress. In March four other athletes in the club joined me in training during the lockdowns and we became very close, we are still training 3 times a week together.

Come the Dublins in June of 2021 I had been preparing for 11 seconds of running for over a year. I was very nervous and worried all the work would go to nothing. I stood on the start line with athletes who 2 years prior would have beaten me by jogging. I won the race by almost half a second… Pretty incredible moment for me in which I learned that hard work will always beat talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

Sources of support?

Mark McCafferty the head of the Junior section of the club has provide us with a coach, training equipment and has also booked sessions for us in the indoor arena in Abbotstown and at shoreline in Greystones. We are all very grateful for the help he has given us to get to the point we are now.

Ambitions for 2022?

Big hopes for the season next year. In regards to times, I would like to go sub 7.1 in the 60m, sub 10.90 in the 100m and sub 22.3 in the 200m. I am also aiming to win a national gold medal in either/all of those events. Under 18 European Championships are being held in Jerusalem from the 4-7th of July next year, if I achieve the qualifying standard of 10.90 and win the nationals I should be able to compete representing Ireland in that competition. Which would be a dream come true. I’m working as hard as I possibly can to ensure I fulfil all of these goals.

Junior Athlete Killian

National Success

We had record success at the Nationals this year not just in cross country but also in 100m / 200m sprint events. We won 5 medals in total for sprint distances.

It’s great to see a broader spectrum of competitions being won by the athletes and it shows that with proper training and the right facilities we can achieve success for our members

Sources of support?

It’s difficult to single out a particular person but the work Joan Colgan, Ciara O’Brien and the rest of the volunteers did all the heavy lifting to make it possible to enter competitions with the various restrictive conditions enforced upon us. Without this help we would likely have missed deadlines or failed to comply with the rules.

Ambitions for 2022?

Put in a good representation at the indoors in February and get a chance to pull together as many relay teams as we can. I also look forward to making more facilities available for T&F training sessions in 2022 also.

Mark Cafferkey Junior Captain

Blackrock A.C. 100m Gold

A proud highlight for me was Dónal Martin winning both the 100m and 200m U16 National Championships for Blackrock A.C. and being part of the Leinster Team that won the 2021Tailteann Games.

David Martin Men’s


Return of Parkrun in September

There were many wonderful moments in 2021 so it’s hard to choose; the return of training with my BAC friends when lockdown eased, my longest ever run in April, my first post-pandemic race in May, breaking my 5k PB three times, broke my 10k PB once, managing a 7th place finish in the national 50k championship in August, and finishing a 365 day run streak a few days later.

However, the happiest of all was parkrun’s return in Cabinteely. I’ve been an avid parkrunner since 2015 and sorely missed it during its hiatus, though I still managed to get out and do a “not-parkrun” every weekend throughout, as I’m fortunate to live close to the park. The first actual parkrun back, which I did with my eldest son, was such a happy occasion, not least because it was only 5 days after my second son was born – what an incredibly emotional week!

Sources of support?

Just about everyone in the club was, but I’d especially like to thank the people who lead training in my absence while I was on “paternity leave” towards the end of the year, which was an enormous help!

Ambitions for 2022?

I’m very keen for the return of the Dublin City Marathon in October; in a perfect world would love to break 3 hours but as long as I’m there and it goes ahead, I’ll be very happy!

Rob Asher Men’s Captain

Blackrock A.C. Return of the Parkrun

Personal Best in Cabinteely Parkrun

Getting a PB of less than 23 minutes in Cabinteely Parkrun was a highlight for me. I had been trying to achieve this for the last two years. 

Arik helped me achieve my goal – 22:57!! Got me doing speed training with the club on Tuesday nights, then ran the parkrun with me and encouraged me to keep going when I felt I couldn’t keep up the pace.

He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.

Ambitions for 2022?

To keep improving and enjoy the friendship and support that comes from being in BAC

Pat O’Brien Fit4Life

52 Parkruns in a Row

One of the year’s highlights for me was Carmel Brennan completing 52 parkruns in a row and featuring in the Parkrun Ireland ezine

A fabulous achievement in many weathers.

Ambitions for 2022?

Increase fit4Life membership


Gerry Flaherty Fit4Life Leader

Happy Running Memories – Cabinteely Park

Arik and Ted Blackrock A.C.
Cabinteely Parkrun Blackrock A.C.

There have been so many magical running moments in 2021 that I can’t pick just one, so I’m picking a place instead: Cabinteely Park. A highlight of every week in spring/summer was seeing Blackrock A.C. pals there for coffee and chat at our Saturday morning (not)parkrun.

In April, friends and family gathered at the parkrun bench to cheer Arik and me across the finish line of our Donadea virtual ultra. We were back there in August to celebrate Rob’s 1-year run streak.

September saw the long-awaited return of Cabinteely parkrun. In October, I ran the virtual Dublin marathon there.

In December, we had the Blackrock A.C. takeover of Cabinteely Parkrun. Finally, to make the most of the beautiful Christmas lights, Imelda organised the first Cabinteely Darkrun, which was a magical end to a happy year of running in the park.

Sources of support?

Having rock-steady Arik run with me for the Donadea virtual ultra was amazing support (hopefully mutual!) and Sarah and Roisin were absolutely legendary as support crew for Team BAC at the 50k/100k championships in Mondello Park.

Ambitions for 2022?

I hope to run a respectable 50k in Donadea in Feb 2022.

Ted Burke Fit4Life and Men’s

Special Moments

Blackrock A.C. Dublin to Galway Challenge

Coast to Coast

Cianán Martin completing his impressive 223km Coast-2-Coast run from Dublin (Blackrock Beach) to Galway (Spanish Arch) and raising more than €5,000 for Make-a-Wish.David Martin Men’s

Getting Back into It

Quite a few highlights! 🙂 I started running with Blackrock A.C. again in March after a one year break and loved joining the weekly runs (especially during the summer), the support, the chats and overall fun.

I also thoroughly enjoyed supporting James with Social Media outputs and the website. I ran three half marathons this year, highlight being the first live half in Clonakitly running a PB, more on that below. 🙂

Being back at Parkrun, first in Bremen, then in Dublin and running my first Cabo PR as first woman through the finishing line was another standout moment.

Sources of support?

Everyone really, the overall atmosphere at training is amazing, everyone is so supportive. It always a great feeling coming back from training, such a motivational and welcoming atmosphere.

Ambitions for 2022?

Run more races with the club, I have signed up for the Raheeny 5 Mile and the Bohermeen Half. Run my first marathon in Bremen, Germany in October.

Melanie Pape Fit4Life

Races in November

Crossing the line in Kilkenny and my name being called out along with the club.

Also my Clontarf half marathon PB and running it with so many members.

Source of support? Everyone in the club!

Ambitions for 2022? Progression in running times

Caiman Browne Fit4Life


Men’s Team Relay

One highlight for me was the Blackrock A.C. Men’s Over 50 team winning the inter club relay race. Here is summary from Crusaders’ commentary.

Finally, we come to the O/50 competition. We fielded 5 men’s teams among the 19 that registered…, As it turned out, the best we could do was 5th, which in itself was excellent in the circumstances. The spread between the 19 teams was approx. 9 minutes, again with most being within only about 5 minutes of the winning team from Blackrock. That southside club’s extremely strong team recorded 21:41, with 2nd place going to Civil Service A in 24:09 and 3rd to Lucan A in 24:11…… The fastest mile was recorded by Donore’s Des Tremble who ran an amazing 4:58, followed by Barry Thornton of the winning Blackrock team (5:18) followed again by John Healy (Crusaders O60) whose 5:29 was the 3rd fastest on the day. The fastest 2 miles was recorded by another of the Blackrock runners, Brian Caulfield, who ran an incredible 10:38. It was not surprising they were convincing winners, when their third runner, Ger O’Toole, ran 5:45.

It was a 2x 2 mile and 1x 1 mile virtual relay on April between a number of the Dublin clubs.

Sources of support?

Gerry Flaherty for organising all of the virtual stuff, Grainne Grennan for her amazing running. James for his enthusiasm and all the hard work one media and publications in all areas of the club and his commitment to his running.

Ambitions for 2022?

Hopefully get to do Donadea 50, Boston and maybe another US marathon, Dublin marathon and maybe another one or two.

Ger O’Toole Fit4Life and Men’s

Turkey Trot

The turkey trot, seeing lots of lovely Blackrock friends, doing it with my children and baba to be! Also recording the video for the Blackrock village ad with some Blackrock ac friends in the summer. Such fun.

Sources of support?

Gerry as always and James

Ambitions for 2022?

To keep running pregnant, coach and my son to start with club.

Victoria O’Mahony Fit4Life

Words of Encouragement

James Curran telling me when I was feeling low this not running is going on too long go and see Ray Moran. I could hardly walk, went to Not Park Run just to meet people.. when I went to see Ray Moran I needed knee surgery.

Sources of support?

All of of not parkrun group ..I was helped in different ways by them ..long list of people who helped me..will miss someone if I list them as everyone helped me in a different way

Ambitions for 2022?

Get back to 5k and if I keep getting crap injuries get into sea swimming by April.

Dervla Fit4Life

Half Marathons

Cork Virtual Half

James D and Imelda said they would run it with me. Imelda had intended to do a maximum of 14km as that was the furthest she had ever run. On the day she ended up running the full half marathon!

Blackrock A.C. Howth

Sources of support?

The Blackrock AC members who did cabinteely (not)parkruns throughout the first six months of 2021 were a great source of support.

Ambitions for 2022? 

Yet again a sub-30 in Cabinteely parkrun. Also, I hope to train for a marathon.

Sarah Conroy Fit4Life

My First Half Marathon

In choosing my favourite highlights I had to pick between running my first official race which was a half marathon in Mondello and the Vartry reservoir 10km. Then I thought, no, my highlight was my first Half Marathon I ran with Sarah Conroy and James Dowling from Howth to Blackrock. James and I were there to support Sarah running the great Limerick Half Marathon. I planned on running the first 14km as I had never run further than 10km. I realised at 14km I had plenty left and kept going to the end.

We started on the top of Howth Head and the fog was thick. Róisín, as ever, did the pit stops for us and she was a welcome face at Sutton Cross!

This run wasn’t a highlight because it was my first half maathon or that I was proud of the achievement but it was special because for the first time in my short running career I realised that running could be enjoyable.

Thanks to Sarah, James D and Róisín.

Sources of support?

Arik was a great coach helping me to run my first 10Km and my first 10 miler. He got the very last out of me on both occasions.

Ambitions for 2022?

I would like to run a couple of half marathons and run a sub 30 in Cabo.

Imelda Curran Fit4Life


Training for First Half Marathon

I signed up for my first half marathon in the depths of Covid lockdown hell to give me something to reach for. Remember when we were relegated to within 5k of our house? Yeah. It was then. So it was a real challenge for me to train on my own under those constraints.

Blackrock A.C, Half Marathon Training

But I did it. And I’ve never been so appreciative of Fit4Life group training, camaraderie and support after that!!!

Sources of support?

You’re all such an inspiration!  

Ambitions for 2022?

Another 1/2 – which to date would be my very first race EVER in real life. I’ve only done virtual!

Janel Gleich Fit4Life

Clontarf Half Marathon

This was my first real race since I gave birth to my daughter Chloe and lost her twin sister Faye back in May 2021. At that time, I didn’t think I’d be able to put one foot in front of the other and run again, let alone do a real race before 2021 was finished.

Blackrock A.C. Clontarf Half

I really enjoyed the race and managed to finish about 20 seconds outside of my all-time PB for that distance. It was wonderful to be able to run with Blackrock A.C. again on such a beautiful but bitterly cold and windy morning. The bit of craic at the start also helped!

Sources of support?

Gráinne Grennan has been a great inspiration to me running wise but was also a great friend in 2021. I often met her for walks when I couldn’t run and she always encouraged me and gave me hope that I would run again and that I would get through what was the toughest endurance event.

Ambitions for 2022?

I hope to do more speed sessions and concentrate on getting faster over the shorter distances. I hope to do the Dublin marathon next year for the charity that supported me during this very difficult year. I will concentrate on shorter distances in the early part of the year.

Charlene Carthy Fit4Life

Running on the beach on Bull Island in the Clontarf Half Marathon. Stunning view, stunning weather, stunning company of thousands of runners.

Sources of support?

Patricia always a great source of positive encouragement. Gerry as always kept us all going, both virtually and in real life.

Ambitions for 2022? Keep running.

Aideen Sheehan Fit4Life

Clonakilty Half Marathon

The Clonakilty Half was my first live run after Covid, the atmosphere was amazing and despite freezing winds, it was one of my favourite runs so far.

Melanie Pape Fit4Life

Virtual Paris Half in April

I ran with Helen on a gorgeous crisp, cold April morning for the Virtual Paris Half! We both ran faster that day than we thought we would!!

Blackrock A.C. Paris Virtual

Sources of support?

Grainne, Charlene, Valeria, Gerry, James Curran, Dermot and Jamie to name just a few. They were the Saturday morning regulars!! All the Blackrock A.C. runners are so friendly.

Ambitions for 2022?

To get running again and saying goodbye to this injury

Katherine Duff Fit4Life

While we didn’t get to Paris we enjoyed the training & we were lucky to have a beautiful spring day.

Blackrock A.C. Paris Half

Sources of support? Gerry kept us on our toes with all the virtual weekly challenges.

Ambitions for 2022? Lots more runs with Fit4Life crew, hopefully another half marathon or two!

Claire and Mairéad Fit4Life

Donadea Half in Mondello

A good crew went down for the Donadea Half Marathon in Mondello, the first physical race in over a year and we all had great times. 

Mondello Park Blackrock A.C.

Sources of support?

Gerry and everyone we run with on cold dark winter. Would not be out there without the fit for life team.

Ambitions for 2022?

21 minute 5k somewhere other than Cabo.

James Curran Fit4Life and Men’s

Marathons and Others

Amsterdam Marathon

My standout moment for 2021 was actually the culmination of a journey that started at the very beginning of 2020. Frustrated as I couldn’t gain an entry for the 2020 Dublin marathon, I signed up for Amsterdam and joined Blackrock A.C. Fit4Life in January that year.

I was enjoying running solo up to that moment but the club made me fall in love with running even more. I’ve made some great friends and their support and the incredible sense of community have just been amazing. My first marathon in 2020 ended up being a virtual one and that would have just been unimaginable without the support of our running community.

Amsterdam Marathon Blackrock A.C.

That support continued through 2021. I enjoyed greatly every weekend long runs we did together and every training session and by the time I finally run in Amsterdam in October, I felt as if my Blackrock A.C. friends were there with me – I was genuinely moved by all the messages I got before, during and after the race.

Sources of support?

I can’t choose one! My top 3 are Gerry, Grainne and Jamie.

Ambitions for 2022?

To continue enjoying running as much as I do now… and another marathon or two.

Valeria Sofia Fit4Life

Rotterdam Marathon

It was my first real marathon in 2 years and to be able to to it in person in the fine weather with my family there was magic. As a bonus 4:05 was a wonderful unexpected PB!

Sources of support? Tuesday Tempo 7pm runs with Ayse, Paul, Janel, Melanie, Gerry, Donal and all the Tuesday gang really brought me on and we were all pushing and supporting each other.

Ambitions for 2022? London Marathon – next major

Start Line of a Marathon

Getting to the start line of a marathon always a great feeling… the butterflies in the stomach never goes away with friendly faces and fellow runners wishing each other well “ Have a great race”.

It’s a great tonic for anyone.

Bryan Sheils Fit4Life

Blackrock A.C. Eco trail

Wicklow Ecotrail

Completing the Wicklow Ecotrail 45km – beautiful Wicklow at its hilliest best

David Martin Men’s

Berlin and Wicklow 

Some other highlights for me were taking part in the Berlin and Wicklow Marathons in 2021. It was great catching up with Niamh in Berlin and seeing Owen Kelly and Darren Egan do well too.

I also finished third in the Wicklow Hospice Marathon and it was nice catching up with Bryan Sheils there on the day also.

Blackrock A.C. Berlin Marathon
Blackrock A.C. Berlin Marathon
Blackrock A.C. Wicklow marathon
Blackrock A.C. Wicklow marathon

Another brilliant event was Run the Line in Wicklow again. I was delighted to finish the 26k challenge in under 2.5 hours, not to mention to comradery of catching up with members of Blackrock A.C. Men’s section. 

The ‘Mike Challenge’ – Running Backwards

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Blackrock A.C. (@blackrockac)

This was when Blackrock A.C. supported Michael Ferndale in his running backwards challenge to raise money for charities.

First time out, something went wrong with my Garmin so I adjusted the setting on the App and ran 1.6km by my watch. It adjusted to .99 of a mile when I connected back to the App So I did it properly again the next day. Felt like a long mile.

Those who helped on the day were Donal Cassidy, Gerry Flaherty, Imelda Curran, James Curran, James Dowling, Pat O’Brien, Ted Burke and myself.

Sources of support?

Gerry and all the Committee. Also Carmel who has run alongside me many times and kept me going.

Ambitions for 2022?

To keep going and maybe for longer distances.

Helen Collins Fit4Life

Blackrock A.C. Donadea 50k

First 50k and Returning to Proper Training

This is definitely not best practice but I always find a deadline for race day a great motivator to start and complete a training programme. I signed up for my first 50k this year and with 11 weeks out, had a very intense training schedule. I learned to appreciate laps, as this was something I avoided wherever possible previously. On the day, there would be over 27 laps so I was glad I did. 

The day itself in Mondello in August was very special. Lining up with Blackrock A.C. friends Gerry, Ted and Rob was a great moment. The race itself was a mixture of amateurs up to elites which added another layer of quality to the day.

There was plenty of lapping but the support and comradery from both the club athletes and many more on the track was phenomenal. The heavens completely opened up with torrential downpour at about the 46k mark and at first, I felt completely miserable and beat. However, when, who I think was one of the 100k elites running by (lapping me again) shouted, “is that all you got” (not sure if it was directed to me or the downpour), I had such an episode of absolute joy, living that epic moment and realising the completion of my biggest effort to date was drawing to a conclusion. So with 4k left and soaked to the skin, I just went for it and relished the final 4k. Not to mention the enormity of finishing the challenge and being greeted by the amazing supporters on the day Róisín and Sarah. Of course just when I thought this feeling was reaching its peak, Gerry started hitting me with facts about what we had just completed and that really amplified the moment. 

Sources of support?

Lots. Róisín and Sarah on the day itself, incredible support the whole way through. Arik, James Curran and Volkan who often ran with me and/or supported my training for the 50k. Those long mornings lapping Clonkeen were made easier because of you. However there was so much more support from different events leading up to Donadea from Gerry (of course), Imelda, Kevin, Monica and Ted.

To those who assisted with the Backwards Challenge in the Phoenix Park not mentioned above, Donal, Helen and Pat O’Brien.

Another truly great source of support this year was Melanie Pape who has been a huge addition to the digital output of Blackrock A.C. Having previously written articles, she now looks after the weekly news for the club. Also, Aideen Sheehan, Barry Thornton, Daniel Mourenza, Johnny Haverty, Rob Asher and Ted Burke for writing articles over the course of the year. 

To all the coaches, parents and members of the club who contributed to the digital efforts for our website and social media efforts too. 

Thank you for all your support. 

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *