Club Notes for week of 22nd February 2012

McCann in line for ‘Clubman of the Year’ after a weekend of high quality event management
by Joe McCann

The third thrilling mountain run in the now infamous ‘Saturday morning series’ starred David O’Flaherty, Brendan Quail, Francie ‘I am hoping that no-one will know that I was 48 on Friday – nothing gets by me big lad!’ McAlinden, Deon McNeilly, Paul ‘I drove all the way from Camlough to be dropped within 5 minutes and run for over two hours on my own Fegan’ and their perspicacious visionary leader Eugene ‘can I organise every run – more on that later’ McCann.
The crew assembled as usual in Donard Park and regrettably that was the last time Fegan saw any of his compatriots. This week’s carefully structured and tailor-made run saw the posse follow the course of the Glen River (Dominic’s lesson now follows – the Glen River is a short river in County Down. It flows from the foot of Slieve Commedagh and Slieve Donard in the Mourne Mountains into Dundrum Bay at Newcastle. It is quite a fast flowing river with many small waterfalls and deep pools. It flows through Donard Forest and Donard Park and is crossed by five bridges. Some of the water from this river supplies the houses in the surrounding area of the south end of Newcastle) and along the valley to the saddle in gale force winds. Eugene muses that these were some of the strongest winds he has ever ran in.

They then contoured east along the Brandy Pad to the wall, before climbing Chimney Rock, meandering towards the Bloody Bridge and over to Crossone. The final summit was Millstone at which point the diminutive Eugene had to grab the rocks to prevent being blown towards the Isle of Man. En route Brendan managed to find a mud bath, and sink himself in to the tipping gear! As he steadied himself Quail noted that some of the others were swaying in a manner that has not been seen since the trip home from O’Hare’s on the night of the Christmas festivities. Glad to be descending they came home via the quarry and Donard Forest. Eugene is considering his position carefully as leading fells coach and is believed to be checking out ‘Gumtree’ for the best price on an altitude tent in preparation for Rollercoaster in Downpatrick next week.

The DTUs failed to show
The long Saturday run is proving controversial with differing views among the ‘Running Housewives’ about the efficaciousness of having their men away for long periods of time on a Saturday. The issue was clouded further by the fact that last weekend some did not make it home until the afternoon, by which time the beds were made, the clothes laundered, the floors mopped, the car washed, the grass cut, the shopping done and the evening meal in the advanced stages of preparation. One 48 year old left a note on the fridge which read ‘Gone to the mountain with Eugene; may be gone some time.’ Another arrived in Tollymore on Friday evening to present his note which said, ‘John is not allowed to run for the foreseeable future.’ It was signed by Dr Emma Kelly! In an unexpected twist of fate Eugene received a letter from Mrs McVeigh asking if her man could be kept for longer!!!

No resurrection on this occasion – just a flat out run!
Not content with leading one run over the weekend, the irrepressible Eugene made a valiant, yet regrettably futile, attempt to resurrect the Sunday 10am run; a traditional favourite in bygone years. In response to ‘numerous requests’ and frequent protestations about the demise of this staple, Eugene sent several emails of encouragement to recruit the less speedy members to avail of a more sedately paced beginning or end to the week. Was he rewarded for his efforts? Certainly not! Only his faithful disciples PJ and the Prophet turned up and as usual the ‘maybes’ decided on the ‘maybe not’ option. I am led to believe that the pace was anything but sedate and was well in line with the speed of the 8:30am run. Upon reading this those who were feeling guilty about letting Eugene down will have no qualms next week as the boys returned around 11.30am with their tongues hanging out and frantically gasping for breath. Despite the provision for two runs, my colleague and great chum Damien decided to attend neither and informed me that, ‘I went out on my own at 9’ – there is no pleasing some people!

Good luck Rich
While gasping deeply for air at the top of the ‘long haul’ towards the end of the 8:30am run and embarrassingly dropped for about the fourth time!, I was greeted by the welcome vision of Mourne Runners in fine fettle as their hibernation is now officially over and earnest training has started in preparation for another successful Hill and Dale season. In the midst of the group was none other than Richard Bell, who, it would appear, has found his ‘Valhalla’ in the blue and yellow. Saddened by his departure in the transfer window, we wish him all the best for the forthcoming season, confident that he blossom and flourish under the directive regulation of the many gurus who will inexorably impart wisdom and counsel. With only a few days remaining until the window officially closes on 31st January it would be fooling to assume that all of the changing of vest colours has taken place and if my sources are to be believed there could yet be one or two unlikely changes to come.

Junior news
Well done to Patrick Sheridan who placed 14th in the U-15 boys’ race at the IAAF Cross Country in Antrim yesterday. The race was won by Euan Gillham from Kilbarchan AAC.
Congratulations to all our athletes who produced some great performances in Donard Park in Race 3 of the Athletics NI Primary School Cross Country League on Monday 16th January. Representing All Children’s in the girl’s race were Michaela Quinn, Eve Kenneally, Lucy Kenneally, Kiara Kairns, Kate Lenny and Eabha Campbell. In the boys’ race, again representing All Children’s, were Caolan Hawkins, Gabriel Corrigan, Ben McGuigan and Tom Rodgers. Well done to the athletes who were racing on consecutive days. The girls’ team placed first in County Down and the boys’ team placed 4th. The girls’ team is therefore through to the Northern Ireland finals where they will compete against the other Counties. The first 5 individuals also qualify which means Caolan Hawkins and Gabriel Corrigan have qualified to compete. The final takes place in Mallusk Playing Fields on 22nd February before the Ulster Schools Cross Country Championships. Many of our post-primary athletes will be competing at the District Schools’ Cross Country Championships on 2nd February in Delamont Country Park near Killyleagh to try to secure their place at the Mallusk races.

Life is a rollercoaster!
For those of a racing disposition, next week sees the East Down promoted and appositely named rollercoaster races in the grounds of Downpatrick racecourse. The 5km distance is undulating and is a real test of strength and character. David O’Flaherty was the best placed Newcastle athlete last year in 6th place, recording an impressive 17:25, as the first 10 athletes were separated by less than a minute. With junior races from Primary 4 upwards before the main event and high quality soup after the race, this promises to be a great day out for the entire family.