I can be excused for milking my moment in the sun, here's a copy of our race report from Boards. We'll do up a leg-by-leg report from each runner, and link it here, but the the moment here's an account from a very, very, happy team captain
Boards A- 1st : Boards B- 7th
Well done to all who ran in this best race of the year. Results show that the race begins months before the start, with teams being picked, runners assigned to legs, and recces organized.
Before the race, I had hoped for a top 10 finish for our A team- although I secretly anticipated a finish of 5,6,7 or 8. Our B team looked stronger than their moniker suggested, particularly after some strong results in recent imra race, so I figured they might be around the same place as our Boards team from last year- 14th place.
After waking up and making some coffee,I was greeted to the great news that Gary Condon had a great run, finishing leg 1 in 7th place. More surprising was John Ahern's result from the B team- two minutes behind, in 9th. Truly those demons from last years mishap had been slayed, and how! Another cup of coffee and some porridge, and I nearly choked at the result that came in- Joe Cawley had made up 5 places over leg 2, Boards A were now in 2nd! I'll admit to mixed feelings around this time- it's easy to run in 10th team, slap on back, well done, no-one really notices: but when you are in a podium place, expectations arise.
Our scheduled leg 3 runner, Jo Fearon, had severe blisters on her feet following her recent epic run from Malin to Mizen, so sadly had to drop out of our team at the last minute. Our new replacement (from Rathfarnham!) Vanessa Sallier had a great run to hold second, as did Suzanne Kenny, whose time on leg 4 show's she's a force to be reckoned with! (Can't be too long until some of the vultures from "proper" clubs take notice of her talents- joking
Anyway, the Rathfarnham runner came in, and had a 10 minute gap on Mick, who ran a brilliant leg under the hour. I slapped hands, and set off. The idea was to pace this run, being a long uphill, a downhill, another uphill, and a couple of killer downhills to finish. I had run it in 62 minutes last year, while fitter, and chasing runners, but I would have been happy with 65 this year. As it happens, I paced too softly, with no-one to chase or be chased by, and finished in 63:xx, but with too much energy. Slapped hands with David Walsh-Kemmis, a little disappointed with the energy I still had, but never mind, I hadn't been caught, and I had held second, right?
Except I realised I was talking to Jason, who was meant to be running leg 7 for Rathfarnham. Took a couple of minutes before the penny dropped, and the Rath guys were asking me had I seen a runner wearing white on the course? The unfortunate runner had gone astray, and ended up running a 12k leg in 22k. This misfortune was our good fortune: Boards were now in 1st place.
I drove back to Tinahely, stopping along the road to run a bit with David, who was flying on this road section. The message at this stage was very much, hold it together, don't f*** it up, and if there was a sharp turn on leg 7 that might be missed, there was an overbearing team captain there, to make sure the right route was followed. On to Tinahely, and wait for David, who came in and set off Dominic Horan, still in first. Eleven minutes later, Jason came in for Rathfarnham, having ran a great leg and clawed back vital time. Still, 11 minutes over 10k would be hard to find, so we drove to the finish, with cautious confidence. Met Dom along the way, and ran with him- he was in real pain, his recent hip injury causing major discomfort. At this point, it was 5k to go, and I ran beside him, talking of glory and history, if only he'd get up over this last uphill bend (of course there was another uphill bend around the corner...). Anyway, after a while we decided it was cruel to be torturing the guy like this, and let him run his own race. Down to the finish, and wait, wait... Soon he came round the corner, and with a final sprint, took the tape, in under 8 hours, for a Boards victory! It wasn't long after that the Boards B team came in, 7th place, another magnificent achievement!
This is the first time I have been part of a winning team since under sevens hide-and-go-seek, so I'll be milking it for a while. Far, far, beyond what I had imagined- its a dream come true. Well done to each and every Boards member who gave their all today, for the two teams. Commiserations also to Rathfarnham, who had some of the fastest legs of the day, only to be undone by a wrong turn. Talking to Jase, Donna, Peter, and the others after, they were gracious in applauding Boards winners, if a little downbeat about another defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. There's always next year to avenge, guys. Although this time Boards will be defending champions, and victory tastes very, very sweet!
Training for places on the A team starts tomorrow! Well done to Joe, Nora, and all their helpers on a truly great day.
REPORT: Lap of the Gap 2017
23 hours ago