The Weekly News – 21/08/17


A lot happening this weekend but not a lot taking part. Not intended as a criticism, more a statement of fact. Perhaps because of the number of events and the rising costs of entries and the cost of travel, it is not really a surprise when runners chose carefully which races to get involved in. For although there was plenty on it would not all have been to the liking of the less experienced runners, in that most of the local races were half, marathon or ultra marathon distances


The competition started early for Linda Cunningham, in every sense of the word, as she set out on her attempt to run the Extreme North Quadrathon Challenge at 8.04am on Thursday morning. For those who don’t know the Quadrathon is running 4 consecutive Marathons in 4 consecutive Days, a total of 105 Miles!! Add to that the marathons each involve 4 different routes in the Inishowen Peninsula along part of the Wild Atlantic Way and you’ll begin to understand the degree of difficulty involved in completing such a challenge. But as the saying goes Cometh the hour, Cometh the Woman and there is none better in rising to a challenge like that than our redoubtable Linda Cunningham. Not only that though, her times of 5.56, 5.39, 5.39 and 5.52 gave her 3 first and one second places in her Age Category so that she won that as well as claiming the unique finishers medal.  Superb running Linda.



It’s hard to know how to describe a shorter distance race after all of Linda’s exploits but suffice to say the following efforts are nonetheless extremely challenging and praiseworthy. The latest offering from the East Antrim Marathon Series (EAMS) was to propose a lap or two or three of a 10.3 mile circuit round the Knockagh Monument which is located on a wee hill above the Co Antrim village of Greenisland. An intrepid trio from East Down, Stephen McCartan, Gareth Kelly and Phillip Vint threw their hats in the ring for this one and Stephen and Gareth completed 2 laps in 2.56 taking 4th and 5th places respectively while Phillip Vint cruised round another lap to finish 5th in 4.27, for the 31 miles.


This classic hill race which takes in Meelbeg, Bearnagh and Meelmore in that order is described in the NIMRA Championships Category as “Short”. I suppose that’s fair enough, certainly in comparison with the distances covered by runners referred to in the previous paragraphs, its 3.9 miles distance is a short sprint. However add in the special ingredient of 2680 feet of Climbing and it assumes a significantly different aspect. An indication of this is that the winning time was 47.23 by Newcastle’s David Hicks, first Lady was Diane Wilson overall 11th in 54.42,  so East Down’s Davy Foster could be extremely pleased with his time of 61.12 and placing of 23rd overall.


Although holidays may seem to have put paid to all junior Club activities very much the reverse is true. Many juniors enjoyed the Summer Startrack programme which was presented on 16 and 17th August at Down High School playing fields with coaches Michael Dyer, Paula Earley and Matthew McGrattan.

On the competitive front Lauren Madine continues to impress and set a new PB of 4.21m in the Long Jump at last week’s Firmus Energy Series meet at MPT, where she also won the 100 metres sprint.


Nearly seven hundred competitors took on the inaugural Run Connswater 10k and 5k races in Belfast on Sunday morning, The 10K route ran through landmarks including CS Lewis Square, Victoria Park, Comber Greenway, over the Sam Thompson Bridge and the Harbour Estate and was won by Stephen Wylie in 34.14, with the  Ladies winner Lyndsey Tyro completing in 43.47. The 10K race attracted such a large entry that it had to be split into separate Male and Female starts. As evidenced by the finishing times most of the runners were relatively new to the distance, many having graduated from the Couch to 5K academy and anxious to reach the next level, 5K to A&E, while others among the toiling masses were actually on the 5K to Couch route. It was a lovely morning for the races and the route was mostly traffic free and flat, using the recently provided footpaths and it is surely only a matter of time before someone organises a run along the full length of the Comber Greenway?  I was pleased to finish in 68 minutes, as a warm up for the Strangford Festival 10K on Friday night.


Keith Reilly undertook the Crieff Highland Gathering “Tartan Dash” One Mile Kilt race complying with the rule that runners should “wear a kilt or tartan type skirt as a minimum, but the more the better!” by wearing the very same garment he was married in 10 years ago!

The wonder is that 1. He still had it, 2. It still fitted and 3. He felt romantic enough to wear it on such an occasion!

I don’t know how he fared on Sunday pace wise but I doubt if he outran the field any better than he did ten years ago.


East Down AC is eagerly looking forward to celebrating its 30th anniversary in the Burrendale Hotel on 11 November and all members and former members are welcome. Details are available on the Club’s website at and on FB



The Club is presenting the Great East Run on Saturday at 10.00am in Killyleagh. This is a Half Marathon race which also includes a 3 Person Team Relay in support of the Alzheimers Society and marshals are required to ensure that runners make their way safely around the course. If anyone is free for an hour or two on Saturday then would you please contact Joe Quinn on 07933214894 or by email to before Saturday morning. It’s always good fun to be involved and it’s for a very good cause.

Joe Quinn

21 August 2017