Organised Sport

30 April, 2013

“So is it for charity? Do you want us to sponsor you?”

My mum, on discovering that I’d signed up for a series of 5k running races, was understandably puzzled. We are not, as a rule, a sporty family, and the last one of these I did was for charity. It involved running around Cheltenham Racecourse*, and a lot of pink, and yes, sponsorship. And before that, I had to endure cross-country at school**, followed by extra cross-country because I was among the least bad at it in my house and didn’t have the common sense to hide this fact before sports day rolled around.

But this is different.

This is not charity.

This is not education.

This is…

Organised Sport.

They also had some really good bananas.

Uh oh.

The Urban Trail Series consists of a set of roughly 5km (3.2 mile) runs through the woods and fields of three Dublin parks. In the first race, I took it easy (because I’d only worked up to 3.5k at this point, and the course was 4.5k, and going too hard is a sure way to get injured especially if your shoes look like this). It was loads of fun (albeit really, really cold).

In the second race, a month later, I started at the front and tried to keep up with the serious runners. I lost them at about halfway round, and the rest of the race was a miserable, exhausted slog (“are we there yet? 3k? Oh, you’ve got to be kidding…”)

And so for the third race…? If this was a movie, I’d have done a training montage, been given some shiny new kit by my wise old coach and had an epic race in which I narrowly beat my nemesis who humiliated me in the last race, or something. Perhaps there comes a time in everyone’s life when you have to do something like this. But this wasn’t it, so I left the serious runners to their watches and sports gels and had another very enjoyable run through an unexpectedly beautiful part of Tallaght.

Running always looks miserable. This is because you are using your face for breathing.


All in all, I came to the conclusion that it was kind of fun, but I’m more interested in running than in competing, getting up in the morning or waiting about in the cold***. But then I walked through the start of the annual Night Run (in which half of Dublin was participating, by the looks of it: neon yellow t-shirts as far as the eye could see). And the music was blasting and it was a great big deal and I kind of wished I was in it****. So. Hmm. Undecided.

* That was actually pretty cool. By the way, those horse jumps: not the soft, friendly hedges they appear to be on TV, but huge, terrifying and constructed from vicious sticks. I am glad I am not a racehorse.

** IN THE HAIL, in a t-shirt and shorts. I have still not forgiven my PE teachers for this.

*** Organised Sport involves a lot of waiting around in the cold for various things to happen, occasionally punctuated by Putting Your Hands In The Air And Making Some Noise.

**** Even though it is twice the distance (10km) and all on the road (boring underfoot). On the plus side, you don’t have to get up in the morning.


  1. Hmm… biked up Bredon Hill last evening. The first half mile goes up 600ft. And what do I find at the top? Seven joggers, jogging! Is nothing sacred…

    • Joggers? Pfft 😉

  2. take up orienteering – it’s running with thinking …

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