Cross Country

Junior Interview: Hope on the horizon

Hope Saunders was the surprise package of the Irish cross country season when she won the GloHealth Inter Counties junior women’s race and booked her place on the Irish team for the European Cross Country Championships in Samokov. She backed up her early season form as first Irish junior home in 35th.

Jumping The Gun caught up with Hope to kickstart our junior section. We find out how she got into running, who are her athletic inspirations and what her goals are for the future when she finishes school.

How did you get into running?

I did cross country in school to get off class and ended up really enjoying it! I have tried all sorts of sports and I found that they didn’t require much energy and I was never physically tired after so then I tried running and found it effortless, satisfying and extremely rewarding.

What were the highlights of 2014?

There were many highlights in 2014 for me. I didn’t have a full track season as I was away a lot so there aren’t many from that and I was also injured. I’m still figuring out my distance for track and had tried out 3,000m for the first time along with steeplechase.

I was really happy to come third in my All Ireland’s and qualify for the Celtic International. Unfortunately I was away for my steeplechase competitions but was happy to win the North Leinster Schools. I personally much prefer cross country as I’ve more experience in this area as I’ve had a full season in 2013. I was delighted to win my age category (Under-18) along with the U19 and U20 dublins, then to go and win the junior women’s All Ireland (GloHealth Inter Counties) as an u18 was amazing.

Other highlights include being first female in the Run in the Dark in November and in the Christmas Cracker 5k (December 26th).

The main highlight of my year was winning junior athlete of the year in my club Clonliffe Harriers along with representing Ireland in Samokov was an unbelievable experience. Being part of an amazing team and sitting on the same plane as Fionnuala Britton, an inspiration, who has won the Europeans twice was a major highlight of my year.

Scholarship to the US or home? And Why?

I have always wanted to study abroad, being on scholarship or not. I like travelling and see a scholarship as a great way to meet new people whom have similar interests to mine i.e. running. I also think that going on a scholarship for running would help me grow as an athlete. In my opinion academia comes first so it depends on the courses available.

How did you find the European Cross and your first major international experience?

Samokov was an amazing and encouraging experience that I will always refer back to when training. Yes I found it difficult being away from home and out of routine but so did many other athletes which comforted me. When the gun went none of the previous pressures were with me, all that mattered was doing my club and country proud along with putting all of my training into practice.

If I was to change anything I would have gotten out faster at the start, so I didn’t have to play so much catch up throughout the large laps as by the end I had some steam left. Also not to be so worried as I had worked hard and it would pay off.

What’s your goals for 2015?

Train hard, as hard work pays off. Make the Euro cross team for 2015 and complete my first full track season injury free with no interruptions and set some pbs!

Who is your inspiration in athletics?

My coaches and all of my team mates at Clonliffe Harriers. Also my granddad. They never lose faith in me and are really supportive, they encourage me to always believe and never doubt myself.

Who are your coaches?

Joe Cooper and Brian McDonald.

What does a typical training week look like?

56 miles on average with two sessions a week along with four long runs

Monday: 55 min
Tuesday: endurance session intervals
Wednesday: 60 min
Thursday: 50 min
Friday: rest
Saturday: 10 x 500m with 45 sec recovery or fartlek session
Sunday: 70-80 minutes

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Kevin Mulcaire leads the Junior race at the European Cross Country Championships in Samokov. Photo credit: Brendan Ahearne.
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Feidhlim Kelly

Feidhlim Kelly

Con Houlihan once told me that tomorrow is now. In taking on this venture I’ve started to try and put his words into action.

I worked for Con from 2007 till his passing in 2012 taking down his copy and a whole lot more. I have a Con Houlihan section which will go in to more depth on that.

I’m a long-time contributor to the Irish Runner magazine and am also working for the Irish Examiner.

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