Archive for February, 2006

Men’s Senior Team make it three in a row

Saturday the 25th of February is a day which will go down in the history of Clonliffe Harriers A.C., the day our men’s Senior Team made it three National Interclub Cross Country Titles in a row. The performance of our athletes and of this club in the hosting and organising of the 2006 Nationals can be summed up in three words: Class, Class, Class.

The hard work in the staging of the National Championships had begun several months earlier and great credit must go to our Club President Paddy Marley in the organising and directing of operations. The work over the weekend itself began early on Friday morning with a team of course markers under the direction of Johnny O’Leary, in this his fiftieth year as a Clonliffe Harrier. The lads marked out a wonderful 2000 metre lap over the rolling parkland of Santry Demesne and Saturday morning bore testament to their professionalism with a circuit which was worthy of any top class cross country race in Europe. Sheer class.

Race day itself witnessed an army of club members rallying to the cause. From the lads manning the car parks to the on course stewards, all suitably attired in fashionable yellow jackets.

Our invited guests including Clonliffe’s last men’s individual winner, Noel Cullen, previous Clonliffe winners Jerry Kiernan and Noel Harvey, great Clonliffe men like Lar O’Byrne, Frazer Walker, the great Eamon Coghlan and so on were greeted by Martin Treacy and Mick Kearney and treated to a pre-race reception.

It was then all systems go for the commencement of the 2006 Nationals on a fast, dry Santry Demesne with a biting blustery wind.

The first race of the day was the Junior Women’s Championship, over 6000 metres. There was a small field in this race including a number of Clonliffe’s young ladies. In the end Sara Treacy of Moynalvey was comfortable winner in 23:32 from R. Galligan (Newbridge) 23:48 and B. Twohig, DSD 24:05.

The winning team was DSD with 21 points from Newbridge second on 42 points and Raheny, third on 49 points.

Next up were the Junior men over 8000 metres. Again this race featured a number of Clonliffe youngsters who ran bravely and gamely though unfortunately they found the pace too hot to handle. The runaway winner was Stephen Scullion (North Belfast) 26:58 from R. Chesser (Ennis) 27:20 and E. Healy, DSD 27:30. The winning team was DSD on 39 points from Ennis, 58 and Glenbower, 61 points.

A special word of praise must go to young Declan Moran who was clearly somewhat distressed heading in to his final lap and was some way off the pace, however, he showed great bravery in battling on to finish on home territory when a lesser individual might have called it a day.

The Senior Women’s race was over 8000 metres and included a full Clonliffe team. One does not have to go back too far to the days when the Senior race did not feature a Clonliffe team but on occasions may have only featured the odd one or two Clonliffe ladies, great progress is currently being made and considerable credit must go to Bronagh Ní Bhrian, our ladies captain. Although our ladies did not feature in the final shake-up, they were placed fifth team, with continued progress and particularly the way our ladies section continues to grow, it cannot be long before this team will be in the hunt for medals.

Up front there was a tremendous battle between Marie McCambridge, a two-time runner-up in this race and Rosie Ryan (Bilboa). Halfway through the race these two were matching stride for stride, however, coming into the final lap McCambridge hit the front to open a gap of 19 seconds to take her first National Long course title, with Rosie Ryan a comfortable second and after a tremendous run, Fionnuala Britain (Sli Cualann) held on for bronze.

The winning team were DSD, 44, Sportsworld, 70 and Raheny 93.

The tension and excitement was almost at fever pitch as the gun went for the start of the Senior men’s race over an extremely demanding 12000 metres. This was an extremely classy field and we spectators were treated to a thrilling battle.

Up front there was a pack of some seven or so athletes including Mark Kenneally, Vinnie Mulvey, Peter Matthews, Mark Christie. Some yards back was one of the pre-race favourites, our own Killian Lonergan.

An early state of panic spread through the Clonliffe ranks as we wondered aloud whether Killian was under pressure, we relaxed somewhat as he quickly closed the gap to get himself in the middle of the lead pack.

The pack was now down to seven, Killian, Mark, Vinnie Mulvey of Raheny, Mark Christie of Mullingar, McAllister of Belfast, Peter Matthews of DSD and Paul McNamara of Athenry. Peter Matthews threw down the gauntlet to all the youngsters setting a blistering pace, try as he would, however, he could not break away.

Further back we were now concerned about Cian McLoughlin, he doesn’t seem to be in his usual flowing style: we experts mused – ‘Just keep ahead of the DSD guy’. Fingers crossed as we sprinted back across to the other side of the course. The excitement and desperation was mounting. We were now shouting until we were almost hoarse – words of encouragement – downright lies – ‘he’s dying on his feet – you have him’.

It is incredible how quickly 12000 metres can pass. We’re now into the last lap, Vinnie Mulvey looks in trouble, Killian’s at the front – this is his day.

Amazingly Mulvey has now caught Killian, there is less than 1000 metres left. Mulvey puts on a spurt and puts space between himself and Killian, Mark Christie is now on Killians tail. They’re in the final straight and Vinnie Mulvey wins, Raheny’s first individual national cross country champion, his time 37:58, second is Mark Christie, 38:03, our man Killian is third to take bronze, 38:07.

Where are we in the team we wonder? Mark Kenneally is already home, sixth, we are roaring and screaming at Gary O’Hanlon, he is twelfth, we have three runners home, DSD have two home, Raheny two home.

Cian McLoughlin has rallied and comes home in sixteenth place, a couple of places behind him is young Aidan Bailey, fifth scorer this year, he was fourth scorer in last years victorious team. Raheny now have four home, the fourth DSD man is also home.

It’s going to be very tight. Joe Cooper calls it a Clonliffe victory by 6 maybe 7 points.

The foot-soldiers are already dismantling the course when the official word comes through, we’ve done it with a margin of eight points over our northside friends, Raheny Shamrocks on 45 points with DSD on 50.

Pat Hooper did predict beforehand that Raheny were going to ‘give us a bit of a rattle’ – they certainly did.

With the course dismantled, the foot-soldiers now retired to the bar to relive the day – this cross country lark is extremely taxing, not just for the athletes!

The top six in the men’s Senior race were:

1 Vinnie Mulvey (Raheny) 37:58 2 Mark Christie (Mullingar) 38:03 3 Killian Lonergan (Clonliffe) 38:07 4 Paul McNamara (Athenry) 38:20 5 Peter Matthews (DSD) 38:26 6 Mark Kenneally (Clonliffe) 38:26

Great credit for our victory must go to not only the scoring four but also to the other Clonliffe guys out there, Aidan Bailey, Colm Rooney, Nigel Brunton and Ed Couglan. Great credit must also go to our club captain, Joe Cooper and also of course to Peter McDermott who coaches several members of the team. There’s that word again – class.

The hosting of the National Cross Country Championships is a very big undertaking for any club. The response of our club members and the assistance and help given by all, not just out on course but for example, Noreen Keane and her squad in the catering department. When the call went out as usual the men and women of Clonliffe responded and no matter what task you carried out over the weekend you were a vital cog in the machine and once again we demonstrated what a truly great club we are. Class, Class, Class.

Full official placings of all our athletes to follow.

Anthony McCreary takes National Indoor Championships

Clonliffe’s Anthony McCreary took the National Indoor title at the Belfast Odyssey Arena over the weekend in the pole vault with a vault of 4.60M with another Clonliffe man David Donegan taking bronze with 4.40, sandwiching between them L. Walker of DCH with a vault of 4.50. Congratulations and well done to both Anthony and David, particularly as this was David’s come back competition from injury.

O’Doherty in last gasp victory

What a finish we had in the 2006 Irwin Memorial Cup held in Santry Demesne on Saturday the 18th of February as scratch man Gerry Brady relaxed coming to the finishing line only to have Philip O’Doherty pass him on the line.

For the first time the Irwin Cup came under the umbrella of the Grand Prix Series and provided a fantastic outing for the 19 or so competitors in the race. The course markers had managed to fit a 2.5K lap into Santry Demesne avoiding any usage of the National circuit. A fairly tough course lay ahead for the athletes featuring three jumps over fallen trees on each lap as well as a fairly substantial number of dips and sharp testing hills. The Irwin Cup is an open handicap meaning that the runners are sent away individually or in small groupings with the faster athletes going last. It was particularly pleasing to have Gerry Brady back running in a club race for the first time in many a long year, indeed the previous weeks National Masters Cross Country was Gerry’s first cross country race in some three or four years. Although a new comer to the Grand Prix Series Gerry has clearly come to grips with the rules very quickly and astutely played his joker in round 1 (each athlete is permitted to pay 1 joker during the course of the season and whatever points are scored in that race are doubled).

As the athletes were sent on their way Cork’s finest Jeremy Walsh was again showing his current good form in catching runners hand over fist, cutting through the field at a rate of knots. Similarly Tommy Griffin was making good progress as indeed were Messrs. O’Doherty and Brady.

Heading into the last lap the smart money was on Gerry Brady as he reeled in the runners in front eventually to overhaul Philip O’Doherty coming down the final straight and to open a fairly substantial gap however, Philip, who later commented “I thought to myself I don’t generally get an opportunity to win a race” put his head down, his foot on the gas and began catching Gerry, who at this stage was beginning to relax and amazingly Philip managed to overhaul Gerry literally with a meter or two to go, by the time he had hit the front it was too late for Gerry to react resulting in Philip O’Doherty taking a magnificent victory and 20 points in the Grand Prix Series. Second was Gerry Brady who gathers in 19 points however, as a result of playing of his joker that total doubles to 38 points, giving him a clear early lead and the yellow jersey for round 2. Jeremy Walsh continued his good progress to take 3rd place.

It was also good to see a return to the Grand Prix Series, after a year out, of our guest Terry Mee and also to welcome new Grand Prix competitors John Fay and Maurice Mullens.

The full result of the 2006 Irwin Cup was:

1. Philip O’Doherty (35:43) – 20 Pts.

2. Gerry Brady (35:04) – 19 Pts. (Joker Played) – 38 Pts. scored

3. Jeremy Walsh (36:35) – 18 Pts.

4. Shay Byrne (40:21) – 17 Pts.

5. Paddy Tuite (40:17) – 16 Pts.

6. Terry Mee (42:29) – 15 Pts.

7. Stephen Byrne (35:45) – 14 Pts.

8. Tommy Griffin (36:52) – 13 Pts.

9. Dave Brady (44:34) – 12 Pts.

10. Dylan Ahern * (41:18) – — Pts.

11. John Fay (44:51) – 11 Pts.

12. Alan Smeaton (42:01) – 10 Pts.

13. Colm Doran (39:44) – 9 Pts.

14. Eddie Harrison (42:45) – 8 Pts.

15. Noel Guiden (41:27) – 7 Pts.

16. Tony Kiernan (47:51) – 6 Pts.

17. Ray McConville (47:51) – 5 Pts.

18. Maurice Mullen (51:28) – 4 Pts.

19. Jim Cleary (49:13) – 3 Pts.

* Equals non entrant in Grand Prix Series.

Afterwards in the Club bar presentation of prizes made by race sponsor Paddy Tuite/Kinseally Motors to Philip O’Doherty as the race winner who was also presented with the Irwin Cup and to the fastest athlete Gerry Brady. The prize for second in the race went to Jeremy Walsh and for third to Shay Byrne.

Round 2 takes place on Saturday the 4th of March with the Farren Cup, unfortunately however the Farren Cup is still missing however the race will regardless take place this year over 6K rather than the traditional 6 Miles. This race will take place at 3.00 p.m. in Santry. Each lap will commence at the car park in Santry Demesne, the runners will then run cross country, or whatever suits them, to the bridge at the Crown Plaza Hotel, they will cross the bridge, turn right and head back to the Swords Road, right again down past the stadium and right again into Santry Demesne carpark. Quite clearly spikes are not an option!. We have no sponsor for this race so if anyone is interested ……….

There are currently plenty of places available for athletes to take part in the Grand Prix Series, entries will be taken once again over the next two Thursdays in the Club Bar from 9.00 p.m. Guests are of course more than welcome.

The Europeans as told by Killian Lonergan

With Joe’s texts reminding us over and over again of our meeting time at the airport and more importantly not to forget our passports there was less worry about airport mishaps than usual! Colm’s pint sized bag was the only surprise – how he managed to fit a weekend of running gear, not to mention ordinary clothes and toiletries into that, we’ll never know!

With Club President Paddy Marley having made the effort to come to the airport for the send off, the ‘team’ was in place – Athletes, coach, Noreen Keane and Mick Kearney.

After the quick two and a quarter hour journey to Madrid we landed on time and with no hiccups to this point, we knew something had to give. We didn’t have to wait long! The RFEA ( Spanish Athletics Federation ) had arranged a bus to transport all arriving teams the 300km to Caceres, the city hosting the competition.

It was to leave the airport at 7.15pm. After having checked in with their representative at Arrivals we had about 25 minutes until departure. Knowing it would be another 2.5 hours before a stop allowed us to eat, we split up to find the food and water required to tie us over. As promised, all were back at our meeting point at 7.10 so we could go to the bus.

As we headed down the corridor towards the ‘pick up’ point we met the RFEA rep walking towards us. Watching as he put his hands to his head we knew something wasn’t right! Somehow, we hadn’t made enough of an impression with him, as he had let the bus leave the airport without us!

As there were no other planned pick up’s at the airport that night, things didn’t look good. While he tried to reach the bus driver on his mobile we imagined what a night in Madrid was going to mean. Fortunately the bus company finally got hold of the driver and after 20 minutes out the road he and the other teams turned around to come back for us. You can imagine how our fellow athletes looked at us as we loaded onto the bus for the now 40 minutes extended journey!

Just over 2 hours into the ride we stopped off for 30 minutes. The hotel was going to be finished serving food by the time we got there, so this was to be our dinner for the night. Imagine a ‘boor’s nest’ type diner, with fresh meat handing off the ceiling, with pancakes, omelettes, chocolate and beer all served in the same place. All the teams settled in for some food – while our resident card shark, Senor Kenneally, cleaned up on the one armed bandit – turning an initial euro into over 15 in less than 10 minutes. We could use those talents elsewhere if the club’s finances ever deteriorate!

Another two hours down the road and the 4 star hotel we were to stay in for the weekend appeared. Fortunately we were quickly into reception and promptly managed to get our room keys in a few minutes enabling everyone to hit their beds minutes before midnight local time.

Breakfast the next morning was a pleasant experience as we were greeted with far more than the standard continental offerings. Local fresh fruit, along with cereals, fry up’s and bread were available. Joe gave us instructions of the plan for the rest of the day – the team arranged to meet for a run to the course before lunch. Joe, Noreen and Mick scouted out the route. The 2km distance turned out to be closer to 7km but as we were in constant contact with our experienced reconnaissance team, we planned accordingly. The team took off in the direction of the course, with Cian acting as navigator, map in hand. After 25 minutes and a few unplanned public pit ups we all arrived at the course – having taken the somewhat scenic route which necessitated climbing over at least 4 barbed wire fences!

The initial reactions were all positive as the course was as firm and fast as any European course we could have imagined. Flats would be the order of the day – if anyone had brought them! We all did a lap of the course and noted its demanding twists, inclines, declines and flat hard surface under foot.

The 15 degree temperature had us sweating more than usual and half the team didn’t feel like making the return trip to the hotel by foot. Joe and co. were still in situ and they decided to fall back on plan b – order a taxi! Three took off for the run home and sure enough were heckled by locals as they ran along the hard shoulder towards the city – oh sorry, they weren’t locals, they were our own team-mates and coach telling us to push on up the hills. At least we would have a good excuse on Sunday evening if things didn’t work out well!!

After eating and showering we were left to our own devices for the afternoon. Some headed down town to sample the local coffee shops, others toured the World Heritage ‘Old City’ while others lazed around the hotel.

After another stomach filling dinner and the first sighting of the Spanish favourites we agreed to converge in one room that night for some team bonding. Two hours later and minutes after Rocky had completed the comeback of his life against Ivan Drago we dispersed to our own rooms for a comfortable nights’ sleep.

After a 20 minutes shake out on the morning of the race we met up for breakfast – though the fry up was once again on offer, it wasn’t openly digested by the athletes. At least that’s the party line we’re sticking to! Joe passed out the required numbers and champion-chips for the race, making sure we all had our spikes and water etc. before we left the hotel for the last time.

Joe, Mick, Noreen and athletes all boarded the 11.30am us for the 10 minute bus ride. Gary once again amazed us with his lack of self awareness by using a local supermarket’s plastic bag for his spikes and Clonliffe gear! This was one athlete determined to let his feet do the talking!

The barren car park from the day before was almost full as we arrived – ten minutes to go before the junior race. DSD girls were racing for the Irish. With a good crowd the whole way around the 2km loop we dispersed around the course to check that no sand, man made obstacles or otherwise had been added anywhere since yesterday.

The big screen at the finish was an excellent way of following the races. With intermediate splits been given it was quite easy to see how well the Dundrum girls were getting on. Meanwhile a randomly found champion chip close to the Clonliffe area was quickly labelled as Gary’s.

The strength in depth of the senior races was clearly evident when former world champions Fernanda Ribeiro and Olga Yegorova were outside the top ten at halfway. The Dundrum senior team were holding their own but their late journey in the day before can’t have helped them.

At this stage Joe rounded us all up and directed/dragged us to the warm up area. The heat was on and Joe was sweating more than any of us! Numerous discussions over the weekend had taken place where Joe had drilled into us that a top 6 team position was possible. We bandied around the possible and probable but left it at ‘if we all run good races’ the results would take care of themselves.

The last few minutes had arrived and we all reached for our Clonliffe vests – Mark’s wasn’t to be found! With Joe carrying another one, that wasn’t going to be such a problem; but with no spare number available, panic was about to set in. Oh, “what’s your number again Gary?” Ah, the missing vest had been located. As Gary slipped it off and located his own we all headed towards the start area. A few autographs later, strides completed and TV crew having passed by we were off!

5 laps of the 2km loop were the order of the day, and with Clonliffe and DSD fans out on the course cheering us on it didn’t seem we were too far from home. The pace was fast from the start and with a clock giving everyone their splits after each lap we could all see after the first lap that the pace was as hot as the weather! In fact after the 2nd lap we were lying in 4th place in the team standings.

10,000m on and we all crossed the line short of breath, full of lactic acid, and wondering how we had done. The big screen had been feeding the spectators the results as we passed each lap so it wasn’t long before news filtered through that we had finished 5th. Our best team result in almost 20 years. Joe, Mick and Noreen were delighted and as we ran into DSD folk it was once again evident what a great fraternity athletics is. Olympic 10k bronze medallist Zersenay Tadesse was the overall winner with European 5km Champion and reigning XC silver medallist Alberto Garcia in 5th. (http://www.rfea.es/competi/result2006/cross/caceresSeniorHombres.pdf)

Of course each one of us took positives and negatives away from the race – all of which we hope to use to good effect during the defence of our National Title on Feb 25th.

We arrived back to the hotel and after another fine feed, coupled with texts and calls home, a rough plan of action for the night ahead was drawn up. Some hit their beds for some well earned naps, others went down town for some R&R with the local.

Back in the hotel some of us were fortunate to catch the entire Men’s race being shown on the National TV Channel. After re-living the race once more we were more than ready for the night ahead.

The call soon came in from DSD to see if anything was planned. Despite Joe’s insistence that he was going to pull out the Lotto Tickets at the table before the DSD folks left, it wasn’t long before we were the only one’s paying up another 2 euro to the fund! After walking to the old town and grabbing pizza and drinks we found ourselves once more co-hosting the celebrations with DSD. With two sets of bronze medals in the bag they were deservingly full of joy. With Gary providing the highlights of the night well into the wee hours it was another memorable night.

Next morning we were up early for our rendezvous with some DSD runners. It wasn’t long before talk turned towards our head to head at Nationals and if that hour was anything to go by the results will go down to the wire once again.

We soon got ready to board the bus back to Madrid – this time scoring a bus with tables for ourselves. Nearly 4.5 hours later and with the promise of free accommodation from our new Luxembourg friend ( though his flat was in Grenoble ), or indeed are looking for entry to their world class half marathon we hit the airport in full spirits.

Our final surprise was when we were met at Dublin airport by Paddy, Noel, Johnny and Padraig. There was a notable sense of pride in our achievement and a small amount of regret perhaps that they hadn’t made the trip this year.

Next year’s Euro Clubs are scheduled for Marseilles in France, and with Aer Lingus operating direct flights from this April; it’s up to the 8 athletes toeing the line on the 25th of February. Hopefully the committee will soon be planning flights and accommodation for next year’s Euro Club XC Championship!

National Intermediates and Masters

A pretty successful raid on the rebel county for the Nationals by the small Clonliffe contingent, our athletes bring home gold silver and bronze medals from Carraig na bhFear, Cork, yesterday the 12th February.

After a long trip down south taken by plane, train and automobile our small men’s masters and ladies intermediate teams were greeted by a pretty rough course, although relatively flat the underfoot conditions ranged from sticky to the downright dangerous thanks to tractor tracks and cattle hooves and other cattle by-products. Although the threat of rain held off there was a stiff breeze which contributed to the overall experience.

The first race of the day was the ladies masters over 4,000M which was won at ease by Pauline Curley, unfortunately we had no athletes in that race.

Next away over 7,000M were the master men including a Clonliffe team of 7. For the first time the National Masters included the apprentice vets, the dreaded O/35, which needless to say contributed to the fast early pace. Our team put in a spirited display led home by David Brennan, allegedly carrying an ankle injury, in 31st place and also to be the fourth scorer on the Dublin County Team.

Gerry Brady paid for his early pace and was overhauled by Martin Tracey in 38th place with Gerry 40th and Eugene Coppinger 55th making up the scoring 4, taking the team to 4th place overall. Our other athletes were Tom Monks 81st, Noel Guiden 86th and Pat Bonass 97th.

Gerry was rewarded for his afternoons work with 3rd place in the O/50 category to pocket bronze.

Pat took individual silver in the O/60 category, just losing out on the gold over the final 1,000M.

In the inter-county race both Dave and Martin claimed bronze as Dublin finished 3rd behind Cork 2nd and Donegal 1st. Remarkably this was Martin Tracey’s 10th National Masters Cross Country medal.

Well done also to Raheny’s Nick Corish, who became an honorary Clonliffe man for the weekend as part of our travelling party, on his 1st place O/75.

Race winner was John Downes of Donore, Colm Burke of Laoise 2nd and Tommy Payne, Tinnrynald 3rd.

Next up were the intermediate ladies. Once again it was great to see Clonliffe field a full team, particularly as our ladies were the 2005 champions, meaning that the majority of our senior team were not eligible to compete this time out.

Christine Kenneally ran a superb race, always featuring in the top 10 and finished a very strong 5th place, just out of the individuals medals. Christine however was rewarded for her run by being the 3rd scorer on the victorious Dublin County team to take home gold.

Ladies Captain Bronagh Ni Bhriain continued to improve showing very good form in placing 22nd.

Well done particularly to Kate Power (41st) and Dympna Boylan (42nd) in their first Championship Cross Country race ever on their gutsy runs.

1st in the ladies intermediate race was Fiona Malon of Donore with Rathfarnham being the 1st club.

The last race of the day was the men’s intermediate however, as in the first race in the programme Clonliffe was un-represented. A disappointing end to an otherwise successful outing.

A collection of P.B’s gathered in Raheny

At the Raheny 5 Mile held on Sunday the 5th of February there were a number of very strong performances including a clutch of PB’s taken back to Santry.

On what was a super day for running, cold but little or no wind and thankfully somewhat dryer than last year this made for fast performances in what is undoubtedly one of the Country’s top road races, congratulations to our friends and neighbours in Raheny Shamrocks for their promotion of this wonderful sporting event.

Pride of place performance wise goes to David Brennan taking a massive minute off his PB to record a time of 26:47. Our first athlete home was Nigel Brunton (I’m afraid I don’t have his time – he was showered and dressed long before I was finished!). Caroline Dobbyn had a magnificent run to be6th lady home in a time of 29:44. Birthday boy Richard Connolly was 1st O/60 in a time of 31:20 and Jimmy Bennett was 2nd O/65 in a time of 36:10.

There were no less than eleven PB’s recorded between our men and women on the day. The Clonliffe times, and apologies to anyone I may have missed (or if my info is inaccurate), were as follows:

Nigel Brunton – ?

David Brennan – 26:47 (PB)

Maurice McCrohan – 28:08 (PB)

Noel Cullen – 28 (jogging his Sunday afternoon run!)

Jeremy Walsh – 28:30 (PB)

Tom Monks – 29:10

Caroline Dobbyn – 29:44

Kieran Murphy – 29:45 (PB)

Stephen Byrne – 29:52 (PB)

Colm Doran – 30:10

Noel Guiden – 30:15

Richard Connolly – 31:20 (1st O/60)

Pat Devitt – 31:49

Bronagh Ni Bhrian – 32:02 (PB)

Michael Hogan – 34:20 (PB)

Karen Duggan – 35:01 (PB)

Jimmy Bennett – 36:10 (2nd O/65)

Cara White – 39:15

Kate Power – 40:08 (PB)

Annette – 40:26 (PB)

Pamela Cooper – 41:30 (PB)

The sweat and pain around Trinity playing fields on a Tuesday night is obviously paying dividend.

Clonliffe magnificent 5th in Europe

An absolutely superb performance by Clonliffe’s Men in the European Club Cross Country Championships in Carceres, Spain, on Sunday the 5th of February led by a magnificent display by Killian Lonergan, taking 10th place, placed the Club 5th in Europe.

There was a huge crowd of some 10,000 spectators in attendance at the course in the Spanish City to witness the cream of European long distance runners in action. Clonliffe of course had sent a very strong team and Captain Joe Cooper was in Buoyant form before the race“hoping for a top 6 position”.

The boys did Joe and the Club proud with an absolutely tremendous performance by Killian Lonergan to finish 10th place in a time of 30:16Mark Kenneallywas next in 24th place in a time of 31:03, closely followed by Cian McLoughlin in 26th in 31:07 with Gary O’Hanlon being the fourth scorer in 32nd place in a time of 31:29. Our fifth athlete was Colm Rooney in 56th place in a time of 32:57 and 6th was Aidan Bailey in 62nd place in 33:30.

The tight packing of the lads propelled Clonliffe up the leader board to finish a magnificent 5th place, some three places better than last year.

The individual winner was Zersenay Tadesse of CA Adidas from Spain in a time of 29:18 from his team mate Jose Rios 29:26 and 3rd was Drissel Himer of Olympique de Marseille in a time of 29:40.

The winning team were CA Adidas from Spain retaining its crown and winning the European title for the sixth time with an unbelievable total of 14 points, their scoring runners being 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th.

The full team result was:

1. CA Adidas – 14 Pts.

2. Grupo Desportivo Da Conforlimpa – 28 Pts.

3. Olympique de Marseille – 53 Pts.

4. If Sparta Copenhagen – 84 Pts.

5. Clonliffe Harriers – 92 Pts.

6. Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediye S – 114 Pts.

7. AK Kormeriz – 130 Pts.

8. RFC Liegeois – 132 Pts.

9. SK Vidar – 154 Pts.

10. Salford Harriers – 196 Pts.

11. Sport Club Lieftal – 197 Pts.

12. Club d’Atletisne Valls d’Andorra – 211 Pts.

13. Prinz Hendrik – 212 Pts.

14. Inter Sport Moldova – 215 Pts.

15. CA Balvaux – 244 Pts.

Stunning performances – roll on February 25th.

The Snow Queen – Aisling Coppinger in her own write

Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, fig rolls, fruit cake, orange slices, chocolate bars, cakes and sweet things of all varieties, water………………….. no that wasn’t the lunch menu on our trip to France, that was refreshments at the water stations during our Trail Blanch mountain experience last Saturday 22nd Jan. 2006. Liamo reckoned we’d put on weight! And he would have been right if it wasn’t that this turned out to be one of the toughest mounting running (any running!) experiences I’ve ever encountered. If we thought that a nice 20 mile amble through some light snowy tracks was ahead of us when we signed up, we were in for a shock!

Initially 5 of us decided we’d head off to France for the Trail Blanch 2006 32k Snow Race after someone suggested it would be good training for our real test this year, the Tour of Mont Blanc: myself, Tony Kiernan, Eugene Coppinger, Gary Moralee and the aformentioned Liam O’Riain (the last two being from Tallaght AC). My brother Niall (unfortunately another Tallaght AC man) couldn’t resist the lure of some altitude training and he joined the group.

Turned out that a few more were heading over from IMRA and NIMRA and in total 16 of us ended up booked into the home of Irish couple Barry and Sharon Phelan in Ville Franche in the Pyrennees, less than an hours drive from Font Romeu, the race venue. I actually think Liam, Eugene and Gary only signed up for this race in the hope of bumping into ‘Our Paula’, Font Romeu being where she has an apartment and does her altitude training. She never materialised.

Race day approached and we were so well looked after by Barry and Sharon. Home cooking, lots of it, even Liam’s favourite: berry crumble. You can see now a lot of this holiday involved food as well as running!

Race day itself and the conditions were perfect; it was cold and windy in the morning but nothing troubling. Knowing what gear to wear in conditions you’re not used to is always going to be difficult but as it turned out running tights were an absolute essential, as were sunglasses which I had managed to forget but Tony made the ultimate sacrifice and gave me his! Any talk by runners of this being a training run (usually Tallaght Athletes), and just wanting to get around was met with a swift rebuke and a reminder that a race is a race and we hadn’t gone all that way for a training run (Clonliffe Athletes!!).

The race itself began and ended in the ski resort of des Airelles in Font Romeu. If we thought runnning UP a ski slope was bad it was nothing compared to the first severe downhill we faced after only a couple of kilometres. It was slippery and severe and the snow was deep. It didn’t last long luckily and there was a couple of kilometres of hills and flats, most of it runnable. Nothing could have prepared us though for the hour or so of waist deep snow that we encountered in the mid to late stages of the race. It’s a funny sensation when you fall in snow that thick because you put your hands down to stop yourself and your hands keep going through the snow till your face down in the stuff! It was the toughest part of any race I’ve ever done. You were going nowhere but using lots of energy to struggle through the snow. It just seemed to go on and on as each step sank into the snow and you had to climb out from every step.

The course itself wasn’t marked by kilometres and at no stage until I was 2 hours into it did I have a clue how far I’d ran. At that stage I was told I was first woman and also about half way. It was marked by flags on trees and lets just say that no Clonliffe Athlete went wrong or got lost!! You had to wear a chip type thing on your wrist and key it in at every station, like in orienteering but it was electronic.

The last 10k began with a gentle uphill forest trail where we were met in the opposite direction by lots of skiiers. I was about 3 hours gone at that stage and couldn’t take anything on board except water. This meant I was struggling a bit for energy but the trail was so beautiful and scenic and it was a gentle enough hill that it could be enjoyed. For me it was the best part of the course. The last 5 or so kilometres included another ski slope (the button lift looked very tempting and I’m not joking), some more forest trail, some car parks and some gentle but tough hills to get to the finish. It was such a relief to finish. Mentally it was draining as the course changed all the time and you had to adapt the way you ran at each change. The French seemed to be genuinely delighted with the Paddy presence. At all times they were very encouraging and were great at dragging me through the last few tough climbs when all I really wanted to do was stop!!

We all finished well, tired and drained. I was thrilled to win the womens event in 4 hours. I was very surprised and even more delighted when I also got a ‘Queen of the Mountains’ trophy for a time trial stage in the middle of it. Kevin Grogan from IMRA won the M50 and we got some photos with the tri-colour!! Niall Coppinger ran a brilliant 3:32 and the rest weren’t too far behind. If there had been a team prize Clonliffe would certainly have won that too as myself, Eugene and Tony made up a trio!

If anyone is thinking of going next year, it’s a great one to do. There’s an 18k course run at the same time if you fancy a shorter event but it’s still very hilly and tough. Consider staying with the Phelans who you can read about in the last issue of Irish Runner. And you should tag on a few days on at the end for skiing. There were some race-organisational hiccups, lets say, with registration etc, but it paled into insignificance compared to the scenery, hospitality, thermal baths(yes they were great!) and with the added bonus of a bit of altitude training! And just look at what you can eat en route…

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