No. 50: 60 Seconds with Harrier Frances Mansfield

Today a Clonliffe Treasure. One of the original trail blazers. An athlete who was with the Clonliffe ladies from the foundings of the ladies section in 1963, Ladies Captain, Club Treasurer, and the instigator of the first Clonliffe Harriers web site. It’s the one and only Frances Mansfield!

Bio: Married to Pat for 48 years and I have 5 children. Went to college as a mature student and when there took part in the intervarsities athletic championships. Competed against my daughter in the hammer.

What age did you take up the sport of athletics and why? I was 19 and always wanted to be a runner, but I didn’t know of any club accepting ladies until I saw an ad in the paper that Clonliffe Harriers were looking to start a section for women. I jumped at the chance.

When and why did you join Clonliffe Harriers? It was October 1963 when I turned up to the stadium to begin my athletic career. I lived on the North Strand so it was easy to cycle to the stadium.

What is your favourite training workout? Circuit training

And your least favourite? Weight training

What’s your favourite race / athletics meet? I love the Graded Meetings and have been competing in them since they began. You get to compete against athletes of your own standard.

What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics? (as athlete and/or coach) National discus Championships in 1971. I won a silver medal having scraped through to the last , 8, by finishing in 8th place.

What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it? Doing the long jump I landed awkwardly and damaged the cartridge in my knee. I had an operation to remove the cartridge and with physio I was back running.

(For a coach or seasoned athlete) What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete? Enjoy athletics and if possible try all the events. If you don’t like an event try another one.

Do you have any memorable or funny story from Clonliffe Harriers that you could share? (the censorship board may review!) When the stadium was in debt, Noel Henry accompanied with the ladies section ran from the GPO to Lanesboro to raise money. The ladies ran in a relay while Noel ran all the way. On the way we called into all the pubs and shops collecting money. When we arrived in Lanesboro all the residents came out to meet us. They were carrying torches of lighted sods of turf to greet us. We were led into the town from the outskirts.

What’s your favourite meal? A. For competition B. Wheetabix C. Outside competition D. Sweet and sour chicken

Who is your sporting ‘hero’? (athletics or other) A. Irish B. Eamonn Coghlan C. International D. Mary Peters

What’s your favourite…? A. Film B. Mrs Doubtfire C. Song or Album D. Joe Dolan E. Book F. Diane Modahl Story

What’s your favourite holiday destination? Austria

What’s your favourite hobby / activity outside athletics? Line dancing and playing the bodhran

If you were Seb Coe what changes would you implement to improve our sport? Reserve some free seats for young athletes at international events

How would your non-athlete friends describe you? (in 3 words) Crazy, Mad, daft

What is your next running / athletics goal? (whenever normality returns!) Improve my mark in the discus and hammer.

How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? Reminding myself that this lockdown won’t last forever, so to keep fit, I wrote out a programme of exercises.

Frances at BLE Eastern Regional Championships, a while back
45th Anniversary of founding of Clonliffe ladies November 2008
Spring Throws Competition 2019