Cross country running has become a major sport in the College. Students of all ages train and represent the school in this sport. The season commences in early September and a group of enthusiastic runners go into training in preparation for the inter-school races. A dedicated group of teachers are associated with the sport, participating actively in the training, coaching and mentoring. Training schedules and programmes are discussed with the athletes. In addition students who choose running as a sport are advised to join reputable athletics clubs. Each competitive athlete is asked to train four times per week. Hours of training, involving clocking up the millage, are required to reach the inter-school standard. Our school based training includes “tempo” running, stamina sessions and hill runs. We become a regular lunch time feature in the Castle Park Kilkenny for six months of the year.
Our first race is a home based athletics meeting. We run a series of runs around Halloween time every year, namely the Michael Brannigan Races. The centre piece is the annual first year inter-class competition. All our twelve and thirteen year olds compete for their respective classes, for many the first time to be involved in such an event. Healthy pre-race rivalry between the boys is evident. The “bragging rights” are considerable for the winning class. This extremely competitive but enjoyable race always produces its quota of athletes, fun runners and “heroes”, especially those who struggle over the finish line. True running ability as opposed to bravado is easily identified over the mile long course. Potential runners are noted and asked to run for the College. In addition we have been involved in Leinster league competitions and have run in various invitations such as in DCU, all to prepare us for the Championship. Teams largely pick themselves with the strongest most committed runners in the various ages groups appointed team captains.
A team in Cross Country consists of eight runners with the first four to count for points. The South-Leinster Championship generally takes place at the end of January or in early February. Four team titles are decided on the day: U-14 Minor, U-15 Junior, U-17 Intermediate and U-19 Senior. We aim to be competitive in all races and have had some memorable South-Leinster Championships sweeping all four titles. All athletes who train and wish to represent the College do so. We often have two or more teams competing in the one age category. Teams and individuals qualify from this event to the Leinster Championships held a week or two later. The step up in competition is considerable. Qualification again is necessary for the All-Ireland Championships held in early March. This marks the pinnacle and the end of the season. This Championship has necessitated over-night accommodation arrangements such as in Belfast for the last two All-Irelands in Ulster. Year after year our runners leave their mark in the Inter-School competitions.