Belfast Half is ideal preparation for Dublin Marathon
With six weeks to go until the Dublin City marathon on the last Monday of October, the timing of the Belfast half could not have been more apposite. Newcastle AC athletes have been training hard, following an arduous programme set by club marathon guru Paul Rodgers. To date all has gone to plan and September 14th gave the runners a chance to gauge their progress over a very well planned and testing course. With 3096 finishers, it was a busy day for the organisers, who, it must be said, coped with the unexpected events stoically.
First home for Newcastle was Paul Carlin in a very respectable 1:17:15, a time good enough for 14th place overall in a high quality race won by Freddy Sittuk in a very fast 1:07:31, just three seconds ahead of local favourite Eddie McGinley. Next home for Newcastle was Mark Kendall in 231st in a time of 1:20:36 – a time which bodes well as the Banbridge based man launches another assault on the magical 2:40 barrier for the 26.2. Perennial Marathoner Alan Strachan had another fine run, dipping under the 1:22 mark by a single second. The ‘Prophet’ had a great run to record an impressive 1:26:59 as his confidence grows ahead of Dublin. In his post-race interview he declared himself 100% pleased with a performance that will undoubtedly inspire him in the remaining weeks of the marathon programme. He also showed his true character by offering his clothes and a ‘lock of pounds’ to an abandoned and stranded colleagues – a prophet and a ‘Saint’!!!
Niall Carson was Next home in 1:29:40, a time that will please coach Rodgers. Niall has been putting the miles in throughout the summer and will be pleased to record PBs in successive weeks, having set a new best mark at the Laganside 10k last Sunday. Joe McCann was the final male NAC athlete across the line in 1:37:45, his fastest outing in three half marathons this summer. Newcastle’s only female representative was Rita Devlin who recorded a very impressive 1:47:40 in her debut over the distance.
Congratulations also to the large numbers from our local clubs, Murlough AC, East Down AC, Leitrim Ladies and to those unattached athletes (including William og McCawley who crept up behind me with considerable stealth on Balmoral Avenue and proceeded to sprint away in the final quarter mile – long runs the Silver Fox!!!) who performed really well and ensured a great representation from the local running community.