Last Friday’s Mr Oil Wexford Senior Road Relays at Wexford Racecourse went swimmingly. Literally! The heavens opened and poured forth the rains they have been holding back for months. Every so often it eased off, just enough to bring on a sense of complacency – a misplaced sense of complacency. Not that the assembled athletes were inclined to let a little precipitation put them off.
Distance runners are sole traders, happy to plough their own furrow rather than calling on the neighbours to stop by and lend a hand. Which is probably why quite a few of them looked like fish out of water last Friday evening at the very prospect of having to cooperate with others. Because, like it or not, they know that a relay race is a partnership: who will start, who will run the longer legs, who will take the anchor leg, who would dare to contemplate letting the side down!
The races were run on a narrow 1500 metres tarmacked lap which runs around the in-field at the racecourse. The lap eases downhill on one side and up on the other, the kind of course that takes more than it gives you back!
The women’s race went first, teams of three running 1500 metres each. Clodagh Kelly of the Croghan A team set off a furious pace that none of the others could live with. Kilmore’s Helen Doyle in 2nd place had Deirdre Waters of Croghan B no more than 20 metres behind her. However, upfront Clodagh was out of sight.
By the time she slapped palms with Sandra Bernie it looked like game over. Helen handed over to Sharon Cloney and she began the task of firstly getting well clear of Croghan B and, at the same time, chipping away at Sandra’s lead. As Croghan’s Maeve Mulpeter set off on the final leg that lead looked like one it would never be surrendered. Sharon fell exhausted across the line and sent Elaine Cardiff on her way. She did not set off with a mad sprint; there was no sense of panic. Yet she applied herself to the task at hand relentlessly. The gap began to reduce.
Approaching the final bend before the long run for home, Maeve had a concerned look about her. Into the straight and her increasingly tense body language told you that she knew her goose was cooked. Elaine eased past her and went on to secure the win for Kilmore. Croghan stayed on for 2nd, their B team taking 3rd. What a great race.
The men’s race had four to a team, the first and fourth runners running 1 lap each, the middle two running 2 laps each. Once again Croghan looked like the ones to beat what with having Seán Hehir, one of Ireland’s top marathon runners, and the very experienced Mark Poole running their longer legs.
But would the two one-lap runners, James Porter and James Herterich, be able to limit the damage on their legs? Heck, yeah. They had read the script. The four ran out of their proverbial skin to win by over three minutes. SBR placed 2nd, Menapians 3rd and Slaney Olympic 4th. A mere 4 seconds separated 5th placed St Killian’s and Menapians B.
On, then, to the final race of the evening, the mixed relay: 4 x 1 lap, two women, two men. By now, it was pretty obvious that Croghan held all the aces. Look at this team: Mark Poole, Sandra Bernie, Sean Hehir, Clodagh Kelly. Predictably enough they cruised to victory albeit not by as big a margin as they might have expected. Kilmore were a good 2nd even if they did have Croghan’s B team bearing down on them.
With the last race over it was back to the stables for hot tea and cakes. So taken was everyone with the success of the event, notwithstanding the dominance of one club, that there was general agreement that it would endure. Furthermore, the consensus was that it had found an ideal home in Wexford Racecourse.
1 Kilmore – Helen Doyle, Sharon Cloney, Elaine Cardiff (16.21 minutes)
2 Croghan A – Clodagh Kelly, Sandra Bernie, Maeve Mulpeter (16.33)
3 Croghan B – Deirdre Waters, Vanessa McShane, Shelley Atkins (17.27)
4 SBR – Belinda Kehoe, Sian Law, Orla Hobbs (18.21)
5 Menapians A – Paula Gondard, Ilze Bedrite, Helen Wallace (18.45)
6 Slaney Olympic – Katie Gregan, Paula Dempsey, Anne Marie Doyle (19.38)
7 Menapians B – Catherine O’Connor, Helen Sinnott, Sarah Bermingham (21.40)
8 Slaney Olympic B – Bernie Miller, Joanne Murphy, Orla Kehoe (22.33)
9 Taghmon – Angela Butler, Ann O’Gorman, Gillian Kelly (22.43)
10 Menapians C – Louise Henderson, Siobhan Doyle, Elaine McMahon (24.48)
1 Croghan – James Porter, Sean Hehir, Mark Poole, James Herterich (29.14 minutes)
2 SBR – Adrian Doyle, Paul Gibbons, David Leonard, Eugene Doherty (32.28)
3 Menapians A – Martin Kelly, Brian Smyth, Tony Harpur, Rob Casey (33.27)
4 Slaney Olympic – Jessie O’Connor, Ken Murphy, Anthony Fitzpatrick, Joe Whelan (35.27)
5 St Killian’s – James Hayden, Philip Deering, Matt Stone, John Rochford (37.01)
6 Menapians B – Michael Kinsella, Alex Parris, Donal Grant, Tadhg Henderson (37.05)
1 Croghan A – Mark Poole, Sandra Bernie, Sean Hehir, Clodagh Kelly (20.14 minutes)
2 Kilmore – Michael O Flaherty, Anthony Foley, Sharon Cloney, Elaine Cardiff (21.47)
3 Croghan B – James Porter, Niamh McCarty, Vanessa McShane, James Herterich (22.03)
4 SBR – Adrian Doyle, Belinda Kehoe, Orla Fogarty, Paul Gibbons (22.08)
5 Slaney Olympic – Catherine Murphy, Jessie O’Connor, Paule Browne, Paula Dempsey (22.49)
6 Menapians A – Ilze Bedrite, Helen Wallace, Brian Smyth, Tony Harpur (23.26)
7 Slaney Olympic – Anne Marie Doyle, Joe Whelan, Ciaran Sludds, Katie Gregan (26.29)
8 Menapians B – Elaine McMahon, Sarah Bermingham, Alex Parris, Rob Casey (26.43)
9 Taghmon – Oliver Kelly, Eddy Reddy, Orla Roche Kelly, Sasha Roche Kelly (26.56)
10 Menapians C – Sharron Dier, Louise Henderson, Tadhg Henderson, John Dier (29.18)
11 Menapians D – Liam Carroll, Catherine O’Connor, Helen Sinnott, Donal Grant (29.59