From the seaside town in Oropesa, Spain last weekend we set out for the almost landlocked county of Kilkenny today. Kilkenny known as Ossory in ancient times was the seat of the high kings of Leinster and many a powerful Archbishop to boot. Gowran, our venue today lies in the heart of that county and is probably best known for horse racing and the home of the Thyestes steeplechase won in previous years by Arkle and Flyingbolt, two of the best national hunt horses of all time.
We travelled with a strong team confident of victory and with justification, because we were the title holders and had won the previous 10 championships held in Ireland and unbeaten since February 2021. Statistically the longer a team remains unbeaten, the more likely they are to lose. On that basis we took no chances and planned accordingly.
The event was excellently organised with great parking adjacent to the team area, good facilities on site and a well-marked course. The running surface was smooth parkland, dry as a bone with testing hill on each of the two laps. Spikes were barley necessary. The field was a little smaller than expected but populated with high quality athletes.
Avril controlled the race from the gun and was content to share the lead during the first lap until cutting loose on the final 2000m. Sorcha produced an excellent run and was always prominent in the second group while Sinead and Aislinn ran together passing people while moving towards the top 10. Aoife Ni and Ellen both started conservatively and worked their way through the field. Aoife D and Orla ran good determined races finishing strongly.
Our team places were Avril 1st, Sorcha 8th, Sinead 10th, Aislinn 12th, Aoife Ni 15th, Ellen 23rd, Aoife D 43rd and Orla 51st. Our team score was a winning 31 with Avril and Sorcha also securing county medals with the victorious Dublin team.
So we end the domestic cross country season in possession of the nine cross country titles on offer, won over five months over all conditions from heavy mud, snow and ice and parkland. As the announcer stated some athletic history was made today that it is unlikely that the will be replicated for a long to come.
So far so good.