The Weekly News – 26/03/2018


What a difference a week makes!! Just 7 days after the gloom that had descended on East Down AC following the postponement of Jimmy’s Ten last Sunday, came the joy at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum. Relief as well was another palpable emotion felt by everyone involved at the actual staging the race. A week’s intensive work by East Down members and the good offices of a wide range of outside bodies led to the event taking place just one week late.  The advent of a beautiful Spring morning greeted the organisers as they took advantage of the extra hour’s sunlight to stage what was described by some as a “miraculous turnaround”.


Of course putting on an event like Jimmy’s Ten can cause inconvenience at the best of times and even more so when it has to be rearranged at short notice. East Down AC wish it to be known that they apologise to anyone who did not hear of the re-arranged details or was affected in any way by the road closures and hold ups brought about by Sunday’s race. Every effort was made by the Club and other bodies to highlight the new arrangements but we acknowledge that not everyone heard. We sincerely hope that you were not delayed in either reaching your place of worship, the horse racing at Downpatrick Racecourse or indeed any other destination on Sunday morning.

IN the absence of any of the previous winners in either the Men’s or Women’s races there was always going to be new names to be inscribed on the winners Shield. In the event, despite the difficulties caused by last week’s postponement, the delay enabled several runners who were not due to take part , because of other commitments, to enter and to contribute to the contest at the front. Although Mark McKinstry, North Belfast Harriers, eventually ran out the clear winner, his time of 31.45 giving him a 68 second advantage  over Willowfield’s Neil Weir, less than 24 hours since he took 3rd place in the Larne Half Marathon, with another 5 second gap between him and 3rd placed Gerard Heaney unattached. Emmett McGinty 4th from City of  Derry Spartans just held off the challenge of East Down’s Aaron McGrady, a runner who has improved out of all recognition this year and who is targeting Jimmy’s Ten next year as his No. 1 priority. I wouldn’t bet against him achieving his goal.

Jimmy's 10K Men's Podium

Jimmy’s 10K Men’s Podium

Not all that far behind Aaron came the tough as teak and ever dependable Martin Willcox 36.07, in 9th place and 1st Male Over 45, followed by another to look out for in the coming months Ciaran Denvir 37.04 in 15th place.


The next East Down vest to appear was worn by Catherine O’Connor 38.15, in overall 19th place, who thanks to last week’s postponement was prevailed on to run this time and set her place in the history of the race by becoming the first East Down AC member to win the Ladies race.


Out of the 596 finishers there were 36 runners under the 40 minute barrier, a pretty good percentage by today’s standard.

And continuing the good cross country form he has shown all year Dee Murray 39.24 was comfortably inside that number claiming 25th place, while young Callum Kent 39.33 was right behind, as the second leg runner in the winning Relay duo formed with another East Down man James Savage. Tracey Atkinson Albertville  39.37  and Susan Smyth Dromore AC 39.43 won the 2nd and 3rd Ladies prizes in 29th and 30th places respectively while Dermot Cahill 39.48 was the last EDAC man to cross the line in sub 40 minutes, setting a new pb in the process, having taken his lead from the 40 minute pacer, East Down’s Paul Burns, an excellent spot on run in 39.53. Perhaps he’ll get it spot on next year!!

Liam Keenan was not particularly pleased with posting 42.18, just behind clubmates Colin Shields and Deirdre Weatherall, though he should be pleased as punch given his lack of proper training I recent months. The first All Female Relay Team, East Down’s Lauren Madine and Anna Gardiner 41.24 finished just ahead of this group, which also comprised the second all Female Relay team of Lucy and Kirsti Foster 41.58.

My postman, Neil Young, did extremely well to finish in 42.55, so customers on his round can expect a first class delivery tomorrow – but no bills for me please! East Down debutant Niall Gibney looked comfortable with his 43.34, while Edie Carroll simply cruised in at 43.37, to claim the Female Junior prize followed by Aoife Cochrane in 44.16. Another debutant in Club colours was Garry Walsh in 44.31, with Cheryl Denvir, Paddy McDonald, Michael Morrissey, Michael Robinson, Conor Findlay another promising Junior making his debut at the distance and John Manley all in close proximity. Conor’s Mum Wendy made it into the top 200 finishers taking 197th place . Marguerite Robinson led the next squad of EDAC men and women comprising Seaus Savage, Liz O’Hagen, Tracey McCaughey, Roisin Gaffney, Ian McCracken, Alison Graham, Cathy Burke, Gavin McConvey, Joanne Carson, Catherine Gilchrist, Janine Murray, Cathy Flinn and Laura Smith who all crept in under the 60 minute mark while Sean Sealey and Mags Flynn were only slightly beyond it.

However the prize for he most appropriate placing goes to Karen McFall, running number 541, who finished in 541st place. She’s gong looking for number 1 next year!


East Down athletes were also busy at two other venues during the week, with several doubling up with 2 races including Jimmy’s Ten on Sunday. Half Marathon performances as shown in attached spreadsheet. Details of Queen’s & Larne performances to follow next week.


Joe Quinn

26 March 2018

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)

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It has been several years since I last ran the Larne Half Marathon and in that time there have been several changes to the route, specifically much more running through the streets of the town before making its way along the beautiful coast road to Ballygally. IMG_9375As I had noted from the position of the Finish Line Arch that the race ended in the same place as in days gone by I was naive enough to think that it must be shorter now, that perhaps it had been incorrectly measured before and that the changes were to eliminate that discrepancy. But of course it wasn’t and hadn’t been, the “longer” town bit was compensated for by taking a different route up the “Ballygallly Hill” And since the top of the Hill is 7471_1028403820538562_6828889716391449021_nwhere it always was the ascent was no easier. However the out and back route enables us more sedately paced runners to meet our faster club mates and friends on their way back. I was briefly alongside the subsequent winner and last year’s Jimmy’s Ten winner, Gideon Kimosop, he approaching 10 miles and me the halfway point, with East Down’s Barrie Atkinson not too far behind in 5th place. Barrie subsequently finished 7th in 1.15.53, an eyecatching achievement in this early part of the season Continue reading