Podiums galore as Newcastle AC impress at events in Ireland, Spain and England on a very busy weekend of racing.

A round up by Bogusboy
Newcastle & District AC athletes had a very successfully weekend in a variety of different events on the fells, in cross-country across the continent and on trails closer to home. The rich diversity of competition available at this time of the year and the eclectic bunch of runners that make up NAC means that there is usually someone off to some unusual and far-flung event most weekends, making it almost impossible for any scribe to keep on top of who is running what and where! Apologies to those who may have competed in Azerbaijan or the Democratic Republic of Congo who have unintentionally been omitted!!!

UK Challenge in Milton Keynes
First up was Eoghan Totten at the UK Challenge Cross-Country in Milton Keynes on Saturday. Totten is preparing long-term for his marathon debut but has been in a rich seam of form recently running the 3rd fastest leg at the NI & Ulster Road Relays in Victoria Park (through 3000m in 8:32) and following up the next day with a victory in a fast 50:32 at the Armagh 10. In Milton Keynes he showed that this form continues with a very creditable 8th place (31:02 for the 9.5km in undulating and muddy conditions) against the likes of Olympian Andy Vernon. Next up for Totten will be the Irish Championships in Abbotstown in Dublin in two weeks with the aim being to make the Irish team for the European Cross-Country Championships (EuroCross) in Slovakia in December.

Burgos XC in Spain
Newcastle AC club mates Kerry O’Flaherty and Zak Hanna were in action at the prestigious International Cross de Atapuerca in Burgos, Spain earlier today In Burgos at the Cross de Atapuerca on Sunday at the IAAF World Cross Challenge Permit Meeting (the first of 6 in the season) in the heart of Spain, Zak Hanna, fresh from 3 weeks training at altitude at Font Romeu in the Pyrenees, was going well before a stone lodging inside his spikes generated a large blood blister – he came home in 30:13 for the 9km distance and he will look to build on this at the Irish Championships in his bid to make the U-23 team for the EuroCross. The race was won by Molla Getaneh (Ethiopia) in 24:35

Also racing in Spain was Kerry O’Flaherty, over 8km – in her sixth outing at this meeting, she recorded her best ever finishing position of 15th in 26:50 around 20 seconds inside her best ever over the course. This was 37 seconds behind former European Cross-Country Champion, Fionnuala McCormick, who was in 5th place, and 29 seconds behind Scottish runner and Olympian Steph Twell in 6th place. O’Flaherty will now look to the Irish Championships to try and secure a place on the team for EuroCross. The race was won by Ethiopian Senbere Teferi in 25:21

Uneven XC Championships in Donegal
The weekend finished in Stranorlar, County Donegal, where Patrick McNiff competed in the Ulster/NI U-19 Cross-Country Championships. He recorded his first ever provincial title coming home in 22:00, 5 seconds ahead of City of Derry’s Fintan Stewart and 9 seconds ahead of North Down’s Craig McMeechan. The course was described by Patrick as ‘the muckiest he has ever run’ – having registered a brilliant 2nd last month at the Comber Cup Cross-Country against senior opposition, he clearly loves the mud and he sat in today for much of race before demonstrating his devastating kick to romp home and secure the title. Patrick will be looking to the Irish Championships as well to try and secure a place on the Irish U20 team for the EuroCross. At the same event, Eve Kenneally took part in the NI & Ulster uneven age group cross country championship. She ran hard on the very muddy 3000m course, finishing 17th in a time of 15.01. She has qualified as part of the Country Down team for the All-Ireland championship which takes place in Waterford on 17th December.

King of Gullion
Nine hale and hearty Newcastle AC athletes were among the 124 entries for the King of Gullion race. Newcastle’s David Hicks, a man in a rich vein of form, was at his imperious best as he recorded an impressive victory. However, he was made to fight every step of the way by his club mate, Colm Murtagh, who finished a slender 11 seconds adrift in second place. Owen Brady was an impressive and this was enough for the NAC men to comfortably take the team prize to add to the individual podium places.
Close on Brady’s heels and in an impressive 12th place overall was Mari Troeng who was crowned ‘Queen of Gullion’, a title previously held by her team mate Sam McNeilly. Troeng has been spending a lot of time in the mountains recently and this certainly paid dividends today. Stevie Rice had a great run to finish 15th, while Declan Magee was not too far behind him in 21st. Nigel McKinney is back training and enjoying his running again and will see his 35th place as excellent progress. Next home was Harry Russell in 40th place – finishing three places higher than his age! Gary McIlhennon is another finding his running legs again and knows that substantial gains will accrue form regular attendance at club sessions – running session that is!!!

Position  Name Time
1 David Hicks  00:45:15
2 Colm Murtagh  00:45:26
10 Owen Brady  00:57:00
12 Mari Troeng  00:58:08
15 Stevie Rice  00:59:08
21 Declan Magee  01:02:02
35 Nigel McKinney  01:06:54
40 Harry Russell  01:08:33
58 Gary McIlhennon  01:13:24

Extreme 26 races in Tollymore
On Saturday a variety of runners took to the line for the Extreme 26 events. With an Ultra, a marathon, a half marathon and a 10k on offer, there was certainly something for everyone. 59 took to the line in a testing ultra that was three laps of a course best described as ‘undulating’. A further 84 completed the marathon. NAC interest was in the Half (337 entries) where Noel Gallagher was around 10th overall in a time somewhere between 1:31 and 1:33. Ashlene Mussen had a fantastic run to come home 5th lady in 35th overall (1:41:06) and she was followed by Rita Devlin (56th – 1:44:24), Donna Daly (71st – 1:46:00), Lorna Cunningham (92nd – 1:49:29), Sinead Flynn (95th – 1:49:43) and Bronagh McInerney (155th – 1:58:33). Well done to all of the ‘Angels on their great performances: Heff is reported to be well pleased with these results. The final event of the day was the 10k and MNACs Shane King had a great run to win convincingly in a time just over 37 minutes.

Wonderwall collects a haul
Noel Gallagher left the horses and made his way to the Mary Peter’s Track to receive his reward for finishing second in the Pure Running Half Marathon Series. Noel was second to David Proctor in the V35 category and earned his coveted runners up spot having completed the mandatory 6 of the 10 races that make up the series. Noel was delighted, but is concerned that his haul of bling may cause back problems in later life if he continues to wear all of the medals on his after dinner speaking tour of Ireland, if such a tour ever materialises.

Lynch back in form
Seamus Lynch is back in the hills and is competing as well as ever. This weekend he on the final race of the season before Christmas, Powerscourt Ridge in the Wicklow Mountains. Lynch won easily and came close to the course record. He was joined by Eugene McCann who won the vet 50 category, Pete Grant who finished just behind Eugene and Paulette Thompson who ran strongly.