The Jude Gallagher Memorial Round the Bridges 2017
The Jude Gallagher Memorial Round the Bridges Race 29th June 2017
Since it was first staged in 1980 the Round the Bridges race despite undergoing a few changes in management and a couple of alterations to the course, remains one of the most popular events in the road racing calendar.
The Round the Bridges Race was first organised in 1980 by the North West Orienteering Club, starting at the town hall in Limavady’s Main Street and continuing out the Killane Road to Aghanloo and onto Swanns Bridge to cross the River Roe, before heading onto Myroe and back into the town along the Seacoast Road to finish the ten mile race back at the town hall. Sean O’Kane was the winner of the inaugural race, which with one exception has been staged every year since.
The popularity of the race quickly grew and it was not uncommon during the late 1980’s and 1990’s to have over 2000 competitors taking part. In 1984 the Roe Valley Athletic Club was formed and took responsibility for the organisation and management of the event, which was moved during the 1990’s from a Thursday to a Saturday.
At the turn of the century the race was affected by a number of events. In 2001 the country was hit by the outbreak of foot and mouth disease which, with its restrictions on movement in rural areas resulted in the cancellation of many events, including the Round the Bridges and from 2001 to 2003 the construction of the Limavady bypass created difficulties for the race with prolonged road closures, diversions and unfinished road surfaces. Not an ideal situation from which to promote a race, and inevitably numbers dwindled.
In 2002 the Roe Valley Athletic Club merged with the North Coast Runners to form Springwell Running Club who took responsibility for the race organisation, moving the fixture back to the last Thursday in June, and a lot of hard work in recent years has seen the popularity of the race once again increase. The race was also renamed the ‘Jude Gallagher Memorial Round the Bridges’ race in memory of club member Jude Gallagher who had passed away in 2000. Under the stewardship of former Race Director, Columb Knowles, the number of competitors has steadily increased and this year the current Race Director, Thomas Moore is planning for 700 runners on the 29th June.
The course, one of the flattest available with only a rise and fall in the gradient of 49 feet over its ten miles, is ideal for runners of all abilities, whether they are looking for a personal best or simply want to complete the ten mile distance. The current course records are held by Freddie Sittuk (Raheny RC) at 50.53 for men set in 2014 and Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC) at 58.06 for ladies, a time which was only set at the 2016 race. The club record is currently held by Colin Loughrey with a time of 56.16 set in 2006.
The race has become known as an entertaining, well organised event that caters for runners of all abilities, with an exceptional after race spread of refreshments for the prize-giving.
On line entries for this year’s race are currently still available at www.athleticsni.org/Fixtures/Jude-Gallagher-Memorial-Round-the-Bridges and while entries, if available will be taken on the night, competitors are advised to enter on line to ensure their place.