Newcastle AC Club Notes 1st May 2011

By Joe McCann
Hill and Dale Race 3

This week the high number of Newcastle AC athletes in the Slieve Martin race maintained the tremendous participation in the series to date, though there were a few notable absentees (more on that later!). In the continued absence of Deon McNeilly, who was this week’s race director, it was his namesake David who led the Newcastle challenge in a very credible 6th place overall in just over 36 minutes. Dominic McGreevy produced his best performance of the season thusfar to claim 10th place overall and in the process make in three consecutive wins in the V50 category. Mark Kendall performed very well in a race in which he always performs well to finish 14th, two places ahead of Audie McVeigh who was making his first outing of the series and giving his Newcastle AC vest its first taste of action. The vest was unavailable for comment after the race, but no doubt like its owner would have been brimming with positive comments about the race and the course. Newcastle’s adopted son from Hillsborough, Rich Bell, was next home in 22nd place and on the eve of the Royal wedding commented, ‘One was happy with one’s performance, so one was!’ His perpetual rival, the soft spoken Eugene McCann was next, 13 seconds behind and distinctly corybantic at the thought of another defeat to his eternal foe. John Kelly showed a great return to form; the popular magpie finished 33rd, not far behind PJ McCrickard was 31st. Barry Wells and Francie McAlinden also ran well to finish in the top 50. Anne Sandford again finished second lady to Shileen O’Kane and was first in her LV45 category. Laurence Hamilton made his first appearance of the season, and even though Marty McMullan was not there to run by his side, finished a highly respectable 64th.

Where were the others?

While large numbers of Newcastle AC athletes were noticeable by their presence at Slieve Martin, there were others who were equally conspicuous by their absence. Brannigan had gone on a ‘nuclear family holiday’, leaving the rest of the clan to broodily walk the streets of Newcastle, McCrickard was babysitting (I’m saying nothing more on that one as a warning has been issued!!!), Steele was in the delivery room (more on that later) and since he brought a note to that effect has been excused and Watson was in Portugal (when asked about the quality of the weather he replied, “I don’t know Joe, I cannae remember!” Let’s hope he remembers that he is the Hill and Dale Race Director this week! O’Flaherty’s absence is as yet unexplained, and remains the subject of an ongoing investigation by club detectives. No doubt all will be revealed in the next issue.

Testing times ahead for Eoghan

Newcsatle’s brightest young star Eoghan Totten has been training extremely hard in recent weeks. He informs me that he has been doing double runs on most days, complemented with some serious endurance sessions and extensive core work. He is now in the process of tapering down for a tough two race schedule, with less than 24 hours between them. Firstly he will compete in the Dublin 10,000 metre Championships in Irishtown Stadium Dublin on May 4th, aspiring to the European Junior Qualification Time of 31:30 (put in perspective this is sub 5 minute miling! and such a time would win most 10k road races). No doubt he will be keeping his fingers crossed that conditions are calm and that there are other athletes to share the work as he attempts to reach a standard that very few of his more senior club mates have only dreamed of. The next morning (May 5th) Eoghan will race the Down Schools’ 5,000m in Bangor, where he will attempts to run equally hard in pursuit of a medal; understandably his legs will be feeling the effects of the previous days’ exertion and the travelling to and from the venues, but he remains positive and upbeat about his chances of success. And if all of this were not enough, Eoghan only has the small matter of his A levels to contend with, a mere bagatelle by comparison to 31:30 for 10,000m! We wish Eoghan the very best in all his endeavours in the coming weeks.

Kerry’s Altitude Training in Font Romeu

Kerry Harty, as reported in previous columns has been altitude training in preparation for the track season. This week I caught up with Kerry to find out how her training has been progressing. Font Romeu is located 6,000ft up in the Pyrenees about 70miles west of Perpignan which Kerry has been using for the past five years as a training base for the summer track season and latterly the Euro Cross-Country Championships in December. The altitude training centre with its track was constructed in 1968 to help French endurance athletes prepare for the Mexico Olympics. It has been the summer altitude training base for Marathon World Record holder Paula Radcliffe for many years and she is out there at present training also. It was in fact Paula’s review of Font Romeu which first inspired her to come out here and give altitude training a try. At this time of year there is plenty of warm sunshine despite being at such a high altitude and the current trip has been very inspiring so far. As well as there being an Irish Endurance training camp including sub-2.02 runner 800m Rose-Anne Galligan, UK Athletics has a large squad of athletes out here with the likes of European Indoor 3000m Champion Helen Clitheroe, European Cross Country Champion (Under 20) Charlie Purdue and Steeplechase specialists Hatti Dean and Barbara Parker, so she has been in good company and getting great support on track when doing tough sessions. The first initial period has focused heavily on hurdle work in preparation for a planned Steeplechase debut at the Loughborough International towards the end of May. Also with me is current Irish Schools’ 1500m Steeplechase record holder Noel Collins from Omagh who has been helping with the barrier work as he prepares for his own outdoor season and the mounting of an attack on European U-23 Championship 1500m qualifying standard. Kerry even had time to have her picture taken with some random jogger!!! I attach a copy of Kerry’s training schedule to give an idea of the demands of training on full time athletes.

Day 1 • Easy morning run of 4miles in the forests. • Core work & a few weights just before lunch. • Easy evening run of 4miles in the forest trails at the lake.

Day 2 • Morning; 3mile warm-up run; hurdle walk over drills & hurdle technique (Steeplechase preparation); 2mile cool-down (5.5miles total) • Core before lunch. • Evening; 20minutes ‘tempo’ run at the lake including a 10min warm-up and cool-down (5.5miles total).

Day 3 • Morning; recovery run of 4miles in the forests. • Weights including cleans, squats, lunges and running arms with dumbbells & some core. • Evening; recovery run up at Font Romeu’s highest running spot (spectacular views) – 4.5miles.

Day 4 • Morning; 20minutes ‘tempo’ with 10minutes warm-up & cool-down at the lake (5.5miles) • Core • Evening; recovery run in the forests (4miles)

Day 5 • Morning; 3mile-warm up, hurdle work & drills & 2 miles cool-down (7miles) • Core & light weights (cleans & running arms) • Visit to the natural thermal baths to relax • Evening; recovery run at the lake (5miles)

Day 6 • First track session! • Morning; 16x300m (1minute recovery between reps) including warm-up, drills and cool-down (8miles). • Evening; recovery forest trail run (4miles)

Day 7 • Morning; long run 65 minutes just over 9miles round the lake and in the forests. • Evening off to relax at the thermal baths and get a sports massage.

Junior News

The second meeting of the Super 5 Track and Field series took place on Thursday 28th April at the Mary Peter’s Track. Nine Newcastle AC athletes competed. The experience this time was much better as the organisation had improved immeasurably and events all ran on time. Once again our athletes brought home medals. Four of our young male athletes took part; Jack Quinn, Eoghan Knight, Daniel Molly and Caolan Hawkins. Jack Quinn was the most successful and won bronze in the Boys U11 Long Jump competition, recording a best jump of 3.96m. Five girls competed; Ciara Gibson, Michaela Quinn, Laura Molly, Rioghnach McGuigan and Aine Rice. Rioghnach produced the best Newcastle performance of the evening won a bronze in the U11 Girls Shot Putt competition. Training resumes for all junior athletes at Shimna College on Monday 9th May.

A Right Royal Alternative

While many were glued to their television sets watching the final moments of the William and Kate extravaganza, the hardened runners of Newcastle AC were out training. Despite the fact that most (myself and Pockie excluded) competed at Slieve Martin the previous evening, nine had made the effort to meet for the traditional (even on Bank Holidays and Royal Wedding Days!) run at 5.15pm in Tollymore. As we wearily made our way up Azalea Walk after an hour of running in the balmy heat, you can only imagine our delight when we inadvertently met up with a bridal party. The happy couple, Mrs and Mrs Onifade from Bryansford Village were more than happy to let us pose for a photograph so that we could lay rightful claim to being part of a wedding on 24th April 2011. However I doubt if this photograph will ever fill the space above the fireplace in the Onifade home, due largely to the rings of sweat on the shirts and red faces of the runners! We wish the groom and his beautiful bride every blessing in the future. I wait with baited breath to see how the PR machine of Murlough AC could possible beat this, though of course they can assert their presence in the form of Mark King from Murcastle Athletics Club!

‘Luke’ing good

Luke McMullan, who is studying in Dublin, took part in the Bray Head Fell race organised by IMRA (Irish Mountain Running Association) on Easter Monday, finishing an extremely credible 19th overall in a field of 283 runners. The race was won by Tom Horgan in a time of 24:26. Luke can be very pleased with his performance and time of 28:21 and may impart some words of wisdom to brother Rory!


Well done to David and Maria Steele on the birth of their son Loclann. David reports that events at the hospital were more demanding than the Slieve Donard Race! Rumours abound that this newest addition to the family already has more hair than his father. We all look forward to seeing David again when he is next available to run, some time towards the end of 2016.

Plenty to look forward to in the weeks ahead

There are plenty of events to look forward to in the forthcoming weeks. Tomorrow (Thursday 5th May) the Hill and Dale Series moves to Annalong for the Slieve Binnian race. This is a unique race in the series in that the race is a climb only. On Sunday May 5th Newry City Runners are hosting a Senior 5k and a series of Junior races. First off are the U-10s, racing over 600m, followed by U-12s over 800m, U-14s over 1000m and finally U-16s over a distance of 1600m. Entry for each race is £2 and the action gets underway at 11.30am. The final event of the programme is the Senior male and female races over 5000m. This promises to be a fast race on flat terrain. The following Friday May 13th is the Les Jones 10k at the Mary Peter’s Track in Belfast, a great race with a tough climb between 8k and 9k which will suit those with energy in reserve from Moughanmore on the previous evening.