It was a cold but at least dry day when Michael, Emily & Packie collected me in Swords for the long drive up north to Coleraine for this year’s National Novice XC. The last race of the year promised to be run in more favourable conditions than the Dublin Intermediate the previous week and hopefully Clann Lir would be absent from the course today.
We got up to Coleraine in plenty of time and managed to find a pool table in the Students Union, which kept us occupied for a while. Paul Duffy continued his fine run of form on the pool table and when he got bored beating everyone, Packie took a turn giving us all a pool lesson.
The team assembled, we made our way to the course to catch young Sean Wall (Waller) in action in the Under 19’s race. Waller had a great race and worked his way through a very competitive field. It was a tough race for him aswell as the U19’s had to run 6k, same as the novice.
Next up was the girls (Stephanie, Lorna, Ruth, Susan and Helen) over 3k. Lorna Quinn (19th) came through very strongly and continued to show her fine running form. Ruth(27th) and Stephanie(28th) were next in, only a hare’s fart seperating them. Next up was Susan (45th) with Helen(56th) the final scorer. No medals today with fifth spot team place but Rathfarnam were seventh, so every silver cloud and all that…
Next up was the lads. There had been some controversy surrounding the start of a lot of the junior races and our own start wasn’t the most clinical. No chutes and little warning but that’s another day’s argument. 140 novice men went off like the hammers of hell straight into a bottleneck. If you don’t know cross-country, this is what it’s all about. Pushing and jostling are part of the game. Ahead of me I could see Liam and Colm in the middle of the melée and further ahead Michael and Paul.
When one lad got pushed off the course and was running outside the barrier, he decided to leap it, straight into Michael Cunningham’s path. Michael informed me later he nearly tripped the guy up when his spikes connected with him. It’s the quiet ones you watch out for…
The race was a bit crazy for the first lap as you fought for space around the wood at the back and people went through any space they could find. Leading the charge home for the club was Paul Duffy (77th), followed by Michael (81st), myself (93rd), Packie (99th – who fought the whole way, fair dues to ya Pack!), Colm (108th) and Liam (122nd).
The business end of things done there was only one thing on all our minds – refreshments. They actually had showers at this race ( and the water was hot!!) so the drive home wasn’t the usual mud-caked ordeal. Although there was an ordeal of other sorts when the hunger pangs hit half way between Coleraine and Newry. I was starting to know what they felt like in that movie Alive, when we found Kinder eggs in Michael’s car which he (wisely) decided to share. After a well-earned meal in the Carrickdale, we were on our way. Well done all. Next up Leinster Senior.