Saturday 18 August 2018 11:49:40 AM

East Down AC Reports On Killyleagh Half Marathon
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The day for the first ever Killyleagh Half Marathon and 3 person Relay arrived bright, sunny and warm writes Joe Quinn.

Not ideal conditions from a runners point-of-view, but the slight breeze did help to keep the participants reasonably cool, but nonetheless grateful for the shade provided by the trees and hedgerows. The race was the brainchild of John Huddleston, the man who first initiated the popular 5 Mile race which is now in its 13th year.

The top 3 men in Saturday’s Killyleagh Half Marathon in reflective mood at the end. (L to R) Aaron McGrady 3rd, Jonathan Scott 2nd and Neil Carty 1st.

The top 3 men in Saturday’s Killyleagh Half Marathon in reflective mood at the end. (L to R) Aaron McGrady 3rd, Jonathan Scott 2nd and Neil Carty 1st.

To mark this anniversary and to debunk the unlucky 13th myth he came up with the idea of having a 13 (.1) mile celebration race – all in the cause of his favourite charity the Alzheimers Society. What he’ll come up with in another 12 years I leave to your imagination!

Local shops and businesses came on board with generous sponsorship to enable the organisers East Down AC to provide unique medals to all the finishers. The route was typical Co. Down terrain, which means a little undulating and while described afterwards as tough enough, everyone enjoyed the experience. Anyway who wants flat and boring?

The race was won by North Belfast’s Neil Carty, in 1.20.51, a man more often associated with the mountains, but who was glad of the heat and the dry underfoot conditions of this location closer to sea level. Second was fellow mountain runner Newcastle’s Jonathan Scott in 1.21.25 and third was long time leader and former East Down junior star Aaron McGrady 1.22.31 now living in London.


Race sponsor Ebanisti premises in high St Killyleagh.

Race sponsor Ebanisti premises in high St Killyleagh.

The first Lady home and in 4th place overall was another runner more associated with the rigours of mountain running, Acorns Karen Alexander in 1.23.49, followed by Newcastle’s Patricia McKibbin in 1.30.02, closely followed by East Down’s Niamh Kellett 3rd in 1.30.20, a splendid run by both these athletes.

First Over 35 was Tracey O’Donnell with Letitia Fitzsimons taking the Over 45 prize. Cheryl Denvir looked in good form again taking just 1.44.31 to complete the route. Clare Carson finished in exactly 1.50 while Liz O’Hagan and Patricia Galloway finished in just over 2 hours with Cathy Burke and Helen Vint., just 2 minutes further back.

And no significant distance event would be complete without the never say die attitude and achievement of the inspirational Bernice and Eithne. I take my hat of to both of you, sorry that should be cap, but you know what I mean.

Declan Teague was the first of the East Down contingent to finish, clocking a superb 1.26.47, taking 5th place overall and the first in the Over 45 category, while Davy Foster 1.29.01 in 7th overall and the last finisher to break 90 minutes collected the first Over 35 prize for his troubles.

Gavin Hynds recorded 1.35.28 while James Magennis 1.39 46 ran well to break the 40 minute barrier. Robert Miskelly completed in 2.27.23, ahead of North Down’s Pat O’Driscoll, his regular nemesis to remark that “he must be on something”. The truth of the matter is Pat, that you’re more likely to arouse suspicion if you’re NOT on something at our age.

The following local shops and businesses sponsored the event:
* T M Martin and Son, who also provided the lead car and driver * Lorraine Lawson of Kingfisher Craft Gallery * Alfie Murray, Butchers * the Central Bar * Elvis Kirk, Skip Hire and Contractor * Killyleagh Box Company * the International Bar * the Dufferin Arms Spar Supermarket * Colin Campbell, Serene Skincare * Paul Robinson, Ebanisti * Cabinet Makers and Kitchen Design * Killyleagh Catch Fish and Chip Shop in Catherine St * and Wrap and Roll, Coffee and Sandwich Bar, Church St Downpatrick, who supplied the water.

Having managed to secure Friday night, courtesy of Killyleagh’s decision to substitute 13.1 miles for the usual 5 and of necessity, they having to resort to Saturday morning, in order to ensure everyone had daylight to finish in, the Strangford Festival 10K was rewarded with a lovely Summer evening.

Last year I wrote that I thought the route was relatively flat, as it’s Co. Down where by tradition we don’t do flat at all. Well this year just to check it out I ran it and must offer an apology to those who always accuse me of finding the hilliest circuits around.

It’s difficult to admit when you’re wrong and may well leave an indelible mark on my reputation but I’m sorry to say it’s not flat – it’s practically horizontal! Admittedly there is one very noticeable hill but it’s DOWN hill at around 8K. So dry your eyes those who imagined it was tough and hilly, I’m on the lookout for a few hills for next year.

The race was won in effortless style by Newcastle’s Zak Hanna in 34.05 using it as a speed session in preparation for some hill work, with East Down’s Gary Cull 42.14 and Dermot Cahill 42. 22 in 14th and 15thi respectively. Lisa Laird was the best of the East Down ladies taking an excellent 3rd place in 44.47.

Ian McCracken positively cruised round it in 51.02. Even though some of us missed the start we managed to pull in at least half a dozen of the early birds, yet somehow, according to the results, there was only one behind me after I crossed the line. It’s bad enough missing the start but missing the finish!! I hope they’re not still out there.

A couple of results caught my eye while delving through the copious results earlier today. Andrew Telford 1.20.17 and Mark McDowell1.27.10 completed the Mourne Triathlon in Castlewellan Park on Saturday , in what I believe was their first attempt at this sort of thing. While I’m tempted to say the lengths some people will go to to avid paying for a shower after a run, I am more inclined to sit back in admiration and say Well Done.

I really can’t avoid mentioning this remarkable lady. She had the dubious pleasure of my company last Friday night in Ballyhornan at the end of the Lecale Way 10k and she turned up on Saturday morning in Killyleagh, ran the Half marathon in 2.34 and then turned out on Sunday morning with the 7.00am starters and ran the Armagh Marathon in 5.31, accompanied by two of East Down’s best endurance runners Linda Cunningham and Oonagh Brétéché!! The question I’m asking is, when does she sleep? Super Effort by a lovely lady, Well Done Paula.

And on the subject of Congratulations, Sunday’s effort was Linda’s 50th Marathon, Well Done from everyone at East Down AC and here’s to the next 50!.

I have no idea what’s happening next locally, at this moment I’m not really bothered, just glad to have a break for a few weeks, but I’ll update you next week.