East Down AC Enjoys A Busy Week Running

East Down AC Reports.

East Down AC Reports

The Strangford Festival10K/5K.

On Friday 27th August as part of the annual Strangford Festival there was a 10K and 5K event which started and finished in the town with a loop through Castleward Estate writes Alison Carroll.

Aine Grant, Roisin Gaffney, Suzy Smith, Kelly Smith and Patrick Smith at Strangford. (Photos courtesy of East Down AC).

East Down AC had a good turnout with most members opting for the shorter distance. The 10K was set off first and Joe Napier had a great run finishing in 40.37. Dermot Cahill clocked 44.15 and new recruit Patrick Smith was happy with 52.31.

The 5K runners were let loose shortly behind the 10K along the same route with the plan being that they would turn at an earlier marker and head back to clock 5K. Sharon Madine with Kelly Smith hot on her heels realised to her horror that she had overshot the turning point. A few other runners also missed the point so by the time they turned they found themselves disadvantaged as the leaders became the chasers and had to overhaul the rest of the pack who had turned at the correct place.

Kelly battled through to take the female lead and ended up First Female overall. Her time of 23.19 indicates that without the extra distance she would have had a 5K pb but that target will have to wait till the next time.

East Down AC juniors getting their breath back after the 5K run in Strangford.

Sharon’s time of 23.35 was also for the longer distance of 5.6K. There was a fair stream then of EDAC finishers to follow her – Aine Grant in her first race for EDAC (25.32), Roisin Gaffney (25.53), Wayne Giles (26.00) and Suzy Smith (26.21) with some other seniors pacing in their children.

There was also a whole troop of EDAC juniors in the same race who were a credit to the club. (See Junior Report). After the race there was the customary cooling of legs in the lough followed by ice cream, beer and chips. This brought the proceedings to a happy conclusion.

The Ups and Downs on Slieve Donard.


Aaron McGrady travelled back from England hoping to continue his recent good form where he has had a few wins in local fell races. His 5th place is a very impressive result yet Aaron is probably disappointed that having reached the summit in 4th place.

His descent was not as speedy as some of the others in the lead pack. However his time of 1.00.17 is staggering to mere mortals who would see climbing Donard at a walking pace a challenge in itself.

Paul Burns would admit that mountain running is not really his forte but on a whim he entered the event and set himself a goal to reach the top in less than his age. Without revealing how old he is, it can be confirmed that his time of 46.47 for the ascent ticked that box.

Aaron McGrady and Paul Burns aiming for the summit of Slieve Donard.

Wisely he took the downhill at a canny pace knowing that he lacked  the skill to do otherwise. He was 18th to the top which got him 50th overall despite his cautious descent. Well done to both men as this was a tough run on a hot day.

Neil Nails it In London.

Neil McCartan took to the track on Saturday in London for the final event in the British league series that he has competed in this summer. He first went in the 1500m and was happy to clock a time of 4 minutes dead. This may be a bit off his PB of 3:50 from a while back but the steady progress this season bodes well for the competition possibilities both this winter and at the indoor track to follow.

If Neil is blessed with an injury free season, he will perhaps be in a position to target that PB. Here’s hoping that he gets that chance. Having completed the 1500m, Neil then took to the track again for pacing duties, helping his training partner Neil Johnston achieve a superb sub 14mins in the 5000m clocking a 13:56. Well done to both Neils!

Bright GAC 10K/5K Festival Run

Bright GAC’s event on Sunday again offered a choice between 10K and 5K. East Down AC runners made up the bulk of the 5K to the point that the starting line looked like a club session.

East Down AC runners t Bright GAC on Sunday morning.

The runners followed a rolling route with plenty of rise and fall, starting and finishing at the Community Hall at Bright. There were no official times and runners just went by their own watches. James Wright as the only EDAC Junior there was 2nd overall barely noticing the lumpy hills with his long legs and youthful enthusiasm.

Sharon Madine stormed home as First Female overall citing the fact that she had horses to feed as the reason for her speed! A perfect example of making the most of any free minutes. She was followed by Ella Carroll, Maureen Kelly, Roisin Gaffney, Suzy Smith and Alison Carroll in that order.

The 10K runners had a more challenging route but this did not deter the 4 EDAC runners in the slightest. Mark O’Connor returning from injury layoff was the first home from the club in 45 odd minutes. Eamon Kelly was a couple of minutes behind and Wayne Giles who is making huge strides in his progress was grinning with delight when he saw 53 minutes on his watch.

Patrick Smith did well to come in mid-pack considering this was his second 10K race in 3 days!  The weather was perfect, not as hot as the day before and as one runner said: “What more could you want? A few miles in good company on a Sunday morning with tea and sandwiches galore at the end.” Sometimes the simple pleasures are the best.

Antrim Coast Half Marathon 2021.

Also on Sunday was the Antrim Coast Half Marathon formerly known as the Larne Half. There were 2 races with an elite field going off first. This guaranteed plenty of spectators which in turn heightened the sense of excitement for all involved.

East Down AC fielded 3 runners in the mass start but unfortunately only 2 finished. James Maginnis had to pull up at 5 miles due to a calf strain. Hopefully having the sense to stop will hasten his return to the roads.

Gordon Graham front centre stepping out in the Antrim Coast Half Marathon.

Neil Curran had been considering whether or not to run having a few months of recurrent niggles but decided to give it a go. He was pleased that he did as he had a good run and while the 1 hour 26 minutes is by no means a pb, it was an encouraging performance based on the mileage that he has been able to achieve in training.

Gordy Graham on the other hand came to the start line with fire in his belly. He is working hard on his preparation for Belfast Marathon and this race was to be an important indicator of form. His run went to plan and he scored a personal best time of 1.11.28 chopping a mighty 4 minutes off his previous time.

With 3 weeks to go Gordy is on the right track for sure. He was in great spirits post race but then with his wedding coming up next weekend he has plenty to celebrate. Congratulations to him and Steph and best wishes for the future! Would it be out of line to suggest that he makes sure his trainers are packed if  he is planning a honeymoon?

East Down AC Juniors in Action: Multi Event Sponsored By McDonalds.

Juniors tucking into their Happy Meals supplied by McDonalds Downpatrick.

Junior Training resumed at the start of August after the Summer Recess and a multi-event competition was set up to get the young athletes back in the swing. There were 5 events over 2 nights and all attempted the full range which included a sprint (60m), long jump, javelin, shot putt and a longer run of 600-800m depending on age.

The competition was generously sponsored by McDonalds Downpatrick who supplied medals for all who completed the 2 nights as well as meal vouchers for a draw and food on the night. The runners were delighted to finish up with a delivery of Happy Meals all round.

Well done to the category winners; Charlotte Mulhall and Jarlath Kearney (U 11), Kelsey Murray and Adam Mulhall (U13) and Hannah Lennon and Ollie Robinson (13 and over).

All the medal winners from the EDAC Junior Multi Event Competition.
James Wright, Ollie Robinson and Conan Pleasants who were lucky enough to win McDonalds Vouchers in the draw.

Juniors at Strangford.

The Taylor family who took on the Strangford 5K.

It was great to see several EDAC juniors taking part in the Strangford 5K. They thoroughly enjoyed the racing and there were some impressive times.

Cara Napier put in a very strong performance finishing well up the field in a time of 23.24. Great running Cara!

Matthew Taylor was the first EDAC male junior in 23.34. Well done to Jarlath Kearney, Luke Napier, William Taylor, Freddie Ferguson and Erin Moore who also took part finishing in that order and all in under 28 minutes. 

Alice Taylor ran with her dad, John. It was not clear who was keeping who going but they got to the finish on good terms.

After a quick dip to cool off the legs, they soaked up the atmosphere of the festival and sampled the treats on offer.