NI Road Relay Championships 2013

No Victoria Sponge, but a great day out for a fiver!
by Terry Tullian
The training had been intense, the calories were counted religiously on a daily basis, the selection process ruthless, but finally the day had arrived and the ‘sweet 16’ athletes, carefully selected from the rank and file of Newcastle AC were ready to do battle with clubs representing the very best of Athletics in NI (though there was a dearth of Murlough ladies!)  The rain had gone to ground (literally!) and the air was warm by way of endorsing all of the hard work and effort of Orangegrove in organising the races.

A special word of praise for the host club Orangegrove AC; they have embraced the organisation of this event enthusiastically and ensured that the athletes enjoyed a great day out on a balmy October day.  For the very reasonable entry fee of £20 for a team of four there was a tasty burger and a delicious coffee on offer to all.  One Newcastle athlete, who will remain nameless, but it sounds a lot like Damien Brannigan asked for a burger without meat and much to the incredulity of the barbecue pit master was delighted with his dry bap!  The same athlete also bumped the queue to get a coffee, once again leaving those around shaking their heads in disbelief.  His feeble excuse of ‘the car is going to leave without me and I am parched’ was met with differing levels of sympathy! On the way home he commented that it was one of the tastiest dry bread rolls he had ever savoured, and believe me he has had quite a few!  Others were less troglodyte in their actions and the team manager was seen to be hanging around the burger area a little more than was deemed necessary.

At 3:15pm sharp the racing got underway and with all of the traditional giants of NI road running present, Annadale Striders, North Belfast Harriers, Willowfield Temperance Harriers to name but three, the competition was always going to be very tough.  Each athlete in the four man team completed two laps of Victoria Part, covering just over two miles in the process.  The Newcastle AC lads put up a fine display and the A Team of McNeilly (David), O’Flaherty, Quail and Steele fininshed a highly respectable 6th overall.  They were followed by the B Team (9th overall) of Kendall (who had finished 3rd in the Craigavon Park Run that morning!), Sheridan, McCrickard (P) and Brown.  The vets were also well represented and ‘Hen’ made his debut as a captain leading his charges to 8th in the highly competitive masters section, ably assisted by Watson,’ lesser spotted’ Brannigan and DJ Normski Smyth.  Marathon Man McCrickard was accurate in his prediction that his rogue bunch would finish 15th Vet and Rodgers (Paul), Carson and Magee ensured that once again ‘The Prophet’ was bang on the money.

Training for next year’s event begins this Tuesday and Jerome is already forecasting bigger and better things in 2014!