BANGOR 10K and CAUSEWAY COAST RACES
On Saturday morning the Aurora 10K took place in Bangor and Martin Willcox was the only East Down runner to take part, turning in a time of 37.03 to claim 15th place overall and win the Over 45 category. What made this victory all the more laudable was that the weather could not have been worse. The wind and rain certainly deterred me from travelling – and I was only going to watch!
The conditions were such that many were heard to remark that they wouldn’t put a dog out in such weather. Lucky I suppose that none of East Down’s runners are of the canine, four legged variety, as that would have meant that the hardy breed of long distance fanatics who traditionally make their way to the North Antrim at this time of year would not have had the satisfaction of completing one of the genres most challenging events, the 26 Extreme Causeway Coast marathon. The event offers a 10K, Half Marathon , full Marathon and Ultra Marathon distances and is usually extremely well supported. In spite of the weather this year was no exception and 16 runners from the county town made their way to the windswept coast to tackle whatever nature could throw at them.
BIRDS EYE VIEW
Here is how our first finisher Declan Teague described his experiences of the race.
“It is one tough course and yesterday was brutal as heavy rain and strong to gale force winds on cliff top paths, rocky beaches, sandy beaches, dung spattered fields, a visit to the knee deep sea for 50 metres or so, very slippery wooden paths through sand dunes and a little bit of tarmac. No part of it is flat, constantly leg sapping up and down and you just don’t get into a rhythm. One minute cruising downhill, the next cursing up a hands on knees stepped climb. The ground conditions in places were treacherous with many of the paths turned to mud (especially on the way back). I was forced to slow at times to keep footing and I saw several falls. As an indication of just how tough things were last year 23 people broke 4 hours in the marathon this year only 6 people managed it and the winning time was 10 minutes slower.”
Declan crossed the line in 4.11 in 16th place as an indicator of the difficulty of battling the elements, a superb effort by any standards, and also crossed another one off his bucket list. I have a bucket list too and the number one item on it is to make sure to stay indoors when it’s wet!
Raymond Milligan was another who was debuting at this particular challenge and must be over the moon with his time of 4.33, while Stephen McCartan, back on the distance rota after a frustrating spell on the sidelines, would have settled for 5.07 and a place in the top 100 beforehand. Keeping up the Ladies side of the argument was another debutante, Clare Carson, who completed in 5.27 along with Stephen Heasley and Mickey Cunningham. Mickey’s wife Linda only tackled the marathon distance this year having completed her first 50 marathons a few weeks ago, coming home in 6.04 followed by Helen Vint 6.09, Simon McGrattan 6.14 and Sean Sealey in 6.18, a man who on completing his first marathon said “that was far enough and never again”
THE WHOLE HALF
Joanne Carson on her debut appearance in “this sort of thing” doing remarkably well to finish the half marathon in 3.04 while as ever the inspirational Bernice McCann and Eithne McGrattan made light of the conditions to finish in 4.01.
Pride of place however has to go to our Ultra competitors Oonagh Brétéché and Michael Cultra who spent over 9 hours and 41 minutes Yes NINE HOURS in the wind and rain. Admittedly they had covered 40 miles by the time they finished so if that doesn’t make my decision to stay indoors because of a shower of rain look a bit on the wimpish side I don’t know what would. Superb application and well done to everyone.
McGRADY’S FINANCIAL SERVICES JUNIOR CROSS COUNTRY LEAGUE
At the other end of the spectrum, both age and weatherwise, Sunday afternoon in Castlewellan Park was sunny and warm for the opening round of this year’s Junior Cross Country series – and to their credit the children were out in force to take full advantage.
All the parents and coaches should be proud of the efforts made by all the children, from those beginning at P3 level to those who are about to leave the junior ranks, who tried their very best – an old adage that you can’t do any better than your best comes to mind – and who ran their hearts out and then supported their clubmates vociferously until they had finished their aces. And if any further inspiration was required by these young hopefuls then surely the presence of Newcastle’s Rio Olympian, Kerry O’ Flaherty would have provided that.
LUCY and MATTHEW
It is difficult to single out anyone from any of the competing clubs for special mention such was the level of commitment from everyone but I was hugely impressed with our own Lucy Morgan, who has progressed by virtue of dedication to regular training, to be a highly competitive and valuable points gatherer for her club, and Matthew McGrattan who epitomises the value of following a controlled training plan and who analyses his races and thinks out his strategy for improving his future performances. While clearly a sprinter by choice he nevertheless has married his sprinting speed to the different requirements of longer distance running and looked strong and in control throughout his race. I believe his future lies in middle distance running.
East Down AC will be in Victoria Park next weekend for the NI Relay Championships this weekend but for all those who will not be there and want to run while supporting a good cause there is the Jog Around the Bog in Peatlands Park (off Junction 13 on the M1) for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Charity. A great venue – I believe the miniature railway will be in operation on Saturday too – with great refreshments, a unique medal and plenty of mud to soften the way!! There is indeed a prize for the runner who finishes with the muddiest legs, though the mind boggles as to how this will be judged!
After that we can all concentrate on the Gr8 Dundrum run on 8th October and the brand new Red High 10K on 15th October, online entry is open at www.athleticsni.org
26 September 2016