Newcastle AC’s Eoghan Totten speaks about his European XC experience:
The European Cross Country Championships in Budapest put the international standard of running in perspective. The trip revealed to me that every minimalistic preparation prior to the race contributes to a wider but fine balance that will in turn affect your performance and position. As always things got off to a brilliant start given the Irish team (amongst many other teams) were diverted to Vienna and had a long wait in the airport and subsequent coach journey into Budapest. This was forgotten within twenty-four hours as we had allowed for an additional rest day prior to the race.
The race itself unfolded pretty much as expected. The pace was unprecedented at the front and stretched the field out early on. I found myself in over 100th place at the mile marker (to my frustration) and knew I had to commit to the race like I had not done previously; it was going to hurt. I subsequently found myself passing people on the climbs and cruising on the descents and was not passed until the sprint for home (six people were around me) to finish in 61st place. The finish re-iterated the level of competition with twenty-four people between myself and the top Irish finisher in 37th (Stephen Kerr, Armagh AC) in a mere seventeen second gap.
The underlying theme from the weekend is to give it everything on the course (I can expect to be carried off again if I want to achieve more) and to leave nothing to chance. It is a game of inches whereby a bottle of water at hand, even an extra hour of sleep, can make all the difference. Perhaps one day, taking this into account, I might finish sixty places higher in future European Championships. Fionnuala Britton (Double European Cross Country champion) is living proof of this. I can only hope to emulate her integrity, focus and determination which has brought success to both herself and her country.