Ladies Report Fiona Gibbons
Hi ….for those who don’t know me, I joined the club earlier this year. Since joining, I’ve managed to do a few 5km, 5m and 10km races, have struggled through the Tuesday and Thursday training and have even made it out on the Sunday for a few long runs in the Phoenix Park and WaterWorks.
The highlight so far has to be the Sportsworld Annual Sports day (such a laugh) closely followed by the club championship on the track (a bit of healthy in-club rivalry).
I decided it was time to try something new and dip my toe into the XCountry. Enthusiastically (and knowing little of what I was getting myself in for!), I signed up for the Dublin Women’s Novice 4km run. How hard could a 4km race be….?!!
It was clear in the last week before the race, that the women’s numbers were low. We were finding it hard to make up a team. I shrugged it off, thinking that it was just the time of year (little did I really know!) .Finally with the team sorted, I could meet my goal to run XCountry! In final preparation, I spoke to my niece, Katie, whose been running XCountry for years to get some last minute tips: don’t go out too fast (no fear of that) or your legs will get very tired (dead weights come to mind) and wear spikes – check and check!
I woke up the morning of the race to a fairly pleasant autumnal morning…..the plan was to get there for around 1ish to do the necessary warm up. Needless to say, I didn’t take coach Emily’s advice and do the course the day before so my brand new spikes were getting their first dip in muck on race day. (Note to self, always follow coach Emily’s advice 😊)
Myself and Fran decided to leave the bikes at home (save the legs) and we got a lift to the venue to avoid the parking debacle. At this stage, the wind had picked up and the rain had started ( but Sportworld tent was still standing) so we all huddled inside the tent trying to keep dry and warm (see miserable faces below). As we stood there, we had somce time to contemplate our fate and wonder what the hell we were doing here – the rain got heavier and wind started to pick up to close to gale force.
We gathered at the start line.. Katie and Val up close to the front, rest of us (me, Fran, Marie, Martina) hanging at the back. My tactics were simple….try to keep Val/Fran in sight (wishful thinking). We were off! It was a strange feeling running in grass and muck and spikes. The first lap was tough, trying to get a rhythm and to somehow keep up. Val was miles ahead, not in sight (not sure if those black socks have some form of super powers). I could still see Martina …(just about).
It was TOUGH (Achill 10k was nothing in comparison), but on the 2nd lap I started to feel a bit better. I would not have made it through the 3rd lap without my fellow club mates cheering me on. Kimberly, at the dreaded hill, shouting us on and all the others (too many to name you all and I would surely forget someone)
Heading back to the tent (which was now on the ground!), we managed to muster up the energy for our post-mortem and group pic below.
As you can see, I am totally wiped but SMILING. With my first XCountry race over, yes, it was very tough. Will I be back….. time will tell… but there is satisfaction to be had certainly.
Hats off to anyone who does this on a regular basis as it is on a whole different level.
P.S. Us ladies will have to do a whip around for the men’s team to ensure they have enough singlets for their next race! (Val kindly volunteered hers, not sure the tight fit helped the circulation though)
Back with a bang would be one way to describe this one, based on the weather conditions alone. Dublin athletics described the weather as challenging, try running it…😊. We faced gale force winds, side winding rain and muddy underfoot conditions, how there wasn’t a pile up of bodies at the bottom of the hill in the 2nd field could only be described as a mini miracle.
So yes it was a day like no other, literally, cause the day before the sun was out shining it’s wonderful face, but 24hrs later the ugly cousin came to visit. Needless to say the team pulled it together and hats off to everyone, from the organisers, especially Michael, the volunteers, the supporters and all who participated in the event. It was the clubs second year hosting the races and without the dedication of the those involved it just wouldn’t have happened. Some kind folks even left us a couple of burnt out gifts overnight, but thankfully the rangers were on hand to remove them before the races began.
There were 108 runners in the men’s event which produced a sensational finish, with such theatrics as diving across the finish line, coaches remonstrating with the officials, but in the end everyone went home happy, we had a joint winner scenario, some great action pics and plenty to talk about ……who knew XC racing could be so dramatic. This year our men’s team scaled the ladder going from 11th position, last year, to achieving 6th, hurray. About 14 runners from the club raced in the men’s event, with the ladies team setting the scene before us. It was great to see so many from the club lined up at the start line staking our claim in this inaugural event of the XC season.
The starter gun went off, and so did we, tearing like hares across the field (trying to warm up at the same time). It was clumped at the start, with so many in the race, I even had to do a spot of hurdling to avoid crashing into one of the course markers (resulting in my spiking one fella behind me mid jump…..sorry about that). But soon the field dispersed, which gave us some breathing room. I had Paul and Conor for company for most of the race, with Ben and Timothy in close proximity, so I wasn’t feeling too lonely that’s for sure.
Round and round we went, four and a half times around the course, with the sharp right turn before going up the steep incline (2nd field) testing ones determination and the downward slump thereafter really testing ones balance. It was like dancing on ice (sans stars) with landing on your butt a distinct prize possibility. Thanks again to Paul, Breda, Karol, Gareth, Val, Carmel, Katie, Stephen and the many supporters who were there to keep motivating us along, it was great to see so many familiar faces cheering us along. Getting into a comfortable rhythm is definitely the way to go, but when stewarding earlier, I got to appreciate the effort everyone puts into running XC, hearing their lungs gasping for air as they run past at a frantic pace, “do I really sound like that, hmmmm”.
So the fun begins as we look forward to the XC season ahead. Muck, wind, rain and cold won’t deter us, as we look forward to the challenge and the joys of racing for the club
The results can be found at the below link