The weekend was dedicated to two sets of track and field championships in the National stadium in Santry. On the Saturday, we had athletes competing at junior level, some of whom had already featured the previous weekend in the senior championships, and are names to watch for the future.
As with last weekend, it was great to see some of our athletes compete via the livestream provided on YouTube, even though for the athletes the atmosphere was a little surreal, surrounded by volunteers in masks and with a handful of spectators with limited views confined to standing behind the narrow entry gate on the corner of the last bend of the track.
Although, athletes throughout both Saturday and Sunday did not have to contend with the strong windy conditions of last weekend, towards the end of the day on Saturday there was a deluge of monsoon proportions which may have had an impact on one or two races (and in particular for one of our athletes).
The highlight of the day for the club was having 2 finalists in the 400m and with it Hugo Magee’s bronze medal. Having won his heat in 51.71, running in lane 4 (where only the winner automatically qualified), Hugo then went on to place 3rd in the final, running in lane 6 with an improved time of 50.45, behind race winner Robert McDonnell of GCH, running in lane 3 in 48.66, and Cian Dunne of DSD, running in lane 5, who crossed the line in 49.64. Also, in the final was Max McCormack who qualified on time, having come in 2nd in the 5th heat, where, running in lane 5 he ran 51.58. In the final, Max ran 52.21 in lane 2, placing 7th.
In the junior women’s 100m there were 3 heats with 2 automatic qualifiers in each heat and 4 qualifying on time across all the heats. Hannah O’Sullivan had to compete against 9 other athletes in the 3rd heat and it produced 3 qualifiers ultimately (along with the gold medal winner in Jenna Breen of City of Lisburn who ran 12.6 in the heat and 12.3 in the final). Running on the far outside in lane 10, Hannah placed 6th in 13.96, but, unfortunately, failed to qualify. There were 5 heats in the men’s 200m, in which only the winner of each heat was guaranteed a place in the final along with 3 fastest time qualifiers. In rain of biblical proportions, Charlie Bastow ran in the 3rd heat in lane 3, placing 3rd in 23.65 behind heat winner and ultimately bronze medallist Aaron Keane of Tullamore in 22.81, narrowly missing out on one of the fast qualifying time slots. Hugo Magee was next to run, but he may have given himself too big a mountain to climb after his exploits in the 400m. In slightly less wet conditions than those experienced by Charlie, Hugo started out heat 4 in lane 4, but within 20m from the start he dramatically pulled up clutching a hamstring and didn’t complete the race. Footage later showed him jogging around the track, so hopefully, the issue was just a tweak. The rain may have had something to do with it, with the likely change of temperature.
We also had an athlete compete in two field events on Saturday. Morgan Brennan placed 4th in the 1.75kg discus event, with a throw of 29.39. Interestingly, the national junior record for this weight has been held since 2009 by Crusaders’ Colin Quirke with a throw of 56.79m. The winner was Sean Carolan of Nenagh Olympic with a throw of 44.91m. Morgan then went onto participate in the 6 kg hammer where he placed 7th with a throw of 36.43m behind winner Sean Maher of Raheny who achieved a distance of 55.39m with the second of only 2 throws declared legal.
On Sunday we were treated to an excellent day’s racing in the National Masters Championships, collecting a few medals in the process. We were only allowed to select one event in the Championships, which was a bit of a shame as there were certainly medals to be had in some of the less heavily contested categories and one or two of us could have easily doubled with the events spread out throughout the day. 10 Crusaders took part on Sunday, all runners feeling starved of competitive running and several of us competing on the track for the first time in order to see where we stand right now.
Of note, was the fact that 3 members of the Shine family picked up medals for their efforts. Lisa took silver as an F35 in the 800m in a time of 2:44.05, behind the familar figure of Kilmore’s Fiona Kehoe who ran 2:15.46. Mairin was able to enjoy her run of 3:56.54 to take her gold medal in the F60 category, whilst Fiona in a field of 4 athletes, took silver in the F35 category in the women’s 1500m in a time of 5:15.66 behind Becky Coughlan of Ennis who ran 5:09.51. Paul Kelly also ran in the men’s 800m and placed just outside the medals in 4th in his M40 category in a time of 2:59.10, whilst Donal Swift took silver in his 400m race. The M65 athlete ran a time of 1:27.12 behind race winner Eddie Barry of St. Finbarrs.
One of the highlights of the day had to be John Healy’s silver medal in the men’s O/60 category in the 1500m, his speciality distance. The race combined both M55 and M60 athletes and John and another M60 athlete, Dave Clarke of North Belfast, managed to find themselves in a breakaway group of 4 from early on. At one stage it looked as though John might get detached from the other 3 but managed to hang in during the middle part of the race, invariably a challenging part of any race for him as he freely will admit, but he held on limpet-like. Clarke, an international athlete in his senior days, took the overall victory in the race in an exciting finish in a time of 4:41.05 having been in 2nd or 3rd place throughout and coming through with 40m to go, with John holding on for 4th overall after having finally becoming detached from the first 3 about 250m from the line. John’s medal was hugely deserved and he took a few good scalps in the younger age group.
There were 103 athletes registered for the men’s 5,000m, leading to the event being broken into several separate ones, during the late afternoon and early evening. The M35s, M40s and M45s all had their own races so it was clear that the first 3 across the line in each of those events would finish on the podium. Later, the M50s were combined with the M55s and then the M60s were put together with the remaining older age categories. So, it became a bit confusing for the commentators on the excellent live stream and also for those of us watching from the sidelines, waiting for our individual events to start, trying to work out how everyone was doing generally (in fact a typical situation at times for a lot of masters events anyway).
We had 2 athletes in the M35 race with 21 participants. Alan O’Brien made a strong effort to keep with the ever splintering lead group but found himself detached in no man’s land for a good part of the race. The lead group eventually narrowed down to a 3-man tussle. Alan was being followed further back by Peter O’Toole who found himself moving steadily through a large group early on, eventually working with two other athletes to make up ground on those ahead. In one of his first races in a long time, Alan eventually finished in 10th place in 16:41.42, followed by a strong finishing Peter in 11th in 16:45.13. The M45 race was an altogether different picture. There were 10 runners involved and the lead was quickly taken up by 4 runners which included Ciaran Diviney. He was up against strong and familiar quality opposition from Rathfarnham’s Barry Minnock and Paul Fleming along with a runner from the north, Conor Curran of North Belfast, who did most of the front running. The group was tightly bunched coming into the last lap and Ciaran decided to test the others as they approached the final bend, briefly taking the lead. Unfortunately, it was not be and Paul Fleming was able to storm through strongly at the end, winning in 16:14.56, just ahead of Conor Curran (16:16.66) and Barry Minnock (16:17.94), with Ciaran in 4th in 16:19.55. A creditable result, given the quality of the field.
Finally we come to the last event of the day, the men’s O/60+ race. There were 7 M60s in the field, which also included the older age categories. James Cottle represented the club in the O/60s, his first time in a serious track race since schooldays, and he was fully aware of the quality of the runners around him, having raced several times either against them or with them (as a team internationally) in recent years on the roads and in cross country. What we all collectively knew though was that our race was for the lower medals as in our category we now had Tommy Hughes, who came into the age group in January following an incredible 2019 when he set world records as a 59 year old in virtually every distance he ran, including the marathon (2:27), half marathon (1:11), 10 miles (54 mins) and 10k (33 mins). Moreover, although we had Rathfarnham’s Tom Cuddy in the race in superb form, having recently run 18:34 in the Dublin graded meet in Tallaght, and Ballyroan’s Martin McDonald who would be capable of similar, if not better, times, Tommy had recently run 16:40 on the roads for the distance. It was like the 1981 Epsom Derby with Shergar in the race; the bookies would have only been taking bets for the minor places. Notwithstanding the fact that Tommy had the day before broken the world record for a 60 year old in a 10 mile road race, he was still able to run incredibly strongly on the track and duly won in an Irish record-breaking time (by 15 seconds) of 16:47.49 (about 30 secs off the world record held by a Dutchman). James was thankfully only lapped once by the ex-Olympian and ran relatively even splits for his 5th place finish in 19:42.77. Tom Cuddy led the rest of the field for most of the race with Martin McDonald hard on his heels and probably not at full tilt. He clearly had no desire to overtake until the final lap, finishing strongly in 19:23.11 with Tom in 3rd in 19:26.25. Sli Cualann’s Bill Tyrrell ran a super race for 4th in 19:28.49, having benefited from a lot of hill running in Wicklow and James tried to hang onto him in the earlier stages of the race. Both Bill and James were able to keep the other two in sight for most of the race and towards the end it looked as though Bill might actually catch Tom, but the bell gave the game away and Tom made sure he had enough strength in his legs to out-sprint Bill to the finish. Both Bill and James will be able to look forward to a new age category next year and at least came in well ahead of the only runner in the O/65 category in the race.
Congrats to everyone who took part over the weekend. Hopefully, we can encourage more athletes out next year in the Masters and pack the age categories!