This Week’s News


The day for the first ever Killyleagh Half Marathon and 3 person Relay arrived bright, sunny and warm. Not ideal conditions from a runners point of view but the slight breeze did help to keep the participants reasonably cool, but nonetheless grateful for the shade provided by the trees and hedgerows.  The race was the brainchild of John Huddleston, the man who first initiated the popular 5 Mile race which is now in its 13th year.  To mark this anniversary and to debunk the unlucky 13th myth he came up with the idea of having a 13 (.1) mile celebration race – all in the cause of his favourite charity the Alzheimers Society. What he’ll come up with in another 12 years I leave to your imagination!

Local shops and businesses came on board with generous sponsorship to enable the organisers East Down AC to provide unique medals to all the finishers. The route was typical Co. Down terrain, which means a little undulating and while described afterwards as tough enough, everyone enjoyed the experience.  Anyway who wants flat and boring?


The race was won by North Belfast’s Neil Carty, in 1.20.51, a man  more often associated with the mountains, but who was glad of the heat and the dry underfoot conditions of this location closer to sea level.  Second was fellow mountain runner Newcastle’s Jonathan Scott in 1.21.25 and third was long time leader and former East Down junior star Aaron McGrady 1.22.31 now living in London. 


The first Lady home and in 4th place overall was another runner more associated with the rigours of mountain running, Acorns Karen Alexander in 1.23.49, followed by Newcastle’s Patricia McKibbin in 1.30.02, closely followed by East Down’s Niamh Kellett 3rd in 1.30.20, a splendid run by both these athletes.

First Over 35 was Tracey O’Donnell with Letitia Fitzsimons taking the Over 45 prize. Cheryl Denvir looked in good form again taking just 1.44.31 to complete the route. Clare Carson finished in exactly 1.50 while Liz O’Hagan and Patricia Galloway finished in just over 2 hours with Cathy Burke and Helen Vint., just 2 minutes further back. And no significant distance event would be complete without the never say die attitude and achievement of the inspirational Bernice and Eithne.  I take my hat of to both of you, sorry that should be cap, but you know what I mean.


Declan Teague was the first of the East Down contingent to finish, clocking a superb 1.26.47, taking 5th place overall and the first in the Over 45 category, while Davy Foster 1.29.01 in 7th overall and the last finisher to break 90 minutes collected the first Over 35 prize for his troubles. Gavin Hynds recorded 1.35.28 while James Magennis 1.39 46 ran well to break the 40 minute barrier.  Robert Miskelly completed in 2.27.23, ahead of North Down’s Pat O’Driscoll, his regular nemesis to remark that “he must be on something”.  The truth of the matter is Pat, that you’re more likely to arouse suspicion if you’re NOT on something at our age. 


The following local shops and businesses sponsored the event:-

T M Martin and Son, who also provided the lead car and driver, Lorraine Lawson of Kingfisher Craft Gallery,  Alfie Murray, Butchers,  the Central Bar, Elvis Kirk, Skip Hire and Contractor, Killyleagh Box Company, the International Bar, the Dufferin Arms  Spar Supermarket, Colin Campbell, Serene Skincare, Paul Robinson, Ebanisti, Cabinet Makers and Kitchen Design, Killyleagh Catch Fish and Chip Shop in Catherine St and Wrap and Roll, Coffee and Sandwich Bar, Church St Downpatrick, who supplied the water.


Having managed to secure Friday night, courtesy of Killyleagh’s decision to substitute 13.1 miles for the usual 5 and of necessity, they having to resort to Saturday morning, in order to ensure everyone had daylight to finish in, the Strangford Festival 10K was rewarded with a lovely Summer evening. 


Last year I wrote that I thought the route was relatively flat, as it’s Co. Down where by tradition we don’t do flat at all. Well this year just to check it out I ran it and must offer an apology to those who always accuse me of finding the hilliest circuits around.  It’s difficult to admit when you’re wrong and may well leave an indelible mark on my reputation but I’m sorry to say it’s not flat – it’s practically horizontal!  Admittedly there is one very noticeable hill but it’s DOWN hill at around 8K. So dry your eyes those who imagined it was tough and hilly, I’m on the lookout for a few hills for next year.


The race was won in effortless style by Newcastle’s Zak Hanna in 34.05 using it as a speed session in preparation for some hill work, with East Down’s Gary Cull 42.14  and Dermot Cahill 42. 22 in 14th and 15thi respectively. Lisa Laird was the best of the East Down ladies taking an excellent 3rd place in 44.47. Ian McCracken positively cruised round it in 51.02.  Even though some of us missed the start we managed to pull in at least half a dozen of the early birds, yet somehow, according to the results, there was only one behind me after I crossed the line.  It’s bad enough missing the start but missing the finish!!  I hope they’re not still out there. 


A couple of results caught my eye while delving through the copious results earlier today.  Andrew Telford 1.20.17 and Mark McDowell 1.27.10 completed the Mourne Triathlon in Castlewellan Park on Saturday , in what I believe was their first attempt at this sort of thing.  While I’m tempted to say the lengths some people will go to to avid paying for a shower after a run, I am more inclined to sit back in admiration and say Well Done. 


I really can’t avoid mentioning this remarkable lady.  She had the dubious pleasure of my company last Friday night in Ballyhornan at the end of the Lecale Way 10k and she turned up on Saturday morning in Killyleagh, ran the Half marathon in 2.34 and then turned out on Sunday morning with the 7.00am starters and ran the Armagh Marathon in 5.31, accompanied by two of East Down’s best endurance runners Linda Cunningham and Oonagh Brétéché!! The question I’m asking is, when does she sleep? Super Effort by a lovely lady, Well Done Paula.


And on the subject of Congratulations, Sunday’s effort was Linda’s 50th Marathon,  Well Done from everyone at East Down AC and here’s to the next 50!


I have no idea what’s happening next locally, at this moment I’m not really bothered, just glad to have a break for a few weeks, but I’ll update you next week.

Joe Quinn

29 August 2016

Killyleagh Half Marathon & Relay


Please note that if you’re thinking of running the Killyleagh Half on Saturday that online entries closes at midnight on Wednesday 24th August and that this is the last chance to enter at the lower price.  Entries will be taken on Saturday morning in the Bridge Centre, at increased price, so to save yourself money and to reduce concerns which might arise if you’re delayed in getting there on Saturday morning – there is a small Black Mens parade out of the village, towards Comber, at 9.15 am which might delay runners arriving from Comber or from Saintfield through Shrigley, – please enter online now.

Also if you’re not running could you please lend a hand at marshalling?  If so, please contact Joe on 07933214894 and/or go to the Briefing session in the Bridge centre on Thursday night (25th) at 7.00pm .

Thank you.


This Week’s News

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.


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. 


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. 


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.


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 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 or 07933214894.

Joe Quinn

22 August 2016

Killyleagh Half Marathon & Relay

Killyleagh Half Marathon

East Down Athletics Club is organising a new Half Marathon on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Society (there are 20,000 people in Northern Ireland with Dementia) on Saturday 27 August 2016 in Killyleagh which also includes a 3 person relay event with runners completing approximately 4 mile, 6 mile and 3.1 mile legs. Bespoke event medals will be presented to all Half Marathon finishers. The race starts at 10:30 am and registration opens at 9:00 am. If you would like to take part on-line entry is open, though entries will also be taken on the morning of the race at Race HQ in the Bridge Centre, Killyleagh.

The race route can be viewed by following the link below:-


If you aren’t running that day and would be available to help with marshalling on the course or to assist with giving out drinks at the Water Stations along the route your help would be greatly appreciated.

If you can help please contact Joe Quinn on  or phone 07933214894

Thank you.

Thursday night senior training sessions

Departing EDAC Clubhouse at 7:15pm sharp:

11 August      1 mile – 2 mile – 1 mile (Tempo pace)

18 August      Intervals – 6 minute effort, then 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 (recovery is half of effort)

25 August      10min@10k pace + 15 min@5k pace

1 Sept            6 X 1km with 2 minute recovery

8 Sept            8 X 800m with 90 second recovery

15 Sept          5K Time Trial

Each training session will begin with a warm up of 15 mins slow jog and finish with a cool down of 15 mins slow jog back to the clubhouse and on the night we will divide into groups of runners of similar ability.

This Week’s News


Not to be outdone with the glamour of the 2016 Olympics in Rio, I too have been to two venues right here on our doorstep, in the past week, not normally mentioned when exotic hotspots are being discussed. Copa Crossgar and Rio De Delamont may not have the same ring to them as their more illustrious cousins but believe me they’re every bit as scenic and attractive not to mention much more tolerant of our thermal needs as anything Brazil can offer.


The 5th running of the Kilmore Rec and Crossgar Community Association 5 Miles Road Race on Monday night showed that with a little TLC everything will grow. With the race organisation now in the very capable hands of Crossgar Harriers it has grown into a 10K, and a very well presented event it was too. The race itself was a ding dong battle all the way between Newcastle ACs Colum Campbell and Ballydrain’s Richard Coey with the seasider just holding on by one second at the line to leave Richard the runner up for the second year in a row.  The Ladies winner, also in a closely contested battle, was Amy Bulman by just 2 seconds from North Belfast’s Mary Margaret Meade with Newcastle’s Sinead Murtagh in third.


On to Saturday and up (or down, depending on where you live) the road a few miles to Delamont Country Park where another very different 10K was waiting.  This one around the trails, roads and leafy glades of this beautiful settings, with the sun shining and the sea glistening.  Could anything top this?  I sometimes think we are blessed to live in such a stunning area of natural beauty.  Perhaps we don’t always appreciate it but everyone who was there on Saturday for what was a very tough race, I believe, certainly did.

This one was won by East Down’s Martin Willcox with Ballydrain’s Richard Coey again in second place, while Mary Margaret Meade won the Ladies contest from East Down’s Joanne Foster, who is making a fine recovery from injury. I had the good fortune not only to get to run there but to have the excellent company of Robert Miskellly throughout, and met many more folks who all appreciated the excellent refreshments afterwards.  The next one in this triple bill organised by the Daye brothers and Atlas Running is the Lecale Way 10K on Friday 19th August  and I’m looking forward to this multi terrain race, I should add, much more than my legs are!


Simon and Eithne McGrattan spent the day out together on the North Antrim coast, enjoying the scenery and completing the 26.39 miles that makes up this ultra event between Portrush and Ballycastle. Their finishing time, though in this type of event largely irrelevant, was an impressive 6.32 and indicative of the degree of difficulty of the race. The other East Down representative was Sean Sealey, who should be more than happy with a time of 2.33 in the half marathon.


Monday noon and still I am unable to find official results from the weekend races.  This is a common occurrence which quite honestly is unsatisfactory.  With the present technology in use and for which runners pay as part of their race entry fee, there is really no excuse for not having results available at this time. Also in spite of the amount of information asked for by organisers, which in some cases falls just short of asking what you’ve had for your breakfast, the names of the clubs to which runners belong are not included.  It is not long ago that the officials used to take pride in getting the results published by the end of race day – using the old manual system of pencils paper and stopwatches!  Sometimes progress is a backward step!  So come on you techies, get your acts together – us ordinary mortals who are trying to pull together reports such are you are hopefully now reading, need this information.


On Sunday next 14th August the annual Darragh Cross Charity 10K race and 4 mile Fun Run take place with registration from 11.00am in the GAC Club. The race begins at 12.30pm and it is hoped that the new day and start time will prove popular.  The proceeds will be donated this year to Bloodwise. After the Darragh Cross race the next local race is the Strangford Festival 10K on Friday 26th August.


All energies have been focussing on the inaugural Half Marathon in Killyleagh on Saturday 27th August, which promises to be a top class exciting event which has caught the imagination of many local businessmen and traders who have come on board with a variety of sponsorships.

Online entry is open at and a link to the route map is also available.  If anyone needs any further information about this event please contact me on 07933214894 or by email on

Joe Quinn

8 August 2016Delamont 10K