Three Places In Three Days: Far Flung Adventures And Bohemian Rhapsodies

Terry Tullian reports from Frankfurt, Dublin and Rostrevor

Chicago is internationally renowned as known as ‘WindyCity’.  After the experiences of the Newcastle trio Mark Kendall, Alan Strachan and Norman Smyth they claim that Frankfurt is a serious challenger for that title.  After 26.2 miles of running through the city they agreed that this was one blowy place to run.  All three had prepared diligently for the race Sunday 27th October, the day before The Prophet and his sidekick Aidan Brown took to the streets of Dublin, though Strachan’s progress had been hindered by the recurrence of a foot injury that has reduced his mileage.  Smyth was looking for a PB having been disappointed to not claim an automatic ‘Good for Age London’ entry, failing to dip under the 3:15 barrier.  Kendall was looking to get close to his PB while Strachan had resigned himself to knowing that a PB was out of the question for the first time in a long time.

As race day finally approached the weather forecast predicted ‘windy and 18 degrees’ and for once the forecasters, with customary German accuracy and efficiency got it right.  Kendall was philosophical in the aftermath claiming that over the course of the race there were just about equal amounts of wind in the face and wind on the back. The race started at 10.30am and did a 5km loop of the city centre down through the pedestrian precinct before heading out towards the river Main.  It is marketed as being a fast course with it having very little elevation, and it lived up the billing!


At 13.1 ‘we’re halfway there’!

Our athletes were kept entertained throughout as the course was interspersed with live bands and some fantastic heavy metal bands!  At one point a band was playing the Bon Jovi anthem ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’.  Presumably at the mid-point of the race!!!); when some of the Murlough ladies heard this they immediately registered for the 2014 race!!!  Our fearless trio all produced the goods with Kendall first home, recording a new PB of 2:43:22, which on a calmer day may have been a couple of minutes quicker.  His great time was down to some sensible running early on and his increasing ability to ‘see it through’ in the latter stages when the tiredness kicks in and the pain becomes unbearable.  Newcastle AC Marathon coach Paul Rodgers is confident that with this strong base Mark will break the 2:40 barrier in London in the spring.  He commented, ‘I am confident that Mark can break the 2:40 barrier in London in the Spring.’


The Heart of a Lion

Strachan is a true marathon warrior in the spirit of ‘Braveheart.’ He has been fighting injury for months, but trained on in stoic fashion.  He was rewarded with another fantastic sub-3 hour time (2:56:27), a great achievement by anyone’s standards.  I am confident that if he had been offered that time at the beginning of the day he would gladly have accepted it.  The performance of the day came from Norman Smyth who knocked a massive 9 minutes of his PB, recording a truly impressive 3:05:56.  Norman has been training very hard and his recent half Marathon in the company of The Prophet led the wise man to claim, ‘I think DJ Normski will run somewhere between 3:05:55 and 3:05:57.

The trio would recommend Frankfurt as an autumn marathon destination, giving it an overall rating of 8/10; two marks were lost due to the wind and the lack of garlic on the garlic bread in the carbo-loading phase of the weekend.  Our athletes were thankful for the great support offered throughout the race as well as the abundance of refreshment stations serving cold tea, cola and isotonic drinks.


How will they end the 2014 Donard Race?

Perhaps the USP of the race was finish inside the Festhalle Complex with loud music and Pom Pom girls.  Kendall has suggested that this is something Marty McVeigh should consider for the end of the Slieve Donard race!  Marty McVeigh is believed to be considering the proposition and a recruitment drive may be launched in the weeks ahead.


Tay, scones and tracking for the maybes!

While the runners were running in Frankfurt a group of supporters were gathered in Niki’s Kitchen Café to give a blow by blow
account to anyone who would listen as well as those who would not.  Armed with iPhones, smartphones and iPads they sipped coffee, eat porridge, toast, fruit, scones and buns as they hung spellbound to their devices running each step of the way with their heroes.   One astute observer sent these observations: ‘In fulfilment of George Orwell’s 1984 predictions, Big Brother in the guise of Carson, McCann and Rodgers had repaired to the land of caffeine and baked goods to keep an eye on proceedings in the land of the sausage. Initially Rodgers and Carson proved to be clueless with the wireless until joined by doyen of the dongle McCann. Soon the marathon lads were being tracked through the streets of Frankfurt on Google map, represented by tiny running men; one sporting a quiff worthy of Elvis, one a fetching pair of mirrored sunglasses and one with significantly more swing in the pinting arm. Splits were assessed, predictions made and seals of approval granted to all three runs. Interestingly, Orwell’s lesser-known follow-up work, 2014, predicted that Sunderland FC would run away with the Premiership, a Newcastle Cross-Country squad would run away with the NI Junior XC and that Damien would run away from anyone who asked him to a race. In re-wording the classic words of Meatloaf, ‘one outta three ain’t bad.’ Watch this space and remember cous cous does not grow on the upper deck of a cruise liner!


A great turn out at the Bobby Rea Memorial XC

Closer to home in equally squally conditions, the Bobby Rea Memorial Cross Country took place in Rostrevor.  There were some fine local performances with East Down the impressive winners of a very tight team event.  Well done to our neighbours on a great achievement.  Newcastle, weakened by a few DNEBG (Did Not Even Bother Going – a condition rife in the club!) did well to finish 5th overall and team captain David can be pleased with his efforts in rallying the troops – he got a few more ‘maybes’ than usual on the bus and all bodes well for the assault on the NI Junior title in January!  McNeilly ran like a captain leading his charges home in 17th place, narrowly overcoming O’Flaherty. Quail had a sore toe, but stayed on well to finish 3rd scorer and bring the team home.  McDaid pipped P in the battle of the 35s and Jerome Farrell made his racing debut in red and yellow.  Jinxy has been working really hard in training and we expect him to improve rapidly as the winter unfolds. Regrettably Danny O’Boyle did not run and consequently could not be omitted in the report as he was after the GR8.  In other club news, Danny O’Boyle was seen running towards Newcastle in the rain on Saturday and is flying!!!







David McNeilly MO



David O’Flaherty MO



Brendan Quail MO



Damien McDaid M35



PJ McCrickard M35



Jerome Farrell M35


Newcastle AC had only one female competitor, Sam McNeilly who produced a strong run to finish 37th overall in a race that saw 86 women take the like, the most in a local cross country race in many a year.


Forename Surname Category



Sam McNeilly FO



Significant gains in the Capital

The weekend was drawn to a close by the exploits of Jerome McCrickard and Aidan Brown in the Dublin Marathon.  Conditions were less than perfect for the athletes as they pounded the streets for 26.2 miles.  Both men had trained hard and were rewarded with impressive times on a difficult day.  Both were across the start line quickly and into their running.  At the 10k mark Aidan was charging and recorded an impressive 39:49. Jerome was a little back and running a tad more conservatively clocking 41:44.  The gap remained about the same to the half-way point with Aidan on 1:26:05 and Jerome on 1:28:21. However the marathon, by virtue of its very name is not a sprint and the last 6 miles can be a killer.  Jerome stayed on a little better and finished in 3:02:46, a most impressive debut.  Aidan found the going tough in the last few miles, but stuck to his task manfully to record a very pleasing 3:12:35 – no mean feat in his first jaunt over the distance. Both men went into the event knowing that first marathons can be a baptism of fire and both are looking forward to their next outing over the distance in the Spring of 2014.  When asked to share his thoughts on the experience the wise Prophet resurrected one of his old chestnuts with some aplomb, ‘sure it’s the oul dog for the hard road and the pup for the pad!


Plenty to train for in November

In the weeks ahead there are plenty of top quality races, most notably the Seely Cup on 30 November – speed training continues every Tuesday at 6:30pm at the Newcastle Centre and everyone is welcome!  Looking further ahead, the proposed course for the much anticipated Castlewellan Christmas Cracker will be revealed on the third Sunday in November – watch this space and the Newcastle AC website for further details and start thinking about finding your ideal partner!