Race Reports by Noreen Brouder and John Flaherty
Thanks to Hanna Melzar & Shona Keane for the photos! Also thanks to Hanna for travelling with the team after getting injured to support them! Full Gallery Here: National Novice
Congratulations to Ruth Kelly picking up a silver medal with the Dublin team. Full results below.
Race Report by Noreen ‘Birthday Girl’ Brouder
Noreen in action Sunday, sure what else would you do on your Birthday!
After receiving the text from Emily on Sat evening to confirm the race was going ahead I resigned myself to tackling the daunting National Novice the following day. I drew some solace from the race being on the Sunday and not Saturday with its ‘end of the world weather’.
Bright and early we set off on the bus from the Clubhouse and received word from Tara that the sun was shining with blue skies down South. We quickly reached Dungarvan with plenty of time to spare.
The lads enthusiastically took on the duty of setting up the tent – base camp was declared and the flags raised! Being my third cross country race I was somewhat naïve to the task at hand until I spoke with some of the girls and quickly decided this was going to be horrific.
Anyway, we were here and a race had to be run so off we went to check out the course. It was pretty muddy after the underage races and about half way round we decided it would be easier (and far less messy) to go out on the road to finish our warm up. Warm up done, we went back to the tent to put on our spikes.
A few strides later and we were being corralled in to the shoots and off I went on my maiden National Novice race. The 4K race was 2 loops and mostly flat. We were lucky to have a good turnout of 9 girls running in a field of nearly 90.
So, the first 500m were…. let’s say busy! A narrow track meant lots of jostling for position with elbows and spikes flying. There was a short lived sense of relief when the course opened up a bit which was swiftly followed by the feeling that you were running in slow motion and not making any forward progress. This was the default feeling for the remainder of the race.
By the time we reached the 1K mark Ruth was flying and making good progress through the pack. The support along the course was great and some of the narrow sections really added to the atmosphere and definitely helped to keep us going along some of the tougher patches (there were many!).
Trying to make your way through the mud on some sections was just energy sapping and you could not really find any cadence or stride. Conditions in parts were so bad that poor Catherine stepped out of one mud puddle during the first lap sans spikes (and one sock!). This did not deter her in the slightest and she finished the race and retrieved her spikes after. Hardcore!
The bell was taken and we just had to do it all over again!!! Knowing it was the final lap did not inspire the same confidence or joy as other races but step by next muddy step we got there. Special mention to Ruth who ran a great race and continued her strong form from Lanzarote; finishing 23rd and placing 3rd on the Dublin team to help secure their Silver medal!!
There was much euphoria as each of us crossed the line and everyone thankful to finally be on the right side of the finish line. It was a tough slog and a great team performance with the ladies team finishing 7th overall.
Job done – now over to cheer on the lads before a warm down and warm shower. Yes there were showers! We had all noticed the steady improvement in facilities as we progressed through the novice season – Dublin (no toilets), Leinster (toilets) and Nationals (toilets and showers!!). Showered and feeling like new women (perhaps a slight exaggeration) we made our way to the car park to meet up with everyone.
And so it began, the real challenge – getting home! While we were running our bus was having a few issues. I am not sure of the exact mechanics of this one so I will not even try to explain but our poor driver was unable to start the bus.
Big thanks to Tara for commandeering several cars and getting us to Dungarvan town centre and arranging a lovely lunch. Lunch was had, the bus had a temporary fix and we were on the road back to Dublin. Albeit a bit slower than normal and with a few false starts, with much relief we reached the Clubhouse.
Thank you to Hanna, who despite being sick and unable to run, travelling with us as our official photographer! As always thanks to Emily for arranging the bus, making the journey with us and missing a very important birthday party. I am sure at times during the day she felt like she was at a children’s party trying to keep us all in line!
Report by John ‘Don Quixote’Flaherty
“When life itself seems lunatic who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams – this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness – and maddest of all: to see life as it is and not as it should be.” – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote.
Don Quixote in action Sunday
The definition of the word “quixotic” according to the Oxford English Dictionary is:
“Extremely idealistic; unrealistic and impractical”.
My entry in to the world of cross country running this season can best be described as a quixotic move on my part. Of the three races I have entered to date, there has been none more gruelling than yesterday’s trenchfoot-inducing, quagmire-confronting, soul-hollower of a race, the National Novice.
If you’ve never run cross country with the club, the sane thing to do would be stop reading this race report right now and go do whatever it is you were doing before you clicked on this and never remotely consider entering one…and yet, and yet…..as Cervantes points out above ”too much sanity may be madness”!
The word “quixotic” derives from Miguel Cervantes’ story of Don Quijote. For those unfamiliar with the story it basically tells the tale of a man who reads so many books about knights and their adventures that he believes himself to be one. He goes so crazy that he imagines he is travelling all over the great expanse of 16th century Spain fighting huge giants when really he is just going round in circles in some small part of a place called La Mancha and running into windmills and the like.
My mission yesterday was to go round and round in laps much like the Don did and to be honest at times it felt like I too was barely moving at all. To go all the way down to Dungarvan only to be pretty much at the back of the field from the word go seems to be the very definition of a quixotic leap of faith.
- “Idealistic” – because judging by my PBs in the different road race distances I probably have no right to be there.
- “Unrealistic” – see “Idealistic” above.
- “Impractical” – Surely a nice run at my own pace around Sandymount, Blackrock and Dun Laoghaire would be infinitely less hard going and sure I’d have ten miles done, be home and showered and munching on some nice lunch all within the 2 hour mark. It took over two hours alone to get to Dungarvan by bus!
But that, I have learned, is not the point.
It was an early start on a Sunday with most of us travelling by bus while others joined from different parts of the country. The banter and camaraderie on the bus journey down really helped to stave off those pre-race nerves. There were also some nice views out the window as we made our way south. We got down to West Waterford’s grounds nice and early and I have to say I was very impressed with the set up. I was also impressed that the whole place hadn’t blown away in the epic winds of the previous day. It was quite a mild day weather-wise in the end.
The kids had kindly set about cutting up the course nicely for us “mature” folk and it was the women’s team that went off first.
Highlights of that team’s gallant performance included:
– Ruth Kelly storming home in 23rd place, the first Sportsworlder over the line.
– Tara Rhatigan visibly revelling in the “home” advantage of familiar turf.
– Noreen “the newbie” Brouder once again running a brilliant race and showing that she has her Wilde and Greene scone and latte habit very much under control.
– Shona Keane shaking off Lanzarote and driving home to finish inside the top 50.
– Stephanie Bergin finishing very strongly.
– Tara Rhatigan visibly revelling in the “home” advantage of familiar turf.
– Catherine “the shoe is literally, I mean literally on the other foot” Mulleady running the majority of the race with 50% of her footwear gone AWOL.
– Maura Ginty’s Lanzarote stories in the bus on the way down. (Okay I know that’s got nothing to do with the race but they were overheard and they were funny and don’t worry Maura, not going to be divulged here.)
– Naoise and Margaret bringing home the last of the Sportsworld colours much further up the field than myself and Brian (ahem) managed to do in the men’s race. More on that below.
To be honest any one of the girls could probably write a better report on the performance of the men’s team than I can. I was so focused on not finishing last and I was so far down the field that it was only by talking to the lads after the race that I had any idea how it went down.
It started off at what felt like a crazily fast pace. I think it felt like a crazily fast pace because it was, well, a crazily fast pace. If any of you have seen Brad Pitt’s ill-fated movie World War Z, there’s a scene when all of the CGI super-fast zombies are sprinting en masse. Well it felt like I was one of the dopey, slow-moving zombies from The Walking Dead and I’d somehow made it through casting unnoticed to take part in a major scene in Brad Pitt’s badly edited vanity piece. I proceeded to hang on for dear life (or death to keep the zombie reference going).
Saving himself for the National Intermediate in January
The mud was unforgiving and felt like quicksand at times. The support from Emily and Sportsworld ladies was magnificent and if I didn’t acknowledge the support with as much as a flicker as I passed you all, please don’t take it personally, I had a date with some inner demons to attend to.
My legs felt like jelly during the muddier parts of the course. I thought I might pick some places on the harder ground but that was wishful thinking. But hey, as Cervantes (and Don Quijote says) “to surrender dreams – this may be madness”.
I don’t know what happened with our names in the results list but it seems Brian Conway was running as Conor Keating. I was running as Conor McCarthy (sorry Conor).
Eoin O’ Brien was running as James Brady. Eoin I am now sick of looking at your back in races! The true story of the men’s race emerged in the bus afterwards. A “best of frenemies” rivalry has been cooking between Brian Conway and Eoin O’ Brien with unconfirmed rumours of a battle to the death to take place in the Dublin men’s masters race on January 10th in Rahney. Watch this space folks!
Kevin Curran ran a great race and was our first finisher. Ever humble, I hadn’t realised he’d finished so high up the field until I read the results.
Karl Chatterton was the second Sportsworlder over the line with another strong performance and really excelled himself in Merry’s after the race by getting me a pint of (draught) Dungarvan. That post-race pint truly was a spiritual experience Karl and the next one is on me!
Michael “jaffa cakes” Cunningham put that carbo-loading to good use and was third over the line for the red and white.
Diarmuid “3 hours 1 minute in my first marathon, no big deal, whatever” O’ Sulleabhain was the last of our scorers proving that those laps of the most expensive streets on the monopoly board in Dublin 4 have seriously paid off. Anthony Gillen had a very strong run getting over the line in under 25 minutes.
Great to meet Joe Byrne too who took part at the last minute after the previous day’s Waterford half marathon was called off due to the weather. Fair play Joe.
Then there were the “three muskateers” of Eoin, myself and Brian. I’ve had my fair share of feeling-wobbly-crossing-the-finish-line moments in my running career but that could have been my wobbliest finish yet! The mud on the final straight was a joke! Fair played to Eoin who actually managed to finish ahead of some non-Sportsworld bibs.
Despite my hyperbolic descriptions, I have thoroughly enjoyed the cross country experience this racing season and plan on doing the Dublin Masters in January even if my performance this time was as stuttering as the bus journey back from Dungarvan. It’s always good to get out of one’s comfort zone and for almost 27 minutes yesterday that’s exactly what I did. I highly recommend taking part.
Special thanks goes out to:
Emily for her unwavering dedication and support.
Tara for booking the fine eatery.
The bus’s alternator for holding on against the odds.
Hanna for coming all the way down to Dungarvan and taking some great photos which I’m told will be uploaded tomorrow (Click here: Gallery).
I’ll leave the final word to Cervantes –
“….he who’s down one day can be up the next, unless he really wants to stay in bed that is…” – Don Quijote.
16:43 23 Ruth Kelly (Silver medal Dublin Team!)
17:11 31 Noreen Brouder
17:45 50 Shona Keane
18:05 57 Stephanie Bergin
18:42 69 Tara Rhatigan
18:48 71 Catherine Mulleady
18:54 73 Maura Ginty
19:12 79 Naoise Waldron
19:54 85 Margaret Crowley
22:36 121 Kevin Curran
23:14 150 Karl Chatterton
23:48 170 Michael Cunningham
23:54 173 Diarmuid O’Sulleabhain
24:54 196 Anthony Gillen
25:46 201 Joe Byrne
26:28 205 Eoin O’Brien
26:53 207 John Flaherty
27:06 208 Brian Conway