The Dublin Graded meetings are track races organised by Dublin Athletics over all distances and participants are graded according to ability with A the top standard. B and C can sometimes be a mixed bag with a mixture of newer athletes and more experienced athletes taking place in same. However, there are people of all abilities taking part and the races are generally very well organised and you will always have someone who is close to your standard. My advice to anyone trying the track for the first time would be to select C or D as you will be able to find your feet but still have a good challenge and plenty of competition.
I am a big fan of the series mainly because all your other running will improve because of it. The races might sound short (for example at 800m or 1500m) but you will learn more in one race than you might over several months. You might discover the track is not for you and that is ok or you might discover that you are too conservative or that you have a speedy finish and how to use this to your advantage. You learn how to push through when the race starts to feel difficult and how to deal with wind or with ‘traffic’ on the track from other competitors. You learn how to run more ‘by feel’ and to forget the watch.
It is a great focus over the summer and really compliments your training. It certainly keeps me motivated and I try to organise my training weeks and other races around it.
The race entry fee is €10 and for that you have access to a top quality track and it allows you enter as many races as you like on the day. At a typical meet, there might be a 100m, 200m or 400m, then a 800m or 1500m and then one longer distance such as 3000m or 5000m. There really is something for everyone. The races are on a Wednesday evening so they don’t dig into your weekend plans.
After 5 months of slogging it out around cross country fields, it really is a novelty coming home with clean spikes and gear. The weather always seems to play ball and a sunny evening down at the track is really enjoyable. There is now always a refreshments truck pulled in too to serve you up a well deserved cuppa after your race.
The graded meets are generally in Tallaght or Santry and possibly the last one will be in Lucan. There is a really friendly, relaxed atmosphere and everyone is made to feel welcome. I would suggest you mention to whoever is in your running group at training and see if they will join you. If they do not, then sign yourself up. You will benefit greatly and also enjoy a great evening of racing. Of course, if this is your first ever track race then regardless of the outcome you will have a big new shiny personal best!!!
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