Manning Cross Country 2014

Manning Cross Country

Manning XC 2014 - 3

It is hard to believe that the committee of Loughrea Athletic Club actually considered cancelling the Manning Cross Country event this year as the ground in Bushfield was so dry and hard due to the continuing good weather we are enjoying this September. There were concerns that the conditions underfoot would be too tough for the young legs of the children of 3rd, 4th, 5thand 6th classes. But with the Civil Defence ambulance in attendance to administer first aide there were thankfully no incidents of any injuries to report.

Now in its fourth year, the event was run with clockwork precision, with the assistance of the teachers and the volunteers from Loughrea Athletic Club. From once the first bus drove through the gates at 10.30am the volunteers sprang into action directing the buses and cars around the carpark to ensure they would all fit and that no children were put in danger by moving vehicles. By 11am the children had changed into their running gear, the teachers had handed out the unique colour-coded numbers to each of the 451 children taking part, the carpark crew had moved over to act as stewards on the cross country track, the finish line was manned by results recorders and the official race starter was ready with his whistle to call the children to line up for the first race (boys 3rd & 4th class 800m).

As the schools had provided the names of the children taking part in advance no race was started without ensuring that all entrants were present on the start line. With a quick word about the race route and encouragement to “do their best” as the event was a team effort, the first race got started at 11.10am. It wasn’t long after the whistle that the boys appeared around the hill and the results recorders were called into action to write down the race number of each and every child that crossed the finish line as they walked along the finishing tunnel. While they were recording the 104 boys finishers, the girls from 3rd and 4th class were lining up at the start line for their 800m race. The race starter waited for the nod from the results recorders before starting the girls race to allow them just enough time to turn the page, shake out the fingers and get ready to start recording the 86 finishers in the second race. There were 111 finishers in the boys 5th and 6th class 1,000m race and 107 finishers in the girls 5th and 6th class 1,000m race with the last runner crossing the finish line just before 12noon.

While the children and the teachers enjoyed a picnic lunch in the shade of the newly named Joe Grace Stand, the results recorders undertook the painstaking task of compiling the team results in each race. Each school was allowed to enter as many children as they wished in each race – as the aim of the event is to encourage as many children as possible to take part in cross country athletics. But only one team prize was awarded in each race. A team score was made up of the finishing positions of the first four finishers from the school. This is where a skill in reading handwriting (and use of a calculator) is a great advantage !!

By the time the children finished their lunches, and the teachers were getting restless to return to school, the scores had being tallied. The results were checked and rechecked again and again because it became obvious that, for the first time ever since the Manning events started in 2008, one school had won all four trophies.

At the start of the prize presentation the organiser thanked all involved in making it yet another great event and encouraged the children to continue with their interest in cross country and athletics. She also thanked the Manning family for their continued sponsorship of this event and said that there were plans to increase the number of prizes for next year’s event to reflect the increasing number of participating schools and children.

All that was left to do was announce that Bullaun NS had won each of the four trophies and that is when the crowd erupted with cheers and shouts of joy that echoed around Bushfield and probably reached right back to the schools.

Loughrea Athletic Club would like to encourage all those children to take part in the clubs annual Fun Run around the streets of Loughrea this Sunday 28th Sept starting at 1pm outside the fire station. Full details of this Fun Run – and the Grey Lake 10k Road Race for adults at 2pm on the same day – can be found on our club website www.loughreaathleticclub.comor from Siobhan Glynn (087) 9880552.