The Weekly News – 19/03/2018


Last year my opening line of my Jimmy’s Ten report read
“A dull, damp start gave way to dry, even sunny and mild conditions as Jimmy’s Ten hit the road again on Sunday with a record breaking 908 finishers runners enjoying the early Spring warmth….” and then followed details of how the race proceeded and who won etc. etc.
This year I just wish I had something to write about other than the weather.


For as most of you know the snow, YES the SNOW, in mid-March caused the postponement of this year’s race, early on Sunday morning , a mere 3 hours before the runners were due to hit the roads. To describe the mood of those assembled in the Clubrooms at around 7.30am on Sunday morning as “deeply disappointed” would be an understatement of epic proportions but the reality was that there was no way in which the organisers could permit the race to take place, purely and simply because it would have been dangerous to have done so. Car parks, streets and roads were all covered with a generous coating of snow, from overnight showers.

Course Inspection - Quay Bay Junction

Course Inspection – Quay Bay Junction

Course Inspection - English Street

Course Inspection – English Street

In “normal circumstances” a new date would have been set by the organisers and conveyed to the runners within hours of the postponement. Unfortunately these are not “normal circumstances” as recent legislation means that the organisers of events occurring on public roads must request a Licence from NM&DC, at a cost of £600, and bring in a traffic management company to implement the road closures authorised on the Licence, even in situations where no road closures are sought or needed. (approx cost for Jimmy’s Ten 2018 is £1,200).

Clearly this will affect most of the road races organised in and around Downpatrick, as they tend to be small, low key events which struggle to get over 100 runners taking part, as the potential income from the event will be consumed by the cost of organising it. Hence local clubs and some charitable organisations will struggle to survive in the absence of these small though vital sources of income.

While I am advised by the NM&DDC that consultation did take place prior to the introduction of this latest procedure, there was no approach made to my club East Down AC or to any of the potential victims of the legislation, certainly no one from any of the running clubs locally or throughout NI, that I have spoken to, recalls any such action. I am also led to believe that there was a strong lobby from the film industry for this type of legislation, though how road running came to be caught up in it baffles me.

Basically what happened was that The Roads (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act (Northern Ireland) 2010 amended the Road Traffic Regulation (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, by inserting clauses to provide powers, delegated to the local councils, to prohibit or restrict the use of public roads for the purpose of holding special events on them ….”
Schedule 3A to the Regulation requires an organiser of a “Special Event” defined as (a) “Any sporting event, social event or entertainment which is held on a public road, or The making of a film on a public road” to apply for a Licence to hold the event. There is no right of appeal against the Council’s decision, though the fee payable will not be reimbursed if the application is refused.
Examples of possible “special events” could include: Fun runs/marathons etc
(Excluded are public processions and motor road races etc.)

In my view the whole legislative procedures fall down because they do not provide exemption for the small, local events, say a Fun Run, where the number of runners has not and never will exceed 150, where road closures are not necessary or asked for by the organisers, which have been taking place for years without complaint from anyone and have never caused any restriction to the use of roads.
Because of the terms of the licence awarded for Jimmy’s Ten on Sunday 18 March it was not possible for race organisers to decide on a date to re-schedule the race without consulting with NM&DDC officials, a situation exacerbated by the public holiday on Monday which meant contact was impossible until Tuesday everyone is in a state of limbo as I write.

On what with hindsight will become known as mild and balmy Saturday, a few of our intrepid distance runners took part in the EAMS 6 Hour St. Patrick’s Day Challenge, which meant running as many times around a 4.2 mile circuit from Gideons Green to Loughshore Bandstand as they could in 6 hours.
Describing conditions as the toughest, most unpleasant they had ever encountered, with chilling winds, whipping up the waves and showering them in icy sea water across the sea wall, Declan Tague and Phillip Vint nevertheless persevered for 5 minutes over 4 hours to complete 7 laps, claiming 7th and 8th places in the 29 mile category before heading off to watch the rugby. Clare Carson contented herself with 3 laps to complete the half marathon in 1hour 56 minutes , the first of the 3 lappers, well done to you Clare!
Davy Foster completed 4 laps in 2.07 to take 7th place while Linda Cunningham was the sole EDAC representative on Saturday morning’s Craic 10K in Belfast, clocking 56.50.

Matthew McGrattan raced at the All Ireland Indoor T&F Championships in the U19 400m. There was a good number of entrants after a disappointing turn out at Ulster level and consequently a tough field but it is very good to see an EDAC vest in the mix at this level. Well done Matthew.

Philip Vint 141 and Declan Teague on Saturday during the EAMS 6 Hour Challenge

Philip Vint 141 and Declan Teague on Saturday during the EAMS 6 Hour Challenge

Joe Quinn
19 March 2018