The report that almost never happened
by Joe McCann
When it was hinted that there may not be a report on the antics of the athletes of Newcastle this week, a wave of horror reverberated among the club members and information arrived in steady stream in the hours that followed. Perhaps it may be best in future to say nothing and plead ignorance when publication day comes and nothing appears! So what follows is a round-up of the racing, training and general mischief in the last two weeks.
Larne Half Marathon
As the spring dawns the cross country seasons draws to a close and the spikes are cleaned and packed away for another year the focus turns to the roads. In preparation for the many spring marathons on offer athletes take to the tarmac, pounding the roads as they ready themselves for the arduous challenge of 26.2 in the marathon. Two of our finest, Mark Kendall and Brendan Donnelly, availed of the opportunity to get some good competitive road miles in by competing in the Larne Half Marathon on 19th March. The course is tough; hills are plentiful and there is always a headwind to further sap the energy on the final three miles along the coast back into the town. Both men ran very well. Mark’s 1 hour 24 minutes, while a little slower than he had hoped for, sets him up well to get close to the excellent 2 hours 51 he achieved in his debut over the distance in Dublin last autumn when he takes to the streets of London (I can almost feel a song coming on) in April. Brendan’s time of 1 hour 28 evidences the great strides (pardon the pun) that this young man has taken this year. He has paid careful attention to the many words of advice that have been poured out and has trained with greater purpose and consistency than ever before. It will only be a matter of time before he achieves his goal of a sub-3 hour time. We wish both men the best of luck as they compete in London and Belfast respectively.
Junior success at Primary Schools’ Cross Country Championships
Well done to all our junior club members who competed valiantly for their respective schools at the Down District Primary School Cross Country Championships at Delamont Country Park on Friday 25th March. Off first at 11.15am were the girls: In a fast and furious race Rachelle Connelly finished 5th, Michaela Quinn 6th, Sarah Dougherty 7th, Lucy Kenneally 27th, Jenny Drummond 33rd, Orla McGarrity 38th, Cleona McCaratan 41st and Marie-Claire McVeigh 69th. At 11:30am the boys set off: racing in a highly competitive field, Ross McCrickard finished 17th, Caolan Hawkins 22nd, Ruairi Carey 26th, Gabriel Corrigan 27th, Josh Faulkner 28th, Tom Rodgers 45th, Patrick Murray 47th and Jack Lenny 50th. All Childrens’ Integrated PS won the girls team race and have qualified for the regional final.
Junior athletes have enjoyed a two week break from training as their coaches prepare for the outdoor programme of activities. Full junior training resumes at 7pm on Monday 4th April. All athletes are reminded to make sure that they bring suitable clothing and footwear for outdoor training as April evenings can be chilly.
A week of intense and enjoyable training
There was something for everyone this week with a highly varied programme of training to suit the needs of all. On Monday a large group led by Audie McVeigh had a reconnaissance run over the ‘McVeigh Classic’, the traditional first race in the Hill and Dale series. On a splendid evening a group of around 20 athletes were reminded of the challenges posed by the climbs up the ridge and to Fox’s Green. Having said that the posse were in good humour until one or two who will remain nameless caught a whiff of their dinner and made a bolt for home. Harsh words were exchanged at the end and a few went home ashen faced! Obviously they were not too easily offended as many of the same group joined the traditional Tuesday session from the Newcastle Centre. This week the session was 1 mile efforts; our newest recruit Colin showed great promise and performed really well over the 4 reps. Kendall’s legs had obviously recovered from his walk, I mean run, at Larne and as usual he was absolutely flying. A smaller number ventured out on Wednesday evening to check out the Slieve Bernagh course that would be the next round of the NIMRA Championship on Saturday. Eugene and Audie were allegedly holding hands as they came over the top of Meelmore. Then came Thursday and the third race preview of a forthcoming race in a single week. A group of around 30 including a few Fontenoys and some waifs and strays from Murlough AC departed for a leisurely 5 mile trot around the course designed by Morgan & Quail (sounds remarkably like a name one would associate with a firm of architects, lawyers or accountants – nothing could be further from the truth). I am told that the course ‘undulates mildly in places’, the italics reminding readers who may complain after participating that this is not my description of the course!!! Friday saw the 5.15pm club enjoy their usual jaunt around Tollymore. Saturday may be a day of rest for most, but for me it is an opportunity to catch up with my good friend Damien. Our conversation this week focused on Lenten sacrifices: when asked what he had given up, he thought long and hard before replying with a single word, ‘jam’. The week ended with a 2 hour Sunday run that went from Donard Park to the saddle, along the Brandy Pad to the Hare’s Gap, along the Trassey Track to Tollymore and back for tea and scones and ponderous reflection on the week that was.
The Slieve Bearnagh round of the NIMRA Championship took place on Saturday 26th March and was organised by Mourne Runners. The race was dominated by the host club and Stevie Cunningham in particular. David McNeilly was the best placed of the Newcastle athletes in 11th place. This is a fine performance for a runner who has only resumed training. David was closely followed by V50 winner Dominic McGreevy in 13th. Barry Wells won the V45 in 18th place and Jim Patterson was the leading V60 in a very respectable 19th overall. Jim obviously tumbled out of bed late on race morning and forgot to pack his club vest, preferring to run in rather unfashionable regalia. Patrick Bradley and Eugene McCann battled hard for 24th and 25th places with the former emerging victorious. Anne Sandford, Newcastle’s leading lady in the fells continues to run well and won the LV45 category, claiming 29th overall. Notably absent from the proceedings was Deon McNeilly: the ‘big fella’ is recovering from an operation and has been out of action. We wish him a speed recovery and look forward to his continued inspirational leadership to his club mates. In a case of mistaken identity this week Deon was out for a hobble as he recovered. A few passers by in recognising the style were heard to shout, ‘Well Marty, how’s it going’?
Our separated brethren
In typical Newcastle AC style you do not have to be living in the district to be a mover and a shaker within club circles. Our Scottish branch of the club have become particularly vociferous in recent weeks, with one particular member finding fault with the hard work of his mates on this side of the Irish Sea. We send ‘Wee Jocky’ our best, congratulating him on his fine result last Tuesday, confident that he buys his Mourne Observer every Wednesday in Glasgae! Last week also witnessed a quick visit from Alan ‘the flying Scotsman’ Strachan, a re-branding imposed by his new running mates in Sweden. Big Alan is currently preparing for the London Marathon in sub-zero temperatures and found the conditions in Newcastle last weekend positively balmy!
Leitrim 5 Mile road race is only a week away
Liatroim Fontenoys GAC, in association with Newcastle AC, is proud to present the inaugural Leitrim 5 mile road race & 2 mile fun walk/run on Saturday 2nd April 2011. Nestled between Castlewellan Forest Park and the Dromara Mountains in stunning surroundings, this new 5 mile road race offers elite athletes, age group competitors and fitness runners a different, challenging course in a unique, scenic and small village setting. The race is sponsored by: McGrady Financial Services, AJC Electrical, Mourne Fresh Foods, Smyth’s Centra, Fresh Food Centre, Up & Running NI, and Dolmen Park residents Leitrim.
The 2 mile fun walk/run starts at 1pm with the main event, the 5 mile road race at 2pm. Both events start at Fontenoy Park on the Backaderry Road. This is the perfect race for anyone in marathon preparation, 10k road race mode, honing their form in anticipation of the Hill and Dale race series or simply enjoying running for fitness. The minimum age for the 5 mile race is 16 years old. Teams of four from local sporting clubs are encouraged to compete in the 5 mile road race and represent their club. Meanwhile the 2 mile fun walk/run offers an opportunity for the whole family to get out and enjoy the challenge, taking in the locally well-known Leitrim mile. Entries will be taken on race day from 12 noon: 5 mile Road race: Registered Athletes: £7, Unregistered Athletes: £8 & Club Teams of 4: £25. Fun walk/run: £3 / Under 10s FREE / Family Group (4 members or more) £10. There will be secure changing and shower facilities and hot food and refreshments will be served after race. We look forward to a great event that is well supported by local clubs and the local community.