Report by Conor Kenny

Race photos by Roman Mraz. See his full Flickr Gallery here:

‘Flying Puppies & Fairy Cakes’‘Flying Puppies & Fairy Cakes’

When it’s dark, damp and cold in deepest winter we dream of sunny summer evenings and just hanging out.

Deer hunter and race reporter Conor Kenny

When the summer sun comes, amazing how the devil in our head tries so hard to seduce us into … “Relax! Take it easy. No need to run tonight. You’re tired, you deserve a break. Chill out….Trust me”

The Angel fights back – hard. “Feeling guilty? ‘Chill Out’? Didn’t you chill out yesterday? And the day before? ‘Chill out? You serious? Get your ass out – now. Who are you kidding? If you don’t believe me, text Emily, text Myles. Tell them you’re going to ‘Chill out”

The Angel wins.

The annual BHAA 5K Trail Race in the Phoenix Park is about 5 years old. Historically, the sun doesn’t shine and it is already famous for ferocious torrential downpours.

This year, The Sun Gods smiled. A gorgeous evening touched 20 degrees. The Phoenix Park was a playground to every known outdoor contraption and ageless people mingled happily.

Our playground was a long 2.5K lap familiar to Sunday 10 mile runners. A loop that looks innocent enough until the second time around. Hills, bumps, pulls and more emerged but still, it was a fair ‘cross country’ lap.

Walking out of the sunshine came a little bunch of Sportsworld runners – Val Power, Ray Carpenter, Brian Conroy, Carmel Dolan, Maria Finnegan and yours truly. A relaxed chat quickly turned into a mad dash. We were off. Off into that brutal first half mile when your pace is wrong, your breathing is more like choking and elbows seem determined to floor you. A bend and single file trail brings some relief. You settle. Around half way, you even get a tiny bit “Hey, this is okay, I’m cruising” but you are doing it long enough to know the sting in the tail is imminent. It comes.

What seemed reasonably okay first time around is like the Great Wall of China second time out. Little rises grow into hills and short straights are mysteriously lengthened.

You’ve long since given up on a PB, the heat is biting. The person you just passed is now passing you. You don’t care, this is survival. The devil is back “Pull out – over there, easy. Pretend you got injured!” The Angel reminds you not to – “Where’s your pride?”

Somehow, you run through the pain and, in this case, the treacle like long fresh cut grass. Without the slightest hint of elegance (or concern) we made our way across the imaginary finish line and – inelegantly – into the nearest oxygen tent. The pain recedes and, strangely enough, the memory of torture – “Ah ‘twas grand, I found it easy enough” said a well-seasoned runner who looked like he was well seasoned!

It was such a nice evening nobody bothered to change. Cups of tea, fairy cakes and water were too attractive. In no time, we gathered on the pitch outside and staked our little camp. Everyone gave their tuppence worth on the race, the course and their view. It was a ‘Happy Days’ kind of night. We relaxed more and the upright bodies soon slumped along with the sinking sun. Our circle, chat and mood were simply perfect and then ….

For those of us who have had the pleasure of Val Powers’ company over the years, we know how much she loves dogs and especially Golden Retrievers.

Carmel was propping herself up with one hand and nursing a fairy cake with the other. Without warning, a high jumping flying Labrador pup landed perfectly in the middle of our tribal circle. In one move this little beauty landed, spun, smiled and grabbed the fairy cake. It was pure art. After that, she lay on her back inviting all of us to tickle her as if to say “Feck your race, how impressed are ye with that little move? Seriously impressive, eh?”

This show stealing Pup just about summed up a perfect night in the park. I’m not so sure we will remember the race. I am sure we will remember the flying pup and stolen fairy cake. Then again, isn’t that how it should be?

For the record the gun times were;

–        Brian Conway 21:23
–        Ray Carpenter 23:06
–        Conor Kenny 23:54
–        Val Power 24:24
–        Maria Finnegan 25:23
–        Carmel Dolan 27:02