Tuesday 21 November 2017 03:53:52 PM

East Down AC Christmas Crackers
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Prize for furthest traveller this week goes not as anticipated to Santa Claus but to Michael McKeown who visited the remote Tyrone outpost of Greencastle on Boxing Day for the annual 5 Mile Race, accompanied it would seem by half the running population, as almost 800 took part writes Joe Quinn.

The race was won by North Belfast’s Stephen Scullion in 25.09 but Michael could be well satisfied with his sub 7 minute mile pace of 34.51, on what I am reliably informed is not an easy course.dn_screen

A little nearer home on the same day Declan Teague also went sub 7s in the Burren Townland Half marathon, reduced thanks to the frost to 10 miles, coming home in 7th place in 69.11, in spite of 2 pit stops en route.

And then it was Saturday and the Christmas Cracker.  In the absence of last year’s winning duo of Teer and Venney it was left to the 2012 runners up  of Gary O Hanlon, unattached,  and Brian McCluskey of North East Runners to claim the title they felt they were unlucky to miss out on last year due to misdirection, but at least being able to claim a new course record 50.47, as this was a totally new route which steered well clear of the Forest Park and was much shorter. David McNeilly with new partner David O’Flaherty was 3rd again this year

Best placed East Down pairing was Martin Willcox and Paul Burns who looked fairly comfortable all the way and took a splendid 25th place overall in a field of 369 finishing pairs. Michael McKeown was again in action, pairing with North Belfast’s Gerard McNamara in 71st     Raymond Milligan and Gavin Oakes also combined well to take 89th place with William Findlay and Tom McMeekin making it into the top 100 in 97th place.

James Magennis and Tom McClean looked like they enjoyed the little bit of a climb up Mill Hill towards the end and seemed disappointed that the finish line was not right at the very top. John Findlay nad Brian Donnelly were less than 2 minutes behind them.  Brother and sister act of Philip Kinsella and Rosie Daly were next to appear with husband and wife pair of Lisa Milligan and John Manley just outside the top 200.  It’s great to see couples who are couples out  for the day enjoying themselves too and this was aptly demonstrated by Linda and Mickey Cunningham.  Linda ran last year with one of her daughters  but since then Mickey has discovered the delights of running through mud, rocky lanes and up small mountains.

Paul Rogan and Kieran McMahon were another pair to impress, running conservatively to ease home in 81.35.Roger Byrne and Paul Burke were debutants in this event while Oonagh Breteche kept a watchful eye on Paul’s wife Cathy as she tasted the Cracker for the first time too. Michael Degan and Denis McKay  also made it into the top 300 with Aurla McLoughlin and Grainne Teggart making it look easy with smiles all the way. Other debutantes who deserve mention for undertaking this arduous event after only a few months at running are Joanne Carson ably supported by Elaine Byrne, Liz and Donal O’Hagan,  another of the husband and wife teams, Sean Murray and Michael Cultra, Mags Flynn and Caroline McQuoid and Simon McGrattan and Kerry McKeown and to all those partners who ran with novice colleagues in preference to perhaps a potentially faster  friend – that’s what it’s all about.

Just a reminder that the Club AGM is on Tuesday 7 January 2014 at 7.45pm in Ballymote Sports and Well Being Centre

A Happy New Year to runners, walkers and supporters everywhere.