Sunday 16th November
After a week of torrential rain, the Fit4Life ladies were thankful to catch a couple of dry hours for the Women’s Meet and Train Cross-Country League at the Cowpark. The sun even emerged for a while filling our seven contenders full of optimism and enthusiasm. Ana Quigley, Heather Harold, Joan Hodgins and Niamh Geran were making their cross-country debuts, Ciara Devitt was embarking on her second and Norma Farrell on her third, making teenager Emily Ryan our most seasoned competitor with four cross-country races under her belt. Lambs to the slaughter; every one of them, as it turned out!
Our clubmates who set up the course on Saturday described the going as “soft.” That Tony O’Neill is a funny guy! A more accurate description might have included the words “marshy, puddly, muddy, squelchy and slippy.” We have to give the lads credit for redirecting the course away from the downright “flooded” spots. It could have been worse. We think all of our ladies were amazed not to have a Cinderella moment; only less dignified! Our experienced Senior clubmates assured us that they have never experienced tougher conditions, so we took great comfort from that. Misery loves company and thankfully the remaining 3 races in the league will be run in parks and what’s the likelihood of that weather recurring? The only way is up!
If we were inexperienced and slightly shell-shocked by the tough conditions, we sure as hell didn’t show it and our ladies fearlessly got themselves in the thick of the action. Kudos to Ana and Niamh who, having entered as individuals, would have been perfectly justified in turning around and going home. Ana experienced a change of scenery from San Sebastian and finished in 19.08 (123rd) following a 12-mile training run on Saturday. Niamh joined us merely weeks ago and last week’s Remembrance Run is her only racing experience. She didn’t know she wasn’t supposed to finish in 14.45 (51st). Amazing stuff Niamh; one to watch!
The other 5 ladies along with yet another newcomer, Jan Rice, are proudly representing Fit4Life as a team in the 4 races of the league. This is a first for Fit4Life and a cause for celebration. Thank you ladies for accepting the challenge to represent us and thanks to Viv for the recruitment drive and organisation.
Ciara and Norma led the Fit4lifers home finishing together in 14.17 (29th and 30th). Ciara is obviously well recovered from her marathon and Norma was flush from a great performance in the club’s 2-mile league during the week. Emily ran a strong and mature race, gave good chase and finished just behind her teammates in 14.32 (45th). Heather, also seemingly recovered from her marathon, finished next in in 14.57 (55th) hotly pursued by Joan Hodgins in 15.10 (64th) one week after Remembrance Run and one day after DA’Camp.
The homesoil may have been wet but it was also filled with incredible support from our clubmates and stewards. There are far too many to mention here, so we will simply refer you to the large group photo that will soon grace the Irish Runner. The ladies say a massive thank you to everyone who stayed to support on a day when support was desperately needed! And didn’t our ladies use it to great effect! Stellar performances all round in very tough conditions. Congratulations! Then it was back to the clubhouse for tea, coffee, war stories, cakes, biscuits. Thanks to the catering crew for the treats. Again, please see the photo.
Ladies, let’s see if we can’t romanticise the Cross-Country experience somewhat. Lads, you might want to stop reading here!
We are reminded of Jane Austen’s heroine Miss Elizabeth Bennett, whose cross country exploits were immortalised in Pride & Prejudice. The caustic Bingley sisters (rivals for Mr Darcy’s affection) got their claws out for Elizabeth after her cross-country trek from Longbourn to Netherfield Park:
“I shall never forget her appearance this morning. She really looked almost wild. I could hardly keep my countenance. Very nonsensical to come at all! Why must she be scampering about the country? Her hair so untidy, so blowsy!"
"Yes, and her petticoat; I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud, I am absolutely certain; and the gown which had been let down to hide it not doing its office."
"Your picture may be very exact, Louisa," said Mr Bingley; "but this was all lost upon me. I thought Miss Elizabeth Bennet looked remarkably well, when she came into the room this morning. Her dirty petticoat quite escaped my notice."
"You observed it, Mr. Darcy, I am sure," said Miss Bingley, "and I am inclined to think that you would not wish to see your sister make such an exhibition."
"To walk three miles, or four miles, or five miles, or whatever it is, above her ankles in dirt! what could she mean by it? It seems to me to show an abominable sort of conceited independence, a most country town indifference to decorum."
"I am afraid, Mr. Darcy," observed Miss Bingley in a half whisper, "that this adventure has rather affected your admiration of her fine eyes."
"Not at all," he replied; "they were brightened by the exercise."
Check out the photos of our ladies, knee deep in mud, eyes brightened by the exercise. Mr Darcy would have been spoiled for choice! (Lads, we did warn you, if you continued reading, you only have yourselves to blame!) Super stuff ladies!