All posts in Olympics

Cragg and Kenneally ready to enter Olympic fray

Clonliffe duo Alistair Cragg and Mark Kenneally are ready for the off as the Olympic Athletics Programme commences tomorrow, Friday. Alistair Cragg will be taking part in his third Olympic Games. He runs in Round 1 of the 5000 metres at 10.45 a.m. on Wednesday next August 8th with the realistic aspiration of making his third Olympic final on August 11th. Cragg has maintained a very low key approach to this Olympic Games and on his day is capable of producing a very fast 5000 metres, witness his run in last September’s Van Damm Meet in Brussels. Mark Kenneally on the other hand makes his Olympic debut and is not in action until Sunday week, August 12th at 11 a.m. in the marathon.

The first Irish competitors in action in the track and field programme are on the blocks tomorrow morning with Joanne Cuddihy in the women’s 400 at 12 noon and then tomorrow evening Morton Miler Ciaran O’Lionaird runs in the 1500 metres Round 1 at 8.50 p.m. with Fionnuala Britton running in the 10,000 final at 9.25 p.m. See   for timetable of Irish athletes in action in these Olympic Games.

Other athletes whom Clonliffe members will be familiar with are recent Morton Games participants Ryan Gregson (AUS) in the 1500m, Matt Centrowitz (USA) 1500m and Eloise Wellings (AUS) in opposition to Fionnuala Britton in the 10,000 metres all in action tomorrow night.



Mark Kenneally`s latest RTE blog before he heads to Olympic Games

Mark Kenneally heads to London early next week. His last blog before the Olympics was published on on July 20th and reads: “Nearly there: less than four weeks to go now until the Olympic marathon. Since I last blogged I’ve had a pretty busy time training, competing and dealing with all the madness that surrounds the Olympics. I had completely forgotten how much hype there is.

Competing in a minority sport, and having never been to an Olympics before, means that doing interviews and photo shoots were fairly alien to me.

Over the last six weeks there were times when I felt barely a day went by without doing one. I’ve tried to enjoy it as much as possible, I’m well aware that the Olympics may be – although hopefully not – a once in a lifetime experience and I didn’t want to shut myself away from it.

I know some athletes completely stay away from it, but that’s not really my nature. I don’t mind doing those things, to be honest it creates a little bit of excitement for me, and distracts from the grind of training. At this point, though, I head off to camp next week, and in there I will be solely focused on the training and the race at hand.

This last period has been the heaviest block of training for me. It’s been high miles, long workouts and plenty of feeling tired.

I’ve backed off from work quite a bit, I’ve probably only done 8-10 hours/week over the last month, just because I’ve been tired a lot from what is my most consistent, and best marathon build up to date.

I’ve done a lot of work around marathon pace, making it feel as comfortable as possible, but we try to do that work on tired legs to replicate what it’s going to feel like over the closing miles.

This means either runs of 12-16 miles at marathon pace or slightly faster, or else finishing long runs of 22-25 miles fast. This deadens the legs quite a bit, as I found out over in Helsinki at the European Championships.

We had decided to do this race because the date fell nicely in the training block, and also having run a good 10,000m at the end of May I was hopeful I could improve again.

Unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way. What I found out is that big miles and long sessions make you very good at maintaining fast paces for a long time, but it doesn’t prepare you for a track race where a Kenyan running for Turkey is surging and slowing over and over.

My performance was ok, I think I could have run faster in a steadier paced race. but I can’t control other people so I just tried to take the fact that I felt strong and ran pretty even splits as positive signs for my marathon, and moved on.

Next time I run a 10,000m in a championship, though, I’ll have prepared specifically for it. Frustrated wasn’t the word.

Since Helsinki I’ve put together another good block of training, including a 25km race simulation, practicing drinks and pacing, under the supervision of Caroline McManus, physiologist from the Institute of Sport, all of which has gone well, and which suggests that my race plan is grounded in some sense. There was some drama, however, during the 25km.

I was doing it on a 4.5km loop in the Phoenix Park, one which I’m very familiar with and usually enjoy.

On the last lap, within a km of finishing, I came around a corner and started onto a straight piece of road when a car that was coming toward me sort of came to a stop very near the edge of the road leaving me no room to go anywhere.

I managed to slip on the grass verge and came down giving my head a bit of a slap off the ground.

I immediately jumped up and was on my way to finishing my workout, despite the calls of the driver and passenger of the car letting me know I had a bump on my head.

Sorry to them if I seemed a bit grumpy, but I needed to get my training finished.

Anyway, it must have looked pretty bad to Caroline when I finished, my white t-shirt covered in blood and a bump and bloodstains on my head.

I ended up with a couple of stitches, but no major problems, not even a headache. The benefit of having a hard head.

I will spend most of the next few weeks in a holding camp in London, waiting for my event on the last day.

I’m only going into the Village around the opening ceremony for two days and then the night before my race. All the rest of the time I’ll be in camp, putting the finishing touches on preparation.

There’s not too much I can do now to get any fitter, the main thing is not to do anything stupid, and to stay healthy.

Hard to believe that it’ll all be over in four weeks’ time, but I have my honeymoon to look forward to a week later, so that’s a nice soft step back into reality.

I can’t sign off without mentioning the London Calling documentary.

I’ve got loads of grief from friends about it, mostly good-natured, and I’d just like to mention that most people don’t ever get to see themselves dancing while a bit the worse for wear, and it’s a very sobering sight.

The MC Hammer-esque moves you imagine in your head are much more Vanilla Ice.

I’ll leave things there for now. I’ll be doing one more update after the Olympics so until then, good luck.”



Leah Moore shares her Olympic Stadium experience

Last month`s British Universities was held in the London Olympic Stadium. There were three Clonliffe athletes in action Sarah McCormack, Louise Hill Sterling and Leah Moore. Leah, the Brunel Captain gives an inside view of this amazing experience  to :

As I sat in the first of two call rooms in the Olympic stadium for the heats of the 4 x 100 relay the tension in the room was palpable. The reputation of Brunel University was on our shoulders. The spectators in the stadium amassed to 45,000. Eight-hundred meters away in a cold tent on the warm up track overlooking Canary Warf in London’s East-End we sat trying to keep our bodies warm wondering if our shaking bodies were due to the almost zero temperatures or the surging adrenaline taking over us with each roar from the crowd in the stadium. As cans of caffeine stimulants were gingerly passed between team members the Brunel team sat in a huddle chanting our team motto, Believe Achieve, however with a lapse in concentration our first leg runner cracked under the pressure of baton changes and mind games from coaches of other universities on the warm up track. Our centre of focus was broken, with the leg two and leg three runners loosing confidence with each breath. As captain of Brunel Athletics, my mind jumped from trying to focus on my own performance to resurfacing the team, particularly so with all our competitors looking on with glee. Sitting the first leg runner down and implementing a meditation technique I needed to show strength where my friend needed it, I was terrified inside.

“First leg runners this way please, second leg runners this way please, third leg runners this way please, fourth leg runners this way please”. As each team broke, the long 800m walk from the warm up track to the indoor track underneath the stadium began. As we walked many chatted about how this was the path Usain Bolt would take. I kept thinking to myself, “Pretend you are warm Leah, your cramping hamstring is not a problem”. My three layers of clothing were failing in their attempt to stop my legs from cramping in the cold. I had not run in 30 minutes and I was really starting to feel it. Once in the second call room and in the heated indoor track we had 5 minutes to gather ourselves. Smiles crossed each athlete’s face as we realised that the dull hum in the background was 45,000 people screaming.

As we were paraded out onto the track to motivational music I tried my upmost to focus on the task at hand by going straight to my teams allotted lane and to the end of the acceleration zone to count my twenty-five steps back and put my mark down. “One, two, three, five, what? Whoops, no four comes before five, start again, focus.” As the announcer called the name of each university team in the race Loughborough jumped around and gestured like professional athletes however I remember thinking at the time that they were more reminiscent of pink butterflies (their strip is purple and pink) jumping about in obnoxious hilarity enjoying their moment of life before the task of watching the Brunel team stride on ahead of them. When Brunel was called there was a deafening roar, larger than any other from the crowd due to a high jumper clearing a height, we inadvertently had the upper hand. With the gun going beginning the race I listened to the crowd roar, it felt almost like a buzzing radio, our second leg runner brought us into lead, with the third leg my heart was doing the a jig on fast forward in my chest. I got down to the crouch position looking at for my team member from upside down. Birmingham were coming back at us, my rear end with the letters BRUNEL plastered across my racing briefs did not feel the cold any more. Bang! My athlete hit my 25 steps mark and I went off through the acceleration zone, I heard her call one stride into the change-over zone, our practice had paid off, my hand went back and in a split second I had the baton in my sweaty palm. All I could hear was my third leg runner roar with all her might “GO LEAH GO!”.  About 10 metres in I found myself in the lead. I roared at myself to go, go, go, go, a little trick John Shields taught me when I started training with him in Santry at age 13. With my little mantra all I could hear was my own heartbeat. Suddenly with a roar from the announcer I heard “And its Brunel in the lead!” and I was brought back to reality, the roar of the crowd was unreal, so loud. Then all of a sudden at around 50 metres it dawned on the me that they were screaming at me, so I kept those legs of mine moving, hopefully gracefully, but the excitement was taking over me. The south-side head on me was repeating ‘OH MY GAWWWD’, and the adopted north-side head on me was going mad like damo from the music duo Damo & Ivor, threatening to go ‘shmad’ if I did not maintain the lead and bring Brunel to a cheeky victory. As I came close to the line I contemplated a victory gesture, although only the heats it was the toughest pool and the only time we would be in front of 45,000 spectators. However my shyness won out as I opted for a wiry smile and a slight dip to ensure a fast time, caught by photographers and now framed in my parents living room. Those few minutes were enough to fuel any adrenaline junky for a lifetime of enjoyment, fourty-five thousand faces shouting and watching eight teams battle it out and we won. I am so privileged to have anchored the team, a true a pleasure.

As our team gathered in the media area and hugged, again encapsulated by photographers, I contemplated how the stress of being captain had caused me to underperform massively in the cold conditions in the individual 100m devastating me, and I realised that I could use this to do better in the 200m. The following day the weather conditions did not improve, with more stress piling on from the team with injuries and people looking for support, so my 200m improved from the 100m slightly with reaching the final, but nowhere near my potential. I therefore focused again on the relay. The team spirit in an otherwise lonely sport was incredibly uplifting and as Loughborough and Bath brought in their top guns and our team faced a massive blow with an injury to our critical second leg runner, we went into the final gunning for it and brought home bronze. An incredible feat in the circumstances. I was delighted and so proud of my team, we had won in the heats on the only day where the crowd was 45, 000. The most amazing experience I will ever have.

Personally I could not have been happier as captain as we came second in the medal tally, with our team being completely organised and held together by the student committee compared to a paid professional team behind the likes of Loughborough, Bath, Birmingham etc. Racing in the stadium, gaining invaluable experience in all aspects of professional running, albeit on an armature basis, has been an invaluable experience showing that you fight against all the odds, no matter how difficult the situation may seem you will always find the strength to keep going. Most importantly always smile and enjoy yourself because every experience is precious, particularly ours in East London. Nil Desperandum.

Mark Kenneally`s London 2012 Olympic Blog

This is Mark`s blog published today on : When I left off the last time I was in the midst of a training block in Auburn, Alabama. Since then I’ve had a pretty crazy four or five weeks, and thinking about how to fill you in on the details is providing something of a challenge.

I think the best thing is to start at the end and somehow work my way back to the start, in probably a fairly haphazard fashion!

So last week I took part in the Olympic torch relay in Dublin. It was incredible! I was nominated by Trinity College as one of two current students competing in this year’s Olympics. I’m currently studying there, but that’s another day’s explanation!

The nomination process started last December and we had to keep quiet about it until the process was finished, which in the end was April. Since then I’ve obviously been excited about it, but I wasn’t really sure what to expect and last Wednesday was something I’ll never forget.

I’ll give you a run through of the day. We met at the Grand Canal Theatre at 8.10am last Wednesday morning with nothing other than the white uniform we were sent.

At that stage I knew where I was carrying the torch, and the time I would do so, but nothing about the logistics.

After the briefing about how the flame was to be passed etc, we were loaded onto a shuttle bus to bring us to our points just ahead of the torch. Another bus was following the relay, collecting us afterwards.

As we drove around the streets of Dublin, I couldn’t believe the number of people out. It really hadn’t dawned on me how big an event this was, and when I was left off the bus in Patrick Street for my leg, I had about a ten-minute wait for the torch to catch up.

I was mobbed by people looking for photographs with the torch. Once I started my leg – by the way, was there another leg that was straight uphill for 300m? – I felt like a rabbit in the headlights as I ran along to masses of people cheering at the side of the road, trying to take it all in.

Once I passed the flame on and got back on the bus it was great to sit with the other torchbearers who had just gone through the same experience, and also to watch as the torchbearers who came after me got on the bus, and to see the look on their faces.

After the relay was over, we were given our torches and attended a lunch in the Mansion House with the Lord Mayor of Dublin.

I then attended a function in Trinity with the other Trinity torchbearers. By the time this was all done it was nearly 7pm and I had a track session to do out in Santry!

It wasn’t the easiest thing in the world dragging myself out there, but I did it and the workout went to plan, so it was a good end to an unbelievable day, although I felt pretty wiped afterwards.

That leads me nicely into how training has been going for the last month or so, and in a word: great.

My volume has increased quite significantly, and the danger with doing that is deadening the legs, leaving you feeling sluggish.

However, I think the consistency of my training over the last 18 months/two years is reaping rewards now, as this doesn’t seem to be happening.

Last week I ran 10,000m on track in the Netherlands, and broke my by PB by 11 seconds in a time of 28.33, well inside the qualifying standard for the European Championships in Helsinki at the end of this month.

This was a really encouraging sign for me because training at the moment is very much focused on marathon and half marathon specific paces, and although the 10k pace felt fast during the race, I didn’t seem to tire running it, which is exactly how you want to feel, and I think in a race where I don’t have to do any leading or pushing of the pace, I can go a bit quicker.

I was asked after the last blog how do I determine paces for different races, and I guess part of it is based on previous experience, but if you were to always base it on that you’d never improve, so part of it has to be based on a goal that you decide on.

How those goals get set is something I can talk about again, but for now let’s say it’s a process that happens with input from a number of different people, and can change all the time, depending on how training is going!

I think that, for me, the biggest improvement I have made to my training over the last couple of years is the introduction of regular monitoring and analysis of things like nutrition, strength, blood variables, lactate threshold and other running variables, which allows my coach and I to plan training schedules with as much information as possible.

The Irish Institute of Sport are the people doing all the monitoring and have been fantastic with me in this regard, and I now have a team around me who are communicating with one another about my progress, and in a sport that can be very lonely it’s brilliant to go in there a few times a week, meet the professionals, and also other athletes from different sports.

I could be in the gym at the same time as modern pentathletes, and it’s nice to just be around different sports people, for a different perspective on essentially the same type of lifestyle!

I’m going to leave you with a sample of a few days’ worth of training as a response to a question about some details of my training.

Whenever I see a ‘day in the life’ type article of an athlete, I always think it doesn’t give the whole picture, because that day is probably going to be preceded and followed by a similar day, and it’s that cumulative effect that causes the difficulty! This is an actual few days from a few weeks ago, and I’ve put in a good bit of detail for those who want it.

I’ll update again after the European Championships. Until then – good luck!

Tuesday 15 May: Am: 11 miles total. Track session on my own, done on Tallaght track. 10 x 600m off 90 seconds recovery. 1st 4-5 were 1.39, into 1.36 at the end. Pm: Gym session then 6 miles easy in about 40 minutes.

Wednesday 16 May: Am: 6 miles easy in about 40 minutes. Pm: 11 miles easy in about 69 minutes, followed by gym session.

Thursday 17 May: Long run of 22 miles, divided as 10 miles steady, 5 miles moderate, 5 miles moderate hard (around marathon pace), then 2 steady. 1st 10 done in 57 minutes, then 5 in 26.20 minutes, then 5 in 25 minutes, and last 2 in 12 minutes. Followed by 40 minutes in the gym.

Friday 18 May: Am: 6 miles easy in about 40 minutes. Pm: Gym session then 10 miles in about 66 minutes.

Great honour for man and club as Kenneally carries Olympic torch

Clonliffe Harriers AC were honoured by our club man Mark Kenneally carrying the Olympic flame in the torch relay as it made a visit to Dublin today on it`s journey from Athens to London. Mark had the honour of receiving the torch just after 11.10am and carrying it through Viking Dublin from Bull Alley Street 300m to Christchurch Place. A very proud moment for Mark, his family and club.

Two days to go to: “An evening with the legendary Kip Keino”

Clonliffe Harriers are delighted to announce that legendary double Olympic champion Kip Keino will return to the Morton Stadium Santry in two days time, Friday night the 25th of May. Clonliffe Harriers will play host to Kip Keino for ‘An evening with Kip Keino’ presented by Irish Runner Editor Frank Greally.

 Kip Keino is legendary and more. Kipchoge Keino was born in the Nandi Hills of Kenya. His Olympic career began at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics where he competed in both the 1500 metres and 5000 metres. In the 5000 metres qualifying rounds he ran a 25 second PB of 13:49.6, a Kenyan record to qualify for the final and in the final finished in 5th place in 13.50.4 only 1.6 seconds slower than the winning time. The following year Kip set two world records – a new 3000m mark of 7:39.6 and 5000 metre of 13:24.2, he also wrote himself into the African history books by becoming the first African to run a sub four minute mile 3:54.2. When the 1968 Olympics came round in Mexico, the then 28 year old Kenyan doubled up with outstanding success winning Olympic gold in 1500m in 3:34.9 and winning Olympic 5000m silver. At his third Olympia in Munich the Olympic schedule did not allow for a 1500/5000 double up so much to the athletic world’s surprise he went for a unique double of 3000m Steeplechase and 1500m. Keino was a clear winner in the Steeplechase winning gold in 8:23.6 and in a tactical 1500m final despite running an incredible 55.1 third lap Keino could not shake off Finland’s Vassala and with 50m to go Keino relinquished gold but claimed his fourth Olympic medal with silver.

 Kip Keino has competed in Santry on three occasions and was the winner of the inaugural Morton Memorial Invitational Mile in 1970.

 On Friday night next Clonliffe will host ‘An evening with Kip Keino’ from 9 p.m. This presents a unique opportunity to come and meet a true athletics and Olympic legend. Booking is essential, the Clonliffe clubhouse had a limit of 120 people. At this stage more than half of the available places are already gone. Bookings are currently being taken on a first come first served basis, in order to secure your place at this once in a lifetime occasion please email your name, club and email address to Please note that if you do not apply for a place by email, and in the event of the limit having been reached regrettably you cannot be admitted on the night.

 Kip Keino’s trip to Ireland next week is as an ambassador for the Africa Week Athletics Meet, he is guest of honour for the One Race Human Race Meet which takes place in the Morton Stadium on Saturday the 26th of May from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. This is a Meet in which it is hoped to attract as many members of the African community living in Ireland to take part in our sport as possible. In addition of course all Irish athletes, juveniles, seniors and masters are encouraged to take part. Members of Clonliffe Harriers are particularly welcome to take part as Clonliffe are assisting with the officiating and stewarding of the event on Saturday week. Entry to the One Race Human Race Meet is currently available online, entries close on Friday the 25th of July. There is a full programme of athletics for all age groups, sprints and middle distance – see

 Finally in order to assist with the smooth running of the event on the 26th of May Clonliffe Harriers require members to volunteer a few hours of their time to officiate and assist. The organisers of the event are anticipating between athletes, their families and spectators some 2,500 people to attend at some time in the Morton Stadium that particular day. We, therefore, appeal to our members and indeed members of other athletics clubs to contact us to assist to offer their services on the day. In this connection anyone available is requested to contact Paddy Tuite either by email to or mobile 086 812 0633.

Clonliffe athletes in inspired form in London Olympic Stadium

Three Clonliffe athletes had the opportunity over the weekend to sample the atmosphere of the London Olympics as the British Universities Athletics Championships took place in the Olympic stadium over the course of the past two days. The event was also availed of by the organisers as one of the dry runs for the Olympics themselves resulting in an estimated crowd of 40,000 being in attendance.

Sprinter Leah Moore was in action in the sprints and relay. In the 100m heats she qualified comfortably running 12.35 on Friday. In Saturday’s semi-final she ran 12.44, however, unfortunately failed to qualify although she was the 9th fastest of the 24 semi-finalists. In the relay Leah anchored Brunell to victory in the 4 x 100 heats and on Monday helped his University to relay bronze, despite having to replace a starting member of the team who withdrew as a result of the cold, temperatures in the stadium had drpooed to a mere 7 degrees. On Sunday Leah was in action in the 200m finishing 2nd in heat six in 25.22 advancing to the semi-finals where later that day she qualified for the final running 25.00 and in Monday’s final Leah placed 6thrunning a time of 25.10. Post event the Clonliffe girl and Brunel Captain expressed herself a little disappointed with her 100 and 200 races , however overall was satisfield with her weekend`s work commenting: “The Brunel team that I put together came second in the overall team rankings for the championships which is a massive achievement for me as I didn’t get very much help holding the team together throughout the champs while trying to compete in 7 races from Friday to Monday. “

Two of our distance athletes were in action in Sunday’s 10,000m final where both were inspired by the Olympic stadium. None more so than Sarah McCormack who was a superb winner in a time of 34:31.52, a PB, to win the British Universities by a margin of some 11 seconds. An excellent run also in this race by Louise Hill-Stirling, still a junior, who also ran a PB in finishing 16th place of 38:23.98.

Kenneally continues his Olympic build up

Mark Kenneally continued his build up to the Olympic Marathon, when winning his first track race of the season in Auburn, Alabama on Friday.

Mark is at the start of a training phase with his coach Mark Carroll, and after last weekend’s National Championship 10km win, had a comfortable 5000m win in 14.14.36 at the War Eagle Invitational.

Win a chance to run in the Olympic Stadium with Powerade

Athletics Ireland has become involved in an exciting project with Powerade which will allow athletes a chance to win a prize to compete in the London 2012 Olympic Stadium in a 100m race on Thursday the 3rd of May. Clonliffe Harriers will act as host club in the Morton Stadium for the April 21st event.

The trip includes flights, an overnight stay in London, a tour of the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, a training session with Jess Ennis Coach, Tony Minichiello, coaching tips from Derval O’Rourke and you get to compete in the 100m at the London 2012 Olympic stadium.

To be in with a chance of winning this once-in-a-lifetime experience, entrants need to simply register and participate in one of four ‘Powerade Ireland On Your Marks’ regional 100m race events. Powerade is inviting participants to come and set their personal best over the 100 metres at one of these events. Electronic Timing will be used for all of the races. Registration is now open through: (see link below)

The participants don’t need to be the fastest person in the World to win, they just need to be there and show their determination. At the end of each regional event every participant’s race number will be placed in a draw to win one of FOUR PLACES on the Powerade London 2012 Olympic Stadium Experience.

The free Regional events, hosted in conjunction with Athletics Ireland, will take place in Connacht (Knocknarea Arena, I.T. Sligo) and Ulster (Antrim Forum) on the 14th April and Munster (Cork I.T.) and Leinster (Morton Stadium, Santry) on the 21st April.

Please note entrants must be 16 to enter.

Associated news……

Mark Kenneally to carry the Olympic flame in Dublin

Clonliffe`s Mark Kenneally, with the London Marathon Qualification time already safely tucked away in his back pocket, will be a amongst the Olympic torch bearers who will carry the Olympic flame on it`s journey through Ireland on the 6th of June on it`s way to London. Mark is quoted in today`s Irish Independent: “This is a huge honour for me to carry the Olympic flame in my home town”. Clonliffe Harriers are equally honoured that our club mate has been invited to partake in this prestigious occasion.


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