Wednesday opened the first page of a new decade and, likewise, Liffey Valley AC opened this year’s racing calendar to 772 participants with the Tom Brennan 5k in the Phoenix Park.
Needless to say, the red and white vests of Sportsworld Running Club were there in
abundance to help mark the occasion.
The conditions for a fast and enjoyable race couldn’t have been better if you penned a begging letter to Santy himself: the course was flat as a pancake (a triangular pancake) and the weather was ideal: cool, calm and dry (I swore I heard the birds tweeting in the trees between 1k and 2k).
Like the Ghost of Races Past, I rattled onto the scene and was delighted to see some ever-familiar faces and one or two new ones. Everyone was in great spirits with hugs, handshakes and New Year best wishes rapidly making their way through the crowd, intermittently disrupted by the odd well-orchestrated photo session (fair play to ye Peter!).
One thing struck me, however: the lack of pre-race nerves. Instead, everyone seemed relaxed and at ease warming up and naturally transitioning into their strides in eager anticipation for the starter’s gun.
But, being that seasoned ‘comeback runner/racer’ that I am (someone once commented that I had more comebacks than Rocky), I could spot the little butterflies fluttering about the gang (relax lads, no names will be given) as the buzz was infused with that concentrated near- the silence of runners tiptoeing their way into position. These subtle, almost imperceptible-to-the-untrained-ear spurts of nerves manifested themselves in a few ‘starting-line confessions’, volunteered without provocation to some invisible yet omnipresent god of racing, such as: [Bless me, Father, for] I stuffed myself with 100s of Heroes in the last two weeks;[Bless me as well Father for] I was partying ‘til 2 o’clock last night; [Father, same here, I’m afraid, for] I feel like I swallowed the Turkey, his family and his cousins the Hams…
Then BANG!!! the gunshot off and took my teammates with it; I’ve never seen better impressions of Houdini performed live in the Phoenix Park: they were there and then they weren’t.
Obviously, everyone immediately slipped into their race pace as comfortably as Anthony’s lámha fuar slipped into their cosy, cotton-padded, black leather gloves with the three splayed points decorating the upper faces (hmm, if only there were a prize for the best-dressed hands…).
Somewhere around the 1k mark, young Pádraig Looby (who finished nicely with 19:02) came cruising past me so effortlessly that all my brain could register was ‘he’s a bit long in the tooth to be getting a hoverboard off Santy’.
Andrew Brett and Louise Jackman brought the club home with 16:38 and 21:11. Conor McCarty and Martin Doyle backed Andrew up with 17:13 and 17:38, respectively, while Elaine and Nichola had a close battle with only 4 seconds separating them on the line with 21:26 senior lady) and 21:30 (19th senior lady), respectively.
Maria Finnegan finished 21:56 and Gráinne Lynch was in Finnegan’s wake 31 seconds later with 22:27. Between these two, however, featured Kate Nugent with 22 minutes flat.
Eileen Rowland with 22:43, Bronwyn finished in 23:57 while Audrai O’Driscoll smiled home in 24:09.
12 hours, 24 minutes and 12 seconds after the bells ding-donged the New Year in, the ‘Thelma and Louise’ of Sportsworld Running Club ended their own ding-dong in a flat-out dash to the white line with only milliseconds and the width of a shoelace separating them: it was Anne Sweeney’s lace that brushed the line first while Valerie Power was still on its descent. Carmel Breen finished with a decent 26:03 and the great Ellen Lavin closed the ladies’ book on this race with 27:46.
The Three Wise Men (Peter Knaggs, Anthony Gillen and Noel Tobin) gifted us with a prelude to this Sunday’s main event in St. Anne’s Park, Raheny with times of 19:27, 19:34, and 19:57, respectively. Watch your backs (ish) lads as, admittedly with the help of a little Christmas miracle, yours truly floated across the line in 21:20 trailed closely by the Three Wise Seans: Donegan (21:43), Brett (23:47) and O’Byrne 27:32.
Many thanks to those encouraging voices supporting us from the sidelines (of which I heard Emily’s and Sandra Gowran’s) which lifted us at crucial points in the race.
This was a cracking start to 2020 and I have a good feeling about this year and I wish all of our members every success in their goals, be it 800s, 1,500s, 5ks or marathons, and let’s try to get some more silverware for Emily and Myles to polish.
Good luck to our Master’s lads and ladies who will no doubt do us proud on Sunday! Wishing you all a healthy, fit and fruitful 2020,