Report by Conor Keating, photos by Peter Knaggs

With all the storms we are having at the moment I reckon that The Great Outdoors’ sales are doing well but I think a lot of people are thinking the opposite in general – treadmill (aka deadmill) runs have become more frequent on Strava even amongst hardcore runners.

For me and a few other Sportsworld runners, we found the great indoors in the fabulous National Indoor arena in Abbotstown competing in the National Indoor Arena (NIA) Live meetings, during the last few months, and the Leinster Indoor Championships last Saturday.

NIA Live, is a 6 meet series, running from November to February and encompasses all indoor distances from 60 to 3000m. The races are also a good opportunity to do speed work, in spikes, for the last few XC races of the season – saying that when I did the 3000m at NIA live in January 2018 probably did help me that much for that XC ‘race that people still talk about’ in Clarinbridge 2 weeks later.

Back to 2020 I competed in 3000m in NIA Live, on 27th January, and I was happy with my time of 10mins 10 secs – 27 seconds faster than my time in January 2018 and 11 seconds faster than my outdoor 3000m PB. You’re never 100% sure what the standard of the race will be in NIA Live but I was fortunate that there were a few people just ahead of me that night which pushed me onto a good time.

With that confidence boaster, and on the premise that the best athletes in the country will be saving themselves for the National Championships the week after, I decided to enter the Leinster Indoor Championship 3000m.

A quick look at the entry list debunked my aforementioned assumption as of the 7 senior athletes entered, 2 were also down to do the National Indoor 3000m the following weekend. There were 34 entries into the 3000m (between junior/senior/masters) and not many had their PB next to their name but of the ones that did most were a bit intimating ‘ A junior with a PB of 8.22…must be a typo…quick Google that is correct. The timetable said that all men, competing in the 3000m, were going to be in the same race but I thought that that would be unlikely as 30 plus on a 200m track seemd a bit too much – so I wasn’t sure, up to race day, if the senior race was going to be grouped with the juniors or the masters. Marting, Nevan, Elaine and Peter were also entered in the Championships. I considered asking Martin for a lift but his first race (1500m) was scheduled for 11:30pm while my race was 3:30 so it was a bit early for me. Martin ran a great race to pick up a silver medal, being his first medal of the day… Peter was also in the same race and ran a fantastic 5.10 to pick up the bronze medal. Peter told me that he only started doing Indoor races this year and he shown great progress over the races – running 5.49 for the mile in NIA Live on 11th February, 5.41 for the mile in NIA Live on 18th February and then another improvement in the Leinster Indoors – well done to Peter and a fully deserved medal!

Also earlier in the day Nevan ran a great PB of 9.07 for the 60m.

Having got the bus I arrived just before 2pm and literally one of the first things I saw was Elaine lining up on the blocks for the 200m sprints where she ran an impressive 29.03. Elaine now holds both the outdoor and indoor club record for the 200m.

Just past 4pm it was Martin’s second race/medal of the day, and he went one better picking up a Gold Medal in the 800m! Also doubling up was Nevan who ran a solid 30 secs for the 200m. 

Shortly after it was my turn and the 6 senior athletes were grouped in the same race as the 10 young whipper snappers. I was just looking to run my own race and try to improve on my time of a few weeks ago. The pace was fast, and I tried not to get sucked into it too much and just try to run a consistent pace based on my ability. I reached 1200m in 3.55 (It was 4 mins exactly when I set my PB a few weeks before) so I knew if I kept it together I could set a new PB. Thankfully there was a few people around me, and on the same lap, who I could work with and I just about held it together to finish in 10.06 – 5th out of 6 in the senior category and 13th out of 16 in the race overall. I did get lapped 3 times, by the 3 standout people in the race, but was happy to hold my own otherwise and pass a few people in the last few laps which indicated I paced it fairly well.

The final Sportsworld competitor of the day was Elaine in the 400m, roughly about 3 hrs after her 200m. Arguably the best was saved till last as Elaine flew 2 laps of the track to take gold in 64 secs.

A great day out with my clubmates and well done to Martin, Peter and Elaine on taking home some bling.

Thanks to Martin, as well, for staying around to give me and Elaine a lift home.

The next day I was in Phoenix Park for the Sunday Long Run, and everyone who was there will concur that it was a case of slipping/sliding and trying your best not to fall over.

Hopefully the weather will improve as spring comes and I am looking forward to the outdoor graded season starting at the end of April. The races are every second Wednesday night and I hope to improve on my times from previous years. The races are really well organised and there is an A,B,C and D grade races. With club track training starting at the end of next month it’s also a chance to translate that training into a race (and get some sneaky practice in for the club track championship). Not to long till spring/summer now I promise.