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A DSD Bonfire of the PBs at the Dublin Half Marathon

Some sporting teams will be spoken of for generations. Ireland's 2023 Grand Slam squad. The 1949 New York Yankees. DSD Meet & Train at the 2023 Dublin Half Marathon. This, anyhow, was how all the DSD squad felt after Tadhg Sullivan's starting-line pep talk, urging his teammates on to hiss 'yes' at every corner and mile marker. So much so that the announcer quipped, 'look at DSD there in their singlets, thinking they're the bees' knees'. And that's exactly how we all felt. And how the personal bests tumbled. Even if two pacer balloons exploded within the first mile. Sure, we were all ahead of them, anyway. At the two-mile mark, Martina Power's daughter rang her to ask what setting to put the washing on. The announcer at 11 miles took a brief break from teasing DSD to say, 'those finishing, turn left and you’re home to the finish. And safe home.' And I thought, in my first time in a DSD singlet, this is why I love doing races in Ireland. A happy, speedy DSD throng reunited just beside the finish line to compare their stories and new t-shirts. Dervla Nimmo quips of her 1:29:37, 'I guess it’s a PB because it was my first race'. Lisa Gaughran, equally in 'my first half', came in at 1:36 ('it was a great day'). Paul Croke 'took over 11 minutes off my PB,' to 1:38.13. (And 'ran with Gavin Hanna throughout; God, he could talk the back legs off a donkey'.) Thomas Roche's 01:37:53 was a '44 seconds PB'. And Pauline Mulligan and Emer Ní Chiaruáin, in their first half marathons, notched up mother-and-daughter PBs on their training times (Pauline 1:57 and Emer 2:22). ('My first half marathon in Ireland so technically an Irish PB' says Sorcha Ní Riain of her 2:04:28.) At the top of the pack, DSD's Derek Mills placed 29th, at 1:18.37. Philip Simpson, at 1:19.37, was 44th. Chris Flood was only a few steps behind, 1:20.18 and 56th. Likewise David Kelly, 1:22.45 and 101th, and Tim Wise, 1:24.00 and 140th. Cynthia O'Neill and Eugene McCabe, coming back from injury, nonetheless nobly came to scream loudly with David O'Leary for their teammates. The 'DSD support gang made all the difference', said Pauline, 'coming around that corner and facing that hill' (Phoenix Park's heartbreak hill, placed somewhat uncharitably at 12 miles). The race also marked what Claire Sloan called 'a peaceful transfer of power' of the Meet & Train captaincy from John Sloan to Darren Clifford. America looks on jealously. Darren Clifford 'even arranged for us to beat South Africa' after,' noted Gavin. (Watching that game was tougher than the half', quipped Lorraine O'Driscoll.) The next morning, my wife said to me, and I swear completely seriously, ‘we need to talk about how many bananas you’ve been eating.’ Shaking off the soreness, DSD Sunday training was bursting at 8 am and 10, as we all dutifully got in the 80 minutes' homework assigned by our coaches, Maria McCambridge and Gary Crossan, who had after all got us all these PBs. Well, most of us. 'You guys are all crazy', texted Andrea Koenigstorfer, sensibly. Pádraig Belton

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