Hill and Dale Race 4 – Binnian to the Top
Despite the inclement conditions after such a spell of delightful weather 174 athletes registered under the watchful eyes of a well-managed registration team in the yard of the Marks family. In fact, such was the weather that at one point it as suggested that decanting to the family kitchen would be apposite. Newcastle AC was once again well represented with 24 athletes who peppered the field as they finished. Alan McKibbin was the best placed in 3rd overall. This demonstrates a return to form for the former champion and he will approach the mountain races confident in his ability to challenge for race victories. Deon McNeilly ran for the first time in the series and finished strongly to claim fifth place. Dominic McGreevy was 10th and is now only 2 races away from claiming his category title. It has been noted, somewhat acerbically, that Dominic’s body weight when he pulls on his vest! He was followed by Eamon McCrickard; the big Fella’s Fella celebrating his birthday as he ran. Eugene McCann was vitriolic in 29th place, 11 places ahead of Bell and triumphantly punched the air like a donkey raising a front paw as he crossed the line. Anne Sandford tightened her grip on her category and recorded a fourth successive victory.
Is the Mill Hill man 60 yet?
Marty McVeigh also made his debut in the series, allegedly waiting until he passed the 60 years barrier to ensure that he was competitive in his category. He was well rewarded with second place to Harry Teggarty in the vet 60 category. The only problem is that despite looking 60, the great man has yet to cross that milestone! However he should be applauded for picking off the Castlewellan GACAC runners one by one as he approached the summit of Binnian. This former Mill Hill resident is living proof that you can take a man away from a hill, but you cannot erase his memory of hills. His erstwhile colleagues will need to practice on Mill Hill a bit more if they are to catch its former inhabitant.
A Late Declaration
In keeping with events through the province over the weekend the results of Binnian were not declared until late on Saturday evening. Video evidence was sent for and several recounts were needed given the awful conditions at the top of the mountain where the results were initially collated. Deputy returning officer Watson however remained steadfast in his claim that accuracy was more important that speed, a position obviously taken by some of the runners as they climber Binnian! The anxiety felt by those waiting for the results was palpable. Jack O’Hare sent me numerous texts enquiring when the results would be posted; obviously he was keen to see if he had beaten his 51st place from the previous week! When told there were some technical difficulties and he should remain patient, he expressed his discontent at the efficaciousness of the results process. Jack has been asked to process the results at Moughanmore so we anticipate an early declaration this week.
Well Done Eoghan
Eoghan Totten recorded a magnificent 31:58 for 10,000m on the track at a very windy Irishtown stadium in Dublin. While this was an outstanding performance in difficult circumstances it is still short of the 31:30 European Junior Championships qualifying time. However Eoghan remains confident that he can find the one second per lap needed to meet the demanding qualifying standard and is currently trying to identify a suitable race in the not too distant future. He followed this up with 15:43 on the track to claim the Down Schools’ 5000m title in Bangor fourteen hours later. Eoghan now looks forward to the Ulster 5000m race.
Newry City 5k Junior Races
The Newry City Runners’ 5k and junior races were extremely well organised and managed, but regrettably there were fewer competitors than the event deserved. The criticism is true of our own club as only four juniors and three seniors willing to make the short journey to support a local club and a local race. Our juniors, Caolan Hawkins, Cleona McCartan, Rebecca McCann and Lydia Ballocchi, despite failing to finish in the top three in their races, all competed well and can take confidence from their performances. The senior race was a very close run thing with 10 athletes in contention for the first 3k in windy conditions in Greenbank Industrial Estate: it was certainly not a day for PBs! In the latter stages race favourite Andrew Hicks and Nigel McKibbin of Dromore broke clear and Hicks won by a single second in a very respectable 16:50. Our own David O’Flaherty and Mark Kendall fought out a personal battle for third and fourth, with the former taking third in 17:12, three seconds ahead of his rival. I trotted around, mostly on my own, and was pleased to just beat the 19 minute barrier, albeit by the narrowest margins to finish in 12th place and send out a strong message of intent for another season of below average performances!!! Kendall deserves special mention for bringing his wife to the race, a rather uncommon occurance in Newcastle AC and the Kendall’s were, I believe, the first husband and wife team even though they were running for different clubs.
Good luck to all those competing this week in the Hill and Dale at Moughanmore on Thursday and at the Les Jones 10k on Friday night. Full reports of each will be in nest week’s notes along with the second special report on Kerry Harty’s altitude training in France.