Opinion

Talking Point Tuesday: The Graded Conundrum

This week presents us with an incredible array of races. Imagine for a second that you are a 1500m runner in Ireland. In the space of eight days you could quite easily run four races over the metric mile. On Saturday the 11th, you could have run the IMC, followed by the Dublin Graded on the 15th, the Cork Graded on the 16th and the National League on Sunday the 19th. You could have done the exact same if you were a 400m runner.

Tough Week.

It’s a question that’s often asked but rarely answered. Why is there no co-operation in planning these Graded events?

Imagine a situation where an athlete will know that from the kick off of the season with the Leevale Open Sports in April until the last Dublin Graded in Mid-August he or she could conceivably have a race every week on a Wednesday night as well as the possibility of nationally organised races (Provincial Championships etc) and also the Irish Miler’s Clubs meetings.

The Irish Miler’s Club run easily the tightest ship, races are run on time, pacers guaranteed and the meet is run with athletes in mind. The events don’t take place as often. There are usually seven each season.

The Dublin Graded Meet is run on Wednesdays every two weeks from mid-April to Mid August, rain, hail or shine usually cycling through the events in general in a format that follows a pattern of 800 one week, 1500m the next and normally the short sprints follow a similar pattern. They provide a valuable service for those wishing to race and run fast. Athletes travel from all over the country to run in the Dublin Gradeds even if on occasion the scheduling going off-kilter and seeding going awry irks some athletes.

The Cork Graded is the new kid on the block, only running since 2010. These tend to only be attended by athletes in the Cork and Munster area. They follow a similar format to the Dublin graded but the scheduling of events is a bit haphazard as you can see below.

John-Buckley-Sports Graded Meet Programme  2015

John-Buckley-Sports Graded Meet Programme 2015

The reason the Cork Graded is scheduled so oddly was explained to us by CIT’s Ian O Sullivan who said “We are relying on clubs to give up their training time in CIT to facilitate the leagues so we have to vary the nights.”

This obviously makes it difficult to organize a proper track league. To organise an Irish Track League based around these Domestic meetings, an arrangement between all parties would have to be battled out. The likelehood of something like that happening in Ireland is non existent. If there was the possibility of such a league being organised, O’ Sullivan pointed out the exciting potential of a Dublin v Cork comparison/competition based on IAAF scoring tables. The Cork Graded Meeting already has this Scoring System set up as seen here

O’ Sullivan also added that the Cork Graded League would “Always open to conversations that would make more races available to track athletes”

Time to get the organizers of these meetings into one room and thrash it out for the betterment of the Irish domestic season.

Don’t hold your breath.

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Ronan Duggan

Ronan Duggan

Ronan Duggan is an athlete, coach, athletics fan and, most importantly, was once named Bandon AFC's under-12 Player of the Year. He was once a promising athlete but is now a promising coach, teacher and part-time athletics writer/broadcaster. While an 800m runner himself, Ronan has coached everything from pole vault to 10km with varying levels of bluffing. He has regularly been threatening to do something for years but is yet to deliver. He is regarded as our expert on the American running scene, though has yet, to prove his knowledge in this realm.

1 Comment

  1. Kieran Kelly
    July 16, 2015 at 5:56 pm — Reply

    I did one Cork graded in 2012 and it was a disgrace. I commuted down and back up to Dublin in a total of 5 hours(2 and a half hours each way) and paid a return train fare of €65. The meet didn’t start on time, there was no electronic timing, the exact words were ‘there is hoped to be electronic timing’, and there was no gun but a whistle.

    Dublin gradeds are beginning to get shunned by the better athletes. A lot of it being the timetable not running on time and how long A graded athletes are left waiting due to the amount of B and C races. I’m not disrespecting people running those grades and it’s always good to have more athletes competing but people running A races don’t want to be waiting around for 30-60 minutes. It affects a guy training his ass off all year to be waiting around rather than a lad training once or twice a week doing a 100m or 200m for the craic. A graded races should go first.

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