Speculation Times

In today’s ‘Speculation Times’ we consider the potential impact of further opening of society, economic and social activity as we head to phase 2 of the Government roadmap and speculate on the possible effect on increasing Clonliffe Harriers club activity and the sport of athletics in general.

As matters currently stand, here in week three of phase 1 we have seen a very limited return to club training. Whilst currently restricted to junior and senior athletes (the guidance from Athletics Ireland currently prohibits U/13’s and O/70s), and athletes living within 5K of Morton Stadium the club has been in a position to implement protocols which has meant that groups of four have returned to training in the stadium.The only certainty, if it is possible to use that word during these times, on the changes envisaged under phase 2, which starts on Monday June 8, is the extension of the radius to 20K. That will mean a greater number of athletes will be eligible to come to club training however what can be done to allow more athletes return is entirely dependent on what the roadmap means by ‘small group teams’ and how many individuals that means. Social distancing, presumably remaining at 2m for phase 2, still must be maintained along with no physical contact etc. If an updated guidance issues from Athletics Ireland allowing more than 4 Clonliffe will follow suit.

We have been successful so far in dividing our track/field time into slots for various coaches, your coaches will do the best they can to get as many athletes training in Santry as is possible under the restrictions spread over the 3 days Clonliffe has stadium usage. You as athletes must however contact your coach and in turn it is your coach who will make the booking for the group. We must at this time strictly observe the requirement for bookings, the group structure and most importantly maintain absolute records of who was training at a particular time together with their contact details and details for all others in that particular group. Also social distancing must be continued to be observed.

At this stage we do not know whether phase 2 will allow younger athletes to return to limited club training. With the obviously challenges around social distancing it would, we speculate, seem unlikely. We will act as directed by Athletics Ireland.

Competition for juvenile athletes: the Dublin track and field leagues and Dublin track and field championships have been cancelled. It would seem that the prospects of national juvenile Championships later in the summer are remote, particularly for younger athletes. Possibly for the older age groups who are also junior athletes it may be possible for those Championships at national level to be incorporated into the national junior track and field championships. At the minute the club’s juveniles U/14 to U/16 are engaged in the Athletics Ireland Virtual Club Challenge.

Club competition: while the 2020 Grand Prix Series will not take place the club is actively considering the possibility of some of the club races and club championships. If possible and of course under whatever guidelines are in place at that time, the club would like to hold Clonliffe Track & Field championships, maybe spread over a couple of weeks in the late Summer/early Autumn. Likewise the club are keen to ensure that the Clonliffe 2 takes place later in the year, possibly as a time trial type of event on the road with limited numbers, or on the track under lights in the winter, maybe as a club only event, maybe as an invitational race but absolutely in some format. Likewise the club would like to run our club cross country races, many of which are by tradition handicap races with runners setting off individually in any event, but possibly this year with a twist: scratch off first! Rest assured whatever we do will be in full compliance with Athletics Ireland’s guidelines.

Competition for senior/master athletes: at present the Dublin graded competitions are simply being cancelled on a week to week basis and it would seem to be fairly clear that there is little prospect of a resumption of competition until possibly phase 4 from July 20. What a Graded meet might look like in this Covid – 19 era is also a matter of pure speculation. It is known that Athletics Ireland are keen to hold the national track and field championships. These championships were originally supposed to take place at the end of this month, World Athletics subsequently designated the weekend of August 8th and 9th as a national championship day. Under the Government roadmap Ireland will not have moved into phase 5 at this stage (that is down for August 10th) so that appears to be an unlikely date. The rumour mill is a date possibly four weeks later in early to mid September for National seniors with a national junior championships to take place the following week (again this is rumour and speculation only). Will a Masters track & field championship take place this (extended) season, again that is a matter for Athletics Ireland to issue directions on. There is an obvious concern surrounding the upper age categories but would it be possible for such a championship on a scaled back basis?

The road racing scene: this really seems to be an impossibility over the coming months. Already of course the Dublin Marathon, Dublin race series, rock ‘n’ roll half marathon and Athletics Ireland national road racing series have become victims and been deferred to 2021. If social distancing is to remain as a part of our lives going into the autumn and winter one would speculate that road racing and even the humble Park Run are pretty unlikely this year with the gathering of numbers at the start and finish areas. Staggered starts may be a solution but with road closures and insurance issues?

Cross country championships: the speculation is that cross country may be the best opportunity for a return to racing, open fields, no dressing rooms, possible controls on the numbers taking part may make an autumn/winter cross country season a possibility. And in the distance stands December 14th and the European Cross-Country Championships in Abbottstown Dublin……..?

The above is speculation and speculation only. Questions on all our lips but at this time without answers! Answers will ultimately come. When they do we will let you know.