Another Day of PBs and outstanding performances

A special report on the Deep River Rock Belfast City Marathon by Bogusboy

Some of Team NAC at the start line – Fegan, McAuley, Gosling, Meehan and Rodgers – the calm before the storm.

For the second Sunday in a row members of Newcastle AC took to the streets to complete 26.2 hard and unforgiving miles; this time it was the Belfast City Marathon. With a new course designed to be more user friendly and less hilly and the Marathon taking place on Sunday for the first time in the 38 year history of the event, organisers were confident of a successful relaunch.

Both decisions proved controversial for different reasons. Initially there was opposition to the event taking place on a Sunday and the departure from the traditional Monday Bank Holiday was heavily criticised in some circles. In the aftermath, most would now agree that this was a sensible decision, allowing competitors travelling to the event the luxury of not rushing home to perhaps attend work on Tuesday. The second controversy arose on the day as early on many, including the designated pacers realised that the course was measuring long. This is not the forum for a debate on what went wrong, but suffice to say the runners completed around 0.4 of a mile more than they were supposed to. To the uninitiated, this may seem a mere bagatelle, but to those who have trained for 18 weeks and are following a pre-determined pacing schedule, it means everything.  To their credit, the organisers responded and adjusted times though how precisely this can be done is a matter of conjecture. Promises have been made to learn from the mistakes made and ensure that nothing similar happens in 2020. Let’s hope that this is the case and that this event is not remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Notwithstanding the publicity received for all the wrong reasons, the event itself left much cause for celebration. The course was certainly an improvement on recent years despite retaining a few undulations and a number of sharp turns. Support along the way was generally good, though there were occasional lonely places where spectators were thin on the ground. From the vantage point of supporting on two wheels, we were able to get to a number of locations to see our favourites and were certainly impressed by the atmosphere at the relay change over point on the Falls Road, along Oxford Street at the Waterfront and the massive crowds on the Ormeau Road and along the Embankment. For those supporting on foot there were opportunities to see the runners at least 4 times which certainly offered a big lift to those taking on the challenge. Continue reading

Hanna Storms to European Championship selection

Newcastle Athletics Club member Zak Hanna has been selected to represent Ireland in the upcoming European Mountain Running Championships which take place in the scenic Swiss town of Zermatt, at the foot of the world famous Matterhorn mountain.

Living on the slopes of Slieve Croob outside Dromara Zak travelled down to Wicklow on Saturday to compete in the trial race which would select the team to travel to Switzerland.

With this year’s race an uphill only race compared to last year’s championship being an ‘up and down’ race, runners competing in the trial would start at Crone Woods car park on the edge of the Wicklow Mountains and climb along the Wicklow Way trails before entering the open mountain and begin the long and steep ascent to the summit of Djouce Mountain at 725 m (2,379 ft) above sea level-similar to running from Newcastle to the top of Slieve Commedagh.

Zak summited Djouce in first place with a good gap over the second placed runner to add another Irish cap to his list.

Zak Hanna and Tony McCambridge

Two sub threes and three PBs – a good return for NAC at the VLM

A special report by Bogusboy

The Virgin London Marathon is one of the undoubted highlights in the annual running calendar. As one of the six majors (the others are Berlin, Tokyo, New York, Chicago and Boston), huge crowds flock to the capital for the annual 26.2 loop of one of the world’s most iconic cities. Logistically, it is work of genius that takes a full year to plan and it is increasingly difficult to get an entry with the revised qualifying times. Hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets in a carnival like atmosphere that inspires the runners to keep going, particularly in the later stages when the legs are tired and the glycogen stores become increasingly depleted. The enormity of the challenge is best summed up by the words of the Prophet who remarked that ‘it is a 20 mile warm up for a 6 mile race.’ This year he added to his repertoire of sage like comments with the well-crafted observation that ‘if you run like the devil for 20 miles, you will meet him in the last 6.’ Continue reading

British Championship Race Number 1

Saturday April 27th saw the first round of the British Championship take place in Newcastle. The race was meant to be the same as last year, the Mourne High Line, which starts at Spelga and makes it’s way over to Commedagh before finishing in Newcastle but unfortunately due to the weather and strong winds organisers were forced to change the course at the last minute. Frantic course marking took place throughout Donard Park and with all marshals in place the race was still able to go ahead on time. The route would be starting in Donard Park going along fire roads to the Granite Trail, a sharp ascent to get the legs going then over to checkpoint 1 at the upper bridge before following the Glen river path all the way to checkpoint 2 at the saddle. Checkpoint 3 was on top of Commedagh before returning the same way down to the upper bridge again where a fast finish along fire roads and trail took runners back to Donard Park. Continue reading