Tuesday 7 July 2020 was the scheduled date for the 6th running under Crusaders management of the Docklands 5k. In each of the past 5 years, we have never had rain during the race. Ok, maybe one year we had a shower about an hour before, but generally, conditions have been favourable. Additionally, over the years we have been increasing the participation in the race to around 2,000 entries and, given the huge investment we’ve made into building a clubhouse at Irishtown stadium, we were counting on revenue from the race this year to alleviate the considerable costs.
So, of course, in these extraordinary times, we weren’t able to go ahead with the race in its usual format, but, instead, with the help of Ronan Wogan of My Run Results and a committee led by club secretary and coach Susan Walsh, we were able to put together what turned out to be a neat alternative approach and, although we weren’t able to get anything like the revenue we might have otherwise expected, the proceeds from the race will help considerably in our fund-raising efforts (enough at least to cover the first year’s interest bill on the club’s loan). There was also a charity element to the event, with St. James’ Hospital Foundation receiving a much needed boost from the race entry fees.
The format was a virtual 5k race scheduled to be run at any time through the week of 6th to 10th July, publicised widely on social media and everyone was encouraged to predict their times. Essentially, we had 2 competitions within the race, one to see how fast people could run and another to see how accurate they could be in predicting their times. In these virtual events, many runners would expect to run on their own against an unseen competition. This is extremely tricky and has generally led to slower times than might otherwise be achieved in a real race. However, what was really cool for the club was that, now that we have renewed access to the track and under the able guidance of Mike McGovern and our Covid-19 officer, Susan Walsh, on the day the race should have taken place, we were able to schedule a number of 5k sessions on the track, following strict AI social distancing guidelines, in which club members were able to compete with each other. The sessions were arranged to limit the likelihood of too much lapping by having runners of similar ability run in their respective sessions. Mike and Susan even added a one mile challenge for those less keen to run 5k in training.
We started this account by saying that the Docklands 5k has successfully avoided bad weather throughout its recent history and this year’s event was going to be bigger and better than ever with a repeat of last year’s after-race party in Capital Dock being envisaged. So you can imagine how the race director for the usual race, James Cottle, felt when he saw the forecast for Tuesday 7 July. For once the weather forecast was spectacularly accurate. We saw rain of biblical proportions right up until the last session of the day. Just think how tricky that would have been for the race organisers had the race actually taken place. Although, many of us ran with the rain coming down heavily, and some ran significantly further than 5k as they sought to dodge puddles on the inside lane, we were blessed with little wind. By the way, in times to come, the new clubhouse, which provided a fitting backdrop to the evening, will eventually perform an extremely helpful block against the prevailing wind.
We had 280 runners sign up for the race and, by the cut-off hour on Friday 10th, we had 271 recorded times. Crusaders made up 64 of the finishers and we took away many of the honours, including overall victory in the men’s event.
With a time of 15:54, men’s club captain Michael Kiely was the impressive overall winner. He ran the 12.5 laps in Irishtown on the Tuesday evening and for the first half of a race that was held in the best conditions of the evening he was in a group of 3 runners, which included John Mulvihill and Vinnie McGuinness. With about 6 laps to go, however, Michael took off, putting an increasing gap between himself and the other two never looking back. John appeared to be comfortably holding onto 2nd place with at times a lead of about 30-40m over Vinnie, but Vinnie found a second wind with about 900m to go and surged past John to take 2nd place in 16:19. John didn’t submit his time finally, so a strong-finishing Michael Wycherley was officially placed 3rd with a time of 16:40.
Once the smoke cleared, 15 of the first 20 finishers across the line, 24 of the first 30 and 31 of the first 50, were members of the club. We also had podium places in the women’s race. Alma Hanevy, with the disadvantage of running entirely on her own along the canal and having to weave among walkers, placed 2nd and 40th overall in 20:14, just behind Brid Ryan of Civil Service Harriers who finished in 38th place overall in 20:08. Fiona Shine also took a podium place with her 20:22 which, in addition to her third place finish, put her 43rd overall. Crusaders made up 8 of the first 10 places overall and 4 out of the top 10 in the women’s race
Not only did we win back for the next twelve months the two club trophies which are now a regular feature of the real race, the John Fitzsimons and Mary Purcell cups, by both men’s and women’s teams, we also performed well in the age categories. So it was a great event for the club.
The men’s trophy was won by Michael K, Vinnie, Michael W and Ciarain Kelly (16:41 for 4th place) with maximum points and the women’s cup was won by Alma, Fiona, Aine Crotty (4th woman and 47th overall in 20:33) and Sarah Lyons (10th and 59th overall in 20:58). The cups are going to look great in our new clubhouse!
Age category success came in the F40, F50 and F60 groups, whilst the men recorded excellent placings too in the M40, M45, M50. M60 and M65 categories.
With Alma finishing 2nd overall, Dee Ni Chearbhaill won the F40 age category (61st and 11th) with a time of 21:05. Then we had tremendous depth in the F50 category, with Olwyn Dunne taking top honours (87th and 20th in 22:27), ahead of Sharon Woods (91st and 23rd in 22:51), Triona Quill, who in her session apparently took off like a rocket halfway through the event, lapping runners in her wake (92nd and 24th in 22:53), and Aoife Cowhie (117th and 30th in a highly satisfying 24:57). Finally, we welcomed back Mairin Shine to competitive running where she placed 2nd in the F60 category (189th and 58th) in a time of 29:52.
The men’s dominance of age categories was even sharper. Even though MRR and Bohermeen’s Ronan Wogan won the M40 category (joint 7th in 16:16, with Eoin Fitzpatrick), we still had club members in the next 3 places. Eugene O’Neill, who last raced 10 years ago, placed 2nd (9th) in 17:21, followed by Dee Lawlor (3rd and 15th in 18:01) and Joe Walsh (4th and 16th in 18:07). With Michael W taking 3rd place overall, M45 age category victory went to the runner who placed 2nd, Eddie Nugent (27th) who ran 18:58, with Seamus Moore just behind (31st) in 19:27. Brian Keenan took top honours in the M50 category (42nd in 20:23) as did James Cottle (30th in 19:27). James was delighted with his result and enjoyed finishing neck and neck on the line with Tim O’Donnell (28th in 19:17), who, despite having been overtaken with about half the laps completed and having suffered a decent bit of daylight to follow, nevertheless stuck to the task and gave James a good run for his money at the end to finish alongside him in a photo finish. Coach Don Anderton (248th) rounded out the club’s excellent performance by taking the M65 category in 36:45.
At least 22 runners managed to run the 5k with times within 5 seconds of their predictions, so the eventual male and female winners were drawn out of a hat. The lucky winners were Kate Nugent of Sportsworld who predicted 20:50 and ran 20:55 and Jordan Wear of Linesight who predicted 20:15 and ran 20:20.
So, the event has proved to be a major success, not only giving a great deal of pleasure to our athletes in having something to compete in, but also has helped on the financial side too. There is still more to be done in terms of fund raising for the clubhouse, but let’s hope that we will be able to hold the race properly next year and that the sun will shine for us!
For those interested in seeing the full results, they can be accessed here: https://www.myrunresults.com/events/docklands_virtual_5k/3944/results
Conor MacGuinness (black singet, orange shoes), Phelim Murray (black singlet, black shoes), Sebastien Le Roy (white), Gill Earley (black), Maura Mahoney (blue), Amy McGuinness (partially hidden), Dee Lawlor (sunglasses/blue), Philip Matthews (red), James Cottle (orange), Edel Haverty (blue/orange), Gearoid Grogan (yellow), Brendan Glynn (blue), Bivor Pradhan (furthest left)