Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: January 2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Marathon in Kerry in 2013...

It has been announced recently that there is going to be a new Marathon in the town of Tralee in 2013. The planned date is the 16th of March and it looks as if it will incorporate a Half-Marathon as well. The event is going to be called the Tralee International Marathon and the date was selected in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the signing of the Tralee Charter in 1613.

So what's it going to be like? To runners in the Kingdom, it will obviously be on the 'must do' list as it's a local event. For those outside of Kerry, it's another event in an already busy road race calendar. The numbers in the Marathon itself are likely to be pretty small...maybe 200?...while the Half-Marathon will probably attract the bulk of the runners.

For the last few years, I have been posting race results for Kerry on the Running in Munster website and it's obvious that most of the races in Kerry are in the Killarney area. Tralee as a town has a larger population yet for it's size, it has relatively few races in comparison. This new event should get more people out running in the Tralee area and that might kick start some more activity in the north Kerry region. Overall, a positive development.

1983...Eamonn Coghlan's record breaking indoor mile

A few days ago, I put up a post about David McCarthy (3:55) and John Coghlan (3:59) running sub four minutes in an indoor mile race in the US. While I was looking for info on it, I came across this old video from 1983.

Eamonn Coghlan was at the time one of the best middle distance runners in the world and this video clip shows the Chairman of the Boards setting what was then a new indoor mile world record of 3:49.78. That record would last for 14 years and still remains the second fastest indoor mile of all time.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Results of the Cork BHAA FMC 4 mile race...Sun 22nd Jan 2012

This 4 mile road race was held back on Sunday, the 22nd of January 2012 in Little Island. There was a big crowd of 507 runners at this race. I presume with the influx of new non-reg runners, that was probably the main reason why it started late. Looks like we might be in for a year of record numbers at the races again?

The results are HERE

Photographs by Doug Minihane HERE

Race notice...Mealagh Valley 10 mile road race - Sun 12th Feb 2012

This 10 mile road race is coming up on Sunday, the 12th of February at 12 noon. Located near Bantry in west Cork, the Mealagh Valley is a scenic location for this challenging 10 mile course.

The entry fee is €15 or €20 on the day. You can enter online HERE. For more information, call Geraldine on 087 6173376 or

Proceeds from the race go towards local schools in the valley and towards Build4life4kids, a Cystic Fibrosis fundraising group aiming to raise €2 million to provide a specialised kids unit within Cork University Hospital (CUH) in Cork City.

Please note that if you are interested in doing the Bay Run Half-Marathon from Glengarriff to Bantry on the 6th of May, there is a 20% discount to anyone taking part in the Mealagh Valley race by use of a special discount code.

Full preview of the race closer to the date...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dungarvan 10...Sun 29th Jan 2012

The John Treacy Dungarvan 10 mile road race went ahead on Sunday the 19th of January under overcast and damp conditions. Despite the light rain and an unexpected oil spill on the road around the 4 mile mark, two new course records were set. Sean Hehir of Rathfarnham WSAF AC won the mens race in a time of 49:25. In the womens race, Maria McCambridge of Letterkenny AC won in a time of  55:58............(Photos....Dominic Horan)

In the competition for the prestigious John Treacy Club Challenge Cup, Clonliffe Harriers won the mens cup in a combined time of 2:34:16....Gary O’ Hanlon (49:49), Brian McMahon (50:21) and Declan Power (54:06).

Olympic Marathon silver medalist John Treacy presenting Niamh Roe (L) and Annmarie Holland (R) of Eagle AC with the Club Challenge Trophy. Photo courtesy of James Veale of West Waterford AC

In the womens competition, Cork club Eagle AC won the trophy for the second year running with a combined time of 3.06.13...Sinead NĂ­ ChonchĂșir (60:25), Ann-Marie Holland (62:10) and Niamh Roe (63:38).

Category results with links to full results and photos up on the Running in Munster website.

Lizzie Lee of Leevale AC (2nd) and Maria McCambridge of Letterkenny AC (1st). Both athletes are part of the Irish Marathon Mission of elite distance runners. Photo courtesy of Dan McGrath...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

David McCarthy and John Coghlan go sub 4 in the US

David McCarthy from Waterford won a mile race in the US this evening with a time of 3:55.75. Also running sub 4 was John Coghlan from Dublin. (McCarthy is in black and white, Coghlan is in blue)

Watch more videos on Flotrack

2012 BU Terrier Invitational - 28th Jan - Boston University - Boston, MA                
 Men 1 Mile Run
    Name                    Year Team                    Finals
Section  1                                                    
  1 McCarthy, David              Providence             3:55.75
  2 Ritchie, Tim                 Baa                    3:58.49
  3 Coghlan, John                Unattached             3:59.32
  4 Gonzalez, Christian          Nj-Ny Track Club       3:59.98
  5 Matthews, Julian             Providence             4:02.08
  6 Bleday, John                 Dartmouth              4:04.02
  7 Jamieson, Carlos             Cptc New Balance       4:04.05
  8 Paulson, Matt                Boston U.              4:06.05

Post race interview with David McCarthy HERE
...and John Coghlan HERE

Postscript.......Ian O'Riordan has an interesting piece in the Irish Times about how Eamonn and John Coghlan are the first Irish father-son combination to crack the 4 minute mile barrier, and become the second of only two in the world to do so. Eamonn Coghlan first broke four minutes when he was 22, John Coghlan is now 23 so he still has his whole athletics career ahead of him.

Amazingly, Eamonn Coghlan has run 83 sub-four minute miles, including a 3:49.78 – the second fastest indoors of all time – plus the only sub-four ever by an over 40-year-old.

The full article is HERE

IOC president expects some cheating at the 2012 Olympics

The International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge has admitted that he expects some athletes to use performance-enhancing drugs at the 2012 London Olympics. In an interview with BBC Sport, Rogge said...""There have been positive cases in each Olympic games since we have started testing. To say there will be no positive cases would be naive and misleading. I hope it's the case, but reality tells me that there may be positive cases. Everything that is humanly possible has been done in London to minimise doping. We hope that it will be the lowest possible number and we do everything we can to protect clean athletes."

Rogge's comments were backed on Twitter by women's world marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe, who wrote: "Totally agree with Jaques Rogge's view of dopers and cheats. It is never ok and there are no excuses." A recent poll of British athletes suggested that around 90% wanted those who had been caught to remain banned for life rather than the current two year ban.

In concluding, the IOC president stated..."I think athletes are cheating because they believe that the others cheat. If they could live in the belief that the others are not cheating, they will not cheat themselves. We have a moral responsibility towards the parents and especially the mothers, because if they don't think we will do everything to protect the health of their children they will not send them any more to sports clubs - so we have to protect the young athletes".

The interview can be seen HERE

Friday, January 27, 2012

Winner of 2010 Dublin Marathon stripped of her Tokyo Marathon title

The Tokyo Marathon Foundation have announced that a doping test performed at the Feb. 27, 2011 Tokyo Marathon on women's winner Tatyana Aryasova of Russia returned positive for HES (hydroxyethyl starch), a banned substance typically used to conceal use of other banned performance-enhancing substances.  As a result of the positive test, Aryasova has been stripped of her 2011 title as she failed to challenge a two-year doping by the International Association of Athletics Federation during an appeal period that ended last week.  Runner-up Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) has been elevated to the winner's place and will be paid the difference in prize money from her previous finishing position.

According to the Japan Anti-Doping Agency, HES is used to conceal blood doping carried out to improve aerobic performance.  This is the first time the substance has been detected at a race within Japan, but the number of athletes caught using it in overseas cycling races and similar events is considerable.  According to the Tokyo Marathon Foundation, the announcement of the result was held until the completion of the proper procedures by the IAAF.  Aryasova will be stripped of all race results following last year's Tokyo Marathon and will serve a two-year ban beginning last April 29.

In the Dublin City Marathon in October 2010, Tatyana Aryasova of Russia broke the women's course record by winning in a time of 2:26.12, beating the old record of 2:27.22, set by Ruth Kitol of Kenya in 2003.

Considering that she failed a drugs test just four months later, it raises a serious question about her Dublin victory. Was she clean then?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Guest Article - Setting Good Example...West Waterford's Nightime League

The article below was written by John Walshe and appeared in the Irish Runner magazine back in 2005. It is republished here with their kind permission. Even though the article is some seven years old, I believe that it is still as relevant today as it was back then. At present, there are a number of evening winter leagues taking place mainly in east Munster. I have details of these up on the Running in Munster website...just look for the series adverts on the right hand side of the page. These could be replicated in any large town or city in the country with a bit of planning. Evening leagues are suitable for new and experienced runners alike. If you are in a position to help start one in your area next winter, you might give it some thought...

West Waterford's Allrounder League is a proven winner and a template could be copied countrywide.

"We must tell the whole country about this, why can't every town have one?" The enthusiasm of West Waterford AC Chairman James Veale, is palpable as he talks about the sight of 340 runners heading off on a dreary November night around the streets of Dungarvan, reflective bibs shining in the darkness.

The Allrounder Winter League takes place every Wednesday night from early November to the end of February, with just a short break at Christmas, making it 15 weeks in total., Started ten years ago with just seven runners, its phenomenal growth has mirrored that of the West Waterford club itself, playing a significant role in their rise to become one of the most vibrant athletic clubs in the country.
"I suppose a whole combination of things has contributed to making it so successful," muses Veale as he tries to come to terms with the huge organisational input the League now requires. "The coverage in the local newspapers has a lot to do with it. Our two papers here in Dungarvan  - The Leader and The Observer - give two or three pages a week to the club and we also advertise it in many of the local factories."

There is a choice of two distances each week, a 2.7-mile catering for beginners and a 6-mile for the established runners. After the first night, a handicap system comes into operation, with the slowest person each week going off first the following week. First across the line is awarded one point, and so on down the line. The person with the lowest number of points at the end of the league is the winner. After Christmas, both leagues are divided into several divisions to sustain everyone's interest.

"It's just €2 for members of the club each night and €3 for non-members". explains James Veale. "This year, people are travelling from a wide area and now a similar league has commenced in Waterford City, such is the interest."

Dungarvan Sports Centre serves as the league headquarters. Out on the road, up to 20 stewards are required, with another 12 to 15 at the finish looking after car parking and entries and recording numbers and times.

"A lot of the helpers wouldn't be members of the club; some of them having been roped in over the years. They give great commitment - even my own father has been there since day one," says Veale. This year, in the interest of safety, a new long route was devised consisting of a two-mile out and back with a loop around St.Augustine's College in the middle.

The times at the finish are recorded by Noel O'Doherty; no mean feat with over 70 runners a minute coming in at the peak. The results are compiled on computer, with handicap times deducted from finishing times. Full results appear on the club's website and in the local papers within a week.

It was back in 1994 that Tony Ryan first established the Allrounder Winter League. "I remember we used to meet at the Dungarvan Crystal Centre and had seven runners the first night, increasing to around 23 by the end of the winter. The format was the same as today, culminating in the Mystery Tour and prize-giving night."

The famous Mystery Tour was another of Ryan's innovative ideas. "On the last Friday in February we head off on a bus tour to a pub, the destination of which is known to only two people. Here we present all the various prizes for the league, including the leading people in each of the divisions.
"The key to the success of the Winter Leagues is that people realise you don't have to be a good runner to take part. Also, the handicap system gives everyone a chance of actually finishing first."
"If some body like the Irish Sports Council started one of these in every county in Ireland, in ten years time you could imagine the impact it would have," concludes Ryan.

It's certainly a suggestion that maybe John Treacy, Chairman of the Irish Sports Council and one of Tony Ryan's contemporaries from his own juvenile athletic days, should consider.

Preview of the Dungarvan 10 mile...Sun 29th Jan 2012

For anyone doing the Dungarvan 10 mile road race next Sunday, there is a preview of the course up now on the Running in Munster site. This race is pre-entry only and there are no entries on the day.

For the first time, there will be pacers for the Dungarvan race this year. There will be two pacers for each of the following times.....70...75...80...85 and 90.

Mallow '10'...Also a reminder that Mallow AC will be in the Sports Hall from approx 10:30am taking entries for their 10 mile road race on Monday, the 19th of March. Entry €15.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Heated TV debate on Martin Fagan...

This panel debate took place on the iTalk Sport show on Setanta Sports recently. Host Paul Kimmage goes head to head with Ian O'Riordan of the Irish Times about Martin Fagan's use of the drug EPO. O'Riordan broke the news on Fagan in an exclusive interview and some people feel he may have been too easy on him.

Unless something major really happens, this hopefully will be the last post on this story.

Economic impact of races???

I came across a piece recently about the economic impact of the Miami Half-Marathon and Marathon in Florida. The event, set for Sunday, January 29, is expected to generate more than $45 million for the local economy this year in the form of hotel bookings, restaurant spending, transportation, shopping and entertainment. This will exceed the $41.4 million that the event generated in 2011 which in turn was 24% higher than in 2010, or an additional $8.04 million dollars in economic activity. It is expected that in the 10 years of the event, it will have had a cumulative $200 million in economic impact.

Breakdown of the 2011 event.....21,147 registered runners from 79 countries and all 50 states. 34,442 hotel room nights were generated by the race. Among non-local participants, the domestic market increased by 37% to 10,589 and the international market increased 35% to 3,210. International participants spent more in every spending category of lodging, food and beverage, transportation, retail shopping, tourist attractions and entertainment. The 2012 race is expected to get 25,000 entries.

What about here closer to home? What economic impact do the more local races have?

For example, the Dublin City Marathon got 14,000 entries last October. How much is it worth to Dublin and the Irish economy? Or the Cork Marathon to Cork City? Or the smaller Half-Marathons to each of their areas? Or even the smaller races?

Looking through the entry list of upcoming Ballycotton '10' race, there is a large contingent on runners from the UK at the end. Add in the numbers coming from Dublin and further up the country and that adds up to a lot of people spending money in the local economy on accommodation, meals, drinks, etc.

Perhaps it is something that is not given enough credit. Road races are not just about about a bunch of people turning up somewhere to go for a run. It's a sport with obvious health benefits for it's participants and contributes in no small way to many communities throughout the country.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

RunnersLife interview with Britain's Gemma Steel

In the last three races that Fionnuala Britton of Ireland has won, the one athlete who has been ever present and pushing her to the line on each occasion has been Gemma Steel of Great Britain. When Fionnuala Britton won the European Cross Country Championships last December, Gemma Steel was in third place and just nine seconds behind. In the Great Edinburgh Cross Country race on the 7th of January, Steel was just behind again in second place with a twenty second gap. In Antrim last Saturday, both Fionnuala and Gemma were neck and neck until the last lap when the Irish woman opened up a lead to win the race by seven seconds.

RunnersLife caught up with Gemma Steel and the interview can be seen HERE. Just to show how athletes at this level train, her typical week is shown below...

Typical week
Mon - 2x 45 mins up Bradgate Park - Core work palates
Tues - am 30' steady pm- group session i.e. hills as stated or up to 20 x 400m on track.
Weds - AM -70' Steady PM- weights session
Thurs - 45 min tempo@ 5.30 pace or hilly loops PM- palates
Fri - rest day
Sat - 15 min tempo. 3 mins recovery- 5x 3 mins- 90 recovery. 8 x 200m sprints up hill. 10 min tempo to finish
Sun - 90' easy.

Elite training in Kenya...

These are two online newspaper articles that I came across recently...

In the first article, the Independent looks at Brother Colm O'Connell who is a 63-year-old Irish missionary and retired teacher. When he arrived in Kenya in 1976, he was a geography teacher and got involved later in the athletics training programme. After a short period, he took over and  ended up training some of the best distance athletes in the world. Despite that, he seldom leaves Iten in Kenya and has been present to see any of his athletes win a major championship gold medal in either the Olympic Games or World Championships. Article HERE

Update...(Telegraph version HERE)

In the second article, The Telegraph looks at Britain's Mo Farah and his high altitude training in Iten, Kenya. While he might be more used to the facilities in Oregon as part of the Nike Project, things in Kenya are a bit more basic with hazards with donkeys on the track!  “There were donkeys all over the place,” he said. “I tried to shout something to scare them off but they just stood there exactly in lane one. I had to go on a different part of the track.” The article is HERE

Monday, January 23, 2012

Race notice...Mallow 10 mile race - Mon 19th March 2012

With entries to the Ballycotton '10' and the Dungarvan '10' now closed, the next big ten mile race in Munster after that is the Mallow 10 mile road race on Monday, the 19th of March 2012 at 12:30pm.

Sponsored by Kostal Ireland and organised by Mallow AC, this race attracted 750 runners last year and they hope to get closer to the 1,000 mark this year. Located in north Cork, Mallow is within easy reach of runners in all of the counties in Munster.

If you are living say closer to Dublin, Mallow isn't the long slow trip that it would have been before. It's now motorway all the way to Mitchelstown and you then turn off for Mallow. The Mallow '10' is a reasonably fast 10 mile course with a wide start so if you are looking a fast time, this is as good as they come....for Ireland anyway! ;o)

Entries.......It costs just €15 to pre-enter this race. When you consider that includes a Dry-Fit top for the first 1,000 entrants, it's excellent value. It will cost €20 to enter on the day. For all that, they have an accurately measured 10 mile course, chip timing and a €3,000 prize fund with prizes in all the usual categories.

You can enter online HERE or you can find the entry form HERE and post your entry in

Anyone who entered for the cancelled race last year (Jan 2011) and who could not make the rescheduled race (Mar 2011) is entitled to free entry for this year. The organisers have already e-mailed those people but they asked me to remind them of the offer. To avail of it, they need to e-mail the organisers and let them know of any changes to their details from last year… (Club, email address, etc)

Dungarvan...Sun 29th Jan 2012...This race is on next Sunday and Mallow AC will be taking entries for the Mallow '10' race at it. If you are going to Dungarvan, then this is an easy way to enter the Mallow '10'. Mallow AC will have an entry desk in the main sports hall so get there early if you are going to use this option. To save a bit of time, print out the entry form...fill it in and just turn up next Sunday with €15 and you're in.

Munster Ten Mile Series.....The Mallow '10' is also the third race in the John Buckley Sports Munster Ten-Mile Spring Classics Series. The others are the Ballycotton '10', Dungarvan '10' and Kilnaboy '10'.

The Mallow AC website can be seen HERE

Study finds deaths in Marathons may be due to undiagnosed heart disease...

A new study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine points to undiagnosed cardiac disease as a contributing factor in Marathon deaths.  While running marathons statistically is still very safe, there are usually a number of deaths every year worldwide. Doctors at some of the larger US Marathons have found that out of those who were resuscitated, many had consumed a couple of energy drinks loaded with caffeine that morning.

They advise that anyone training to run a marathon should visit their doctor to get a complete cardiac checkup before embarking on the 26.2 mile run. The International Marathon Medical Directors Association (IMMDA) also recommended taking a baby aspirin and limiting caffeine to less than 200mg on days of a long run to prevent sudden death. In that way a "susceptible" heart muscle won't be shocked and stop beating when the rush of adrenaline hits as the participant nears the finish.

If in doubt, consult your doctor.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday newspaper articles on Martin Fagan...

There were two newspaper articles today about Martin Fagan and his two year ban for taking EPO.

In the first one in the Irish Times, Ian O'Riordan talks about the original interview with Fagan and how the story broke.

In the second one in the Sunday Independent, Eamonn Sweeney doesn't mince his words as he writes a piece that is critical of Fagan and the way the Irish Times covered the story.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fionnuala Britton wins Antrim IAAF Cross Country - Sat 21st Jan 2012

Just in...Fionnuala Britton has won the Antrim IAAF Cross Country competition. This was her 4th race in as many weeks. Running neck and neck with Gemma Steel of the UK until the last lap, Fionnuala pulled away for a convincing victory!

Is this woman ever going to rest??? ;o)

Senior Women                  
1    37    Fionnuala Britton        IRL    00:19:32
2    35    Gemma Steel        GBR    00:19:39
3    30    Birtuken Adamu        ETH    00:19:54
4    33    Mekdes Bekele        ETH    00:20:11
5    32    Mekasha Waganesh        ETH    00:20:28
6    40    Purity Kirui        KEN    00:20:39
7    34    Annabel Gummow        GBR    00:20:44
8    42    Jane Potter    Charnwood AC    Midlands Athletics    00:21:02
9    49    Rosemary Smith        SCO    00:21:03
10    493    Aoife Culhane    Dundrum South Dublin        00:21:14
11    41    Clare Martin    Telford AC    Midlands Athletics    00:21:21
12    43    Rebekah Randell    Bristol & West    Midlands Athletics    00:21:44
13    44    Breege Connolly    North Belfast Harriers    NIR    00:21:54
14    38    Lizzie Lee        IRL    00:22:00
15    50    Laura Shaughessey        IRL    00:22:03
16    46    Julie Turley    Dromore AC    NIR    00:22:18
17    47    Lauren Scott    North Down AC    NIR    00:22:23
18    45    Cathy McCourt    North Belfast Harriers    NIR    00:22:35
19    508    Patricia O'Hagan    St Peters        00:22:44
20    48    Sharon Bird    North Belfast Harriers    NIR    00:23:00

From Northern Ireland Athletics...
Prizes...For each IAAF Senior Race, the organisers will provide a minimum financial awards structure of USD 7,500.

1st place       $2500        4th place    $1000
2nd place      $1500        5th place    $750
3rd place       $1250        6th place    $500

Race Report from NI Athletics...European Cross Country Champion logged another victory over arch rival Gemma Steel of Charnwood in the Antrim IAAF International Cross Country at Greenmount. However it was closely fought head to head contest which was only decided in the last 600 metres.

Up to that point Steel was determined not to make the same mistake as in Edinburgh where she let her Irish rival open an unbeatable gap midway through the race. In Antrim a proverbial handkerchief covered both women for much of the race with Steel taking the lead for a short period. It was only in the closing stages where the energy sapping mud enabled the stronger Britton to secure victory by 7 seconds.

Afterwards Steel said “I tried different tactics today by taking the race by the scruff of the neck. I gave it much more today from the start as there was no jogging in the early stages”. For her part Britton said the race was tougher than Edinburgh because of the heavy conditions. She said she was pleased with her performance especially after the race in Seville where she admitted she struggled.

In another interview, Fionnuala said....."It was tough, a lot tougher than Edinburgh I think. It was similar in one way because it was the two of us together, but that muck made it tough. There was a lot more running on the course in Edinburgh. Here there was a lot of ploughing through it. In Edinburgh I gradually pulled away (from Gemma), where this time we ran together for a lot more of it, so it was tougher I suppose, mentally as much as anything. Both of us are aware of the fact that there are people behind us. I suppose both of us are similar in a way, so if we get away we know we only have each other to battle against, where if we sit back and let others run the race we don't know what is going to happen. I struggled in Seville last week, so I needed it this week. I suppose after one good race you forget about it quickly. One not so good race plays on your mind for a lot longer. This would get rid of last week."

Australian Pat Farmer runs from pole to pole...

Australian ultra-marathon man Pat Farmer on Thursday completed an epic run from the North Pole to the South Pole in a feat of endurance he said would take its toll on his body for as long as he lived. The 48-year-old former politician set off from the North Pole on April 2 last year with the emotional Farmer finally planting a Red Cross flag 21,000 kilometres (13,000 miles) later at the world's most southerly point. His run was dedicated to highlighting and raising money for Red Cross water and sanitation projects and he said the thought of people worse off than himself kept him going through periods of extreme hardship. "I've endured a lot on this run, but the people of Africa and East Timor and South America who have no clean water or have been victims of flood, earthquake, fire and famine do it very tough too," he said from Antarctica.

The run from the world's most northerly tip to its southernmost took in 14 countries and conditions from freezing ice wastes to mountains and sweltering tropics. He said he endured snow blizzards, became lost in the blazing deserts of Peru, dodged polar bears, snakes, crocodiles, armed bandits and rogue militias, and narrowly avoided being wiped out by an out-of-control truck. Running an incredible average of 80 kilometres (50 miles) every day, with no days off, he suffered dehydration, stress injuries and pushed through what he said was unimaginable pain to raise around AUS$100,000 (US$105,000). "Every step, every frustration, and every moment when I've considered, but rejected the thought of lying down and not running another kilometre, has been worth it. Running long distances is my gift, my way of making a difference." said Farmer.

Farmer has put himself through the pain barrier many times before, holding seven world records, including the fastest run around Australia -- 15,000 kilometres (9,000 miles) in 191 days. The ultra-marathon athlete has twice crossed Australia's desert centre on foot and also raced across the United States, finishing fourth despite 50 days of running with a fractured leg.

Friday, January 20, 2012

London 2012 unveils new Olympic test lab

Professor David Cowan, the chief drugs scientist of the 2012 London Olympic Games revealed on Thursday night that this summer’s Olympics will feature around 5,000 separate urine and blood samples – eclipsing the previous high of 4,770 at the Beijing Games in 2008 – and another 1,250 at the Paralympics. As well as the random sampling, all Olympic medalists will be tested as a matter of routine. Cowan admits it will be impossible to guarantee a “drug-free” Games, but is confident that none of the previous competitions will be able to match London for the vigour and scope of the dope testing. “The testing for these Games has the benefit of four more years of advancement in science, newer equipment, and new technology that makes the detection super-fast,” said Cowan, the director of King’s College drug control centre, which will run the Olympic drug testing programme.

Cowan continued..."Part of that is the extended windows of detection, but we can also test for more and more substances while still using small amounts of urine so that the imposition on the athletes is minimised. It would be foolish to say these Olympics would be drug-free but my advice to athletes is if they take the risk they will get caught. With 50 per cent of the athletes being tested, anybody who does try to cheat will stand a good chance of detection. The blood and urine samples from athletes will be stored after the Games for eight years to enable retrospective testing on the samples when new tests for more drugs are developed.

Olympics minister Hugh Robertson, who revealed that procedures enabling police drugs raids on athletes rooms at the Olympic village were “under negotiation”, said: “We are doing all we can to ensure there is no place to hide for drug cheats at the London Olympics. Of course we cannot absolutely guarantee that these will be a drug-free Games, but we can guarantee we have got the very best system possible to try to catch anybody who even thinks of cheating.”

Doping statistics
- Up to 6,250 samples will be tested during Games time – more than any other Games
- The Anti-Doping workforce at the Games will be over 1,000 people
- Up to one in two athletes will be tested at the Olympic Games including every Olympic medallist
- The laboratory will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games
- Up to 400 samples will be tested every day
- The shortest test turnaround time will be 24hrs (some tests will take longer)
- The laboratory is 4,400 square metres in size – the same size as seven tennis courts
- A team of more than 150 anti-doping scientists will carry out the testing during the Games.

A video clip showing how samples are tested can be seen here......

If you wear headphones, take note!!

This news item appeared in Bloomberg a few days ago. While it relates to pedestrians, it is also relevant to runners as well wearing headphones.

According to a recent U.S. study, the number of headphone-wearing pedestrians seriously injured or killed near roadways and railways has tripled in six years. The number of cases rose from 16 in 2004-2005 to 47 in 2010-2011, according to the research published today in the online journal Injury Prevention. Thirty-four of the 116 total cases in the study specifically mention horns or sirens being sounded before the victims were struck, wrote researchers including Richard Lichenstein at the University of Maryland Hospital for Children.

The study illustrates the dangers of using devices such as music players with headphones, they wrote. While the risk of using mobile phones and other devices while driving is well documented, little is known about distraction associated with wearing headphones while walking, the authors wrote. “Sensory deprivation that results from using headphones with electronic devices may be a unique problem in pedestrian incidents, where auditory cues can be more important than visual ones,” they wrote.

Limitations of the study included relying on media reporting, “which likely over-publishes tragic events but vastly under-publishes non-fatal cases,” according to the study. Suicidal intentions, substance abuse, mental illness and driver error may also have had a role in some of the pedestrian injuries and fatalities, the researchers said. Of the 116 cases studied, more than a third of the people were younger than age 18 and two-thirds were younger than 30.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fionnuala Britton named European Athlete for the month of December

Back at the start of January I had a post up about Fionnuala Britton having been nominated as the European Athlete of the month for December 2011. It now looks as if all of those votes counted as the European Athletics website made the following announcement today (Thurs 19th Jan 2012)........

European Athletics is pleased to announce that the 2011 SPAR European Cross Country Championships winner Fionnuala Britton of Ireland has been voted as the European Athlete of the Month for December. Britton just missed out on a medal in Portugal in 2010 but made sure there was no repeat in Velenje when she ran away with the race from the half-way mark and was never seriously threatened, clinching Ireland’s second senior women’s gold medal in the history of these championships.

For her commanding performance in Velenje, Britton has been voted as European Athlete of the Month for December. Great Britain’s Emma Pallant, who won the under 23 race in Velenje after making a decisive move with one kilometre remaining, finished second in the women’s poll. Portugal’s Ana Dulce Felix, who finished second behind Britton in the senior women’s race in Velenje and followed it up with a superb run to win at the traditional Sao Silvestre do Lisboa over 10km on 31 December, was voted third.

European Athletics’ monthly poll received overwhelming support from thousands of athletics fans and media alike this month from across the continent. The European Athlete of the Month initiative was launched in January 2007 and is designed to recognise outstanding performers at all levels of the sport in Europe. A male and female winner each month is named and featured on the European Athletics website. Selections are based on votes by the public, media and a panel of European Athletics experts – each counting for 33.3 percent of the final vote.

The mens athlete of the month was Belgium’s Atelaw Bekele

US Jogger loses left leg to dogs...

US jogger Joseph Finley was out for his early-morning jog along Lake Michigan recently when two pit bulls viciously attacked him during , an assault that ended up with the loss of his left foot. "I couldn't believe these dogs were attacking me. I couldn't believe this was happening to me," he said from a hospital bed at John H. Stroger Jr., Hospital of Cook County on Tuesday. "The only thing in my mind was if this is happening to me, the only thing I can do is survive. So in my mind: survive, survive."
The attack went on for several minutes, he said, describing that the dogs were "yanking and biting and tearing and pulling and gnawing at my body like I was hamburger."

Report from NBC News HERE

Poll for the best race in 2011...

This poll started off on the Running in Cork Facebook page when I asked the 1,000 or so subscribers there to nominate their best race in Cork for 2011. It soon became obvious that there were just too many races! So I broke it down by distance and the Facebook users selected the races as shown in the polls on the right.

They are for the best 5k, 4 mile, 5 mile and 10k race in Cork and the best 10 mile, Half-Marathon and long distance race (15m+) in Munster. Already several hundred people have voted and the poll remains open until the 29th of January.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Martin Fagan gets official 2 year ban for taking EPO...

Following on from the breaking news story last weekend, Irish Marathon runner Martin Fagan was as expected, suspended on Tuesday for two years by Athletics Ireland after he admitted using banned performance-enhancing drugs. The 28-year-old from Mullingar tested positve for the blood-boosting drug erythropoietin (EPO).during an out-of-competition test at his training base in the United States last month. He admitted at a hearing in Dublin that he had bought EPO on the internet and administered it himself ahead of a planned appearance at last weekend's Houston Marathon last Sunday (January 15).

Athletics Ireland and the Irish Sports Council made the following announcement...."The Irish Sport Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel has determined that Martin Fagan, an athlete affiliated to Athletics Ireland, has committed an anti-doping rule violation. The Panel found that, contrary to Article 2.1 of the Irish Anti-Doping Rules, Mr Fagan, tested positive for the presence of a prohibited substance or its metabolite or marker, recombinant erythropoietin, in a sample of his urine collected on behalf of the Irish Sports Council during out of competition testing at Tucson, Arizona on the 10th December 2011. Mr Fagan has been sanctioned, subject to his right to appeal within 14 days, by the imposition on him of a period of ineligibility for two years. The Panel has decided that because of the prompt admission of the violation by Mr Fagan the appropriate commencement date for the period of ineligibility is 10th December 2011, the date on which the sample was collected."

Ian O'Riordan of the Irish Times has a piece about it HERE

Cliona Foley of the Irish Independent has a more critical article HERE

Since this story broke last weekend, there has been a lot of reaction to it on various websites. Some people have been sympathetic to Martin Fagan and his fight with depression, some have been outrightly hostile to him over his taking of EPO while others believe perhaps naively that he will serve the two year ban and all will be well again.

Once an athlete takes a performance-enhancing drug, they have crossed the Rubicon, there is no turning back. The ban might be for two years but the damage is permanent. I would suspect that if you were to talk privately to the powers that be within Athletics Ireland or the Irish Sports Council, they would probably say that they genuinely wish Martin Fagan all the best for the future, that he gets help and gets his personal life sorted out. However when it comes to athletics, they would hope that he would retire from the sport and fade away.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Full list of entries for the 2012 Ballycotton '10' out now...

So here we go, the full list of the 3,600 or so entants for the 2012 Ballycotton '10' road race...

The list in numerical order is HERE

The list in alphabethical order is HERE

So some of you got in and obviously, some didn't. The last time when I put up the first 2,500 entries, I got some comments like these and to be frank, some are pretty childish...

1) Posted in GPO Tuesday evening and didn't get in. Ridiculous! And very doubtful there were 2500 genuine entries before me.

2) Same here. They didn't close the entries until the Thursday. Mine surely got there on the Wednesday morning. I guess it's their way of getting people to enter the summer series.

3) i posted mine on tueday morning so it's like jobs for the boys if you ask me

4) Dont think they have a clue how to organise a race. posted early post on the tues this year ( hadn't done summer series) and haven't got in. Have no idea what they are doing with the entries but doesn't seem fair to me. having said that only do it because of the talk about it, don't particularly enjoy the race. plenty of better local races about. Wont be trying to do it again or the summer series

5) There is obviously going to be disappointment when like myself people who posted before last post on Tuesday didn't get in. It's Archaic in this day and age that I had to go so far out of my way to get it in before last post on Tuesday anyway!! Has anyone heard of the bloody Internet?? Last time i run or waste my time entering Ballycotton! Dungarvan and Cobh are far better races!!

What has happened this year is that the demand has been so great that even some of those who posted on the Tuesday didn't get in. I did a poll here before a few years ago and I asked people when they got their Ballycotton SAE forms back. The organisers had posted them on the weekend and sure enough, loads of people did not get them on Monday. Some arrived Tuesday, some Wednesday. So whatever day you posted your entry this time, it didn't mean An Post delivered it the next day.

The fact is that Ballycotton Running Promotions are a voluntary organisation. They're not in it to make money. The truth is that the easiest way for them to control the numbers would be to double the entry fee, take in loads of money and it would close in a few weeks without all of the hassle. But that's not what they do. Their aim is to put on one of the oldest 10 mile road races in the country at a modest price and be as fair as possible.

So in reply...
1) Yes, if you did not make the first list then 2,500 people WERE in front of you.
2) And no, they ARE NOT looking for loads of more people for the Summer Series. They can just about handle the numbers as it is.
3) There are NO jobs for the boys as the boys are most likely members of athletic clubs and could avail of the two week window.
4) And yes, they DO know how to organise a race, they've been doing it for 30 odd years.
5) And NOT everyone is sitting in front of a computer all day. The postal system gives everyone the same chance. And if it was such a bad race, why did you bother entering???

The basic fact is that too many people want to take part in this race. In truth, it's probably no better or no worse than a lot of other races. If you are on the list, then enjoy it. If not, there are plenty of other races. There is no point moaning and complaining about it.

UCC to develop Centre of Excellence for Sport...

First of all, a bit of background to this story. Back in August 2011, I had a story about the UCC grounds at Curraheen, otherwise known as the UCC Farm being developed into a Science and Innovation Park. The Farm is popular with a lot of runners as it is one of the few areas near Cork City that is away from traffic and the soft surface is easier to run on than the hard concrete and tarmac of the footaths and roads.

This news item was released by UCC on Monday, the 16th of January 2012...

Acquisition of lands at Curraheen
University College Cork (UCC) and the Munster Agricultural Society (MAS) have jointly acquired 125 acres of land on the western outskirts of the City at Curraheen.  The site is strategically located within a short distance of the Curraheen interchange on the N25 Ballincollig by-pass with significant road frontage onto the Curraheen Road.

The 100 acre lot to the south of the by-pass will be divided between UCC and MAS with MAS also acquiring c. 25 acre lot to the North of the by-pass.  UCC has continued to increase its investment in sporting facilities to continually improve its widely renowned student experience. UCC intends to create a new Centre of Excellence for Sport to cater for the needs of the University’s 60 sports clubs. UCC intends to develop world-class grass and all-weather pitches, modern changing and indoor support facilities at the new Curraheen site.

UCC’s sports facilities at the Mardyke are undergoing significant redevelopment through a major 12m. investment programme in the Mardyke Arena and the Mardyke Pavilion which is nearing completion.
This investment will enable an important regional strategic initiative as this new development will free up the university’s existing lands at Curraheen for the widely acclaimed Cork Science & Innovation Park while providing outstanding sports facilities for the university’s student population of some 20,000 students.
MAS intend to run its successful Summer Show at the lands in June & July.  The Society also intends to develop a significant Sport and Community Facility at the site.  The strategic acquisition allows both bodies to progress key development initiatives and the bodies are committed to work together on shared facilities where possible.
President of University College Cork, Dr Michael Murphy said: “We have been looking for an opportunity like this for some time and we are delighted to have achieved this strategic acquisition for the further development of sport and physical education. It will position UCC as the country’s leading institution for university sport.”  He thanked the Higher Education Authority for its support in pursuing the opportunity.
The Chairman of the MAS, Mr Eddie Barrett said: “The MAS has for over 5 years been seeking a new site, and the acquisition of these lands, coupled with the re-establishment of its links with UCC is a very significant milestone in our 200 year history. The Society’s principles of the encouragement of Agricultural, Industrial, Educational and Scientific Pursuits are well supported by this new development.”

The Irish Examiner has a piece HERE

Looking back 40 years...Cork X-Country 1972

This article was written by John Walshe and appeared in the Evening Echo at the start of 2011. This month is now the 40th anniversary of this particular race and the article is re-produced here with John's kind permission...

John Hartnett, John Buckley and Donie Walsh

By John Walshe (Evening Echo)

On the first Sunday of January 1972, the Cork BLE senior, youths and women’s cross-country championships took place at Grange, outside Fermoy. It was a meeting eagerly awaited by athletics fans as it featured a showdown between three of Cork’s greatest-ever distance runners - John Hartnett, Donie Walsh and John Buckley.

The reason that the championships were held so late in the season was to facilitate the afore-mentioned Hartnett and Walsh who, along with Billy Bolster, were home on holiday from their respective American universities. Hartnett and Walsh attended Villanova and both came with impeccable cross-country pedigrees.

In March 1970, Hartnett had won the International Junior title at Vichy in France while later that year Walsh finished second to the legendry Steve Prefontaine at the NCAA championships. Five months before that Grange fixture, Walsh had also set an Irish 10,000m record of 28:52.6 at the European Championships in Helsinki.

Buckley did not chose the scholarship route, instead remaining at home where he carved out a special niche for himself on the cross-country circuit. At the age of 19 the St Finbarr’s man was already a county senior champion and in March 1969 he had the distinction of beating the then Olympic 5,000m champion, Mohammed Gammoudi, at the International Military Championships held at Ballincollig.

So, in ideal conditions, the scene was set for an epic encounter before a large attendance at the well laid-out course outside Fermoy. But first, two other county championships had to be decided. The youths (under-18) race was over three miles and here victory went to Gene Mealy of Leevale who led home John McSweeney (Blarney) and Denis Hartnett, brother of John, from Grange. In fourth was Tim Goulding (Ovens) and two places behind came a future Olympian, Liam O’Brien from Midleton.

Mealy – now the South-Western Regional Secretary of SIPTU – was backed up by Michael Carey, Pat Duggan and Brian O’Neill and they led Leevale to what would turn out to be a clean sweep of team titles as they defeated Grange by nine points with St Finbarr’s taking third.

Maire Buckley, who had finished second in the All-Ireland Intermediate Championship, added the County Senior title in impressive fashion with Joan Fleming (St Finbarr’s) and Tracy Roche (Grange) taking silver and bronze. In a close team contest, Leevale again packed well to defeat St Finbarr’s by just three points. Buckley was ably backed up by Mary Crowley (4th), Freda Horgan (9th) and Alison O’Keeffe (10th).

As the field of 61 toed the line for the start of the 7½ senior race, all eyes were on local man Hartnett. From the gun, the pace was fast with the 22-year-old Grange athlete at the head of affairs. Already, runners were strung out with only Buckley, Bolster, the St Finbarr’s pair of Ritchie Crowley and Finbarr Long, and Hugh Parnell of Leevale managing to stay in contact. Walsh, who had been out of competitive action with a leg injury for a month before, was dramatically back in 10th place and his chances of retaining the title had vanished. 

Into the second mile, Hartnett had shaken off all except the resolute Buckley who astonishingly was managing to stay in his shadow. For the next four miles they ran shoulder to shoulder with Buckley even applying the pressure on a number of occasions as Hartnett suffered briefly from a stitch. But with a mile to go the Grange star put in a hard surge while negotiating a climb and Buckley’s gallant challenge faded, leaving Hartnett to cross the line with around 100 yards to spare after 36 minutes and 38 seconds of running.

Walsh – as he did so often in a glittering career – finished stronger than everyone else to take the bronze with Crowley fourth and Long (winner of the Youghal Round-the-Houses five-mile race two nights before) in fifth. With Parnell running out of his skin in sixth position, further superb packing by Leevale saw Pat O’Riordan, Jack O’Callaghan and Tony O’Leary take seventh, eight and ninth positions with their final scorer, Dick Hodgins, making a comeback after injury, closing in the team in 11th. It had been one of the great days in the annals of the Leevale club and, as the Evening Echo reported on the following Wednesday, the three cups were duly filled in Pa Johnson’s Pub that Sunday night. 

For the three main protagonists, that Olympic year of 1972 brought varying fortunes. Shortly after returning to America, Hartnett ran indoor times of 8:35 for two miles and 13:29 for three. Later in the year he established an Irish 5,000m record of 13:43.0 when finishing ninth behind Dave Bedford’s European record of 13:17.2 in the AAA Championships at Crystal Palace.

In Munich, suffering from injury, he was eliminated in the heats of the Olympic 5,000m. He would go on break Ronnie Delany’s Irish mile record with a time of 3:54.7 and on a memorable night run a mile in 3:56.3 on the old Mardyke grass track at the Cork City Sports.

Walsh also suffered injury problems on his return to Villanova and just missed out on the Olympic qualifying time for the 10,000. Deciding to go for the marathon instead, he targeted the Irish championships in Athlone which he won in an outstanding 2:15:21. At Munich, despite suffering from ‘flu symptoms, he gamely tried to go with the leaders before drifting back to finish 47th in 2:31.

For Buckley, the fact that he was able to stay with Hartnett for so long showed the form he was in. He duly won the BLE National C-C at Clonmel to add to the Southern Region and Inter-Counties he had already won that season. The International (now World) Championships were held in March at Cambridge and there Buckley finished sixth of the Irish team in 62nd position.

Remarkably, the following day he turned out in another cross-country race organised by the London-Irish club at Parliament Hill Fields and ended up only 11 seconds behind John Bicourt of Belgrave Harriers, one of Britain’s representatives later that year in the Olympic 3000m steeplechase.

Monday, January 16, 2012

BBC article on the trend towards extreme sports...

There was an article on the BBC News website recently about the growing trend towards extreme sports. Besides the growing popularity of Marathons, Triathlons and new events like adventure races, mud races and assault course races are on the increase. There were 850 triathlon events in England, Scotland and Wales in 2011, 99 more than 2010.

These are some of the more bizarre events...
Tough Guy: 25 obstacles over undulating course in mud and cold. There is a summer version for the less hardy
Iron Man: Extended triathlon - swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles, run 26.2 miles
Tough Mudder: 10-12 mile obstacle course featuring mud, ice baths, barbed wire and electric shocks
Paras 10: 10-mile military training circuit with entrants needing a bergen (rucksack) weighing 35lb (16kg) and a pair of military boots
Brutal 10: Simply 10km cross-country race over hills, streams and undergrowth

It looks as if the Tough Mudder event is a event franchise much like the Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon series with events all over the USA and Europe. The event organiser Will Dean describes it as "probably the toughest event on the planet with contestants jumping into a skip filled with fluorescent green ice, dragging a log through mud and electric shocks". He continues..."We have had a few broken bones and a lot of hypothermia, but nothing serious, nothing that you wouldn't recover from."

You can see the article HERE

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ava Hutchinson runs 2:35 Marathon to qualify for London Olympics

In the Houston Marathon on Sunday, 15th of Jan 2012, Ava Hutchinson of Dundrum South Dublin Athletic Club finished in 4th place in a time of 2:35:33. This was faster than the 'A' standard of 2:37 required to qualify to run for Ireland in the Olympics in London this year. She now provisionally joins Linda Byrne who ran 2:36:21 in the Dublin Marathon last October.

Also in action in Houston was Gladys Ganiel (North Belfast AC) who finished in 8th place in a time of 2:40:56. The times, places and individual splits are shown below. (The halfway split for a 2:37 Marathon is 1:18:30)

Fionnuala Britton finishes 8th in Seville...

Fionnuala Britton finished 8th in the Seville International Cross Country race in Spain. Results below...

This time, she finished 7 seconds behind the Italian Nadia Ejjafini who she beat by 18 seconds back in December. Perhaps racing three races in as many weeks is taking it's toll? Her next race is in Antrim next week.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Boston Marathon organisers to give CPR courses to runners...

At least 1,000 runners and family members will be trained in CPR the weekend before this year’s Boston Marathon, after local researchers found that immediate use of the procedure could have saved many of the runners who have died from cardiac arrest during a marathon or half-marathon. “The number-one predictor of survival of cardiac arrest during a race was whether a runner had access to bystander CPR,’’ said Dr. Aaron Baggish. Teaching basic chest compressions to marathon participants and race observers - a form of CPR than doesn’t involve mouth-to-mouth resuscitation - might lead to fewer deaths in the future, he added.

A Boston marathoner’s heart stopped a few years ago while he was passing through Kenmore Square, but he survived after a bystander gave him CPR. Hoping that this year’s runners will be as lucky if they collapse, the Boston Athletic Association, which organises the marathon, will offer free CPR training for participants and family members at the Boston Marathon Expo held the weekend before the April race.

While the marathon has 28 medical stations along the 26.2-mile course, roving volunteers every half-mile with portable defibrillators, and two medical tents at the finish line, runners trained in CPR can help “bridge the gap between racers and various trained medical professionals,’’ said Thomas Grilk, executive director of the BAA. The study highlighted the importance of speed in starting CPR, which was performed on survivors within an average of 90 seconds of their collapsing, compared with more than five minutes for those who died despite attempts to revive them. The 30-minute training - to be administered in cooperation with the American Red Cross and American Heart Association - is enough to teach the basics so that people can perform CPR until medical help arrives, said Grilk, even though it won’t provide formal certification in CPR. “This type of training can give someone the basics to actually save someone’s life,’’ said Dr. Erika Feller, a cardiologist at the University of Maryland Medical Centre. “In these situations, minutes really count.’’

On the local scene here in Cork, there was plenty of activity on CPR courses and defibrillators a few years ago after a runner collapsed at a race in Cobh. Since then, it seems to have been largely forgotten about again. Maybe it's time to start some new CPR courses? There are now a lot more defibrillators dotted around the place than there used to be. No matter where you are, you might consider getting your club to start a CPR course or take one yourself.

In the meantime, here is a new advert from the British Heart Foundation with Vinny Jones showing his 'softer' side...

Irish marathon runner Martin Fagan faces suspension for doping offence

This sad piece of news appeared in today's Irish Times. Irish Marathon runner Martin Fagan was informed by Athletics Ireland of an “adverse analytical finding”, the technical term for a positive drugs test. Fagan is due to attend an adjudication hearing in Dublin on Monday to explain why traces of the blood-boosting drug erythropoietin (EPO) were found in the A-sample of an out-of-competition doping test taken at his US training base in December.

The Irish Times article said..."Fagan may now request to have the B-sample tested in order to back up the initial finding, although sources last night indicated there was likely to be a more immediate outcome to the matter. Athletics Ireland declined to comment on any details of the case as it is still under due procedure, but one spokesperson indicated Fagan had a “serious” case to answer."

The full article by Ian O'Riordan can be seen HERE

Postscript..Mon 16th Jan....There are now two more articles by Ian O'Riordan in which Martin Fagan admits that he took EPO, his battle with depression and how he effectively ended his athletics career. and

Friday, January 13, 2012

News items...Fionnuala Britton, Zola Budd, Michael Johnson...

After winning the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country race last Saturday, Fionnuala Britton is in action again next Sunday in the Seville International Cross Country in Spain. Among those lined up to take on Britton are the Kenyans Vivian Cheruiyot and Linet Masai, the two best women distance runners in the world. Cheruiyot is the reigning World Cross Country champion, plus the 5,000-10,000 metres double gold medallist from the World Championships in Daegu and Masai is the 2009 World 10,000 metres champion, and three-time runner-up in the World Cross Country Championships.

In an interview with the Irish Times, she said....“Well, it’s nice not being the athlete to beat this time. I suppose I’ll be chasing them, instead of being chased. Obviously it will be harder as well. Cheruiyot and Masai are two of the very best, but hopefully I can stick with them for a while anyway, and certainly try to beat them. That’s always the aim, to beat everyone in the race. We all know the Africans are the hardest to beat, but if you want to be the best you have to take them on. Hopefully, it’s more realistic for me now, but I’ve never believed it wasn’t possible to compete with them. There’s no point in running if you don’t believe that.”

When asked about trying to qualify for the London Olympics in the 10,000 metres, she said..."All these races are really just part of training right now. It’s all endurance work anyway, building up to the track. Because there’s no World Cross Country this year there is no one big race. So it’s really about building through this period. I’ve never run a 10,000 metres on the track. I suppose the distance should suit me, but then again it is 25 laps. I can’t even imagine that right now. I’ve done a few 5,000 metres so that seems more realistic right now. But the track season is not that far off. I know the training is all building towards the track, but I haven’t thought about it too much.”

Zola Budd is back in the news again after announcing that she will compete in the Comrades marathon, a race of approximately 90 kilometres (56 miles) between Pietermaritzburg and Durban in June. Nearly three decades after she was entangled in a controversial women's 3,000 metres final at the Los Angeles Olympic Games, Zola Budd has set herself a modest goal in South Africa's most popular road race.

Nick Bester, the 1991 Comrades marathon champion, said on Tuesday that Budd, would aim to break eight hours in the annual ultra-marathon in KwaZulu-Natal. “She told me she hoped to run under eight hours, which is within her capability,” Bester said. "The benchmark for a woman to break seven hours at Comrades is to be able to run under three hours for a marathon. If she can run under seven hours, she will have a very good chance of earning a gold medal.”

Budd qualified for the race when she finished fourth at the Kiawah Island marathon in South Carolina in December, clocking 3:01.51. And with a number of standard marathons under her belt – including major city races in New York (where she broke three hours in 2008) and London – Bester felt she had the credentials to earn a gold medal by finishing among the top 10 women.

Budd is best know for her controversial emigration to England as a teenager and her subsequent clash with Mary Decker in the 3,000m final at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics when both crashed to the track in a much publicised race. Budd picked herself up and finished the race – Decker did not – and over the next few years she would improve the world 5,000m best – officially this time, clocking 14:48.07 in London – and win two world cross country titles.

...and now for a strange story ;o) ....Former 200m record holder and athletic great Michael Johnson will work with the Williams Formula One team to help speed up its pit stops. His training company, Michael Johnson Performance Inc, will develop a training program for the pit crew and evaluate the entire team. Michael Johnson become a fan of Formula One in 1990 when he attended the Belgium Grand Prix and was first introduced to team principle Frank Williams. Johnson, a three time Olympic gold medalist, is confident his company can help the Williams pitcrew achieve their goal of shaving hundredths, or even tenths of a second off their pit-stop times.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tramore Valley 5k raises €2,400 for charity...

As most of you will know, East Cork Athletic Club organised a new 5k race in the Tramore Valley Park in Cork City last November. Recently, the proceeds from the race were presented to Marymount Hospice.

The photo above shows members of Bishopstown Lions Club and officials from Cork City Council presenting the cheque for €2,400 to staff of Marymount Hospice. Photo by Tony O'Connell.

It's easy to forget about a race once it's over. People turn up on the day, pay the entry fee, run the race and go home. Behind the scenes, there are months of preparation making sure everything is ready. Now you can see the final worthwhile result of this work by East Cork AC, Bishopstown Lions Club and Cork City Council culminating in a sizable cheque going to a worthy charity.

It is expected that the new Tramore Valley Park will open to the public sometime later in 2012.

RTE programme on failure to capitalise on London Olympics

The RTE current affairs programme Prime Time had a piece on Tuesday evening about the failure to capitalise on the 2012 Olympics. With London on our doorstep, there was great plans for business, tourism and sports to take advantage of the game. Through a lacking of funding, inaction and possible mismanagement, a lot of those dreams were not realised.

The programme can be seen on the RTE Player service HERE until the 31st of January. It starts at 00:50 and runs until 16:00.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The 2012 Art O'Neill Challenge...

The Art O'Neill Challenge starts in Dublin Castle next Friday, the 13th of January 2012. I first heard of this event back around 2004 when it was mainly an walking event for a few hardy souls. I think the numbers back then were around 20-30? Looking at it again recently, it has evolved into a much bigger event with walkers and ultra runners taking part.

What is it?.....Starting at Dublin Castle in the heart of Dublin City at midnight, the route goes south through the streets of Dublin, up into the foothills and ends up in the Wicklow mountains. The route is 53 kms or 32 miles in length and in places, goes as high as 2,000 feet (~600 metres) in altitude. Roughly 50% of the course is off road. With the midnight start, the fact it is in mid-Winter, the long distance and the altitude, it's certainly a challenge and only suitable for people who have trained properly for it.

Historical Context....So who was Art O'Neill? In the late 16th century, Hugh O'Donnell and the brothers Art and Henry O'Neill were imprisoned for years in Dublin Castle in an attempt to prevent an alliance between the O'Donnell and O'Neill clans. On the night of the 6th of January 1592, they escaped from the castle and walked in freezing weather conditions to Glenmalure in the Wicklow Mountains which was the then stronghold of Fiach MacHugh O'Byrne, an allie of the O'Neill's. Along the way, Art O'Neill died of exposure in the mountains while O'Donnell himself lost both his big toes due to frostbite. As a result of the events on this night, Hugh O'Donnell would go on to take control of the O'Donnell clan, forge an alliance with the O'Neills and culminate almost exactly a decade later in the Battle of Kinsale in the winter of 1601.

This video clip below gives a good idea of what the 2011 event was like...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fell Running and Mountain Running in the UK and Ireland...

There was an interesting article in the Telegraph newspaper last weekend about the sport of Fell Running in the UK. While it is more often called mountain running in Ireland, Fell Running has a much bigger following in the UK with plenty of races. The main difference of course is that the UK has roughly 62 million people as compared to some 4.5 million in Ireland. With a population of that size, there are always going to be more people involved in what might be termed minority sports.

I first came across fell runners in the UK when I was doing some hillwalking around Ben Nevis in Scotland. As the highest mountain in the UK, it is obviously like a magnet for walkers and runners alike and sure enough, I saw several people running up and down the mountain on the main route and they were just training! Out of many times I have been up on Carrountoohil which is Irelands highest mountain, I think I might have seen runners once so they're a rare species here indeed ;o)

So what is Fell Running? Essentially most events start at the base of a run up to the top...and you run back down again. It is usually a lot more difficult than your usual type of road race in that you are not only competing against the other runners but in a sense, you are testing yourself  against the mountain itself. On the way up, the fact that you are out of breath and with the build up of lactic acid in your legs, it means that your are going to be slow and it's a long slog. However, slow also means you as long as have warmed up properly, you won't get injured. Coming down though is a completely different story as you are often doing your best to stay upright without falling over. It's a lot rougher on the joints and this is the stage where most accidents happen. Obviously not a sport for everyone but it has it's fans!

The body for fell running / mountain running in Ireland is the Irish Mountain Running Association. They have a calendar of events all over the country with several in Munster. Most of the small Munster races might get around 30 entrants with a fairly diverse range of speeds. It's not just for fast or elite runners.The next event in Munster is on the Galtee Mountains on the 19th of February. I will add these races to the Cork and Munster Race Calendar as the year progresses if you are interested in trying one.

 For more information on Fell Running, there is a book called Feet in the Clouds: A Story of Fell Running and Obsession