It’s all in a week’s work for McNeilly

By Joe McCann
On Saturday 24 June Newcastle AC Veteran, Deon McNeilly competed in the arduous Three Peaks Yacht Race, the oldest extreme adventure race in the world now in it’s 34th year.  One might be forgiven for thinking that Deon has branched out into sailing, but the race also required a considerable amount of cycling and a run to the top of the highest peaks in Wales, England and Scotland.  In between runs the runners and cyclists were transported by the other crew members, navigating the high seas in often terrible conditions.
No team has ever won at the first attempt due to the extreme technical nature of both the sailing and the running but that changed on Tuesday 28th June when McNeilly’s team, Danu Technologies, finished first in a time of 77 hours 37 minutes. Deon informs me that there had been no sleep, a lot of being sick and a constant feeling of being cold most of the time at sea, ideal preparation for climbing Ben Nevis at the end of the event!!!
The race is only open to mono-hull yachts (whatever that means!), with a team of five, engine power can only be used close to port but yachts can be rowed (which Danu Technologies did on several occasions!).

The Three Peaks Yacht Race Team 2011
The Team: Gary Bailey – Mourne Runners, Glen Ward – Boat owner and skipper – Newcastle, Deon McNeilly – Newcastle AC, Andrew Miles – Sailor & Rower – Manchester, John Prudoe – Navigator – Dublin. (click photo to enlarge).

The Winning Team

The winning team was made up of three sailors and two runners, McNeilly and Gary Bailey of Mourne Runners who would partner Deon throughout the cycling and running events (the Big Fella’s Fella has been observed glancing through the sailing magazines in local newsagents in recent days and making enquiries about boat prices!). The race started at Barmouth, mid-Wales in a force eight gale, sailing 62 miles to Caernarfon in the Menai Straits.  Once the yacht was moored (this lingo is dead easy to pick up!) McNeilly and Bailey gladly put their feet on dry land and ran 24 miles to top of Snowdon and back to the vessel.  They began the run at midnight and were back on board in time for bacon and eggs just after 5am. From Caernafon they followed 100 mile route to Whitehaven in Cumbria.  They once again began the land leg after midnight cycling at speeds of up to up to 25mph with only a head torch for guidance.  After completing the 15 miles to Ennerdale, they completed a 26 mile run to the top of Scafell Pike (the highest peak in England) and back before jumping back on the bike and speeding, this time in daylight back to Whitehaven.

227 Miles at Sea
Whitehaven to Fort William was the longest sailing leg at 227 miles.  This was followed by 17 mile run to the top of Ben Nevis (the highest peak in the UK) and back to the finish where the crowds appreciatively welcomed them back after completing a great feat of human endeavour.  To complete his week’s activity, Deon completed the Slieve Donard Race, remarkable finishing in the top 10 and beating his age to the top of the mountain.

World Transplant Games

Ian Brannigan will need to extend the sideboard to accommodate the haul of medals won at the recent World Transplant Games in Sweden.  The games, held in Gotenberg, were a tremendous success and Ian once again demonstrated his class on the world stage, collecting gold medals in the 800m, 1500m and 5000m. We extend our best wishes to Ian as he prepares to compete at the Transplant Sport(UK) Games in Belfast in August, where he will be hotly fancied to collect more gold medals.  His brother ‘Lance Roche’ was delighted with his younger sibling’s performances commenting that ‘our fella was magnificent and we are all very proud of him’, a sentiment that is echoed throughout Newcastle AC and beyond.

A return to winning ways for Kerry

London 2010 hopeful Kerry Harty was delighted to return to winning ways in the A race as she held off a strong challenge from Taunton AC’s Naomi Taschimowitz (4:16.73) and Ireland’s Deidre Byrne (4:16.89). The Newcastle AC athlete won in a season’s best time of 4:15.99 and it was her fastest time since her PB of 4:14.17 set in the same meeting two years ago when she finished runner-up in the A race.
“That was a really competitive race,” said Harty. “I got boxed in a bit at the start but unlike Watford, where I panicked, I just waited my time to get out and ran the race more sensibly. I felt strong and I am happy to run a season’s best.”

More recently Kerry has set another Northern Ireland record in the 2k steeple chase and recorded and impressive win in Sunderland (Elite Road Mile) and competed in her first ‘A’ race.

Leinster Fell Race League

Luke McMullan is currently lying in 9th place overall in the Leinster Fell Running League.  In recent weeks he has recorded two 8th and three 11th placed finishes in recent weeks, his better performances coming at Brockage and Kippure.  His brother Rory has also competed in the most recent races at Trooperstown, where he claimed 21st place in a field of 168 and was victorious at the shortened Junior Race at Kippure.  The series is currently led by Tom Horgan who has recorded six wins and a second place in his seven outings to date.

Loughanisland 5.05m & Greyabbey 10k

Dave McKibbin and Dominic McGreevy were the only club members who participated in the hilly Loughanisland 5.05.  Over the unusual distance both men performed well: Dave claimed 3rd place in a highly respectable 28:36, while Dominic, more renowned as an ‘oul mountain goat’, was 11th in just over 30 minutes; not bad for a man can no longer remember turning 50!  Dominic has evidently developed a penchant for road running as he crossed the line in an impressive 37:16 to claim seventh place in the Greyabbey 10k held on July 8th.  Perhaps next year he will find the Hill and Dale a distraction to his hectic road racing schedule!

Looking ahead

There is plenty of racing in the weeks ahead with the Portaferry 10 mile road race, the Snowdon International, the Downpatrick RGU 10k, the Belfast Telegraph Donor run and the Seven Sevens in the next two weeks.  Looking further ahead a number of Newcastle AC athletes have confirmed that they are definitely maybe considering thinking about entering the Gr8 Murlough Run in September – no doubt there will be a pictorial press release from the host club confirming the Newcastle entry list in the not too distant future.