It’s a long way to Vaasa from Tullylish!

A synopsis of the last 7 days by Bogusboy

Kerry O’Flaherty represented Ireland on the track at the European Team Championships (ETC) only 6 weeks after picking up a calf tear during a 5000m on the track in Solihull. The ETC take place every two years and Ireland proudly participates in League, 1 competing against 11 other countries. The meeting took place in Vaasa, Finland north of Helsinki and at this time of year it doesn’t go dark. O’Flaherty finished 7th in the 3k Chase in 10:11, a time below her best but clearly on the road to full recovery after the injury. She scored 6 points for the team – more than some singers have amassed for Ireland in recent Eurovision Song Contests!!! Overall, Ireland finished 8th and retained its position in League 1 for the next championships in 2019.

Lisburn Half and 10k: The third Wednesday in June is traditionally the date for one of the best attended races in the calendar. First off at 6:45pm were the Half marathon runners, all 1297 of them. Best for Newcastle was Jack O’Hare in 44th place in a time of 1:27:20. Although this was slower than last year, times were down for most regulars due to the extremely hot and humid conditions which invariably sapped the energy of even the elite runners in the closing stages. Norman Smyth made a welcome return to competition and was rewarded with 84th place in 1:32:17. Wonderwall was next and was extremely disappointed with 130th place in 1:37:54. Regrettably he went out too hard in the first 5 miles and paid the price towards the end. He has vowed to improve and the forthcoming Ards Half on 30 June – watch this space. The final NAC athlete in the race was Joe McCann: entrusted with the task of pacing 1:45, he stuck to his task throughout running 13.1 steady miles and bringing a group home in just over 1:44.


Big numbers: The entry for the 10k was even greater than the half, with 2741 finishers. Seamus Lynch was in the mix throughout and ended up finishing 4th, the small matter of 18 seconds behind the winner James Annett (33:01). COLAC runner Chris Madden was second (33:06) and former Hill and Dale Champion Andrew Annett third (33:15). Newcastle also had Patrick Higgins finish 13th (37:47), Jonny Crutchley 53rd (41:15) and Mari Troeng (43:02).


World Trail Ultra Championships: Last weekend Ian Bailey represented Ireland at the World Ultra Trail Championships in Badia Prataglia, Italy.  Ian was Ireland’s top finisher again coming home 70th out of 300 in a time of 5:23:11.  He judged the pace well to move up from 99th at the half way mark.  The course was 32 miles and 2900m+ of climbing (just under 4 times the summit of Slieve Donard!) in the stunning Tuscan hills and was made tougher by temperatures in the low thirties.  The Irish men’s team finished 19th overall.  Ian’s next big race is the World Long Distance Mountain Champs at the Giir Di Mont in Premana on August 6th; a race that is 20 miles with 2900m of ascent on a steep and technical mountain course.


Tullylish 5k and 10k: Crowds were more modest for the Tullylish 10k and 5k. As is so often the case with Co. Down road races, hills were plentiful. This race was officially designated as a ‘toughie’. In the 5k Ronan McVeigh continued his rich vein of form and was first to break the tape in 18:41; impressive on a undulating track on a warm afternoon. Seamus Lynch made it a double for NAC when he romped unopposed to victory in the 10k event. Lynch’s time of 34:18 was highly impressive given his exploits in Lisburn and in winning the final Hill & Dale race at Drinahilly and the uncompromising and unforgiving nature of the course. Joe McCann was the only other athlete to make the trip to Laurencetown and had what can only be described as a ‘mare’, recording 43:11 for the 6.2 miles. Hen says that his penchant for buns is having a detrimental impact on his times!!!

Home and away: Further afield this weekend, Eoghan Totten, NAC athlete currently studying at Oxford University, competed over 5000m in the BMC meeting in Watford coming home in a season’s best 15:03, 11 seconds outside his PB. Closer to home, at the Irish Milers Club meeting at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast, Zak Hanna traded the mountains for 7.5 laps of the track in the 3000m coming home in 9:02, setting a track PB for the 3000m distance.


Racing ahead: This week many will fill the gaping void brought about by the absence of the Hill and Dale with some of the races on offer. There is a choice of two races on Wednesday with the Loughanisland 5.05m and the Drumlough 5m road races. Both are undulating and offer a good test. Zak Hanna won both races last year; he recorded 26:53 at Loughanisland and 27:22 at Drumlough, evidence that both races present a similar challenge. Later in the week sees the Ards Half marathon on Friday evening, with McCann and Wonderwall confirmed as ‘maybes’ and O’Hare a ‘definite probable’; Billy McNeilly is in the process of booking a bus on hearing that Damien Brannigan is also a name that is being touted as a ‘possible maybe’ – such is the level of commitment that Gerard Green is contemplating a return to training! I also saw some pigs with wings over the weekend!!!