Hanna superb at European Mountain Racing Championships

Happy at the Finish of the 2018 European Mountain Racing Championships in Skopje, FYR Macedonia.

Today (Sunday 1 July 18) in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (just north of Greece) the European Mountain Racing Championships took place in Skopje the country’s capital. The day dawned bright and sunny, just like the unusual summer we have been having in Ireland this year for a change. With temperatures in the shade officially at 26C, it was much like the Irish runners had recently been used to at home and they were in luck as 38C in the shade is forecast in Macedonia for later this week. 

The Men’s race was over two laps of the technical course, much of it in forest and much of it steep – 10.9km in all and 2,400 feet of climbing (similar to sea level to top of Commedagh but in two stages). There were four runners in each national team with 3 to count towards the team score. Local Newcastle & District AC runners (with the emphasis on the ‘District’) Zak Hanna (from the slopes of Slieve Croob near Dromara) and Seamy Lynch (also living on the top of a hill, this time in Rathfriland) made up half of the Irish team with Hanna back to try and improve on his 53rd place from Kamnik in Slovenia last year and Lynch on his 55th from Arco in Italy in 2016.

There was no holding back Hanna who was out of the starting pen like a whippet and could be seen on the livestream on the early slopes well in the top half of the 78-strong field. He reached the first summit (2.4km into the race) just inside 15 minutes and in 25th place, around 60 seconds ahead of the next two Irish runners Mark Ryan and Lynch, who arrived at the summit together. At end of lap one, Hanna hadn’t slackened and had maintained his lead over his compatriots and started into the second climb of the peak in 21st place. There was no holding him back now as despite the hurt and pain he reached the summit in good shape and hurtled back down on the 3km run to the finish.

Hanna had the race of his life making the top-20 in Europe coming home in 19th in 51:45 – a fantastic 34 places better than 12 months ago. Hanna is a man of great natural climbing talent having spent his formative years competing on the bicycle. Now for the past 18 months or so he has been consistently doing the work to put in a ‘running base’ to support his climbing ability and he got his rewards here today – congratulations and much more to come. Behind him Ryan was Ireland’s second scorer in 39th place in 54:16. Lynch had valiantly tried to hang onto to Ryan but just hd to let him go on the second climb coming home in 44th place in 55:30 – marginally disappointed but an 11 place improvement on his performance in 2016.

Ireland finished 11th team out of 18 finishing teams – a solid performance. More information can be found at http://www.emrch2018-skopje.com.

Report by Bogboy

VIDEO – Hanna nearly takes a tumble near the summit of the final climb

Newcastle Junior Athletics compete at the Mary Peter’s International Meet

Holly Colhoun and Calum Cope both competed in Primary Girls / Boys 60m sprint events, which featured young athletes from across the Province.  Holly finished the girls’ race in an impressive 10.66s, while Calum took first place in his race, recording a time of 9.85s.

Both Holly and Calum were delighted to be invited to attend by Athletics NI, rounding up another successful season for the Newcastle Juniors.

Newcastle AC represented at Lisburn Half Marathon and 10k

The Lisburn Half Marathon and 10k on the last Wednesday of June have become increasingly popular events and attract large crowds of athletes of all abilities. The hot weather did not deter those in search of a fast time or those looking to wear the t-shirt and tell their friends that they completed the course.

A small number of Newcastle AC athletes made the trip to join the masses on the start line. In the Half Bob Brown recorded an impressive 1:31:36 on a course that is contains a few deceptive climbs. He was closely followed by Lorna Cunningham who took almost 3 minutes of her Newry time set a few weeks back. She ran a measures race as always and showed perseverance, resilience, determination and discipline for the first 11 miles before ‘giving it a lash’ in the last two. Her time of 1:37:56 is testimony to the benefits that invariable accrue from a structured training regime that incorporates cardio training and muscular endurance work.  Clare McStravock was on pacing duty and had the task of coaxing John Curry around his old stomping ground. Clare had to hold back the autograph hunters who were relentless to get the initials JC inscribed on their hearts. All went according to plan and the pair crossed the line in 1:58:14. John was most appreciative of the fact that Clare sacrificed her own chances of a much faster time to support him.

Ten minutes after the half marathoners departed the 10k athletes were on their way. Newcastle’s Sinead Murtagh is one of the in form NI lady athletes. She continued her recent success with a 3rd place podium finish in a very impressive 38:04. This comes on the back of wins in the Newry Half and Mourne Way Mountain Marathon in recent weeks. No doubt she will be on the start line in the Comber 10k this Friday. Gerard McAuley continued his much anticipated comeback with a very respectable 41:34. He was well pleased with’ his performance saying, ‘my wee legs went as fast as they could.’ Hugo Rodgers made a rare racing appearance and recorded 47:33. It is great to see Hugh out again racing in the red and yellow.

Report by Bogus Boy

Hill & Dale Series 2018 – Race 10

Race 10 Results

Race 10 Photos by Paul Fegan

Report by members of Newcastle AC

McCambridge shows the future is in good hands

Incredible as it may seem, the 10th and final race of the 2018 Hill and Dale series took place in sun-baked Donard Forest on Friday 22 June. With the major prizes already decided, the traditional season closer had the feel of the final day of the Tour de France. Admittedly, there was no champagne on offer at the outset, but there was a carnival atmosphere among the 243 competitors and the large crowd of spectators. The major talking point of the evening focused on whether the race the race would be over before the spectators would be eaten alive by the millions of midges that always turn out to support the event. Frank Morgan was observed to be smelling rather sweet and it was soon revealed that he had purchased a new repellent from Avon. This proved to be a most welcome improvement on his usual scent; a bottle that Maura won at the bingo in Ballykinlar in 1976!


The ‘Director’s Cut’ leaves no stone unturned

This is a night of tradition. There is the traditional distribution of prizes to those who have completed the series (and the insulting of those who have not and chance their arm in the hope of landing a coveted t-shirt!), the traditional presentation of the prizes to the various category winners and the traditional donating of all race fees to charity. The other long-standing tradition is the organising of the event by the long-standing club treasurer and Hill & Dale stalwart Mr Damien Brannigan. Anyone who knows this fine upstanding citizen will testify that he leaves no stone untenured in his meticulous preparation and is epitomised by the oft-used adage ‘the devil is in the detail’. Regrettably this year the race Director was unable to attend. Needless to say this did not prevent him from planning the event to the ‘nth’ degree. He found a suitable stand-in in the form of Deon McNeilly and provided his substitute with a list of instructions that were second to none. Regrettably space her does not permit the sharing of the missive, but suffice to say McNeilly was left in no uncertain terms about what needed to be done, by whom and at what time. McNeilly was so impressed that he is considering this being the blueprint for all future Hill & Dale races. The level of detail was so thorough that McNeilly was even able to get his cous cous served at the most ambient temperature when he returned home and began the task of constructing a late, yet nutritious supper! Continue reading

Athletics NI Startrack

2018 Summer Camps! Learn to Run, Jump and Throw & have great fun!
Startrack is Athletics NI’s flagship grassroots athletics programme, aiming to give 8 to 15 year olds real athletics experiences and help them to develop skills. There will be an Athletics camp – multi-event activities including sprints, jumps, throws and an Endurance running camp.

Endurance Camp @ St Colmans Track, Newry – July 25th-26th
Athletics Startrack @St Colmans Track, Newry – August 14th – 16th
Endurance Camp @Down High, Downpatrick – August 1st -2nd
Athletics Startrack @Down High, Downpatrick – August 27th – 28th

For more information visit https://athleticsni.org/Fixtures/StarTrack or email michael@athleticsni.org