Sarah Bateson Reports from Albufeira: The junior Clonliffe athletes along with their coaches flew to Portugal this weekend to take on the European Club Cross Country Championships. The men’s U20 team qualified for this event at All-Irelands last November, winning by an astounding 76 points. Nicola Fallon (women’s junior coach) seized the opportunity for her athletes to compete at a european xc course in an open event. With a late arrival on Friday night the athletes were straight to bed in anticipation for the weekend ahead.
Saturday morning was spent enjoying the beautiful Falesia Beach, followed by lunch in the hotel. The athletes checked out the course and prepared the tactics for the big day. It was then back to the hotel for some rounds of pool, with Efrem Gidey, Ella Brown and Callum Simpson shining with a possible sport transfers in order. Another early night was had but few could sleep as the race drew closer.
Sunday morning had an early start with the men’s junior team at breakfast for 7.20 and heading straight to the course, followed shortly after by the junior women. With temperatures at 11 degrees ( double what Dublin was experiencing) the Clonliffe athletes were put to the test. The 6.09km men’s race had a sprint start with Efrem, Ben (team captain) and Aaron in upfront positions. After 1km the pack began to break with Efrem sitting comfortably in the front group. As the rest of the group worked together in the middle of the pack an exciting race was in store. Lisbon’s Edward Pingua opened up the field after 3km, with Efrem leading the chasing group. The rest of the team were in good company, running beside the Danish, Spanish and Greek team. With 500m to go, two Turkish athletes pulled away, leaving Efrem to fight to the line with Eston Barros (Portugal) and Omar Ismail (Sweden) to gain 5th position in a very impressive 19.16. Next Clonliffe home was Steven Cashin with a strong sprint finish earning him 53rd (21.19).Aaron Cullen and Jordan Byrne had a competition of their own for 57th. It was an exciting finish with Aaron (21.28) gaining the edge on Jordan(21.29). They were followed shortly after by the youngest member of the team Callum Simpson (21.52) and Ben Guiden (22.29). With superb performances all round the team came 11th, narrowly missing 10th by 2 points. Well done also to Waterford A.C., Leevale and Raheny Shamrocks representing Ireland in the other categories.
The junior women’s open race commenced at 1.15 and after a long day in the sun the girls were ready for action, taking on 2.95 km course. At the gun, Sarah Bateson, Ale Hernández and Hannah Browne were straight to the front. The field quickly broke with Sarah maintaining 2nd position for the first lap but slipped into 4th on the second lap. With 400 metres to go, she used her finishing kick to secure 2nd place overall and 1st junior. Hannah strongly maintained 5th and began to close the gap on 4th in the final 200m but ran out of course. Ale finished closely behind in 7th, followed by Ella Brown 10th, Tess Loftus 12th and Aimee Warren 13th. With no team prizes on offer, Sarah was the only “ Clon Life Warrior” athlete on the podium. (Editor`s note: In the junior section the Clonliffe positions were 1st Sarah, 4th Hannah, 6th Ale, 7th Ella, 8th Tess, 9th Aimee, a winning score if ever their was one!)
Pizzeria Falésia was the venue of choice for the athletes to finish the weekend. The night concluded with Danish friends, card games and Mick Fogarty conducting his own edition of Shotgun. Departure felt too soon for some athletes but with a great experience had, we returned back to “rainy Ireland”.
All athletes would like to say a huge thank you to the coaches that made this trip possible.
(Editors note: The eight athletes, Efrem Gidey, Aaron Cullen, Ben Guiden, Stephen Cashin, Callum Simpson, Jordan Byrne, Ale Hernandez, Ella Brown, Tess Loftus, Aimee Warren, Hannah Browne and Sarah Bateson did themselves and Clonliffe Harriers proud.)
Photos are here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/146364500@N04/albums/72157703077506862