Bob Hales of the renowned family from Knocknacurra which is a townland just outside of Bandon was a prolific middle and long distance runner. From an area that produced a number of top class athletes not alone Bob but his brother Sean and in subsequent years Patsy O’Flynn to be followed by Bill Nolan. All of whom lived within a couple hundred metres of one another. Each of whom were of Olympic standard. Hales been selected for the 1912 Stockholm games, O’Flynn competing as part of the USA team of 1920 in the steeplechase where he finished runner-up and Nolan been unlucky not to have been selected for the 1 mile in 1932 having sustained an injury during a run-off for selection.
Bob’s early career saw him become GAA 880 yards and 1 mile champion in 1911 and the following year became the IAAA 1 mile champion and was runner-up in the 4 mile event. He was also selected to compete internationally that year and set an Irish record for the mile in Scotland. In 1913 he departed for the United States to earn his fortune on the running circuit and he set a new Irish record for the 2mile event in Celtic Park in New York. The outbreak of the Great War put an end to that however, there being far less races above all else far less competitors so the money was not there to be won. He returned home to Ireland to resume his running career, which he did successfully until the follow on from the Easter Rising and the subsequent War of Independence saw a different race been run with him and his fellow family members to the forefront in securing independence. The family farm was their training ground with its own track and underlay with cinders from the local railway station and gas works. The field in question even to the present day is known as ‘The Free State Field’. At the end of his running career Bob became a respected coach to many a subsequent athlete.
The Hales family have kindly donated a perpetual trophy for the sports in Bob’s memory and the “Bob Hales Perpetual Trophy” will be contested for in the 1 mile open event. The club are indeed grateful to the family for donating this.