Christmas Crackers for East Down AC


When the history  of running comes to be written, the names of the great pairings of the past, Bannister and Landy, Coe and Ovett, Clarke and Keino will feature in large print writes Joe Quinn.

But they were protagonists and never experienced the joy of competing together as pairs so in the Hall of Fame charting the heroes of the Christmas Cracker in Castlewellan they will not get a mention. But East Down stalwarts Teer and Venney will, as will Newcastle’s McNeilly and McCrickard and the McKibbin twins, all winners of this unique event. It was not down to arrogance or certainty that the East Down duo hadn’t returned their victor’s trophy from last year, more a case of absentmindedness on the person entrusted with that task. Fortunately for him his name escapes me too.

For those of you who don’t know the Cracker race has to be run in pairs and the placings are dictated by the time the pair cross the line so although in this instance partners are just for Christmas not for life, choice of a running mate can have much more serious consequences than the possible disruption of marital bliss, should that other choice go wrong. Getting a couple who can exactly match each others pace and stamina over the gruelling 14K course is well nigh impossible and the looks of despair on the faces of the faster runner, having to wait for his/her partner to catch up while the opposition disappears is not a pleasant sight.

Of course this is only an issue at the business end of the field – further back the pairings can be more comparable to duos like Laurel and Hardy and in some cases just as funny. I have to confess I was about to enter with A. N. Other while waiting for a suitable partner until I realised I didn’t know what gender the aforementioned is so couldn’t declare a category. I know he/she takes part in a lot of events but I have never met him/her. But my bacon was saved when the irrepressible Iryna Kennedy came to my rescue as she’s a good talker and I’m a good listener – the clue is in my family! In ideal conditions we had a great day out with only one mistake when we missed the turn off to the top of Slievenaslat but then if the leaders could do it why shouldn’t we?

Brendan and Liam’s time was 59.38 at which point we were just about halfway.  The second placed team was certainly of gold standard, comprising Gary O Hanlon of Clonliffe Harriers and Brian McCluskey of North East Runners finishing in 60.52, with Luke McMullan and David McNeilly  61.43 in third spot.  Deon McNeilly and Eamon  McCrickard finished in seventh place exactly as last year.

East Down had 17 pairs or half pairs this year out of a record entry of 300 teams.  That’s not counting Peter Morgan and Stephen McCartan who appeared in the results 3 time –  Did they do 3 laps?

Declan Teague and Mark McDowell were the next to finish in 72.39 with Paul Burns, making his debut at this form of relaxation, forming half a team and finishing in 75.53.  Just behind that Anne Sandford again took a prize , accompanied by Brian Darby, in the Mixed 90/99 category – the ages are added together before you ask.  And although we were over half an hour behind that we too picked up a prize, in the Mixed 110/119 category. So if not everything comes to he and she who wait then at least some of it does.

Good performances too from Tracey McDowell, not an enjoyable experience to quote the printable bit of her comment, and Oonagh Bréteché.  Linda Cunningham enjoyed herself going round with daughter Cara but Kim and Colum Surginor were kept behind afterwards for writing practice, having been described in results as Kian and Colum Scirsinde.  But Well Done everyone it was quite a challenge.  We’ll report on the divorce statistics before next year.

The next local event is the Rollercoaster races at Downpatrick Racecourse on Saturday 2 February 2013.

A Happy New Year to runners, walkers and supporters everywhere.Just a reminder that the Club AGM is on Thursday 3 January 2013at 7.30pm in Down Leisure Centre.


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