After a brief jog of the course route and warm up, the girls were ready to go, bouncing with anticipation and excitement. All were very unimpressed at the very muddy conditions underfoot - some real life cross country experience!
The girls were running 1.1km in a field of over 300 runners from 34 different schools. This was the biggest year of the race yet. Parents, teachers and the boys lined the race route to cheer on our strong and brave girls. 300 girls running made for a lot of elbows and tight squeezes, but the girls did not let this intimidate them. The gun went and they were off. They heeded warning and resisted the temptation to go out too quickly. They quickly found their comfort zone and passed us on their first lap in a blur of nervous smiles and waves. Before we knew it, the girls had come past us again and were sprinting hard to the finish line. It was an amazing sight to see each and every St. Mary's girl cross the finish line in such a strong manner and still managing a smile (or grimace!). Ella O' in 6th class was our first counter, finishing in an incredible 9th place. A few seconds later, we spotted our next St. Mary's girl bound across the finish line with a big smile: Julia in Third Class! 13th place is an incredible feat, not to mention the fact that Julia was competing against girls up to 13 years of age. Next came Mia in 5th class (14th) followed by Alana from 5th class in 16th place. One by one, the girls zoomed over the finish line, cheered on right to the end by the boys, parents and teachers. Every girl ran an incredible race, with all of our runners finishing inside the top 120 and all rightfully filled with pride.
There wasn't any time to waste: next up was our incredibly strong field of boys runners. Fuelled by the impressive performances of their peers, they jogged off to the start line. The girls, having found their breath and refuelled, ran to line the course to return the fantastic support that the boys had offered them. The boys were running a slightly longer race of 2km over 2.5 laps. This was made more difficult again by virtue of the already muddy field being cut up even more after the girls' race. The gun sounded and they were off. Again, like the girls, the boys paced themselves beautifully and maintained their positions well. They zoomed by us at an impressive speed on their first lap and before we knew it, they had passed us by again, looking fighting fit. They resisted the urge to surge until the last half lap and sprinted across the finish line, bent double afterwards with effort and sheer exhaustion. 2km at speed for 9-12 years is no mean feat, and every boy should be incredibly proud of their individual performances and for such impressive finishes! A huge well done to Zac in 4th class, our first counter crossing the line in 20th place. He was followed by Max from 5th class in 34th place and Hugh from 3rd class in 36th place. Superb achievements by all!
After an initial error in scoring, we were informed later that afternoon that following a steward's enquiry, our girls' team had actually come in second place! This was a fantastic feat and so well-deserved. The girls came in third place for the last two years, so this demonstrates how they are going from strength to strength. The boys know that we are all so incredibly proud of their achievements, as they are of themselves.
This was the first year we had decided to bring Third Class, and what a great decision it was. Third Class demonstrated to us that they were just as strong and able as any other class, and together with the other boys and girls represented the school with absolute distinction. The children were extremely well-behaved and showed fantastic support and respect to every competitor. A huge part of cross-country is sportsmanship and teamwork, and the boys and girls demonstrated a fine example of these qualities. What a proud sight it is as a teacher to witness the children cheering on other boys and girls from other schools who needed a little more support and to see the boys and girls thanking the volunteers and organisers of their own accord. Well done!
Unfortunately in the excitement of the event, we only managed to get two photos!! Perhaps if parents have some photos of the event, they might email them to me at email@example.com and I will post them on the website.
A huge thank you to Scoil Mhuire for organising such an enjoyable event. We are already looking forward to next year!