Christmas Cracker 2020 Update


It is with great regret that Newcastle AC announces the cancellation of the annual Christmas Cracker Pairs Race. Unfortunately, the health restrictions, which are in place for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, make it impossible for the club to safely manage the volume of competitors that normally take part.

We look forward to welcoming runners to Castlewellan for the 2021 Christmas Cracker.

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.

Christmas Cracker 2020 Update

It is with great regret that Newcastle AC announces the cancellation of the annual Christmas Cracker Pairs Race. Unfortunately, the health restrictions, which are in place for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, make it impossible for the club to safely manage the volume of competitors that normally take part.

We look forward to welcoming runners to Castlewellan for the 2021 Christmas Cracker.

Hanna at the Trofeo Vanoni Ends the Mountain Racing Season on a High

Race Report by BOGBOY

Trofeo Vanoni is a traditional late Autumn ‘end of season’ mountain relay race where each leg starts and finishes in Morbegno, Sondrio in the Lombardy Region of northern Italy. Over the years it has maintained a strong link with the Snowdon Race, welcoming a team selected from the front end of that race which typically takes place back in July.

Unsurprisingly, this year is different, no Snowdon Race and no Snowdon team at Vanoni. However, 25-year-old Zak Hanna, a Salomon and Newcastle & District AC athlete from the slopes of Slieve Croob was introduced to the Vanoni in 2016, when still a novice to mountain racing, he was invited to travel as part of an Irish team. He helped the team to 11th overall out of 143. Personally, he recorded 32:38 for his leg, 24th fastest and with 21:35 for the climb (12th fastest) and 11:03 for the descent.

Hanna was hooked, he loved the atmosphere, the buzz in the village set amongst the towering mountains and the love for mountain racing oozing out of everyone he met. He didn’t make it back in 2017, but in 2018 after a superb Snowdon Race in July he was invited as part of the ‘Snowdon select’ and helped the team to a great 2nd place behind a strong French team and ahead of the top Italians. It was a wet day and times were slower but he still managed an improvement of 32 seconds from a couple of years earlier and 13th fastest overall (32:06 with the 9th fastest climb of 21:42). Continue reading

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