The highlight of the weekend for many of us was being able to see elite athletes racing in the delayed 2020 edition of the London marathon. Whilst many of us would have something to say about the quality of the coverage by the BBC, there is no denying both men’s and women’s elite-only races had different elements which made each a riveting spectacle (in between the human interest bits!). Hats off to the organisers, who not only had to manage the constraints with which we are now so familiar in preventing the spread of the virus, but also the challenging weather conditions for the runners. It was great to see John Treacy’s long-standing men’s Irish record under serious attack and nearly broken by Stephen Scullion as well as the sprint for the line by 3 runners in the men’s race, together with the American Sara Hall’s remarkable demonstration of how to pace a marathon (as did Scullion), looking in considerable pain throughout the whole challenge but confounding the commentators as well with her tactics. She clearly made the decision early on as to what pace suited her.
The same weather that was impacting the runners in London hit our shores over the weekend, but it did not put off at least two of our club mates from taking part in the virtual London marathon, which attracted a field of some 45,000 participants around the world on Sunday. Inevitably, the participants from the club were Olwyn Dunne and Leo Lundy, two veteran long distance runners. Both athletes decided to challenge themselves by running up and down along the coast, which was particularly hard given the 50km/h wind coming from the northwest along with the rainy conditions of the morning. Well done to both, and especially to Olwyn who ran just under 4 hours and received a congratulatory note from Paula Radcliffe for so doing, whilst Leo, who started running at 4 am ahead of the storm and in order to get back to watch the TV coverage of the elite races, ran 5:40. Both Leo and Olwyn will hopefully be adding to their achievements shortly by running, along with several other club mates, in the virtual Dublin marathon in a few weeks’ time, assuming further lockdown measures don't come into play.
News came last week of the achievement of another Crusader in long distance racing. Many members will remember Kris Ryan who is now back in her native Queensland, Australia. Last week Kris took part in the Queensland State 48 hour championships in which she covered a distance of some 228k, winning the women’s event and placing 2nd overall. As a consequence, she has been selected by Australia to represent the country in the “Last Man Standing” world championships being organised in 19 venues globally on 17 October. Many congrats to Kris.
Finally, whilst those of us in Dublin have been unable to race properly in recent weeks given the level 3 restrictions imposed upon us, other counties have been able to arrange for their XC championships to take place. For example, there were novice and masters events held in Meath, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Kildare over the weekend. One of our members, Catherine Thornton, has been in her native Galway since the start of the pandemic and has thankfully been able to keep her training going with help from Galway City Harriers. As a result, the athlete was invited on Sunday to run as a guest in that county’s senior XC championships, and, in a strong field and a 4km mixed category race won by Laura Shaughnessy, Catherine took an excellent 4th place overall behind training partners from GCH who swept the medals. Winner a few weeks back of a challenging, hilly and blustery half marathon elsewhere in Connaught (in 1:27), Catherine ran in an event which was shorter than she has become used to and which took place on undulating loops (with a major hill) of the exposed Galway Race Course in Ballybrit. Conditions for the event were even poorer than those experienced in Dublin, given that the county was under status yellow at the time.
Fingers crossed that Dublin will have its own XC season before too long.