14 September 2021

September Morning By David Kissane


September Morning
By David Kissane
“September morning
You can make me feel that way…”
The words of Neil Diamond’s emotive song about a September love was far from my mind as I stepped into the discus circle in Santry Stadium. Sunday, September 5th 2021. Around 2pm and a hot day. A day of our Indian summer. The Athletics Ireland national masters’ athletics championships. A day of our lives.
A crowd of hardened throwers of all ages from thirty five upwards. Much upwards. Former national senior champions much more talented and experienced that I, although a win in the O65 5K walk a few hours earlier had added lead to the pencil.
The understood plan in St Brendan’s AC for throwers is to get a safe throw in first. Get on the results sheet and then go for broke in the other throws. That would mean a standing throw for me of about twenty two metres in this O65 competition. The training in the weeks leading up to the championships had produced a curate’s egg of performances. One bad wet evening in An Ríocht, the discus had slipped out of my grasp on launch, hit the edge of the cage and smashed onto the concrete with a groan of breaking plastic and metal. It was a forlorn sight. Bent and banjaxed. Battered and bruised. I had lost a friend! Luckily our club treasurer Moira Horgan took pity and our equipment sourcer David Butler was able to get a brand new discus delivered from Germany just in time for the big event. My new best friend. Red and new and shiny. “A lovely frisby” as clubmate John Culloty called it.
So a standing throw now was the logical beginning to have a chance of a national throws medal. For some strange reason, the moment I stood inside the circle I threw caution to the breeze and decided to do my one-and-a-half-turns. Learned it during the lock-down in the local field when the isolation was encouraging. No one saw an oul man doing one and a half turns on Ardfert mornings in Walnut Grove, uttering utterings to an utterly unuttering sky before the discus and the body and mind became friends. Then one day harmony broke out from somewhere deep and the turns were completed and the disc flew further than the standing throw. I tried to write down how to do the turns but it was coded in the brain and wouldn’t convert to words. It was for doing only!
Now I found myself turning under the gaze of experts. Among them John Sheehan. One of the country’s finest discussers who had advised at a coaching course in Killarney earlier in the summer.
So now the first (full) turn was completed and I relaxed on the final quarter turn and saw the 1K disc fly sweetly into the North Dublin air. An alliance, an elastic agreement between head, hands, feet and heart. Heard “good throw, Dave!” from Patsy O’Connor of Tralee Harriers. He was competing in the same O65 age-group and if you get praise from Patsy, you will have earned it. Encouraging words. Looked at the scoreboard and saw 27.38m. Looked again just to make sure my ageing eyes were not playing tricks on the regions behind them. A personal best by about two and a half metres. Heaven!
Patsy threw the disc two minutes later and let out a shout of joy as his missile hit the ground 40.84m away, creating a new national age-group record. In his first throw as well. Two pleased Kerrymen in Dublin! Gold and silver at that stage. Patsy held his gold position till the end of the competition but for me my silver became a bronze when Richard O’Hanlon from Galway City Harriers produced a final throw of 28.43m and well done to him. Tim Greenwood (Derry AC Spartans) threw 26.22m to knock on the door of the bronze but my first and best throw held it’s ground.
In the small world we inhabit as sixty year olds, that first throw was a moment of sheer satisfaction. Greater and lesser circles, both metaphorical and physical will have to be entered in the coming days and years, but that September moment will not be forgotten while the oul powerlines of the brain are still sparking. Especially proud that the name of the club which I had helped to establish thirty four years ago would be mentioned on the results sheet somewhere. Club first.
And it was a good September day overall for St Brendan’s AC. Our coach Ursula won her long jump and collected a silver in the 100m. In the long jump she jumped off her weaker leg because she had twinged a muscle in her stronger leg in training. No sweat like! She doesn’t like admitting her age so I am not going to say what age she is but she competes at O45 level from this year onwards for another five years! David Butler collected a gold in the javelin and a silver in the shot. His first All Ireland masters appearance. John Culloty was also appearing in his first big one and threw well in the javelin and the shot. Had had never thrown the javelin or putted the shot in competition until this year when he won medals at the Kerry Athletics county championships. John won’t rest until he has bling around his neck. He is one of those athletes who is like a fine September morning or a new pair of runners…full of promise.
A September day to remember in the famed Morton Stadium in Santry.
The summer of 2021 had collapsed into this September. Many writers have a love affair with the month. Virginia Woolf wrote that “all the months are crude experiments out of which the perfect September is made”. Feeling Septemberish is a very common emotion. There is a clarity around the month which stirs something ancient inside us.
In our youth, going back to school at the start of September aroused emotive ripples of a lost summer, a new challenge, a new growing up. The smells of the classroom, the aroma of new books (sweet), chalk and new biros were striking. Smells last in the brain longer than other things. New teachers with fire in their eyes, shortening evenings, All Ireland finals, National Ploughing Championships, Listowel Races, Mosney, sweet apples, blackberries. Haws and sloes lighting the bóithríns.
As a retired teacher now, I still feel the call of September. I recall the September days returning to the classroom in Tarbert Comprehensive and previously in St Paul’s College in Dublin. Meeting the new students and reacquainting with the existing ones was a rich and rare experience. Asking the new first years how many of them were into athletics was always a moment to savour. Training Thursday at lunchtime, girls and boys. And the new school year was under way and hallo September.
One September recalls sad memories. We had visited New York in August 2001 and a month later there was the 9/11 disaster. The site of the twin towers has a special family connection as my great grandfather lived in the area for a long while in the 1890s. It was there that he contracted TB at the age of 50. He was to die five years later. That autumn day twenty years ago will be forever a cloud on humanity’s sky.
And yesterday morning, September 11th there was a special flavour to the new September of 2021. The return of the parkrun. Tralee Town Park and over two hundred people gathered safely around 9.15am. Another beautiful autumn morning, calm as eternity and as full of quiet passion. A short address by run director Siobhán Kearney set the tone and off we went. Three laps of wonder and rediscovery, a few pbs and a variety of salutations between people who hadn’t seen each other for ages. A statement of the durability of the human race. A joy on our doorstep. A carefree September Saturday morning zone where we can meet the other versions of ourselves. I once heard a presentation about loss. The presenter asked us to imagine that we lost everything we had and got it back again a few days later. What would we be thinking in between. It made us think. Like the last year and a half. And so the return of the parkrun and athletics events have given us back something simple and precious. The joy of group running. Blocks to build a future-house.
My run was intended to be a nice jog. With a few memories thrown in. A summer of sport recalled as the body attuned to running 5Ks again. A passing dog on a lead looked at me and thought in his doggy language “He’s a bit old to be running!” But I answered him back that is one of the reasons to run. I think he understood and looked back and muttered “Have a nice day!”
I was carried back to a Saturday morning, July 24th. Up at 6am and gear packed and off in the summer dawn to Templemore for the Munster Athletics walks championships. The magic of an early summer morning and that July sky over Abbeydorney and onwards and a queue going through Adare already and the green fields of Limerick and Tipperary and a haze capping the Silvermines as a hot day began to form. A cupán tae in the Obama Plaza (a favourite oasis on all trips up the country) and a stretch to keep the hammers hammering and the calves calving and the hips hipping. Then a crowd gathering in Templemore and pole vault poles being taken out the back windows of cars and that athletics look in the eyes as there was a big programme for juniors that day. There was the ageless Munster chairman Mossy Woulfe with a smile and a welcome and a mask and Orla Fitzgerald with my number ready before I even thought of my number and a team of officials ready to resume provincial athletics under guidelines. And a warm up with Pat Murphy of Castleisland Walking Club who was wearing two different shoes! The stitch marks on his right foot looked very fresh and the colour of the ball of the foot looked raw but a recent foot operation didn’t stop the walking Kerryman from walking again. “A walk in Banna Strand cures all injuries!” says Pat as he shoots off like a rocket from Cape Canaveral. I was inspired.
There is always a curious feeling when the masters walks are held with the junior and U23 championships. In the warm-up for the walks there were a few juniors speeding past us with a very sophisticated style and with drills that experts like Frank Lynch are teaching them. A sixty year old sometimes feels a bit out of place sharing the same track with these young talented athletes. But the young athletes accept the sharing of the day. A couple of teens invite me to watch a relay event from the Olympics on their mobile phone from a safe distance as they stretched for their own event. A moment of Irish athletics history shared in Templemore as we watch the Irish mixed relay team competing in an Olympic final in faraway Tokyo. No medal but the two teens knew something is stirring in Irish athletics at that moment. Then off they go to prepare for their event, wishing me good luck in the walk. Perhaps we will be watching those fine young athletes who shared their phone screen with me that Saturday compete for their country someday.
Ang “cush” the gun goes and we’re off on the 3K masters walk, and I get one warning from the judge who hails from New Zealand that I am not locking and he advises me to keep my head up. I thought my head was up till I see my shadow and I am more like a banana that a carrot! So I square my shoulders and pull my head back and now the leading knee locks on impact as a result and there is a rhythm. Pat Murphy overtakes like a steam train…what sore foot and John Laste is motoring with his new style…a little hop off the leading leg impact that propels the body forward. Good if you are fit to do it. John does it. I hear encouragement from our club chair John Clifford who is volunteering for the day and I see his camera in action. I know I will appear to be walking in slow motion in that video and John will say later that I was walking in slow motion anyway!
And the line arrives with no further warnings and there is a pb and the top of the head is throbbing in the hotting sun. Some of my colleagues are unlucky and get the three dreaded warning cards but that’s the walk for you.
Medals presented and a quick photos and into the van to head for Killarney Valley AC track where I am to complete a Level 1 coaching course. I won’t make the start but I will make the second half. Trying to rush the hundred odd miles in July traffic on a beach and shopping day is not recommended so I bite my tongue and calm the senses and I arrive in Killlarney just in time for the discus session by John Sheehan and, yes, the walks session, with Frank Lynch who has sped from Templemore also. Roasting day and clubmate Kenneth Leen played a blinder in his assessment demonstration at the end of day. Honours in the bag, I’d say. Qualified Level 1 coach now, Kenneth. Former Kerry minor footballer too!
A week later it was back to Templemore. With clubmates this time. Uber Ursula created a Munster record in her long jump with a mighty leap of 4.72m. How sweet it is to have CBP (championship best performance) written into the Munster records forever. She also sped to a silver in the 100m with a 14.00 sec dash. For a warm-up like! David Butler collected gold in the O35 javelin with a 17.77m throw and gold in the shot with 5.87m. His father Martin made a comeback to athletic action with a 5.94m bronze medal putt in the O65 shot. How many fathers and sons compete in the masters events in Munster? Or anywhere! David Kissane won the O65 discus for the second time in three years with a throw of 22.46m but could have done better that day! An “electric” performance, ie shocking!
But for one former St Brendan’s AC athlete, it was a special day. Stephen Wallace recently rejoined the club. He had been among the first club members back in 1987 and where did the club go on its first Munster championships outing a year later? Templemore! A roasting day back then and a cinder track unlike the good tartan track that adorns the arena now. A cinder track not made for falling, as Ann Sullivan found out! Ann faced the starter in the hurdles on day 1 of the 1988 championships and clipped the fourth hurdle and went crashing to the cinders. Sore. Burned knees an palms of hands. But the brave Ann got up and finished the race to the cheers of the huge crowd and became a hero in the club that weekend. A shy smile from the Brandonwell girl assured us all that she had true grit as well as the cinder grit embedded in her knees after the fall! On the Sunday, a big contingent travelled by bus from Ardfert with club founder-member John Kelly and myself on board. A crowd of new athletes full of hope and among them was Stephen Wallace. Great memories of the club’s first ever Munster outdoor championship medals from that weekend and the news half-way through the day that Ireland had beaten England in the Euro 88 championships in Stuttgart. Sun, action, gold medals in the girls relay and good Euro news and the craic on the bus on the way home made it a special day.
That night, after a few pints in Joe O’Sullivan’s in Ardfert, Tom Kelly and I talked under the stars outside the gate at Tubrid Cross about the possibilities of the club and the talented athletes who had joined. Proposals were crafted and milestones laid out for the next meeting and for the years ahead as the moon came up and the early hours of Monday morning approached. Lá dár saol.
So Stephen Wallace returned to Templemore on Saturday, July 31st, 2021 after what seemed like a lifetime away from those dreamy days in 1988. He hadn’t been exactly idle in the years in between. He had been involved with Kerry football at all levels, the winner of seven All Irelands, four as a player (U21, junior and two club wins with Ardfert) and three All Irelands as a manager (two with the Kerry juniors and one with Ardfert). He has never been beaten in Croke Park as a player or manager. That’s some career. So he rejoins St Brendan’s AC and goes back to Templemore and collects a gold medal in the O45 shot putt with a performance of 8.89m. That’s the senior 16lb shot by the way. Cannonball. Then he jumps 4.13m in the long jump to take the silver medal. That’s a return to athletics all right!
That day in Templemore this July 2021 was enriched also by a brand new club member who had never competed in Munster before. Danielle Faulconbridge had shown a capacity to putt the shot at juvenile training one evening, by picking it the shot up and hugging it. It was love at first meeting with that shot and it ended up with a putt of 6.39m in Templemore to get a silver in the O35 category. An emotional occasion and tears of joy were shed when she discovered that she was in the medals.
It is an indelible memory of summer 2021.
So hallo September 2021. Willie Stargell said that “I love September especially when we’re in it!”. Henry David Thoreau believes that the month “illuminates all creatures” while Lauren Oliver described it as a “a month that smells like progress, like moving on”. JK Rowling believes that September is “as crisp and golden as an apple”.
I agree with all. And more. For those of us who have more Septembers behind us than before us, it may be a time to harvest the emotions of summers from our interior selves. Precious events can be like Irish summers, taking a long time to come and gone in a flash! So the real enjoyment may be in a September recollection. A friendly fiesta of the mind before winter sets in as we inherit the genetic disposition of the ages.

29 August 2021



**Training Returns**
U9 -U11 Juvenile members
✅Wednesday 1st September
🕙 6-7pm
✅An Fearran all weather pitch, Ardfert.
U12 and Upwards members -
Athletics and Fitness training
✅Wednesday 1st Sept.
🕙7-8pm in
✅ An Fearann All weather pitch, Ardfert
Cost of Training for all ages will be €2 p/wk for each person.
Everyone will need to fill out Covid Questionaire which will be emailed out before each training session.
Please don't forget your own water bottle and hand sanitiser as before.😊
We are also beginning a new 9 week Adult fitness training programme for our Adult members.
✅Every Wednesday evening
🕙7-8pm in
✅An Fearann All weather Pitch, Ardfert.
Cost of training is €3 p/wk for each person.
Covid Questionaire will be required before each training and will be sent out by email.
Please don't forget water and hand sanitiser as before.
If any non members would be interested in giving the fitness training a try, please don't hesitate to contact us by email at stbrendansa.c.kerry@gmail.com for more information.

24 May 2021

ARDFERT 50K Ultra 2021


Summer Has Come In
A 50K Saturday in Ardfert
By David Kissane
On Saturday morning, 22nd of May, nine runners from St Brendan’s AC embraced the day with a 50K run. It was not a 50K divided among them. It was 50K each! The nine runners covered 450 kilometres in total. Not your normal Saturday pre-brekky jog or parkrun, but a phenomenal undertaking. The search for meaning that is itself the meaning. Only the brave know the motivation behind a run like this.
“Summer has come in
Loudly sing, cuckoo
The seed grows and the meadow blooms
And the wood springs anew
Sing cuckoo”
The Old English poem “Sumer Is Icumen In” (translated above) can be cited as one motivating factor. One of the first ever poems written down in the English language captures the emotion of the heart, mind and soul at the onset of summer. Manuscripted sometime around 1250, the poem/song is written in almost (to us now) unrecognisable English. But what is recognisable is the spirit of summer that is spreading over hill, vale and seaside right now, as it has done for the millions of years that life has inhabited the earth. Imagine the first tetrapod to emerge from the sea around Valentia some 480 million years ago, feeling the sun on its back for the first time without the cover of water and learning to breathe the maturing air! Well, that emotion was all over the roads of Ardfert yesterday. The essential inward journey of life expressed through a batch of townlands on a variety of roads on a summer morning.

The 50K event was formulated by Artur Nowak, St Brendan’s AC coach and experienced ultra athlete. The distance of 50K was chosen as reachable if challenging. And inspiring at a time when activities had been restricted by Covid. Then the concept was married to the needs of Scoil Náisiunta Árd Fhearta where a sportshall is being planned and a final push was needed to complete the fundraising. Principal Betty Stack and her enthusiastic crew of teachers, pupils and parents have done amazing work to bring that ship to port. Interesting voyage, exciting destination. And an ultra to help.
And of course there was the training. Times and distances and recoveries were carefully monitored over the past few months. As always happens in the dark regions of the middle-point of a project, physical injuries and psychological doubts popped up – as they do in life – just to challenge the spirit of the participants. Is this for me? Is that sore ankle going to become a monster? Why am I doing this? Am I crazy? Nothing is consequence-free. A microcosm of life during the pandemic. A microcosm of life without a pandemic. Drop-downs, let-downs, fall-downs usually followed by out-reaching, far-reaching and in-reaching that enriches and energises the small things that are the secret of existence.

So Moira Horgan, Denis Foley, Linda O’Sullivan, Kirstie Nowak, Artur Nowak, Andreas Weiss, Margaret Carlin, Peter Jackson and newest club member, William Brick rose to the occasion and faced the prose and poetry of the ultra. Along with the busy lives they already lead, they created a parallel universe and blended it with the necessary. A high density decision. They ran the runs, manoeuvred the miles, smiled the smiles, talked the talks, hilled the hills, contoured the contours, deconventioned the conventions, learned the lessons and sustained the sanity. Dreamed dreams and harboured visions.

The course is a 10K circuit so five laps to be done. Simple as running! Social distancing was a natural feature of the event and up first at 7am were Moira and Kirstie. Birds singing their summer breakfast songs, new-born robins asking for the menu, starlings competing for noise like the Eurovision Song Contest and crows clearing their guttural throats as the two St Brendan’s AC runners got on their marks at Ardfert NS and headed down through a sleeping Ardfert Village. Lovely morning but with a strong hint of scairbhín in the crisp air. Fountain on the left, Glandore Gate on the right and then the Cathedral sleeping quietly as it has done for nine centuries or more. Ardfert Pitch and Putt Course (probably one of the top course in Ireland) on the right the GAA sportsfield where the old aristocracy played cricket on Saturdays and holidays on the sandy grass in another era. At the rear of the sportsfield the Cistercian Abbey ruins keep their secrets beside the flattened residence of the Crosbies. On the left, across from the sportsfield, a farmyard where cattle were slaughtered for the population of Ardfert. On then past here was a Past the graveyard. That graveyard was formerly the orchard and kitchen garden of the ruling Crosby family, complete with glass houses, plum trees, pear trees and a riot of berries. Teams of workers kept everything in order and the buzzing of the bees were in their ears as they went to sleep on summer nights. Now generations of Ardfert people sleep peacefully there. On then to the Round Road.
Then on the left is the former Ardfert Golf club, now reverted to farmland. There’s the location of the first tee in the corner. If you were Brendan Sinnott or PJ Riordan your drives from this tee would go straight down the centre and say an early hallo to the pin. If you were a novice like me the ball would curl right, rising nervously across the road into John Driscoll’s farm, never to be seen again. New ball, add two shots, day done.

After this there is the huge site of Ardfert Quarry, giver of employment for many years since it was concepted by Pat Carroll. The graceful Rices’ house came next on the left, a house where the mother of club chairman John Clifford worked for George Rice once. It was on this road that John himself learned to drive a car at the ripe old age of seven when his visiting cousin allowed him behind the wheel of a Morris 1100. Risky but successful venture! The whole road was enclosed with overhanging trees in days gone by but is now open to the sky. Then to the right turn at Russell’s T junction with the neat white cottage and the garden ornaments and up the narrow road. Here summer is raging for the runners with green life bursting out all around. Briars, ash, sycamore, wild garlic and fields with cows up to their knees in a sea of grass. There’s the house on the right of the late Madge Davis’s on that leafy bóithrín and you would hear Madge reciting poetry emanating from this house up to a few years ago. There used to be a shop there which Madge Davis bought from a Corkman called Sheehy and sold groceries and Peggy’s Legs and tóisíns and penny bars. Young people flocked to the shop in the autumns of old times with violet-coloured fingers and buckets of blackberries gathered from the hedgerows of Sackville, Tubrid, Kilgulbin, . Madge would store the blackberries in a big tub to be sent away to make dye. She helped to bring colour to the lives of the people! Later she made a recording of her poems. Remember Madge as you pass by.
On the left lived the Hewson family, landlords in the area. Now Stephen O’Sullivan and Mags have a veritable little supermarket of goodies and drinks on a table outside their house at the end of the road. And a sturdy-looking Teddy with a St Brendan’s AC sky blue top, sitting comfortably on a chair and smiling the smile of one who knows. A Teddy smile.

Then the Forge Cross on the Tubrid Cross-Abbeydorney road where blacksmiths Paddy and Jack Clifford beat red iron into horseshoes and put the hissing shoes on horses before the ploughing. There was also a creamery there run by the Dairy Disposal Board where farmers brought the milk and had a chat and brought home the new milk for the calves. A daily social event long lost. If those folk in the past could see runners doing a 50K ultra run they would surely have a wry comment or two! Different times.
The runners head up the local Heartbreak Hill in Tubrid. Under the old railway bridge and your legs think that your head has abandoned them as the rise becomes a climb all the way up to Wethers’ Well, Tobar na Molt (from which the townland of Tubrid gets its name). The well where St Brendan, patron of the parish and of Kerry, was reputedly baptised by Erc of Slane. He was supposed to be called Mobhí but rain that fell during the procedure inspired a change to “Braon Fionn” or “Fair Drop”. Hence the translation to Brendan. There’s been a fair few “fair drops” taken in Ardfert since then! The runners take their own fair drops now to freshen up after the hill as they turn right down the relief of Tubrid Hill towards Tubrid Cross and on to Ardfert and lap two. Moira and Kirstie chat all the way and can’t believe that 10K has been covered already as the morning reveals itself with a splash of sunshine and fluffy clouds over the Brandon and the Atlantic to the west.
Gradually the remaining runners head off in small groups, some at a pace that is very nippy considering that there are 31 miles to go! Guest runners join in to help the prime nine and more come to help with a 10K or two. Interesting joining a runner who is already on the journey. For a while you are in it but not of it but the blended footsteps and the chat help to merge you with the occasion. A chat with Paul Montgomery, chaplain in Causeway Comprehensive School means that a few miles are covered without noticing for Denis. Paul’s praise of students and how they all adapted quickly to the Covid procedures and the lessons learned is a positive and encouraging statement of the power of youth. Hope for the future. It’s amazing how words help to move the feet and soothe the maladies of the miles. Joe Bunyan’s philosophy of life and running and managing a young family passes away another handful of miles for Denis whose knee starts to remind him at around 30K that it too has feelings. Family, clubmates and friends helped Denis to complete the task. Ursula Barrett joined in in the vital last laps to work her undeniable mental magic and when Denis’s injury wouldn’t allow him to climb Tubrid Hill in the ultimate lap, plan B was formulated with a flatter alternative and home to the finish. Artur’s planning and pre-advice was always on his mind.

“Plaisir dAmour” (The Joy of Love) is a beautiful song written in 1784 by Jean-Paul-Égide Martini. He put to music a poem which Jean Pierre Claris de Florian had written earlier in the century in his novel “Célestine”. Elvis Presley sang his English version “Can’t Help Falling in Love” in 1961. The theme is dark enough, saying that the joy of love lasts but a moment, while the pain of love lasts a lifetime! With apologies to all involved, I came up with the following adaptation:
La douleur de courir (The pain of running)
N'est qu'un instant (Is but a moment long)
Mais la joie de courir (But the joy of running)
Durent toute une vie (Lasts a whole life long)
Relevant to the positivity with which the runners faced the five eternal laps yesterday.
For Moira, the training sessions prepared her mentally and physically for the huge distance to be encountered on the day. The music at Joe Bunyan’s and Mary’s house gave a lift to the spirit while the children at Stephanie Lyne’s home had encouraging messages chalked on the road. Tour de France and Ballycotton 10 style. Moira finished with a smile and then soaked her legs in the always-resuscitating water of Ballyheigue to recover from her first ultra marathon.
For Kirstie, there was a smile every time she encountered the signage and the water stations and John O’Sullivan popping out of the blue as a drive-by supporter in his jeep. James and little Emma boosted her confidence many times in the long pilgrimage of the 50K before the finish line at Ardfert NS brought solace in the afternoon to tired limbs. Great satisfaction in an adventure successfully fulfilled.
Other runners suffered the “slings and arrows of the outrageous fortune” of ultra running. Andreas, a proven warrior at cycling, swimming, tri-events and ultras felt the pressure and the pain at around 40K and grimaced in pain. Maggie got a severe pain in her side at around 35K and the 10K loop had lost its novelty at that stage. But her toughness got going and she warriored through it. After a brief walk and personal psyching up with the help of Radio Kerry music on the final lap, she chased the free-flowing Artur all the way to the line. Her recovery was a night shift at her workplace and today she was ready for training again. Cool and forthcoming. Amazing.
Peter Jackson flew like an eagle from start to finish, moving fluidly and effortlessly. His cadence at 45K was virtually the same as at 10K and he sailed down Station Road to his destination with confidence and poise. His ability knows no bounds.

Newest club member William ran the whole 50K with a relentless consistency of pace and purpose. Focussed and factual, it was an even rhythm from source to sea. And like most of the participants, he was running solo for much of the distance. Fully committed. The after-experience was a reward which was rare and wonderful.

Linda enjoyed the first three laps 😊 30K), despite going in to the ultra with an injury with the help of Marie Louise Aylward but it was “downhill” (her words) after that. However, the support bestowed in abundance by the community, especially when she was passing her own house on the five occasions and helped along by brother Stephen, Tommy Commane and Bryan Walshe, meant joy at the finish line. The staff of Ardfert NS were also invaluable in their support and they sacrificed their free day to help make the event a success.
There were other runners who decided to run the full 50K or who joined in for a lap or two to support. Some of the times recorded were astounding, considering that the Tubrid Hill was a pace-breaker and sometimes a heart-breaker. Patricia seemed to glide along at a comfortable cruise on both hill and flat and no complaints were heard. She became part of the identity of the afternoon. So did Chris Grayson and Fozzy Forristal who timed 3-56 for the tough course and were smiling as they finished. They spontaneously answered the call to adventure and ran free with the sun and the summer breeze in their faces. There was no TCD (Time Constraint Disorder) there. Life being lived.
One of the features of the run was the signage that club PRO Cathy Flynn erected before the event. An individual message for all nine participants was artistically created by the inventive Cathy: “Keep on smiling, Linda”; “No hills on this route, William!” (not quite true but almost!); “The beer and steak are waiting, Andreas”; “Go Maggie, keep running and stop talking”; “Bar of Snickers at the finish, Denis”; “You got this, Moira, 50K your way”; “Looking strong, Peter, 100K next” and “Artur and Kirstie, ye are amazing, Prosecco is chilling”.
The evening before the run, as one of the signs had to be placed in a particularly bushy spot on a lonely road as briars in all their glory and had to be cleared away. A slasher had to be produced by the attendant from the back of the van to Cathy’s surprise. “Is this the kind of incident that people will be reading about in the papers tomorrow!” she asked the slasher-wielder!
The real stories of the day are written in the consciousness of the participants and supporters. Maybe in the subconscious too. For anyone who has run a marathon, the experience is not forgotten. A marathon is 42.2K. For yesterday’s participants who ran a marathon and then went on for another 8K, the experience is all the more memorable. The fact that is was local was a contributory factor. Some participants got to know gates and trees and dogs and cats and cows and garden flowers on a personal level. One participant says he heard a dog bark three different ways in different laps. Even the same swallows were encountered as they swooped down to check the goings-on. Prayers were said and curses cursed on the Tubrid Hill of Calvary. Jokes and banter and bananas and water. Lots of water.
But what a great Sunday dawned today as the memories merged and the bodies rested and the summer of 2021 became an even better place. There is a meaning encoded in all this running. It defines runners and those around them. It is a celebration of life and a way to a meaning. Runners trot across distances of pain to reach the other side. Running rewards intelligent persistence and integrity and leads to creative visualisation and an upness that is rich and rare. It has a “find-out-who-you-are-ness” about it. It compels you to have a sustained conversation with you. It provides a person’s “need for spiritual territory” as Con Houlihan once described it. It’s just another walk in the mind’s forest.
Well done to all who walked in the mind’s forest yesterday on the roads around Ardfert.

19 April 2021

50K Virtual Ultra 2021


We are delighted and proud of nine of our Senior & Master Athletes who are taking on the challenge of running 50k virtually. Five of these athletes are using this run in the hope to raise much needed funds for Ardfert National School school hall on May 22nd. All nine athletes have been training away behind the scenes with the last few months under the watchful eye of coach Artur Nowak, whom is taking part also.
Our club members currently in training:
Linda O'Sullivan
Moira Horgan
Margaret Carlin
Kirstie Nowak
Peter Jackson
William Brick
Andreas Weiss
Denis Foley
Artur Nowak

Gofund me page is setup for Ardfert National School so anyone can support our athletes and help in community project the same time.