Last weekend marked the start of Ireland’s Rugby World Cup and just as important the start of my 9 days away from the office on annual leave. There was talk that a typhoon threatening the Ireland v Scotland match but thankfully it had blown over to Ireland by match time and it was a great performance to start the tournament (Disclaimer: I started this race report Friday night but then decided to go to the cinema so I finished it Saturday afternoon; to keep positive – the underdog status usually suits Ireland) . With an equal enthusiasm for Cross Country as the RWC I decided to enter a pre-season open XC in Kilmacow, Co. Kilkenny and set off shortly after the aforementioned match. It was a good drive down from my family home in Tipperary as Kilmacow is very close to the Kilkenny/Waterford border and is actually much closer to Waterford city than Kilkenny city centre – there was a proposal in 2017 to re-draw the Waterford/South Kilkenny border so that Kilmacow would become part of Waterford but this was shot down as I quote ‘We don’t want our identity to be changed’. On a related subject one of my brothers has recently got engaged to a Kilkenny girl – As for their future kid’s I’ll just say that they’ll be no half and half jerseys in this family…a tug of war maybe?

Anyway during the drive down the severity of the rain made for treacherous road conditions and it had only slightly relented by the time I got there. After a quick dash to register and get my number it was back to the car for cover and thoughts of ‘”Won’t somebody please think of the children!’ – despite the conditions there was a reasonable turnout for the juvenile (U8 up) and senior races;. probably bigger crowd than for the Kilkenny team homecoming if some people are to be believed.

I eventually talked myself into doing a short warm up, in the improving conditions, and shortly before my race the rain stopped which almost made me feel a bit guilty given what the children had to run in. There was about 35 in the senior’s men’s race made up mostly of Waterford and Kilkenny and  athletes plus a few Tipp men including myself. Our 7000m race consisted of 2 small laps and 6 big laps.  I was in a solid mid pack group for most of the race and I ran a consistent pace and ran 27:38 for 7.27km according to Strava which I was happy enough with – a useful exercise to see where I’m at before the start of the championship races. The ground wasn’t actually too bad after all the rain. I was relying on the local club to get a few more photos but their facebook page said the camera was drowned by the time our race came.

Doing that race meant that I could take a more relaxed attitude to my trip to Geneva, Switzerland the next day – I didn’t think I would get much running done especially since the weather was supposed to be bad. However this forecast was as accurate as the Irish paper’s predictions for Ire v Japan so we were lucky that we had nice weather for our 3 day visit. The Hotel was just down the road from the southerly tip of Lake Geneva. I went for a long run on the path along the lake – not quite the full 72km circumference of the Lake but long enough to get to the Swiss countryside which explained why I saw a few tractors in the city centre.

Another day we took the train up the mountains to Montana (around 5,000 ft above sea level) and played golf at Crans sur sierra golf course which hosted the Swiss Open a few weeks ago – The views were amazing and apparently the golf ball goes 10% at this altitude – which doesn’t make much of a difference if you’re not very good.  I did get a short run in as well but didn’t particularly feel the air being thinner or the run being relatively harder but I suppose it would be more of a factor in longer/more intense runs.

We were flew back to Dublin on Thursday and we ended up seeing Damien Duff, Robbie Keane, Keith Andrews and some of their colleagues at Geneva airport. I think they were (on a group bonding session) doing some research ahead of the Ireland v Switzerland game in Geneva on the 15th October. I’ve attached the great photo of the four retired Irish soccer legends – my epic soccer career consisted of lining out for St. Kevin’s (Tipperary) underage, UCC J3’s and St. Kevin’s Senior B team. In terms of legend status I’m still clinging onto my performance the one time in my career where I was team captain. I remember the day if it was yesterday – It was the night of Tuesday 8th April 2003: Real Madrid beat Manchester United 3-1 in the champions league quarter final first leg but in Tipperary a performance was being given (almost) as legendary as the real ronaldo’s hat trick in the second league of that tie at Old Trafford. Actually I was having a subdued game in central midfield and we were 1-0 down half way the second half. We get a corner, the ball breaks to me on the edge of the box and I hit a sweatly executed first time volley (take a random swing at it) and it nearly bursts the back of the net. I really grow into the game after that and we dominate and are unluckly not to win the game with it finishing 1-1. Unfortunately this was before the day of smartphones so you’ll have to take my word for it when I say it would have definitely made this video if it was caught on camera. Anyway years and years of mediocrity later I retired from soccer in 2014 to join Sportsworld. I won’t causing any stirs this cross country season but am looking to make progress in terms of time/position relative to last year. They are good days with the club and you have the extra incentive to run as part of a team. I once turned up for an away match with UCC and they were cutting the grass on the pitch shortly before kick-off.  Thankfully I haven’t seen that in at a cross country race and hopefully I experienced the worst of the XC conditions at the race last Sunday which should set me up for a solid and rewarding season ahead.