Tales of the Unexpected

A preview of the 35th Castlewellan Christmas Cracker by Bogusboy

It sold out almost as quickly as Westlife and there have been calls for additional dates!  After long negotiations with key delivery partners, some additional places were made available by the race committee, making this the largest field in the events long established history.  Consequently, record number of teams will take to the start for the 35th Castlewellan Christmas Cracker pairs’ race on Saturday 29th December at 1pm. The market town will be awash with colour as almost 1500 competitors, many of whom will ‘dress for the occasion’, take to the streets. The race has grown exponentially since it was taken over by Newcastle AC and relocated from Comber to Castlewellan in the early ‘noughties’ and remains one of the most unique and popular races in the annual ANI calendar. Building on the success of previous years, there are more mixed teams and more all-female teams. I recall clearly the 2004 race when there were 54 teams finishing. This stands as irrefutable evidence of the amazing popularity of running at present and the desire among athletes of all abilities to get out there and compete. For some it will be to win a category (some individuals carefully select a partner to maximise their chances in an age category – all perfectly legal!) or record a fast time, while for others it will be the joy of finishing and the sense of accomplishment that comes from simply being able to say, ‘I did it’ and proudly wear the bespoke finisher medal.

 

What’s it going to be like?

The race itself is a multi-terrain event over approximately 8 miles (the distance depends on the benevolence of the course setter!) and is suitable for runners of all abilities and levels of experience. The course changes from year to year and this edition has been described as ‘plenty of opportunities for good running, a series of short and sharp climbs and a great advert for the stunning scenery of Castlewellan Forest Park’! With the Prophet involved, you can expect something a wee bit different. The Prophet was rumoured to be clearing forests, hanging gates and ‘making a straight path for the runners’ – surely he is taking the time of Preparation that is Advent just a little too seriously. Part of the tradition is that the Race Directors hold something back as a little surprise on the day. There have no ‘dry runs’ this year, but the men charge have reliably informed me that there will be an unexpected twist – or two! Continue reading

Everything is in place for the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker

A preview of the 34th Christmas Cracker race by Lotsamud

It sold out almost as quickly as Ed Sheeran! Additional places were added in a ‘Black Friday Sale’ on 8 December and they went within hours of release. At present there are 700 teams registered for this ever popular highlight of the Christmas holiday sporting calendar. Once again a record number of teams will take to the start for the 34th Christmas Cracker pairs’ race on Saturday 30 December. The market town will be awash with colour as 1400 competitors, many of whom will ‘dress for the occasion’, take to the streets. The race has grown exponentially since it was taken over by Newcastle AC and relocated to Castlewellan in the early ‘noughties’. It remains one of the most unique and popular races in the annual ANI calendar. Building on the success of previous years, there are more mixed teams and more all-female teams than ever. One recalls clearly the 2004 race when 54 teams finished. This stands as irrefutable evidence of the amazing popularity of running at present and the desire among athletes of all abilities to get out there and compete. For some it will be to win a category or record a fast time, while for others it will be the joy of finishing and the sense of accomplishment that comes from simply being able to say, ‘I did it.’ With bespoke medals proffered to all finishing teams this year, there is an extra incentive those on the hunt for a piece of unusual bling. Continue reading

The Greatest Cracker of Them All?

cracker2016-1

Photo courtesy of Mal McCann

Oh yes it was, oh no it wasn’t – pantomime season it is and after the heavy indulgences of Christmas and Boxing Days, the throngs descended on Castlewellan to run off some of the Christmas excess. The venue as ever was Castlewellan GAC – warm hospitality extended in all corners of the club, including music and imbibing promised to the wee small hours. To cater for the extra participants, temporary portable toiles were trucked in and money was put in the meter to ensure that there was warm water in the showers to clean off the caked mud – was it just mud? Continue reading