The Weekly News – 04/12/17


After the excitement of last weekend’s Seeley Cup 10K in Belfast, it was back to the more mundane Malcolm Cup fixture in Ballyclare on Saturday afternoon, which nevertheless  provided spectators with an enjoyable afternoon’s racing.

Lauren Madine was the only Junior to run on the day, easily winning the Under 13 Girls race and giving the Seniors a bit of inspiration.

Due to other commitments East Down Ladies did not have all of their squad from earlier rounds available but the beauty of this League is that all and any members can take part, with 4 to make up a Team  to count and up to 16 to score participation points. So a good team of 9, supplemented  by Edie Carroll, who opted to run with the Senior Team instead of in the Under 17 race. (Her Dad, Paul won the Master’s race which was run in conjunction with Edie’s race – though he still runs for Annadale!)

She clearly made the correct decision as she finished in 31st place, and 3rd scorer on the East Down team, with Deirdre Weatherall, continuing to impress with every outing, taking 21st  place just ahead of the fast finishing Joanne Foster 22nd with Cheryl Denvir in next completing the Team Placing quartet in 62nd place.

The other team members were Janine Murray 72nd Clare Carson 74th  on her first outing over the grass, Catherine Gilchrist 75th  Lisa Milligan 76th  and Carmel Tumelty 99th


Tom Dowey continues to turn in very high quality performances in the Masters Over 60 age group and was his usual quietly efficient self on Saturday, completing the 3 miles on very soft ground in 22.48 and taking the scalp of big rival – Francis Boal – (Lagan Valley) in this very competitive category.


The EDAC men only managed 5 finishers  in their 4 mile race, the Malcolm Cup, but contributed significantly to the excitement, when Neil McCartan, probably realising that he wasn’t yet fit or strong enough to win this race, certainly put it up to his rivals by sprinting to the front from the off and maintaining his lead for 2 of the 4 laps before the trio, who were never more than a few metres behind him at any stage, moved ahead in lap 3, with Neil Johnston (Springwell), Mark McKinstry (North Belfast) and Newcastle’s Seamus Lynch, finishing in that order, with Neil secure in 4th place and happy to have taken another step along the comeback trail.

Meanwhile Martin Willcox was battling as is his wont, to 41st place, well supported by Dee Murray 68th  Stephen Heasley 97th Mark O’Connor 136th and Paddy McDonald 161st and really starting to find his feet in this unique kind of running.


This event was arranged when the news came that the Griddle races would not take place due to anticipated  difficulties with the marshaling of the route. I had been approached only days before about organising some sort of sporting event to raise money for 2 of our Junior members who are heading off to India with the Saphara and Habitat for Humanity organisation so my immediate reaction was to organise it on the date of the cancelled Griddle race. But I also wanted to retain some form of contact with the Griddle event. 

So a 10K race with a 2 X 5K option  was agreed and to be honest I thought it would be easy though it’s far from easy to mark out an exact distance without several adjustments if you want to start and finish in the same place.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Anyway eventually the first “Son of the Griddle” race took place on Sunday morning beginning at East Down’s Club house and it wasn’t long before Annadale’s  Conor McMullan was leading the small field of runners up Market Street to make their way to the War Memorial and down Strangford Rd. Then the running order was McMullan and East Down’s Ciaran Denvir,  followed by David Smith and Alastair King from Dub Runners before the first of the lady runners, appeared in the shape of East Down’s  Deirdre Weaherall, who had run the day before in Ballyclare.  In fact many of East Down’s runners turned out again, in a disappointingly small field, to support the worthy cause

Along Mearne Rd, to Paddy’s Barn to the point where the true relationship with the Griddle really came into focus. Up the steep Quoile Brae to the welcoming downhill of Saul Rd, with the words of race starter and announcer Tom McClean ringing in their ears “It’s only a hill, you’ll get over it”. It certainly didn’t appear to hold any fears for the competitors, judging by some of the finishing times recorded. First man home in a really excellent time of 35.35 was Conor McMullan with  Ciaran Denvir 36.00 comfortably holding on to second place ahead of Smith 40.40 who took 3rd

Deirdre  Weatherall (41. 44) won the Ladies’ race, ahead of 2nd placed Joelene Scott 47.09, with Ballygalget AC’s Letitia Fitzsimmons 48.17 in third place

Tom Dowey turned out again on Sunday, eager to compliment his continuing good form and clocked 48.28. Well Done Tom, I only took 30 minutes longer – too much sightseeing!

The Relay attracted 5 pairs of 2 for the approx 5K each that they had to run and although the changeover point was moved to the bottom of Saul Brae, I didn’t hear any complaints from runners afterwards, complaining about not getting the chance to run up the Brae, nor indeed from any of the participants who either didn’t notice the increase in the gradient, or were too exhausted to speak. From my position as TEC it was tough going but the post race soup, rolls, scones and buns were worth the effort alone.



Owen Edwards and Laura Green the 2 young people who are heading off to India  next Summer extended their sincere thanks to the PSNI bike riders who did an excellent job in controlling traffic and keeping runners safe,  to the friendly marshals,  the First Aid providers, the Registration and Results’ Teams and to the Mums and Dads and everyone else connected with the staging of the event.


The Crossgar Santa Run takes place next Sunday at 1.00pm and everyone is asked to wear a Santa hat or suit for what is becoming a very enjoyable occasion. I would urge you all to go and support this event and also to take a ferry crossing the following Sunday 17th December to support the Balygalget AC promoted Santa 5K and 10K races at 11.30am. Contact Christine Rotherham on 07811232820, or alternatively via email: if you have any queries or to check about transport to and from the ferry.


It was with deep regret that we heard of the death of Stephen Heasley’s mother on Sunday. I wish to extend on behalf off the members of East Down Athletics Club, our sincere sympathy and condolences to Stephen and his entire family circle at this very sad time. We will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.


On Saturday, just after we arrived in Ballyclare for the Cross country races I heard of the passing of Milton McKeag, brother of the incomparable John, our honorary Life President. It was John himself who told me saying that he would greatly miss his younger brother who had been his cycling companion over many decades as they rode the highways and byways all over the country. John is in his 96th year and is hale and hearty so we pass our condolences to him and his family on behalf of East Down AC at what for him especially is a very sad occasion. We will remember Milton and John in our prayers too.

Joe Quinn

4 December 2017