A busy week for the Red and Yellows
by Joe McCann
There was certainly plenty of racing this week for the members of Newcastle AC. It all kicked off on Tuesday with the re-scheduled running of the annual club handicap. This event has been run every year, usually in the lead up to Christmas, and is always a bit of fun. An illustrious band has won the race, myself included on a dark night in 2000! The inaugural winner Mark King has moved on to greater things with Murlough, though his sense of running fashion has not improved over the years judging by the eclectic mix of clothing he sported when he joined the Friday run last week. Some have even won it twice. Some great runners, McNeilly, Brannigan, and McKibbin have never even come close.
McVeigh re-writes club history emphatically
However this year saw a new record with an unprecedented third victory for Marty McVeigh who romped home with over a minute to spare. Admittedly he did have a 13 minute start over Kendall and Brannigan, but as the victor rightly pointed out, it is all about who crosses the finish line first. Paul Fegan finished second and Libby Morgan ran very well to finish third. Brannigan and Kendall ran extremely well, both posting real times of less than 30 minutes. Audie McVeigh also had a strong run clocking just over 31 minutes for the 5 mile course.
‘A bus full of maybes’
As usual all the ‘maybes’ failed to turn up and the field was limited to ten. The prophetic Billy McNeilly once remarked that it was ‘easy to fill a bus of maybes’, hinting at his displeasure in the fact that Newcastle athletes are notorious for their late withdrawal. Ironically Billy’s wife Edna, currently in Australia, reads her club e-mails and phoned Billy to remind him that the race was on. Billy replied that he might turn and then in self-fulfilling mode duly stayed at home. Thanks to Frank Morgan and Paul and Andrew Watson who turned up on a cold evening to officiate. They ambled off to the Burrendale for some refreshments, but I notice I was not invited. This seems to be happening a lot lately.
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Another Extreme 26 – same outcome
Thursday night saw the next instalment of the Extreme 26. The outcome was as predictable as ever – McNeilly wins, Quail and McCrickard murder each other (this time McCrickard pipped his rival by a second), O’Flaherty continues to improve, McCann (no relation) runs well and they all live happily ever after!
‘Rodney’ sets a PB
Over the weekend Eoghan ‘Rodney’ Totten celebrated his 18th birthday in considerable style running an indoor PB and a lifetime best at the Welsh Indoor Championships in Cardiff. The Newcastle man ran 8:53:93 for 3000m, shredding an incredible 20 seconds of his previous best mark. His time earned him 13th place in the Senior Race, where he rubbed shoulders with some of the UK’s finest indoor athletes. This will certainly boost his confidence ahead of the Down Schools’ Championships this week at Delamont. Accompanying Eoghan on the trip to Wales was London 2012 hopeful and fellow Newcastle athlete Kerry Harty, who continued her fine indoor season with a fabulous second place in the Women’s 3000m in a time of 9:25, just two seconds outside her indoor PB.
Life is a rollercoaster
The week of competition was brought to a close by the Rollercoaster. Full details are available on the East Down website and in the report of my fellow contributor Joe Quinn. In summary there were notable performances from juniors Michaela Quinn and Sarah Dougherty who completed a 1, 2 for Newcastle in the P7 girls’ race and Conor Murray who finished third in the P4/5 boys’ race. In the Open race the best placed Newcastle was David O’Flaherty in 6th, competing for the second time in 48 hours. Similarly Eamon McCrickard ran strongly to finish 9th overall. Congratulations to all involved in organising the event. This is a unique event, challenging and enjoyable at the same time. Best of all was the sweet potato soup served at the end: it made the 25 furlongs of undulating terrain worth the effort. My aching legs were certainly revived by the quality of the post race fayre. To make matters even better I was offered a chocolate brownie by Philip Vint as I went to collect my gear. Was this a clever ploy to ensure that my plan to get fit and complete another marathon is thwarted? If so, then well done Philip, but the brownie was delicious! So all in all my time was slow, I took in more calories that I released, but it was all good fun. I look forward to being equally well fed at Jimmy’s 10k!
The weekend ended with the first 2 hour Sunday run of the year over some of the Newcastle Challenge Trail, followed by refreshments in a local café. In typical Newcastle fashion Brannigan did some of the run and failed to turn up for the food and Rodgers did none of the run but set a PB for scoffing a pancake stack. Both of these men need to look long and hard at their lives!! The last word this week goes to Brendan Donnelly who on seeing a runner in the distance as we approached Tipperary Lane exclaimed ‘is that Jack O’Hare’? The mystery man turned out to be Dave McKibbin, though he was not best pleased with the definite case of mistaken identity.