Christmas Cracker Race 2019 – ONLINE REGISTRATION OPEN!


We know you’ve been waiting on this all week. Christmas Cracker Online Registration is NOW OPEN! 750 entries in total – once they’re gone, they’re gone.

We have prepared ourselves for receiving lots of entries over the next 24 hours! Click the button below for full race information.

Race Preview by Bogusboy


We now have over 500 entries!

Training Sessions for August – November 2019


Please note, other sessions may be available on Tuesdays. Keep an eye on our social media channels for such details.

All sessions begin at 6:30pm

Please note that the Tuesday sessions taking place in Newcastle will be replicated in Castlewellan each week for those trying to stay away from the roads. Meeting at 6:30 at Hillyard House every Tuesday.

DateSessionLocation (Meeting Place)
22 October4 x 1200m
(120 seconds)
Newcastle (Newcastle Centre)
29 October1000m, 2000m, 1000m, 2000m
(60 seconds)
Newcastle (Newcastle Centre)
05 November4 x 1600m
(60 seconds)
Newcastle (Newcastle Centre)
12 November10 x 400m
(60 seconds)
Newcastle (Newcastle Centre)
19 November2 x 1200m (60 seconds)
2 mins
4 x 800m (60 seconds)
Newcastle (Newcastle Centre)
26 November5 x 1000m
(60 seconds)
Newcastle (Newcastle Centre)
03 December6 x 400m - Seeley Cup week
(60 seconds)
Newcastle (Newcastle Centre)

Newcastle Athlete takes on the 10th Eco Trail Ultra Marathon in Wicklow

By The Top Chef

In late September Newcastle and District AC athlete Charlie McAlinden participated in the first Wicklow Eco Ultra Marathon and managed to take a Vet-65 category win. This is a multi-terrain event which starts and finishes on Bray Seafront involved steep climbs over Bray Head and the Little and Great Sugar Loaf peaks. In total the event involved a total ascent of 1660m which is approximately double the height of Slieve Donard mountain. Wicklow is the 10th destination worldwide to host this prestigious international event.

At several different points throughout the course competitors had to run across open farmland and enjoy the experience of being chased by local livestock (well they were trespassing on their patch). Charlie was untroubled by matters such as these as he regularly chased by local farmers bulls along the local laneways of east down when he is out walking the dogs. Continue reading

Newcastle 9 take on the GR8

By Seamus the Cat

With a number of different races taking place across the province on Saturday, 9 Newcastle and District AC members put their toes to the line at the 10th annual GR8 race organised by Murlough AC. Starting in Main Street Dundrum the 8.2 mile race takes runners across an interesting mix of terrains including road, gravel track, boardwalk and beach. As the 1075 runners gathered for the midday start, the weather certainly wasn’t in their favour as a number of very heavy downpours make the underfoot conditions even more demanding.


Veteran takes bragging rights and a category win

Incase anyone had not already heard in the week he was selected for the Northern Ireland cross country team the veteran McVeigh was the first Newcastle runner to finish in a very impressive 49.07 to take 6th place overall and first in his category. The veteran put his strong performance down to the words of wisdom he got pre-race from club cross country captain David O’Flaherty.

Second Newcastle runner home was the younger McVeigh Brian who managed to take nearly 3 minutes off his 2018 time to finish 12th overall in 51.34. Some experienced club members on review of Brian’s performance later in the evening point to the difference between him and his older brother in racing terms being “the top four inches between the ears”. McVeigh responded by claiming he give his all for the cause and so much so he was forced post-race to visit Artie Quinns physio table to get a lower limb muscle rub to ensure he was fit for his weekly quarry/mast sessions to ensure all the mountain sheep were safe and well.

In his first race in a long-time following injury, Paul Byrne put in a fantastic run to finish 25th overall in 53.17. Paul has been putting in tremendous effort at club training of late and it is great to see him back racing. Continue reading

Four hundred teams registered in less than a week

An update on the 2019 Christmas Cracker by Bogusboy

The Castlewellan Christmas Cracker has become one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the NI running Calendar. This year, within one week of going live, over 400 of the 750 team entries have already been snapped up. Before long, the event will sell out and disappointment will reign supreme as many will miss the opportunity to take part in the most colourful spectacle of the festive period. Our advice is simple, book now to avoid disappointment. Please note that teams can be amended closer to race day if circumstances change for a registered team.

Why has this event become so popular, one might reasonably ask? I can recall travelling to Comber in the past (and finishing second with my erstwhile running partner Damien Brannigan) when there were very few teams taking part, despite the unique paired format of the race. However, since the event was re-invented and rebranded with a Newcastle AC twist, it has quickly established a cult status. There is certainly something for everyone. It is a fair test for the elite athletes, an opportunity for inter-club and intra-club bonding, an excuse to get some dubious fancy dress out and overall a great day of craic that ends with a bit of festive socialising.

Part of the charm is the unique opportunities afforded by Castlewellan to host an event that can be totally different every year and provide a few surprises. The Forest Park has the potential for a myriad of routes and retains the perennial element of surprise. This year’s course has already been decided and according to my sources will include ‘a few hills’. The Prophet has been spotted clambering over ditches, talking to local farmers over 5 bar gates, cutting back brambles and strimming lanes for a number of months. I have bought him coffee and scones in a stealth move to ascertain information that I can share with two types of people – those who ask and those who don’t!  Alas, my best efforts have been in vain and he is being extremely guarded and tight lipped and just chuckles dismissively when I make suggestions as to where we might be going. ‘Sure, you’ll enjoy it more on the day’ is the now industry standard reply to my persistent pursuit for information.

If previous years are any barometer, we will find ourselves in places that we never though feasible and we will enjoy every minutes of it. There will be a great atmosphere as the market town is festooned with colour and costumes of all varieties. We look forward to seeing everyone for what promises to be a great race – as long as you have an entry!!!

Online Registration and Full Race Details

Respectful Performances for Newcastle at Road Relays

By The Sheep Farmer
As the Newcastle and District AC contingent left home to travel to the 2019 NI and Ulster Road Relay Championships Buddy Hollys ‘Maybe Baby’ played loud and clear across the airwaves. Hosted by Oranagegrove AC at Victoria Park, Belfast the relay championships are one of the most prestigious dates in the provincial road running calendar. All adult runners are expected to run a two mile leg each with female teams consisting of three members and male teams consisting of four.
Enroute the Newcastle Athletes competing were left wondering Maybe we can make the podiums? Maybe the club gazebo will be there to keep everyone dry? Maybe local hotelier and tourism enthusiast Jack O’Hare will supply us with soup and coffee?
For the running purists this event is a dream as races across different age groups and different genders run from early morning through to the final race at 3.45 in the afternoon (senior men’s). Given Northern Ireland was battered by the remainance of Hurricane Lorenzo in the latter stages of the week the organisers must have feared the worse; however runners were blessed with a fine, dry and at times surprisingly warm autumnal day.

Continue reading


Unfortunately, we have just been informed that the McGrady Financial Services Junior XC Race in Kilbroney this Sunday has to be CANCELLED.

The council will not allow the event to go ahead due to the ground conditions.

We will be in touch in due course with further details on the rescheduled date.

We would really appreciate if you could share this message with those not on social media or emails.

The next race in the McGrady Financial Services Junior XC Series will take place on Sunday 24th November 2019 in Dromore Leisure Centre.

We look forward to seeing you all there and we apologise for any inconvenience caused. Unfortunately, this was out of our control.