Has the decline in Irish Cross Country been halted? Possibly, but if not today`s Athletics Ireland AGM in Northwood, Santry has certainly taken a step in the right direction. Delegates today voted for change. For some time the Nationals (inter clubs) has been in crisis with the last two year`s Nationals in particular having pitiful turnouts, not just in the field of competition, but the two men and a dog in attendance at the Nationals were also having second thoughts!
All this by the way at a time when we are experiencing a “running boom” and when the inter counties is attracting the country`s top distance athletes. The prize at stake in the inter counties of course was a place on the Irish team for the European Cross Country, thereby giving the top athletes a reason to run. Post Christmas the athletes heads turn to Athlone IT and the wonderful Indoor track….”fancy turning out for your club on March 1st for the inter clubs cross country?” comes the unanswered call.
All the talk and hot air of the past three plus years is now thankfully over. Today the winds of change blew strongly through the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Northwood. Cross country changes from henceforth:
The National junior and senior inter club cross country championships will now be held before Christmas, in November to be precise, and will act as the selection trial for the European Cross Country. The senior race will now be 10,000m.
The National 4,000m short course will be re introduced. (Athletics Irelands Competition Committee to fix a date in the calendar taking into account the recommendation that the National Cross Country season be completed by mid February).
The National inter counties will now be held on a suitable date after Christmas.
The U/19 age category for cross country is no more.
Finally delegates voted in favour that Athletics Ireland will introduce a National Cross Country Club League, on a points system, using the already existing Nationals: Novice, Intermediate, Senior and Master.
All of a “sudden” the future of Irish cross country looks if not bright than without a doubt brighter today than yesterday.