Kevin Woods (12) is one of the few boys braving the female hordes which comprise the Crusaders AC juniors. He’s a good little athlete. And in the last few weeks he’s started to run more strongly and, importantly, with confidence. On Thursday evening he even turned the heads of a few seniors as he ran an impressive though untimed 800m at the end of the session.

Today at Raheny it was jubilation all round as young Woods won the 800m road race for children of 12 and under. Although unable to start in the front line as he wished, he nevertheless worked his way into a good position, though one lad went off like a rocket. Around the back of All Saints Park a white vest was showing in second place. And to great excitement it was Kevin in the lead by 10 metres or so as they turned into the final straight, with the early leader a beaten man.

But there was more. Matthew Behan scrapped well with a crowd of runners to get 5th place. And Kevin’s younger brother James (10) also finished strongly. Behind them were 15 or 16 other Crusaders flying the flag with great credit and pride. In the second race for the older juniors, if one accepts the mile measurement, a Finn Valley lad who really looked the part, clocked a remarkable 4.19 with Fiachra Thirroueiz just inside the six-minute mark which was a great effort.

A landmark day for the club. Success and achievement breeds more of the same. And the Dublin running community is starting to see the unusual sight of the Crusaders’ white and red singlet out there competing with the best.

For me the Raheny 5 (the main race which followed) sort of marked the beginning of my second year in Ireland. Living in a hotel in January 2008 I acted as men’s dressing room attendant at Raheny last year. And, though I didn’t see much racing, the dressing rooms have never been left as neat, clean and tidy! I didn’t suspect then that a year later I’d be in charge of a race winner.

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