McKibbin pushes Niblock to victory
In another impressive week for the host club Alan McKibbin was the best placed Newcastle athlete at Rocky, the penultimate race in the 2011 Hill and Dale series. In a closely contested race, the erstwhile champion was in contention, tussling with eventual winner Andy Niblock. Despite the disappointment in finishing in ‘Neil Carty’, McKibbin was the first to congratulate Niblock on his first win of the series and this sentiment was echoed throughout the field as Niblock has been in great form throughout the series and deserves this moment of glory. Carty completed the podium and it was clear that finishing anywhere but second is a source of consternation to the North Belfast star.
The Big Fella shows true club spirit
O’Flaherty had a great run to finish fourth, managing to hold of the challenge of McNeilly. Having said that, McNeilly was fortunate and grateful to be in the race in the first place. He was flying back from a meeting in Birmingham and found that his flight was delayed. Could it be volcanic ash? Was there unexpected fog? Had the plane suffered from engine fatigue? (had it heard one of Deon’s monotones about the benefits fibre optic cabling and decided to give up?) The answer is that an unruly dog (not Bran!!!) was in the hold of the plane and it was discovered that there was nothing to restrain and settle the canine pet that was obviously suffering from flight rage. The plane did eventually leave and Deon just about made it to the start, albeit a little stressed. Thankfully one of his club mates, a perennial Good Samaritan went and sorted out his entry, thus leaving the ‘Big Fella’ ready to compete. In return when the same athlete made a request for a new vest, he was unceremoniously chucked a large and told, ‘sure you are that size now anyway.’ Who said club spirit and camaraderie was dead?
McVeigh proves the pundits right
Newcastle had two more athletes in the top 10. Eamon McCrickard produced his best run of the season to date to claim and excellent 7th place, while his colleague Audie McVeigh, as confidently predicted in this very column two weeks ago, had a superb outing to claim his first top 10 of the season. Apparently he was told that the man who revealed that he had been the victim of a perm that had gone wrong when snapped as a Castlewellan FC legend was just ahead. Audie went at full tilt, with the elbows poised in search of the purveyor of such slander, and while he did not catch his intended victim he did get a great result and placing. However his true placing was not revealed by race director Mark ‘Gunning’ (more on that later) Kendall until considerably later. As McVeigh crossed the line, Kendall remarked, ‘well done kid, 11th big lad.’ While ostensibly pleased, it was obvious that McVeigh was a little disappointed as the prediction had been weighing heavy on him for a fortnight and an uneasy sense of expectancy had been placed on his shoulders. When his true placing was finally disclosed, there were a few hard stares given and a few words which cannot be printed in a family column exchanged.
Junior category win for McComb
Nathan McComb was first junior home in 18th place and Eugene McCann completed the top 20. The ever-improving Damian McDaid recorded his best performance to date in 24th, finishing just ahead of Brendan Donnelly who had run in Lisburn the night before (more on that later too!)
Teef, Teef, I’ve loshft me teef
Laurence Hamilton had another impressive run, finishing 30th and in considerably less pain that last week when he was the victim of a rather unfortunate, yet self-inflicted injury. I had spotted Laurence wearing a bum bag at the Monument, which I thought strange given that it was a great night and there was no requirement to carry kit. Being a reticent shrinking-violet it took me ages to pluck up the courage to find out the rationale behind this dubious tactic. Laurence explained that he likes to carry a few jelly sweets in case his blood sugar drops and a quick energy boost is needed – so carrying the bum bag appeared perfectly logical and sensible thing to do. However as Laurence appeared at the finish line there was a bit of blood noticeable around his mouth. Had he fallen? Alas no; he had delved into the bum bag without paying any attention to detail, grabbed a handful of what he presumed were the jelly sweets that he had purloined from his own children just prior to the race and munched delightedly. However he did not realise that the safety pins (which turned out to be somewhat unsafe!) were mixed up with the sweets. Poor Laurence ended up in the dentists chair the following morning to get broken teeth repaired. Thankfully no permanent damage was done and Laurence could laugh about it soon afterwards.
Anne beats many a man
Anne Sandford finished 45th to secure another victory in the LV45 category that she has dominated from start to finish. Anne’s performance is all the more remarkable in light of her excellent 3rd Lady placing in the Extreme 26 Half Marathon the previous weekend. Anne posted a time of 1:45:55 that was only bettered by winner Mary Laverty (1:38:27) and Hill and Dale Ladies Champion Elect Shileen O’Kane (1:42:54). Well done to all the ladies on very impressive times which saw them finish in the top 15 irrespective of gender.
Has anybody here seen Pete?
Last week the story of the Hill and Dale Livestock sales was revealed. Well, unsurprisingly there is a twist in the story. Conall Nugent took the bought bird home only to find that it not integrate well with the resident poultry to such an extent that some of the previous poultry are just that! Conall was heard asking if Pete Grant was running. Equally unsurprising was the fact that Pete Grant was nowhere to be seen, obviously hoping that the 14 day no qualms money back guarantee will have expired before he sees the teak tough man from ‘blayney again. Regrettably though, Grant’s reputation as a livestock breeder had diminished somewhat!
Congratulations to Patrick Sheridan who finished 3rd in the 1500m in the Northern Ireland & Ulster Age Group Track & Field Championships in Antrim on Sunday 19th June. Patrick ran 4:41:30 to set a new PB by 4 seconds. This excellent performance means that Patrick has qualified for the AAI Juvenile Champs in Tullamore in July. Ciara Gibson also qualified for Tullamore in the 100m. She ran 13:62 in the heats and finished 4th in final 13:52 to progress to the national finals. We wish them both well. Well done also to Eoghan Knight (son of Hill and Dale legends Mary and Stephen) and Eve Kenneally (niece of former Hill and Dale Champion, Deon McNeilly) on their achievements in the Lagan Valley Orienteers’ WEE Series event held in Tollymore Forest Park recently. Eoghan came 1st in the long 4.0 km course while Eve finished in 2nd place. The next Super 5 Track & Field Meet will take place on Thursday 23rd June at the Mary Peter’s Track in Belfast. We wish all our Junior athletes competing the best of luck.
Newcastle AC athlete recorded a highly impressive 3:22:52 in the Lake Windermere Marathon on Sunday 5th June. This earned Bob a placing of 67th/880 runners. Bob reported that this was a beautiful marathon to run; an undulating course that took in a full circuit of England’s largest lake. Bob did try to tell me this in person at Rocky, but I was so gob-smacked by his apparel as he came to register that I could not focus on is achievement; Bob is certainly in the running for the most dapper Hill and Dale athlete!
Lisburn Half Marathon, 10k and Fun Run
At the Lisburn Half Marathon last Wednesday Robert Brown competed in the half marathon and finished in 44th place in a time of 1:26:04. Bob commented that the best thing about this race was he got to use the ‘elbows’ to get past many of the 10k runners in the last 200m of the race. In the 10k, Newcastle’s latest signing Mark Gunning finished in 16th place in a very respectable 36:57. Further down the field Brendan Donnelly was unlucky not to break the magic 40 minute barrier, finishing in 40:14. Rory McMullan was under the mark with a very respectable 39:24, while Nathan McComb was a further 9 seconds back – these represent very good performances for such young men. Samantha McNeilly had a very good run, coming close to her PB with a time of 48:49.
Kerry is busy racing
Kerry Harty ran 10:10.87 in Prague on 14th June to break the Northern Ireland Steeplechase record
setting a new personal best by 14 seconds, beating her previous record set at the end of May (10.24.14) and adds to the 5000m NI record of 15:58:67 set in May. Her steeplechase performance puts her 5th on the Irish All-Time list (behind McGettigan, Britton, Reilly and English). Kerry also recorded her third best ever 1500m time at the Irish Milers Club meet at Irishtown Stadium on 18th June with a time of 4:17:95. Our photo shows Kerry in action at her recent debut in the 3000m steeplechase at Loughborough, when she broke the NI record for the first time. Finally, my thanks to Kerry for standing in for me at the photo shoot to mark the launch of the Gr8 Dundrum Run. Due to work commitments I was unable to go, but thankfully the organisers understood and accepted my apologies – maybe next year I’ll be available! We wish our running neighbours the best of luck in their attempts to replicate the outstanding success of last year’s event.
It’s all ahead of us!
This Thursday sees the Hill and Dale series draw to a close with the final race in Donard Forest and the prize-giving in O’Hare’s bar. There is always great kudos to be gained from a last night victory and all the ‘big guns’ will undoubtedly be out to claim glory. With Woods firmly ensconced as a worthy champion, it will be interesting to see if he decides to finish the series triumphantly. If he appears at the start, he will certainly be the favourite. Shileen O’Kane looks set to make history with her 11th straight victory in the ladies category. The following Saturday, July 2nd, will be a tremendous spectacle as athletes leave from the Newcastle centre for the annual Slieve Donard race. There will be a full preview next week.