The 2005 Grand Prix Series proper kicked off in the Morton Stadium on Thursday the 7th of April with the McDonald Cup, a four mile track race.
It was a bitterly cold night with temperatures dropping to below 3 degrees and with a very strong wind making the conditions even colder and more uncomfortable. Thankfully the rain of earlier in the day held off as the runners came to the line on a wet and slippery track.
Having regard to the weather conditions there was a particularly good turn out of athletes, some thirty two lining up for the start, all of whom save for three were entered for the full 2005 Series.
The first wearer of the 2005 yellow jersey after his victory in the prologue was William Stafford.
A lead half dozen athletes led out by Ronan Hartnett and William Stafford and including Tom Monks, Tom Griffin, Danny Collins and Andrew Kellyimmediately took to the lead and began stretching out the field.
This Series however is a Series for all, in particular as the results are calculated on a handicap basis and there were intriguing battles throughout the field including initially a battle between Clonliffe new boy Maurice McCrohan and Colm Doran and later between yours truly and Colm Doran.
Further back there was a battle featuring Stephen Byrne, Pat Devitt, Jimmy Bennett and Alan Smeaton and indeed even further back race sponsor Frank Devitt making his first appearance in a race since the McDonald Cup 2004, was having a good battle with Raheny’s Dave Brady.
Back at the sharp end of things Ronan Hartnett began stringing out the field even further and came home a comfortable winner in 22:05 from William Staffordin 22:07, with Danny Collins 3rd in 22:42.
The McDonald Cup is a Club handicap race and afterwards in the Club Bar the presentation of the McDonald Cup to the winning athlete, Colm Hickey, was made by Club Captain Joe Cooper and the prizes for the first three were presented by Frank Devitt on behalf of the joint sponsors, himself and his brother Pat, second was Stephen Byrne with Tom Monks third.
Interestingly enough this was also Colm Hickey’s first race for some time, his last race was the final race of the 2004 Grand Prix Series, the Horan Cup backin November, which funny enough he also won. No doubt this has been noted by the Handicapper!. Colm will now wear the Series leader’s yellow jersey in Round 2, one mile track race in Santry on 28th of April.
Last night also featured a most successful social night in the Club Bar when the Club honoured and made presentations to our victorious National Men’s Senior Cross Country team, our Ladies Junior Cross Country team, who claimed Silver in those unforgettable championships in February, our Ladies National Marathon championship winning team, our Ladies National Intermediate Cross Country championship winning team and also to the St. Aidan’s Cross Country winning team, the vast majority of whom are members of our Club.
All in all an excellent night and a terrific start to the 2005 Grand Prix Series. Full results shortly.