Club notes for week 31st October 2011

By Joe McCann

It’s all for a good cause

Owen Crilly and Patrick McAliskey are running 52 half marathons in 52 weeks to raise awareness of cancer related issues and to raise £15,000 for Action Cancer & Bowel Cancer UK. As if we had not suffered enough at the Gr8 Dundrum race, Mark Kendall, who incidentally, had not taken part in the race, using the flimsy excuse of preparing for a marathon, thought it would be a great idea for us to host these two potential lunatics in their mad antics.

Some of us had imbibed on the previous evening, following the well-known running mantra that ‘half a pint of beer after a race will do you good.’ Regrettably few stopped at the half pint mark and subsequently there were one or two tired faces at 8:30am as Patrick and Owen enthusiastically emerged from the car. Pleasantries were exchanged; an uncharacteristic phenomenon among Newcastle AC athletes and the run began. I acquiesce at this point and use the words of Owen posted on their website to tell the story of the run.
“We met Mark Kendall and 7 or 8 others from the Newcastle Runners at 8:30am in Donard Car Park in Newcastle at the foot of the majestic Mournes. A quick jaunt along the seafront and we snaked our way at a reasonable pace past the Slieve Donard Hotel and out on the road toward Murlough Upper. We swung a left towards Maghera and even though I had done an 18 mile run on Thursday I felt OK.
A few miles after Maghera I started to struggle a little. I initially put it down to Thursday’s 18 mile run, the half stone of fat that I can’t shift off my gut and the fact that I am staring down the barrel of 44. What I now realise is that a “leisurely” 13 miles for the Newcastle runners might not just be the same in my head as it is in theirs. Mile 5 to mile 9.5 was uphill most of the way climbing over 400 feet. Overall this run had an elevation gain of 640 feet third only to the Causeway Coast (1272 Feet… that’s the silly Slemish size one) and Mas Des Vignes, France (681 Feet). Lisburn now seems like a breeze!
From Maghera we ran to the Tollymore Road and up Wild Forest Lane before entering Tollymore Forest Park. The next 5 miles were through the forest. I found my breath in the forest and really enjoyed the run through the trees and along the Shimna River.
Oh yes…We finished the half marathon in about 1 hour 44 and went on to do about another half mile, but who cares the views were amazing.”
We wish our two new friends every success in the weeks and months ahead, confident in their ability to reach their targets. No doubt Murlough and East Down will be organizing similar runs with the boys!!! Readers can follow the progress of Owen and Patrick on their website, where donations can also be made: Owen has completed 23 half marathons to date and Patrick has completed 21 and both were in action at the Dublin Marathon.

Mark Sparks at Halloween
Mark Kendall turned on the style to record an impressive time of 2:51:14 at the Dublin Marathon on 21st October. Conditions were better than one might have expected, given the intemperate weather recently witnessed. Mark had been training long and hard for the event and will certainly feel justified in his efforts by virtue of the fact that a new PB has been set. Mark is looking forward from a break from the distance training as he turns his attention to some serious speed work in preparation for the forthcoming Seely Cup on November 19th, a race in which he traditionally runs strongly. However his break from the endurance work will be short-lived as he will be leading a strong contingent of Newcastle AC runners as they take on the greatest marathon of all when they set their sights on London in what will be a special occasion in an Olympic year. Mark was joined by club-mates Paul Fegan, a seasoned marathon campaigner, and Libby Morgan, a debutant over the 26.2 distance. Both athletes finished around the 4 hours 20 minute mark and reported their delight in taking on and overcoming the challenge of the marathon. Libby was particularly appreciative of the encouragement and support that Paul has provided in the training runs and on the big day itself.

Kerry is training hard in Font Romeu
Kerry Harty is working hard at her attitude training camp. She took time out of her busy schedule this week to send me a quick update on her progress. She writes: ‘I’ve been away for a week (5 weeks in total) now and training is going well. The big picture is trying to achieve the Olympic ‘A’ standard for the Steeplechase come the track season for London 2012, but early preparations out here is helping me to get a good endurance base whilst also preparing for the European Cross-Country Trial in November in Sligo and hopefully gain selection for the European Cross Country Champs in Slovenia in December. At the moment I am out here with Irish Olympic race walker Jamie Costin, Steeplechaser Finnuala Britton & Martina McCarthy (Irish 800m runner), so I am in good company and have plenty of company on runs.’ We wish Kerry every success and look forward to hearing more about her training and racing.

The need for speed
Club sessions on Tuesday evenings are back in full swing and have been very well attended thus far. With a varied and balanced programme carefully designed to suit the needs of all abilities and styles, large numbers have been turning up. Jerome ‘The Prophet’ McCrickard is even beating his dinner in him to get to the Newcastle centre for the 6:30pm start! Unfortunately Jerome was almost re-acquainted with his evening meal last Tuesday as he pushed too hard up one hill too many and remarked that the spuds were not sitting well in his stomach. It was almost a case of ‘the oul dog for the hard road and the spuds for the path!’ Interested athletes are always welcome to join in the sessions and other club activities; the only pre-requisite is a thick skin!