It only takes a second for Patterson to retain his title!

A brief report on a quiet week by Bogusboy

The exploits of the ever-youthful Jim Patterson have been well documented in recent weeks in this column. There are few other sports where an athlete aged 70+ would make the headlines so regularly. Building on his great success in winning the World M70 Masters’ Mountain Running Championships a few months back, the inform veteran struck gold again as Northern Ireland secured an impressive haul of individual and team medals at the British and Irish Masters International Cross County in Derry at the weekend. Jim has enjoyed a stellar year and has been in magnificent form in both the mountains and the country. On Saturday, over what was described as a ‘proper XC course’, he retained the title won last year in some style. Having said that he was forced to work all the way and defeated Peter Giles of England by the slender margin of one second. However, one second proved to be enough and the history books will forever record Patterson as the winner of the race. Jim also led the Northern Ireland team which included Tony Gray and David Seaton to third place overall and a place on the podium.

Co Down 5k
On Sunday over 150 athletes took to the streets of Downpatrick for the inaugural Co Down 5k Championships. In advance the course was billed as a fast one and it certainly did not disappoint. Karl Shiels was the winner of the men’s elite race in 14:31, while Laura Graham secured a new PB in winning the ladies race in 16:27. 13 athletes broke the 17 minute barrier and a further 8 were home before 18 minutes were showing on the clock. Results like these will only help this new event grow in the years ahead. Hopefully next year a few NAC vests will be in the ranks of the speedy finishers.

Seeley Cup 10k
Next weekend sees one of the ‘must do’ events in the NI running Calendar, The Seeley Cup organised by Willowfield Temperance Harriers and Athletics NI. The entry is capped at 1000 and this was reached weeks ago as the cream of the talent from the length and breadth of the 6 counties and beyond gather for what is traditionally regarded as the signature 10k of the year. With fast times assured – last year an incredible 260 athletes broke the magical 40 minute barrier, including 14 of the 20 NAC athletes taking part – there is always a depth of talent on parade, with the big Belfast clubs engaging in a fierce battle for annual bragging rights. This year there are 30+ NAC athletes registered, necessitating an even bigger bus than usual to fill with ‘maybes’. Let’s hope they all make it to the line and that no-one stubs a toe whilst emptying the washing machine during the week! Full report next week.

Castlewellan Christmas Cracker 2017
It’s selling out as fast as Pater Kay at the SSE Arena! Last year the race sold out well in advance and 555 teams completed the course on the day, beating the record finishing number of 426 from 2015 by some considerable margin. This year there are 600 team places available, but almost 500 of these are already gone and the event is sure to sell out – probably before this article hits the newsstands and Norman Mawhinney has had the chance to rush out and buy one! Once again a record number of teams will take to the start for the 34rd Castlewellan Christmas Cracker pairs’ race on Saturday 30 December. The market town will be awash with colour as 1200 competitors, many of whom will ‘dress for the occasion’, take to the streets. Ciaran Og Mussen in reduced the pressure on himself in 2016 agreeing to run in fancy dress – he was quintessential elf – ‘sure they don’t expect you to win if you look daft’! The race has grown exponentially since it was taken over by Newcastle AC and relocated to Castlewellan in the early ‘noughties’ and remains one of the most unique and popular races in the annual ANI calendar. Building on the success of previous years, there are more mixed teams and more all-female teams. I recall clearly the 2004 race when there were 54 teams finishing. This stands as irrefutable evidence of the amazing popularity of running at present and the desire among athletes of all abilities to get out there and compete. For some it will be to win a category or record a fast time, while for others it will be the joy of finishing and the sense of accomplishment that comes from simply being able to say, ‘I did it and have a medal to prove it.’ This year the organisers have commissioned a bespoke medal to entice those with a penchant for bling.

Castlewellan parkrun
The success of parkrun is monumental. It is a worldwide phenomenon, attracting runners, joggers and walkers of all abilities to complete a timed 5k on a Saturday morning. Castlewellan parkrun began on 23 September this year and to date 1238 different participants have completed the course at least once. Adding all the run times of all the runners equates to 56 days, 18 hours, 31 minutes and 58 seconds of running and provides clear evidence that this is an event for the community that is actively supported by the community. Moreover, ‘parkrun tourists’ each week make a contribution to the town’s economy, availing of the local services on offer. Most importantly, in an age of financial prudence and careful husbandry, parkrun is free – you simply need to register once online and print a barcode that can be used as often as you like, anywhere in the world where there is a parkrun. Hopefully this will encourage a few to join the fastest growing show in town!