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.
British and Irish Masters XC:
The 33rd British and Irish Masters Home XC international was held on Saturday in amazing conditions in Santry. The course was in perfect condition for fast running. Fiona donned her first Irish singlet since 1997 and ran a great race to justify her selection.
From the trial she was 4th fastest on the Irish teams but she ripped up the form book with a powerfully executed race. Back in 12th place after a lap and a half of the 1500m circuit she could see from her vantage point, the lead of Sinead O'Connor growing and the chasing pack struggling to hang on. Fiona started to pick them off one by one. With about 2k left to race Fiona had got up to 5th place and within striking distance of the podium. In a strong move she surged past teammate Laura McDonnell and two Scottish girls to get into 2nd place and took a 10m lead on them into the final lap. With the home support cheering her and Sinead on she battled all the way to the finish line for a memorable silver individual medal and gold national medal. In every single one of the past 32 runnings of this event England have taken home the overall winning trophy. For the very first time Ireland claimed it for there own and Fiona played her part in that too. Congrats Fiona and hopefully that form will follow you to Donegal next weekend too!
In other cross country races Ollie Smiddy ran the Novice B county championships in Riverstick and was 11th overall and Frank ran in the Met League XC in London and was also 11th.
John Spelman ran in the UCC team for the annual Irish Universities road relay championships in Maynooth. He was on the first mile leg and ran 5.38 in wet and windy conditions. Well done John.
In the Thomas Kent 10k in Castlelyons on Sunday we had three running. Michael Furlong had a super run for 4th overall in a time of 35.26. Christine Kelly had a very strong run and finished 5th lady in a great time of 43.30. Chris McGrath had a first hit out after the Dublin marathon with 47.03 for 91st.
The National Senior XC is on in Donegal this Sunday. We have a strong team heading up to compete in the mens race and Fiona will have high hopes in the womens race. Best of luck to all and enjoy the journey!
Also on Sunday is the first race in the Cloyne Commons 4k race series. It starts at 9.30am with registration in Hartys Bar beforehand.
Munster Junior and Senior XC:
The Munster XC championships were held in Limerick racecourse last Sunday. Conditions were tricky with the going soft to heavy. It was a day for the mudlarks rather than the thoroughbreds.
John Spelman was our sole representative in the Junior Mens 6000m race. John finished a solid 19th overall and was also a scorer on the Cork team that pipped Clare for the Gold.
With a lot of teams looking 2 weeks down the track to the Nationals in Donegal, the senior fields were a little less competitive than usual. All four of our Gold medal winning county team were absent for the race so it was great to see the depth of the club shine through as we came home with Munster silver team medals in the end and improved on our bronze team last year.
The race was shortened to 8k just before the start due to the conditions but it was more likely the organising staff wanted to get out of there for a shower and hot cup of tea. Kevin showed good improvement since the Counties with a 5th place finish. Matt on his local stomping ground picked all the good lines and got the better of Donal in the final 2k to finish 20th. Donal was just behind in 22nd with Nicky, who was in bed sick for the week, completing the team in 25th. This got us 72 points and second place behind rivals Leevale who had 47 points. Kevin also scored on the winning Cork team for the County competition.
The County Intermediate and Novice B is on this Sunday in Riverstick. Anyone who wishes to enter please let Eadaoin know by Tuesday night at 8pm.
The new club captains have also hit the ground running, already sending an email to the entire club! They are planning the now annual club run for December 17th and are thinking of using a Parkrun as the event. More details to come in the next few weeks.
Also the annual Christmas social will be coming up. Date with venues are currently being finalised but is likely to be Thursday December 15th. Again details will be sent as soon as confirmed.
County Masters XC:
The County Masters was held in Carrignavar on Sunday in very wet and mucky conditions.
The mens team race was a very close affair with a lot changing during the race but luckily as the dust settled we just snuck the win and retained our title beating Leevale by 2 points and The Barrs by 3. Kevin, still a spring chicken in the Masters ranks, was 2nd overall behind race winner Donal Coakley. Brian Harty had a fine run showing the months of training in his legs with a 5th place and was battling for the podium for a long spell. Chris Kelly continued his good form too with another strong showing for 9th. Stephen O'Brien was well up in contention for a top 10 but a bad fall at the Fairmont Hairpin caused an issue with his DRS in the last lap. He did enough to secure the team medals with a 23rd place finish and was the sole link between the winning team from 2021 and 2022.
Kevin won individual Silver in M35, Brian Bronze in M40 and Chris Bronze in M35. Eric had a battle for the M55 title with John Cashman of Midleton, in the end Eric had to settle for Bronze. Denis was 7th in the M55 race.
Fiona had a powerful run blowing away the field for a comfortable win in the women's 4k event. Avril edged out Christine by 4 seconds for 14th over all with Christine just behind in 16th. Unfortunately we were one short for the team.
Congrats to Carrignavar in organising another great event. The only grumblings that people had was that the business plying it's trade during the event did not offer free refreshments to the gold medal winning athletes...
Well done to Kenneth and Chris on completing the Dublin marathon on Sunday too. Kenneth after a stint out injured was not at his fittest but still ran a very impressive 2.49 for 187th overall. Chris knocked a big 16 minutes off his Cork time for a superb 3.30. Well done both.
Eadaoin ran in the Battersea 5k in London on Saturday and was 2nd lady in 20.17. Great to see her coming back into form for the pointy end of the XC season.
We had the club AGM last week. Thanks to those who turned up on the night and thanks to Rooskagh Coffee for providing the catering. The main updates are the new club captains. Annelise is the Ladies Captain and Stephen is the Mens Captain. Best of luck to both for the coming year.
The next race up on the calendar is the Munster Senior XC in Limerick Racecourse on Sunday. It seems our A team are saving themselves for the Nationals in Donegal so we will see what the B team can come up with on the day. Best of luck to all running.