A Bumper Summer Racing Week

Traditional summer has returned with torrential showers one minute and warm sun the next. Summer road racing season is in full flow and someone counted 9 races across the country over the weekend alone.

World Mountain Racing Championships (Premana, Lombardy, Italy – Sunday 30th July)
Sunday (30th July) saw the 33rd Edition of the World Mountain Racing Championships in Premana close to Lake Como in Italy. Dromara’s Zak Hanna (Newcastle & District AC) joined other local athletes Andrew Annett (Mourne Runners) and Esther Dickson (Newry City Runners) on the Irish team. Both the men and women’s races were over 2 laps with start and finish in the village – 13km and 860m or climbing (2,800 feet – similar climb as Donard from sea level and overall less steep).

On the eve of battle, Hanna (left), Annett at the back 7 in from left & Dickson in the middle with name card

After 76th in his debut at the World Championships last year in Bulgaria, Hanna has developed well as a runner over the past 12 months. This year he went in with more confidence and aiming to improve on his run three weeks ago in the European Championships. He ran a strong and probably the best race of his life to come home 3rd Irishman in 53rd (out of 104) in 64:37 (1st Irish Brian MacMahon 63:24 in 47th & 2nd Irish Ian Conroy 73:48 in 50th) with Annett 57th in 66:14.

Newry’s Dickson was 51st out of 68 in 84:17 in the women’s race.

O’Hare is comfortable in winning Downpatrick RGU 10k (Wednesday 26th July)
Eight NAC athletes were among the 94 starters on a damp evening in Downpatrick. With thunder and lightning coupled with heavy showers, it looked likely that the athletes would be in for the proverbial soaking.  However, by 7:10 the rain has eased and the skies had brightened to the extent that conditions were actually good for running. At the sharp end of the race, Jack O’Hare, James Savage (East Down) and Patrick Higgins were the early pace setters, galloping around the Downshire Estate at a considerable pace. At 1.5 miles things take a sharp turn upwards as the runners take on the climb up past the Cemetery towards Ballymote. Higgins led the way, but O’Hare canny as ever, sat in and let his mate do the work. The lead changed times a few times before O’Hare eventually broke free and showed good form to the line to win by 19 seconds. Savage stayed on well too and overtook Higgins who finished third. Kieran Morgan had an impressive run and moved through the gears seamlessly to finish fifth. He had over a minute to spare on McCann who was 7th, fractionally ahead of Cunningham who, like McCann, recorded back to back sub-40 minute times. DJ Normski Smyth, fresh from some sets on the continent and Spanish islands ran very controlled race and finished 12th.

Newcastle’s two ladies, Patricia McKibbin and Mari Troeng finished 23rd and 24th overall and 5th and 6th lady respectively, recording good times on a testing course.

Pos Time Cat Name Club
1 00:36:40 M40 Jack O’Hare Newcastle & District  AC
3 00:37:37 MO Patrick Higgins Newcastle & District  AC
5 00:38:20 M35 Kieran Morgan Newcastle & District  AC
7 00:39:38 M45 Joe McCann Newcastle & District  AC
8 00:39:45 MO Frank Cunningham Newcastle & District  AC
12 00:40:54 M50 Norman Smyth Newcastle & District  AC
23 00:43:01 F35 Patricia McKibbin Newcastle & District  AC
24 00:43:22 FO Mari Troeng Newcastle & District  AC

Castleblayney 10m Road Race (Saturday 29th July)
Saturday saw pleasant conditions for the Castleblayney 10m road race in Monaghan. Last year NAC managed to fill a bus of athletes and David O’Flaherty recorded a PB of just over 52 minutes in finishing second to Glaslough’s Conor Duffy. Duffy, coming off a sub-15 5000m on the track last weekend when finishing third at the Irish National Championships again dominated the race and was untroubled in winning in 53:42.

NAC had three runners making the pilgrimage to the stomping ground of the Nugent boys. Once again Connell was doing his best to get the best price for lambs in the market house as the race passed through the Main Street. Francis, however, was forced to compete in his first race since the Hill and Dale series ended a few weeks back. Jack O’Hare was, unsurprisingly, the first NAC home in 10th in 62:13 – averaging around 6:13 per mile for the undulating 10 mile course. In a reversal of Wednesday, Smyth got the better of McCann. Smyth (68:12) had around 20 seconds to spare, having caught his club mate at 6 miles and created an unassailable lead (McCann 68:31).

Jack O’Hare finishing in 10th overall, his GPS showing course was 3 metres long, displaying a skill learnt from Wonderwall (photo courtesy of Paul Fegan)

The trio were joined by Murlough’s Michelle McCann and Fionnuala Simons who were most impressed by the t-shirt and the blingy medal.

An NAC/Murlough Sandwich just before the gruelling 10-miler (photo courtesy of Paul Fegan)

Crossgar Harriers 10k (Saturday 29th July)
148 runners participated in the Kilmore Rec FC, Crossgar Harriers and Atlas Running jointly promoted 10k race on Saturday morning in fine conditions for running. Newcastle & District AC’s David O’Flaherty settled into the leading pack from the gun and followed Brian Kinsella for around 8km before showing the field a clean pair of heels to win in 35:08.

Eoin Farrell & James Miskelly Memorial 5k (Rostrevor Saturday 29th July)

As part of the Fiddlers Green Festival in Rostrevor, the Rossi (a local group of runners and cyclists) organised the 1st running of a 5k road race in memory of Eoin Farrell and James Miskelly who tragically died too young in a car crash. There was also a 5k Walk and money raised went to Cruse Bereavement Care, a fantastic local charity.

227 runners completed the 5k Race – all inside the hour. First home was NAC’s David O’Flaherty, fresh from victory earlier in the day at the Crossgar 10k, O’Flaherty sat in on the early climb up towards the halfway mark. Dermot Mathers (Running Coaches) set the pace alongside Willie McKee (Mourne Runners) and NAC’s Seamy Lynch (fresh from his 3-week honeymoon) was tucked in there too. As the race turned downhill, O’Flaherty made his bid for home and slowly pulled away from the group. He finished in 15:45, 21 seconds clear of McKee (16:06) with Lynch in 3rd in 16:23.

David’s sister Kerry dominated the women’s race coming home in 17:49 in 7th place overall. O’Flaherty had earlier in the week (Tuesday 25th) run just outside 10 minutes (10:00.85) in Karlstad in Sweden for 4th place, just two days after securing the Irish Steeplechase Title in Santry in Dublin.

Completing the family outing, 7-year-old Jamie O’Flaherty was an amazing 69th in his first ever outing over the distance in 24:06 (mile splits of 8:29, 7:31 & 7:20 shows he instinctively understands the meaning of negative splits even at this young age – take notice Eoghan Totten).

The Red & Yellows were well-represented with Francis Tumelty 13th in 18:52, Frank Cunningham 14th in 19:17, Stephen McNally 15th in 19:18, John Gilroy 28th in 20:43 and Stephen Graham 32nd in 20:55.

Out towards the top of the climb near halfway – McKee leads with Mathers, O’Flaherty and Lynch in close attention (picture courtesy of Dermot Winters)