We have now enjoyed two weekends in a row of sunny benign conditions, great for running and participating in the latest challenges cooked up for our clubmates and making the continuing lockdown a little more palatable perhaps. Hopefully, Spring has sprung!
The first weekend at the end of February was the culmination of another predictive medley relay. Each runner had to cover 5k in mixed ability teams of 4. So, the fastest prediction was 1:27:05 and the slowest was 1:37:38 among the 13 teams who took part in the virtual challenge, a difference of 10.5 minutes. However, as everyone knows by now, the winning teams are those who are the most accurate in their predictions.
By Saturday evening all 52 athletes had run their respective legs and the outcome was clear. The team with the closest prediction was Team 6, involving Michael Fitzsimons, Brendan Glynn, Léa Braud and Fiona Lane. They weren’t the fastest team on the day but they were the most accurate with a margin of only 16 seconds, having predicted 1:33:30 and actually running 1:33:14. Well done to them. The team in second place was Team 7 comprising David McEvoy, Julie McGrath, Sharon Woods and Maureen McGinley who predicted 1:35:29 and, like Team 6, running faster than their prediction with a time of 1:35:11, only 2 seconds behind the winning team with a gap of 18 seconds. 3rd place was secured by Team 4 of Olwyn Dunne, Dee Lawlor, Aine Kenny and Geraldine Griffin who were only 34 seconds out in their prediction for the 20k run. They predicted 1:31:57 and, just as with the first two teams, they ended up running faster in 1:31:23.
The fastest team overall, as to be expected, was team 13 with Dee Ni Chearbhaill, Karl Walsh, Barry O’Neill and Maria Kennedy who had predicted the fastest time of 1:27:05 and ended up running 1:28:01, a differential of just under 90s.
As per normal, we had more than one PB during the challenge. Serial PB-getter Tanja Narancic ran one, with a great time of 22:06, having been pushed hard by Fiona Shine and Olwyn Dunne around Kilbogget Park. Another noteworthy mention should go to Evelyn Neary who most likely had improved her PB time for the 5k by almost 3 minutes, the difference between her predicted and actual times!
This week’s virtual challenge was altogether different. No predictions required.
The idea was that each team would run the total distance of a marathon (42.2km) and the winning team would be the fastest. 5 athletes responded to a request for runners to go further than 10km and, given that the rules established meant that no one should run a shorter distance than 3k or further than 21.1k (a half marathon), this helped to determine the size of each team. If there was a runner prepared already to run the half, then the total size of the team was 4, for a runner prepared to run 16.1k (10 miles), then it was 5 and for 10k it was 6, the idea being that the average distance for each additional runner would be between approx. 6 and 7k. There would be 10 teams eventually, involving 58 athletes, with 3 teams of 4, one of 5, one of 6 and 5 teams of 7. The challenge was not unlike that of the Wicklow Way Relay, that in normal years we would be running in May, where tactical placement of runners on the different length legs is critical. Two of the 7 person teams decided to have each runner cover the same distance of approx. 6k, but, given that the teams were deliberately of mixed ability, this inevitably meant they would be out of the medals. However, even so, it was great to see runners attempting to improve their 6k times and one of the teams had fun attacking a 200m time trial.
So, the teams with the strategy of having the faster runners taking the burden of the slightly longer distances in general benefitted. It has to be said though that the winning team (Team 2) had the good fortune of having Mick Smyth running 21.1k in a time not far off his PB for the distance in a super time of 1:23:13. Mick is one of those runners who has really been flying over the past few months. The remaining 21.1k was divided into Julie McGrath and Kate Murray, each running 8k with Evelyn Neary running 5.2k. Julie ran her leg in an excellent 30:55 and Kate ran a strong 39:08 for hers. Evelyn likely improved her PB for 5k, running 23:48. The winning time was below 3 hours in 2:56:11. Many congrats to them.
Not so far behind in second place came Team 1, another team that had a half marathoner in their ranks. Aine Kenny, who is currently in training in Galway for the Midnight Sun Marathon in Tromso, Norway, which will hopefully go ahead on her 40th birthday in July, ran a confidence-boosting 1:34:52. The other members of the team were Dee Lawlor who ran a 10k leg in a great time of 38:13, Fiona Shine who ran equally well in her 8.1k leg in 33:44 and Olwyn Dunne who ran strongly in 12:52 over the remaining 3.1k. Their combined time was also below 3 hours in a rewarding 2:59:41.
Third place, with a time of 3:06:14, a further six and a half minutes behind, went to team 4 who like the first two teams also thought carefully about their strategy. Seamus Moore ran 16.1k in a creditable 65:15 along with Kenan Furlong who took on 8.5k with a terrific 32:32. The tactics had Lisa Sheanon running 7.5k, again with a strong showing of 36:01, with similar performances from Eileen Glynn (5.1k in 26:12) and Amy Roe (5k in 26:14).
So, it was an unusual challenge and one that would have helped provide confidence to many runners.
Final word should go to mentioning that, yet again, Tanja Narancic ran a 5k PB for her team, breaking 22 minutes for the first time in 21:55. Many congrats to her enjoying a purple patch on International Women’s Day weekend!
There is no challenge this week but we'll be thinking of more to come before we are able to train together again and let’s hope that the sun continues to shine. Stay safe everyone.