Mike Griffin

Connaught Cross Country, Leg two

Leg two of the Connaught Cross Country took place in Drumshanbo in Co. Leitrim in a field opposite Allen Gaels GAA pitch. The previous week had been wet and we were warned to bring wellies and long spikes for what would turn out to be a very muddy course.

I met Dad on the other side of Drumshanbo and we headed off to find a closer parking spot. We got as far as the primary school and there was enough parking around the place. I got ready and went ahead into the field, thinking I had enough time for a few warm up laps and a shake out. I found Tom waving my number and telling me that the women’s race was already underway, they were ahead of time.

I popped on my spikes and took in one recce lap to get the lie of the land. The start was in a wet corner, with a long straight before turning left to climb a steep hill. The hill was pretty cut up but it looked like it might be okay to climb on the racing line. In the end, I like most others headed far right to get some better ground.

After the top of the hill, another left turn took you down a slight incline as you meandered across and down the slope. A last turn left brought you past the finish line and back to the start.

The masters race was six laps and it was run at the same time as the senior race of eight laps.

It was a confusing start with the marshals trying to separate the different groups. Once we got under way, I took it easy knowing what was coming up. On each lap, I followed Peter from Swinford, going wide along the long straight at the start to stay out of the muddy and wet stuff. The hill was a complete killer each time, coming to it and getting slower and slower. There was no time to recover at the top, it was straight into thick slippery mud.

For the last couple of laps I was going back and forth with a gut from North Leitrim, but he was doing the longer eight lap race. On my last lap, I let go on the last part of the downhill and kept pushing on to the finish, so glad to be done!

I finished in 7th place and 3rd over 35. I have to be pretty happy with that result, given the conditions and that I’d picked up a head cold two days before.