Race Reports by Lucia Prihodova and Wesley Harrison
Photos by Gareth Murran. An amazing album of Gareth’s pictures are here: Facebook
Report by Lucia Prihodova
Last Tuesday, after the training, Emily and Myles asked if I signed up for the cross-country race happening in Phoenix park that Sunday. Never having done any cross country training, not to speak of a race before, after some hesitation I get reassured by the name of the race – novice (ignorance truly is a bliss) and next thing I know my name is on a list.
Lucia in action on Sunday
Sunday brings perfect running weather – dry, some sun, a bit of a breeze – and flocks of singleted runners and supporters to the Magazine fort. There is a good crowd in from Sportsworld and after a sweat inducing warm-up and pep talk from Emily and Myles, we line up at the start along with other over 80 runners.
For women, the 4ish k race consists of a small lap with rolling hills followed by two big ones, which have one steepish hill but then are relatively flat. The first few 100 meters and an elbow in the rib prove that these ladies mean business.
I quickly abandon the plan to take it easy for the first small lap and immediately switch to next gear as I have fallen to the back of the group. And then I get overwhelmed by the noise of cheering coming from each direction.
Every few meters you see familiar faces, hear your own or your club’s name, tips and encouragement. It’s hard to do it justice in writing but trust me, you’d have goose bumps if you weren’t too busy sweating.
My mind, like a pinball machine bounces from “what was I thinking”, “wait till I get my hands on Michael Cunningham for that encouraging love-letter to cross-country” (Click here: Michael’s Love Letter), “really need to read that Sillitoe book”, “this is actually ok” to “shhh, just focus at your running”.
And then, during the second lap the magic happens, that feeling, when you know you’re digging deep and yet enjoying every single stride. Overtaking few more runners before in the last lap and before you know it, it is over.
Just enough of a break to allow you to catch your breath as now it’s our time to cheer on the men as they glide past on their 6k loop. For me, it is also time to quietly admit to myself, that I am hooked and will be back for more.
The Women’s team was in 6th place (missing out on the 5th by 4 points) and Men’s team was in 7th (missing out on the 6th by a single point). The camaraderie of cross-country running was clearly on display at the Dublin Novice and Sportsworld had amazing performances by the women’s and men’s teams, with impressive cross country debuts for some runners! Helen & Noreen Brouder deserve a special mention having only recently joined the club they both finished in the top 10, 4th and 8th respectively!
Report by Wesley Harrison
Nursing a groin injury is never a good start to a race, let alone the XC season opener. Shared my woes with Anna on the Saturday and before I was finished complaining, she hands me the most powerful painkiller known to man. I was assured I would not be able to feel my legs, let alone the injury.
Wes in action on Sunday
We arrive on the Sunday in high spirits, pain free and basking in the sunshine (what was that you gave me Anna?) There was a real buzz about the Park. I was almost able to enjoy it, if it wasn’t for knowing what was to come. The usual pre race nerves were under control, that was until I witnessed the fantastic performance of the Sportsworld ladies. It was great to see them do so well, but it also reminded me we were here as a team. With that comes responsibility.
No time for panic. A few strides, untie and re-tie the laces for the 5 th time and before I knew it, we were hurdling forward at a rate of knots. Elbows out, shoves in the back, not giving an inch, all things I am learning about the start of a XC race. Position is all important and of course I was too far back from the off. We shuttle around a tight but short loop of the munich lap, “this can’t be a mile already surely”, of course not, as we steer down toward the forest for the real deal. 3.30m clocked on the first kilometre.
This cannot continue, can it? Wind was a factor so in between gasping for breath, I tuck in on the straight and avail of any cover on offer. The pace was frantic. No time for calmness or getting into the grove, just dig deep and try and hold on. By lap 3 the demons were out in force. “You’re injured”, “breathing too hard”..”this can’t be good for you!”. Strangely enough, slowing down wasn’t an option, it was pull up or hang on. Thankfully the sight of the unearthed tree roots in the forest put an end to the debate and keeping all bones intact became the priority.
Back around for the final lap, the ring of the bell is music to my ears. I can surely manage one more, helped no doubt by the small drop off in pace. As we turned the final bend, I muster a sprint finish, gaining a position.
A small victory, having placed well down the field. I lay on the grass looking up at the sky, listening to the bellowing of my chest. It sounds good. How quickly the pain turns to pleasure. Thoughts switch to getting properly fit.
I get off the ground and swap war stories with my compatriots. General consensus is it was tough, very tough, some say a 9 out of 10. A hint of exaggeration but so what, we’re allowed a bit of drama on the day.
A short recovery jog to Donore Harriers for some tea and cake (a big thank you for the spread, much appreciated). Rocky road has never tasted so good.
Full womens and mens results here: Dublin Athletics
Some upcoming cross country fixtures in case you feel you missed out!
October 18th Sunday – Autumn Open Cross Country (Formally The Gerry Farnan) – Phoenix Park – Womens Start 14.00 – Men Start 14.45
October 25th Sunday – Leinster Novice & Masters – Moyvalley, Co. Meath
November 1st Sunday – Dublin Senior – Tymon Park – Womens Start 14.15 – Men Start 15.00
November 8th Sunday – Leinster Intermediate – Venue TBC
November 14th Saturday – British & Irish Masters – Santry
November 22nd Sunday – Inter County Cross Country – Santry
November 29th Sunday – Dublin intermediate – Tymon Park – Womens Start 14.00 – Men Start 14.20
December 6th Sunday – National Novice – St.Augustine’s College, Dungarvan, Co.Waterford
January 10th Sunday – Dublin Masters – St Annes Park Rahney – Womens Start 13.00 – Men Start 13.30
February 14th Sunday – Intercounties – The Curragh