Friday, 16 October 2015

Cross Country Dreaming

If I could just go back 5 minutes in time, have you ever felt like that? There are times when I'v interrupted my thoughts and tried to figure out a way to go back - actually thinking I'd come up with something. The day is drifting on by and then it's turned on it's head. Fuck it, how did that happen?

Last time I was on here I'd planned on running the county novice cross country until a characteristic change of mind got me to the start line of Cork to Cobh instead. I'd had a few nice weeks training with the marathon crew on Saturday mornings coupled with regular wednesday night or 'Sergi sessions' on the track that had got me in reasonable shape if a little short on mileage to think I could run good for the fifteen miles to Cobh. In any case the road scene was going to be quiet for me after this so destination Cork. One of the oldest races on the Munster scene, theres a good atmosphere here and it's one of few point to point races on the calendar.

A strong headwind sorted the race out into a few front runners, a few groups of evenly matched runners and a few misfortunates that got stuck between groups in no mans land. Myself and Don got cosy in the 2nd group running steady 6.20 miles into the headwind. It might have been on the easy side of comfortable at times but I'm confident I wouldn't have lasted too long if I tried to leave them into that wind and would have found myself out the back soon after.

This is my third time running here and the entrance to Fota island and crossing Belvelly bridge seems to be the place to push on if you have the legs. Its a bit more sheltered along most of this section and if your feeling strong there are a few hills to test yourself and those around you. I ended up with some lad from Clonmel who had a bit of an edge on me and made sure I got a good workout all the way to Cobh. A lot of those running here use it as a testing ground for Dublin marathon and anyone hoping to do well in Dublin should be running strong here too, they're easy to spot as they have the legs to finish strong all the way to the line.

I had sore legs for the week after and wound it down in an effort to be fresh for this Sundays County Intermediate cross country. I'd seen the video of the novice race and I decided if I wasn't fresh it could turn into a slog. I have yet to run cross country but its an itch thats been there for a while, long before I started running. Thing about running with Grange Fermoy AC is there's a bit of a daunting history and there's something in the back of your mind that makes you feel you can't let the side down so I'v been doing some thinking about it and it seems theres nothing for it only to toughen up. John Hartnett ran for Grange AC, went to America and did some damage while he was there. Maybe its just the passage of time but there is something fascinating about these guys and that generation. Tough as nails, not a whole lot of technology behind them, none actually - Run lots of miles and run them hard - take it or leave it.

Two Corkmen doing damage back in the day. John Hartnett (435) is a local legend around here and Donie Walsh (447) is the same in Cork.


I'v seen this in real life and maybe that's why it's a bit of a thing with me. A seed planted back in the early 80's during a Sunday afternoon visit to see the International cross country race held just outside town. Bitter cold, the only comfort coming from the smell of hot chips and the heat from the generator at the back of the van. All the heads were there - I didn't know them but someone told me Neil Cusack won the Boston marathon and sure shit, that was good enough for me. It was the Africans though, effortless through the fields of Fermoy. I'd never seen anything like this. For those involved in the running scene at the time it must have been huge. That bit was lost on me though, I thought it was normal, always like this - like when I started cycling during the Kelly/Roche era, I thought it was always like this, glory days. Someone mentioned 3000 spectators. It was the toughness. Not a spare ounce and not an inch given. No hiding place, you either had the legs or you hadn't. Jumping ditches! Elbows, It was all new to me and since then I'v always cocked an ear at the mention of cross country. two lines in the paper, 5 seconds on the sports news. I'd hear it. John Treacy winning a world title, everyone knew about that one.

So finally I'm going to have a go. Fully aware of whats involved but ready for a go. Easy week planned out - bit of a session Wednesday to keep a bit of sharpness and tick over 'till Sunday. Simple.
A sickening snap, a fibrous tear, vividly audible even now -  did I really do that? I knew that Kerb was there? How do you turn back time again? just five minutes. Think, think, think hard, its a distraction from the pain.

On the plus side (theres always a plus side) I'l get another year from my cross country dreams before they're smashed. Anyone want a pair of still in the box spikes?

For Sale :-(

Nice article here from John Walshe on the years before I got there.



  1. Oh Jesus! Recover well! If it's any consolation, I'd probably prefer smashing my leg over a curb to running cross country again ...

    1. Ha, I wish I had the option to decide Thomas. For the moment I will try to convince myself that I don't need running so as I don't feel bad for not training. No timeline yet for when I'm back on the road.