Ladies report by Lisa Madden

As the Leinster Intermediate Cross Country came upon us, I was a bundle of nerves! Still remembering the pain of the last XC race I ran at Tymon Park, picking up my first injury and hobbling around for the following week, I can’t say I was looking forward to this one, at all! This was my third cross country race and I think I only get more nervous each time. Poor Ronan & Padraig tried to calm me down on the way to Gowran but, despite their best efforts, I still felt panicky & apprehensive as we pulled into the car park.

Everyone I met seemed as calm as can be so either they’re better at hiding it then I am or they need to teach me their ways!! We were just in time for the masters’ race and as it kicked off, we cheered on from the side-lines. Both the ladies & men ran amazing races and both picked up team & county gold! Huge congrats to Noreen & Karol as well for winning individual silver & bronze and well done to Eileen & Ray who both got bronze in their age category.

A quick warm up & a few strides later and we were at the start line. The first line was already full so we squeezed in behind. My pre- race jitters were in full swing and I was already looking forward to being finished! The 4km course consisted of 2 laps. After starting too fast in my last XC race and struggling (a lot) for all of it, I vowed to learn my lesson and not to get carried away this time. The front runner went off hard, and seemed miles ahead, so the rest of us settled in behind. After the initial mad dash, we settled into our stride. The course was generally okay; a little wet, mucky and soft under foot in places, but apparently that’s the norm at these things! There were a few more bends in the course than I anticipated and, as Miles kindly reprimanded me at the end, I went too wide on a couple of these! I think my over cautiousness probably stemmed from falling a few months before hand at Phoenix Park during my first XC race (and taking someone else out with me).

The first lap was okay and I felt relatively comfortable, tucking in with a little group, behind the leading three runners. As we neared the end of the first lap, somehow or another, I realised I was in & around third place. It genuinely hadn’t occurred to me before this that I was in with any chance at all of placing in the top three, so I was as surprised as anyone! From here on in, the whole race was a bit of a blur for me to be honest. The second lap was harder, a lot harder, and it was mind over matter towards the end to keep on going. The support was incredible and I honestly don’t think I would have kept on going without the cheers, screams & roars of support from the side lines. I think I was around 600m out when I realised I was leading. With the end in sight and hearing the enthusiastic screams of Emily, Miles and everyone else from Sportsworld, I pushed on through the pain that was threatening to take over at this point. I knew the next girl was right behind me because I could hear her club mates screaming ‘She’s only a few yards ahead of you, you can catch her!’ This made me all the more determined to win and the feeling of elation as I crossed the finish line (a mere second in front of her) overrode all of the pain I felt. The sense of camaraderie that comes from running in a team is the best thing about cross country; everyone is in it together, cheering each other on. The rest of the girls all ran superbly and we just missed out on a bronze team medal.

On this note also, thank you to Ruth for holding me up & looking after me after I crossed the finish line! I think anyone who saw me at the end would agree that I looked like I was in danger of passing out! (Padraig later told me he was looking around for the paramedics.) Thankfully, 10 minutes later I was all recovered (the dizziness and wooziness had passed) and we set off to cheer on the men’s intermediate race. I really can’t imagine running an extra lap, not to mind 2, so well done to them for that alone!! They all ran great, starting & finishing strong and narrowly missed out on team bronze.

Before I sign off, I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone for all of the amazing support throughout the race and especially at the end; it gave me the much needed push I needed to finish.

Finally, any tips or magical solutions on how to overcome the nerves before the next cross country race would be much appreciated!

Mens report by Conor McCarthy

There must have been no such thing as Cross Country running in 1789 because if there were, Benjamin Franklin surely would have added “and acute suffering during cross country running” to his famous “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes” quote!
Fed, watered and caffeinated at the nearby Apple Green, we arrived at the Gowran venue just after noon. There was a quiet sense of anticipation about what the club could achieve today, especially from Myles who had the glint in the eye! Sportsworld has enjoyed many a success in Gowran and today was no different. The Masters men’s team ran very well the week before in Raheny, winning team silver and placing two in the top ten individually, so it was plain for all to see that the club now possess the requisite strength in depth to compete for Gold. 

The exact same applies to the women’s masters team as well, who got the day’s proceedings off to a flyer, led by Noreen Brouder, who for the second successive week, finished in second place individually, helping Sportsworld to win the team Gold in the process.  Well done to Noreen and also to Catherine Bambrick and Ruth Kelly, who made up the team.
The Masters men’s race was very competitive and all our lads put in serious performances to take the team Gold, spear-headed by Karol Cronin, who competed in a sprint finish with Portlaoise AC’s Tom Lupton for second and third place, respectively. Karol, Gareth, Andrew and Phil have all been in fine form of late and it was great to see them go one better this week. Two top six finishers is fantastic hurling by the lads.
Then, during our warm up, we witnessed Lisa Madden win Gold in the Ladies Intermedate race to add more silverware to the day’s collection. So, no pressure boys!! 

The Gods were kind to us weather-wise; memories/nightmares still linger like a bad smell from The Battle of Clarinbridge last year where it lashed out of the heavens all week and we had the privilege of taking to the mud after about 58 (slight exaggeration) races took place before ours. To my delight, there was no repeat situation today! The conditions in South Kilkenny were mild, which was a help to us in our 8K race.
Given the expectation of hardship and as cross country courses go, today’s assignment of five miles was challenging without being overly tough. There were 4 x 2 km laps spanning two separate fields to get stuck. We all took on the steep incline in the back field pretty well and mentally, it was a huge lift to get up and over it on that last lap, before making the final dash to the finish line. At a personal level, I am still searching for full race fitness and found the race a great test of endurance and strength. Out a field of 42 runners, we fell just short of landing third place, which was disappointing. Stephen O’Donnell was the first man home on the team in 19th place. Rathfarnam AC’s Mitchell Byrne won the race at a canter, running masterfully. Cool downs, cups of tea and post mortems completed, we headed back to the Capital after what was collectively a great day of racing for the club. Roll on the Nationals.

Masters Men’s Results: Karol Cronin 20:06 Gareth Murran 20:35 Andrew Brett 21:04 Phil Kilgannon 21:22 Bruce Campbell 22:02 Kevin Curran 22:19 Michael Cunningham 22:35 Johnny Dwyer 24:25 Ed McEntee 24:26 Joe Byrne 24:35 Liam Lenehan 24:44 Anthony Gillen 25:04 Brian Conway 25:19 Declan Brady 25:33 Mark Heffernan 25:34 Jose Chapa 25:38 Noel Tobin 25:41 Jim Browne 25:58 Padraic Moran 26:23 Peter Knaggs 26:44 Ray Carpenter 28:26
Intermediate Men’s Results: Stephen O’Donnell 29:12 Conor McCarthy 29:26 Mark Hogan 29:52 Ronan Masterson 31:19 Conor Keating 31:52 David Kennedy 33:29 Padraig Looby 33:52