Report By Rory Morrow
Autumnal racing returns this week as Newcastle AC prepares to host the popular, annual, ‘Mill Hill Mile’ event in Castlewellan on Tuesday evening with a race start time set for 7pm.
The event starts from Annsborough and runs to Market House Castlewellan.
Entries can be made right up until the day before, Monday 4th September with registration and race number collection open from 6pm on Tuesday night at Castlewellan Upper Square.
Newcastle AC strongly recommend that any participants needing to register arrive in good time.
The race is also free to enter with donations going to Mourne Heritage for Slieve Donard path repairs.
Post-pandemic, there have been two new male names as winners in this event, Patrick McNiff, and Robbie Hagen first to finish in 2021 and 2022 editions, respectively.
Previously, Zak Hanna had won four in a row from 2016-2019. Hanna had matched Deon McNeilly’s four in a row from 1996-1999 only for Alan McKibben to put a remarkable six-year winning streak together from 2003-2008.
With McNiff and Hagen both set to run, it promises to be a speedy, but open, race tonight.
On the women’s side, Joanne Mills claimed her sixth win at the Mill Hill Mile last year, Eve Welsh the winner in 2021 following the race’s return after Covid-19.
Kerry O’Flaherty set the female record in 2015 with a speedy time of 5:58, the win a record fourteenth with the first dating back two decades to 1995.
Others to watch out for, on both the male and female sides of things, are junior athlete, Tom Crudgington who was runner-up, by an immense three seconds, to Hagen last year and enjoyed a stellar, Hill and Dale breakthrough on the Mournes over April and May.
Two fellow juniors, Oliver Robinson and Jacob Crawford were hot on his tail last year here, the former by just nineteen seconds and will aim to close the gap. Niall Goodman is another to look out for at the top end of the field.
Female junior, Welsh, finished even closer, only nine seconds behind winner, Mills, both recording impressive sub seven-minute times.
Claire O’Rourke of Murlough AC was the third female finisher in a time of 7:25, less than two minutes off Hagen’s winning 5:31.
With fine margins splitting a lot of fine athletes last year, this year’s Mill Hill Mile promises to be an excellent event for a very worthwhile cause, a good way to commence your running season should you want to come down to Castlewellan on the night, it will also be an enjoyable spectator sport!