Westport Athletics Club this week launched bumper plans for its 40th Anniversary Festival of Athletics – called Westport40 - which will take place over September 13th and 14th, 2019. The club hopes to attract over 500 runners, joggers, strollers and racers to the town to help them celebrate their coming of age and soak up the unique sporting atmosphere of Westport.
Westport Athletics Club was founded in September 1979 by a small group of dedicated athletics fans, including Harry Hughes and Sean Langan. Over the years, it is estimated that up to 8,000 children and young people have participated in the club at all levels and in every discipline from high jump to long distance. The juvenile club still boasts nearly 200 members. However today, the club has been greatly expanded and enhanced with a vibrant and growing senior club.
“There’s hardly a child, or adult, in the town who has not come down to the track at Horkan’s Hill at some stage,” said Pat Staunton, who is busy organising the main road races planned. “We reckon we’ve influenced up to 8,000 young people, we’ve had 100s of national medal winners, and we’ve probably had more international athletes than any other club in the town. We want to celebrate every one of our athletes, and their parents, over the years, and we are encouraging them all to put on their Westport AC singlet one more time to join in the Westport 40 events in September.”
“We have a 5K fun and family run, a unique mile festival and a centre-piece 10K,” he continued. “Overall we will have an amazing prize fund of over €10,000 which will make the Westport Festival one of the best and richest in the country. We are looking to attract some of the country’s best athletes and club teams to the town for the stand-out 10K. But, ultimately, the Festival is all about fun and participation. We’ve tried to keep the entry price as low as possible to ensure that the events are open to everyone.”
The celebration weekend of athletics will get underway with a unique Mile Festival on Friday, September 13th. When the Westport club was established, Ireland boasted some of the best mile runners in the world. Athletes like Marcus O’Sullivan, Eamonn Coughlan and Frank O’Mara were household names. Westport Athletics Club wants to commemorate its history – and Irish athletics history - with an evening of mile races on its home town track at Horkans Hill for athletes from age 8 to 80.
It is hoped that children taking part in the Run a Mile programme in national schools throughout the county will come with their friends to join in the mile festival and to line-up alongside some of the best milers in the region and the country.
On Saturday, September 14th, there will be a 5K family and fun run, which will bring runners, walkers, first-timers and families from the town, down the Railway Walk to the Quay and then back into town through Westport House. There will be a carnival atmosphere, lots of spot prizes and a special commemorative medal for all finishers.
The highlight Westport40 Festival event will be a standout 10K road race, also taking place on Saturday, September 14th. It will have an amazing prize of €1,000 for the first male and female athletes over the finish line. In addition, there will be place prizes, age category prizes, team prizes as well as a feast of spot prizes and t-shirts for the first 200 entrants.
To register for your favourite event today go to https://www.popupraces.ie/race/westport40/