East Down AC Get Ready For A Busy Weekend

East Down AC Prepare For Races

East Down AC Prepare For Races


With the British & Irish Junior Mountain Running Championship looming in September, NIMRA (Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association) held a trial race on Saturday past in order to select teams writes Alison Carroll.

Even after saying he would never race in the mountains again, Ollie Robinson headed to the hills at Happy Valley to take part in the U17 race. The forecast earlier in the week had suggested that the weather might improve for the 2pm start but this wasn’t the case.

Meelmore & Meelbeag were blanketed in low cloud and there was persistent drizzle. For safety it was decided to alter the route so runners would either run on mountain trails or use walls as route markers. This change did not however make the course any easier.

Ollie Robinson in action in the trials.

U17 & U20 runners set off together with a 550m uphill climb along a very rocky & slippy path towards the summit of Meelmore.  The route then took a nearly 360 degrees turn to descend along the wall.


Ollie found the uphill part hard work so dropped down the field but he caught up quite a few places on the descent with his ‘no holds barred’ downhill technique.

As the runners appeared from the mist it was obvious how difficult the run had been to that point.  All were covered in mud with a few getting a bit battered by the repeated falls in the very waterlogged ground. 

It was then a right-hand turn to run parallel to the wall on sloping ground towards Meelmore Lodge carpark & back. The race distance was 6K with a total climb of nearly 900 feet.  

Ollie finished 3rd in the U17 boys category and 8th overall in a time of 36 minutes and 40 seconds.  This gained him a place to represent NI in the U17 squad at the British & Irish U17 & U20 Championships which are being held in NI on the 4th of September.

This is commendable since at 14 years of age he is younger than many in that category. Well done to the NIMRA crew who organised a very professional event.  The course was well marked and there were plenty of volunteers who ensured everyone was safe & well looked after.


The Vitality Big Half which took place in London last weekend had 3 East Down AC members taking part. All 3 are living in England but stay in touch with the Club on a regular basis which is appreciated.

Deo Kato was doing pacing duties for his girlfriend so he did not go out to target a time. He reported back that the atmosphere was fantastic and there was a real feeling of excitement to be back at a mass event.

Hannah Somani has been training hard for the upcoming London Marathon. She would love to break the 3 hour barrier and saw this race as a chance to practise pacing as well as tick off a long run. Her time of 1 hour 29 is a very good encourager.

Aaron McGrady with some recent successes in fell races was out to enjoy a flatter route for a change. He was however mindful of the Donard Race coming up this Saturday so he was determined to run within himself. He was more than happy with his time of 1 hour and 18.

With 10,000 people taking part it is impressive that Aaron was was 202nd overall and Hannah was 957th. Aaron is also to be congratulated on being selected as reserve for the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Team for the Senior Home Internationals in Cumbria.


Looking ahead, if you want to get out and race this weekend there are local races available but both events are online entry in advance so you need to get organised if you want to take part. On Friday 27th as part of the annual Strangford Festival there will be a 10K and 5K event starting at 7pm. 

The races start and finish at the car park below Inverbrenna Hall, Stella Maris Street. The route goes out of the town through Castleward Estate. For more information please contact Brendan Kerr on 07863900138, or alternatively via email: 


Bright GAC are also hosting a race this coming weekend which will again offer a choice between 10K and 5K. If you are under 25 you can enter for free! Their event takes place on Sunday 29th at 10am and the start is the Bright Community Hall. Pre registration is open at: