In 1996 when the demise of the Rockhill 10k was announced, a public meeting was held and a group of dedicated local sports related volunteers agreed to form a committee. Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce and Industry pledged their support and continue to this day to provide all administrative support for the group. The newly formed group, most of whom are still actively involved in the committee, drew upon their knowledge of staging or participating in other sporting events whilst the chosen beneficiaries did the bulk of the work in raising money for their respective charities. This model still is in place and each year the committee has been able to raise sufficient monies in entry fees and sponsorship to have a balance left over to donate to the beneficiaries. The first race was held on Saturday 10th May at 6pm.
There have been some notable winners in both the Senior Men and Senior Women’s categories over the last years. The first event was won by Seamus Power from Clare in the men’s race and Kay Byrne from Finn Valley in the women’s. In 1998 a prize was introduced for a course record. This attracted athletes from all over Ireland. Theresa Duffy from Beechmount Club in Belfast broke the women’s record running 33 minutes and 42seconds. The mens record was also broken this year by Noel Berkley from Dundrum, South Dublin in a time of 29 minutes and 14 seconds. The men’s record still stands and shows what a great run Noel Berkley had that day. Noel is better known all over Ireland as the ‛King of the Road‛. The women’s record on the other hand was well and truly smashed in 2005 when Maria McCambridge, also running for Dundrum, South Dublin came home in a time of 32 minutes and 34 seconds. Maria finished second overall in the race beating some very good senior men. This took a massive 1 minute and 8 seconds off the already high standard time set by Theresa Duffy which stood for eight years. Maria has represented Ireland on a number of occasions and was a member of the Irish team who won bronze medals in the world cross country held in Dublin. She also competed in the recent Olympics in the 5000 metres. Maria, of course, is no stranger to the North West being married to a local man, national Marathon Champion, Gary Crossan from Conwal in Letterkenny.
The success of this annual event must be credited to the community the businesses, volunteers, Gardai, Civil Defence, Red Cross to name but a few who give of their time and expertise to benefit all the runners, walkers, charities and overall well being of all.
To date (2013), 29 Donegal based charities and organisations have benefited financially from the North West 10k with in excess of € 656,000 raised. Due to the current economic downturn and the demands on charities, 2011 has seen the selection of only two main charities whom will benefit from the event but also the introduction of other charities being able to register and raise funds by participation in the North West 10k.
The event in 2010 saw a record 2180 participants, a steady increase from the 1760 that entered in 2009 and 1131 in 2008. Increased numbers of people are out walking and running for social and health benefits and show the North West 10k committee and volunteers that their hard work is all worth while.