The Shannon Airport runway turned green for a spell overnight as 2,500 souls pounded out the 7.5km and 5km Bank of Ireland Runway Night Run in their ‘Irish’ singlets.
Turning up the dial in the mood for the crunch Euro group clash with Belgium, the throngs were led by Clareman and popular broadcaster Marty Morrissey for Ireland’s favourite – and original – mass participation runway event.
There was a real sense of the Euros as green – albeit of the lime variety for high-viz safety reasons – shirts spanned the starting line for the two races, which set off just either side of midnight moments after the last flight of the day landed from Malaga.
Only in its third year, the event this year drew its biggest crowd yet, double its inaugural staging in 2014 when 1,200 went to the start line in what was the first ever such event at an Irish airport.
It was all for a great cause as proceeds go to the designated charities of Shannon Group, the airport’s parent company. They are Irish Children’s Arthritis Network (iCan) and Abalta Special School for students with autism in Galway.
Participants came from as far afield as Donegal, Cork and Dublin. One crew member from that last Ryanair arriving flight from Malaga had a quick change of clothing before making the dash to the 5km starting-line just in time. By then the crowds were already well loosened up by ‘Mr Motivator’ Richie Clifford’s warm-up and the tempo was raised again by the favourite son from West Clare. Morrissey, who travelled from Dublin for the event, beat the old maxim that you are never a prophet in your old land as he was besieged by selfie hunters among the 2,500 crowd and even joined Mr Motivator on stage for the final part of the warm-up before taking on the 5km event.
“It was fantastic. It was my first time doing the Bank of Ireland Runway Night Run and, while I wasn’t sure what to expect, I loved every minute of it. It’s novel, different and I never expected to run on a runway, for sure. We had great fun. I met people from all over the country, not least my own county Clare. There was just a great sense of fun out there.
“The great thing is the proceeds go to two special charities, so Shannon has done a great service tonight. We are very proud of Shannon, right up and down the West coast, so when invited to join the crowds here tonight, I couldn’t refuse. I’m not sure what time I did but it was my best ever time for a runway 5km,” he quipped.