Race reports by Grainne Lynch and Andrew Brett
Photos by Catherine Mulleady and MyRunResults.com
Sunday January 7th saw 58 Sprotsworlders descend on St. Anne’s Park for the Dublin Masters Cross Country championship. After my dismal cross country debut at the Meet &Train this time last year I vowed never, ever again to take part in one. I forgot to inform Myles of this vow and arrived at training just before Christmas to find he had already entered me!
I picked Irene up and we discussed race strategies – we had 2. Give it socks from the beginning and see how far we get before blowing up or take it easy at the beginning and try to pick up pace and make up ground in the second half. I went with option 1 and I didn’t get far before blowing up, 1500 metres to be exact. We were so busy discussing this that I took a wrong turn and ended up at the wrong side of the park. As we were jogging around aimlessly in a panic we were relieved to bump into a few other lost Sportsworlders. Martin Doyle and Thomas Kinsella among them, strolling around as if out for a Sunday ramble not like they were in danger of missing the entire race!
Panic over we spotted the Sportsworld flag in the distance. Numbers pinned, spikes tried out on a few strides and were off! The course was relatively flat, the ground not too muddy and there was only 1 tree trunk to hop over. The sun was shining so conditions were perfect. I have to say, the atmosphere was great and the support from the lads who were waiting to run was really fantastic – a big shout out also to those not running who turned up to support. It made a big difference. I was running alongside Martina until the end of lap one when Myles let out a roar “go on Martina, close the gap there” and that she did. She found another gear, went off like a rocket and that’s the last I saw of her. Despite all reservations I finished with a smile on my face and had just enough left in me to cheer on the lads. The presentation of medals (Sprotsworld got a good haul) along with tea/coffee took place in the Raheny GAA club after.
Massive congrats to everyone who ran their hearts out! And well done to the teams and individuals who got medals.
Since joining the club last August I have managed to avoid running in the cross country events, but my luck finally ran out as somehow Myles found out that I snuck into the M35 category and he sent me a text telling me I was running. It’s hard to argue with a text so I accepted my faith and on Saturday morning I ventured down to Terenure Village to invest in a pair of spikes. The flashy blue and white Adidas spikes almost became an extension to the red & white singlet on Sunday, and it was easy to spot all the newbies in their pristine clean footwear some of which still had the tags on!
Having absolutely zero previous experience with cross country racing I genuinely had no idea what to expect. I sought advice off a few of the more experienced runners and the advice was identical. Don’t go out too fast, don’t get clipped, don’t let any one pass you, & don’t give up.
After arriving in Raheny, and collecting our race numbers, we did a couple of warm up laps to familiarise ourselves with the course before the ladies race started. Michael must have not noticed my brand spanking new pair of runners as half way through a warm up lap he asked me was it my first ever cross country master event. When I told him it was my first ever cross country event of any age/grade/description his eyes lit up as he responded “good for you, you’re writing the race report”. My first rookie error of the day.
The ladies took to the field at 1pm and put in an outstanding performance over the 3km, in what was an extremely fast paced race. Individually they were all excellent, and looked so strong throughout, but collectively as a team they were untouchable romping home to the overall team gold medal. Another fantastic result to add to the novice national gold win from December. There is some serious talent amongst the women in the club at the moment and their success in these events is a testament to that.
Once the ladies race was completed it was our turn so after a few strides we all huddled in a bunch, like penguins sheltering each other from the cold, as Myles gave a rousing motivational speech which was reminiscent of Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday. After that it was race time and as we made our way to the start line it reminded me of the start of the Grand National at Aintree with some thoroughbreds and plenty of donkeys jostling for position at the front.
There was to be no false start and we were away at the first time time of asking. As we trotted off to the first corner the going was good, good to soft in places. The race was 6km, or 3 miles 6 furlongs, and Raheny Shamrocks were the odds on favourites but it was Sportsworld’s own Gareth Murran who took off like Shergar and lead the field out reaching the turn in the lead. I settled in amongst the chasing pack taking on board the advice about not getting clipped whilst trying to get in to some sort of a rhythm. Michael was just a bit ahead of me so my plan was to try keep him in sight. As we approached the first tricky part of the course, Beecher’s Brook, I began to get an understanding as to what a cross country steeplechase was all about. Having safely navigated that we turned in towards the Canal Turn and the then onto the Open Ditch. Myles was at this point screaming at me to catch the group in front. Then the course loops back around and you have to negotiate The Chair, then over the Water Jump and lap 1 of 4 four was completed as 279 stallions hurtled past the grand stand.
Karol “Hedgehunter” Cronin had made a move and was pushing the Raheny geldings all the way, with Shergar Murran in hot persuit. The Sportsworld support was fantastic throughout the course. Will “Mullins” Greensmyth was at the first roaring out words of encouragement, whilst Maria Jones seemed to be at about 8 different places cheering us on. Enda and Neil were out too whilst the fillies, fresh from their victory, were dotted out around the course which really provided motivation to attack the horses in front. Passing by Myles again I heard the usual scream “catch that group in front Andrew”. I’m not sure if he thought it was the same group as the previous lap or if he’s just a tough a task master but either way it worked as I did my best to put in a burst.
Two laps down and two to go. The rest of the race followed in a similar pattern, although the field did spread out a bit more. Going through the last lap it clogged up again as we had to navigate our way past some of the seniors, who I’m sure were looking forward to retiring to stud, whilst trying to earn every last position for your club. With about 800 metres to go I overtook a Colt from Crusaders who didn’t seem too impressed as he upped the pace. We ended up battling to the finish and with about 100 metres I went to empty the tank leaving him behind and picking off two runners on the home stretch. Race over, lungs burning, and legs feeling more than a bit wobbly.
The Club put in a fantastic effort lead home by “Hedgehunter” Cronin who finished a magnificent third place overall, just a nose behind the two geldings from Raheny (who rumour has it share the same vet as Waterford Crystal so perhaps something untoward might come back in their blood tests). A length back was Shergar Murran who was the next club stallion home, followed by Phil “Rule the World” Kilgannon, with Karl “Silver Birch” Chatterton completing the men’s team top 4. Kevin “Kaoto Star” Curran was 5th club man home followed by Michael “Mr. Ed” Cunningham in 6th, and myself in 7th. In what was a talent packed field Sportsworld provided 13 of the top 100 finishers which on another day could have yielded a team medal but after a stewards enquiry there were a few long faces as we had to settle for 4th.
Overall it was an enjoyable day out and definitely a different experience than what I’m used to. These days are all about teamwork and running for your club as opposed to running for yourself so it’s a great feeling to put on the singlet (on a cold winters day in January!!!) and represent the club, and also to try give something back to Myles & Emily who are so good to all of us with their time. The ladies are on a roll at the moment, so long may that continue, and there are so many talented male runners in the club that team success can’t be too far away…..
4th Aoife O’LEARY 00:12:28 (Team Gold Medal and Silver Medal in age category!)
5th Catherine BAMBRICK 00:12:32 (Team Gold Medal and Bronze Medal in age category!)
8th Ruth KELLY 00:12:40 (Team Gold Medal!)
12 Mary FINN 00:13:10 (Team Gold Medal!)
19 Naoise WALDREN 00:13:19
21 Stehanie BERGIN 00:13:22
23 Catherine MULLEADY 00:13:33
33 Deirdre O’CONNELL 00:13:50
63 Anna DELANEY 00:14:35
70 Eileen BUTLER 00:14:48
71 Natalia O’GRADY 00:14:48
80 Martina NOLAN JONES 00:15:09
93 Grainne LYNCH 00:15:31
96 Lucy DARCY 00:15:34
97 Eileen ROWLAND 00:15:35 (Team Silver Medal and Silver Medal in age category!)
98 Bronwyn MURPHY WHYTE 00:15:35
111 Irene O’CONNOR 00:15:50 (Team Silver Medal!)
127 Ellen LAVIN 00:16:29 (Team Silver Medal!)
132 Siobhan CLARKE 00:16:38 (Team Silver Medal!)
139 Ann HIGGINS 00:16:54
145 Audrai O’DRISCOLL 00:17:19
3rd Karol CRONIN 21.12 (Individual Bronze medal!)
10th Gareth MURRAN 00:21:49
25th Phil KILGANNON 00:22:43
29 Karl CHATTERTON 00:22:53
34 Kevin CURRAN 00:23:08
37 Michael CUNNINGHAM 00:23:18
44 Andrew BRETT 00:23:38
54 Paul O’CONNELL 00:23:54
80 Justin MCKEEVER 00:24:37
82 Martin KEENAN 00:24:42
94 Diarmuid O’SUILLIBHEAN 00:24:59
96 Derek SAVILLE 00:25:00
101 Martin DOYLE 00:25:07
113 Alan HYNES 00:25:21
117 Noel TOBIN 00:25:28
120 Anthony GILLEN 00:25:29
123 Ronan MASTERSON 00:25:41
124 Liam LENEHAN 00:25:42
131 Johnny DWYER 00:25:49
141 Wesley HARRISON 00:25:59
144 Declan BRADY 00:26:00
147 Joe BYRNE 00:26:03
148 Ed MCENTEE 00:26:04
154 Jose CHAPA 00:26:15
185 Paul HAMILTON 00:27:12
188 Karl SHEVLIN 00:27:16
189 Aidan CURRAN 00:27:19
195 Padraig LOOBY 00:27:28
196 Mark HEFFERNAN 00:27:28
217 Adrian LANIGAN 00:27:54
231 Peter KNAGGS 00:28:30
233 John FLAHERTY 00:28:43
240 Padraic MORAN 00:29:13
255 Derek LONG 00:30:03
258 Thomas KINSELLA 00:30:11
259 Ray CARPENTER 00:30:13