28 November, 2009So the masses gathered at the startline at Ballinastoe for the last but one of the Leinster League races and the longest one at that, with the most climb thrown in for good measure. There was a good bunch of runners and about 10 zillion flies gathered in clouds around peoples heads. Aprox 1 hour later it was all over - the route description that is. The finest oratory of a route description ever which was afforded a great response from the would-be runners.
This was the Ballinastoe summer race. It could be easily mistaken for the Ballinastoe winter race, such was the conditions underfoot throughout the race - more of that later.
So the race began and the usual pattern emerged with the elite guys and gals moving ahead in the distance whilst the rest of us looked on in wonder and tried to get our breath even at our pathetic pace. The race was superbly marked and marshalled throughout. So much so that the unmarking is probably still going on this morning!
The route conditions were testing to say the least. Grass and unmuddied ground was at a premium throughout. Personnally I had a knack of finding the deepest and stickiest mud to put my two left feet. The circuit last night with little alteration could have doubled for an army training ground - a few nets to crawl under and walls to climb was all that was missing! The race director had skillfuly deployed some obstacles in our path to make things more interesting. The big yellow front-loader and countless trees. The stream, where there used to be a bridge (but the bridge is now gone). I\'m getting used to stream crossings now, 3 in 3 races. If I keep practising I might even managed to get across one without falling over.
The route which may have favoured runners of all heights back in its hey day, now clearly favours those of a more diminuitive height. Those of us in and around 6 foot spent a lot of the race trying to run through trees doubled over to avoid branches. Thats when we weren\'t falling over that is. I\'d my usual race fall which is par for the course. Another knee graze for the collection.
Much of the race itself was a blur. A lot of things to concentrate on. Keep an eye on the markings, the guys ahead of me (now which way did he run again?), where to put the feet at each step (an unyielding patch of mud if you were lucky), what branches to duck from, what branches to allow hit you etc.
The run (okay I walked minor stretches) passed quite quickly. Before I knew it was I over the stiles and in pursuit down the hill towards the finish line. Probably 50% behind the leaders, but I didn\'t care. It was great fun. Now where is the obligatory river at the end of the race to help us wash off when you need it.
Don\'t know the finishing places - we\'ll see that this morning. If you won that you deserve a special prize from the army or something. Well done to all competitors and thanks again to the race director and his team of great volunteers.
<b>From Jim Fitzharris</b>
Just to add to Mick?s excellent witty report, those of us at the race finish obviously could not share in the enjoyment (!) of the runners but we managed to amuse ourselves nonetheless. The main source of entertainment was the impressive collection of midges and flies hovering around trying to feast on all and sundry. Not surprisingly, there was a great run on insect repellent and, no doubt, an incipient black market in the stuff would have developed had we stayed longer.
On to the more serious issue of the results, the overall winner was Peter O?Farrell recording his second win of the season in fine style with a broad smile on his face as he crossed the line justifiably jubilant. He was followed closely by Eoin Keith with Bernard Fortune coming in third. Paul Nolan continues his welcome return to form coming in just behind Bernard. In the ladies? section, Aisling Coppinger, just back from her European Champsionship exploits at the weekend, won by a mile showing once again that while form may be temporary, class is permanent. The second and third ladies were Aoife Joyce and Maura Ni Chearbhaill.
In the M40 category, Gerry Lalor was the clear winner and posted an impressive time which gave him fifth place overall - he looked as if he had just jogged around the park. Gerry Brady was equally impressive winning the M50 category and coming in seventh overall ? where do these guys get their energy? Danny Toye won the M60 category and the evergreen Mike Gomm took the gong in the M70 category having wisely completed the course earlier in the afternoon.
On the ladies? side, Grainne Cunningham took the honours in the F40 category with Ger Power and Jean O?Neill winning the F50 and F60 categories respectively.
Mick has already thanked the volunteers and I would like to add my vote as well to all who helped out, especially Charlie and the ladies who patiently recorded all the finishers despite the insects and rain. While it may be invidious to mention individuals, I think special thanks should go to Eoin Syrion and Daniela Boehm for marking & marshalling the course, and to Paraic Gallagher for collecting the markers ? he did not return until almost 10 o?clock! By all accounts, the course was very well marked and, as this is the longest race in the Leinster League, that is no mean feat.
Aisling Coppinger led Clonliffe to a narrow victory over Crusaders. She was supported by a resurgent Maura NiChearbhaill who had one of her best runs of the year and by evergreen Jean O?Neill. In the men?s race, Setanta had a comfortable win over GEN and the Defence Forces. With one race left in the overall, the main battle left is for third place in the men with GEN moving ahead of Sli Cualann after the results from Ballinastoe.
197 Clonliffe (Aisling Coppinger 23, Maura NiChearbhaill 60, Jean O?Neill
216 Crusaders (Aoife Joyce 57, Niamh NiCholmain 74, Bronagh Gavigan 85)
21 Setanta (Eoin Keith 2, Gerry Lalor 5, Paul Mahon 14)
53 GEN (Paul Nolan 4, Alan Ayling 21, Patrick Casey 28)
73 DFO (Gary Kelly 9, Donal Burke 10, Gerard Rigney 54)
132 Ajax (Paul Smyth 18, Justin Rea 45, Brendan O?Connor 69) 170 Crusaders (Shane O'Rourke 11, Rene Borg 35, Donough O?Keeffe 124)
235 Sportsworld (Henny Brandsma 70, John Fitzgerald 79, Sean O?Byrne 86)
<b>Over LL Club Results</b>
Available by clicking <a href="http://www.imra.ie/ad-hoc/LL2007cluboverall1-12.htm">here</a>