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Newcastle AC Notes
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King David reigns supreme in Leitrim

(Newcastle AC notes by Joe McCann)

Comparing any athlete to arguably the greatest king in Biblical history is certainly bold, but in this case the analogy befits the efforts of David McKibbin as he rose to the occasion and produced a display of smooth and fast paced running that left his rivals trailing in his wake.  Like his biblical namesake he reigned supreme, taming his nearest challengers within the first two miles and finishing strong leaving an indelible mark on the minds of all who witnessed.

The inaugural running of the Leitrim 5, orgainsed by the local GAA club, in association with Newcastle AC was a great success.  The course was demanding, but interesting, taking in stunning views of the area.  The weather had been kind; it was almost as if the gods of running were giving this new race a seal of approval.

A Mile Fun Run/walk

Before the main event there was a 2 mile fun run/walk.  This was very well supported by the local community, with the very young and the not so young completing the course.  A tremendous array of push chairs and prams were on display and some of the very young athletes managed to complete the course without putting a foot on the tarmac. At the serious end of the fun run (now that’s a tautology if ever there was one!), there were some fine performances with Pearse og McCrickard storming home in a very fast 10:56, 8 seconds ahead of Timothy McCracken who also had a fine run.

Sean-og O’Rourke dipped under the 12 minute mark to complete the podium positions.  Dearbhla Magee finished 4th overall and first girl in a fine time of 12:03, building on the great form shown for her school in the recent Down, Ulster and All Ireland Country series’.  It was certainly a great day for the McCrickard’s and Moorhead’s with 10 of the first 18 finishers in the fun run belonging to either of the two families!  Congratulations to each and every one of the 86 finishers that made this a very worthwhile addition to the day’s activities.

A Testing 5

The main event of the day was started by a double act that will have Ant & Dec worrying about their ability to retain their position as the nation’s favourites.  Frank and Deon took the stage (by stage I mean raised ditch outside the football field!) to get the proceedings under way.  After a lengthy explanation concerning the latter’s apologetic reasons for not running, he finally blew the whistle and we set off in the spring sunshine.

Those who had trotted over the course in training and those with local knowledge were certainly in an advantageous position to take cognisance of the many twists and turns that lay ahead.  McKibbin got into his stride quickly and was joined by Hicks, Steele, Quail (who I note was running for Leitrim GAC and wearing his Newcastle AC vest – there will surely be a meeting of the disciplinary sub-committee over that one!), Brown and Doyle as the race passed through the city centre before heading out to the surrounding countryside.  Further down the field there was some good humour and banter from those of us taking the whole thing a lot less seriously and glad to be out running.

McKibbin Is Too Quick For The Rest

McKibbin gradually tightened his grip on the race and one by one his challengers found the unrelenting pace too hot to handle.  By the three mile marker he has built up a commanding lead that looked unassailable.  In the end it was a comfortable victory as he had 34 seconds to spare over Hicks who ran very well to finish in second place.  Steele was a minute behind the winner in third, with Quail a further 18 seconds back in fourth.

Brannigan, my eternal nemesis, completed the top 5 after a fine run (all that weight lost due to giving up jam for lent is beginning to pay dividends!) and finished just over the half hour mark in 30:07.  Brown and Doyle, despite falling away from the early fast pace ran strong throughout and should be very pleased with their respective times of 30:41 and 30:45.  Sean Og Keary should be a target for local running clubs when the transfer window opens as he held of the challenge of Vet50 category winner Eugene McCann to finish in 8th place in a highly commendable 30:56.  Orla McElroy was first lady home in 28th place overall, just ahead of the evergreen Joe Quinn, who is living proof that life begins at 60 by running 38 minutes dead.

Personally I really enjoyed the race.  My pacer, Mark Kendall, did the job I had assigned him to do – keep me ahead of PJ, who it would appear has chosen not to share his voucher with me.  The course was tough at times, but a good test of strength, speed, stamina and endurance; a test I would recommend to those looking for a well organised, well marshalled and friendly event.  The now 51 year old John Kelly concurred with my sentiments at the end when in a rare interview he said, ‘aye, that was a tough enough one.’

Obviously the wisdom that comes from age is not wasted on this athlete, who incidentally was presented with his club vest after Jimmy’s 10k and claims to have lost it already, without ever wearing it.  The disciplinary sub-committee is going to have a busy meeting.  Leitrim GAC won the GAC team prize, albeit by default as they were the only team to compete; apparently many had promised but none turned up; such people could find a spiritual home in the ‘maybe’ world of Newcastle AC!

Thanks to the sponsors

Finally the organisers would like to thank the sponsors who contributed greatly to the success of the event: McGrady Financial Services, AJC Electrical, Smyths Centra Newcastle, Mourne Fresh Foods, Fresh Food Centre Castlewellan, Up & Running, Coca-Cola and Dolmen Park Residents’Association.

Omagh Half Marathon

Paul Fegan was the only club member to make the journey to Omagh for the Half Marathon.  The race was won by local favourite Stephen Duncan in an impressive 1:06:33.  Paul, who was using this event as final preparation for an Ultra event next weekend, ran steady as usual and clocked 1:44:22, finishing 419th out of 1155 finishers.  Paul was through 5 miles in 39:16 and continued his steady progress clocking 1:19:44 at the 10 mile marker. Paul will also have clocked up a few more Airmiles as he continues to travel the length and breadth of the country in search of interesting races.

Kerry’s Winning Streak Continues

Kerry Harty made it five wins out of five on the road recently with another victory in the Queen’s 5k race on Wednesday 30th April.  Kerry’s time of 16:36 was enough to give her victory by 14 seconds over Julie Turley from Dromore AC with Teresa McGloin (Finn Valley AC) over a minute back in third place.  Kerry will be competing for the last time locally at the Titanic Quarter 10k on Sunday 10th April before jetting of to sunnier environs to make her final preparations for a demanding schedule on the track.

Hugo Rodgers was the only Newcastle male on the streets of the capital and he crossed the line in a very credible 19 minutes dead.  Conor Bradley from City of Derry was the overall winner in a time of 14:46, holding of the challenge of Paddy Hamilton and Joe McAllister, both of whom also dipped under the 15 minute barrier.  Former East Down athlete and 2009 All Ireland Schools’ Cross Country Champion James O’Hare had another excellent run in a race he clearly enjoys, finishing 5th in 15 minutes dead.

Junior Training Resumes

Junior training resumed outdoors this Monday for all athletes and began to focus on track and field activities.  We hope to be reporting in the coming weeks of the success of our athletes as they represent their club and schools at the many events scheduled for the spring and summer.  We wish a speedy recovery to one of our talented juniors Aidan Hawkins, who sustained an injury playing sport last week.  We all hope that your treatment is successful and that you are back out running and competing in the not too distant future.

Hill And Dale 2011

The 2011 Hill and Dale season roars back into life next Thursday, 11th April, with the traditional start to the season, The McVeigh Classic in Castlewellan Forest Park. This race, run on forest trails is suitable for runners of all abilities and levels of experience and the post race prize-giving in Maginns is well worth the entry fee! The second race is also a forest race; this time Tollymore Forest Park provides the backdrop and the refreshments will be served in the Avoca Hotel in Newcastle.  A full preview of the entire series with details of all eleven races, the unbiased and totally objective form guide and much more will be available in the full series preview in the next issue of the Mourne Observer.