To most of us keeping up with the variety and scale of the events on offer at the Rio Olympics over the past 2 weeks was a marathon undertaking, if you’ll pardon the pun However it was nothing in comparison with trying to keep tabs on the involvement of East Down runners in all the running events which were taking place on the roads, paths, trails and mountains in that same period. I counted 26 since 5th August but there were several more which have not been included in that total. However the fact that many of these races did not attract any East Down runners can only be discovered by perusing the subsequent results, a task made more difficult by the failure of the race organisers to publish the club names of the participants. Anyway suffice to say that the first reference to EDAC that I came across was Megan Wilson’s impressive 5th place overall and 2nd Female finisher in the gruelling Seven Sevens Mountain race which she completed in 4 hours and 33 minutes, with Davy Foster in 31st place in a time of 5 hours 42 minutes. I don’t know why it’s called the Seven Sevens either but it involves visiting 8 of the Mourne’s highest mountain tops.
The next one I came across was Andrew Telford and Ciaran Denvir’s 3rd and 4th places respectively in the Darragh Cross 10K last Sunday, highly respectable efforts on a tough course with both of them breaking the 40 minute barrier. It was good to see the return of Catherine O’Connor to competitive running and her 40.50 was good enough to give her victory in the Women’s race. Ian McCracken and Robert Miskelly kept up their recent good form with times of 52.10 and 62. 54 respectively.
However it must be said that East Down runners totally dominated the Fun Run, with its athletes taking the first 6 places, led by Matthew McGrattan 23.12 with Kirsti Foster 23.58 in 2nd Mackenzie Murray 24.19 in 3rd, Lucy Foster 24.34 in 4th , Jodi Foster 25.04 in 5th and Aoife Cochrane 26.05 in 6th.
LECALE WAY 10K
On to Friday night and another new event, the Lecale Way 10K, which began and ended outside the Cable Bar in Ballyhornan. Those of you with any sort of memory will recall that the weather forecast for Friday was horrendous, or at least it predicted horrendous weather, I suppose the forecast was fine, but which in the event proved less than accurate. Admittedly the wind along the wild, rocky cliff tops was strong, but thankfully onshore for what turned out to be a challenging run, including stretches of sandy beach, rough, uneven trails and sharp, jagged rocks underfoot. That’s not to mention the thorny whin bushes which were less than welcoming to at least one visit from my posterior. Another reason I suppose to carry a bum bag? Bet Usain and Mo never have problems like that!
The race was deservedly won by Ballydrain’s Richard Coey, just reward for his persistence following 3 runners – up places in recent weeks and the degree of difficulty of the course should be judged by his time of 42.01, which is at least 5 minutes slower than his normal 19K time.
WELL DONE MATTHEW
A special word has to be recorded on the performance of Matthew McGrattan, one of East Down’s top junior sprinters, who, fresh from his success in Darragh Cross, finished 6th overall in a time of 47.23. Given the aforementioned nature of the course, this was a tremendous run by any standard and probably made all the sweeter by the fact that he was 9 places and 7 minutes ahead of his father Simon. Young people are no respecters of age any more!! Matthew’s Mum Eithne and Bernice McCann have never given a thought to their times anyway and continue to inspire just by taking part with enthusiasm and great joy. I too have long since ceased to be concerned about finishing times either, and had a lovely run in with Murlough’s Paula McKibbin, but just wonder if my Garmin needs its batteries replaced as it indicated a 2 minute faster time than the official chip time.
BERNAGH and the DAMBUSTERS
Then on Saturday Megan Wilson was at it again, her 58.44 and overall14th place enabled her to finish in top Woman in the Slieve Bernagh race, while in the same location though a little closer to sea level, Sean Sealey was East Down’s sole representative in the Dambusters half marathon, which is based mainly in the beautiful Silent Valley, and he could be well pleased with a time of 2.07.03.
Quadrathon is perhaps a new word in the runners vocabulary but one which will I believe achieve much more common usage in the years ahead. There wasn’t a Tripathon, not that I’m aware of anyway, so we have jumped from Duathlon, though that involves a bike ride so may not count, but whatever the terminology used, the Quadrathon is described as
“a 4 day festival of running that goes way beyond the race itself where runners & walkers get to experience up to 100 mile of amazing coastal scenery and the sound of lapping waves that form the northerly start of the now world renowned Wild Atlantic Way.” So it is no picnic.
Where else then would you expect to find our own ultra endurance maestro, (sorry I don’t know whether there is a female version of “maestro”) Linda Cunningham? This most modest and under stated of our members, Linda decided that she wanted to take part. Reasoning that it was only 26.2 miles on each of 4 consecutive days, beginning on Thursday 11 August, not unlike some of the training regimes she had endured in the past, she set out her stall and did it. Just to put that into perspective she ran for 22 hours 58 minutes and 20 seconds which is the equivalent to 1 day out of the 4!! She finished 108th of 149 finishers. Olympians – Match that!!
Superb effort Linda – truly inspirational. Please take a few weeks, or even a few days, off.
THIS WEEKEND – FRIDAY NIGHT
Two big local events this weekend, beginning on Friday night with the Strangford Festival 10K which begins at 7.00pm. Race HQ is in the Inverbrena Community Centre. Collection of Race Packsfor pre-entrants on Thursday 25th from 7 pm to 9pm and from 5pm on Race Day. Entries will also be taken on the evening of the race from the same time.
East Down Athletics Club is organising a Half Marathon and Relay race on Saturday 27 August in Killyleagh on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Society Charity.
Online entries are open until midnight tonight Wed 26 August at www.athleticsni.org but the organisers stress that entries will be taken on the day from 9.00am onwards in the Bridge centre Killyleagh. A special commemorative medal will be given to the first 300 runners in the half marathon.
A 3 person Relay competition is also on offer as an alternative for those who do not yet feel up to the full 13.1 miles distance, with runners covering legs of approx 4 miles, 5 miles or 4.1 miles. So a big appeal is being made to runners everywhere to come and support this charity.
Organisers are delighted to announce that the following local shops and businesses have come forward to sponsor the event:- T M Martin and Son, Garage and Car Sales, Cross St, Lorraine Lawson of Kingfisher Craft Gallery, High St, Alfie Murray, Butchers, Cross St, Brian O’Hare, the Central Bar, Cross St, Elvis Kirk, Skip Hire and Contractor, Shrigley, Killyleagh Box Company, Shrigley, the International Bar, Cross St, the Dufferin Arms in High St, Spar Supermarket and Filling Station, Catherine St, Campbell’s Shop and Garage, Downpatrick Rd, Serene Skincare, High St. and Wrap and Roll, Coffee and Sandwich Bar, Church St Downpatrick.
Further information can be obtained from by email from Joe Quinn firstname.lastname@example.org or 07933214894.
22 August 2016