“It was an August evening in 1977 that the first ever organised road race in modern times took place in Ballycotton. A five mile event, it was won by Ray Treacy, now Head Coach at Providence College and brother of John, Olympic Marathon Silver-Medalist from 1984 and twice winner of the World Cross Country title.
The following March, a ten mile race took place in Ballycotton. 31 runners (all men) took part with Richard Crowley the winner in 50:22. The rest, as they say, is history. The next year, 82 runners were led home by Pat Hooper in 49:12, with Mary Dempsey the inaugural women’s winner in 68:47. In 1980, six months before the first Dublin Marathon, numbers had increased to over 150, considered a huge field for a road race at the time.
With the advent of the Irish ‘running boom’ heralded by that Dublin Marathon, races and participants in Ireland mushroomed. Ballycotton’s numbers increased in tandem, reaching a record 848 finishers in 1984. For the remainder of the 80s, the figures competing in Ballycotton hovered around 650-750 as a lot of other races in the country fell into decline or ceased to exist.
The 1990s saw the Ballycotton ’10’ enter a new era. One thousand finishers was reached for the first time in 1993 and due to the unprecedented interest in the race, a limit had to be imposed for safety and logistical reasons. This limit was set at 1500 in 1999, which was reached in mid-January…”