Boyle, Sunday February 21st – The beautiful Lough Key Forest Park was the setting for the National Intermediate & Masters cross country at the weekend. We hired out a club bus and hit for Roscommon at 10 am. As we headed through the midlands, snow covered fields was the theme everywhere but thankfully there was none in the forest park. Weather wise things were perfect – dry and no wind. The course, with one steady uphill followed by its descent at the other side, was medium – heavy, and ploughed up at one corner in particular.

With Emily collecting our numbers in the log cabin, we realised that the master’s women’s race was off in a half an hour, so quick action had to be taken. It was extremely competitive, with 100 girls crossing the finishing line within 5 minutes of each other, so averaging out at a woman every 3 seconds.

Both Lucy (3rd in her age category) and Helen finished in the top 10 overall, and we got a decent display from all of our women. Judith narrowly missed out on an age category medal by less than 10 seconds. The best news was that we came away with team silver with Lucy, Helen, Aideen & Sandra scoring. Helen White helped Dublin to a silver medal.

The team contest was won comfortably by a North Belfast Harriers side that are easily capable of medalling at senior level, indeed they were national senior champions in 2007 albeit with a stronger team on that occasion. They had all team members running in the top twenty five.

While the intermediates was a race for younger (and in some cases faster) girls, it was understandably not as competitive or packed as the masters race that preceded it. Both races were held on the same length of course. The team comprised mainly of October’s Dublin novice winning team, with welcome additions Stephanie and beginner Aoife Lynch. We came away with team bronze medals and were led home by a brilliant Louise. Well done girls.

The master’s men’s field was equally as competitive and condensed as the master’s women’s race was, as the 200 runners completed the course within 9 minutes of each other. It was won by a terrific Peter Matthews who despite being well ahead kept huffing and puffing as he wanted a good workout ahead of the National Inter Clubs XC on Sunday week. There was no joy for us here, but it was great to have a men’s team running in the national master’s; something that we usually don’t get. Well done to Ed, Paul Mitchell, Willers, Seán and Killian for giving up their Sunday and travelling down with us.

The final race of the day was the intermediate men. Their was no joy here either for our men, however it was still a beneficial race that will serve the men’s team well for the Inter Clubs XC on Sunday week. It was won by DSD’s Breandán O Neill. Breandán is on scholarship at DCU, and was bronze medallist in last week’s intervarsities indoors 3000m in 8:34.05. The team title was won by City of Derry, who are also the current National Novice and National Half Marathon champions, and for the record they have Ireland’s current fastest man too in Jason Smyth.