Juvenile News

Juvenile Notes, November 19th 2007

Kate’s Victory Icing on the Croissant in Memorable Parisian Weekend

West Waterfords trip to Paris proved to be a fantastic experience for all who travelled. It began when we all met at 7.20 in the Park Hotel. With a taste of what was to come Rory Moloney camera in hand was already in action recording the event. We travelled by car to Cork Airport where our flight took off on time and by 1.30pm we had landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport. Our hosts for the weekend Corinne and Giles le Gal and their friend Valerie and Ludwig were on hand to greet us and provide three mini buses to transport us around for the weekend. We made our way through the heavy Parisian traffic to our accommodation at Maison Laffitte a suburb of Paris. The facilities were an eye opener to us all, as well as the very comfortable facilities of the equestrian centre where we were staying there was a tartan track and a huge throwing area next door, across the street were half a dozen floodlit all weather soccer pitches and just down the street were thirteen tennis courts with a pavilion where we had breakfast each morning. Having settled into our accommodation it was off to dinner at a nearby restaurant and soon we were stuck into a very tightly contested table quiz won by Rebecca Mahers team.


It was up early on Saturday morning as all sixteen athletes went off with Tony at 7.45 for a morning jog; hats and gloves were the order of the day in the cold frosty morning. After showers a change of clothes and breakfast of croissants and hot chocolate like the natives of course it was off to see the sights of Paris. First stop was the Arc de Triumph, then down the Champs Elysees to the Place de la Concord where a trip on the big wheel gave us our first aerial view of Paris. We enjoyed the local delicacies of crepes and waffles before making our way to the Baton Mouche for a trip down the river Seine. All, especially Joe Conway, enjoyed the trip up the Eiffel Tower and in the clear sunny day the views were spectacular. It was then off to Sacre Coeur for a quick snack and a little shopping. We then returned through the heavy traffic to dinner and an early night in preparation for our race the following day.


Sunday dawned cloudy and overcast but thankfully the rain stayed away. A minibus trip of an hour and a half took us to the grounds of the magnificent chateau of Fontenay-les-Briis where the International CE RAPT Cross Country was to take place. It was a huge meeting with over 6,000 athletes taking part in fifteen races. The organizers provided a tented village where each group was given a tent where the athletes collected their numbers could leave their bags in safety and where hot drinks and food were there for all after the races. The West Waterford athletes made themselves at home in the pancake tent where the warmth of the cooking provided a much needed respite from the cold during the course of the afternoon.


A quick look around to get our bearings and all went off with Tony for a warm up. The start was wide and on a slight grassy incline and the course wound its way into the woodland around a picturesque lake and a long straight run to the finish. The fact that all races started and finished in the same place made it easy to find our way and a mixture of our French and their English got us all the information we needed. Our first athletes were in action just before 12.30. Kate Veale and Clodagh Gallaghrt competed with 242 other girls in the Minimmes Filles (under 15 girls). The distance of 2415m was twice what they normally run here but they had been training with that in mind. Clodagh found it difficult to get out of the big crowd at the start and had to work hard to make her way through the field eventually finishing mid way at 132nd. Kate Veale got an ideal start and was in the leading bunch of 10 athletes, by the half way stage she had moved up to second place and turning for home she took the lead and with a long loping stride moved further and further away from the field coming home a clear winner a rousing allez West Waterford from her team-mates and friends. It was an incredible start to the meet. Inspired by this run all our athletes went on to perform superbly and showed they could hold their own with both the French and international athletes who participated in the event. Shortly after this our French based athlete Erwain le Gal competed in the Bengamins race over 2415m where he finished very well in 22nd place.


Next in action were David Earley and Lughaidh O’Mahoney in the Minimes Masculins (under 15 boys) and Rebecca Maher, Edel Roche, Claire Collins and Kate Kennedy in the Cadettes (under 17 girls). Both races were over the same distance of 3180m which was again much longer than they normally run and unusually for us the races were run together and as all the numbers were bar coder the results were given separately for each race. It meant however that there were big numbers at the start. David Early got off to a good start and was always up near the leaders even running a year out of age he held his own in the field and finished 6th. Lughaidh O’ Mahoney who had missed a lot of training through injury is coming back into form again and finished strongly in 14th place. Best of the girls was Rebecca Maher who is improving with each race and was also 14th, just behind was a fast finishing Edel Roche in 15th. Claire Collins finished strongly in 23rd and Kate Kennedy had her best run this season in 29th. It is a pity they did not give team prizes, as this score would have put us up with the best teams on the day. At 1.15 it was the turn of the Cadet (boys under 17) to take the field in a race run over 3630m. Daniel Mc McCarthy was away well in the race and was always in the top fifteen in a very strong field using his speed over the last few hundred metres he moved into 13th place. Joe Conway ran well throughout and finished 24th while Brian Hallissey despite his plaster cast finished 35th. Rory Moloney, Mark Shalloe and Des Sheehan competed in a race that included juniors, seniors and vets. Both ran well over the 5665m Rory was always near the front and came home in 6th Mark ran strongly of the first half of the race but his recent illness began to tell over the latter part and he finished in 15th while Des was delighted to finish 40th in such a high class field. On an interesting note only one of the senior men in the race finished ahead of Rory.  It was left to Elma Nugent and Jenny Hurley to fly the Irish flag in the women’s international race. They were in good company as the field included a former world junior cross-country champion and the French marathon champion. Seniors and juniors ran together over 4400m and from the start it was clear from the pace that there was a top class field in this race. Elma went with the early pace and tried to hang on to the leaders where as Jenny hung back more at the start and made her way steadily through the field with Elma coming home 31st overall and Jenny 36th. When the results were posted we were delighted to see Elma finished 7th junior and Jenny 9th. We waited to see the senior men’s race and again it was a top class international field. The Africans dominated the race and in fact the first European was in 24th place. Everyone was tired but in good form as we made our way back to Maison Laffitte. A celebratory meal at the local Chinese put the finishing touches to a great day.


On Monday it was time to pack and get in some last minute shopping before we headed back to Charles de Gaulle for our flight home for a weekend we wont forget for a long time. Our thanks to our hosts for the week end the Le Gal family Corinne, Giles, Erwain, Nolween and their friends Valerie and Ludwig who looked after us so well all weekend and made it so easy for us to travel around and see and do so much in such a short time. It was a great experience for all and well worth all the training and organising that went into the making of this trip. Now that we are all back safely we need to focus our thought on next week end where all those who travelled plus our under 12 boys will head to Newbridge for the All Ireland Cross Country Championships.