Another weekend, another gold medal for the club. This was unsurprisingly in the discus on the second weekend of the national senior track and field championships in Santry where Colin Quirke was the defending champion. Each of his 3 successful throws of the 2kg discus was further than any of those of the second placed athlete from Clonliffe and his furthest throw of 55.5m was over 3m further than the field.
Also, on the Saturday we had athletes in the men’s 800m heats, run in much kinder conditions than the previous weekend. There were 4 heats with the first two across line gaining automatic qualification in each heat and the final would then be completed with the two fastest time qualifiers. Fearghal O’Hare ran in the first heat, placing 4th in a time of 1:56.42 and then he had to wait with bated breath to see how the other heats would fare. Two of our younger athletes, Max McCormack and Finn Boyle, who were using the race as a warm up for the junior championships next weekend, ran together in the last heat, coming home at the back of the field in 8th and 9th places respectively but potentially recording PBs with times of 2:03.81 and 2:04.12. Fearghal then found himself rewarded with the final qualifying time for Sunday’s final, with both non-automatic qualifiers in the 10-man final surprisingly coming from the first heat.
On to Sunday, where we saw another young athlete, Roisin Dobey, running in lane 8 and with a tailwind in the home straight of 2.7m/s, placing 6th in 26.45 in the first heat which produced the eventual champion, Phil Healy. Veteran sprinter, Nick Ennis ran in the first of 6 heats of the men’s 200m where only the winner of each heat was guaranteed a slot in the final. With eventual champion Marcus Lawler in his heat, Nick didn’t stand much of a chance and also missed out on one of the two time qualifying places despite coming home in 3rd place in 23.13, running in lane 5. Junior athlete Charlie Bastow ran in lane 3 in heat 5 where he eventually crossed the line in 4th place in 23.29.
There was a straight final for the men’s 110m hurdles, where Valantinos Goularas, running as one of the 2 U23 athletes in the event, placed first in that category (and therefore taking U23 gold one imagines) and, of the 6 athletes in the race, 4th overall in a time of 14.99, just behind bronze medallist Shane Aston (14.90), with the race being won by the clear favourite, Gerard O’Donnell of Carrick-on-Shannon AC, in 13.96.
Finally, we come to the tough men’s 800m final. The first lap was a slowish affair and Fearghal was well in the mix with 300m to go. However, despite improving on his qualifying place, he found it tough to keep in touch with the field going down the back straight as the athletes accelerated. Fearghal placed a creditable 9th in the race with a time of 1:57.10. The eventual champion was Trim’s Harry Purcell, another pre-race favourite, who ran 1:52.49 in what had turned out to be a tactical race, a typical final. Again, congrats to everyone who represented the club in this year’s championships.
Last week seems to have been dominated by poor weather with the aftermath of hurricanes or tropical storms, coming over from the US and battering us likewise with winds and heavy rain. This was definitely the case on Tuesday evening, when, once again Crusaders held its night of 3k and 800m races.
The first two races, both 3000m, had the worst of the weather on the evening with lashing rain as well as a strong westerly cross wind that hit runners mostly turning the bend into the home straight. At least we all had the benefit of a diagonal strong tailwind on the back straight.
So, we had something for everyone, from fit for life races, both 3k and 800m, up to our elite level and each one was great to watch or to run in.
In the first event, the Fit for Life 3k, Edel Doherty, in her first ever race of this distance, sat in for the first two laps and then, following the urging of Mike McGovern on the sidelines, she took off, finishing well ahead of the pack with negative splits in 13:12. The runners in this race had to contend with a wayward track gate that broke its tether at the start of the back straight that meant they had to run offline at that point. This was fixed immediately afterwards, but reinforced how difficult the conditions were on the night. Members will be interested to hear that we had already requested that the gates be removed altogether and hopefully this won’t be an issue again.
The following race was another 3k, for runners aiming to finish between 12 and 14 minutes. As it happened, it featured 2 athletes who were well capable of bettering this target. Zlatko Kulic with John Healy in pursuit broke away from the field early on and led until, with about 1500m to go, John, a 1500m specialist and elite O/60 runner, accelerated past Zlatko to finish in 10:59, with Zlatko recording a time of 11:59. Liz Nixon also ran in the race, marking her first time performance at this distance with a time of 13:41.
There were two 800m races to follow. The first was for runners expecting to record a time of 2:30+ and the second for those under that benchmark time. Both events were excellent and competitive. Many of the runners had never experienced an 800m race before and the events made for super viewing for the few helpers who were able to spectate.
In the first 800m, Fiona Shine led down the back straight and stretched away. However, she would not have expected the incredibly fast finish of Tim O’Donnell who came from 50m back with 300m to go, roaring past Fiona in the final 40m to finish in a time of 2:31, with Fiona crossing the line in 2:32. The next 800m was for those expecting to better 2:30. With 5 in contention at the bell, James Kelly put on the burners and made a break for it with 300m to go. Track specialist Tomas Bradley was 4th at this stage but by the time he hit the 200m mark he had pulled himself up to 2nd. Coming into the home straight Tom was within 5m of James and the battle commenced, with Tom passing James 30m from the line and winning the race in 2:11. In his first ever 800m James finished in a great time of 2:12.
Finally we come to the last two 3k races. The penultimate event was for those expecting to run between 10-12 minutes. Masters athlete, Karl Walsh led from gun to tape, increasing his lead lap by lap and crossing the line in a stellar 10:04. Peter Gallagher gallantly tried to go with him for the first 4 laps, but paid for his bravery as lactic took him out of contention. A really exciting race for the chasing group saw a close sprint finish with Alan Sheehy taking 2nd place in 10:20, followed by Daniel Lowe, 3rd in 10:21 and Frank Hague 4th in 10:22. Further back down the field Rachel Yorke (11:21) won a fun battle with James Cottle (11:23), Rachel having held James off for at least 3 laps, both athletes having worked their way through a number of runners.
The last race enjoyed the presence of two guest athletes who were preparing themselves for next weekend's junior championships. Each took turns in pacing the other, way out in front of the field. Their initial laps were a super 68 seconds. Sean from Celtic finished just ahead of the Donore athlete, Abdel, in a time of around 8:47.
Meanwhile, further back, the Crusader contingent gave us another exciting race. Paul Reidy and Niamh Allen led for most of the race, but were joined in the last 500m by Ciaran Diviney and Peter O’Toole (Peter having run the 800m earlier). However, it was to be a female win this time, with Niamh putting the pedal to metal in the last 400m and running clear of the chasing athletes, finishing in a PB time of 9:41, a superb performance in testing conditions. Ciaran finished 2nd in 9:45, followed by Peter in 9:47 and Paul, who paid for his pacing effort, in 9:50. There were another 2 or 3 athletes in the race who had also run earlier in the 800m. Marathoners Maurice Kelter, who ran 2:39 in the 800m, ran 10:01 in the 3k, and Richard Phelan, who ran 2:26 in the 800m, ran 10:48 in the 3k.
Many thanks to Mike, Susan and the volunteers for staging such a super evening and also to Susan for her invaluable contribution to this report! It appears that there are no other events on which to write, unless someone has a race result of which we are unaware to contribute.