Newcastle defend Team Trophy over the Glens on New Year’s Day
A report on the Race over the Glens by Wingman, with special commentary by Bogusboy.
The desire and commitment to defend the trophy for annual New Year’s Day over the Glens Race in Glenariff Forest Park was such that the captain sent out an early response – well it was 8:30am on December 29th!!! With plenty of time to make arrangements it was envisaged that a bus full of ‘maybes’ could be organised. There were instant responses of support from Luke McMullan, fresh from his great performance in the Christmas Cracker and Sam McNeilly who sent the captain an email and a text rather than walk from one room to another to confirm her availability. By the time Strachan was donning his Kilt for a ‘Tollymore’ style Hogmanay on New Year’s Eve, the over-zealous McMullan was repeatedly enquiring about the strength of the men’s team via Facebook. The response from the captain was candid; ‘it is only you and me!!!’
A few frenetic phone calls later (though I note my own phone was characteristically silent that evening) and as if by a sprinkling of magic fairy dust a team was in place. The original duo Luke and Deon were joined by Seamus Lynch, David Steele, Paul Carlin and ‘Hen’ Kelly. Hen came under much protest, enquiring why Eamon McCrickard wasn’t on the team. However, he was reassured when told that Eamon had not been selected, though I’m sure he did not believe that old chestnut given it was an open race!!! New Year’s Day arrived and the team arrived in wet and windy Glenariff Forest. Fortunately for our fearless and valiant athletes this year the rain was only cold rather than freezing. Much to Hen’s surprise, McCrickard arrived in the other car; was there really ever any serious doubt that the Big Fella’s Fella would let the Big Fella down. Hen’s protest was short-lived and soon he was festooned in the red and yellow and ready for battle.
The race was very tough as usual with an even stronger field than last year and over 400 runners starting the race. Perhaps the most ill-prepared for the late call up was Seamus Lynch, who is clearly saving any plans for tapering for later in the year! Having already won the Turkey Trot on Boxing Day, finished 2nd team in the Cracker with David Steele and followed this a few days later with the Prophet’s epic tour of the Leitrim Hills, not to mention late night New Year’s Eve celebrations, he remarkably finished in third place behind 9 times winner Jarlath Falls and in-form Mark McKinstry of North Belfast Harriers. Next for Newcastle, in 9th place, was London-based Luke McMullan showing that the track sessions with Hearn Hill Harriers where paying off. David Steele was close on Luke’s heals in 10th , followed by Paul Carlin 12th, Deon McNeilly 17th, Eamon completing the team of 6 in 24th place and Hen not far behind in 30th position, ensuring any challengers from host Club Ballymena Runners were pushed a few points back. The close packing in a quality field ensured Newcastle easily won the team trophy for the second successive year.
Sam McNeilly, Newcastle’s only female representative had a great run, clearly benefitting from head coach Joe McCann’s sessions, finishing 17th lady, 3 minutes quicker than last years’ time. If all the unattached (to a Club as opposed to a partner!!!) ‘in-form’ ladies in the Newcastle area, actually joined Newcastle AC they could be winning a few trophies along with the men. The ladies race was won by unattached Shalene McMurray from the Newcastle area!!!. Next year Captain McNeilly is planning to move earlier to secure a third successive title and members are asked to check for texts and emails on 28th December!