Who said the Bronze Age was over? – Newcastle AC notes by Joe McCann

Newcastle AC junior athletes Dearbhla Magee (St. Malachy’s High School Castlewellan) and Patrick Sheridan (St. Patrick’s Grammar School Downpatrick) were successful in the recent Down District Schools’ Track & Field Championships held recently in Bangor.  Both starlets were in bronze medal position in their respective 1500m races and have consequently qualified for Ulster Championships to be held at the end of May. 

Junior Quadrathlon

As the junior club resumed training a quadrathlon was organised for Monday night.  The young athletes enjoyed the opportunity to sprint, long jump and throw before completing a ‘mini marathon’.  The competition afforded the opportunity to demonstrate the skills that have been taught by the coaches since training moved outdoors.  It was obvious that the hard work is paying off as the level of technique has improved significantly for most of the young athletes and there will be greater rewards for their perseverance and determination at future events both within the club and in inter-club meetings.

What a week that was!

A busy week of training and racing for Newcastle athletes began on Monday with a trot around the Moughanmore course: a route that would be the scourge of the best of the best three nights later.  As usual Audey turned a gentle amble into a race, refusing to ever let anyone get as much as a big toe nail ahead of him and Jack did what can be best described as the total opposite.  This weekly tradition during Hill and Dale season is increasingly popular with a myriad of runners from clubs wide and far turning up.  While this was a necessity for some, others like myself, took a less strenuous option and headed for Tollymore.  As ‘Big Alan Strachan’ was on a flying visit home, it was a perfect opportunity catch up with the latest chapter of his Swedish adventures.  However as we entered Tollymore at Priest’s Bridge who should we meet but the Big Fella, His Fella and another fella, who ‘didnea ken til the last minute he was running’.  Obviously they did not have time to enter into the club spirit of declaring ones runs and posting them on the web for the benefit of their colleagues.  When this was pointed out to the Big Fella he retorted that he was more of a ‘doer’, to which Strachan (sharp as a tack!) replied, ‘you certainly are dour!’  Methinks the Big Fella will continue to keep his training schedule a closely guarded secret to avoid further ridicule and embarrassment!  Furthermore given the 70s style get up that he was dressed in, he looked more like an extra from Starsky and Hutch than a former classy international athlete.

On Tuesday there was a bit of friction in the air as Mr McVeigh took exception at being told where to run by some of the younger and better looking members of the club.  When it was suggested that he might take a particular course he observed that he was of a sufficient age to decide where he should run, though his language was a little more choice! To avoid further conflict, it was decided that he should indeed run wherever he felt most prudent and a diplomatic incident was avoided through irenic words.  It was noted that while Kerry Harty was investing in altitude training, a few of the members at the training camp in Tollymore would certainly benefit with a bit of attitude training!

Most take it easy on a Wednesday (though Jack prefers to rest on Thursday nights!) in preparation for the Hill and Dale, so Paschal and myself had plenty of time to discuss the FA Cup final featuring his beloved Manchester City.  His team duly won on Saturday and Paschal has not been seen since.  He can be forgiven as he has been waiting a long time and it could be another 35 years before he gets his next day out to celebrate and besides he just built me a great fence at an unbelievable price.

The trophy is almost in the Saab

Thursday brought the fifth chapter in what has been a largely predicable Hill and Dale from Race 2 onwards.  Mourne cleaned up again and Newcastle were left to battle for the minor places.  Battle they did and for the second week running were led home by a resurgent McKibbin who was fourth and edging ever closer to his rivals.  My sources tell me that both twins could be racing at Millstone this week, which would be the first time in a long time that they competed together.  The three David’s were once again joined at the hip and separated by 11 seconds as they finished 8th, 9th and 10th.   McGreevy has now one hand firmly in the V50 category having secured a fifth consecutive win.  Similarly Anne Sandford, with 5 wins already bagged, should wrap up her category in race 6.  Recent signing Colin Pascoe continues to improve and came home this week in 63rd place.  As he crossed the line some wisecrack remarked, ‘Where’s Dalziel.’ The wit of Newcastle AC continues to underwhelm!!!


This Thursday sees the series return to Newcastle for the newest addition to the Hill and Dale family, the Millstone Horseshoe.  It is perhaps fitting that the race director is Eamon McCrickard, a man renowned for adding to his family!  With the start and finish in Donard Park, this is a great opportunity for locals to come out and witness the truly awesome spectacle of a Hill and Dale race.  The course is arduous to say the least and a race outline can be viewed here.


Waterworks 5k

Two of our athletes travelled to Belfast on Saturday morning to take part in the Waterworks 5k.  Mark Kendall was third in a time of 18:00, while Brendan Donnelly posted a time of 19:27 to claim 10th place.  Kendall had been second for most of the race and narrowly lost out on this place in a sprint finish.  Both men independently reported that it was windy, raining, hilly and R.D.O.C (Random Ducks On Course).  Obviously they had huddled after the race and planned their story as it is always important to get the excuses in early!

Four Zero Duathlon

Thinking that one race was not enough in the weekend, Mark completed the Four Zero Duathlon on Sunday afternoon at Peatlands Park near Dungannon; an event promoted by Sporting Angels.  Duathlon is essentially a dry version of triathlon (how many ‘athlons’ will be mentioned in this report!!!) where the swim is replaced by a run and so the competitors run, cycle and run again.  The second run can be demanding after a tough cycle.

The first run was a 10km off road on a mixture of woodchip paths and tracks. Mark reported that ground was very soft making it very difficult for a fast time (that was his excuse anyway – it is an unbelievable coincidence that every time a Newcastle AC runner competes there is something to scupper their plans to perform at their peak; it is almost as if the elements are conspiring against us!)

Having said that Mark was well placed and sitting in 3rd after the initial run. After a quick footwear change in transition (see how I have picked up the lingo!) it was on to the bike for 25km on the roads.  The cycle route was undulating (unsurprisingly!) At around 10 miles he was overtaken by three cyclists working together.  He tried valiantly to get their wheel but couldn’t. Fortunately the effort he put in was wasted as he caught the 2nd placed runner shortly after (although he was on a mountain bike with stabilizers!!!)

Off the bike and onto the final 5km run and Mark claims legs were not his own (no that is a first – replacing legs during a race – surely there will be a steward’s inquiry and a potential disqualification!). However in true Newcastle AC fashion Mark managed to hold on to 5th overall place and went home satisfied. As Mark ruminated on his experience, he concluded that it had been a challenging but enjoyable experience which was well organised and good value for money as all entrants get a high quality goody bag.

And finally…

There has been much talk in the club about the Warriors Race held on the last weekend in August.  Such was the desire to participate that 30 beds in a hostel were booked in February and all manner of travel plans made for the big day.  Indeed the feeling of anticipation was palpable.  There was continuous talk about entries, which as everyone knows are snapped up really quickly.  Naturally everyone was checking the website regularly, keen to ensure that they did not miss out.  Last week entries opened and very quickly entries closed.  Only two of Newcastle’s keen contingent were on the ball – Danny O’Boyle and Martin McVeigh.  Both men are looking forward to a quiet weekend at the hostel, while their less than efficient clubmates remain at home.  For Hire – 28 beds in a hostel in Sligo (surplus to requirements!) – Contact Newcastle AC!