Galway Indoor Champs & Connaught Cross Country

Published in Club News on 4th January 2006

The Connaught Masters, Junior & Senior cross-country championship, which had been scheduled for the 8th January in Ballina, has been moved to 21st January at the same venue.

The indoor action next weekend, for Galway based athletes both young and old, will be at the indoor arena in Nenagh, Co.Tipperary. The championship kicks off with a senior race over 3,000m at 11:00am on Saturday the 7th January.

Enquiries from Galway based athletes to PJ Coyle (Sec Galway County Board) at [email protected]

Fields of Athenry 10km Results 2005

Published in Fields of Athenry 10km on 26th December 2005

Official Results of the 2005 Proactive.ie Fields
of Athenry 10KM Road Race

Position Number Time Name Club Category 1 443 30:34 Gary Thornton GCH M 2 444 30:53 Paul McNamara Athenry AC M 3 606 31:45 Michael O'Connor GCH M 4 541 33:10 Donnacha O'Mahony East Cork AC M40 5 666 33:34 Jason Fahy Olympic Harriers M 6 553 33:36 Jason Broderick Loughrea AC M 7 468 34:16 Ian Egan GCH M 8 583 34:31 Martin Corcoran Loughrea AC M40 9 578 34:40 Sean Dowling Liffey Valley AC M 10 312 34:50 Kevin D'Arcy Kilmurray-Ibrickane AC M

Position Number Time Name Club Category 11 454 34:56 Tom Meehan Sligo AC M45 12 525 35:01 Michael Solon Tulla AC M40 13 599 35:03 Conor Maloney Unattached M 14 535 35:21 Eoin Ó Coleáin Kilmurray-Ibrickane AC M 15 455 35:24 Michael O'Connell Sligo AC M40 16 366 35:39 Mark Davis Craughwell AC M 17 551 36:12 Philip Glynn Liffey Valley AC M 18 536 36:18 Mike Harvey Kilmurray-Ibrickane AC M50 19 526 36:37 Matthew Solon Tulla AC M 20 394 36:41 Danny Carr GCH M40 21 392 36:45 Billy King Tuam AC M 22 367 36:46 Michael Tobin Craughwell AC M 23 660 36:52 Mairtin Grealish Ennis Track M 24 564 36:56 Binney Mitchell Ryde Harriers M 25 411 37:13 Darragh O'Brien Loughrea AC M 26 309 37:15 Ray Glynn HP M 27 382 37:17 Tom O'Dowd Liquid Motion Triathlon Club M 28 662 37:20 Martin McEvilly GCH M55 29 579 37:23 Padraic Forde CRH M45 30 436 37:27 Brian O'Connor Unattached M 31 387 37:28 James Kenny Kilmurray-Ibrickane AC M45 32 498 37:30 Lucy Brennan Sligo AC F 33 630 37:54 Hubie Conway Unattached M 34 453 37:55 Vincent Flannery Sligo AC M50 35 595 38:07 Gearoid Quinn GCH M40 36 637 38:15 Daren Lally Unattached M 37 446 38:20 Colm Harney Unattached M 38 533 38:31 Jimmy Fallon CRH M 39 403 38:35 Martin O'Donnell CRH M50 40 611 38:40 Tommy Joe Whyte Tuam AC M40 41 565 38:40 Andrew Talbot CRH M50 42 527 38:43 David Maloney Tulla AC M 43 409 39:05 Larry Kelly Unattached M 44 399 39:07 Malcolm Hosty Unattached M 45 543 39:13 Seamus Gilhooley Athenry AC MJ 46 622 39:38 Fionnuala Keane Loughrea AC F 47 395 39:39 Donal Devaney Unattached M 48 507 39:44 Tony Noonan Unattached M40 49 344 39:46 Gabriel Brennan Unattached M 50 377 39:53 Josephine Gardiner Mayo AC F 51 603 39:58 Conor O'Rourke Unattached MJ 52 381 40:21 Fergal O'Dowd Liquid Motion Triathlon Club M 53 362 40:24 Fergus Nevin M 54 593 40:29 Rynal Browne M 55 607 40:46 Owen Curran M 56 569 40:50 Terry Grogan CRH M50 57 539 41:01 Martin Fitzpatrick M 58 499 41:02 Owen Murphy M 59 306 41:10 Wally Walsh HP M40 60 471 41:21 Brian Keville M 61 354 41:29 Dermot Burke M 62 605 41:57 Kenneth O'Dea M 63 613 42:12 Thomas Lee M 64 333 42:15 Enda Higgins M 65 440 42:20 Conor Flanagan M 66 590 42:25 Hubert Crehan M 67 347 42:26 Michelle Lynch GCH F 68 429 42:31 Paul Kilkelly M40 69 618 42:46 Paul Flannery M 70 598 42:47 Tom Elwood M 71 339 42:49 Brendan Monaghan Tuam AC M40 72 596 42:55 Ronan Reilly M 73 305 42:56 Owen Diviney HP M 74 534 43:23 Gerry Masterson Athenry AC M 75 415 43:24 Frank Flannery The Aughrimites M 76 537 43:31 Brendan Cusack Kilmurray-Ibrickane AC M 77 640 43:35 Tommy McNamara M 78 324 43:37 Peter Walsh M 79 545 43:40 Phillip O'Toole M 80 346 43:41 John Liston M 81 509 43:49 Peter O'Halloran 12th Infantry Bn. M 82 614 43:53 Adrian McCallion M40 83 332 43:55 Andrew O'Shaughnessy M 84 330 43:55 Bernard Geraghty M 85 604 44:09 John Donnellan M40 86 584 44:16 John Sheehan CRH M45 87 542 44:18 Eddie Larkin M 88 438 44:20 Bernie Kelly GCH F45 89 390 44:25 Pat O'Loan Midland Triathlon Club M 90 457 44:30 Fiachra O'Ceallaigh GCH M40 91 458 44:30 Nichola O'Ceallaigh GCH FJ 92 338 44:33 Roger Rushe Tuam AC M65 93 391 44:35 Daniel Kavanagh M 94 313 44:47 Kevin O'Loughlin Kilmurray-Ibrickane AC M50 95 585 44:49 Alan Daniels M 96 517 45:00 Claire Morrissey Athenry F 97 361 45:21 Tony Nevin Craughwell AC M 98 413 45:25 Cormac McCarthy The Aughrimites M 99 376 45:33 Gabriel Gardiner Craughwell AC M 100 408 45:37 Gerry Killeen M 101 530 45:38 Brian Kelly M 102 337 45:42 Patrick Flaherty Tuam AC M50 103 532 45:56 Michael Quinn M 104 523 45:57 Michael Higgins M 105 321 46:03 Charles Colletta M45 106 364 46:07 Bill Doran Craughwell AC M 107 511 46:09 Alan Sheridan 12th Infantry Bn. M 108 524 46:13 Benny Niland M 109 687 46:15 Sean Brennan M 110 465 46:24 Patrick Scully M 111 320 46:25 James Elwood Galway Rowing Club M45 112 682 46:33 P Murray M45 113 627 46:34 John Reilly M55 114 654 46:35 John Fahy Tuam AC M 115 552 46:35 Gerry Broderick Loughrea AC M40 116 345 46:36 Derek Duffy M 117 439 46:44 Kevin O'Dea CRH M 118 360 46:53 Diarmuid Quill Craughwell AC M40 119 311 46:56 Michael Lane M 120 639 47:07 Jimmy McNamara M 121 608 47:09 Seán Whelan M 122 466 47:10 Bartley Joyce M 123 417 47:11 David Naughton The Aughrimites M 124 555 47:14 Liam Mulloy M 125 679 47:18 Eugene Hoade M 126 479 47:20 Cedric Lamy MJ 127 n/a 47:23 Unnumbered Runner 128 416 47:24 John Naughton The Aughrimites M 129 521 47:24 William Murphy M 130 629 47:25 Anselm McGowan St Mary's Athenry MJ 131 350 47:26 Michelle Rowley F 132 655 47:26 Dave Monaghan M 133 407 47:39 Maura Falsey Kilmurray-Ibrickane AC F45 134 380 47:47 Francis Keenan Dummore McHales Bs M 135 601 47:49 Kevin Lambe M40 136 518 47:50 Con Quilligan M 137 506 47:51 Declan Geraghty M 138 563 47:56 Colm MacEoin M 139 448 48:00 Derval Devaney F 140 631 48:02 Frank Kitt CRH M50 141 348 48:04 Máire Tarpey Arklow Meet & Train F35 142 383 48:09 John Raftery M45 143 434 48:13 Michael Duane M 144 529 48:14 Jean O'Connor GCH F 145 680 48:16 Geraghty M55 146 315 48:19 Graham Surman M 147 544 48:20 Ronan Lyons M 148 628 48:21 David Healy M 149 428 48:24 Jackie Prendergast Unattached F40 150 331 48:27 Padraig Moran M 151 653 48:27 D McGovern M 152 365 48:40 Anthony Fitzpatrick Craughwell AC M 153 592 48:46 Keith Curley M 154 430 48:51 Hanna Kelly F45 155 343 48:52 Andrew Parkinson Galway Triathlon Club M 156 621 48:57 Chris Wade M45 157 445 49:05 Mary Lyng F 158 472 49:11 Erik Tierney M 159 427 49:26 Jarlaith McInerney M40 160 610 49:30 Mark Rooney M 161 385 49:31 Allen Moran M 162 689 49:37 Tara Whyte GCH F 163 461 49:37 John O'Connell M40 164 310 49:47 Mickie Kelly Tuam AC M65 165 357 49:47 Tony O'Callaghan M50 166 547 49:48 Sean Noone M 167 567 49:51 Gerald McGough M40 168 460 49:56 Brian McGoldrick M 169 340 50:05 Jimmy O'Connor MJ 170 489 50:20 Patrick Kelly M 171 643 50:20 Paul Kilkenny M 172 475 50:26 Eric O'Brien M 173 477 50:29 Arnaud Lamy M50 174 528 50:30 Jim O'Connell M40 175 665 50:31 Eimear Butler F 176 483 50:35 John McInerney M 177 678 50:37 Richard Caulfield M 178 480 50:38 Gerard McGrath M 179 642 50:40 Gerry Hurley M 180 594 50:41 Peter Cloonan M 181 540 50:43 Fiona Rooney F 182 397 51:06 Des Donnellan M 183 493 51:17 Martin Keane GCH M60 184 638 51:31 James McDonnell M 185 508 51:40 Steve Williams Sprintf M40 186 520 51:49 Alan O'Regan M 187 307 51:50 Trina Mulryan HP F 188 652 52:00 Kevin Timothy M 189 456 52:02 Paul Frecklington M40 190 319 52:03 Paula Lynch F 191 600 52:23 Tom MacLochlainn M55 192 482 52:28 Paul Murtagh M 193 342 52:28 Declan Furey M 194 304 52:42 Pat O'Donoghue HP M45 195 414 52:43 Brian Flannery The Aughrimites M 196 359 52:59 Pat Reidy Craughwell AC M45 197 704 53:02 Louis Burke 0 198 406 53:12 John Mongan Suileen Fitness Club M 199 560 53:17 Frank Burke M 200 486 53:22 Sean Doherty M 201 437 53:24 Martin Walsh M40 202 393 53:31 David Rohan M 203 308 53:32 Anne-Marie Walsh HP F 204 650 53:33 John Timothy M50 205 335 54:08 Barry Beirne M 206 632 54:10 Dolores Foley Galway Meet &Train F35 207 677 54:13 Matt Donnellon M45 208 424 54:20 Una McNamara F 209 651 54:21 Barry McGann M 210 396 54:22 Mary McCann F45 211 370 54:36 Anne Kelly Craughwell AC F35 212 690 55:02 Brian Niland RNLI M 213 597 55:04 Micheál Quinn M 214 352 55:19 Caroline Burke F 215 561 55:21 Clare Hingott F 216 322 55:23 Colm Corless M 217 441 55:23 David Prendergast M 218 656 55:24 Eoin Costello St Mary's Athenry MJ 219 562 55:27 Heather Smith F 220 302 55:29 Tadhg Naughton M40 221 303 55:40 Niamh Tierney HP F 222 373 55:41 Helen Hallinan Craughwell AC F 223 502 55:51 Clodagh Grealy F 224 356 55:55 Evelyn Concannon F40 225 410 56:01 Maria Caulfield F 226 661 56:02 Sinéad O'Connor F 227 401 56:05 Gerry Rohan M40 228 325 56:18 Noeleen O'Malley F 229 473 56:20 Darren O'Brien M 230 474 56:38 Ray Prendergast M 231 516 56:43 Orla Donnelly F 232 686 56:45 Bairbre Ní Mhaille Galway Tri Club F 233 504 57:28 Tomas Keys M 234 388 57:33 Máire Kelly Galway Meet &Train F45 235 515 57:37 Jim Donnelly M50 236 512 57:37 Jennifer Donnelly F 237 425 57:40 Eileen McNamara F 238 353 57:47 Mary Walsh F40 239 556 58:04 Maeve Moran F 240 671 58:06 Andrea Ridge Unattached F50 241 580 58:27 Tom Waldron M65 242 701 58:35 Tom Monaghan M 243 449 58:42 Michael Kelly M 244 619 58:48 Michael Doherty M 245 351 58:50 Gemma McDonagh F35 246 323 58:53 Anne Coleman F 247 419 58:55 Bridget McDaid F 248 626 58:59 Anette Crehan F 249 625 59:10 John Kelly M 250 358 59:11 Mary Prendergast Craughwell AC F 251 663 59:32 Vincent Kennedy M 252 341 59:56 Dermot O'Connor M 253 522 1:00:32 Gearóid Ó Murchú M 254 404 1:00:55 James Langan M 255 464 1:01:44 Geraldine Eustace F 256 423 1:02:25 Danny Mitchell M 257 692 1:02:31 Sile Ní Mhaille F 258 467 1:02:33 Anne Lyng F35 259 490 1:03:00 Lisa Kelly F 260 363 1:03:10 Patrick Kelly Craughwell AC M 261 702 1:03:22 Ailish Rohan Tiaquinn 0 262 700 1:03:23 Tom Callanan Craughwell AC M 263 375 1:03:24 Nuala Keady Craughwell AC F 264 478 1:03:41 Vincent Lamy M 265 496 1:03:42 Martin McDonogh M50 266 398 1:03:50 Padraig Farragher CRH M45 267 368 1:04:23 Sharon Raftery Craughwell AC F35 268 462 1:04:37 Ciara O'Connell F 269 681 1:05:48 Sarah O'Gorman F 270 676 1:05:49 John Kenirons M 271 420 1:05:56 Niamh Coleman F 272 421 1:05:56 Olive Coleman F 273 371 1:06:34 Alison Finn Craughwell AC F 274 450 1:06:37 Grainne Costello F40 275 372 1:06:46 Kathleen Waters Craughwell AC F 276 657 1:07:00 Lisa Gibbons F 277 355 1:07:19 Anne Burke F 278 314 1:07:22 Mary Mullins F45 279 510 1:07:28 Mary Coyne F 280 514 1:07:28 Vibeke Soerensen F 281 447 1:07:32 Christian Walsh M 282 703 1:08:01 Tom Newell 0 283 673 1:09:21 Mary Coyle F35 284 670 1:09:23 Anne Mary Newell F40 285 668 1:11:05 Mike Gibbons M 286 481 1:12:15 Declan McGrath M 287 505 1:12:42 David Grealy M 288 588 1:12:52 Oisín McLoughlin Athenry AC MJ 289 581 1:12:55 Steven Morris MJ 290 644 1:13:07 Marka Gilhooley F 291 647 1:13:09 Aoife Doherty F 292 503 1:13:51 Eimear Grealy F 293 301 1:30:00 Maeve Roche Craughwell AC FW 294 326 1:30:00 Rose Hillary FW 295 327 1:30:00 Brid Hillary FW 296 329 1:30:00 Attracta Hillary FW 297 369 1:30:00 Carmel Callanan Craughwell AC FW 298 418 1:30:00 Susan McLaughlin FW 299 422 1:30:00 Karen Mitchell F 300 432 1:30:00 Paul Feighery MW 301 451 1:30:00 Gerry Leslie MW 302 452 1:30:00 Maeve Donohue FW 303 459 1:30:00 Máirín O'Ceallaigh FW 304 463 1:30:00 Lourda Carrig F 305 487 1:30:00 Bernie Doherty FW 306 488 1:30:00 Eileen Hynes FW 307 492 1:30:00 Siobhán Keane F 308 494 1:30:00 Aisling Keane F 309 495 1:30:00 Neil Lynch M 310 497 1:30:00 Treasa Keane F 311 501 1:30:00 John McNamara M 312 531 1:30:00 Bernie Quinn F35 313 550 1:30:00 Ann Higgins F 314 558 1:30:00 Maeve Noone F 315 566 1:30:00 Majella O'Bea F 316 570 1:30:00 John Donohue M 317 571 1:30:00 Margaret Donohue F 318 572 1:30:00 Mairéad Feeney F 319 573 1:30:00 Claire Dempsey F 320 574 1:30:00 J Mooney FW75 321 575 1:30:00 Margaret Scott F 322 576 1:30:00 Edel Talbot F50 323 582 1:30:00 Suzanne Morris F 324 589 1:30:00 Caroline McLoughlin F 325 591 1:30:00 Paul Feighery Jnr M 326 609 1:30:00 Patsy Trill M 327 623 1:30:00 Noreen Doherty F 328 624 1:30:00 Clare Carr F 329 633 1:30:00 Sharon Gardner F 330 634 1:30:00 Joe Killeen M 331 636 1:30:00 Marion Killeen F 332 641 1:30:00 Majella O'Dea F 333 645 1:30:00 Caroline Deehan F 334 646 1:30:00 Rosemarie Atkinson F 335 648 1:30:00 Laura Deehan F 336 667 1:30:00 Marie Callanan F45 337 669 1:30:00 Bridie Loughnane F45 338 672 1:30:00 Mary O'Brien-Timon F 339 674 1:30:00 Catherine Cahill F 340 675 1:30:00 Majella McGlynn F 341 683 1:30:00 Ann Gardiner F40 342 685 1:30:00 Teresa Cannon F 343 696 1:30:00 Chloe Gormally F 344 697 1:30:00 Majella Monaghan F 345 698 1:30:00 Nicola Rabbitte F 346 699 1:30:00 Gerard Roche M 347 318 n/a Dolores Lynch F 348 386 n/a Eithna Moran F35 349 463 n/a Lourda Carrig F 350 617 n/a Mark McCormack MJ 351 693 n/a Tom Gormally M

Don't Run Too Fast!

Published in Reports on 16th December 2005

Boats In Harbour

Well, we love 'em, our spouses, don't we, but what do you say when you are training for a marathon and you hear "Don't run too fast"! ...

I had planned to make a bid for a goodish time in Dublin this year for my first marathon but a bad chest infection in early Summer meant that I couldn't train so the time schedule fell back a little and I scoured the Internet looking for the very last European marathons for the calendar year 2005. Fortuitously, RyanAir opened a new flight to Nantes in southern Brittany and just bit further south on the coast, I saw that La Rochelle was planning one for Sunday Nov 27th, so that had to be the one. It gave me the bare 18 weeks that many consider the minimum training time needed. Dublin was four weeks earlier so I could run a slowish one there to prove to myself that I could run the distance.

My training went as planned over the 18 weeks; I had never run anything longer than a half marathon previously so whatever way you look at it, setting off on Sunday mornings in the countryside around Athenry and jogging along for 2, then 3 hours is a journey into the unknown, no matter how slowly you are going. For the longer runs, it was a lone journey because I didn't want to subject anyone to the pain of going as slowly as I fully intended to go.

Philip - A Split Personality ?
Philip - A Split Personality ?

I survived and then survived my first marathon in Dublin, aiming for anything under 4:15, and achieving 3:56. I even survived Peter Delmer telling me just a half hour before the race that I was "a f***ing eejit" to wear new racing shoes in a marathon. I had worn them on a four-miler without any ill effects but, as Peter rightly said, that is not comparable. In the event they were fine.

So then I had four more weeks of training and a dilemma: what time should I aim for? Many told me that I shouldn't expect to run faster than Dublin, it was simply too close. My pride told me that I was well capable of 3:30 and isn't there something exquisitely rotund and crisp about that number? Two weeks before La Rochelle, I ran with Seamus O'Donnell on his Sunday run and did 1:32 for what he said was a 12 miler. I hardly felt out of breath. On the other hand, Dublin had tired though not exhausted me but to go for a full 26 minutes faster seemed more than I was capable of. Caution prevailed and I settled on 3:40 as my target time.

La Rochelle is a beautiful holiday resort and fishing village about half way down the West coast of France. Picture Kinvara with hundreds of millionaire yachts, a picture-perfect harbour fronted by all the cafes and brasseries you can imagine, medieval stone street houses, and enough sexy lingerie shops to outfit Ireland for an entire decade. Come to think about it, forget Kinvara.

Ireland was under snow and ice the Saturday we left but Nantes was bitterly, bitterly cold. Fortunately, La Rochelle's positioning by the sea made it a little more temperate. The Sunday morning of the run was calm and cold, maybe 4 degrees Celsius, with a slightly wan sun that only marginally warmed by race's end. Most people except the Kenyans had extra clothing but after a hesitation I went with just singlet and shorts as overheating is usually an issue for me. More importantly I ran wearing my Maui Jim Sport sunglasses. Well France is the home of style so why fight it.

They had two separate starting locations, one for senior men, the other for women and over-50s, with the two streams due to converge at 3.5K. So those of us with a more mature vintage made our way to the second starting point, right beside the sea on the harbour. Then to the strain of Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" (I think) and a truly ear-destroying fog horn blast from a ship we began our run, skirting the curve of the harbour for the first kilometre or so, then snaking past some streets to meet with the sea again for quite a long stretch of road. You always seem to be going so slowly at the beginning of races, maybe it's the psychology of being hemmed in by so many bodies but the billows of misty breaths at least had the benefit of making it warmer.

I had two stop watches: on my right was the regular one, on my left hand a GPS, bought just a week earlier with a very handy minutes per mile pacer. I had enjoyed using it during the week but had doubts about its ability to reliably switch to new satellites so I told myself that I would wear it as a guide but use the other as my main watch. I've gotta say though that wearing the two made me feel, if not run, like a bionic man.

Still feeling a little cold, I settled among a group of French wearing club singlets, running a steady 8 to 8:05 mins a mile by my GPS. A little faster than I wanted but I felt so relaxed and comfortable that I continued with that and made a promise to take it easy on any hills. The race runners were nearly exclusively French and my first impressions were that it's taken seriously by nearly all, more so than Dublin. Most seemed to belong to clubs and to run in groups of three or more. The onlooking crowds were good for a smallish town but they don't shout and screech like the Dubliners, they clap in a polite and friendly way. I resisted the urge to bow formally and pronounce merci with my best rolling "r". After a time it occurred to me that the slightly weird cry of "At-hen-ree" was aimed at me and my spirit harkened in reply (or something to that effect).

We met up with the senior men and shuffled along in tighter groups again for a way. Despite the smallness of the town, only at the very beginning of the race and in a park was the run crowded to the point where it impeded progress. We negotiated our first hill and the low Winter sun sparkled among the bobbing and weaving heads and shoulders, mist rising from bodies in multi-coloured t-shirts as we wound our way to the crest and turned left. Our faces were intent, our breaths steady, and chat was at a minimum; the calm focus was occasionally interrupted as a runner spotted a mother or relative, ran to the pavement, embraced, gave the double kiss to the cheeks and ran on again.

5K was a reality check and I worked out my speed as 8:10 a mile, spot on. Then we came to a small park and the running path crunched inward to about 6 metres across, so we slowed a little, then passed through a tunnel under a road. The GPS watch got a bit confused there but picked up on the signal soon afterwards. By this stage the runners around me were more familiar, and without meaning to I was following three, all looking strong and running easily; they were a good reference point for me for the first half of the race and they seemed to be aiming for a steady 8 mins a mile or its metric equivalent. Faster than I had planned for but sometimes it's best to go with the flow.

By now we were well away from the tourist spots and into municipal blocks of apartments and again the contrast with the Dublin crowd was brought home. Apart from shouting encouragement to their own friends and relatives, they were more curious than riotous. However, I do them a slight injustice. All through the race I wondered at the phenomenal number of "Phillippes" running, then it dawned on me that my name was printed on my number tag. So, with hindsight, merci beaucoup, mesdames et messieurs!

By 10K we were back among the older streets, my pace was steady and I got my first encouraging wave and shout from my one and only supporter, my wife Catherine. I also noticed a tiny presence on my right-hand side, a woman who could not have been more than 4' 9", bobbing along in a not too economical style. By her t-shirt she seemed to be from the USA (though the official notice said there were only 5 Americans running), and she had a very determined look on her face. She kept with our nearby group for another half hour or so, getting noticeable cheers from the crowd.

The course is two laps of a figure of 8. I'd prefer the Dublin model of one big loop but this has the advantage of familiarity, you know when the crappy bits are coming. Like cobblestones, and tunnels, and short, sharp hills. We ran by a canal back towards the main harbour, passed close to our starting point and commenced on the second loop of the figure of 8. I found this loop harder both times for some reason; maybe it had slightly longer hills, more boring dockland scenery, and fewer people. Its direction and turns completely confused me also, at one stage we were at the very mouth of the harbour which is easily recognisable by two round medieval lookout posts on either side but I was convinced that I was looking at identical ones at the mouth of some other harbour.

We struck back and passed through an archway signifying the half-way mark: under 1:45 (allowing for the delay at the race start), equal to my PB for that distance. However, I knew I was considerably fitter than when running that time at Connemara but on the other hand I was feeling the pace a little. Small things like running over cobblestones hurt when before they had not and I dodged them by running around on occasions. I had lost all contact with familiar runners, unsure whether they had gone backwards or whether I had. I took my second dose of gel as planned, never the favourite part of my longer runs, and continued along the harbour and back out along the sea front. Another mile or two and I knew I would not be continuing at the same pace for the whole race, however, for the moment I kept it up. Then I heard an Irish voice: "How're you feelin'?". He was from County Clare and looking strong. I decided to track him and managed to do so for a mile or so, then he dropped his water bottle and ran back to get it. I never saw him again. Later I saw that 6 of us had made it over from Ireland as against 105 from the UK and dribs and drabs from other countries, a really low number of non-French nationals in a race that had slightly more than 7000 runners.

We passed the hill and through the park and tunnel again. My GPS had now completely lost contact with the satellites and I switched my glances to my other watch and my pace guide strictly to the K markers.

The sun was so low in the sky that for longish stretches we were in shadow. At every point in the race, I was glad to go back into its warmth and slightly regretted not wearing some light gloves; my hands never really warmed up. It wasn't a factor in the pace I was running at, but just one more thing to slightly annoy me. However, the 8 min pace was still on schedule, despite the greater strain and at 25K I realised that my appointment to see Catherine at 30K would not be met, I'd arrive earlier than our worked-out time of 2:40+ or so. I did, by 8 mins and realised that she would be worried and searching frantically for an aging paddy who might be lying in a gutter, having hit the wall instead of the barrel of Guinness that seems more usually to cause our countrymen to make acquaintance with street pavements.

I never did hit the wall but from about 32K onwards it was like repeatedly running a 400 metres hurdles race where you knock every hurdle and then some fool of an official puts the hurdles back up again for the next lap.

It's a curious phenomenon, the sinking inwards as the effort gets greater, the canal's attractive appearance suddenly becomes an irrelevance, the crowd receed...all that remains is the next K marker. We passed the centre of town for our last loop. By now I had decided that I was not going to finish my complement of four gels, having consumed about one and a half; in fact, I had decided that I was never, ever going to have one of those vomitty substances again. We passed close to the runners coming home and I wondered how I would feel when I was at that point. At around 22 miles I had a slice of orange and, for an instant it was the most blissful taste ever, a second later I knew I was going to retch, and then I knew I was going to stop. It all passed. Legs, arms, strides, there is nothing like rhythm.

The debris at the drink and food stations was colossal but nothing compared to the human debris. I saw a runner stretch at a weird angle and then let out a shriek that frightened the antelopes at the Berlin zoo. One runner to our rear seemed to be auditioning for a role in one of Samuel Beckett's plays of despair and hopelessness. After a minute and a half, I wondered why he didn't just stop. So did the runner in front of me and he proceeded to mention this to him sharply. There followed an exchange straight from the streets of Paris, but ultimately I wondered why they wasted their breaths.

It took an eternity but we converged on the centre of town again and the finish. But where was it? There was the start, no, straight through, there was another "blowup" archway, through there, there was a huge clock, surely this one, no, everyone kept on running. A husband in the crowd climbed a barrier to give water and encouragement to his wife and was chased by an official. But I heard him say "deux cents metres", 200 metres,and there it was at the end of a long carpet. I vaguely heard someone call my name, but I was in a tunnel...and I had seen the light! We arrived, I glanced at my time, 3: 43:31, less than my goal but not bad for my second marathon. (In the event, my chip time was a rotund if slightly uncrisp 3:43:00). I was a hell of a lot more tired than Dublin but my legs were nowhere near as sore, despite my lightweight race shoes.

A cup of tea with no milk, a hug from Catherine, and I mentally waxed lyrical with a poem from Kipling (marathons do that to you):

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And -- which is more -- you'll be a Man, my son!

Failte Ireland Connemara Marathon Places On Offer

Published in Fields of Athenry 10km on 5th December 2005

Connemarathon Start 2002

Ray O'Connor, Race Director of the hugely successful Failte Ireland Connemara Marathon races (www.connemarathon.com), has decided to award a small number of complimentary entries to the 2006 running of his events to successful runners in this year's Proactive Fields of Athenry 10K road race.

Complimentary entries will be made available to the first man and woman past the post on St.Stephen's Day in Athenry and also to the first man and woman past the post who can claim to have participated in all previous Fields of Athenry 10k races. According to our records the select band of runners who can claim to have taken part in all three previous versions of the race to date are as follows;

Women

Bernie Kelly
Siobhan Keane
Mary Mullins
Fionnuala Keane

Men

Brian Geraghty
Danny Carr
Darragh O'Brien
Finbar Flaherty
Gabriel Collins
Gerard Quinn
Kevin O'Dea
Liam Mulloy
Martin Keane
Martin McEvilly
Patrick Kelly
Roger Rushe
Tommy Joe Whyte

As the Connemara races are always heavily over-subscribed, these spots are valuable prizes and we're absolutely thrilled to be able to award them to our runners in Athenry.

Connemarathon 2006 Entries Surge Ahead

Published in Other News on 22nd November 2005

Entries for next year's Failte Ireland Connemara Marathon Races are well ahead of last years numbers even at this early stage in the build up to the races.

Paul McNamara Takes The Lead
Paul McNamara Takes The Lead

Race director Ray O'Connor said today, "We've been blown away with the level of interest from all over the world. We have triple the number of entries on hand than we did at this point last year." The Connemara Marathon, Half-Marathon and Ultra Marathon have rapidly become 'must-do' events for many runners, both from Ireland and further afield. Ray and his race team recently exhibited the race at the 'expos' which preceded both the Dublin and New York City Marathons. "The atmosphere around the stand in both venues was electric", said Ray O'Connor. "We were showing some video footage of last years race and it just seemed to rekindle all the enthusiasm people have for running in Connemara."

At this pace it seems absolutely clear that these races will fill completely early in the New Year and so the message is clear. If you want to run, enter soon.

Gary Thornton Takes Hollymount Title (Updated!!)

Published in Results on 14th November 2005

GCH Runner Gary Thornton won yesterday's Hollymount 10k International Road Race in fine style relegating many people's pre-race favourite Noel Berkely into third place in the process. This historic race celebrated it's fortieth running yesterday and the field for the senior men's race enjoyed almost perfect running conditions on the day. The scenic route for this fine event takes runners on several loops around the surrounding countryside and when all the 'looping' was done Gary found himself in the lead crossing the line. All in all it was a great day for GCH as Gary's clubmate Gerry Ryan was victorious on the roads of Clare in the St.Cronan's four mile road race.

Athenry AC was represented at the event by Gary Doherty who is on the comeback train after injury. Despite being on the path back to full fitness Gary posted a fine time just under 41 minutes. Michael McMahon flew the colours as well. Another fine run on the day was recorded by Mike Tobin from Craughwell AC who ran a pb of 37:31. Mike's clubmate Mark Davis ran 36:00.

Congratulations from all in Athenry to Gary Thornton on a fine win.

Full Result:

Posn. No. Time Name Club

1 65 31.19 Gary Thornton GCH
2 63 32.06 Martin Conroy Sligo AC A
3 28 32.22 Noel Berkley DSD
4 22 33.06 Paul Blaney North Belfast Harriers
5 32 33.21 John Byrne Mayo AC 'A'.
6 66 33.30 Ian Egan GCH
7 67 34.21 Pat Sherry GCH
8 39 34.51 Derek Croal Bohermeen AC
9 64 34.54 Ruadhri Geraghty GCH
10 83 35.07 James Horman Liverpool Harriers A
11 38 35.18 John Gill Bohermeen AC
12 68 35.24 Liam Morris GCH
13 35 35.27 John Courell Ballina (UCDAH)
14 84 35.22 James Meldrum Liverpool Harriers A
15 26 35.39 Danny Hannon (v) Sligo AC A
16 72 36.00 Mark Davis Craughwell
17 33 36.05 Hugh Duffy (v) Mayo AC 'A'.
18 51 36.30 Dominic Regan Mayo AC 'A'.
19 34 36.35 Ronnie Naylor (v) Mayo AC 'A'.
20 18 36.35 John Bolton Portarlington
21 85 36.53 Dave Yarwood Liverpool Harriers A
22 55 36.57 Paddy Murray Mayo AC 'B'.
23 86 37.18 Alan Ashton Liverpool Harriers A
24 31 37.29 Michael Clancy (v) Sligo AC A
25 78 37.30 Fergal Fitzmaurice Liverpool Harriers B
26 61 37.31 Michael Tobin Craughwell
27 71 37.36 Padraig Forde (v) CRH.
28 30 37.55 Vincent Flannery (v) Sligo AC A
29 81 37.57 Gary Park Liverpool Harriers B
30 97 38.34 Thomas Reilly Hollymount
31 23 38.38 Terry Grogan (v) CRH.
32 41 38.47 Anthony Sinnet Bohermeen AC
33 56 38.52 Owen Monaghan Mayo AC 'B'.
34 88 38.54 Patrick Riley Liverpool Harriers A
35 24 38.55 Andrew Talbot (v) CRH.
36 52 39.02 Tom Hunt Mayo AC 'B'.
37 87 39.04 Neil Chester Liverpool Harriers A
38 8 39.34 Tom Gunning (v) Mount Mellick
39 3 39.37 Danny Green (v) Hollymount
40 40 39.51 Dermot Farrelly Bohermeen AC
41 74 40.03 Martin O'Donnell (v) CRH.
42 80 40.06 Marcus Svensson Liverpool Harriers B
43 11 40.14 Michael Killeen (v) Mayo AC 'B'.
44 79 40.20 James Ricketts Liverpool Harriers B
45 16 40.25 Gary Doherty Athenry
46 10 40.30 Conor Flanagan Galway
47 59 40.32 Kieran Coleman Sligo AC B
48 48 41.10 Tom Reilly (v) Tuam AC
49 77 41.22 Padraig Collina (v) Mayo AC 'C'
50 54 41.30 Darren Clarke Mayo AC 'B'.
51 92 41.33 Barry Drust Liverpool JMU
52 9 41.56 Peter Gillespie Ballina
53 43 42.12 Oliver Ruane Moate
54 19 42.24 Terry Hayes Sligo AC B
55 70 42.27 Ian Fitzpatrick 0
56 75 42.30 Michael Tonry Sligo AC
57 25 42.30 Michael McMahon Athenry
58 20 42.36 Declan Byrne Sligo AC B
59 53 42.40 Michael McGrath Mayo AC 'B'.
60 14 42.53 Rory Brennan Tuam AC
61 12 43.00 Russell Arnold (v) Mayo AC.
62 99 43.07 Paddy Croal (v) North Leitrim
63 42 43.14 John Ruane Moate
64 37 43.16 Willie Parkes Sligo AC B
65 29 43.27 Kieran Whyte Galway
66 36 43.31 Brendan Monaghan (v) Tuam AC
67 47 44.07 Roger Rush (v) Tuam AC
68 27 44.09 John Sheehan CRH.
69 1 44.11 Pat Collins (v) Dublin
70 93 44.15 Ian Smithson Liverpool JMU
71 82 44.16 Patrick Hanley Liverpool Harriers B
72 73 44.20 PJ MacHale Balyvary
73 44 44.27 Dennis Fallon Paddock AC
74 4 44.30 Gabriel Gardiner (v) Craughwell
75 76 44.53 PJ Hall Mayo AC 'C'
76 90 45.05 Nour Altareki Liverpool JMU
77 94 45.11 Tom Nallen (v) Mayo AC 'C'
78 58 45.30 Joe Stagg Sligo AC B
79 98 46.05 John Fahey Tuam AC
80 60 46.17 Seamus Cravan (v) Craughwell
81 62 46.24 Tony Neven Craughwell
82 5 46.33 Eamonn Rodgers G.C.H.
83 15 46.42 John Joe Higgins Corofin
84 21 46.52 Noel Burke Mayo AC.
85 6 47.03 Kevin O'Dea C.R.H.
86 95 47.38 Brendan Connell Mayo AC 'C'
87 17 47.45 Diarmuid Quill Craughwell
88 89 48.08 Hugo Gongalo Forseca Relvas Liverpool JMU
89 50 48.09 Micky Ruane Mayo AC 'C'
90 13 48.18 Dave Monaghan Tuam AC
91 244 48.21 Ian Murphy Liverpool Harriers 'B'
92 91 48.22 Jos Vanrenterghem Liverpool JMU
93 242 49.38 Chris O'Connell 0
94 46 49.59 Michael Kelly (v) Tuam AC
95 100 50.19 John Mangan Tuam
96 45 50.44 PJ Syron Sheena-Crossmolina
97 69 51.06 Enda Whelan Sligo AC B

Team Results
Posn. Club Score
1 GCH 23
2 Mayo AC 'A'. 59
3 Liverpool Harriers A 68
4 Sligo AC A 69
5 Bohermeen AC 91
6 CRH. 134
7 Mayo AC 'B'. 134
8 Liverpool Harriers B 140
9 Craughwell 196

Ray O'Connor - A Year of Six Marathons

Published in Reports on 10th November 2005

You know, I haven't really written a proper race report in ages, and I'm not sure if this rambling will end up to be a long or short account of my latest marathon adventures, but here goes anyway. I'll keep this as short as possible. (I'm typing this after writing the full report to apologise for the length)

A look back first to fill you in on the background here.
I started running in April 2000 after giving up 30-40 fags a day and a stressful life. First marathon in November that year - New York in 5 hours 15 minutes! I've done a few since and the intention at the start of this year was to finally have a shot at a 3:30 having posted a PB of
3:42 in Dublin last year.

LONDON April 2005
London was the chosen destination for this endeavor but, be it the crowded streets or simply that I always fail to string 18 weeks uninterrupted training together, I ended up happy enough with a 3:48 although the now regular run/walk-walk/run-walk strategy kicked in at mile 22. I quickly reassessed my goals for the year ahead and since I had another sub 4 behind me I decided to try to do my next five marathons in 2006 under four hours each and forget PB's for the moment.
Looking at what was on the cards for the year Dublin and New York with six days apart would be the biggest challenge.

BELFAST May 2005
Two weeks after London I found myself on the starting line of the Belfast marathon on the first weekend in May. Let's skip to the important parts. No watch strategy employed and I posted a PB half marathon of something like 1:44. I say 'something like' because the guys in Belfast like to surprise us with a mile marker every now and then. I absolutely fell to bits at mile 20 and really struggled home, walking, limping and doing a kind of shuffle thing I've developed which resembles running, but it's really moving at around 12 mins per mile without looking like walking! I crossed the line in 3:56 and found out that because of a bomb scare we actually did an ultra (about one mile longer is the general consensus).

EDINBURGH June 2005
On then to Edinburgh in mid June as a bit of a club outing. Absolutely no gory details to report no watch at all, no crumble and no walking - a perfect 3:58.

LONGFORD August 2005
8 weeks later - Longford late August. I had the longest gap between marathons so far this year and felt in good shape and very confident of breaking the 4 again. Hold back strategy employed to good effect and with a lot of help from Máire Tarpey at mile 22 I easily paced a very good and consistent run and got a 3:45 for my efforts.

4 down, two to go.

The training that was working for me was the Tuesday night 10 milers, which I got to maybe half the time and the hard Wednesday night track sessions which I also probably made every other week. I would throw a couple more runs in here and there, but concentrated a lot on getting decent long runs in between marathons, and not taking any break.

So in my run up to the Dublin/New York double I was in good shape except for a niggling groin strain that wasn't slowing my training but was just there. 5 weeks out it popped! Sore knee, thigh, and hip. The Physio helped clear up the whole 'men don't understand the pain of childbirth' thing, and set me on my way to the National Marathon Championships with a slight niggle and only two training runs in 5 weeks.

Having just secured Sponsorship for the Connemarathon, we decided to exhibit at both Dublin and New York, which should put enough stress on my body to really prepare for an effort that I once described as complete madness when I heard that Mick Rice was running the Longofrd/Connemara double in Sept 2002... but then again he was/is a complete nutter. At that time the notion of someone taking on two marathons in a week seemed to be as far away as landing on the moon. In fact I didn't even know it was humanly possible, but Mick showed me that it was. Mind you, his times on those two marathons would be enough to send me happily into marathon retirement.

DUBLIN October 2005
The week went like this. Drove to Dublin on Saturday morning at 6am and basically stood all day at the stand talking, meeting, greeting, and generally being Mr nice guy to everyone. Sunday was the same and we took the stand down at 6pm and headed off on our weary way. I felt fine on the start line and having an elite number really made a difference as we avoided the rain.

Let's breeze through the Dublin marathon then. Goal sub 4 - strategies employed, take it handy and no watch - (there were clocks on the road).
Despite the distraction of being passed by about 5,000 people in the first half hour I got to 10K in 50 minutes was a nice indication that I was going steady at about 8's and by the time I hit half way point in
1:47 all was going swimmingly well. Yes we were swimming. It bucketed rain - absolutely p*ssed down. I tucked in behind an unsuspecting pacer from mile 9 to 15 and found this great as I didn't even notice the miles going by. His legs fell out of their sockets at the 15 mile mark
- he literally stopped in the middle of the road and I had to swerve to avoid a major incident, but this gave me a real boost and I started to pass out hundreds over the next few miles.

Mile 20 whizzed by in 2:47 and my calculations indicated that a pb was possible if I ran my fastest last 10K in a marathon ever. I needed something like 8:30's to get me home, but I wasn't sure... and then again, it always takes me an hour and a half to do the last 6! Just then Andrew Talbot jumped in beside me. He was spectating but was now running along with me checking my progress. I instantly perked up and started flying by literally hundreds on the road. Andrew was keeping an eye on the watch and he knew that my PB was in sight although he didn't say much. We started knocking the miles 8:20, 8:10, 8:30 (by memory) and I felt great. The first weary mile was up to the 25 mile mark but that was still under 9 minutes. Andrew paced me to about a mile to go and shouted at me to get stuck in... I almost crumbled but kept it going and amazed myself with a very comfortable 3:40 PB - I owe andrew
26.2 pints.

My assessment of this run is that I finally accept that running a marathon is hugely dependent on a good psychological approach.

NEW YORK November 2005
Flew to New York the following day and spent the week talking to yanks at the stand. All indications were that it was going to be hot, but I felt fine and relatively confident of my final sub 4. Let's cut to the chase then. Half way in about 1:54 was nice and steady, mile 20 in 3 hours (ish) and I was ok. BUT mile 23 fell on me... Psychological warfare kicked in and I lost - in fact I think it was a sky-scraper that fell on me. I went from doing really well sub 8's to an 11:35 mile and I was instantly beaten up, picked up again, thrown down and spat at by what is probably the longest 3 mile stretch of any marathon in the world. Getting from mile 21 in the Bronx to 24 at Central Park is like going from Dublin to Galway on a bad train with no toilets. It was horrendous! I had to re adjust my finish times about five times in the last two miles and when I saw that I only had 12 minutes to do the last mile I panicked and tried to run... no, shuffle again. 3:59 on the clock at the finish and 3:58 on the watch - I was in a heap. This was the toughest marathon I've run to date and boy was I sick.

I recovered enough to jog down to the finish line the following morning which is a tradition of mine - a slow 4 mile warm down after a long year with many highs, the biggest being my reward of a PB and also the reflection that I had achieved a long term goal - 6 sub 4's. Oh and I must book an appointment with a shrink!

Ray
The most experienced marathoner in the club (except Mick)
20 down 80 to go.

Ray & John O'Connor Run New York Marathon

Published in Club News on 7th November 2005

Our esteemed comrades Ray and Johnny O'Connor completed yesterday's ING New York City Marathon in fine style. Johnny lined up for this race with perhaps his best ever months of training behind him, while Ray had only run the Dublin City Marathon six day's previously.

As it turned out both Athenry runners made it home in highly respectable times. Johnny struck out initially at a cracking pace passing the 10K point in under 45 minutes. He maintained this pace past the halfway mark, which he saw with only 1:36:07 on the clock. Although the 'wheels' didn't come off in the second half of Johnny's race they must have run a bit short on oil as it took a slightly slower 2:01 for him to cover the second half of the famous New York Course. He finished with a highly commendable time of 3:37:58.

His older, if not wiser, brother Ray ran his usual well-paced race. He passed the halfway split with 1:54:43 on the clock and came home well under four hours. His eventual finish time of 3:58:49 placed him in the top 25% of runners. This was Ray's sixth marathon this year (Belfast, London, Longford, Edinburgh, Dublin, New York) and I'm sure he's now looking forward to a well-earned rest.

Craughwell AC - Juvenile Newsletter 01-Nov-2005

Published in Other News on 4th November 2005

Craughwell AC Newsletter1 November 2005 - By Michael Tobin

Connacht Cross-Country in Co. Leitrim

Ballinamore was the venue for day 1 of the Connacht cross-country on Sunday last. A bright clear sky opened the day as parents and athletes arrived at the hall in Craughwell at 9am for the bus. The day got off to a bad start with the bus arriving 10 minutes late, thankfully not an omen for the rest of the day! But the driver made amends on the journey up, reaching Ballinamore in good time for around 11.45am. Everyone alighted at the community hall in Ballinamore where race numbers, programs and more importantly toilets were available. Then a short miles walk back to the cross-country course, leaving athletes and coaches with plenty of time to prepare for the races. The course was well marked out – but very soft and marshy in places, with plenty of fresh evidence that cattle had recently departed the field! Pat Hannon and Teresa Helebert took charge of the U14s and older athletes for their tour of the course and warm-up routine, while Michael Tobin took the U12 teams. The course was heavy going – we were probably the first teams to jog/walk the course and even then, it was mucky – with clean runners and tracksuits well-coated in mud by the time we finished the warm-up lap, and a nice pattern of black dots sprayed across some of the athletes white tops. Lesson one of the day was not to wear your Sunday best to cross-country events! The U12s stuck manfully to their warm-up lap on instruction to “plough through the muck as we’re up here to win medals

Super U12 Girls The time was fast approaching 1pm now as the weather changed to dull and overcast at this point, with rain looking likely. The U12 girls were first up for their 1000m. The Craughwell team of Linda Porter, Eimear Geoghegan, Laura Porter, Orla McDaid and Orla Ryan were all fired up as 1pm neared. They knew that they faced stiff competition – with Swinford, GCH and Ballinamore having taken the top 3 team positions in Ireland in last year’s U11 cross-country. There were upwards of 50 athletes in the race as they lined up on the start line. Then they were off! And almost immediately misfortune struck the Craughwell team, with Laura taking a bad tumble in the congested start, rolling a few times and spiking team-mate Orla M as she rolled. With strong spirits and determination, both Laura and Orla recovered quickly from this bad start to slowly move up the field. Linda took up a strong position in the top 4 from the start, with Eimear and Orla R further back. Lap one and two stretched out the field and as they approached the final 100m, Linda was neck and held onto 9th place. David Farrell and Padraic Tobin ran a great race to take 15th and 16th positions. That was four of the A team in the top 16, surely good enough for medals. Then the strength and depth of the Craughwell U12s came through – with 5 athletes finishing in positions 19 to 23 (Paul Joyce, Ross Haverty, Eoin O’Connor, Jason Kennedy and Paul McGill) followed by Padraig Hannon in 29th place and Patrick Prendergast in 32nd place. This was a quality performance, with 9 athletes of the first 23 athletes being Craughwell – opening the incredible possibility of the B team also taking a medal. And sure enough when the scores were counted, Craughwell A took silver medals with a score of 42 points and Craughwell B took bronze with a score of 89 points, ahead of Ballinamore and Westport in 4th and 5th place. Another highlight of the day!

U14 Girls Take GoldNext on the agenda were the U14 girls in the 1200m, with the team coming mainly from the U13 age group. Craughwell had 9 athletes running – unfortunately only 6 can make up a team, so Noreen Murphy, Sophie Ralston and Maeve Curley ran as individuals with the team being Rachel Finnegan, Rebecca and Sarah Helebert, Laura Mitchell, Ashley McDonnell and Aoife Callanan. This team were bidding to hold onto the Connacht title for Craughwell AC, having won it each year U11, U12 and U13 so far. Over 50 runners took to the field for the 1200m distance, with Rachel Finnegan going into the leading group from an early stage in the race. The rest of the Craughwell athletes were tightly bunched further back in the field but in a strong position for the team. As the race progressed, Craughwell held their positions well and entering the final 100m, Rachel was battling it out with a GCH athlete for the leading position. As the race wound down into the final sprint, a Sligo and Westport athlete came from behind to take the top 2 positions with Rachel holding on strongly to take 3rd position, well clear of her regular rival and National 800m champion Rachel Shaw who took 13th place in what was a very strong field of runners. The Craughwell pack finished strongly down the field, with Ashley coming home in 15th place, followed by Laura in 16th, Rebecca in 18th, Aoife in 19th and Sarah in 20th. Six runners in the top twenty was a remarkable performance. Noreen finished a little further back in 27th, a promising performance for her own age group in 2 weeks time, with Sophie in 36th and Maeve in 39th, a very good performance by all 3 athletes considering the poor conditions and the high standard of the competition. When the results were announced later, Craughwell held onto their position as top girls team in this age group in Connacht with a team score of 52 points versus 58 points for GCH in 2nd place – making it 4 titles in a row in this age group. and neck at the front with Sive Brassil from Ballinasloe. The Ballinasloe runner just edged it in the end by a small margin. Eimear had made great progress at this point of the race moving up into top 10 around the 100m mark and finishing strongly in 6th place to give the team a great chance of featuring in the medals. However, our fate was in the hands of the rest of the team at this stage and strong running from Laura, Orla M and Orla R saw them finish in 15th, 18th and 30th positions. This was fantastic running – 4 runners in the top twenty, and in addition a top-class race from Orla R to finish half-way up the field (by far her best cross-country race and an indication of more to come!). Naturally we had to endure the wait until the end of all the races to know the team result – but it was worth waiting for as we finished 2nd with 41 points, just 2 behind Ballinamore and 16 ahead of All-Ireland champions Swinford.

Domination by the U12 BoysThe action continued immediately after the girls’ race with the U12 boys 1000m. Craughwell had 2 good teams in this race and the 12 boys were in form for a good run. The starter lined up the teams to go. We hadn’t told the Craughwell boys who was on the A or B teams and when the starter told them to line up behind each other, there was a bit of confusion. There was a lot of congestion at the left-hand end of the start line where the Craughwell boys were lined up. The starter moved teams up towards the right, leaving plenty of space on the left for Craughwell – over compensated in fact with the result that Craughwell had plenty of space and the best position on the start line (to the dissatisfaction of some of the other spectators).The starter struggled to get the race going, with at least 3 false starts by some overly zealous athletes before we got a clean start. Luke Cormican took an early lead, sprinting out of the blocks and taking a lead of 7 or 8 metres. It was a great start by Luke but a little too fast for the distance and this told on him later in the race – but more experience of the pace over this distance and he will be right up there with the best. David Concannon held 2nd place at this point, with Padraic Tobin, Jack Raftery and Padraic Hannon all in top 10 in the early stages of the race. As the race progressed, we fell back a little with just David remaining in the leading bunch. As the final 100m approached, the race for gold was between 3 athletes, with a Ballinamore athlete finishing strongly to take gold and David Concannon holding off the 3rd place athlete to claim silver with a fast finish. Eyes then turned tothe rest of Craughwell team. Jack had maintained a good positionU14 Boys Surprise the OppositionCraughwell’s fifth and last team to compete on the day were the boys U14 team who were tackling the 2000m. Even though they had taken a medal in the Galway competition, Craughwell would have been considered rank outsiders in this race as we never had a strong enough group of older boys to be serious contenders for medals. But the current crop of boys, comprising both U13 s and U14 s, reset everyone’s opinions with a top-class performance to take the team silver ahead of Athenry and Ballina. Very impressive considering that 3 members of the Athenry team featured in the top 8 in Ireland three years ago. David Porter ran the best race of his career to take 4th position and is improving with every race these days. He was followed in by Paul Concannon in 11th place, Micheál Hannon in 15th, Shane O’Halloran in 20th, Aidan Jennings in 22nd and Niall Rooney in 23rd. Jeffrey Simpson, running his first cross-country race, had a very creditable finish in 27th place in this age group. It augurs well for the U13 team with 4 of these 7 being U13s. Craughwell’s team score was 50 points, 8 ahead of Athenry in 3rd place and just 9 behind GCH who took the gold medals.It was down to the last 2 runners of the day for Craughwell now, with Shane Concannon contesting the U16 3000m and Sarah Finnegan competing in the U18 3500m. Shane ran very strongly in the early laps of the U16 race to stay with the leading bunch. As the race progressed, he drifted back a little but finished strongly to take 7th place overall and in the process, earn himself a place on the Connacht team for the Celtic International Cross-Country early next year. In the U18 3500m, Sarah competed strongly against top quality opposition to take 8th place overall. Well done Shane and Sarah!Overall, it was a tremendous performance by Craughwell – taking a total of 5 team medals (1 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze) and 3 individual medals (2 silver and 1 bronze). The closest any other club got to this was GCH with 3 team medals (2 gold and 1 silver) and 2 individual medals (both bronze). We look forward eagerly to the next day of the cross-country which takes place on Saturday, November 12th in Sligo Racecourse. We will have strong teams competing in the U11, U13 and U15 age groups and individuals in the older age groups. If you are travelling, please confirm as quickly as possible whether you are interested in seats on the bus. The bus will be filled on a first come/first served basis.