National Senior XC:
National Senior XC:
The National Senior XC was held in the far away reaches of Rosapenna, Donegal last Sunday. In a magnificent setting, among the sand dunes hugging the rugged Atlantic coastline of the Rosguill peninsula, the course was set up for fast but honest running. The grass was like a Persian carpet underfoot and even with thousands of feet racing on it all day it did not cut up one bit. There were three very distinct parts of 1500m lap: A fast flat section at the start, a gradual sustained hill in the middle and a rolling up/down section at the end to test the different muscle groups. The crowds were able to view the race unfolding from any part of the course and with the commentary team providing exciting updates the atmosphere was what a National Championships should be like! Even the odd (cold) shower did not dampen any spirits.
Senior Womens 8k:
Fiona was up first and after some very strong performances in the previous few months expectations were high. After about 2.5k the main group of contenders including Sarah Healy, Ciara Mageean and Michelle Finn had formed the leading group and set a fast pace from the off. Fiona settled into about 40th place but well in the mix with lots of bunches just ahead of her. As each lap went by Fiona was edging further and further up the field, using her big race experience to know to trust her own pacing. With just over a lap to go Fiona had edged into the top 25 and still had the after burners to ignite. The 8k is longer than what was ran at the County Seniors and the British and Irish Masters but the extra distance suited with a strong last lap getting Fiona right up to 22nd and getting her a Silver medal as the 4th scorer on the Cork team. Her first time scoring on the Cork team at the National Senior XC. Also Fiona will be happy to know she matched her rival from a previous generation Eileen Pruntys silver county medal from 1989 in the process! Congrats Fiona, superb result.
Senior Mens 10k:
The mens race was up next and with a bit of wait at starting pens approx 200 athletes charged off from to gun all aiming to get in the best possible position before the first sharp left hand turn after 300m. Some had also spotted the camera for the live stream at the same bend and were trying to get their sponsors some airtime. The mens race had one small 1000m lap and then 6 of the 1500m laps. Paul, Tim and Mike bunched nicely together in the top 20 or thirty for a few laps all having learnt the hard way what it feels like to blow up in one of these races and were waiting for the race t really begin at about the half way mark. Franko, fueled up on a fine feed of fish and chips from the night before, was in the top 50 and was keeping the lads in sight. Kevin and Nick were a bit further back waiting to take up the slack if something happened any of the top 4.
Tim in the midst of a marathon training block for Valencia next month used that strength to his advantage to up the ante at 5k and do what he does best, to pick people off without a care in the world to how it makes them feel. Over the final 3k Tim moved from 20th all the way up to 11th. A fine display of running from Tim who matched his previous best position from 2015. Paul was next home in 19th and also had a fine run and making it look easy to finish in the top 20. He just hung there the entire race rock solid as always. Paul was also keeping an eye on the U23 competition around him as the top 5 were predicted to be selected for the European Champs in Italy next month. Unluckily for Paul he missed out by one position (and only 6 seconds) being 6th U23 in the end. He is now first reserve for the team so not all is lost.
Mike finished just behind Paul in 21st place. Mike has had a golden few months of racing with many PB's and national master records under his belt and he was certainly bucking the age profile trend with his result. If it was a parkrun and the age adjusted %'s were factored in Mike would have been hard to beat! It has been 6 years since Mike last ran this race and his comeback came at a wonderful time with Paul and Frank exploding out of the Junior ranks to bolster our Senior team. Frank was next home in 38th place. Frank has been plying his trade in the UK for the past 18 months and the racing experience that he brought home with him certainly helped him to take some big scalps with his run in Donegal. Frank was prominent the whole race and had a tidy sprint finish to ensure he finished as high up as possible. Kevin was next home in 75th place and Nicky in 121st. Both had solid runs and with a few more months of training under the belts over the winter should be sharp for early 2023.
When the dust settled (5 minutes after the race) the team were hoping they had done enough for 3rd place to match the feat of the 1989 team of Liam O'Brien, Donnacha O'Mahony, Bryan Meade and Tom Owens. Everyone had an opinion and were trying to roughly add up the teams that were in contention. But then an excited Liam O'Brien with a suspected tear in his eye (although it also could have been residue from one of the previous sun showers) announced we in fact had got silver and surpassed anything the club has achieved before at the National Senior XC!
East Cork have had potential for a top 3 team many times over the past 15 years but with so few runners at the level required something always seemed to happen in the lead up to scupper the chances. This year with Paul and Frank coming of age and Tim and Mike having rock solid form and experience we were finally able to bridge the 33 year gap and podium at the biggest team race of the year. Congrats to all who have contributed to this fantastic achievement. This was not just the four who scored on the day but a wonderful amalgamation of efforts from people who have kept the club going in leaner times, training partners on cold Wednesday night runs and early Saturday morning hills, coaches and advisors, supporters who prefer to be back stage. This is a result for all and will hopefully inspire the next generation of East Cork athletes to try and go for one better and land the big one. Hopefully we will not have to wait another 33 years!
On top of the this East Cork have now been selected to represent Ireland at the European Club Cross Country championships in Spain in February. It will be a proud day to see the small club of East Cork AC represented at such an event. For the record we were only 3 points off winning it in the end with Clonliffe Harriers 1st on 86 points, East Cork second with 89 and Mullingar Harriers third on 100 points. Tim, Paul and Mike also scored on the bronze winning Cork team.
On the same day as the cross country was the fist Cloyne 4k of the series. Everyone who attended this is forgiven as it has been agreed that Rosapenna is too far a drive to justify for a supporter. We did have a mighty turn out with Annelise finishing second woman in 16:00.
Donal was first home for the men with a solid performance after his Munster Senior Team silver medal performance, he was 5th in 13:04. Michael Furlong continously improving was 6th in 13:29. John Spelman wished the race finished after 3500m but was still 8th in 13:29. Stephen was next for 10th in 13:36. In a long awaited return Sean McGrath had a solid run for 11th in 13:43. If Sean can get 3 or 4 weeks of training in before hte next Cloyne 4k everyone in the top 10 should watch out. You have been warned! Eric Meade was 35th in 15:25. Annelise as mentioned had a great run for 2nd lady in 16:00. Avril and Christine as usually were close to each other with Avril in 4th in 16:19 and Christine in 5th in 16:35. Eadaoin tempo'd around after injury in a good 17:01 with Lorna just behind in 17:42. Zach Swords made his club debut and could be part of the future East Cork Senior XC team if he keeps up his training, he had a great run in 18:14. Denis was next with 19:28 with Lavinia in 21:33. Well done all. Great to have good club support at our local race.
Next up is the National Novice XC championships. Luckily they are being hosted a little closer to home. St Catherines will be doing the honours in Conna and we have a strong mens and womens teams entered. These are on December the 4t. Best up luck to all.
Also the club Christmas night out is on Thursday December 15th in the Surf and Turf (East Cork Golf Club) at 7pm. If you/your partner are going please confirm with Lorna in the next few days.