Impressive PBs over 13.1 and 6.2 for Newcastle Athletes.
A review of the weekend’s racing by Bogusboy
Since the beginning of January many of the Newcastle AC faithful have braved the elements and taken to the roads in less than ideal weather in preparation for one of the many spring marathons across the UK and beyond. For most the focus has been on London, now less than a fortnight away on 24 April. For a smaller number M day was Sunday 10 April in Manchester. Noel Gallagher and Pascal Toner travelled from Newcastle and were joined in the home of Wonderwall’s favourite band by Brendan Donnelly. All three equipped themselves well and turned in great performances. Noel had sought advice from anyone who would give it and had tortured himself and all of his club mates with the burning dilemma, ‘should I go with the hour balloons’? Aiming for a 3:05 to secure a place in London 2017, he showed uncharacteristic patience and prudence in going out steady. Through halfway in 1:30:05, he held on well and ran a very been paced second half to cross the line just 27 seconds outside the three hour mark. Coach Rodgers was quick to point out that this will give him something to fret about and motivate him for the next 52 weeks. No doubt he will be asking more questions of those around him. His planning is already underway and a 1:18 half in Bohermeen is already scheduled.
He kept a lot closer to the balloons this time
Donnelly’s trials and tribulations with the marathon have been the subject of much column space in recent years. His early flirtations with greatness have regrettably ended in frustration and disappointment in the latter stages of the race. Putting all of this behind him and creating a positive memory of running 26.2 miles was the primary objective of his sojourn north. On this occasion he delivered like a trucker with a load of steel bound for Balbriggan and laid some ghosts to rest in the process. Going out at a more sensible pace he crossed the halfway point in 1:29:25 and crossed the line hand in hand with Wonderwall in 3:00:28, comfortably recording his fastest second half of a marathon by a considerable margin. He too will be confident of the sub three that has eluded him to date in London next year. Both men have secured their ‘good for age’ entry and will be relishing the challenge of making the minor adjustments needed to improve by half a minute.
57 not out!
The third member of the posse was Pascal Toner. Pascal had got the weekend off to a flyer watching his beloved Manchester City record a win over WBA. Sunday morning started well also as he made light work of the first half of the race, completing the first 21k in 1:31:41, a time that indicated the hard work that had gone into training in the weeks leading up to the event. Unfortunately leg cramps in the later stages put paid to his hopes of a sub 3:20. Still 3:23:54 is a great achievement at the age of 57 and knowing the ‘teak tough townie’ and his levels of determination, discipline and resilience, we can be confident that he will be back faster and stronger to put this one behind him.
Great times in testing times at Titanic
While these lads were getting their marathon out of the way, others were having a final hurray at the Titanic 10k. The race was a gathering of many of the fastest athletes in the province as evidenced by the sub-31 minute winning time. David O’Flaherty in seventh overall was the best of the NAC athletes on parade, recording an impressive new PB of 32:06 in windy conditions. He was closely followed by Seamus Lynch – 10th in 32:38. David Steele was a very impressive 16th (34:11). Unfortunately Martin Melville had to pull out at just beyond 5k with the recurrence of a hamstring injury that has bedevilled his progress this year.
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The ladies race was a tight affair, but class prevailed as Kerry O’Flaherty remained strong to the line and was 19th overall in 34:20, 15 Seconds ahead of Ann Marie McGlynn of Letterkenny AC. Mourne Runners’ Laura Graham continued to show impressive improvement finishing third on the female podium (35:24).
A little further down the field Jack O’Hare and Paul Byrne both recorded impressive negative splits as the former prevailed by 8 seconds as both recorded identical times for the second half. Joe McCann was just over a minute behind, incapable of going with the pace of his rivals in the second half of the race. The Prophet gave a good account of himself (40:47) and Niall King claimed he was happy to be out of the house for an hour! His time (41:39) was marred by the fact that he stopped for a bottle and a change of nappy at the 5k mark. The final member of the team was Mark Keane who continues to make monumental strides (awful pun!!!) with each passing week. His time of 42:46, which secured a finish in the top 20% of the field of 1100, clearly evidences the benefits that accrue from attending regular endurance and conditioning sessions with one’s club.
Paul Fitzpatrick was the only NAC runner to take the line in Hilltown for the 10k and came home 59th out of 138 in 49 minutes dead.
Donard Commedagh Race – British Fell Running Championship
Colum Campbell (34th overall) was first home for Newcastle on a tough day in the Mourne Mountains. Conditions were heavy underfoot as 245 lion-hearted souls left Donard Park to begin the ascent of the two highest peaks in Northern Ireland. Rob Hope would emerge from the heights victorious though he had only 8 seconds to spare over Sam Tosh, with Rhys Findlay Robinson a further 18 seconds back in third. Allan Bogle of City of Derry was the first Ni runner home in a very credible 9th place overall. Newcastle AC had 14 athletes in the race and all performed very well.
Hill & Dale is here again
Incredible as it may seem, it is time for the Hill & Dale season to roar back into life. With record numbers pre-registered for the season-opener in Castlewellan, it promises to be a great sight on Thursday (14 April) when almost 400 runners will begin their quest for personal glory. Registration is now closed and there will be no registration on the night. Registration will re-open on Friday. We look forward to seeing the usual crowds of spectators who add to the sense of occasion. The race begins at 7:30pm sharp at the lakeside.