St. Finbarr’s A.C. hosted a half marathon in Cork between 1990 and 2013. The race was held in Cork City between 1990 and 2001 before relocating to the village of Blarney in 2002 where it stayed until 2013. In the inaugural 1990 half-marathon race, there were 430 finishers.
The original course, from 1990 to 1993, had its race HQ at the Cork College of Commerce and started on the South Mall with a route around the Ballyphehane / Togher / Lough districts before finishing on Lavitt’s Quay by Cork Opera House, where the Women’s Mini-Marathon also finished at the time.
This race also comprised the Cork County and Munster Half Marathon Championships. 1993 saw the event incorporate the National Half Marathon Championship and the winners were John Griffin (65:38) and Cathy Shum (74:34). The 1993 race included selection for the World Half Marathon Championships in Brussels the same year. Mary Sweeney (St. Finbarr’s A.C.) was selected from her race result and represented Ireland in Brussels that September.
In 1994, owing to the growth in participant numbers, the race moved to the RTC (now Cork Institute of Technology on Rossa Avenue) in Bishopstown. That course started on Rossa Avenue, on to Dennehy’s Cross, Carrigrohane Road, passed the Angler’s Rest, Inniscarra Road and then through Ballincollig and back by the Tennis Village to finish with a half-lap of the CIT track.
Wexford runner, Tommy Jordan won the 1996 race in 70:55. Two years later he was knocked down on the course by a motorbike near the Tennis Village but still finished fourth. That race of 1996 saw Peter Maher second in 71:34 with Ted O’Flynn third in 71:37 and Cathal O’Connell fourth in 71:46. Mary Sheehan (Grange-Fermoy) won the women’s race in 83:37 from Mary Sweeney (84:07) and Bríd Murphy (84:12).
The 1997 race (which started at 1.30 pm) had prizes for the first 12 men, six women, veterans, along with six team prizes for men and two for women. T-shirts for the first 50 and a special medallion for every finisher, and all for an entry fee of £5 (Five pounds!!)
In 1999, Gerry Healy of Civil Service won in 66:25 with Cathal O’Connell (St. Finbarr’s A.C.) second in 70:00 and Joe Moriarty from Kerry third in 74:10. Edel Mooney (Raheny) was first woman in 82:56 from Mary Sheehan (Grange-Fermoy) 85:23 and Mary Sweeney just behind in 85:47. There were 193 finishers, of whom 69 broke 90 minutes with 146 runners inside 1 hour 45 minutes. The record for the course from the CIT was held by John Griffin of Tralee at 64:59.
In 2002, the race was relocated to Blarney Village. At this venue, St. Finbarr’s A.C. hosted the Cork Half Marathon in September for 12 years from 2002 to 2013. The Blarney race followed an undulating pan-handle course on quiet, country roads through Waterloo, Grenagh and Rathduff before finishing at Monacnappa on the edge of Blarney Village.
The 2002 race was won by Martin McCarthy in 67:34, Peter Wundsam from Vienna was second in 68:12 with John Griffin third in 70:21. First woman was Mary O’Leary (Mallow) in 85:32 with Mary Sweeney second in 86:00 and Mary Murphy (St Finbarr’s) third in 87:29. 264 finished that year.
The final instalment of the half marathon in Blarney in 2013 was won in a course record by Alan O’Shea from Bantry A.C. in a time of 66:59. Emma Murphy of the host club won the women’s race that year in a time of 1:22:09.
In 2014 a decision was taken to move the event from Blarney back to the city. St Finbarr’s A.C. is primarily a Cork City based club, so it made sense to hold an event in the city. Also, since the inception of the St. Finbarr’s half marathon in 1990, a number of other longer distance races have been added to the local racing calendar. Therefore, it was decided to change the event from the half-marathon distance to 10 miles retaining the long established date of the second Sunday in September.
Locating the new event on the Marina, Blackrock, Mahon waterfront and old railway line, was a natural choice considering the flat nature of the terrain and that most of the race route is traffic free. The scenic attraction of this hidden gem of Cork City also lent itself to course selection.
The ladies winner of the inaugural John Buckley Sports Cork City 10 Miler in 2014 was Orla Drumm from the Crusaders A.C. (Dublin) in a time of 59:15 with Mark Hanrahan of Leevale A.C. winning the men’s race in 51:22.