Race Report and photos by Conor Keating

It was a winter of discontent running wise for me– As some of you know my mad (keep on reading) dog at home bit me while ‘playing’ which lead to my big right toe getting fairly seriously infected. The hospital procedure, just before Christmas, meant 3 and a half weeks off running and I made a fairly underwhelming return to action (DNF) in the National Intermediate cross country last weekend.

Don’t let the gorgeous, puppy face trick you

Saying that, I’m lucky that I’ve never had another other injures during all my years playing soccer/running so I wanted to brush off that disappoint, clean up my spikes, and hope that the cross country that I had competed in this season would put me in good stead for track racing which is definitely my favourite.

The spikes after last weekend

Not content with waiting for the Dublin graded season, or even the next Irish runner paced mile, I signed up to compete in round 2 of the National Indoor League in Athlone IT.

We have some cousins in Athlone so my parents thought it would be good to visit our relatives at the same time and they could all come along to watch the race(no pressure then).

Clubs can enter teams into the National Indoor league and club members can also enter as individuals into guest races. There were various team/guest races on the day ranging from 200 to 1500m. I got to witness some superb performances such as Brian Greegan (47.07) running the European 400m indoor standard and Eoin Everard (3.45.25) running the 1500m A race in 4 minute mile pace.

I was ‘safely’ in the 1500m C race but I still knew that the competition would still be tough given that there were runners from Cork, Sligo, Derry, Mayo etc. on the same start list as me (a true national race), who I anticipated weren’t travelling all that distance to make up the numbers.

All the races were held on the 200m indoor track which meant 7.5 laps instead of the usual 3.75 laps of the 400m track which I’m used to – this was also my first ever time on an indoor track. The gun went and my plan was to have a conservative race for the first 4/5 laps and then try to push on from there if possible – especially since I’m only back training 2 weeks. The pace was pretty strong, as predicted, and I tried to keep touch with the back of the main group as the race started to spread out.

Race reporter Conor back in action

The 200m track meant it was nearly constant turning and I was getting a bit dizzy but every time I went around I did hear shouts of ‘C’mon Conor’ including from areas of the stand far away from where my parents and my Athlone relatives were sitting (did most of my family turn up?). I did feel the pace, and not fully race fit, but although I did let the main group get away a bit I produced a good finish to hold off the other Conor in the race in a sprint finish (his supporters were invaluable along with my family’s). I was fairly happy with my time, 4.43.63, and a respectable 12th place finish out of 14 (meaning I could go to our cousin’s house without feeling embarrassed).

This was a good run out for me and sets me up well for the track season which I’m looking to concentrate on this year. Chasing the dog around the garden makes for good sprint sessions. Our dog is down to a no more than 7 lives at this stage having:

  • Bitten through the lead of a laptop charger which was plugged in at the time: she got a shock but we believe that the fact she was standing on a carpet saved her from being electrocuted.
  • Eating half a box of neuferon: hence a dash to the vet to get her to vomit up her stomach (via injection) as the tablets would have probably killed her.

Anyway it was a great experience: the facilities in Athlone are world class. I was able to warm up both on the 60m track (which is in the middle of the 200m track) as well as the specific warm up track upstairs.  I know there has been talk of the club going down to Athlone for a training session and I would definitely recommend it.

The welcome home party waiting for Conor in Tipperary