National Intermediate and Masters Cross Country Avondale

By Jessica Kennedy & Brian Conway

Ladies Report by Jessica Kennedy

Sportsworld athletes drove into Avondale House, silently preparing their defence for a race commandeered by vicious Storm Ciara. It didn’t take long, however, for the news to travel between the runners that there may be an unpleasant surprise awaiting them on the course. ‘Kill Hill’ some were heard calling it, or ‘The Mountain’ others were heard lamenting. The athletes began calculating the number of hill sessions they had completed throughout the season, praying they had done enough. It was safe to say no one was worried about any storm.

Although some of us had to climb the hill a few more times than we’d have liked, the consensus was that the course wasn’t too bad. Having just come back from a little break I was quite pleased with my run. The Intermediate girls pulled it off again to win a team silver and a Dublin gold. Leading us home with a brilliant fourth place finish was Lisa Madden and Ciara Brady following with a superb eleventh position. Making the silver medal possible were Nicola Lenehan and Louise Jackman. I’d love to say we all looked great as we fought for our positions but Peter Knaggs was standing at the top of the hill taking candid photos of everyone as we tackled the incline.

Bounding up the hill without any bother to him was Karol Cronin who finished fifth overall in the men’s Masters. Why did he have to make it look so easy? We won’t forget Jean Wilson who lead her team in the women’s Masters and Conor McCarthy leading home the Intermediate men’s team.

Coffee, sandwiches and enthusiastic chatter for next year’s x-country were postponed as the runners packed into their cars and joined a convoy out to the M11. Apart from including more hill sessions into their future training, all anyone could think of was a cup of tea and a hot shower.

Well done to everyone!

Men’s Report by Brian Conway

Few cross country races are as challenging or as tough as Avondale. The hill whose length is matched by its steepness. The downslopes that are deep and hard to gain a foothold. The uphill section to the finish.

For all that, the course was a very pleasant one to run. The twists and turns seemed to make it shorter than it was. The flat sections allowed you to recover from the hillier ones. The relative narrowness of the course made it more spectator friendly.

As we were lining up for the start, I heard someone say “this is the national cross country”. Even so, it didn’t really feel much different to the start of any other cross-country race except that it was difficult early on to find enough space to run freely among all the other runners. Rarely have I seen as many Masters competitors in a single race.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a national event without being longer than the usual 6k distance. The 7k course involved one short lap and three longer ones. I think everybody felt it was a very testing one, even though the conditions were very favourable overall. While it was windy, there was no rain and it was not too cold.

The Sportsworld teams A and B put in excellent performances. The full results are available here: Congratulations to all who finished out another cross-country season of races and visits to several interesting places around the country. Thanks to Emly and Myles for their time and effort travelling with the teams during the season and organising entries/numbers for all the races.