Race reports by Breda and Jim Browne
Race reporters Breda & Jim Browne
Report by Breda Browne
On Sunday 10/01/16 the Dublin masters CC was held on a beautiful clear day in St Anne’s Park Rahney. The weather was great for cross-country running – no wind or rain, clear and bright, not too cold but the rain of the previous few weeks meant that the course was to say the least challenging.
More than at any other race, there is always a great atmosphere at masters cross country. Never more so than at this year’s race where 151 (largest entry ever) brave women lined up to take on the sodden 3000m course with everyone friendly, encouraging, good-humoured and respectful to all. Many of the athletes know and have raced against each other for several years which added to the camaraderie at the start or the race.
There was however, little evidence of that good-humour in the Browne household on Sunday morning as Jim and I simultaneously succumbed to pre-race nervous narkiness. Sliding straight in at number 3 on my “how to have a happy marriage” list (after (1) It is never JUST a rugby match and (2) don’t criticise the in-laws) is to completely avoid your partner for at least 2 hours before a cross country race in which you are both competing.
The race was run over a 2 lap T-shaped course half of which was on grass (a mucky mess) and half through the woods where the ground was firm. This provided great relief when you came off the muck onto the firm ground –the opposite being the case when coming back onto the grass from the woods.
Due to the slippy conditions there were several fallers in the women’s race (including Ruth, Sandra and I) , particularly at the start as everyone jostled for position. Ruth was treated by the paramedics for a nasty cut on her knee post-race. The fall however did not seem to affect her excellent run as she was 1st Sportsworld person home in 5th position (1st in her age category), followed by Mary Finn in 9th place. Lucy Darcy in 10th place (3rd in her age category) is getting back to really good form and Stephanie Bergin in 24th position meant that the Sportsworld team took the gold team medal followed by Donore harriers in 2nd and Civil service 3rd.
The other Sportsworld finishers were… 32 Anna Delaney , 72 Ann Higgins, 85 Eileen Rowland, 90 Breda Browne, 91 Sandra Gowran, 94 Aileen Melody and 144 Audrey O Driscoll.
Due to injury, it has been a few years since I lined up for a championship race and I was delighted to be back competing on a Sportsworld team. It was great to have so many (11) sportsworld singlets on the start line and despite the frozen wet feet, muck everywhere and burning lungs etc, as always the high at the end of the race (and for hours afterwards) makes me want to do it all again in 2 weeks at the all-Ireland masters in Dundalk.
Thanks to Emily and Myles for their never ending encouragement and support and for all the sportsworld members who came to St Anne’s park to cheer us on. Also thanks to the men’s team who shouted encouragement whilst warming up for their own race.
Report by Jim Browne
Whilst many club runners endure rather than enjoy cross country season, I must admit I love it and the Dublin Master’s on the 2nd Sunday of January in St Anne’s Park in Raheny is probably my favourite.
On arrival at the Park, it became obvious that today was going to be a bit different. The normal course had been changed due to the waterlogging /flooding etc. It was a 4 lap, flat course around the playing fields with about half of the lap taking us into a wooded area. It was a sign of things to come that most of the runners didn’t run the full lap as part of their warm up, favouring instead to keep their feet dry.
Whilst the number of Sportsworld men competing was down from last year, we still had an excellent turnout with some heavy hitters like Kilgannon, O’Connell etc giving us an outside chance of a team medal. Making his debut at Master’s level was Club Captain Paul Duffy (you know you’re getting old when baby faced Duffy is a Master) and it was great to see our captain back in the Red & White of Sportsworld.
My pre-race plan (and general New Year’s resolution) was to go out conservatively and sit in behind some of those guys that usually go flying by me half way/three quarters of the way through the race In fairness that is my plan for every race but something happens to my brain after the start of a cross country race and it becomes ‘Dougal like’ as I fly off at an unsustainable pace.
These cross countries races follow a routine for me and so does the self-talk:
First 1,000 m – I’m flying here
Second 1,000m – Of course you’re going to be tired, but you’re having the race of your life.
Third 1,000m – Shit I have gone out too fast.
Fourth 1,000m – I hate cross country
Fifth 1,000m – I can’t believe he even passed me. (‘He’ is usually a runner I consider vastly inferior to my good self).
Last 1,000m – I’m going backward now and hyperventilating, so the finish line must be near.
Anyway enough of the ‘Old Jim’ and it was off to the start line with my new race plan and Emily’s advice to run through and not around the mud. Glancing around the start line it quickly became obvious to me that not many of these lads had over indulged during the Christmas festivities and the race was going to be as competitive as ever.
The race started at a ferocious pace as 201 under fed looking men made a frantic dash for position. The first 200m was just all mud and elbows and then after a very sharp left the race settled down and the underfoot conditions for the next 400m actually weren’t too bad . We then took a sharp right and boy were we in for a surprise .It’s amazing what 150 Master Women can do to a field.
It was a total quagmire and wouldn’t have been out of place in the Ploughing Championships. 300m or so later we were out of the quagmire and into a wooded area which offered excellent underfoot conditions. This was pure heaven as the legs recovered and the pace picked up significantly. Once we left the woods we were back into about 200m of very soggy grass and starting the second lap.
The self-talk was going well ‘’slow down Dougal you have three laps to go’’ and I was following Emily’s advice and running through rather than around mud. The underfoot conditions worsened after each lap but as the bell went for the last lap I was feeling tired but in reasonable shape (maybe this not going out ‘like a bat out of hell’ routine works). The last lap was sapping and half way through it phase 4/5/6 of my old self came back with a bang and I really began to struggle. (Ah well Rome wasn’t built in a day) Now it was time just to keep the head down, work hard and get to finish.
Oh the feel of finishing a hard masters cross country race – relief, burning sensation in chest and the camaraderie of your fellow competitors and those lovely endorphins.
Then it was time for a quick wash in the newly formed ponds, the exchange of the war stories and off to Raheny GAA clubhouse for a cup of tea and the results announcement.
All our men ran very well and whilst we got no individual medals, the team finished fourth which is a significant achievement was bearing in mind the quality of the teams. Hopefully we can go one further next year and secure a team medal and maybe one or two individual medals.
Finally hats off to both the Women’s over 35 team and over 50 team, both were outstanding, with the Over 35 women winning Gold and individual medals.
As always thanks to Myles and Emily for their advice and support and indeed the other club members who were dotted around the course.