The lockdown continues, so, therefore, so do the challenges!
Over the past fortnight we have enjoyed two of them. The first was a solo predictive 8k effort and the second, a medley team relay of a mix of 3k and 5k runs.
The further we have to run the more daunting the challenge, particularly as for the past two weeks we have been experiencing an unusually strong easterly wind and also many of us are not running on closed roads so mapping a route becomes a challenge in itself. So, it was perhaps understandable that the overall number of participants for the 8k objective was down on previous weeks. Nevertheless, 37 intrepid Crusaders responded to the challenge and produced some excellent times, with a few even achieving PBs. Indeed, one or two are becoming serial “PBmeisters” (as Olwyn Dunne aptly puts it) and recording PBs virtually each time they run. Just think how they will perform going forward when we get back to actual racing!
The winner of the challenge, and coincidentally the fastest runner in the virtual event, was Seamus Moore, who managed to finish on exactly the same time as he predicted (31:11), running around Balbriggan. It seems extraordinary that Margaret Foley should come home in second place having only missed her target by 1 second. Margaret predicted 37:02 and ran 37:03. Bronze medal position, with a 4 second gap, was shared by Emer Kenny who predicted 37:20 and ran 37:24 around St. Anne’s Park in Raheny, whilst Aoife Quigley ran a super 34:11 after having predicted 34:15, this after having jogged for 600m at one point as she momentarily lost interest in the target! Honourable mentions should go to Andy O’Sullivan who was 7 seconds out with a prediction of 33:20 and an actual run of 33:13 and to Sheena Warren who predicted 48:30 and likewise improved to run 48:22, a difference of 8 seconds.
The fastest runs of the challenge were recorded, as mentioned, firstly by Seamus Moore (with 31:11), followed by Dee Lawlor (31:13) and Michael Fitzsimons (31:21). The women were led home by a flying Julie McGrath who was about a minute faster than her prediction in 32:01, followed by Aoife Quigley (34:11) and Aine Kenny who ran in her native Galway (34:12).
PB times were recorded by Liz Nixon and Tanja Narancic, for the umpteenth time. Both surprised themselves, with Liz running 29 seconds faster than her prediction in 37:01 along the Royal Canal and Tanja running in Kilbogget finishing over a minute faster than her prediction in 37:54 and breaking 38 minutes for the first time. Not to be outdone, Tim Purdy also ran a PB, finishing over a minute ahead of his prediction in 37:21.
Indeed, there are likely to be several other PBs from the list, given that most of us race 5 miles regularly enough, but 8k races are few and far between (the difference being approx. 50m and 5 miles is further than 8k).
This week, with the wind getting ever stronger (in fact the wind was approx. 23.5km/h on the Saturday of the previous challenge and was closer to 46.5km/h on the Saturday of the medley relay challenge), with a replica of the Beast from the East (Storm Emma of early March 2018) making an appearance. It was so tough to run against (heading into the wind meant at times coming almost to a juddering halt), so working out a route for the challenges became critical. Some runners had snow and sleet to contend with too (bringing slippery conditions at times).
The medley relay brought together 56 runners to run in 14 teams of 4. Unfortunately, it was a week for injury and other issues, meaning that 4 of the teams had to draft in replacements almost at the last minute. Thanks so much to those runners who did step in to ensure that we had 14 clear results.
The challenge involved 2 runners taking on 3k and the remaining athletes running 5k. The decision as to who ran which distance was left to each team.
The slowest predicted time for the 16k challenge was 1:17:13, whilst the team with the fastest prediction felt capable of running 1:08:00. So, we had a 9 minute delta in confidence. Once the smoke cleared, and the results of the actual runs had come in, the fastest team ran 1:07:35 and the slowest 1:19:16, a difference of approx. 11.5 minutes, reflecting possibly the difficult weather conditions. Having said that the closest result to a prediction was an amazing 8 seconds, whilst the furthest apart in actual versus prediction was only 2:28.
In any event, the challenge was not to run the fastest times, but to get as close to the predicted time as possible, whilst running hard. The winner this week was team 14 of Fiona Shine, Kenan Furlong, Emer Kenny and Sheena Warren who predicted 1:09:20 and ran 1:09:12. 2nd place went to team 12 of Liz Nixon, Iseult Ni Chuinneagain, Patrick Needham and last minute replacement, Sharon Woods. Their margin was 10 seconds, having predicted 1:16:25 and finishing in 1:16:35. In fact, Liz Nixon ran another PB, improving on her 5k time by 5 seconds. 3rd place was recorded by team 4, comprising Evelyn Neary, Dee Lawlor, Joanne Carey and Kate Murray who were only 23 seconds out with their result of 1:09:11, having predicted 1:09:34. Honourable mentions should go to two other teams. Team 10 of Robbie Moore, Ciara Lynch, Amy Roe and James Cottle (who had to contend with a Garda roadblock in the last km of his 5k effort, forcing him to turn around and run back into the teeth of a gale) predicted 1:11:00 and ran 1:10:36, a 24 seconds gap, whilst, with only 25 seconds difference, team 7 of Gill Earley, Julie McGrath, Tim Purdy and Fiona McCormack ran 1:07:35, having predicted 1:08:00.
Indeed the fastest team of the challenge was team 7 with their 1:07:35 result. Special mentions should go to Barry O’Neill who had wanted a week off but got bullied by James Cottle into running, Darran Lovely who is spending some time in Tenerife, Catherine Thornton (who successfully managed to combine the challenge with a session in Galway) and Sharon Woods who were all drafted in at the last minute and made significant contributions.
This weekend also saw the virtual running of the Donadea 50k. We had at least 3 Crusaders taking part in horrible weather conditions. Olwyn Dunne ran a zig zag course around Dun Laoghaire to record 4:49. Leo Lundy also ran in a gale on the west coast, whilst Donatas Jocius ran on a hilly and snow-covered course near Rathdrum in Co. Wicklow, finishing in 5:35.
Congratulations to all who took part in all the recent challenges! Next week’s challenge is a 6k solo effort. It will be good to see all the PBs, for this unusual distance!