So we are a relatively new but growing athletics club based in the wonderful GAA and farming stronghold of Caltra, East Galway. You know the kind of village, one shop one pub, a church and 3 football pitches! This area didn’t recover post-recession to the same extent as other areas due to lack of infrastructure, employment and industry. In late 2015 we decided to start an athletics club as its relatively cheap/free, sociable and open to all.
We have established a proud tradition of engaging with community and building social capital. We train both juvenile and adults with the help of a group of dedicated volunteers and award-winning coaches. We hold several club races during the year as well as hosting a leg of the Galway 5K series. We are also proud to share our equipment, manpower and advice to charities, local schools and good causes all year round. Covid 19 has proved difficult for everyone but we have remained committed, extracting the positives by helping out in the community and supporting our members remotely while we cannot train together.
As you are well aware, there would be no athletics clubs but for extraordinary volunteers and Caltra & District is no exception. Our core group of coaches and committee have grown this club into something really special. They’ve dug out long jump pitches by hand, fundraised, painted, stewarded, coached-you name it they’ve done it!
We have aprox 60 children in our juvenile club and 50 in the adult cohort with 15 extraordinary volunteer coaches. We coach our juveniles in all the disciplines: running, jumping and throwing. Our juvenile athletes have competed at regional and national level as well as one youngster winning the only Connacht gold for shot put twice!
We are now on our 5th couch to 5K programme and from that initial 5k in 2016 he established “elite” running group with over 30 members who regularly represent the club in 10k, half and full marathons. We also hold walking and return to running programmes when the demand arises.
The club has impacted our community in so many more ways. The most common adjective our members use to describe our club is LIFE-CHANGING. Going from couch to a full marathon is an incredible achievement. Our adult members range in age from 25 to 70 years old and some presented with conditions such as Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes, Rheumatism as well as cancer survivors and each one has achieved inspirational milestones.
CDAC has given the children and adult members the confidence and empowerment to take part in many athletic events. The club has also been instrumental in bringing back community games to the area for the first time in over a decade. As well as supporting and fundraising for many worthwhile causes. We are also fortunate to have one coach who is not only an amazing motivator and trainer but also a tech wizard who has designed bands for our athletes which alert us if an athlete is present with additional medical or physical needs as well as being able to sign in(scan) all members at a socially accepted distance.
We’ve been able to reach out to our adults and younger juveniles but would love to do something for our teens, probably the hardest hit in all of this. We don’t know when we can organise races again but hopefully with public compliance and the vaccine programme it will be soon. Runners are used to winning medals and tops but a piece of original art is a unique and beautiful way to celebrate completing a race. So we are running an art competition among the local post-primary schools. The theme is rural running and resilience and the winning paintings would be used as race prizes. In keeping with our inclusion and support ethos, we don’t just want to award the art to the fastest runner, we aim to encourage resilience and show our gratitude by awarding these unique prizes to frontline workers and first time runners.
The winning artists will prize money but we would also love to promote the art through our own social media and Athletics Ireland. We feel that this novel idea could grow and develop and prove to be a win:win for everyone involved. CDAC membership includes many frontline workers and we are privileged to welcome many runners from the caring professions traditionally to our races as Caltra is popular due to being a flat and fast course. We hosted almost 800 runners for the 2019 Galway 5k series.
The brief is rural running and resilience our aim is to inspire and enable the creative potential and well-being of teenagers and promote athletics while involving the local and broader community. We would hope that this initiative can help promote local talent and open up a new market for art & for emerging artists. We intend to promote rural running and resilience locally as well as nationally. Running is and has been the fastest growing pastime for the last number of years and we feel that this can be harnessed to promote the importance of cultural and creative activities and bolster the creative industry. Teenagers don’t become involved in running as much as younger and older age groups & it’s proven to be a self-image issue, teenagers can promote running, runners can discover art and all stakeholders can discover the beautiful world at their doorsteps.
This initiative has many benefits it will be a focus for teenagers. It is hoped that by teenagers creatively and imaginatively representing running in art it will become more attractive to that age group as well as developing resilience and an appreciation of the beauty of the surrounding countryside.
if anyone wants to send in an entry, just get in touch through the clubs Instagram, Twitter or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The only stipulation is you must be a teen and the subject is rural, running and resilience.
This project encourages collaboration and will have many beneficiaries:
- Athletics Club
- Frontline workers
- (care staff, emergency drivers, hospital maintenance, nurses, doctors)
- First time runners
- Local community
- Galway Athletics
- Athletics Ireland
- Local artists
- Minority groups: This initiative can be tailored to encourage minority groups such as members of the travelling community or new Irish citizens to embrace athletics, art and their locality
Prizes to celebrate achievements of people who would otherwise not be winners will serve to attract more people to the sport which is free, possible to do within a short distance from the runners home and good for mind and body. We are fortunate enough to have 3 post-primary schools in our community and we feel it advisable to run this initiative in conjunction with the art departments of each school. All 3 schools are have expressed support and enthusiasm for the project. The schools will promote and organise the competition based on our brief rural running and resilience presented in original art. The competition will be judged by respected local artists. We are collaborating with the art department in each school, who assure us that this is possible to execute this initiative safely either remotely or if they children are permitted back to school.
Both the art competition and the races can be organised remotely at a worst case scenario but ideally physically would be more enjoyable for all and since the first lockdown CDAC has become adept at organizing social distancing and training when it was permitted.
This proposal will showcase what runners see-the ”off the beaten track” beauty that is all around us now that our world has become a smaller place.
We envisage that this will become a popular means of celebrating completing a race and would hope that it will be adopted county, if not nationwide going forward.
We are very fortunate to have so many amazing clubs in the county & that athletics has never been as exciting and powered by so many incredible individuals. Thanks for taking the time to learn about little club with the big heart…..