Newcastle AC Training Update


Update 9 July 2020

There have been a few enquiries regarding formal Tuesday evening club training sessions recommencing.

Unfortunately, we will not be arranging formal training for the foreseeable future.

Under the current COVID-19 restrictions, members are able to train in small groups of less than 10.

Please refer to Athletics NI for up to date guidance at

Newcastle AC Committee

Hill & Dale 2020 Challenge


As published on our website last week, whilst lockdown has eased and we can travel to the hills again, the continuing restrictions on races have resulted in this year’s Hill & Dale Series being cancelled.

As promised, to help fill the void, the Series organisers have set up a free to enter five run challenge. The first 200 to complete will receive a 2020 Hill & Dale mug. In a typical year, back at the après-race in the pub, these mugs are much sought after. Please note, that it is only the first 200 to complete all 5 runs after the official start date and time that will earn the mug.

After the 200 are gone – there are no more and the decision of the organisers is final.

The runs selected are as follow.

  1. Binnian –  Summit – any starting point.
  2. Loughshannagh – Carn, Doan, Slieve Loughshannagh and Ott Summits any starting point
  3. Luke’s – Start/Finish Meelmore Lodge – Slievenaglogh – Luke’s
  4. Meels – Meelmore & Meelbeg summits any starting point
  5. Slieve Martin – Summit – any starting point

Runs to be published on Strava with public view entry to count – start date and time: 12:01am Thursday 9 July – finish time, when the 200 mugs are gone. 

Take usual precautions when running in the hills and park responsibly.

If no safe parking is available at your chosen run, please return another time.

Meelmore Lodge has pay and display parking £4 all day which includes a tea or coffee, start point for Luke’s and also suitable for the Meels.

Binnian can be started from Carrick Little track which also has pay parking available.

On completion enter dates you completed the runs here and you need to include the required information including a link to your Strava profile.

Link to Submission Form:

Mugs will be presented in Newcastle during October. Those successful will be contacted via email.

The best of luck and enjoy – all action photographs to the email address are welcome.

Hill & Dale Race Committee

Newcastle AC 2020 Competition Update


Newcastle AC Committee have discussed the 2020 H&D, Ford 5k, Mill Hill Mile, Slieve Donard and Christmas Cracker, after reviewing current advice on Covid restrictions and the lead time required to gain the various permissions.

Unfortunately, we have had to take the disappointing decision to cancel the 2020 Hill & Dale Series. Even back in 2001 we managed to get a few races done in the ‘foot & mouth’ crisis, but this is the first time that the series has been cancelled. There will be a ‘free to enter’ Strava Challenge over 5 races with the first 200 to complete it to receive a 2020 H&D mug, details to follow.

Unfortunately, the Ford 5K scheduled for 4 July is also cancelled.

The Slieve Donard Race has been going since 1945 and the 76th Edition will take place at MIDDAY Saturday 26th September 2020. Online Registration and Payment (no refunds) is mandatory, and spaces are limited to 150. Full information is available at the following link:

Unfortunately the Mill Hill Mile has been cancelled. The Christmas Cracker remains under review.

Club Coats

A number of people have been asking about ordering new club coats (an ideal Christmas gift for the one you love!). In the present climate, the best way to do this is by contacting the supplier directly. The details are as follows: Malachy Mullan (MJM Design) – 07934774693 – you can pay him directly and he will arrange delivery with you. The cost for a coat with club logo and initials is £44.

Hanna Sparkles again in the Italian Alps

Report by BOGBOY

After a successful racing weekend in Casto, northwest of Brescia, Dromara and Newcastle & District & Salomon athlete, Zak Hanna decamped Monday to Chiavenna in the Val Bregaglia, in the Italian Alps only 14km shy of the Swiss border.

He had built further on his reputation as a Vertical Kilometre specialist with a superb 2nd place in the Vertical Nasego just 35 seconds behind the Italian number one, Henri Aymonod. However, he had taken the scalps of world class mountain runners including 2019 World Cup Series, Scot Andy Douglas and Tim Beçan of Slovenia.

Like a kid in the playground and the sweetshop all at the same time, Hanna couldn’t resist running and jumping around all week exploring the steep sided valley where the mountains soar to nearly 3,700 metres (from only 350 metres altitude in the village of Chiavenna). At the same time, he knew he had to recover, so after the minimum of tapers (much reduced climbing on Friday and Saturday), he declared himself ready to do battle on Sunday morning.

Looking closely at the profile below tells a story – it looks a steady enough climb but it starts steep and goes on steep – 1,000m of climbing (from 352m to 1,352m above sea level – nearly 3,300ft) in only 3,030m of distance (less than 2 miles) – average gradient is 33% or 1 in 3 – now that’s steep. Continue reading

More PBs for Newcastle & District AC Athletes on the Road in this Strange Time

Report by BOGBOY

Since some club members ventured to Down Royal on 22 August for the ChampionChip Ireland series of road races coming out of lockdown there has been one common theme – autumn has been upon us. 7 weeks further on, the day was definitely autumnal with strong gusty winds, rain and the temperature not yet reaching 10C – but that didn’t stop some stalwarts putting their run of consistent training to the test.

Connaire McVeigh, Ashlene Mussen, GMAC, Ernie Hall, Niall Goodman & Frank Cunningham.

First up was the 5km with some back to try and improve on their recent performances and others putting themselves to their first test since lockdown.

Connaire McVeigh was a promising junior and produced a lot of good racing into his 20s and now he has turned 40 he has been contemplating ‘releasing the beast’ again and moving his running onto a different and higher level. Today he achieved that, coming home in 16 minutes and 26 seconds a massive 26 seconds inside his personal best – congratulations. Continue reading

Hanna Emerges as a VK Specialist in Italy

Race Report by BOGBOY

The Italians were worst hit at the beginning of the emergence of COVID-19 in Europe back in February. They emerged into the new norm and out of that they have managed to run a 2020 Italian Mountain Racing Series and Championship races.

Local Dromara lad, Zak Hanna, Salomon and Newcastle & District AC, arguably the best mountain racer of his generation used furlough to his advantage (see the ‘Furlough Pro’ on Fast Running increasing his weekly mileage to around 95 and alongside some significant climbing on the slopes of Slieve Croob, he never lost touch with his ‘top end’ with plenty of threshold sessions at the lake in Castlewellan.

In July he won the Lugnaquilla Mountain race in Wicklow by 8 minutes and got within 4 seconds of the legend John Lenihan’s course record. His first sortie to Italy was over the first weekend in August at the Piz Tri Vertical Kilometre in Malonno which included 1,000m of climbing in 2.5km and a 47% finishing gradient where he finished an excellent 3rd. The following day finished 5th in the Fletta Trail over 20km and 1,200m of climb and descent. Continue reading

Johnston & Dickson Victorious in the Slieve Donard Classic

Photos courtesy of Paul Fegan
Race Report by BOGBOY

Races have been hard to find since lockdown in March and despite how ‘lonely’ the mountains are and ideally placed for ‘social distancing’ mountain races locally have been few and far between. Last weekend the Mourne Mountain 2-Day took place with a key modification; each team of two had to bring two tents rather than the normal one.

It was a successful weekend with the weather to match and despite it turning colder, much colder for September, blue skies and wonderful sunshine greeted the runners in the 76th Annual Slieve Donard Race in Newcastle on Saturday.

In 1945, the locals came up with the idea of seeing who could be the fastest from sea level to the top of Donard and back. This tradition has been unbroken for 75 years and is currently under the guardianship of Newcastle & District AC. The recent calendar date has been May but that date passed with no race and also the older traditional date of July too. However, the club’s committee was intent of one way or another in getting this year’s race completed. Continue reading

NI and Ulster Even Age Groups Cross Country Championships

Subject to changes in COVID advice, please see link below regarding NI and Ulster even age groups cross country championships.

This is for under 10,12,14,16 and 18 age groups, and is open to everyone (members and race only).

With very few races taking place this year and numbers capped, it is likely to be a popular race, and entries will close when the limit is reached.

If anyone is interested in making up a team, we need a maximum of 6 athletes (minimum 4) in that particular age group.

If your child is interested in running please email ASAP and no later than Saturday 26th Sept @ 5pm. If we cannot get enough numbers for a team in your child’s category, you will be notified immediately and can still sign up as an individual. If you would rather not risk leaving it that long to enter then do get signed up immediately as an individual rather than missing out.

Hopefully all is explained in the link and it would be great to see a few Newcastle AC vests there on the day.