Irish Mountain
Running Association

WMRA Youths Challenge


Gerry BradyGerry Brady

Gerry Brady

Report by coach Eddie McDonagh

Irish Mountain Running took a huge upward turn competitively on Saturday 26th June, when for the first time two sets of medals were won at European level, when the boys took gold and the girls won bronze. It was made all the more remarkable after a flight to Milan followed by two train and one bus journey to Sauze D’oulx near Turin in the Italian Alps, - all of which meant a late arrival on the Friday with the race at 5 pm on Saturday. The Management team of Leo Mahon, Mags Greenan and coach Eddie McDonagh, were delighted to see the professional approach adopted by all the team members with regard to proper rest, recovery, diet and hydration. After a quick look at the course and a good meal all were bedded down safely at 10 pm. A long lie in and a good breakfast on the day of the race ensured the teams were ready for the gargantuan task ahead.

Sauze D’oulx is a spectacular Ski Resort 1,500m or 5,000 feet above sea level and this altitude was totally alien to our young team. Pacing the race correctly was the central theme at the team talks with all the other essential pre-race preparation having been gone into in detail. Having seen the course it was plain to see that it was going to be the toughest encountered so far and this was all the more reason to set the proper pace to ensure the best points score at the finish. This approach was amply justified in the girls race, where our athletes were not well placed for the first short sharp lap. As they stretched out on the 2nd lap our girls began to edge forward as other competitors from the strong nations such as England, Russia and Turkey began to falter in the tough conditions. Claire Brennan was the first to show for Ireland followed by Emma Sharkey and Meghan Ryan, as they ran as a team in 14th, 15th and 20th positions. Meghan Ryan picked up place after place to eventually finish 9th and was one of the few athletes not to walk at any stage on the steepest part of the course. Claire and Emma worked hard together to finish 12th and 14th and the combined efforts of the team saw them win well deserved bronze medals.

None of the Irish boys were in the least bit intimidated by the opposition or the atmosphere. Italy had turned out their formidable best team in the hope of winning both the individual race and the team competition, but were thwarted on both counts, as our boys seized the opportunity to show their mettle. Two Turkish athletes set off at an incredible pace up the first severe incline. Eoghan Totten led the Irish team as all three set out at a fast, but controlled, tempo. Kevin Dooney, son of Olympian Roy, was just behind and actually passed Eoghan on the 2nd lap. Carl Dunne was now also in the top 20 and covered every move gradually as others dropped of the early fast pace. In was an awesome sight to see three Irish vests in the top ten in a race of this calibre. Eoghan, who had won the Home Countries under 16 International last year, once again proved to be the top Irish performer at this discipline and just missed the individual bronze finishing a gallant 4th, Kevin was right behind in 6th, in what was a baptism of fire in the mountains. Carl was closing all the way to the line and had to pass two Italians on the run in, to ensure the gold medals were going back to the Emerald Isle. Along with team medals there were prizes for the first 15 finishers in each event and it was a proud moment to see all six Irish athletes on the podium together with the National Anthem echoing through the Alpine Valley that is Sauze D’Oulx.

This was one of the best organised events I have ever witnessed and contained all the glitz and glamour of an Olympian event. Hill Running in all its different guises should, of course, play a part in all our track preparations, no matter what distance. So my advice to all athletes especially the middle and longer distances, is to head for the hills and improve your own personal fitness and help to improve our International results, as IMRA, has now become a legitimate part of our athletic future.

Gerry Brady


See also report by Eddie McDonagh

The Irish boys team won the International Youths race in Sauze d'Oulx in Italy. The girls team won bronze medals behind Russia and England.

Eoghan Totten (Newcastle) finished 3rd, Kevin Dooney (Raheny Shamrocks) 5th and Carl Dunne (Dunleer) 9th. All three came through the field on the second and third laps on what was a steep and rough ski-slope course. At one stage Kevin Dooney moved up with Eoghan while Carl picked up around ten vital places during the race.

Meghan Ryan (DSD) came through in the girls race for 9th, Claire Brennan (Celtic DCH) was prominent throughout for 12th, and Emma Sharkey (Lagan Valley) 14th.

Irish international team victories have been scarce. Ireland previously won the team race on Snowdon back around 1989 with John Lenihan (Riocht), Robin Bryson (DSD) and John O'Connell (Metro). In 2001 the under 18 boys won the British and Irish with Peter Dalton, Niall Connaughton and Craig Longmore. This year the W45 team won the European Masters with Helen White (Sportsworld), Anne Sandford (Newcastle) and Tish McCann (Mourne Runners). This undoubtedly though is one of the sweetest of the Irish team victories, and hopefully it will spur other Irish athletes and teams to aim for medals in the mountain running championships. We almost got used to not winning but that can change by winning races, and by recognising the wins, the athletes can be motivated to win more. Ultimately more medals at senior level in the World championships is the goal (1991 bronze medals is the best achieved to date).

Individual victories have also been scarce but John Lenihan (Snowdon 1989 and World Trophy 1991), Robin Bryson (World masters 2002 and Matterhorn), Mags Greenan (European masters 2008 and World masters 2008 and 2009), Donna Mahon (European masters 2010), Helen White (European masters 2010), Peter Dalton (British and Irish under 18 2001) and Eoghan Totten (British and Irish under 16 2009).

Congratulations to the three managers (Mags Greenan, Leo Mahon and Eddie McDonagh) and the six athletes on a fantastic performance, to AAI and the coaches of the athletes, and to the members of IMRA for enabling the team to participate.

1. Somez Dag (Tur) 19:12
3. Eoghan Totten 20:04
5. Kevin Dooney 20:11
9. Carl Dunne 20:28

1. Ffion Price (Wal) 16:32
9. Meghan Ryan 17:18
12. Claire Brennan 17:41
14. Emma Sharkey 17:48

Boys team
1. Ireland 17
2. Russia 23
3. Italy 27
4. Turkey 27
5. England 47
6. Scotland 48
7. Slovenia 59
8. Poland 66
9. Wales 75
10. Germany (incomplete)
11. Bulgaria (incomplete)

Girls team
1. Russia 9
2. England 21
3. Ireland 35
4. Italy 41
5. Scotland 42
6. Wales 44
7. Poland 47
8. Turkey 70
9. Slovenia (incomplete)