The acclaimed International Road Race is once again set to descend on Armagh for another year of ‘flat and fast’ competition despite having lost its headline sponsor.
The 5k flagship event – which is due to take place on Thursday, February 8 – is commended as the ‘best and most popular road race in the world’, seeing an average of 1,000 juvenile runners attending year on year and thousands of spectators to boot.
It attracts hundreds of the most elite athletes from all over the world recording an extraordinarily high amount of sub-15 finish times. A total of 132 competitors achieved under 15 lap times at last year’s event.
Numerous world-class athletes who have competed at the International Road Race in Armagh have gone on to win European, Commonwealth and Olympic titles.
Now preparing for its 32nd year of competition, the event – which has long been known as the ‘Brooks Armagh International Road Race’, in acknowledgement of its headline sponsor – will instead see runners leave their marks free of the Brooks insignia.
Speaking to Armagh I, Road Race Director James Vallely said: “Brooks sponsored races worldwide for a number of years but gradually they pulled back from that and finally only our race was left. They moved into sponsoring the Park Run and then, eventually, they decided they would stop sponsoring individual races. It was unexpected.”
An event of this caliber comes with considerable cost. The withdrawal of sponsorship has left a “forecast deficit of thousands of pounds” for the organising club and registered charity, Armagh Athletic Club, which has prompted them to seek alternative funding.
A GoFundMe page has been set up by Armagh Athletic Club committee member, Mark McKeown to bridge the gap left by sponsorship withdrawal and to “ensure the continuation of the Armagh International Road Race in 2025 and beyond”.
Funds from the GoFundMe page will be used to pay operational costs associated with the running of the event. This includes race timing, programme printing, trophies/prizes, travel costs, accommodation, meals, lighting and public address.
The club are also exploring new sponsorship opportunities and welcome offers of sponsorship from businesses far and wide.
Of this year’s event, James said: “We have another great line-up of international athletes coming to it and we hope that it will be as good as in the past in terms of fast times.
“Any of the athletes that we have spoken to internationally, that have heard of the withdrawal of this particular sponsorship, it hasn’t diminished their enthusiasm at all.
“They know the race will always be a good contest.”
You can support Armagh International Road Race by making a donation to the GoFundMe page here.