THE chequered flag has fallen on the popular Shannon Airport Runway Run after five years with the event raising €100,000 for charity from those who pounded the tarmac in the novel event.
Saturday saw the final staging of one of Ireland’s most unique mass participation events with 1,300 people taking to the 5.6km course in the earliest hours of the morning.
Clad in the run’s official pink t-shirts, there was a great sense of excitement as runners and walkers packed tightly at the starting tape shortly after midnight for the fifth and final hosting of the event. Conditions were perfect, with the fresh breeze cooling an otherwise balmy night for participants who had already been put through their paces by Richie 'Mr Motivator' Clifford.
Participants from teenagers to pensioners enjoyed the experience which raised €20k-plus for Shannon Group’s designated charities for 2019, Clare Crusaders and Share A Dream Foundation.
Shannon Airport Managing Director Andrew Murphy said that the five year event had been a "brilliant experience all round".
"We had over 7,000 participants across the five years and some enjoyed it so much that they did all five years. It was a great run, a great event, one enjoyed immensely by participants and by us in running it.
"It’s also a good way to promote healthy activity but, above all, it has raised over €100,000 for local charities. This year the beneficiaries are Clare Crusaders and Share A Dream Foundation and it will be money put to fantastic use supporting children who need that support."
Among those taking part was Clare Rose of Tralee contestant Clara Burke from Cooraclare.
"I had never run it before and I found out it was the final year and I just had to do it. It was really cool to walk down the runway in Shannon. I met loads of people, had great fun and it was for two great charities," she explained.
Richie Clifford said it had been "an incredible five years. I'm looking at people for last five years from all counties in Ireland. It’s been a fabulous gig.”
Shannon Airport operations director Niall Maloney, who was organiser in chief of the event, praised those who took part and the staff who made the event happen.
"We went out at the top with a great event but it has been a fantastic five years. We’ve raised a lot of money for charities with the event and there has been a brilliant atmosphere and sense of fun each and every year and this one was no different," he said.
"But events like this can’t happen without the support of airport staff. They worked so hard to make sure the event went as well as it did tonight. For example, when everyone else was gone home, we had a team of our people out combing the runway to make sure not a single piece of debris was left participants.
"We’ll miss the event and participants across the country will miss it. The big challenge for us now is what are we going to do for 2019. Whatever it is, knowing Shannon, it will be fun."