Sometimes we hear the expression “Horses for courses or courses for Horses”. Well the Eurocross course at the Bella Vista Park in Lisbon, Portugal was definitely a course for horses and the athletes who completed it were horses for the course. There were athletes from many countries who despite years of preparation covering training sessions in wet and cold and strenuous qualification standards failed to complete this course. There were many others who completed the course but collapsed at the finish. Yes it was that tough. Apart from some 80m at start and finish that were flat and straight the rest of the course was either uphill or downhill, different size of hills, with twists and turns around short bends that at times the uneducated might feel the runners had lost their direction. Athletes who like to develop a rhythm as they run were out of luck. Yes it was tough out there today. So full marks to ALL the Irish. They worked hard, fought the course and fought the opposition. And what results we got. The first race, the men under 20, had our own Shay McEvoy playing his part. With newcomer Efram Gidey showing the way and winning individual bronze Ireland scored 39 points. Announced initially as having won bronze but then lost out to Portugal on Countback – heartbreak. One less point and we had silver. Silver team medals were the rewards for Irelands U23 ladies, managed by Niamh Richardson and also for Ireland’s senior ladies with our own Aoibhe Richardson in 17th place, and second scorer on the team, playing a vital role – bringing the first ever Eurocross medal to KCH. The team had no other than Fionnula McCormack – this her 16th appearance in this event – as a battle hardened leader. What an inspiration and how hard she fought – uphill, downhill – from gun to tape – inspirational!. Ciara Mageean three places behind Aoibhe completed the scoring. Stephanie Cotter led the under 23 ladies into second place with a fantastic display which brought her individual bronze. Our under 23 men finished 7th overall. No disrespect to anyone. All team members left everything out there on the course with Jack O’Leary 25th and Peter Lynch 26th dead heating on the finish line. On the Ireland senior men’s team we had Eoin Everard who showed real class finishing in 61st place – three places ahead of Liam Brady current Irish National cross-country champion. A great day to be Irish. A really great day for KCH. Thanks for all the support – in person and on social media.
A word about the organisation – everything worked like clockwork. No charge at the gate. Wellcoming party inside – have an apple, an orange, a soft drink, a but or slice of cake – gratis. Next year Eurocross comes to Dublin!!!