Club notes for week of 25th March 2012

By Joe McCann
Spring is in the air and Quail has a maiden fair!
Castlewellan Lakes Team Photo

Quite often in this column running analysis is the poor relation to gossip and observational remarks on the motley crue of reprobates and rapscallions that make up Newcastle AC. This week is no exception. While the headlines should centre on the magnificent Spring Lake 10k that was extremely well organised by Castlewellan GACAC, the main talking point of the day was the newest and to date most novel method of cooling down after a race.
Now those of us familiar with the benefits that accrue from a good cool down will agree that they include helping the body make the transition from intense running to normal activity. More specifically, a 5 to 10-minute post-training jog or walk prevents blood from pooling in the legs, which can happen after a hard run. This limits blood flow to the heart and brain, and can lead to dizziness, nausea and other problems. Slow running will keep blood circulating around the body. So all in all a post-race run is generally a good idea! Much to the chagrin of his colleagues, Quail opted for a hitherto unknown cool down method, namely strolling hand in hand with his beloved, gazing lovingly into her eyes and whispering sweet nothings in her ear! Race organiser Donal Ward, after much reflection, commented that it was great to see athletes dabble with alternative and innovative training methodologies. Other club members are thinking of following this ground-breaking lead!

O’Flaherty is the star turn
Newcastle’s David O’Flaherty proved to be the man of the day, claiming an impressive victory. His performance is even more remarkable in light of the fact that he ran to the summit of Slieve Donard 24 hours earlier with Deon and Gene as part of the continued mountain training regime. He also had a ‘swift half’ to drown his sorrows at the second Liverpool defeat in a week to less formidable opposition. However from the get go on Sunday he was in imperious form, calculating to perfection when to make his decisive move. When it came it was just that and he held on in the latter stages to hold off the challenge of a very gutsy performance from Brian Young. Quail made it two in the top three for Newcastle as he had 30 seconds to spare over the fourth placed athlete. Further down Newcastle athletes packed in well with Eamon McCrickard 5th, Aidan Brown 6th, Audey McVeigh (making a rarer than hen’s teeth racing appearance) 7th, the Prophet 8th, Paul Watson 9th and PJ McCrickard completing the top 10. It was also pleasing to see some other athletes who have recovered from injuries racing again and giving a good account of themselves. Paschal Toner had ran very strongly in the first half and stayed on well to claim 15th, marginally ahead of John ‘Hen’ Kelly who has neither trained nor raced in months. Francie McAlinden worked hard throughout and was rewarded with 22nd, just ahead of Jack O’Hare, who, touch wood, is over the worst of a bedevilling series of running setbacks.

David O’Flaherty
Newcastle AC

Brendan Quail
Newcastle AC

Eamon McCrickard
Newcastle AC

Aiden Brown
Newcastle AC

Audey McVeigh
Newcastle AC

Jerome McCrickard
Newcastle AC

Paul Watson
Newcastle AC

PJ McCrickard
Newcastle AC

Joe McCann
Newcastle AC

Pascal Toner
Newcastle AC

John Kelly
Newcastle AC

Francis McAlinden
Newcastle AC

Jack O’Hare
Newcastle AC

Well done to the ‘Town’
It would be remiss not to congratulate the members of Castlewellan GACAC on organising a very enjoyable and smooth race. The course was a good challenge, but not too difficult. The organisation was seamless and the marshalling excellent. The post-race festivities were equally impressive; so much was this the case that when I casually observed that all the buns were gone (not that I need buns, but I want buns!), Charlie McAlinden disappeared to the local supermarket and returned with a selection of pastries. He even took into account that I am off chocolate for lent and to my delight all of the buns fell within my permitted range! I am confident that this race will grow in the years ahead. The atmosphere was excellent, made all the better by a DJ at the start and finish and Tommy Fitz belting out a few tunes in the club.

St Luke of the 5k on Paddy’s day!
Belated congratulations to Luke McMullan, who unsurprisingly, was the only Newcastle AC athlete to participate in the Dublin City 5k road race on St. Patrick’s Day. Luke turned in a stellar performance, recording a highly impressive 16:35 for the 3.1 miles. No Doubt he will be a favourite for the final race in the club winter series if he competes in the as yet unrevealed, but exciting, series finale on a date still to be announced! The race, which was won by international athlete Gareth Turnball (14:26) attracted a field of 855 and our man can be mightily pleased with his performance which was good enough for 27th place overall. My sources revealed that Luke is planning a visit up north to compete against Newcastle and Leitrim’s finest next Saturday, confident that he can cause a major upset. Kendall and O’Flaherty are believed to be worried. Leitrim legend, Jerome the Prophet, enquired about Luke’s age and then mused, ‘well Joe, it could be a case of the young bull and the oul bulls and my money is on the oul bulls since they have bigger horns.’ I have no idea what he meant, but I was forced to bow to his wisdom and nod appreciatively to avoid appearing ignorant.

Steady running Mark’s the spot in Larne!
Mark Kendall continued his belligerent assault on a sub-2:50 London by travelling to Larne for the annual half marathon on Saturday 24th March. This race is one of the traditional staples in the diet for those targeting London or indeed any spring marathon. In fact I even recall encouraging Brannigan to travel beyond the Newcastle town limits to this race in the run up to London 2004. Mark had a bit of a nightmare at this race last year, something that was not mentioned by his club mates (some of the less charitable athletes uttered phrases like, ‘did you stop for a cup of tea?’, ‘did you get lost?’ and ‘did you run further than 13.1?’ were among some of the more printable observations and remarks!). This year he was determined to lay that ghost to rest and turn in a performance commensurate with his current high intensity training.
This was the last race Mark had planned before the London Marathon on 22nd April, and he intentionally refused to ease up his training in the week to simulate the second half of a marathon running on tired legs.
The route of the half marathon had changed slightly this year, with the race starting down by the harbour, and taking in a loop of the town centre before going out the picturesque coast road to Ballygally. The route cut out some of the hill early in the second half, which made for faster and more consistently paced even running.
His race plan was to set out at 6 minute mile pace and try and hold on for as long as possible. Mark completed the first half of the race in 39.16 and was feeling good. On the way out the weather was perfect for running, with sun and no wind. Mark reports that the second half of the race returning to Larne more difficult. With tiring legs after a hard week of training, Mark slowed up slightly, finishing in 25th overall in 1.19.49 and average 6.05 per mile. All in all a good day’s work for Newcastle’s main hope for London 2012!

Leitrim and Hill & Dale
Next week all roads lead to Leitrim for the second Annual 5 Mile Road Race (see separate feature). The 2012 Hill & Dale series gets underway on Thursday 12th April. Online registration opened on Monday 19th March and competitors are encouraged to register in advance to speed up the process of entries on the opening night in Castlewellan.