#toughasnails – National XC 2018

13th February 2018

National Juvenile B & XC Relays, Intermediate and Masters XC Championships in Galway on Sunday.

The cold morning snow was on the ground in places and the snow clouds were still holding off but not for long. The course was 2k on the longest loop but divided into shorter loops for the different races. It had a few bends and hills but nothing compared to Bramblestown. But the course condition was wet and muddy, ankle deep in some places and not a lot of grass to get a grip.
Our U11 Girls were first and had 1000 meters to run. Ailbhe Steiger, Eimear Brennan, Órla Brennan and Lucy Coomey were all up in age and with 103 athletes running in their race they knew to get running or get trampled on. They started well but the effort of running in the conditions took its toll on all the runners and exhaustion set in. But they all ran great given the conditions and Órla came 28th, 44th Eimear, 69th Ailbhe and 79th Lucy. They were the 7th club Team which is fantastic as all of these girls can run in the same race next year.
The boys were up straight after and had a similar experience but now the ground was even muckier from the last 100 or so athletes running on it. Liam O’Dwyer, Darragh Dunne, Tom Kehoe, Noah Denieffe and Aidan Keating. The boys also had 100+ and they took off with the same vigour as the girls and did their best to maintain their speed. Tom Kehoe had a great race and finished in the top 30, 58th for Darragh, 85th Liam, 97th Aidan and 110th Noah. 14th Team and 6th county.
The most impressive thing from the U11s was their drive to finish and to push it to the end for the team. Any thoughts of giving up (and there was many) were pushed away for the team. It’s a great achievement for all these U11s to go to the Nationals and to finish. Well done to everyone.

I know exactly what they felt like as I ran in the Masters 4K shortly after them. I had added the Nationals to the bucket list and despite not having a club or county team, I still wanted to cross it off the list. When I arrived and saw the muck, the pre-race nerves switch to anguish but Dave said convincingly “it’ll be grand”.
Standing at the starting line, it began to snow and I just thought ‘could this get any worse’. The start was tough as you needed all your strength to keep upright and not get too jostled around. Every step you took required equal effort to get your foot out of the muck and go again. Dropping out did flash my mind but I had drove too far for quitting. I past Liam and Dave who gave me a boost to get around for one more lap. Liam’s encouragement to run on the grass was lost on me though as I couldn’t find any!
The last lap was far from elegant and thankfully away from the crowd so I could focus on getting through it. Every time I tried to gain ground I slipped. By the time I crossed the line, I was wrecked but more physically, my arms and legs were burning but I wasn’t that out of breath. Definitely the toughest race yet. I came 96 out of 180 and 32nd in my age category. I didn’t get a goodie bag or medal but instead a bag of muck filled spikes and on the way home the best Supermacs I’ve every had. Totally worth it…next year we’ll bring a few teams.
Michelle Ryan

Click to see the photos