Club Notes week of 8th January 2012

Over the Glens and back in a day
by Joe McCann
An eclectic band of Newcastle AC Athletes made the two day camel ride to the north coast to participate in the annual race over the Glens on Monday 2nd January. Obviously they had made their resolution to race more the day before and were staying true to their promises.

David O’Flaherty was the best placed of the foursome, finishing a highly credible 6th overall, three minutes behind the winner James McIlroy of Larne AC in a race that attracted a field of 276 athletes (Marty has already calculated how much that drew into the coffers!). David can be proud of his achievement in running an average pace of 6:40 over a hilly course. Anne Sandford was second female behind runaway Ladies’ winner Sharon Trimble of North Belfast Harriers who finished just behind O’Flaherty in 7th overall, leaving many respectable male athletes trailing in her wake. Anne finished 58th overall in a time of 43:14 and her coach Dominic McGreevy was more than impressed claiming that all the hard work that went into her winter training was paying great dividends. Hugo Rodgers just sneaked into the top 100 with a 99th place finish in 47:07 and Paul Fegan (the club’s most prolific racer in 2011) was just outside the 200 mark, finishing 202nd in 54:35 as he continued his assault on every race going!

Time for some serious running!
Now that the last turkey sandwich has been consumed and the bones are in the pot to form the basis of a hearty winter soup, many of the Newcastle athletes are focused in their goals for 2012. Kendall is already showing great form in his early preparations for London. On Sunday he, accompanied by his ever faithful sidekick Brannigan had a leisurely trot around a 15 miler at well under 6:45 pace. When asked if he had any plans to complete a marathon in 2012 Brannigan simply retorted ‘maybe.’ He then added that he was glad of the fresh air and loves to train hard for a mythical race sometime in a possible never! They were, I believe joined by McNeilly, McCrickard, the calvous David Steele and an out of hibernation Luke McMullan as they relentlessly pounded the roads in support of the one man who has actually got an entry for the race! Rodgers and I have weighed in as is our predilection at this time every year; though this year we have vowed to lose weight and actually end the year fitter rather than fatter. Using 2011 as a barometer, few of our club mates are holding their breaths.
Meanwhile others declined to attend the first session of the year, a 6 x 1 km session on January 2nd. Those that did were more than satisfied with their performances, none more so than Charlie McAlinden who for once managed to stay on his feet throughout and refrained from denting the ground with his considerable frame. Perhaps he was sustained in his efforts by the diminutive Brian Wilson who ran alongside him for part of the session – there was only a 2 foot height difference!

Can he paint it? – Yes he can!
There are others who have also been seen out a bit more regularly since Christmas. One notable example of this phenomenon is ‘Paul Og the Painter’. Oggy has been conspicuous by his absence in December much to the disbelief of many of his colleagues. Had he collected up enough nuts to fill up those squirrel cheeks? The answer was revealed by his long-suffering daughter who revealed that he had been instructed to carry out a bit of DIY around the house in preparation for the arrival of the Christmas tree. Not wishing to have a tardy domicile in which to share in the season of goodwill, our man put his nose (!) to the grindstone and transformed the living area in a style that many in interior decorator would be proud of! Not only is all of this true, but there is photographic evidence to back it up!

One cup of coffee and a slice of apple tart please!
An equally new club tradition, regularly mentioned in this column, is the communal cup of tay after a weekend run. It is a fairly simple thing in that one poor soul is forced to stump up and pay for everyone present. Usually this is not an issue and by the law of averages all usually works out well in the course of a few months. However in an unpredictable twist of fate a certain fellow who looks older than he is due to a threadbare roof agreed to spring for his mates and even went to the cash machine to secure the required funding and then somewhat ungraciously left early, paying only for himself and leaving the rest of us with the prospect of doing the dishes. Thankfully Audey’s credit rating remains strong, despite the recession and he was able to save the day by returning the following day with some of his Confirmation money and avert a crisis. As is always the case there is never a name and shame policy in this column, so David Steele can sleep contentedly in the knowledge that no-one will ever know that he was the culprit!

McGrady Financial Services Junior XC
The penultimate race in the Junior Cross Country Series, sponsored by McGrady Financial Services takes place in the stunning surroundings of Castleward (not to be confused with the equally stunning Donalward!) on Sunday 15th January. The racing starts at 1.30pm and competitors are asked to make sure they are registered in plenty of time for the warm up which will begin at 1.15pm sharp. As the series moves towards an exciting climax all junior members are asked to turn out to race and parents are encouraged to stay for the duration of the event and support all of the athletes.