The 15th of November saw Dublin University Harriers and Athletics Club (DUHAC) take on their first competitive event of the year in the form of the Intervarsity Road Relays, held on the South Campus in NUI Maynooth. Traditionally, this competition is used to test early form, to put the early season training to use and to give some new members a taste of Varsity competition. Captains also get an opportunity to see how club members are running and, for some, it was their first attempt at organising teams and ensuring the experience is both competitive and rewarding for all involved.
The format of the event involves a team of four for Ladies and five for Men. Ladies start off with a mile leg, followed by two 2-mile legs, and finishing with another mile. Men also start with a mile and continue with 2 miles, followed by three, then another two miles, and ending with a final mile leg. Many miles! The shape of both the Ladies’ and Men’s teams were unfamiliar. Naturally for University sport, there is a high turnover of players, or in this case, runners. This, coupled with the loss to injury of the likes Becky Woods and Sean O’Heigheartaigh for the Ladies and Men respectively, would also prove to be a body blow. That said, DUHAC are a group of people and a club that always give everything and this event would once again prove this long_standing reputation.
The gun went off for the Ladies’ race at 1:15pm with three Trinity teams involved under the leadership of Ladies Harriers Captain Bryony Treston. Louise Bernard led off for the A team in a time of 5mins 58secs, a considerably better time than her previous year’s effort of 7:14, a testament to how hard work in training really does pay off. Louise passed on to the skipper Treston who led by example with a time of 11:57 for her two miles. Aoife Byrne, racing for the first time for Trinity in the third leg, worked her way impressively through the field gaining five places and putting Trinity in 4th with one leg to go, her time a very impressive 11:04, the second fastest in the third leg.
The A team was led home by Ciara McCallion. Traditionally a 400 metre runner, Ciara stepped up and dug deep to run 5:45 for her mile. The A team would finish 5th overall, an efficient performance. The B and C teams were made up of a mixture of new and continuing athletes and would finish 11th and 12th respectively, putting in credible performances and a good platform from which the athletes can kick on.
The new-look Men’s team was spear-headed by Joe Barry. Normally a 100m sprinter, Joe was trying his hand for the first time over a mile and worked hard for a time of 5:41. Joe can be proud of his performance but will agree that the experience of a middle distance runner may have been more profitable. Ed Montgomery took over and gained 6 places in a time of 10:43 over two miles, having run the three-mile leg in ’06 and ’05.
He then passed on to DUHAC’s marathon expert Simone Grassi. 3 miles is practically a sprint for a man who’s used to 26.2 and Simone’s time of 15:52 is to be hugely admired. Simone, incidentally, ran the New York marathon two weeks ago in a time of 2 hours and 43 minutes, an average of 6mins 14secs per mile, another fantastic achievement.
Chris Bracken then took over in his first ever outing for Trinity and held Trinity’s position of 13th in a time of 10:17. Tim Harnedy, also a first-timer, brought the team home for a placing of 12th, recording 5:18 for his mile. DUHAC also sent along a Men’s B team containing some more new faces as well as the the likes of Sean Flynn and Darragh McCashin who were continuing their return from injury. They finished 17th overall.
Overall, the Maynooth Road Relays were a marker in what is an upward learning curve for all DUHAC members. Established members continued their great service to the club and hopefully the debutants have whetted their appetites for some more competition and training. Members should be encouraged to keep up their training as it is still early in the season and it has been proven that those who train hard reap the rewards.
Our next competition will be the Indoor Intervarsity Track and Field on February 14th/15th where we hope to continue to improve and bring home some medals.
The website www.duhac.tcdlife.ie contains fixtures and training times; new members are encouraged.