19 Newcastle AC athletes were among the 286 competitors that completed the Les Jones 10k on Friday May 13. It was not to be unlucky for Jack O’Hare as he continued his fine run of form with another impressive performance. Jack was in contention with the leaders in the early stages and held his form in the second half of the race to secure 10th place overall and win his V40 category. Buoyed by his performance in the race last year, he had been targeting this event to showcase his talents. He is particularly fond of the steep climb that characterises mile 5 of the race and uses this as the launch pad for his burst for the line. 36:37 is a fine time for this course which is considered by all to be a ‘tough test of running.’ The downside is that we now have another account of how he ran to endure for the foreseeable future. Next home in red and yellow was Patrick Higgins. Patrick had competed in the Hill & Dale race at Rocky the previous evening and was perhaps a little more circumspect on this occasion. On Thursday he had done the first half of a ‘Shalene McMurray’. Regrettably he could not do the second half. For the uninitiated, a ‘Shalene McMurray’ is a two-fold process; firstly, destroy all your opponents with a sustained sensational opening burst of speed and, secondly, show absolutely no sign of weakness in extending your lead all the way to the line to win by a considerable margin. On Thursday, Patrick had built up a commanding lead ‘early doors’, but had to content himself with a minor placing once the wheels came off and his rivals came streaming past! 24 hours later and a lot wiser, Patrick ran a much more sensible race to finish 17th.
A steady stream
The NAC faithful came in steadily thereafter, with Brown, Tumelty and Byrne showing some impressive form to make the top 40. Wonderwall got the better of McCann (again!) and attributed his success to one simple factor – ‘I’m a far better runner than him’ – long runs the silver fox! Carson was consistent and achieved his goal of a sub 42 in the aftermath of London and Cunningham made up a lot of ground on the track to overhaul Rodgers and upset greatly his erstwhile Cracker partner. Pascal Toner, struggling with injury ‘manned up’ and ran a steady race to dip under 43 minutes – a time that pleased him in the circumstances. Ashlene McGeough was first of the three NAC ladies to finish, with Brendan McQuaid and the Prophet close behind. The Prophet was on pacing duties for the evening and brought his charges home in style. Regrettably, his two colleagues failed to read the last page of the script and piled on the speed on the track, much to the Prophet’s chagrin. Phil Murdock was under ‘house arrest’ and, with two weeks to the Liverpool Marathon was not allowed to break 7:15 per mile. He kept to this and was comfortable in finishing in 43:54, before retiring for an early bath.
Mentally tough times
In recent times, mental toughness has become as important as physical fitness and as part of the preparation for this race football trivia was built into the warm up. Ciaran og Mussen was easily the most mentally resilient – no mean feat when Byrne is around – and was able to identify the four teams that have played in the Premier League and have since been relegated to the fourth tier of English football as well as the two teams that have won the old First Division, but have yet to play in the Premier League – answers in the next race report. He would be rewarded with a time outside 44 minutes and the scalp of Ronnie Horrox. This was Big Ron’s first outing over 10k and he was easily the quickest in the entire field over the last 300m on the track. Once he saw the finish he was like a man possessed and blazed past half a dozen of his competitors in a matter of seconds – pity he was unable to get the marathon crew through Lisburn at the same speed a couple of weeks earlier. Rita Devlin proved her prowess as a NAC athlete by being a ‘definitely/maybe’ right up to the moment of pulling on the vest and heading for the line. Niggles and pains are a natural by-product of running a marathon. However, in an atypical NAC behaviour, she raced despite injury and was just outside 45 minutes. The Newcastle contingent was reunited at the finish when Megan McGreevy in her first ever 10k came home in just under 46 minutes – averaging less than 7:30 for the 6.25 miles, a great achievement in her debut.
The Les Jones is a very god challenge and offers something for everyone. For Carson it was an opportunity to resume his love affair with cereal bars, though on race day he only managed to consume 4 boxes! ‘Sure that would be enough for a 10k!’ For others it was a was an excuse to get back on the electrolyte tablets to flavour the water, while for others it was an adept ploy to get to Belfast for a burger and a beer. Some were not allowed to go and, in the absence of a signed permission slip, were consigned to the early bus home – as the evangelist noted ‘A prophet is never accepted in his own land’.
|112||Ciaran Og Mussen||MO||00:44:14||00:44:05|