Several Wicklow Athletes represented the county on the Irish team in the North versus South Masters Cross Country Challenge...
Several Wicklow Athletes represented the county on the Irish team in the North versus South Masters Cross Country Challenge on Saturday. The event was hosted by Northern Ireland Masters Athletics Association and staged in the grounds of Queens University, Belfast.
Irish vests are hard earned, for seven Wicklow athletes originally to have done so is a great achievement. Their hard work and training were reflected on the day. They performed extremely well against large fields of seasoned athletes representing their nations. Unfortunately, a recurring ankle injury prevented William Tyrrell from running the race.
The overall top prize is between the teams. In a usually considered individual sport, this event is special as it brings a team element. All athletes run for something bigger than themselves and that is their fellow teammates and nation. That being said, there was strong competition between individuals across the categories from over 35’s to over 75’s with medals for the first three in each.
Racing conditions were ideal, warm November sunshine beamed over the challenging course. The first race of the day were the women’s categories and men’s over 65s, a test of 6km over 3 laps. On his debut in this event, Desie Shorten M65 stormed home to finish third in his category. Catherine O’Connor F40 and Debbie Griffin F55 trained hard ahead of this race and both contributed to the overall winning ladies’ Irish team. Catherine was the 3rd Irish F40, and Debbie finished 4th Irish woman home in her category. Fellow Parnell AC member, William Belton was the 2nd Irish M70 over the line and enjoyed the Queens University playing fields course.
The sun continued to shine over Belfast for the second race of the day. Brian Geraghty showed a fantastic display of gritty running. From the gun, his intentions to win a gold medal were clear. Ultimately, none of his competitors could match his pace and he won his age category and received a winning Ireland medal. Dominic Horan also had a fine performance and was the 4th Irish man home in his category.