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European Clubs Cross Country: The Cinque Mulini

Feb 8, 2011 [Noel Guiden] A magnificent race steeped in tradition and history :The Cinque Mulini (the 5 mills race) in Vittore Olona , Milan was the setting for Sunday’s February 6th European Champions Club Cross Country. Once again Clonliffe’s senior men were Ireland’s representatives and once again our athletes performed with distinction with the star performer on the day being Cian McLoughlin 37th place leading the team to a credible 10th position out of the 21 clubs taking part.

The Cinque Mulini is a unique cross country event. The course, in earlier times, featured five mills, in its current format it features two mills. The athletes literally run through the rear door of a mill, through the mill, turn left up four steps and out the back door, they then cross a small bridge into a farmyard which houses hens, ducks and cattle, back in through another mill, through the back door, through the mill building and out the front door and back out the courtyard onto the cross country course. It is simply extraordinary. Sunday was the 79th running of the race, over the years the race has featured the worlds best distance runners: Frank Shorter (USA), Dave Bedford (GB), Brendan Foster (GB), Kip Keino (KEN), Filibert Bayi (TANZ), Rob DeCastella (AUS), Grete Waitz (NOR) who famously described the race as the most beautiful cross country race in the world. The attached photographs will give some idea as to the sheer uniqueness of this race.

The main Clonliffe travelling party left for Milan on Friday morning, on Saturday morning two stragglers Gerry Carr and yours truly set out for Milan sharing a flight with Dick and Pat Hooper and the Raheny Junior Men’s squad of Kevin Dooney, Timmy Moriarty, Jake McDonnell, Andy McMorrow, Colum O’Leary and team leader (and non runner due to his advanced age he’s 20!) Donal Foley, a ceasefire was negotiated and by agreement hostilities suspended for the weekend’s duration!

San Vittore Olona is located some distance from Milan and is a small town of circa 7,000 inhabitants and was approximately an hour plus outside of Milan. On arrival we met up with the team who had just arrived back after an early visit to the course. Clearly the team found the venue to be inspiring, there was much debate as to who the short sharp bends and short straights might suit, Gary O’Hanlon reckoned that from a Clonliffe perspective Cian McLoughlin might be the man. Cian himself was keeping his own Counsel or possibly he was a little tired after a 700 km car journey from his home in Stuttgart to Milan. It was also nice to meet up with Paolo Dogilo who looks fitter than ever, Paolo presented three bottles of wine to club captain Joe Cooper, Paolo being Paolo of course gave a speech outlining the virtues of each of these finest Italian wines.

That Saturday night after the athletes were safely tucked away in bed the Clonliffe support contingent: Gerry and I, Paddy Marley, Noel and Conor Daly, Joe Cooper, Killian Lonergan, Martin Treacy, Eamon “Clonliffe in his blood” Tierney, Johnny O’Leary, Jimmy” Gary Senior” Bennett, Mick Fogarty and Mick Kearney assisted the local economy by indulging in some after dinner refreshments and then embarking on long rambling debates of best athletes, best races attended, past (and imaginary) glories and eventually the forthcoming general election ; no prizes for guessing who brought that one up.

Bright and early the next morning Martin Treacy created Clonliffe history by becoming the first Clonlife athlete to run in the Cinque Mulini as Martin took in the open race at 8.30 a.m. Due to technical reasons, however, there was only a small number of Clonliffe supporters in attendance at that ungodly hour of the morning. By all accounts Martin had an excellent run and thoroughly enjoyed the through the mills experience, coming to the final bend Martin was in a chasing back of six tightly bunched athletes behind the leader, however, unfortunately Martin and a couple of others were sent the wrong way and ended up running an extra 60 metres before the error was realised and they turned back resulting in Martin placing fifth. Eamon Tierney reckons that but for the officiating error Martin could have been second or third.

In the Champions Club events a word must be made at this stage concerning the superb run of young Siofra Cleirigh-Buttner (DSD) who ran in the junior women�s race to win a superb bronze medal. The DSD team were just out of the medals in fourth place. A word also regarding the performance of Raheny Shamrock in the Junior Mens race where Kevin Dooney in particular had an unbelievable run to finish 6th, good solid performances also from the rest of the Raheny team who ended up placing 9th in a very competitive field.

In the mens senior race the two surprise packages from the Clonliffe point of view was the wonderful performance of Cian McLoughlin in 37th place (31.11) and also by Gary O’Hanlon, 53rd (32.03). Once again Gary pulled one out of the bag running superbly although he did suffer an ankle injury towards the latter end of the race which required post race treatment. Sandwiched between Cian and Gary was Sergiu Ciobanu in a battling 41st place, Sergiu has been suffering from a cold all week, Sergiu recorded a time of 31.26. Fourth scorer on the day was John Heneghan in 58th place (32.14), John was still feeling the effects of his effort seven days previously in the Southern Counties Cross Country in the U.K. The Fine Wine Merchant Paolo Doglio was 70th in 32.55 with Lorcan Cronin 76th in 33.13.

Overall the Clonliffe team placed 10th of 21 teams on a points total of 189.

Up front the race winner was Ayad Lamdassen of Spanish Club Bikila (28.58). The champion club was Grupa Desportivo Recr. Conforlimpa on 24 points.

The post race and evening discussion focused on the Nationals in three weeks time. The performances of all of the team was generally considered to be very positive with of course the bonus of Cian and Gary’s level of performance and with athletes of the calibre of Mark Kenneally, Chris Cariss, Alistair Cragg, David Flynn and Aidan Bailey not available for Milan Joe Cooper has some serious thinking to do between now and February 25th.

By the way in Dublin Airport on Monday afternoon as we left Departure the cease-fire officially ended! A great weekend for the three Dublin clubs in Milan had ended.

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