Clonliffe On Tour 2024

Peter Bissett reports: Before we start, some important characters:

Backroom Staff:

Pam Cooper – Chief Ops Officer (Zoo Keeper)

Ben Lawler – Head of Entertainment (General Messer)

Mick Kearny – Head of Litigation Services (GPDR prevents us from sharing any more)

Johnny O’Leary – Head of Risk & Quality Assurance (and Dartboard surveys)

Emma Cooper & Robbie Dowling – Joint Heads of Logistics (Also Messers)

Bags were packed across the land, and the stage was set for a great weekend away to The Hague. A short hop across the water (and land) and the crew arrived in the impressive Schipol Airport Amsterdam. After much protesting, they agreed to leave the city of Amsterdam to head closer to the start-line.

As the bus departed Schipol, forty-two, or was it thirty-nine, or maybe thirty-six (we’re still not sure) excited faces beamed up at chief counter Alan, who’s job it was to do a headcount. After a few failed attempts (too many headbangers) we resorted to a roll-call. Thanks to Mark for his quick-thinking there. There’s a large black-and-amber abacus on its way to the clubhouse for future events.

Saturday evening was a tame affair, with all athletes tucked in and asleep by dark, foam rollers and resistance bands near to hand. Ben even shared a few jokes to ease the tension before the big day…

Sunday morning, and the breakfast buffet was a hive of nervous activity. Some were fresh, others even fresher. After a hearty feed, more than thirty athletes warmed up for their 10k loop of Den Haag, while one solo athlete prepared for the later start time of the half marathon – well done Rachel! 

The loop was almost flat, but to the surprise of all involved, there was a sneaky drag around the halfway point. Luckily, the locals seemed more upset by this ‘mountain’ where our hill sessions really paid off! A fast course overall, superbly organised, with thousands of fantastic local supporters roaring us home from the kerbs and balconies made for a wonderful day all round for everybody involved. Full results and some beauts of photos are all available here: 

Sunday evening was a hungry one, after some brilliant performances. Thanks to the generosity of the committee for sponsoring a buffet fit for forty worn out athletes. One coach was heard suggesting that we might put in the same kick for the line as we did for the buffet table! 

After dinner, Ben stole the show with a post-dinner comedy club. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, and some say Mandy was still in fits of laughter going to work on Tuesday! Next time you see Ben, ask him about the three balloons… it’s ‘squeaky’ clean, we promise! As for the rest of his set, you’ll just have to join for the next trip to enjoy it in all its glory!

The competition didn’t end there, as the night continued on into a frenzy of pool, darts and general slagging matches all round. Watch this space for increased competition and rivalries in the Grand Prix this year, starting with The Frank White 5 Mile – Ireland’s only 5 mile track race – on Thursday 28th March 2024. 

Monday morning, and the hotel lobby was a different kind of calm. A few tired but happy souls trickled into the breakfast area to refill their batteries. Thanks to a late flight, everybody got to exploring for the day. Some enjoyed the local coffee, while others took to the streets in a kind of biker-gang of high-nellies. No injuries were officially reported, and it’s too late now so that’s grand.

The very lucky bunch of athletes who participated would like to say a huge thank you to Pam and her team of organisers for an absolutely brilliant weekend all round full of belly laughs and great craic, with a healthy amount of running thrown in. We consider ourselves incredibly privileged to be part of such a group of fun-loving, hard-working and genuinely wonderful people. Nil Desperandum!