2020 will clearly be remembered as the year of the pandemic and all its negative aspects, but for Crusaders it will also be remembered for some of the positives, such as the completion of the new clubhouse at Irishtown Stadium which, with its 40 metre indoor Mondo track, will be the envy of many athletics clubs in years to come. Hopefully, not only will we be getting the keys soon, but also, we’ll actually be able to make full use of the state of the art facility. 2020 will also be remembered by us as the year of virtual time trials and challenges, a truly welcome means of dealing with the lockdown situation.
As hoped, we’re now back to training together, albeit under government and Athletics Ireland constraints, but it is brilliant to be able to meet up at Tuesday and Saturday training. Returning to the track on Tuesdays and to the Phoenix Park on Saturdays is also major, since these facilities are just what we need as athletes. How long we’ll be able to enjoy this limited freedom is today anyone’s guess, but while it lasts we’ll use what we have to the full.
This weekend we were also able to use the park (albeit in cold and windy conditions, but that’s to be expected in the highest and most exposed part of North Dublin) to complete the latest mixed distance relay challenge put together by Brendan and Susan, which followed a blind predictive 8k time trial the week before.
48 Crusaders participated in the predictive time trial with everyone planning their own individual routes and trying to guess in advance how fast he or she could run it. Most of us were about a minute or so out, and generally expecting that we would be slower than our actual runs. One or two were spectacularly inaccurate, but it was amazing that the winning runners, since there was more than one, were only 1 second out. The challenge was won by Maureen McGinley who predicted that she would complete the distance in 47 minutes and was only 1 second slower, whilst Darran Lovely, who was also rewarded with the fastest time overall, predicted 30:59 and finished 1 second ahead. There were a few others who were pretty close too. Margaret Foley was 2 seconds out when running 37:13, having predicted 37:15. Barry O’Neill was 3 seconds out, running on much of a course established by James Cottle earlier the same day. Barry ran 36:58, having predicted 36:55. Finally, Emily Glen was only 4 seconds away from her prediction of 39:45 in running 39:41.
The fastest women in the challenge were led by Orla Drumm who completed the distance in 31:30, followed by Aine Kenny (34:50) and Esther Requena Ferri (35:15). For the men, Darran Lovely led the way in 30:58, followed by James Cottle (32:06), just one second ahead of Seamus Moore (32:07).
So, the following week’s challenge involved 14 teams of 4, with each runner covering a different distance up to a combined 17.6k. Each team had to decide who should run the 8k leg, the 5k leg, the 3k leg and the one mile anchor. The one stipulation was that if any runner had run the mile leg in a previous challenge he or she would be ineligible to run that distance in the latest challenge. To the extent more than one runner would otherwise be ineligible, we had to toss a coin. For most teams, however, it was pretty clear who should run which leg.
Many congratulations to the winning team which comprised of Ger Forde, who ran the 8k leg in 29:52 (the second fastest of the competition), Orla Drumm, who ran the fastest 5k overall in 19:30, Louise O’Riordan who ran the 3k leg in 13:36 and Gian Piero Allerta who ran the mile in a PB time of 6:15 for a combined time of 1:09:13. Second place was secured by a team only 15 seconds behind in 1:09:28, comprising Eugene McDonough who ran the fastest 8k leg of the challenge in 29:21, organiser Brendan Glynn (5k in 22:25), Mary Horgan, who ran the fastest 3k overall in 10:59 and Fiona McCormack who ran the mile in 6:43. The virtual bronze medal was won by the team comprising Seamus Moore (8k in 32:11), Fiona Shine (5k in 20:26), Luke Haran (3k in 11:38) and Maureen McGinley (mile in 8:33). The third placed team ran the challenge in a combined 1:12:48. It was great to see that, throughout this series of challenges, different names have appeared on the podium. Congratulations to all. Indeed, the 14 teams were separated by only 17:30 minutes and, moreover, only 53 seconds separated 5 teams from 6th place to 10th. Great seeding!
For the record, the fastest athletes on each leg were as follows:
8k: Women: Aine Kenny (34:28), Olwyn Dunne (37:56) and Joanne Carey (44:14).
8k: Men: Eugene McDonough (29:21), Ger Forde (29:52) and Dee Lawlor (31:45).
5k: Women: Orla Drumm (19:30), Fiona Shine (20:26) and Esther Requena Ferri (21:52).
5k Men: Kevin Kavanagh (20:55), Conor Parle (21:19) and Brendan Glynn (22:25).
3k: Women: Mary Horgan (10:59), Gillian Earley (12:09) and Lisa Shine (13:00).
3k: Men: Luke Haran (11:38) and James Moran (12:54)
1 mile: Women: Maria Kennedy (6:40), Fiona McCormack (6:43) and Rachael Golden (7:30) with Sharon Woods (7:30).
1 mile: Men: Zlatko Kulic (5:19), Karl Walsh (6:05) and Diarmuid Byrne (6:10).
On Saturday, we had a Crusader, Miriam Logan, participate in an actual race. This was the Wicklow Hospice Half marathon, which did not receive much, if any, advance publicity. As a consequence, the field was relatively modest at under 30. There was also a marathon race which involved 2 laps of the same undulating and relatively challenging course along country roads in Wicklow and this was contested by only 7 athletes. In fact, the course was an out and back in cold and windy conditions. The wind was behind the runners on the way out but very much in their faces on the return. The athletes also experienced painful hail at times too. In a field dominated by Parnell AC, the overall half marathon race was won by MSB and international athlete, Sean Hehir, in 1:10:30 ahead of Bohermeen and MRR’s Ronan Wogan in 1:18:42, whilst Miriam placed 3rd in the women’s race, having arrived late for the start and having to come from quite far back (along with missing a turn in the race at one point too) in a time of 1:54:10 and 17th overall. The women’s race winner, who placed 5th overall and who ran 1:28:10, was Parnell’s Sheila O’Byrne.
The next challenge for us all will be a predictive 1 mile. It will be interesting to see if we have got any better at predicting our performances!