Hanna Storms to European Championship selection

Newcastle Athletics Club member Zak Hanna has been selected to represent Ireland in the upcoming European Mountain Running Championships which take place in the scenic Swiss town of Zermatt, at the foot of the world famous Matterhorn mountain.

Living on the slopes of Slieve Croob outside Dromara Zak travelled down to Wicklow on Saturday to compete in the trial race which would select the team to travel to Switzerland.

With this year’s race an uphill only race compared to last year’s championship being an ‘up and down’ race, runners competing in the trial would start at Crone Woods car park on the edge of the Wicklow Mountains and climb along the Wicklow Way trails before entering the open mountain and begin the long and steep ascent to the summit of Djouce Mountain at 725 m (2,379 ft) above sea level-similar to running from Newcastle to the top of Slieve Commedagh.

Zak summited Djouce in first place with a good gap over the second placed runner to add another Irish cap to his list.

Zak Hanna and Tony McCambridge

Two sub threes and three PBs – a good return for NAC at the VLM

A special report by Bogusboy

The Virgin London Marathon is one of the undoubted highlights in the annual running calendar. As one of the six majors (the others are Berlin, Tokyo, New York, Chicago and Boston), huge crowds flock to the capital for the annual 26.2 loop of one of the world’s most iconic cities. Logistically, it is work of genius that takes a full year to plan and it is increasingly difficult to get an entry with the revised qualifying times. Hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets in a carnival like atmosphere that inspires the runners to keep going, particularly in the later stages when the legs are tired and the glycogen stores become increasingly depleted. The enormity of the challenge is best summed up by the words of the Prophet who remarked that ‘it is a 20 mile warm up for a 6 mile race.’ This year he added to his repertoire of sage like comments with the well-crafted observation that ‘if you run like the devil for 20 miles, you will meet him in the last 6.’ Continue reading

British Championship Race Number 1

Saturday April 27th saw the first round of the British Championship take place in Newcastle. The race was meant to be the same as last year, the Mourne High Line, which starts at Spelga and makes it’s way over to Commedagh before finishing in Newcastle but unfortunately due to the weather and strong winds organisers were forced to change the course at the last minute. Frantic course marking took place throughout Donard Park and with all marshals in place the race was still able to go ahead on time. The route would be starting in Donard Park going along fire roads to the Granite Trail, a sharp ascent to get the legs going then over to checkpoint 1 at the upper bridge before following the Glen river path all the way to checkpoint 2 at the saddle. Checkpoint 3 was on top of Commedagh before returning the same way down to the upper bridge again where a fast finish along fire roads and trail took runners back to Donard Park. Continue reading

Newcastle AC Juniors at Firmus Fab Five Series

Newcastle AC Juniors attended the first meet of the Firmus Fab 5 Series at the Mary Peter’s Track on Thursday 11th April, taking part in 9 events collectively.

Calum Cope won his heat in the Under 13 Boys 100 metre race. Calum also came a commendable third in the Under 13 Boys Long Jump competition.

The O’Gorman family were out in force with Daire, Thomas and Aoibheann taking part in 7 events throughout the evening. Well done to Daire and Thomas who both took part in the Under 11 Boys Long Jump and 60 metre race. Aoibheann competed fantastically in the Under 13 Girls 100 metre race, 800 metre race and Shot Putt competition.

Thanks to Lagan Valley AC for hosting and organising such a great event. The remaining four meets take place on Thursday 25th April, 30th May, 27th June and 8th August. Further information can be obtained from the Athletics NI website: https://athleticsni.org/Fixtures/Firmus-Super-5-Series

Donard Commedagh

Saturday March 30th saw race 2 of the NIMRA championship take place in Newcastle, the classic Donard Commedagh route. Starting in Donard Park, runners have a free route choice to checkpoint 1 at Thomas’ Quarry, followed by a long climb to the top of Donard for checkpoint 2. A steep descent continues down to the saddle before climbing again to the tower on top of Commedagh, for checkpoint 3. From here, there is a narrow ridge leading to Slievenamaddy, then a slippery descent to the edge of Donard forest for checkpoint 4, a quick dash through the woods brings you back to the finish line. The section between checkpoints 3 and 4 is difficult to get right on a good day, and once again it proved decisive in many people’s race.

A trio of NAC led the charge to the quarry, Seamus Lynch, Zak Hanna and Mark Stephens, followed by Newry AC’s Kieron Kelly and then Timothy Johnston and Johnathan Scott, both of Mourne Runners. On the slopes of Donard, Hanna showed his superior climbing skills leading at the top by over 2 minutes, a lead which he held to the top of Commedagh. Although, it wasn’t raining, a cloud had parked on Commedagh’s summit, making it impossible to find the ridge without a compass bearing or good knowledge of the terrain. By the time runners were visible again at checkpoint 4, Lynch was now in the lead followed closely by Stephens then Hanna, with positions remaining the same to the end. Lynch took his 2nd win of the championship in 1:03:56, Stephens 1:04:25 and Hanna 1:05:29. Next home for NAC, having an excellent race, was Gary Mc Evoy in 6th place in 1:13:39 followed closely by a man who is making a return to the mountains after a short break, Colum Campbell finishing 8th in 1:14:26 and 2nd MV45. In hot pursuit was regular Fell racer, Pete Grant, finishing 9th in 1:15:25 and 1st MV50. A handful of NAC men followed, Sean Russell 19th in 1:22:28, Gerry Kingston 31st in 1:29:42 and 3rd MV55, Declan McElroy 32nd in 1:31:01, Barry Wells 41st in 1:36:04, Eugene McCann 1:43:01, Stephen Graham 2:02:35 after loosing a lot of places on Commedagh, and Nigel McKinney 2:11:31.

The ladies race was led by Megan Wilson and Mourne Runners’ Sarah Graham all the way to the top of Commedagh, before the mysterious fog sent both girls on a tour of the Mournes. This left the door open for Newry ac’s Esther Dickson, who expertly navigated her way to safety, taking the win in 1:15:33 and 10th place overall. 2nd place went to another great navigator, Lagan Valley’s Shileen O’Kane in 1:24:10 and 1st FV50. Finishing the female lineup was Omagh Harriers’ Ciara Largey in 1:25:34. Just missing out on the podium for NAC was Áine McCann who finished 4th in 1:33:25, followed by Mari Troeng 6th in 1:36:22, Paulette Thomson 7th in 1:38:26 and 1st FV45, Catherine McIntosh 2:02:15 and Bronagh McInerney 2:24:26.

There was also a prize for the fastest male and female going between Donard and Commedagh, generously sponsored by Hanna Bros. Taking the titles here were Seamus Lynch and Esther Dickson making it a win win for both of them.

When everyone eventually made their way off Commedagh they were well fed and watered by host club Mourne Runners. Race 3 of the championship takes place on Thursday May 2nd at 7:30pm, the H&D Binnian race.

Report by Hill Runner

Exciting news – Newcastle AC announces 3 Junior Hill & Dale races!

Last year we recognised the strange anomaly – that 15 year old athletes could compete internationally in Mountain Running, but there were no local races for them to train and compete in, before making this transition.

Newcastle AC came to the rescue and is allowing athletes aged 14 & 15 to compete in 3 races, to give them a flavor of our favourite series and help these young athletes prepare for full competition when they turn 16.

One of the races has been slightly shortened to comply with distance regulations for under age runners.

Junior athletes aged 14 or 15 at the time of the start of the Hill & Dale series will be able to compete in this mini series.

Junior athletes will start each race with the seniors.

The races are:-

Race 2 – Tollymore – slightly shortened race – 14 & 15 year old athletes will start with the seniors, but will turn at the boundary wall to join the descent route to the finish.

Race 4 – Binnian – 14 & 15 year old athletes will be able to run the entire uphill course!

Race 7 – Millstone – 14 & 15 year old athletes will be able to run the entire up and down course!

As an added bonus the N.Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) are offering the male and female winners of the series, a place on their International Squad for 2019.

NIMRA are also offering the male and females winners of the 16+ category a place on the International Squad for 2019 – however these athletes will have to complete 6 out of 11 races, just like the seniors (note – this only applies to athletes born in 2000, 2001 and 2002)

All junior athletes should comply with the same safety advice and equipment requirements of the senior athletes, but they will have the addition of a parental permission aspect that is included in registration – this will apply to all junior athletes.

This is particularly important at the Millstone race, where navigation can play a part in poor visibility.

At each of the 3 races, Phil Hodge will be available to answer questions that any new junior or parent might have about that nights race.

Please direct any enquiries in advance to philhodge@hotmail.com

Online Registration will close on Tuesday 9th April at 9pm, but will reopen after the 1st race is completed.

An athlete only needs to register once for the series.

Note – If an athlete is born in 2003 between Jan and April, they should contact Phil Hodge via the above e-mail in advance of Race 1 at Castlewellan.