The Weekly News – 19/02/2018


 Declan Teague made a welcome re-appearance in the St Valentine’s Day 6 Hour Challenge another in the East Antrim Marathon Series (EAMS) and placed 2nd out of 15 who took part in the marathon distance in 3.55, which, after a bout of flu and a calf injury, he found more than far enough, considering the 50mph winds which turned out in force to welcome him back. He should check with the Met Office beforehand in future!
Linda Cunningham and Jacqueline Moore and Paula McKibbin all completed the Lusk Marathon on Saturday the latest in the East of Ireland Marathon Series, finishing in close proximity to each other in 5.33.

On a bitterly cold night East Down’s Robinson brothers certainly warmed up the spectators with 2 red hot displays in the Primary School races at the Armagh International events on Tuesday. Alex won a prize for his top ten placing in a field of almost 200 children, while Olly just missed out on a similar placing, finishing 12th in another huge field. Both boys were representing St Mary’s Primary School, Newcastle so well done to them.

Ollie and Alex Robinson - Armagh Primary Race

Ollie and Alex Robinson – Armagh Primary Race



The only EDAC senior to attend was Catherine O’Connor. She is to be commended for putting herself on the line in this high profile event as it is not for the faint hearted due to the standard of the field and the resultant hair raising pace. She acquitted herself admirably coming 48/132 in a sprightly time of 10.24 for the 3k event.

Lara and Keira Proctor-Amos were racing in Scotland this weekend representing their Cadet Wing – Lara’s team have qualified as a result for next stage and while Keira’s team did not qualify she was pleased to be the first NI cadet across the line in her Age
Group. Well Done girls.

The 2018 edition of Last One Standing was a very different proposition than last year what with a totally new 4.2 miles route and the now much more experienced attitude of virtually all the participants. For the most part, all of the runners showed a quietly confident demeanour, as indeed well they might, given that most of them were by now hardened participants having taken part in at least one of the many ultra type runs which have begun to dominate the fixtures.

 Keith Reilly at Last One Standing Event in Castleward.

Keith Reilly at Last One Standing Event in Castleward.

Basically the format is that everyone starts at 12 noon and runs or walks or both a 4.2 miles circuit in and around the beautiful surroundings of the Castleward Estate. Then everyone has to be on the start line again at 1.00pm to repeat the route again, and every hour thereafter. It is not a distance race. It is purely and simply a test of endurance stamina, bloody mindedness and an ability to tell the time! No exceptions would be made for anyone who did not cross the finish line within 60 minutes or who failed to cross the start line again at the beginning of the next hour. And so on while there was still more than one runner who met the criteria.

Joe Quinn and Michael Cultra before the start of the Last One Standing on Saturday

Joe Quinn and Michael Cultra before the start of the Last One Standing on Saturday

I started with all the other hopefuls, intending to do 1 lap or 2 at most, whether I was timed out or not. In fact I managed the first one in 53.30, I wasn’t last and had actually overtaken Ballydrain’s Richard Coey who went on to complete 16 laps, halfway round. He was walking and deep in conversation with a fellow competitor at the time, though that’s irrelevant. He eventually overtook me again and posted his opening round at 51.35 against mine of 53.30. Fellow club men who also started , Michael Cultra recorded 51.19 his slowest lap apart from his last one out of the 15 (63 miles) he completed before simply opting out and going home and Keith Reilly 47.35, his fastest lap out of the 9 (37.8 miles) he completed before stomach pains forced him to retire. He said he was “hugely disappointed as the 12 hour mark was my minimum target and that this event continues to toy with me” However Keith, don’t worry about it 9 laps is still a tremendous achievement and there will be plenty more opportunities to slay your demons, in the future.
To put things in perspective I only managed another lap, as despite my best efforts I could only manage to finish it in 62 minutes and was timed out. However as I had decided that 2 would be my absolute maximum anyway I was happy to pack it in and head for the food tent. In the course of that second lap, poor deluded fool that I was I actually got to thinking that as I was the last one out there and was still standing (or standing still I suppose would be a better description) I could conceivably lay claim to the title of Last One. Standing. But that would require a lot of persuasion and the insertion of a strategic full stop or comma in the wording on the trophy! No chance.

LOS vs 24 HOUR
I believe it is much more difficult to undertake this type of event than a 24 hour race which challenges participants to run as far as they can in a 24 hour period. In that contest runners have control of when and how far and at what pace they run, when and for how long they rest, when they eat etc. whereas in the LOS challenge the necessity is to maintain a pace, which enables the runner to complete the 4.2 miles lap inside 60 minutes and then to get back onto the start line on the next hour and repeat that every hour for as long as it takes until you’re the only one left – and then if you are that person you have to complete 1 lap alone and finish inside the 60 minutes to claim your trophy. It also goes without saying that it is more difficult to train for the LOS type of event.

Pre – race favourite and 2016 winner Bobbie Irvine (Seapark AC) was the epitome of cool beforehand, relaxed and at ease, while chatting with all and sundry, others just sat and relaxed, partaking of all sorts of energy enhancing foodstuffs and washing them down with copious amounts of water as staying hydrated is the most important part of the preparations.
And what a battle he put up for the title once again, keeping going for 34 laps (142.8 miles) before being timed out, leaving the tough as nails Peter Cromie Roe Valley Cycles to complete lap 35 (147 miles) alone and in a speedy 42 minutes, nearly his fastest time time of all he had done before.
Louise Smart Co Antrim Harriers was the Last Lady Standing, completing 25 laps (105 Miles) before she was timed out.

Saturday morning brought near perfect conditions which augured well for the near 100 strong field competing for the title Last one Standing (LOS). Meantime Matthew McGrattan, fresh from his success last weekend in Athlone were he was crowned NI and Ulster Indoor 400 metres Champion upped his distance though clearly not his tempo, this time to take second place over the 1 lap opening race in 29.32 while his Mum Eithne and Bernice McCann also tested out the underfoot conditions but were glad they hadn’t entered the 2 lap option or the LOS itself. Gavin McConvey also ran the 1 lap, finishing in 42.56 after taking part in the Tollymore Night Run on Friday night, completing the 10K in just over 60 minutes.

Next Saturday in Lurgan Park the Cross Country season reaches its climax with the Senior Mens and Womens Championships to be decided. As an additional incentive there are double points on offer for the final round of the League and East Down Ladies’ team are determined to battle all the way for enough points for a podium place.  They are set to make history by fielding a full team of 16 all being well. Good luck to them and to their Male counterparts who can only look back ruefully on what might have been. Next Year??

Last Monday saw the launch of the Rollercoaster Races (10 March) which this year is being supported by Phoenix Natural Gas. The day for the photo shoot showed the superb venue off in all its glory and some of our young athletes got a chance to test the route. Read all about the event to see what is in store – the fuelling station set up by Phoenix is sure to be a big hit! Entries can be made on the day but schools can enter in advance as in previous years.

Launch of Rollercoaster Races in association with Phoenix Natural Gas - Tom McClean (Chairman EDAC) Jonathan Martindale (Phoenix Natural Gas) Joe Quinn (Race Director EDAC) and EDAC juniors at the Downpatrick Race Course venue for the event 10 March.

Launch of Rollercoaster Races in association with Phoenix Natural Gas – Tom McClean (Chairman EDAC) Jonathan Martindale (Phoenix Natural Gas) Joe Quinn (Race Director EDAC) and EDAC juniors at the Downpatrick Race Course venue for the event 10 March.

Mia and Lena Proctor-Amos and Oliver Robinson try out the course

Mia and Lena Proctor-Amos and Oliver Robinson try out the course

Also time is ticking if you are planning to take part in Jimmy’s Ten on 18 March. Entries are flying in. Every year in the week before the race we are inundated with desperate pleas and it is hard to say no but we have to stick with our quota so  – get on to the entry portal at ANI before it’s too late!

Joe Quinn
19 February 2018

The Weekly News – 12/02/2018


It seems as if the young guns of East Down are hardier than their more senior counterparts, if weekend events are anything to go by.
On Saturday, for instance, at the second running of the North Down Cross Country Festival in Castle Park Bangor, only the juniors turned out. Admittedly they performed well enough to outshine anything that the seniors might have done anyway, with Jodi Foster winning the primary school race AND sister Kari in 7th place and Kieran Trainor claiming 11th in the Boys Primary School race. Inspired no doubt by these performances, two of the older Foster girls, Kirsti and Lucy then went out to take 2nd and 3rd in the Under 14 Girls race.

Jodi Foster (left) Zophia Quigley and Chloe Kenny (both Ballyholme Primary)

Jodi Foster (left) Zophia Quigley and Chloe Kenny (both Ballyholme Primary)

Kieran Trainor - Festival of XC Bangor

Kieran Trainor – Festival of XC Bangor

Lucy Foster, Kirsti Foster (left) Tara McDonough (North Down AC)

Lucy Foster, Kirsti Foster (left) Tara McDonough (North Down AC)

If they think things are tough in South Korea, battling with sub zero temperatures, gale force winds and falling snow, (though it is after all the Winter Olympics which tends to need at least 2 out of these 3 conditions as a prerequisite anyway) then they should have been in Mallusk on Sunday morning.
It’s a long time since I was at the Belfast Playing fields at Mallusk, probably more than 20years, but my memories of it as open, mucky, cold and windy proved a little wide of the mark. It was worse than that, as there was snow and frozen ice to contend with on Sunday as well.
The occasion was Mallusk Harriers staging of the Mathieson Cup and Shield team cross country races, in honour of the lovely Mags Mathieson, who supports every event in the running calendar and is an inspiration to everyone connected with running.

Joe Quinn and Mags Mathieson

Joe Quinn and Mags Mathieson

Again it was the Juniors who braved the elements, all girls this time, with Anna Kearney 4th, Erin Moore 5th and Caragh Moore 8th in the Primary School race which got proceedings under way, into what were described as really tough conditions, as the falling snow was driven into the faces of the runners. And to their credit everyone finished, 17 Boys and 12 Girls.

Things got even better when Lauren Madine followed up with victory in the Under 13 Girls race, finishing ahead of the only boy runner into the bargain.

Lauren Madine, Erin Moore, Anna Kearney, Caragh Moore

Lauren Madine, Erin Moore, Anna Kearney, Caragh Moore

Edie Carrol continued her recent good form, with victory in the Under 17 Girls Race which was run in Arctic conditions, only slightly better than the younger girls had experienced.

 Edie Carroll - U17

Edie Carroll – U17

I have to pay special tribute to all the girls who took part on Sunday and finished their races. I gave it a go too but didn’t quite make it to the finish line. Quite frankly conditions were the worst I ever experienced during a race. I opted for a warm woollen hat instead of the usual peaked baseball type and as the snow thickened and the wind rose how I regretted that decision. I was practically blinded as the freezing flakes hit my eyes. Amazingly there were marshals standing at remote points of the course, only known to me because I heard their shouts of encouragement to me and all the runners as we staggered past. My thanks to them. I decided that I would pack it in when I reached the end of lap one of the scheduled three, if I could find out where that was? Then out of the whirling blizzard I heard voices saying “you’ve done enough, come and have some tea or soup, we’re not letting you go any further” Were these angels from heaven coming to my rescue or was I simply hallucinating? The former is the answer as the voices belonged to Mags and Alison, two ladies not to be argued with. And so, faced with a choice between clambering up the steep, slippery bank leading to the higher level of pitches and off on a second lap and the steely determination in the angels voices, it took me almost half a second to surrender to their “advice” If truth was told I actually believe I was standing in the refreshment tent, halfway through my first cup of soup, before I realised the decision had been made, by which time the thought of carrying on was long since buried.

In case you think that all the seniors had a day off at the weekend I discovered that at least 3 of them took part in the Dune half marathon on Sunday. Gavin Hynds was more than pleased with 123rd place in 1.36 while Clare Carson was delighted with her 1.51 on what she described as a challenging course, due to the weather and the hills and Kevin Kelly 1.59 even more so, to duck under the 2 hour mark considering he has just recovered from a bout of flu. Well done everyone.

Gavin Hynds - Dune Half Marathon

Gavin Hynds – Dune Half Marathon

The races will start this year at the earlier time of 11.00am and with an exciting new sponsor on board all the school kids are in for a special treat. Don’t miss this one. More details next week.

A huge entry has already been received for this year’s event on 18 March and anyone intending to run is encouraged to enter now at as there will be a limit on the number and it is unlikely that entries will be taken on the day.

Joe Quinn
12 February 2018

The Weekly News – 05/02/18

On Saturday both East Down seniors and Juniors were in action at Stormont, one of the most popular venues in the cross country season and happily reinstated as a Cross Country League fixture.

East Down juniors contributed significantly to the huge numbers in the primary school races which set the programme of races in motion. With 106 boys in the Boys race Ollie Robinson did well to take 19th place, while still recovering from a bout of flu, with younger brother Alex and Kieran Trainor providing excellent support in 28th and 36th places respectively.


Erin Moore, Kari Foster and Jodi Foster - Primary Girls’ Team - (missing Emily Burns)

Erin Moore, Kari Foster and Jodi Foster – Primary Girls’ Team – (missing Emily Burns)

Continue reading


The first of this year’s Hill and Dale series hit the trails again on Thursday night, how quickly the time flies, as the aches and pains of last season’s efforts only just subsided a month ago. I forget whether that’s an age or a memory thing, but I remembered where to start, and more importantly, finish.  It’s quite easy to do that as in H & D the finish is usually at the top of a hill, or sometimes even a mountain, which of course was the origin of the old adage “What goes up must come across the finish line”


To the race itself Paul Burns was first East Down man home taking 15th place in 38.08 with the next 4 of his team mates Michael Cultra, Dee Murray Michael Andrews and Davy Foster all finishing in the top 35. Continue reading

McGrady X-Country Prize Giving

All juniors that competed in the McGrady series, you are invited to attend a prize giving event at “The Lodge”, Castlewellan.


  • Club Team Shields for boys and girls teams
  • 4 out of 5 races to complete Series
  • Age group races with various distances
  • 1st, 2nd , 3rd boy and girl Series prizes
  • Prizes for all who complete Series

Date: Monday 11th April
Time: 7:30pm
Location: The Lodge, Castlewellan
1 Dublin Road,
County Down.
BT31 9AQ

Location Map:

Kilclief 10k Bendearg and Stormont XC

After last year’s near apocalyptic weather for the Ben Dearg Coast 10K, the contrast this year was truly remarkable. kilclief 10k 003Warm sunshine ( remember that?) and almost windless conditions encouraged a record number of athletes from many parts of Northern Ireland and beyond to the shores of Strangford Lough and Ballyhornan to enjoy what last weekend truly lived up to its billing as the most picturesque in the county.

Though perhaps not the “best” course for setting PBs, in spite of it’s flatness, in Co Down terms, the 10K race was won in what was a record time of 32.59 by Newcastle’s David Simpson a former winner of Jimmy’s Ten back in his Willowfield days. David is quickly returning to competitive level after several years pursuing a mountain and ultra running path and as he hinted at Stormont on Saturday when he came 2nd in the cross country League fixture he is not far away. He will be a serious contender if he makes the start line for Jimmy’s Ten on 13 March. Continue reading


The sporting week got off to a great start on Thursday night when Neil McCartan was a splendid 3rd in the Mens Open 3K race, his 8.52.33 time being less than one and a half seconds behind the second placed runner and just over 4 seconds behind the winner Craig McMeechan. This is superb running by any standard and it would seem that Neil is in the form of is life as we prepare for the road running and Track seasons.
In the same race Daniel Atkinson showed he is not afraid to mix it with the big boys by taking 83rd place in a time of 10.23 and Liam Keenan was 120th in 11.01 in a field of over 200 runners.

Saturday was a hectic day all round with the Senior Cross Country Championships being held in Lurgan Park and the inaugural Last One Standing, races in Castleward.