GOAL is a humanitarian charity established in Ireland some 40 years ago. Each Christmas Day, one of their fundraisers is the GOAL Mile. Held on athletics tracks throughout Ireland, the concept is simple – pay an entry fee, run a mile (a distance rarely raced in competition nowadays), and everybody wins.

By Christmas 2008 I’d been in Dublin for a year and had embedded myself in the life of Crusaders AC who have their track and clubhouse at Irishtown on the eastern edge of the city. Crusaders host one of these GOAL miles. This year – 2020 – it’s a virtual event for well understood reasons, but in 2008 I was there on Christmas morning to do my bit.

Fortunately it wasn’t just one mad race that morning as Dublin has some seriously good athletes. I jumped into one race in which I stood a chance of not being embarrassed. On the whistle, off we set, two or three of us in running gear plus a couple of Mums pushing prams and trailing slightly older infants. It was a bit surreal, not many spectators as we headed past the clubhouse, down the back straight, around the final turn from where you can see the big cargo boats at Dublin Port and down the home straight to complete the lap. Unfair obstruction as I had to weave between and past scampering children and buggies but my complaints went unheard as they’d paid their entry fee as well.

Fair play to myself, I pushed my body hard if not fast. As I passed the finishing line for the last time I heard the time – 6.58 – which remains my PB to this day.

Some proper runners from the famous Crusaders club

It might have been short-lived and long ago but I still treasure those days with the Crusaders and still I still wear the club vest whenever possible.

Last day with the Crusaders kids, summer 2009