THE first of the season's cross country championships were held in Drogheda on Sunday with the Mens and Ladies Novice races being very well attended to open the season.
North East Runners had its highest ever entry in the event with 35 competing between the two races. First race of the day saw Mary Laverty return to racing after many months with a fine victory in the 3000m.
Mary controlled the race from the gun and steadily broke away from her opponents to win comfortably. Her smile was extended as she discovered that the team packed well behind her to also win the team event, the first time the club have ever won this event.
Dearbhla Greene and Denise Murphy worked through the field after cautious starts to finish in 4th and 7th place respectively to help the club take the title. And NER also took the third team prize with Helen Divilly, Karen McCrystal and Mary McArdle having their personal battles in their first cross country races for the club.
In total 15 ladies completed the course with full results on the club's facebook page. Many thanks to Karen who came very prepared with cake for all as we celebrated afterwards.
The mens race followed soon after with the lads obviously inspired as Niall Gorham forced the pace up front with Dunleer's Gary Campbell. The pair pulled away on the second half of the race with Niall Halpin and Brian Lynch close behind in their own battle.
Niall pulled away on the last two laps but had to work to the line as Gary sprinted the last lap to be denied Novice Champion but had satisfaction in taking the under 18 title. Niall and Brian were 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Novice event.
Steve Reenan (6th overall) came through to be fourth scorer on the club team, who like the ladies were also crowned Louth Champions. With 20 NER lads, there was strength in depth and the club also took third team honours. The team was Richard Murphy who is preparing for the Dublin Marathon, Colin Mullen, Niall Fergus and Jonny Hewson.
The second round of the championships takes place next Sunday 13th in DKIT over a more testing 2km lap with distances increased to 4km for ladies and 8km for men. Entries before Friday to Jim Gonnelly, cost is only €4. Start time is again 11am for the ladies with men immediately afterwards.
The weekend also saw Brian McCluskey place second in the GAA Gathering 5km at Darver in an extremely fast time of 15.12mins but times have been discarded due to the course being found to be inaccurate at approx 300m short but still gave a Brian a good indication of current form as he prepares for the County Senior championships where he ran a gutsy 3rd place last year.
Club sessions on Tuesday at 6.15 at St Helena's and Thursdays at 6.30 from same location. Steady/easy running sessions in DKIT on Monday and Wednesday from 6.00 - 7.00pm.
Fixtures: 20th Oct - 6km Road Race Bush Cooley, Open event and also club teams event; 28th Oct - Dublin Marathon; 4th Nov - Louth Senior Cross Country, Oldbridge, Drogheda, 12.00. Ladies 5km, Men 10km.