In years to come we will look back on this weird, and hopefully anomalous, period and wonder how we managed to keep ourselves focused. At least we will have a record of the many virtual challenges we have undertaken within the club and to this we are proud and delighted to have added the latest challenge which brought in the participation of 9 other clubs in the Dublin (and Louth) area.
The idea was to replicate the National Road Relays with teams of 3 in each age category (senior, O/35 and O/50) running 1 mile, 2 miles and 1 mile in a virtual relay. Coach Susan Walsh, whose brainchild this has been, reached out to several clubs in the area and got such an enthusiastic response that we saw more than 100 teams being submitted, with all categories covered. The only rules were that each individual should run as flat a route as possible and complete the challenge by Saturday 24th April.
Before this took place, however, and in order to help set up the right teams, Susan organised a one mile predictive time trial for the week ending 17 April. 36 Crusaders took part in the challenge. Several of our runners have been so close in their predictions over the last few months that eventually someone was going to be spot on in his or her prediction. It happened in this event, with Eugene McDonough predicting 5:40 and running 5:40. Many congratulations to him! 4 other athletes ran him close even so, at least a couple of them having been pretty near before. Kenan Furlong ran 2 seconds faster than his prediction with his time of 5:38 (perhaps he should have run with Eugene!), whilst each of Aoife Quigley (6:02), Dee Ni Chearbhaill (6:47) and Lorraine Fitzsimons (9:26) were 2 seconds outside their predicted times. The fastest runners for the challenge were Dee Lawlor (5:17), Seamus Moore (5:25), Kevin Kavanagh (5:35), Julie McGrath (5:43), Catherine Thornton (5:45) and Orla Drumm (5:45).
So, the following week was the team relay challenge. In many ways we might see this as a test event for the real thing that is currently scheduled to take place in early September, assuming that we will be returning to mass participation events by that time. Given the many strong performances we witnessed for the event this weekend, it will have given our coaches food for thought for the future. Hopefully, at that time we will also be able to draft in as many as the 24 teams (11 women’s and 13 men’s) we fielded for this virtual event.
All in all, 107 teams took up the baton. Along with Crusaders, we welcomed Blackrock AC with 13 teams, Brothers Pearse (16), Civil Service Harriers (11), Donore Harriers (4), Drogheda and District (7), Dublin Front Runners (7), Lucan Harriers (12), MSB (5) and Sportsworld (8). Not every cluib fielded a team across all the categories, but the categories were competitive all the same. 11 teams contested the men’s seniors, with the same number for the women, whilst the biggest block by far was the Men’s O/35 category where we saw 33 teams, with the women also boasting large numbers (27). The O/50 category witnessed 19 men’s and 6 women’s teams, of which 7 in total came from Crusaders.
The results were so tight, with the men’s senior’s results being separated by only about 3 minutes in total, several being within a minute of Crusaders A team’s winning result of 19:45. The team comprised Finn Boyle with a super 4:46 for the mile, Michael Kiely (9:50 for 2 miles) and Matthew Ryan (5:09 for 1 mile). In 2nd place came Lucan A (19:49) just 4 seconds back, with Brothers Pearse A taking third place in 20:21. The fastest mile was recorded by Brothers Pearse A’s Alex Cunningham with 4:36, whilst the fastest 2 miles went to Dylan Wright of Lucan with an impressive 9:25. Crusaders B team of Dan Fay (5:06), Max McCormack (11:22) and Kevin Kavanagh (5:31), with a combined total of 21:59, placed 7th.
For the 11 senior women’s teams, the spread was approx. 6.5 minutes, but it was still a close fought thing for the top spots. Victory went to Lucan with a combined time of 22:32, Aoife Coffey running a super 11:09 for 2 miles. The Crusaders A team of young Sarah McGettigan (5:35), Julie McGrath (11:28) and Kate O’Malley (5:46) were narrowly beaten into 2nd place with a combined time of 22:49, followed by Sportsworld A who were only 2 seconds further back in 22:51. The fastest mile was recorded by Caoimhe Daniels (5:31), just ahead of Sarah’s 5:35, and the fastest 2 miles was recorded by Aoife Coffey. The other 3 Crusader teams acquitted themselves well too in 7th, joint 8th and 10th places, Paula Bradshaw stepping in as a super sub at the last minute for the 4th team.
Moving on to the O/35s, the men’s competition had 33 teams registered and, again, our teams put in a strong performance. The winners were Drogheda and District’s A team with a combined score of 20:07, with Crusaders B placing 2nd in 20:49 and Brothers Pearse B taking 3rd place in 20:57. Crusaders A were narrowly beaten off the podium into 4th place with a combined time of 21:03. The individual scorers for our B team were Seamus Moore (5:31), John Mulvihill (10:05) and Dee Lawlor (5:13). The A team comprised Peter O’Toole (4:59), Ciaran Diviney (10:53) and Vinnie McGuinness (5:11). It was a great performance for the two teams considering the amount of competition. The spread between all the teams was approx. 9.5 minutes, but the majority of teams came home well inside 3 minutes of the winner. Of the remaining 4 Crusader teams, although one wasn’t able to complete the course, the others each ran 22:52, 26:11 and 26:39, respectively 16th, 24th and 29th. The fastest mile run was recorded by Anthony O’Rourke who ran 4:36 for the Brothers Pearse A team that was otherwise unable to complete the course (despite recording a 4:58 result from Paul Martin) and the fastest two miles was recorded by our John Mulvihill with his really strong 10:05. There was no one to touch John on the day in that form!
The women’s O/35 race, with 27 teams entered, gave us the victory, together with a really close 4th place from the 2nd of the 5 teams we submitted. The spread between the 26 teams who finished was approx. 11 minutes, with a significant number well inside 5 minutes of the winning team. Our winners were Crusaders A, comprising Orla Drumm (5:23), Catherine Thornton (11:28) and Fiona Shine (5:42), with a winning time of 22:33, a minute ahead of the 2nd placed team from Drogheda in 23:33. The last place on the podium went to Brothers Pearse A, recording 24:06. Crusaders B of Joanne Carey (5:59), Aoife Quigley (12:23) and super sub Niamh Corby (5:57) ran 24:19, just 13 seconds back for 4th place. The remaining 3 Crusader teams also ran well, recording 13th, 18th and 20th places. The fastest mile went jointly to Orla Drumm and Brothers Pearse’s Sinead Tighe (5:23), with Mary Leech of Drogheda and District not so far behind (5:24), whilst the fastest 2 miles was, like Orla’s fastest mile, unsurprisingly registered by Catherine Thornton with a super time of 11:23, like John’s effort, at least 30 seconds faster than her nearest rival.
Finally, we come to the O/50 competition. We fielded 5 men’s teams among the 19 that registered and 2 women’s teams among the 6 in their category.
Starting with the men’s, it clearly was a tough field, given that the age span for the category was about 15 to 17 years in places. It’s in fact a shame that the national road relays don’t include an O/60 category as we would be bound to podium. As it turned out, the best we could do was 5th, which in itself was excellent in the circumstances. The spread between the 19 teams was approx. 9 minutes, again with most being within only about 5 minutes of the winning team from Blackrock. That southside club’s extremely strong team recorded 21:41, with 2nd place going to Civil Service A in 24:09 and 3rd to Lucan A in 24:11. Our A team of M60 John Healy (5:29), M55 David Long (13:10) and M50 Brian McGuckin (5:54) recorded a combined time of 24:33, just 10 seconds off 4th and 22 seconds off the podium. The remaining Crusader teams placed respectively 8th (26:04), 9th (26:09), 14th (27:43) and 18th (28:22). The fastest mile was recorded by Donore’s Des Tremble who ran an amazing 4:58, followed by Barry Thornton of the winning Blackrock team (5:18) followed again by John Healy whose 5:29 was the 3rd fastest on the day. The fastest 2 miles was recorded by another of the Blackrock runners, Brian Caulfield, who ran an incredible 10:38. It was not surprising they were convincing winners, when their third runner, Ger O’Toole, ran 5:45.
The women’s event, with its 6 teams, was also hotly contested. It was won by Lucan A in 26:35, with the 6th placed team being approx. 8 minutes behind. 2nd place went to Crusaders A, comprising Sharon Woods (6:43), Triona Quill (15:03) and Olwyn Dunne (6:54) with a combined time of 28:40, just over 2 minutes behind the winning team. 3rd place went to Sportsworld A with a time of 30:00. Our B team of F65 Mairin Shine (7:59), F55 Mairead Cashman (17:57) and F55 Maureen McGinley also acquitted themselves well by running a combined time of 34:25 for 6th place. The fastest mile was recorded by Annie Whealan of Lucan in 6:30. Her clubmate Bernie Stapleton was 2nd in 6:36, whilst the fastest 2 miles was recorded by the third member of the trio, Tricia Gough, with her time of 13:29.
The results seem to have provided something for nearly everyone, particularly those embracing the challenge with multiple teams. It was a super experience for the runners and indeed for those of us who might have also helped out with strong encouragement during the relayers’ efforts!
When we come to recall this brilliant challenge, we will remember it took place for the most part in really sunny weather, a little breezy at times perhaps, but otherwise, super running conditions. Perhaps some may even be grateful to have avoided the concrete roads of Raheny (!). The challenge got us all out, motivated by the team dynamics! Congrats to all!