IMRA honours system

Jim FitzharrisJul 26, 11:05amHi Brendan,

I am responding to your posting in the thread on IMRA 100, 200, etc. but I have decided to start a new topic as my message heads off on a different tack.

Tommy’s achievement is indeed a remarkable testament to his commitment and dedication. I agree that it is worthy of some form of recognition. But what form?

I have thought a lot recently about honouring those IMRA stalwarts who have made a significant contribution to the organisation over many years. One obvious way to recognise this would be to make such people honorary life members.

The problem with such “honours” is that they can provoke debate (healthy) and even dissent (not so healthy). One of the things that I and many others like so much about IMRA is that it is essentially a very egalitarian organisation: little hierarchy, no airs or graces and even less pomp and ceremony. All are welcome at any event: the great and the good, the fast and those not quite so fast, the young and those young at heart. True camaraderie and respect for all fellow participants are the order of the day. The customary excellent atmosphere that we witness at the end of league post-race BBQ is an excellent example of that.

Nevertheless, even in such an ideal setup, we all recognise that there are those among us who put in a lot of time and effort to ensure that the whole system works and that races run smoothly. It does not vitiate the concept of a truly collegiate organisation to have the concept of “primus inter pares” (first among equals for those of you who are too young to have had the benefit of learning Latin at school!).

I support the concept of honorary life membership for those IMRA members who have distinguished themselves by giving a considerable amount of their time and energy to making the organisation as successful as it has been.

In my view, this signal honour should be reserved for those who have selflessly helped to organise races for the benefit of others, have made a significant contribution at committee level or have helped to maintain the ethos of IMRA and further its development in other ways.

On that basis, the key prerequisite for such an honour to be bestowed would be the level of a member’s CONTRIBUTION to IMRA. Wonderful and all as it is to have run in a large number of IMRA races, in my opinion that constitutes PARTICIPATION which is clearly a different concept.

If we do agree to such a system, who would make the key decisions about who should be honoured, etc.?

I would suggest that the Committee be empowered to decide who, if anyone, should be conferred with honorary life membership in a given year with the recipient(s), if any, being announced at the AGM. I initially thought about not having more than one person conferred per year but that is too restrictive. If we introduce such a system this year, there could be a small "backlog” of worthy possible recipients whereas in a future year there might be no obvious candidate.

For that reason, I would not set limits although clearly, the intention would be that the number of recipients over time is indeed small so that the system does not become devalued.

In the true spirit of IMRA, I believe that the sole benefits of honorary life membership would be the peer recognition and kudos that the title carries with it. There should be no tangible benefits: no medals, ribands or certificates; just a name in the roll of honour on the IMRA website. Honorary life members would still have to pay their annual subscription and race entry fees, and volunteer to get their end-of-league prize, etc. No golden circle allowed here!

I would be interested in hearing the views of others on this topic.

Apologies for the length of this posting – as a famous author once wrote, I did not have time to compose a shorter one (!).



Stuart ScottJul 26, 11:46amHi Jim,

All good points. It might be worth looking at the Irish Orienteering Association's awards scheme too:

Nominations can be made by anyone and recipients are then chosen by the committee.

Brendan LawlorJul 26, 9:18pmJim

Some interesting ideas. My only concern is that as you outlined it, it has a bit too much of the 'blazer' about it.

I think we should honour people who have contributed significantly to IMRA but also people who have achieved exceptionally at our sport, whether that be running the best time on the Wicklow Way,running the first Wicklow Round, winning an international race, running every league race for 22 years or just being John Lenihan or Robbie Bryson.

I would suggest an IMRA 'Hall of Fame' with one or two people 'inducted' into it each year with a criteria along the lines of ' exceptional contribution to Irish mountain running' or something like that. I would also agree with the idea of 'opening the books' a bit for the first year or two to recognise a number of exceptional individuals over the last 20 years and then get to having at most two added each year- something like that. I would further propose that the 'inducing' (if thats the correct term!) happen at the annual BBQ or dinner, rather than the AGM which may or may not be well attended

Committee, over to you....
Vivian O'GormanJul 26, 10:44pmHi Brendan and Jim,

You both have made some very good points and perhaps the committee will come up with something along the lines you suggest. But you both and indeed the committee should know that IMRA has already got two members who were made honorary life members - John Lenihan and Myself.
Joe LalorJul 27, 12:26amI believe Douglas Barry was made a life member also
Brendan LawlorJul 27, 10:46amWell it looks like the first three members of the Hall of Fame have been named and shamed!
Jeff FitzsimonsJul 27, 11:20amAs a recent member who very much appreciates the work done and racing exploits of those before me I think this is a great idea, but maybe for a different reason than those already stated.

This could initially serve as an annual history lesson to the newer/younger members who do not really know the contribution some of the people who work away in the background have given, not just in administration but maybe in their own running days. I like hearing tales of the old days, when men were men, sheep were nervous and race marking was what you went home with after a fall. It would be good to flag these people to the greater community.

Also, for some reason this topic reminds me of this Monty Python clip.
diarmuid O'ColmainJul 30, 1:06pmHi guys,

interesting ideas but let me nail my colours diredctly to the mast! This is a very understandable and well-motivated idea but would be a source of friction, politics and disagreement, which any voluntary organization needs like a hole in the head. To be honest, I think it could easily turn into a disaster.

Let's suppose 5 to 10 people get awards initially and then 1 or 2 annually. Most other people in IMRA couldn't care less that they were not recipients, but there will be a few people who have made very good contributions who will be asking themselves 'why not me?' and inevitably a few poeple will feel sour and hurt.

Better to keep things as they are - occasionally an absolutely awesome contributor (once every 5 or 10 years) gets an award for incredibly outstanding contribution to the Association.
Brendan LawlorAug 3, 11:09amA compromise proposal here could be the creation of a 'Roll of Honour' tab on the website

Here we would list the Honorary Life Members, with a brief explanation of who they are and what their history with IMRA was - until Vivian mentioned this in his reply here I had forgotten that we had such honorary life members in our midst

Additionally we could add an ' Exceptional achievements' area (under the same tab) where we list the individuals who have done extraordinary things in mountain running in Ireland or abroad

I'll show my own prejudice here and suggest that the holders (male and female) of the fastest times for both the Wicklow Round and the Wicklow Way should be honoured this way, as well as the individual who has participated in the largest number of our races (whoever that might be!)

I agree that the criteria for inclusion in such an initiative can be divisive but thats not reason enough to avoid honouring the exceptional in the membership and explaining to the hillrunners of the future just why Douglas Barry was/is the legend that he is...
Colm HillAug 3, 11:54amDouglas Barry... ? Who?
I did a quick scan of the site and he hasn't run since 2001

So two things come to mind - he was one of the hardcore IMRA lunnies or he was one of the guys that sat a top a mountain or waited in the lashings of rains to wait for the lunnies to return.

Admin? Open Mountain? International? A combo?

Three race wins in 87', around the time. Alot of orienteers were doing pretty well in the hills as IMRA was still a hidden organisation...

So do one of the old hands want to give a blurb on Douglas?
Brendan LawlorAug 3, 12:35pmColm

While Douglas didn't exactly invent Mountain Running ( we think the Romans or the Celts did that) he pretty much invented IMRA.

He was the the association chairman for several years, the webmaster for several more, organised more races on his own than anyone else except perhaps Vivian O'Gorman. He was the IMRA rep for World Mountain running for a number of years and organised and managed several trips to the Europeans and Worlds.

As a runner he famously beat John Lenihan on the Corrantohill race in either the second or third running of the event.

A very colourful and sometimes controversial character, he is well remembered for the way he would drive his car (at speed) to the race start so that he could get proceedings under way.

A keen photographer and excellent race report writer, perhaps 90% or more of all race reports on the old IMRA site were penned by Douglas, with his witty turn of phrase and keen eye and memory for records, routes and performances.

He was the maestro of the Trail League series for a few years and I last met him in Bray last year when he gave me 60 odd old Mountain Running shirts which I sold off in aid of Mountain Rescue.

The man is a living legend and deserves his honourary membership of IMRA but as he might say himself - 'sure none of this crowd would have a fo#kin' clue who I am!' - and hence the need for the 'Roll of Honour'

Apologies, Douglas if I've embarrassed you (unlikely!) but the next generation need to know!
Bruce ShenkerAug 3, 12:44pm+1 on Brendan's account of Douglas Barry's influence on IMRA.

My introduction to IMRA was a journey from Bray to Sorrell Hill which was scheduled to start at 7:30 and Douglas needed to eat his dinner and watch the final sprint from the tour de france that day and it was getting near 7 , but being a newbie I figured he is the race director and knows what he is doing and then I got my introduction to rally racing through Sally Gap , but the one thing that amazed me was coming up from Powerscourt Waterfall Douglas slowed down a bit and next thing we see is a big truck coming down the hill and for some reason Douglas sensed it coming and slowed down only at that spot before continuing on and roaring into the only spot right by the gate at Sorrell Hill at about 7:27
Brendan LawlorAug 3, 12:48pmCorrection..Douglas won the 1987 Corrantohill race but John Lenihan didn't ace that year
Brendan LawlorAug 3, 1:07pmLink to Douglas's old IMRA site here

Now thats enough about him, or he'll get a big head!
Alan AylingAug 3, 1:11pmI'm with Diarmuid on this one. Let occasional genuinely outstanding contributions be duly recognised, that is plenty for an organisation like ours.

Club 100 is a great way to recognise regular participation. Well done whoever came up with that.
Rene BorgAug 3, 1:11pmPerhaps a separate topic Brendan, but on the note of the history of Carrauntoohil, it was my understanding from the conversations I've had with John and Douglas, that John did not run the first year Carrauntoohil was held but rather it was Douglas and a small congregation of IMRA regulars and that it was decided to run together to the top, because of terrible weather conditions, and then race the descent which Douglas duly won.

So for Douglas many honours, beating John was one of them and only Eoghan McKenna and John Brooks have managed that outright (some good information on it here from Jonathan Beverly:
Rene BorgAug 3, 1:12pmYou beat me to it Brendan. That's the story behind that first race anyway...
Dictionary CornerAug 3, 1:21pmIn the interest of balance, an alternative view...

If it ain't broken, then don't fix it. Personally, the lack of plaudits and back-slapping was one the most attractive sides to IMRA when I started. If you don't want a hierarchical system then don't create a hierarchy. If you start creating titles and layers, where does it end? The IMRA Oscars in the convention centre?

And yes this is an anonymous post, get over it, not everyone craves the limelight.
IMRA Oscars NomineeAug 3, 4:09pmThat's a great idea by the last post, where is the form I can nominate myself???
Brendan LawlorAug 3, 7:02pmIMRA has a system of plaudits and back-slapping which occurs at the end of every race back in the pub - the race prize giving..and quiet rightly so.

It does the same at the end of each league and championship and theres no fuss about that either

It also has a little known Honorary Life Membership system

All thats being suggested here is to shine a little more light onto the honorary life members and exceptional achievers amongst us.

Frankly I'm at a loss to see how even the anonymous posters can see harm in this, but there you go
Paul O'GradyAug 3, 8:18pmI agree Brendan

John Waters had a very interesting piece on this type of behaviour in today's Irish Times. Just in case you missed it.
Douglas BarryAug 4, 12:31amFolks,

I'm typing this outside in the rain as my head's now too big to fit in the door. That said I better clarify something.

I regularly used to beat John Lenihan, but sadly it was only in my dreams. And as for my driving, everyone knows I drive like 80 year old nun on a provisional licence.

Have a good weekend.

Gerry BradyAug 4, 1:21amWelcome back Colm from competing in the World orienteering championships, Douglas put the M in hill running! You should also get to up to speed on many others just like you know about Eoin and Carey and Pat and Wally and Aonghus and Bernard and many others.
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