Drogheda's teams enjoy clean sweep
A large number of athletes eager to get their hands on some championship medals - including a strong contingent from Drogheda & District - made their way to the GAA complex at Darver for Sunday's Louth Novice Cross-Country Championships.
It may be novice by name, but the standard at this event can be pretty high as sometimes returning athletes are regraded and run with a new sense of purpose which speeds them along.
Conditions on the day were pretty much perfect for both runners and spectators, with just a light wind and very good conditions underfoot.
The Men's 6k race, run over four laps, was a well-contested affair, with many athletes vying for club honours and a possible pick on one of the teams for next week's Intermediate Championship.
Shane Larkin, Kieran McGrath and Fintan Maher quickly settled into a steady rhythm and worked well together to draw clear of most of the field and at the finish McGrath took club honours to finish 5th, with Maher 6th and Larkin 7th.
These three, along with D&D's next finisher Colm Reilly who was 12th, packed well to win the Men's team prize by four points from North East Runners.
Also running in the Men's race were Brian Pentony and Aonghus O'Connor who both finished well up in the placings.
In the ladies 3k race Michelle Egan, Barbara Byrne, Sinead Weldon and Roisin Coade all ran well, and despite being out of the individual placings they were rewarded with winning the ladies first team prize.
D&D also took the second team prize, with Roisin Donnelly, Yvonne McMahon, Elva Maree and Suzanne McCabe all running well to take home the silver medals.
In the Boys Under-18 race which was also run over 6k, Cormac Canning showed a great turn of speed over the last 100m to break clear of his rivals and come home a worthy winner. Despite coming under intense pressure, Canning kept a cool head and didn't panic, which is always the sign of a good runner.
Robert Caffrey wasn't far behind in 3rd place and with James Nolan in 4th D&D secured the first team prize.
Tadhg Donnelly had a sparkling run to finish 2nd in his Boys Under-16 race and is one to watch for the future.
Having the weekly Oldbridge Parkrun practically on our doorstep is proving to be very useful for some of D&D's members as they sharpen up for the county cross-country championships which take place over the coming weeks.
This challenging 5k course soon lets the athletes know just how well they're going as there's no better test than racing.
Young Sam O'Neill, who's getting stronger by the week, raced round the course and crossed the line a worthy winner in a fast 17:30.
D&D's next finisher in 8th place overall - and winner of the ladies race - was Mary Leech who ran 20:06 for the course and her times will drop further as she gets more races in her legs.
Yasmin Canning as always delivered a strong run to finish 11th in a solid 20:50, with her training partner Orla O'Connor close behind in 13th place in 21:12 which was a new PB time.
Also running were Shaun Conroy, who was 26th in 24:29, Seamus Roe (29th in 25:08) and Ruth Dunne (51st in 29:57).
The start of the cross-country season begins locally with the Star of the Sea 6k race the weekend before last, held on a really tough course at Dardistown, County Meath.
Stephen Duggan got stuck in right from the start and hung in when the pain from pushing one's body up those hills would have been testing his resolve.
Duggan was rewarded for his efforts with a fine 13th place finish in 22:39 which was good running given the conditions.
Cillian Dyas, one of our newer members, ran well to cross the line in 24:01 when finishing 20th and he has the makings of a useful runner.
Roger Tegart was on a mission to test himself against this much talked about course and he ran a decent race to finish 33rd in 27:26, while Jim Nolan had a solid run to finish 36th in 28:58.
Suzanne McCabe made a welcome return to racing over the fields when finishing 25th in the ladies 3k race in 15.10.
Gerard Fay must be drinking from the fountain of eternal youth as he completed three marathons in three days over the weekend in Monaghan.
On Friday Fay ran 5:52 for the classic 26-mile distance, followed by a 5:49 run on Saturday. Sunday saw Fay complete his trilogy when he ran 4:48 for his last race of the weekend.
Further afield, Eric Clinton who delivered a top-class performance at the Barcelona Ironman Triathlon over the weekend.
Having completed a 2-mile swim and then a 112-mile bike ride, Clinton then ran a full marathon in 3:37 which represents really solid running given the heat he had to contend with on the day.
Clinton's achievement was all the more noteworthy given that he had to complete most of his training with a broken arm which had to be placed in a cast.