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

Club Notes 11 December 2018

  1. Saturday 15 December has been declared a NAC parkrun day for senior and Junior members. Please come along to the event at Castlewellan Lake for a 9:30am start. Please wear your club vest or t-shirt. This will begin our Christmas party celebrations! Entry is free and if you are not registered, please do so in advance by visiting the parkrun UK website and then print your barcode. It is also a pacer week in Castlewellan this week with dedicated pacers running odd numbers between 19 and 29 minutes.
  2. Christmas dinner will be served in O’Hare’s at 7:30pm sharp on Saturday 15 December.
  3. The club handicap is on Tuesday 18 December – meet at 6:30pm at the Newcastle Centre. Please sign up at tonight’s 8 x 800 session or email Joe McCann (mccann_joe@hotmail.com) if you are taking part. There will be refreshments after in BASE to mark some birthdays around that time.

London Marathon 2019 – Club Entries

At the closing date of last Sunday, 18th November, there were 2 applications with supporting evidence for the 2 club entries to the London Marathon 2019. Therefore, there is no need for a ballot this year.

Congratulations to Jonny Crutchley and Philip Murdock on their successful applications and good luck in London next April.

Congratulations to Ryan Forsyth

News from Stateside…

On Saturday (17th November) with temperatures at zero degrees and early winter snow on the ground in Madison, Wisconsin, Newcastle & District AC’s Ryan Forsyth took part in the NCAA Cross-Country Champs – a championship race he would be doing for his final time.

Ryan is number 444 in the Colorado vest on the left – eyes closed but clearly not asleep…

During the past summer, Forsyth, who has grown up in Maryland but who’s mum’s family hail from near to Comber, spent a few weeks in County Down, as he had done during many summers before, escaping the searing heat of the US summer on the farm in fertile Comber Spuds territory. As well as exploring Castlewellan and Tollymore Forests, Murlough Reserve and the beach plus the ‘going away’ (very) speedy pints in O’Hares, Ryan won the Irish 5000m title in a 14:30.78, from Ethiopia’s Hiko Tonosa by 1/100th of a second in one of the most exciting races of the Championships. Earlier in the season, in April, he had set a lifetime best over 5000m of 13:41.19 in Stanford, California. Continue reading