the first big National cross country race of the new season was held on Sunday. The Autumn Open Cross Country Festival took place at the National Sports Complex, Abbotstown, Dublin. The Masters’ Trial Race for the November ‘5 Nations Cross Country International race’ is subsumed within the event. Karol Duggan underlined his status as one of the country’s top Masters by claiming 3rd place in the M35 category. Karol ran a very fast time of 24.47 and he has guaranteed his place in the International. As an added bonus for Karol and other runners from the North West, the event will take place in Derry, a very convenient location. Seeing Karol competing as a top Master shows the truth in the maxim Tempus Fugit (time flies), especially to ‘mature’ runners (like this correspondent) who can vividly remember Karol as a highly talented 15 year old.
Raymond Birch, also running in the M35 category, had an excellent time of 26.49. Eoghan McGinley had a very strong run in the senior men’s race and clocked 25.12.
In-form marathoner, Ciaran McGonagle, transitioned smoothly from the roads of Chicago to the grass of Dublin and was 7th in a highly competitive M40 category. It was an excellent performance by Ciaran just 14 days after the marathon. In the event of any of the top 6 in the M40 category being unable to run in Derry, Ciaran would be in with a chance of a call-up to the Irish M40 team.
Fionnuala Diver has run for the Irish F35 team in each of the last 2 years. Fionnuala had a fine run and was 5th in a time of 23.24. Although that doesn’t provide Fionnuala with a guarantee of a place, she will be hopeful, like Ciaran, of still making the team.
Donal Farren had a good run. He finished in 20.12 and had a highly creditable 14th position in the Under 20 race.
Running conditions were excellent despite the dreadful weather the whole of Ireland had experienced in the days immediately preceding the race. Club Captain, Raymond Birch described the course as being “really good and was nearly like running on the road. It was a great course and a fast race.”
One of the noteworthy features of the race, from a Donegal perspective, was the performance of Kilmacrennan septuagenarian James Doherty of neighbouring club, Milford AC. Despite only taking up running at the age of 65, James stormed to 1st place in the M70 category.
John Hughes returned to his old school on Saturday to run in the Red High 10K in Co Down. John put on an excellent performance. He had a top 20 finish, was 4th in the M50 category and clocked 41.47 on a very tough course. The race winner was Brendan Teer of East Down AC in 34.28.
Letterkenny AC runners were again to the fore in Saturday’s Letterkenny parkrun. Nakita Burke was the overall race winner in 20.08, making her only the 2nd woman to be an overall winner since the event started in February 2016. Pol Mac Giolla Bhride was 3rd overall in 20.25. Richard Raymond was once again the first M60-64 runner, clocking 23.16. Young Jack Lyden finished in 28.42. Peter McLean, in his 55th time doing the Letterkenny parkrun, finished in 28.52.
Letterkenny AC’s annual ‘Michael Murphy Sports and Leisure New Mills 10K’ will be held on Sunday October 29th. The course is fast and flat and there is a generous prize list. The race starts at 10.30am (remember the clocks go back!) and registration is from 9.30am at Aura Leisure Centre. The entry fee is €8. Letterkenny AC is highly appreciative of the generous sponsorship provided by Michael Murphy Sports and Leisure. The club is also grateful to Aura Leisure Centre for their continued goodwill and co-operation.
Letterkenny AC offers best wishes to the large contingent of club runners who are taking part in the Dublin Marathon, also being held on Sunday October 29th.