Newcastle AC Notes by Joe McCann

Despite the fact that he is a multiple series winner, the joy and relief were obvious as Alan McKibbin made his way to the summit of the final climb up the infamous ‘Green Rig’ to claim his first race victory since winning at Binnian early in 2009.  The former champion dominated the race from start to finish as one by one the challengers faltered under his relentless pace.  The result is a timely boost for the host club who have been constantly dominated by Mourne Runners in recent times.  Admittedly Woods was not there on the night to test McKibbin fully, but in Carty, Niblock and Annett there was an abundance of talent to be overcome; overcome it he did and in some style, finishing with 40 seconds to spare over Carty, who ran a great race to finish in his pre-ordained position.  Newcastle packed well, with four in the top 10, nine in the top 20 and 15 in the top 50.

A showing of class

A little further back other club members showed their class; Pj McCrickard, Barry Wells and Paul Watson all had great runs and one un-named athlete suffered a major wardrobe malfunction that caused great mirth and merriment the following day.  The said garment has been passed on to Mark King and we are confident that they will get many outings with their new master.  Our best wishes go to Jack O’Hare who was unable to finish the race.  Jack had competed in the previous 8 races and sustained a knee injury as he descended of the White Plains; he was running well and had crossed the top of the final climb in 44th place.  Hopefully he will recover quickly and return to racing ways.  Similar sentiments were expressed by many club mates including Audie McVeigh who commented, ‘Jack is a great lad and his sharp incisive wit will be missed on the Friday runs.’  David Steele added, ‘Aye, me too. Who are we talking about?’

It’s not all about Newcastle!

A special word of mention to some athletes not in our club who performed well this week.  Well done to Murlough’s Dominic McInerney, easily the most improved runner in the field, who reached the dizzy heights of 43rd overall.  Despite my attempts to un-nerve him early in the race, he stuck to his task and comprehensively thrashed me and took top place among the Murlough contingent for the second week running, this time beating their leading man Mark King.  Well done also to Declan Morgan who ran very strongly to finish one place behind Dominic in 44th overall.   He had been testing me all week assuring me that he would leave me trailing in his wake; surely this man is a sagacious prophet as all went to plan and he recorded his first minor triumph.  Hopefully there will be a few more for him.

Another Hill and Dale first

The Nugent brothers from Castellany rarely make a training session with their club, but the never miss a Hill and Dale race and their presence usually is the source of some tall tale.  This week was no exception as not only did Francis and Connell finish 75th and 153rd respectively, but they also bought a new addition for their family in a Hill and Dale first.  Buying a pair of shoes, a vest and even a cup of cappuccino have not been unusual in recent years, but buying live poultry is unheard of, well was unheard of until last Thursday night.  The story goes that Pete Grant (looking resplendent after his annual clipping) of Newry City Runners was having trouble with an unruly Rooster that was the source of domestic disagreements and causing injury to prominent family mmebers.  Pete was told to get rid of the said animal so that harmony could be restored and when word spread to the Nugents, two men always on the lookout for a bargain, a deal was struck.  The Rooster was brought to the race, money exchanged hands, a luck penny was given (and given the bird’s temperament it could be needed) and all went home happy.  Of course, as one might expect, the incident was not mentioned in the pub and no innuendos were used.  It will be interesting to see if the ‘blayney boys arrive next week with pecked ankles courtesy of their recent purchase.

Junior results

The atmosphere at Tollymore for the Monument Race was undoubtedly enhanced by the buzz of excitement that accompanied the Junior Race, the first of its kind this year.  The courses were well designed by director Brian Steele and gave the younger athletes a great taste of what trail racing is all about.  Forty-five children took part in the primary school race and there were prizes for the first three boys and girls in Primary 5, 6 & 7.  First over the line was Niall Doran (P7), followed by Caolan Hawkins (P6) and Ross McCrickard (P7).  One notable name in the field was Peter Carty, son of the perennial bridesmaid Neil: on the evidence of this performance another Carty will be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.  The Primary school girls were led home by Darcy Campbell from East Down (P7), Orla Swail (P6 and daughter of another legend, ‘Silky Dazzler’ Swail) and Michaela Quinn (P6).  Congratulations to al of the young athletes who completed the course with great determination and perseverance.

A slightly disappointing field of 15 post primary athletes was led home by the impressive Patrick Sheridan who completed the course in a very fast 9:48.  Nathan McComb was 17 seconds back in 2nd place (Nathan did a double by competing in the main event and ran extremely well, finishing 21st overall in exactly 34 minutes).  The impressive Dearbhla Magee was first girl to finish in 11:19 and was followed by Aisling Pell and Amy Godfrey who were second and third respectively.  The organisers are hopeful that more runners in this age range will take up the challenge in future events.

Brockagh Fell Race

Dublin based student and Newcastle AC athlete Luke McMullan was in action again this week in the Brockagh Fell Race in the Wicklow Mountains: a race that is part of the IMRA Leinster League.  Luke had one of the best performances of his fledgling career, finishing 8th in a field of 179 runners.  Luke’s time of 49:21 was just three minutes behind the race winner Tim Grummel, who won the race comfortably by just over 40 seconds.  Luke is planning to compete in the last two Hill and Dale races of the series and it will be interesting to see how competitive he will be against the best northern fell runners.

Mourne Way Marathon

A large number of Newcastle athletes participated in the Mourne Way races organised by Extreme 26 on Saturday 11th June.  David O’Flaherty led the field home to win the 10k race by a narrow margin of 7 seconds in 41:05.  In the half marathon (13.2 miles), Colin Pascoe ran very well and finished in 8th place in 1:39:51.  Anne Sandford was 16th and third lady in 1:45:29 and Seamus White, despite dancing until 1.30am the night before was a very respectable 33rd in a time of 1:53:32.  The marathon itself was a tough affair and was won in a very impressive 3:13:20 by Kevin Doyle.  Such was his dominance that he had 25 minutes to spare over the second and third athletes, Gary Bailey and Deon McNeilly.  The two men were side by side most of the way and Gary manages to eek out a few seconds as the line beckoned to claim second place by 7 seconds from McNeilly.  Both men can feel very proud of their performances over an arduous course.  Other Newcastle athletes in action were Eugene McCann (10th 4:03:08), Paul Fegan (50th 4:50:07), Declan McElroy (58th 4:53:21) and Gerard Boylan (147th 6:24:15).  Congratulations to each and every athlete who participated in these tough races.

North, South, East and West

Retirement is defined in the dictionary as ‘The period of a person’s life during which he/she is no longer working, or the commencement of that period.’  Free from the routines and commitments of holding down a job inevitably leaves on free to engage in the things that one wanted to do, but perhaps never had the time to do.  Perhaps after reading such definitions and having trimmed the hedge to matchsticks, our very own Marty McVeigh took up a new challenge. He cycled from Malin Head, the most northerly point of the island of Ireland to Mizen Head, the most southerly point.  My research reveals that the shortest distance between the two points is 385 miles, but most cyclists take a route between 400 and 444 miles.  The record cycle time was set in 1993 by Joe Barr in an amazing time of 19 hours and 3 minutes and the average cyclist takes 5-6 days.  Marty completed the course in 3 days and completed the Carrauntoohil Fell Race, summiting the highest mountain Ireland at 1038 metres high.  Not content with these strenuous exertions, Martin made his way out to Clogherhead, the most westerly point of the island and cycled to just outside Portavogie, the most easterly point.  Having rested in Tullamore on the first night, he pushed hard for Co. Down on the second day in an attempt to make it to his own house and save a night’s lodgings in a youth hostel.  The next morning he was up and at ‘em to complete his epic journey.  Paul Theroux, in his epic 1975 novel, The Great Railway Bazaar, concluded that all travel is circular and Martin is living proof that such a sentiment is indeed true.

Age is no barrier

In an incident not reported last week there was a bit of a kerfuffle in Mary Margarets after the Loughshannagh Horseshoe.  PJ McCrickard was enjoying a bit of banter with Hugh Suffern and a prospective racing driver.  PJ had just revealed his age when older brother Eamon arrived on the scene.  PJ introduced his sibling to the party and the conversation turned to Eamon’s age. When asked the age gap the young fella commented that there would be at least a couple of years between them.  PJ was a little angry at this as he is considerable younger, but was further incensed when the young lad concluded that Eamon was the younger of the two!  At that point PJ decided to go and talk to someone else!