The Alternative Cracker Report

Report by Siobhán Grant

The rain fell fast and the wind blew wild, I’m not scared said all the runners packed into the High School at the start of the Cracker.

But the reality was, no one knew what lay ahead so there was every reason to be scared. Especially after record breaking rainfall in the hours leading up to the start of the race.

Up front the short shorts and club vest brigade toed the line with visions of securing category wins after forging alliances with other similar paced runners. Together they would head out competitively and miss the actual best bits of the Cracker race that fills the post race analysis after over 1000 pairs of feet have made bogs deeper and wider for those who appear on the final pages of the results.

A bit further back the crowd became a bit more colourful, Christmas jumpers, tshirts and tinsel aplenty. Peppered throughout were a number of not particularly ‘designed for running’ costumes but it is these runners who make the Cracker what it has become, a fully inclusive event for all runners from the competitive to the completers that brings plenty of smiles to the young supporters who line the route through Castlewellan.

With runners full of cheese and overindulgences, the Cracker has become that one race in the year where you boldly go where some people have never gone before and will never go again. So why wouldn’t you dress for the occasion?

I myself know that I will never ever be able to compete to win this event as the fastest runner but without fail every year, my efforts to dress for the occasion and brighten up the fields we trudge across, mucked to the eyeballs and cursing every hill, are rewarded with a win in the fancy dress category and although I don’t drink Red wine I covet that bottle of wine every year.

This year the field was filled with many questionable wigs and choices of costumes, an eclectic mix that would put World Book Day celebrations in a primary school to shame. From Bumble Bees to a vast array of superheroes, Ketchup bottles and Gladiator Warriors. With Elves, Presents and Santa’s aplenty and a colourful duo of Barbie and Ken. Many people used this opportunity to bring fun and laughter to the race and their own festive celebrations.

No where else would you see an inflatable whale navigating its way through Dolly’s Brae and a Leprechaun appearing amongst the runners being chased by Cruella DeVil along the Boundary wall. A first for the Christmas Cracker also saw the tail runners chasing up the rear of the pack alongside a family of 8 foot Dinosaurs ensuring everyone kept moving swiftly through the streets of Castlewellan.

So a huge well done to the category winners and those who only had vests and shorts to wash afterwards, however a massive congratulations and thank you to those who came along to the Cracker and brought many smiles and laughs to the spectators, marshals and other runners throughout the 8 mile course. The club hopes you all enjoyed the fancy dress spot prizes and can get outfits cleaned up to make an appearance again in the future.