12 July, 2011Bursa was the destination for the Europeans Championships this year, uphill only. The same venue was the location for the 2006 World Trophy. On paper the senior mens team looked the strongest in a long time, with Ian having a great run to win to trial. Finishing in the top 10 teams was the target, hadnâ€™t been achieved in an official European Championships so it would be no small feat. Personally I was hoping for a performance inside the top 15 and maybe crack top 10 if things went my way. The heat and the increasing standard would make this a challenge. The Italian team had come straight from a two week altitude training camp and the Turkish team had been based in the Bursa area for a month before the competition!
The setting was majestic, our hotel was based at 1900m altitude and almost all our eating and accommodation requirements were catered for. The best organisation I had experienced at a world or European event to date. The seniors mens team opted not to see the course and rest up on the Saturday after close up to 12hours travel from door to door on the Friday and into early hours of Saturday morning, to be fair it was just about as far you could go for a European Championships other than maybe Russia. We had heard the course was fair, steady gradient with some steep rocky patches and some flatter sections interspersed. On the cable car down to the race start we met our junior women who confirmed the above course details. At the first cable car station on route to the race start, we could see the junior mens race in progress in a open section of the course and although we hadnâ€™t seen the front runners who had gone under the trees we could see Kevin running particularly strongly ahead of the british runners and in good company with an Italian runner. Our other junior men were also packing very well. This helped our own team morale for the task ahead. When we got to the starting area, keeping cool was the order of the day. After a short warm we were under way. Maybe it was the 30 degree heat and straight into an uphill climb and lack of shade but I found the start particularly tough. Hanging onto Mark at the start was the initial challenge. Doubts drifted into my head of a hamstring issue that had been bothering me for a month and lack of any hard training in two weeks, but once we went onto single lane tracks after 10mins of running I started to start feeling good. Once we got under the shade for the last 8k the temperatures seemed to drop a lot, still hot but more bearable now. I moved through the field steadily passing other athletes without facing much resistance. Drink stations provided much needed relief.
When I got to the open area at about 9k into the race, I found out I was in 20th place (had no idea of placing before this), I had been hoping I was in early teens and could push on into the top 10 as I could see a line of about 10 athletes within 30-40s of me, this encouraged me and set about moving up the field but the strongest athletes are at the front so this task would be very difficult especially with a good proportion of them fighting for team honours. In hinsight the effort in the middle of the race took its toll and coupled with the heat I lost a few places on the run in. Ian and Mark quickly followed me in and Eoin improved on last years Worlds performance, 10th team was shortly after confirmed, a very strong British team with medal ambitions finished 7th so we knew we were in good company. It would be interesting to come back to the same venue for the Worlds in September some time when the temperatures would likely be cooler.
Kevins 11th place was particularly noteworthy, hopefully we see him compete on the senior team in a few years time. The team management of Leo, Gemma and Gerry did a sterling job as per usual and made our task that little bit easier. World Championships in Albania in September will likely be at temperatures more to our liking, at low altitude aswell and hopefully on a course thatâ€™s not to technical. Its game on!
12 July, 2011Report written by Kevin Dooney
Following a rough day of travel taking over 12 hours to reach our final destination of Bursa the Irish team arrived understandably weary to our hotel at 1900m. An early start the next morning to take a chance to get a look at the course. A journey in the cable car down to the junior women's start line was where we planned to begin our run to get a look at the last 4k of the course. First impressions were that the junior women had an incredibly easy race and the title of uphill only was being used very loosely. It was only after about a kilometer of consistent downhill and several signs and arrows pointing the wrong way that we eventually decided to turn around and actually head up the hill.
When we returned to the hotel we heard that the last 4k was a pretty tough part of the course and probably for the better we hadn't seen it. A day of catching up on much need rest in the hotel led to us being suitably prepared to be ready to roll on Sunday. An early start in the morning was needed to make sure we made it to our start almost an hour away from the hotel. Two cable cars and a bus journey which took a surprisingly long time led to some nervy moments and we thankfully made it to the start line with just 15 minutes to spare. Probably a blessing in disguise as the 30 degree heat was something none of the Irish team was used to dealing with.
The race started at a very fast pace with the first two kilometres being considered to be some of the fastest on the course. Good pace management was essential and choosing to sit back in the mid 20's for the first section definitely helped me to come through the field later on. After 2 kilometres as the course started getting steeper I began to move through the field picking off walkers all around me, obviously feeling the effects of an intense early pace. Feeling strong and being able to move up really gave me a great confidence boost as I moved up the ranks, hearing from Gerry at half-way that I was in 14th place was great encouragement to push on through the tough final 4k. I managed to pick up three more places in the last section and a final placing on 11th in a European Championship is definitely something to be very proud of. James Egan running a very strong race to finish 23rd and James Speight coming home in 39th and James Griffin in 50th left our team in a very respectable 7th place just four points off Great Britain in 6th.
A slow walk down the course cheering along all the runners in the senior men's race was a great way to finish off what had been a very enjoyable day of racing, some competitors not taking the encouragement quite as well as others. The senior men finish in the top ten was another very promising result showing that Irish mountain running is definitely going in the right direction, under the very capable management of Gerry Brady, Leo Mahon and Gemma Denny who did a wonderful job with organisation and planning through out the weekend.
10 July, 2011Junior women: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24280411@N06/sets/72157627169539046/
Junior men: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24280411@N06/sets/72157627045292581/
Senior women: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24280411@N06/sets/72157627170158744/
Senior men: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24280411@N06/sets/72157627046032121/
There were some fine performances at the European championships in Uludag Turkey. The races were ran in temperatures of over 30 degrees but fortunately for the athletes the last 8 kilometres wound their way through the mountain forest so the direct rays of the sun were largely avoided. The races were held on the same course that was used for the 2006 World Trophy.
The junior womens race was the first off at 9 am. The 2010 winner Denisa Ionela Dragomir (ROU) won again from Turkish runners Yasemin Can and Sevlay Eytemis. Louise Hill-Stirling (Clonliffe and Ayr Seaforth) was the first Irish finisher in 19th position. She was making her debut for Ireland after previously competing for Scotland in home country internationals. Niamh Denny (DSD) was 26th and Irish schools intemediate 3000m champion Sara Moore (Omagh Harriers) was 27th. Turkey won the team competition by one point from Romania. Ireland finished 9th.
Kevin Dooney (Raheny Shamrocks) finished 11th in the junior mens race. At the halfway stage, he was 14th and working hard but he continued to work his way through the field in the second half. His run builds upon the 9th place finish by Emmet Jennings in 2010. Achieving it on an uphill course is exceptional given that the continental European runners are traditionally stronger on an uphill course. James Egan (DSD) had a brilliant run in 23rd place, and he also gained places in the last four km. James Speight (Finn Valley) was 39th and James Griffin (St. Laurence O Toole) was 50th. Turkey had a clean sweep with a 1-2-3 finish with Nuri Komir taking the win from Sonmez Dag. The Czech Republic won silver with Italy in bronze. Ireland finished 7th just seven points behind the fifth team. This is the best performance by an Irish junior men team in this event.
The senior womens race was won by Martina Strahl (SUI) from Italian skier Antonella Confortola. American born Scottish based Sarah McCormack (Clonliffe and Moorfoot) was the highest placed Irish finisher in 42nd with Sarah Mulligan (DSD) in 48th and Michelle Finn (Duhallow) in 50th. Italy won the team result from Russia and Switzerland. Ireland finished 12th team.
Ahmet Arslan (TUR) took his senior fifth title with a convincing victory from Abate Gabriele (ITA) and Jose Gaspar (POR). Brian MacMahon (Clonliffe) finished 21st and he was well supported by Ian Conroy (Raheny Shamrocks) in 35th and Mark Ryan (Rathfarnham) in 39th for a team placing of 10th. Eoin Flynn (Rathfarnham) was 56th. McMahon started slowly but worked his way into 20th at the eight kilometres mark. At that stage, tenth position was within 150 metres of him but his surge through the field in the middle section of the race had taken its toll. This is the best individual and team performance since 1996 when the event was not an official European Athletics championship. Italy won the team title from Turkey and Portugal.
1. Denisa Ionela Dragomir (ROU) 21:43
2. Yasemin Can (TUR) 22:08
3. Sevlay Eytemis (TUR) 22:16
19. Louise Hill-Stirling 25:48
26. Niamh Denny 26:51
27. Sara Moore 26:56
1. Turkey (2,3) 5
2. Romania (1,5) 6
3. Austria (4,12)16
9. Ireland (19,26) 45
1. Nuri Komur (TUR) 43:08
2. Sonmez Dag (TUR) 43:12
3. Murat Orak (TUR) 43:40
11. Kevin Dooney 47:45
23. James Egan 49:42
39. James Speight 53:03
50. James Griffin 57:00
1. Turkey (1,2,3) 6
2. Czech Republic (7,15,17) 39
3. Italy (10,13,20) 43
7. Ireland (11,23,39) 73
1. Martina Strahl (AUT) 48:44
2. Antonella Confortella (ITA) 49:09
3. Lucja Krkoc (SLO) 49:24
42. Sarah McCormack 56:33
48. Sarah Mulligan 59:31
50. Michelle Finn 59:54
1. Italy (2,4,16) 22
2. Russia (5,11,12) 28
3. Switzerland (1,8,29) 38
12. Ireland (42,48,50) 140
1. Ahmet Aslan (TUR) 58:08
2. Gabrielle Abate (ITA) 58:40
3. Jose Gaspar (POR) 59:05
21. Brian MacMahon 62:56
35. Ian Conroy 64:41
39. Mark Ryan 65:09
56. Eoin Flynn 68:45
1. Italy (2,4,6) 12
2. Turkey (1,5,28) 34
3. Portugal (3,15,18) 36
10. Ireland (21,35,39) 95