Chariots of Tadhg. (Photo credit: TMC Photography Cork.)

Stablemate Tadhg “the Curator” Crowley went wee, wee, wee all the way home to a blisteringly quick 16:51 at the Newmarket 5K Classic Road Race, slicing a wafer-thin two seconds off his former best.

The Curator described the day’s climate as ripe for a PB: “Absolutely perfect conditions for a race: not a hint of wind, dry, cool, and even a glimmer of sunshine.” Juicy!

In the highly competitive field, nine seconds under 17 minutes was only good enough for “a sobering position of 58th!” But the little pig squealed with joy as he scalped a former Olympian en route to sub-17 glory.

The Stable News’ hog of a man, Ally “the Chin” Smith, waited for Crowley to come down from cloud nine before receiving this wonderfully worded account:

“It seemed like every runner in Munster turned up in Newmarket. A huge crowd and an incredibly talented field. 11 athletes went under 15 minutes; the race was won by Evan Byrne in 14:06. 

My plan was to go out conservatively and leave something for a strong finish. My confidence took a bit of a hit in the autumn with the 10-miler and half-marathon not going to plan, so I wanted to be sure that I paced it right. 

After a false start, everyone shot off at a ridiculous pace. It is a very fast downhill start, so it felt wrong holding back—but I was determined to stick with my plan. As the first mile finishes, the route turns into a flat, out-and-back section. I was weaving my way through the field at this point, passing all the runners who went out too quickly, but I was still keeping things pretty controlled.

Once we turned and then hit the two-mile marker, I increased the pace. I felt strong, and now I was picking off runners easily. The route finishes with a climb through Newmarket village and a lightning-quick downhill to the tape. I flew up the village as others were wading through treacle!

Just at the top of the village climb, I spotted a glistening golden singlet ahead. Sparkling in the winter sunlight, I recognised it straight away as the vest of one of Ireland’s greatest Olympians and an all-round legend. Despite the pain that comes with the latter stages of a 5K race, and the woolly brain that accompanies it, I knew at this very moment what I had to do!

As the Olympic gold medallist was dealing with lactic acid and willing themselves to the finish line, I made my move. You hear stories of parents finding hysterical strength to save a child, and it was something like this; I found an extra gear. Seizing the moment (like in a true underdog story), and with the help of some extra fast arm warmers (inside joke), I sped past with Vangelis ringing in my ears and crossed the line to  victory 58th place!!!

The story of how Dad beat an Olympian is one which my kids (and their kids) will learn to endure!”

The Chin added: “What a way to end the year. Tadhg has improved immensely since joining The Stable, and I can’t wait to see what he has in store in 2022. Very well done, buddy.” 

The Stable News put an emergency call through to Coach Stazza, sitting in first class aboard his Emirates flight to Kenya, for some rambunctious repartee fuelled with pinot noir: “Tippy toed Tadhg danced through the street, bided his time, an Olympian he did beat! Absolutely brilliant, TC. I hope the celebrations are over, as it’s time to get to work!”

Crowley has already served up a great run to kick off 2022, adding: “I followed up Newmarket with a 5K in Newtownshandrum, another North Cork village. On what was a wild and windy New Year’s Day, and over a hilly course, I was happy finishing 10th in 17:17. Now we’ll concentrate on a few 10-milers through the spring.”

Let’s hope that 5K speed carries over, and Tadhg takes a few more scalps over 10 miles.