East Down AC Report For Sunday 14th November 2021

A report for the East Down AC recent activities by Allison Carrol

A report for the East Down AC recent activities by Allison Carrol

26Extreme At Tollymore Forest Park

Tollymore Forest Park was the venue for a multi distance event at the weekend. While the scenery is an obvious attraction to the runners, they come in the knowledge that that they will face several hills and off road terrain so it is not a race for those who like to chase times and personal bests.

As per previous years, there was a 10K, a half marathon, a full marathon and an ultra marathon all on offer with East Down AC represented in both the 10K and the full marathon (26.2 miles).

Jonny Holmes at the North South Masters XC Challenge at QUB Playing Fields

With 4 races and routes it could have been confusing but for those doing the Half Marathon (13.1 mile) distance it was a one loop course which the marathoners (26.2 miles) then did twice. For those doing the Ultra Marathon it was a case of back round for a third time.

The races also had differing start times with the longer distances starting earlier in the day. Doing laps often keeps the runners compact in terms of marshalling and spectating but it can mean that those doing the longer distances are tested mentally when they see others finishing.

It is sometimes hard to carry on for the next loop when you can see others reaching the end of their efforts. 

It also means where there is a hill or a tricky part of the race, you will see it more than once if you are doing the marathon or the ultra.

The 10k route was slightly separate but also included a few steep sections so it was not an easy option by any means.

10K Is Plenty

Marguerite Robinson who took part in the 26 Extreme 10K at Tollymore Forest Park

Marguerite Robinson had been training hard to regain fitness after a layoff with injury and had hoped to be ready to use her half marathon slot which was a deferred entry from the 2020 event which was called off due to Covid restrictions.

As race day approached, however, she realised that on this occasion that she might be taking on more than she could chew and certainly more than she would enjoy so she wisely switched to the 10K.

She was easy with her decision once the race got underway and even more so during the last mile when she was running the drag uphill from the gate to the finish.

She completed in 55.17 and was 15th female (31st overall out of 67).


Marathon Distance

Declan Teague has been in fine marathon form recently, packing in 3 such races in short succession from September into October but this one was notable as it got him to number 70 in his tally. Unfortunately since his last race, he has had to reduce his training miles due to niggles and he arrived at the start line knowing that he was going to have to dig deep to get round.

He was therefore delighted to hook up with Phillip Vint as the race got underway and said that the camaraderie took their mind off the big climbs and got them through the first hour with ease. Phillip was on his way to his 77th marathon and in his usual understated fashion he was just there to get on with it. The commitment and consistency of these guys has to be admired. 

Declan Teague and Philip Vint at the Newcastle marathon.

Much as Declan was enjoying the company, he urged Phillip to press on to pursue his own pace. Phillip very gradually eased away over the miles ahead and finished a superb 12th overall in 3 hours and 31 minutes. This would be a commendable time on tarmac let alone on an off road event. Declan stuck to his own rhythm and was happy with his time of 3.48 which placed him 22nd out of the 72 who completed.

Clare Carson was also in for the marathon distance and taking it in her stride she dipped in just under the 5 hours to add another one to the long list that she is accumulating. They all commented that they found the downhills as tough as the ups and the quad muscles had definitely taken a battering but despite the testing route it is one they will likely repeat.

Plan B For Stephen

Stephen Heasley, who was in Tollymore to take part in the Ultra distance, reported back that he was a ‘DNF’. For those of you who are unsure what DNF means, it is short for “did not finish”. Most would assume that this would be a major disappointment.

Stephen Heasley shows off his medal.

In Stephen’s case though perhaps it would be more accurate to say that he had a change of plan rather than a failure. Although he was finding it tough going, he waited until the end of lap 2 to call it a day so in fact he completed a marathon while considering his options.

For many of us managing to finish a marathon on a good day would be a challenge.

To do so on a “bad” day seems almost a triumph! It was certainly the right decision for Stephen on the day and hopefully he will now take time for recovery before his next escapade.

North-South Masters Cross Country Challenge

Jonny Holmes had taken part in the NIMAA XC Championships a month ago as a way of trying his hand at cross country running. That event also stood as selection for the NI team for the North South Challenge. Based on the results that day, the Masters Association drew up teams of 6 plus one reserve for each age group 35-39, 40-44, 45-49 and so on.

Jonny was duly notified that he was picked to run as reserve in the 35-39 category and so he turned up at Queens Playing Fields on Saturday past, slightly concerned as to how he would cope given the standard of the runners. 

He had no need to worry as he paced it well and did himself and the club proud. He was 63rd in the end and completed the 5 lap muddy circuit in 32 odd minutes. He expressed his awe of the standard at the front of the race and felt that it great to have the experience of being part of such a competitive event.


This weekend sees the cross country season continue with a large EDAC squad heading to Comber for the Comber Cup and some Juniors travelling to Santry in Dublin for the All Ireland Even Age Group Championships as part of the County Down team. Good luck to all concerned.