From 1 mile to 13.1 miles – it is all in a week’s work for NAC

Hanna shows no signs of tiredness on Mill Hill by Bogusboy

On Tuesday 13th September 2016, well over one hundred athletes turned out for the annual Mill Hill Mile road race which finishes in Castlewellan.  Athletes start in Ann borough at the ‘big tree’ and run exactly one mile uphill to the Market House in Castlewellan.  The event has enjoyed somewhat of resurgence in recent years, with participant numbers rising from 2015. Charity was the real winner on the evening with £710.66 collected in donations in lieu of entry form runners and a few cyclists that took park in Shimna Wheelers Mill Hill Mile Time Trial. Newcastle AC has matched this sum, taking the total to £1421.32 for Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children’s Shimna Valley Development.

Fresh from his excellent performance at the weekend’s World Mountain Running Championships in far off fields, the host club’s Zak Hanna sealed an impressive victory. The in-form athlete made his intentions clear from the off, racing clear of the field to win in 5:37, a time that compares well with recent winning efforts. In truth, he had the race won in the first quarter and could relax, insofar as one can whilst racing uphill, secure that he was out of reach.  When asked about his efforts at the weekend her replied, ‘it was like running on a gradient similar to that from the saddle to the top of Donard for 8 miles.’ On hearing this, Niall Carson suffered a nosebleed and had to go for a lie down, such is his aversion to all things steep! Young Ballydrain Harrier Scott McKeag followed in 5:52 made it a great evening for the young fellas,  while V45 Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC) crossed the line in third place (5:56), demonstrating that age is no barrier to success.  McKibben continues to impress in this event year on year, leaving many younger men trailing in his wake.

Further back the Spartan beat the Landlord by the now obligatory 3 seconds, while ‘Storming’ Frank Cunningham proved to be the living embodiment of the rewards that come from hard training as he impressively scythed through a quality field.  Club stalwart Patricia McKibben was quick to point out that the benefits of regular and sustained training are exponential. Frank concurred!

In the ladies race, last year’s runner up and previous winner of the event Joanne Mills stole the headlines.  Despite the best efforts of up and coming stars Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC) and Laura Gardiner (East Down AC), Joanne secured victory in 6:33. Rebekah took 2nd place in 6:52, before Laura clocked 7:10 for 3rd place.

There were some equally impressive performances from the many juvenile athletes brave enough to take on such a daunting challenge; Adam McKibbin (aged 14), Bethany Nixon (aged 14), Lauren Madine (aged 10!!!) and Pascal Toner (aged at least 57) all stood out!


Belfast City Half Marathon 2016 by Percy Grower

On Sunday 18th September Newcastle AC road captain Joe McCann took a select team to the streets of Belfast for the city’s fourth running of the Belfast Half Marathon. Traditionally this race is an ideal marker for those athletes on the build up to the Dublin Marathon at the end of October, yet, surprisingly not many of them made it to the team bus. Those that did have given themselves a big confidence boost and a good idea of their race day pace for Dublin, which is now only 6 weeks away and counting.

First home for Newcastle was Francis Tumelty, running an impressive 1:21:35; a time that was good enough for 45th place overall. He was closely followed home in 50th place by a well-rested Jack O’Hare, who had sensibly taken a rare Saturday night off work, in a time 1:22:19. O’Hare had feasted all evening on smoked mackerel, tinned tomatoes and mung beans to ensure the boiler was firing on all cylinders. He produced a turbo-charged second half to sustain the good form shown recently.  His preparations take a new turn in the weeks ahead with a warm weather training camp at altitude planned to complete his training arrangements for Dublin.

Frank Cunningham over 5k or 10k is usually known for his blistering early pace, but with stepping up in distance to the Half Marathon he disciplined himself from the start and reaped the rewards with a fantastic PB of 1:28:13. Likewise Philip Murdock was in great form and also PB’d in 1:29:03 (this follows his first sub-40 minute 10k at the recent Laganside race). He even got home in time to see Watford beating Man Utd, who says popular Danish lagers don’t do Sundays? Joe McCann was Phil’s pacer for the race and an excellent job he did with consistent mile splits and encouraging words throughout, though surprisingly not one mention of the Armagh 10.

Niall Carson who struggled slightly with the distance and sore feet, finished with 1:32:46, just ahead of Michael McDonald in 1:33:01. Closely behind Michael were David Lowry & Aine Gosling, both Dublin entrants, in 1:33:43 & 1:34:30 respectively. Both their times will give them a great boost for Dublin as they head into the closing stages of their marathon preparation. Club stalwart Paul Rodgers, festooned in more recent club racing apparel, was mere strides behind Aine crossing the line and he celebrated his 1:34:35 by uncharacteristically joining his fellow athletes for post-race coffee, craft rye bread and enough eggs to keep the Prophet’s hens laying for a fortnight. Kaffe O had brewed a special ‘Artisan Blend’ which Rodgers declared ‘a fine brew’ worthy of any gymkhana and spelling jamboree.

Rita Devlin continued her steady build up to Dublin finishing in 1:38:22 and Paul Fitzpatrick completed the Newcastle finishers with a time of 1:50:50. A look ahead on the racing calendar sees the GR8 Dundrum run and the aforementioned Armagh 10 on the 8th & 9th of October with the popular Victoria Park relays the previous week, where the Newcastle Ladies are hoping to repeat their victory from last year. Saturday 15th October sees a new race and exciting race in the NI calendar, the Red High 10k, starting and finishing at St. Patrick’s Grammar School in Downpatrick

Position Name Category Finish Halfway Chip time
45 Francis Tumelty M45 01:21:36 00:39:40 01:21:35
50 Jack O’Hare M40 01:22:20 00:40:53 01:22:19
136 Frank Cunningham MO 01:28:50 00:43:51 01:28:13
165 Joe McCann M45 01:29:39 00:44:35 01:29:34
166 Philip Murdock M45 01:29:40 00:44:35 01:29:03
260 Niall Carson M40 01:33:32 00:45:53 01:32:46
264 Michael McDonald M35 01:33:35 00:45:18 01:33:01
284 David Lowry M40 01:34:18 00:46:59 01:33:43
305 Aine Gosling F35 01:35:03 00:47:10 01:34:30
308 Paul Rodgers M50 01:35:10 00:46:49 01:34:35
433 Rita Devlin F40 01:38:57 00:49:27 01:38:22
1039 Paul Fitzpatrick M40 01:52:14 00:55:25 01:50:50