THE cross country season came to an end last Saturday when the Irish Life health All-Ireland schools championships were held at Santry in Dublin, while the Irish universities championships were held at The Farm in Cork.
It has been a long season for many runners since their first race last October, and quite a few of them would say the season ended not a moment too soon!
The All-Ireland schools championships have always been one of the most competitive competitions of the year, and this year’s edition was no different.
Cork runners found the going tough in the two senior races.
Paul Hartnett of Colaiste an Chraoibhin, back racing after injury kept him side-lined for a year, was the best placed in 13th, four places ahead of Frank O’Brien of Midleton CBS who led his school to seventh place.
Lucy O’Keeffe of St. Mary’s Midleton was tenth in the senior girls race and Loreto Fermoy sixth in the team contest.
One of the best results of the day came in the intermediate girl’s race where Avril Millerick of St. Mary’s Midleton finished a close third. The team contest saw a big win for Pobalscoil na Trionoide Youghal with Emma Landers leading them home in eight position.
Adam Kiely of CBC ran a strong race to finish sixth in the intermediate boy’s race.
The only other Cork runner to win an individual medal was Nicole Dinan of St. Angela’s who ran a great race to finish third in the junior girls race. Claire Crowley of Kinsale CS was 12th and Rebecca Kelleher of Scoil Mhuire was 16th, while St. Angela’s finished seventh in the team contest.
Colaiste Pobail Bheanntrai finished sixth team in the junior boy’s race, led home by Sean Lawton in 6th and Fionn Harrington 8th.
Oisin McCarthy of Hamilton HS was 8th in the minor boy’s race, and Ruairi Murphy of Midleton CBS was 12th, leading his school to third place medals.
St. Mary’s Midleton finished fifth team in the minor girl’s race, led home by Emily Brenner in 12th.
Irish indoor 1,500m champion and British universities indoor 800m champion Louise Shanahan was back in Cork last Saturday for the Irish universities cross country championships and finished a good sixth in the UCC colours. UCC finished fourth team behind TCD, just one point behind UCD in third. CIT did not have a team.
Raheny Shamrocks runner Cillian Kirwan was 8th in the men’s race in the UCC colours, while Jeremiah Sheehan of North Cork was 10th for UL. UCC finished seventh team and CIT eight.
The American collegiate indoor championships take place at the weekend. The Division 1 championships are in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the Division 11 championships are in Birmingham, Alabama.
Stephanie Cotter of West Muskerry and Adams State University will contest the mile in Birmingham, bidding to win her fourth national title while still in her second year there. She is also a member of the distance relay team.
In spite of running his first sub-4 minute mile of 3:58.95, Charlie O’Donovan of Leevale and Villanova didn’t make the cut for the championships in Albuquerque. Sixteen runners qualified in the mile, the slowest having run 3:58.45, and the fastest 3:55.41 to show just how competitive the American collegiate scene really is.
One name in the field that stands out is New Zealand runner Theo Quax whose father Dick held the world record for 5,000m in 1977, and won silver in the Montreal Olympics in 1976. They are the first Kiwi father-son combination to run sub-4 minute miles and the 12th globally. That list also includes Eamon and John Coghlan.
The fastest qualifying time for the 3,000m is 7:43.73, with the slowest 7:51.00, while the fastest in the 5,000m is 13:16.95 and the slowest 13:40.99.
The women’s 200m is just as impressive with the fastest qualifying time of 22.57 and the slowest is 23.25. Compare that to Phil Healy’s recent Irish record of 23.10!