Sliabh Bán AC: Fostering Community Spirit and Athletic Excellence in Strokestown Since 2011

May 14, 2024

Sliabh Bán AC was founded in 2011 by Erik Kelly. The small group of runners quickly grew in number and in 2014, with Patrick Tighe as chairperson, Sliabh Bán AC as we know it came into being. Today, we have a total of 74 members, some of whom have been with the club since its infancy. As a rural club we know how important it is to create a running community by uniting runners of all abilities and levels from beginners to elite runners. While we are very proud to have some fantastic athletes in the club, training is aimed at all abilities and levels. We aim to encourage and promote friendships while improving our members fitness and enabling them to achieve their individual and collective goals through weekly training sessions and events. Whether the goal be to complete a first Parkrun or a first marathon, we strive to support and educate our members in all aspects of their training.

Within the Sliabh Bán AC community we take great pride not only in our club but also in our community. The town of Strokestown plays a pivotal role in the club. Whether is be weekly training session, a long run, club meetings, social events or our annual 10k, Strokestown is at the heart of the club. The gates of Strokestown Park House have become a symbol of the club and are worn proudly on the race t-shirts and medals. The weekly text of ‘meet you at the gates’ represents not only a training session or a long run but a chance to meet with friends and support each other in both our running and personal lives.

Club training takes place every Tuesday and Thursday evening with a long run on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Our Tuesday sessions consist of a run around the quiet town of Strokestown. The group tends to split up depending on the distance people want to cover and the speed but we will always complete the warm up and cool down together. Our Thursday sessions consist of a track session in Kiltrustan Sports Club. We are incredibly lucky to have had Brendan Doyle from Brendan Doyle Running in Longford train with us on and off over the last few years. And we are currently training with Adrian Gurn as we prepare for our annual Strokestown 10k.

2024 marks the 9th year of our annual Strokestown 10k Road Race. Despite the interruptions of Covid, the race continued during this time with a virtual option. Over the years, the race has gone from strength to strength with seasoned athletes to leisure runners and walkers taking part each year. The virtual option has also grown in popularity with numbers increasing year on year. The race begins at Scoil Mhuire and runners can enjoy the scenic views of Sliabh Bán on the left as they follow the undulating route to Carniska. From here runners will return to Strokestown where they will enter Strokestown Park and cross the finish line in front of the historic Strokestown House. Prize giving and the all-important refreshments will take place in the community centre.

2023 was the first year that all proceeds of the race were donated to charity. The race was run in memory of Kate Molly Colum, who passed away suddenly at the age of 5. Her passing had a massive impact on the club and the local community and we were honoured to be able to present an award named after Kate Molly for the first time. The club also made a donation to Roscommon Branch of Down Syndrome Ireland. This year will be the first year that we have an award for the club with the most members taking part and an award for the first local over the line which will be named after Kate Molly.

This year, Sliabh Bán AC will be making a donation from the proceeds of our 10k Road Race to Elphin SOS and The Mayo Roscommon Hospice. Elphin SOS ‘Support to Overcome Suicide’ was set up in 2005 following a number of tragedies in and around the area of Elphin, over a short period of time. At the time there weren’t enough services available, so in an effort to support the community, Elphin SOS

was established. They provide counselling and bereavement services to people who have been affected by suicide and it also works to improve the overall mental health and wellbeing of the wider community. The service is reliant on financial support from Government bodies and it can cost up to €15,000 per year to provide this essential service.

The Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation was established in 1993 and has assisted in the care of tens of thousands of patients. An 8-bed impatient unit was opened in Roscommon in 2023. The Roscommon service provides community care, day care, respite care and end of life services. The service enables its patients to live out their lives with dignity and comfort while providing support for both the patient and their families. This service is provided free of charge to all who need it. The hospice has been an integral part of the community since it was founded and continues to provide dignity and support tot member of the community.

Storkestown 10k takes place on the 9th of June at 11am. Entry is €30. All finishers will receive a medal and there will be t-shirts for the first 200 people registered. To register and support the Strokestown 10k follow the link

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