What a great weekend for Irish sport – Katie Taylor, the ladies hockey team qualifying for the Tokyo ’20 in the most dramatic fashion, and Maria Jones’s great solo effort in Santry Park. That said, the real sporting story of the weekend was the unveiling of the new Sportsworld Marquee.

It is oft said of great sporting teams and individuals that their opposition has already lost in their heads before taking to the field. Big Red was assembled at the entrance to the start and finish area and you could see that this shiny new architectural gem was catching the attention of the other participants; their dreams crumbling behind wide eyes.

No drought in Dublin last week as the course was replete with various water features, a stream, and marshy corners long, long before the junior races had finished. Diarmuid Gavin would’ve loved it. After jogging the route for my warm up I wondered might I need a snorkel for some parts of it. It wasn’t the worst I had witnessed. On a scale of 1 to Clarinbridge it was a 7 at worst. Still, I knew this would be an effort that would be with me for many days hence but I was optimistic as during the week I was told by a clubmate, who must remain nameless, that the course is a good bit short of the 10k and basically flat. You take all the breaks you can get.

First up to bat in the red and white was Maria Jones in the Ladies Senior 6k. There was a deep field in the ladies and Jonesy ran strongly and comfortably throughout. In the last 400m there was a surge in her group but Maria dug in and her finishing sprint down the last straight took her past her usurpers and into 12th place.

This was the first time in a number of years we had entered a mens team in this race and there were great spirits in the group as we toed the line. The race began at a ferocious pace. Our race would be 10k in length and consist of a single 1k lap followed by a half dozen 1.5k laps around the perimeter of the park, which is not hilly, but definitely not flat either.

The day itself was bright, dry, and cool. Conditions I like. I settled into a group with Conor Keating and Justin and I tried to keep my pace up as best I could. There was fabulous support around the loop from our fellow club members – it’s amazing what a shout does for your spirits.

We pushed on and picked off a few people as we went. My lack of racing and hard training over the summer this year becoming apparent to me in the last 2km of the race as I was really feeling it. I couldn’t keep up with Conor and Justin but I was happy with my effort. As I crossed the line I noticed that the course was about 200m longer than the 10k making it about 800m longer than I was led to expect from my anonymous friend. Won’t be fooled again.

Covered in mud I washed my shoes and legs down in a cold calf deep puddle before entering our tent to get changed. As we were leaving I volunteered to take the metal structure of the tent to Michael’s car for him. This turned out to be greatly heavier than I anticipated and I quickly regretted my offer. Arriving in the car park I realised I didn’t know which car was Mike’s. After much searching I spotted one with a HB ice cream flag displayed in the back window (A-ha, this has to be his!!), so I plonked it down and waited. It wasn’t. He did find me after about 15 minutes.

Maria Jones                                        25:09

Karol Kronin                                       36.09

Stephen O Donnell                          38.55

Phil Kilgannon                                    39.03

Conor McCarthy                               40.32

Sadanand McGee                             41.16

Michael Cunningham                      41.33

Conor Keating                                    41.48

Justin Mckeever                               42.18

Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin                    42.38

Brian Conway                                    45.25

Michael Lillis                                      46.03