DCC Road Races Review
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It was a mad March day! The start of BHAA’s road racing season was launched in traditional manner by the two races held on Saturday 28 March in Raheny’s St. Anne’s Park. The course is generally considered to be of PB quality, when the weather is favourable. On this occasion the weather was roaring like a lion, yet still some excellent times were produced.
As was the case last year, and repeating the recent Garda cross-country event in the Phoenix Park, our ranks were swelled by runners in bright yellow t-shirts signifying they are part of the Dublin Lord Mayor’s initiative, this year entitled the 5 Alive challenge. They always add great colour to these events and their support for fellow runners is infectious.
The first event of the day was the women’s 2 mile race, which involved one lap of the course. The entire race is held in the confines of the park. It starts off at the top of the main road through the park heading Eastwards, turns North briefly, then East again, to be followed within about 150m by a sharp turn to the west. At this point on Saturday, runners were confronted by a wind so strong they nearly came to a full halt! A brief respite was obtained after about 60m with a turn to the south, but then the headwind returned for most of the remaining mile or so of the course as it meandered its way through a wooded area and around some playing fields, finally heading about 200m directly into the wind to the finish line. At least it was flat!
For much of the first half of the women’s race there was a lead group of about 6 runners, from where the podium places would eventually emerge. There followed then a ribbon of runners, more than 130 in total. The race was guided by Gerry Flaherty on his bike and a DCC van that ensured that pedestrians and dogs kept off the route.
Towards the last half mile or so the group broke up and Brid Ni Chonaill, a runner whose club, Raheny Shamrocks, trains in the park, emerged victorious in 12:57 with a 3 second advantage over a surprise, but in form, second place finisher, AIB’s Dee Ni Chearbhaill. Dee, likewise, was able to hold off Maura Kearns, the winner of the recent ALSAA cross-country race, who came in a further 6 seconds back. Lorraine Byrne, Orna Dilworth, the reigning National 50K champion, and Aine Crimin made up the remaining top six places, all finishing within roughly 30 seconds of the winner. Further back there were some interesting competitions within the race. Nuala Reilly and Sheelagh Jones had a good battle in their age category, only 6 seconds finally separating them. Fiona Byrne was able to keep Sharon McGrane at bay in their age category, whilst only one second separated Mary Jennings from Una Reilly. Una did, however have the satisfaction of helping to win team prize for Revenue, along with Susan Walsh who enjoyed her own sprint victory over Sharon Woods (although they do not share the same age category). The third member of Revenue’s winning team was Mary Kelly. The race was further graced with the participation of the Shine family and their friends, it being Fiona’s hen weekend. She made it a condition of the festivity that all her hens had to join her in the race. What a great way to recruit runners!
The 4 mile open race enjoyed a field of 240 runners completing two laps of the same course as the women’s race. As we all left the start line, the DCC van, there to guide the lead runners around, had somehow been abandoned in the middle of the, thankfully wide, throughfare with both its front doors wide open. This didn’t phase us in the least and after having passed this inadvertent obstacle we were on our way without any further ado.
The race was won by recent ALSAA cross-country victor Kevin O’Connor from UCD in a time of 21:32. 2nd and 3rd places went respectively to IADT’s Turlough Conway (21:44) and ARUP and Mullingar’s Kevin Baker (21:52). The next 4 places came in within 8 seconds of each other, between Thomas Sherlock (22:13), Chris Flood (22:16), Rory O’Sullivan (22:18) and Tomasz Gagola (22:21). Surprisingly, there were some of us who ran it faster this year than last, notably Dee Ni Chearbhaill’s husband, Sean Murphy whose time of 23:04 was 10 seconds faster than last year, although most of us agreed that the windy conditions this year added between 15 and 20 seconds a mile to times.
Jennifer Sharkey was 18th runner home and first woman finisher in the 4-mile race in a time of 24:15, holding off Eamonn McWalter who placed 19th in 24:17 This year has been particularly notable for the depth of strong competition in the M55 age category and it was evident again during this race. The top 6 runners in the category all finished within 75 seconds of the winner of the category, Chris Keeling, who placed 26th in an excellent time of 24:40 for the distance.
All in all, a tough but rewarding experience. It’s good to be back once again on the roads and we are all looking forward to the K Club this week, on a course that’s seen its fair share of PB performances over the years. The after-race spread is pretty impressive too!