Autumn has arrived in the past few days and with it the mud and thunder of the cross-country season.
The preliminary skirmishes at the end of September, organised by Star of the Sea in Stamullen Co Meath and the St Senan's club in Kilmacow, were followed by last weekend's county novice championships.
At the Dublin Championships, held on the rolling Magazine Fort loop in the Phoenix Park, first honours went to Donore's Aisling Mac Dhomhnaill who won the women's 4km race from Niamh Donnelly of Celtic DCH. Good packing for their next three placers meant Celtic DCH were the winning team.
John Frazer of Crusaders was an equally clear winner of the men's 6km race with DSD pair Wishu Gebreselassie and Rick Nally second and third. Donore, led home by Niall Lynch in fifth, and Caoimhin Kelly sixth, took the team title ahead of Crusaders and DSD.
At the Meath Novice Championships in Stamullen, Irish schools cross-country champion Andrew Coscoran of Star of the Sea led from the start, with the chasers led by Richie Bell of Fr Murphy's. Dunboyne's Shauna Moran won the women's race from Eva McNelis of St Andrew's.
Good news for all is that Avondale in Rathdrum has finally been confirmed as the venue for the Leinster Novice and Masters Cross-Country on Sunday, October 26.
Finding any venue for cross-country has become fraught with difficulty, and Leinster has only just named Adamstown as the venue for intermediate and juvenile races on November 9.
Further good news is that venues have been chosen for the National Intercounty Championships on Sunday November 23, and for the hugely popular national Novice Championships on Sunday, December 7. Dundalk Institute of Technology will host the intercounties, with Santry the venue for the novices.
Another positive is that the annual Gerry Farnan and Sheila Brennan Cross-Country races in the Pheonix Park, where Fionnuala Britton has been a regular winner, have undergone a makeover.
Taking place on Sunday October 19 (3.0) and billed as the Athletics Ireland Autumn Open Cross, men and women of all ages are invited to sign up for races over two distances - 5km and 8km. Fun runners, Park runners and Fit-for-Lifers are especially welcome to come along sample the joys of running on soft grassy trails.
Master athletes from all over the country are also expected to run, with their target a place on the Irish team for the British and Irish Master's International next month.
Cross-country's 'Operation Transformation' has begun!