Reports by Maria Jone and Michael Cunningham
Photos by Gareth Murran. For the full album: Click here
Sunday 17th December….the day I was waiting for all season….all year really. After taking part in all the cross country races last year and seeing all the gold medals +success come into the club from Emily’s Golden Girls, I wanted some of this too. I told myself in Dundalk last December after the novice Nationals that next year we could do the same, I wanted one of those medals. A year later…a summer full of injury and in+out of training…determination was going to have to get me through. I’d say the girls were sick of listening to me going on about the Nationals..they were all warned back in September to keep December 17th free,they were needed in Waterford. And what an amazing bunch of girls ran through muck,sweat and hills last Sunday to regain the Novice National Title…theres a new group of Golden Girls on the block.
The last time we were on this course for a cross country it was Baltic and I don’t remember being able to feel my toe’s for the entire race. This year it was practically like a summers day with no hats or gloves needed, the only thing to worry about was the sun going down before the men’s race started.
The girls were off first and its fair to say there was a tension in the air as there was a strong girls team and expectations were high. People who normally never stop talking were suddenly quiet and tense. The girls race started off at a really fast pace and continued for the 4Km. The girls pushed through the strong field and packed well and all had their individual battles, more on that later.
Next up where the men with nearly 200 in the field and 6Km of fun. The starting straight was very uneven and with a tight right turn at the end of 300m the goal was to stay on your feet and not get clipped. After a few more slippery turns you came around to face the sharp hill and then the long climb. Watching the girls race first you think how your going to cope with the hill, watching is so much easier. The sharp first hill zaps the energy in your legs as you have to climb with no grip. Then the long drag of the hills hits your lungs and you try and control your heart rate as much as you can. A big tree at the top of the hill marked the end of the pain and your on a bit of breather as you run downhill towards the start area but after several races during the day the muck is up to your ankles and again you have to think about staying on your feet. One lap down 3 to go.
I think one of the best things about cross country, especially when muddy, is runners don’t get a chance to spread out too much and there is always someone to target ahead of you and try and chase down. Also no one is good at everything so one person might have speed and are good on the flat straights, others are strong climbers and some like the fast uncontrolled down hills. So even if you pass someone you still have to hold the place in the areas your not good at. The Waterford IT course had a bit of everything and dry changing rooms with hot showers is always a plus.
After the races word finally filtered through the girls had won team gold again for the second time in a row. Pat Hooper of Raheny said he can’t remember a club doing it before. The guys had to just enjoy the race and training but there are rumours there are Men’s team medals coming in January.
Finally it was time to head home with the cross country glamour of stopping at a petrol station on the way home for food. Thanks again to Myles and Emily for all the coaching and for Gareth, Sinead and Packie going to the race for support. On a sad note some went for a quiet drink after the race were things turned ugly as Maura Ginty and Maria Jones were still arguing over who finished first between them. Luckily I was there to calm things down and separate them. Things were sorted when they both realised its Shona Keane they both want to beat and need to save their energy for that.
8th 16:28 Kate Kelly (1st place team)
12th 16:35 Caoimhe Daniels (1st place team)
35th 17:08 Maria Jones (1st place team)
36th 17:11 Maura Ginty (1st place team)
48th 17:35 Naoise Waldron
70th 18:32 Catherine Mulleady
102nd 20:23 Katie Nugent
113th 22:55 Michael Cunningham
133rd 23:33 Kevin Curran
156th 24:38 Anthony Gillens
165th 25:05 Diarmuid O’Sulleabhain
177th 26:26 Conor Keating
185th 28:25 Adrian Lanigan