Gavin Finlay decided to enter a men’s team for the National Cross Country Championships on Sunday March 2nd, that’s what we told ourselves in Damians packed car as we headed, in the rain, down the M1. There were some interesting conversations in the car which I can’t go into but it eventually ended up on the subject of the 12km cross country on ground which we all knew was going to be bad.
We were greeted at the course by the bouncer stopping people who hadn’t paid €10 from coming in. He was 70 and I’m sure he wouldn’t of caught us but I think the AAI have to work on their marketing skills.
It has to be said there was a very poor turnout in spectators and running participants. Dundalk is a pretty central location and there were some real top runners to watch but something the last few years hasn’t worked and I hope the AAI can change something next year to get the numbers back up.
Although there was only 27 in the women’s senior race it was the best and closest championship I have seen for a long time. There was a 3 way battle for the entire 4 laps with Maria McCambridge (3rd), Michelle McGee (2nd) and Sarah McCormack fighting until the last 300m when McCormack denied Michelle McGee a fairy tale first season.
Onto the men’s race, 6 x 2000m laps with 3 or 4 small hills per lap making you change pace and tire you out that little bit each lap. The ground was ankle deep muck for large sections and a lot slipper in the corners than last week’s Dunboyne race. There was a great battle up front between Mick Clohisey and Gary Thornton with the Raheny runner wining in the end.
Gavin Finlay had a brilliant run in his first National cross country and the men’s team got deserved bronze medals in category B for a hard fought 12km slog.
Myself, Eanna and Gavin all had to dump our shredded, disintegrating, abused spikes on the way home but I think the men’s team is not ready for the scrap heap just yet especially with the national road relays and national 10Km just around the corner.