Just when you thought it was safe to go back to training without fear of being catapulted into a  cross country race, Meet and Train is back!  Meet and Train – for those who haven’t had the pleasure – is the starter drug for Cross Country.    For the serious runner it’s a great training ground in cross country. For those of us who aren’t expecting to bring back a medal haul  any time soon it’s a chance to compete at your own level, to get to know your clubmates and to be part of a team.  And when it’s all over there’s always a friendly cup of tea afterwards from the host club.

A near 30 strong contingent of Sportsworlders rumble into the car park of the National Basketball Arena on Sunday morning.  We gather round car boots, beating concreted mud off spikes and wrestling safety pins through the race numbers that Emily and Breda are handing out.   Conditions aren’t ideal; “It’s Baltic” is the general comment and a thickening mist is inducing crisis levels of frizz.  What else would have us out of bed and this sociable on a wet Sunday morning?For a good portion of the runners, this is their first XC experience, their first time to compete as part of a team and their first time to wear spikes. (On that point, there are some stylish if ultimately unhelpful ideas put forward. Thanks, Maria Waterhouse.)

These are not the spikes we are talking about, Maria, and stop giving people ideas.

Down to the field and the glamour continues. Bags hung on dripping trees, numb toes slipped into spikes, tense legs eased into a warm up lap and strides, the wet of the field instantly soaking through to our socks. (Another thing learned about spikes, no absorbent outer layers!)

And then we herd behind some ticker tape, smiles, shoulders hunched against the cold, last words of cheerful encouragement from Emily: “move up and stay with your team” and then the off. A congested but pacey start, pulling back from a full stride for the first 100 metres lest our shins are pierced by the high flying spikes ahead.   Then there’s some opening out of the field and a settling to a (hopefully) more sustainable pace.  Tymon feels like a nice course, not too uneven, grass not too long, hills short and sharp and relatively infrequent.  Nonetheless, at just 1.5kms in I’m ready for a sit down.   I gear down the pace again. Above all, I don’t want to have to stop. One small lap and two big laps is the starting instruction.  Just 3 kilometres.  One tesco lap. It should be easy.  But it’s hard work.

The hard work is eased by having clubmates Mary, Claire, Val and Anne all in the general vicinity and having Michael, Carmel, Emily and Breda shouting encouragement from the sides.  The watch clocks 3km.  It came sooner than I’d expected in the end so enough left for an unnecessary but dramatic final sprint. 

Katie Nugent, not having time to complain about the cold

We line through the finishing corral.  It’s places rather than times that count.  Then back to Tallaght AC for a warming and welcoming spread from Tallaght club and a post mortem on our experiences.  Katie has steamed home 4th with Jess, Elaine and Margaret all getting in the top 20 and putting the Sportsworld A team at the top of the leaderboard. (Woohoo!)

February 10th is the next one so keep your race numbers stuck on your singlets, pep talk your teammates, polish the spikes and get your game face on.

1Sportsworld A46
2Bros Pearse A71
3Crusaders A76
4Lucan A77
5Dunboyne A83
6Esker A136
8Trim A160
9Bros Pearse B185
10Donore A196
11Sportsworld B205
12Crusaders B218
13Waterstown Warriors A236
14Donore B248
15Tallaght A274
16Blackrock A308
17Crusaders C331
18Bros Pearse C358
19Sportsworld C397
20Dunshaughlin A432
21Bros Pearse D447
22Lucan B489
23Waterstown Warriors B520
24Sportsworld D537
4279Katie NugentSportsworld A
6280Jess KennedySportsworld A
16281Elaine KennedySportsworld A
20282Margaret CrowleySportsworld A
42286Ann SweeneySportsworld B
44149Rosie MulhearnSportsworld Individual
47284Maria BradleySportsworld A
51289Valerie PowerSportsworld B
52290Claire RowleySportsworld B
53283Siobheal WaldronSportsworld A
57148Mary ColcloughSportsworld Individual
58152Olive FogartySportsworld Individual
60287Ann HigginsSportsworld B
69151Maria FinneganSportsworld Individual
84293Bronwyn Murphy WhiteSportsworld C
90285Sandra GowranSportsworld B
96292Aileen MelodySportsworld C
103288Orla GreevesSportsworld B
106150Maria WaterhouseSportsworld Individual
107291Marie VarleySportsworld C
110295Anna CorriganSportsworld C
125298Alison MackeySportsworld D
133300Orlagh LaverySportsworld D
134299Michelle ByrneSportsworld D
145297Ann Marie ClyneSportsworld D
147294Mary MullallySportsworld C
152146Aoife LavinSportsworld Individual