This time last year a man who has sadly departed these shores Packie (the only person with his own name on his singlet) was commissioned to write a short report on the graded track and field events that happen over the summer, and answer any common questions that people might have about them. He may have thought he was getting paid by the word, but the final result is a very complete explaination of these events. The next graded event is this wednesday 2nd of June in Irishtown, with a 800m and 3KM track races.
Dublin Athletic County Board Graded T&F Meets.
This presents a unique opportunity for club runners young and old with only a passing interest in the sport to test themselves against other club members of their own ability from around Ireland, but predominantly from Dublin clubs.
Who can compete?
Absolutely anyone of any age, race, colour or religion with any interest in athletics can compete.
Is there an entry fee?
The Dublin Athletic County Board has to live on something so yes there is an entry fee. You can pay separately on the night for one night (I think €10) where you get a temporary number. Better still you can register for the series at a reduced rate per evening (I think €60), hereby getting one number which you must bring with you to each subsequent evening.
Are there medals/cash prizes?
With the exception of the Dublin County Championship (Sat June 20th), these are non – competitive events. All you will gain is valuable experience. And a time/distance/height that is universally accepted and comparable to an athlete in Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong or Denmark. You can’t make such assertions with road or cross country events as the distances are approximate and terrains differ.
However there are ‘Development’ races incorporated into some evenings. These are designed to improve the standard of Irish athletics and there are cash prizes for these.
Who will I be pitted against?
You will be against competitors at your level as each event is ‘graded’. Grades range from grade A to grade D. Yes grade A or development races can contain some of Ireland’s greatest current competitors, but the other grades certainly do not. Grade D typically contains Master (over 40) athletes.
Each grade has an approximate standard allocated to it for each event. For example senior mens 3000m – 9:00.00 is the grade A standard (72s all the way around). If you feel that you are this fit, then this is your race. Otherwise you can go into grade B (which maybe 10 mins or whatever), or the next grade down (which could be 11 mins). This prevents any mismatches.
You’ll know from your sessions or road races what shape you’re in. Provided you are in the correct race based on these guidelines, you won’t be out of your dept. It is important that you’re in the correct race. Too high a grade and you’ll get isolated and be racing against the clock (which you could do in training on your own). Too low a grade and you’ll win too easily, gain nothing from the evening; and this is disrespectful to your fellow competitors in that race. If you’re in the correct grade, you will perform to the best of your current ability.
What sort of events have they?
On each evening there are typically 3 track events and 3 field ones. Not all of the 19 T&F events are catered for time reasons, there’s only so much that you can get done in 2 hours. So no decathlon! Hurdles or steeplechase events are rarely laid out either. Remember the organisers are amateur people like you or I who work a day job and are giving up their free time (just like BHAA); and while some may come across as being rude and short tempered they’re grand if you comply with them.
For track there is one sprint, middle distance and long distance event each evening, in that order and with 4 grades in each for both sexes. For field there are generally one or two jump/vaults and one or two throwing events per evening.
Where & when?
There are 8 meets in total, typically every 2 wks. The fixtures are listed below. There is also the Dublin County Championship (held on a separate Saturday evening), so 9 meets really. Each meet is held of a Wednesday evening from 19.00 to 21.00 at 2 different venues alternating between Morton Stadium, Santry; and Irishtown Stadium, Ringsend.
Morton Stadium is on the way out to the airport, so the 16A, 33s, 746 or any of the Swords or Rush busses (41s) will do from the city centre or southside. Irishtown is a bit trickier to find as it’s hidden off the main Ringsend – Sandymout Rd, but it’s 800m from Ringsend Dublin Bus terminus where the 77, 50 and 56A end (most busses end there); but the 2 and 3 leave you outside.
Mainly for 2 reasons – experience and personal pride. You can learn more on one evening than you ever would watching the Olympics. Especially if you enter a few events on the one evening, this is advisable. If you try many events you may get to discover your niche. While we are a distance running club mainly for road and cross country events (so are most of Irelands clubs), this may not be everyone’s forte for a number of reasons. For example, Paul Hession joined Athenry AC as a teenager and often wondered why he languished at the back of the field of over 150 at the Connaught Underage Cross Country Championships. Now he is certainly in the top 8 200m runners in Europe; black, white or whatever race. Upon finding an event that you like, you can see if can you improve on it year after year.
No one can ever take a performance away from you and you’ll always have that to be proud of. Some of the events for the Dublin County Championship are poorly attended, so the chances of winning a medal can be quite high.
How will I get on?
Do not get intimidated about the surface or the atmosphere surrounding a track or field event. While we at Sportsworld don’t have the luxury that other clubs have in owning our own track/stadium, we train just as hard and are as good as any other club when it comes to distance running.
How are the running events timed?
There is no human error involved in the timing of track events. As soon as the gun goes off, this is linked by a cable to the timer (so no need to manually start the clock). As soon as your torso crosses the laser beam at the finish line, this is your finish time. Photo finish facilities are also provided.
You might ask how can we compete against people who train on the track all the time, when we train in a park or on roads. Well that’ll change for the summer. Because instead of cross country practice at Phoenix on a Saturday morning; for the summer’s Saturday mornings we practice on a track. It’s usually 9 or 9.30am at Irishtown stadium, we warm up in the park beside it. The idea of these sessions is not about hammering or racing your own club mates. It’s more about staying within yourself, control, and familiarising yourself with the atmosphere, layout and markings of a track. We have to start and finish early to allow other clubs to use the facility at 11am.
The message is to get involved. You are good enough!
Since this is an AAI club event you are expected to wear your club singlet.