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.

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.

McGrady Financial Services Junior XC Series 2019/2020 – Prizes

Newcastle AC Junior athletes recently received their trophies and prizes from the McGrady Financial Services Junior XC Series 2019/2020.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were unable to hold this year’s annual Prize Giving Evening.

Thank you to all athletes and parents/guardians for your participation and support throughout the series.

We would also like to take the opportunity to thank our sponsors, McGrady Financial Services Ltd, for their continued support of the series since its inception in 2010.

Bronze is the Colour of the Day at NI & Ulster Track Championships

Totten & O’Flaherty take bronze at NI & Ulster Track Champs

It’s certainly been an unusual year, exemplified this weekend with the NI & Ulster Track & Field Championships which would normally take place in June, rescheduled for mid-September due to well, no real need to spell out why.


Women’s 5000m

Two Newcastle & District AC athletes made the trip to the Mary Peters Track to compete in respectively the Woman’s & Men’s 5000m. First up was Olympian Kerry O’Flaherty, celebrating, if that’s the right word, one year since foot surgery to insert a screw to facilitate the recovery from a serious 5th metatarsal break caused by an unfortunate racing incident in a steeplechase in the south of Spain. Continue reading

Newcastle & District AC at the Races

Race Report by BOGBOY

The racecourse looked immaculate on Saturday morning as the runners arrived at Down Royal the morning after ‘the races’ (for horses), the evening before, for more ‘races’ (for humans) as part of the ChampionChip Ireland well-organised return to the tarmac, this time over 5k, 10miles and 10k. It had been two weeks since the last races and many Newcastle & District AC athletes were back in search of personals bests and, well, just a race.

Just like on the 22nd of August, it was clear that autumn was upon us with 11C to greet the runners and again blustery conditions – the wind is not the runner’s friend. However, again it was brilliant to see so many personal bests achieved and in one particular case, a landmark time, again testimony to consistent training over many months or indeed years.

First up was the 5km at 10am and two weeks ago, David McNeilly ran a PB of 16:09 and he came back to try and break the 16-minute barrier. He ran a well-paced race and another personal best, 16:06, any PB day is a good PB day, consolidating his improvement and he’ll be back for another go in due course.

Like a fortnight earlier, next clubman home was Niall Goodman who back then had been disappointed with his 16:53 just 3 seconds outside his PB. However, he put that all to right this time taking 9 seconds off his best recording 16:41 – a good step forward. Continue reading