East Down AC Reports On Runs For 24 September 2017


It has taken a long time for the phenomenon that is parkrun to reach this part of Co Down but finally on Saturday it arrived in Castlewellan Forest Park, much to the credit of the group of volunteers who were involved in setting up the  arrangements, including choosing the route which the runners had to follow writes Joe Quinn.

Joe Quinn with Kate Montgomery Lagan Valley at the Castlewellan parkrun on Saturday

Unfortunately, the path around the lake is only  2.25 miles so organisers came up with the perfect solution for extending the course to ensure if was exactly 5K. This involved adding in the shortfall by directing runners up a noticeable gradient ( technical term for a steep hill) which thankfully only went on for 400 metres or so before the toiling runners were directed around a cone and back down the way they came to the lough shore path again and thence to the finish back where we started.

Almost 600 runners turned up on Saturday and the conditions were well nigh ideal. While it is unlikely that this figure will ever be repeated again as there was a number of regular parkrunners who forsook their usual meet to come along to wish the new venue well.

East Down’s Emily Milligan  enjoying her race in the P4 annd under race in Castlewellan Park on Sunday.

It is worth noting too that the field was divided almost 75% to 25% in favour of non-athletics club members so that the  event week on week will continue with huge numbers irrespective of he involvement of local club members. It was my first ever parkrun, like many of my fellow participants, and while it was very crowded on the paths around the lake it was a very enjoyable experience. I doubt if I will become a regular, however, though I will run it intermittently as time permits, but, as they put it on their Home page at:


Every parkrun event relies on volunteers and volunteering is a wonderful way to make friends, feel great and have fun. If you’d like to help, please take a look at the Future Roster page and drop the volunteer co-ordinator an email with the date(s) you’d like to volunteer on.”


The 11th running of the Darragh Cross 10K and 5K Fun Run took place on Sunday, a month later than usual, due to pressures on the earlier mid-August date, and a combined total of 86 runners took part, with both races beginning together at 12.45pm. The feature of the day was the establishment of a new race record time, 34.38 set by Ballydrain’s Glen Taylor , which was all the more commendable in that he had to run alone for much of the 2nd half of the race in what were not ideal conditions, the soft refreshing drizzle having given way to a much heavier fall of rain by the time the runners had reached half way.

The organisers were more than happy to pay out the bonus on offer for a new record. Make no mistake 34.38 is a very good time on this particular course and anyone topping it will have to be a pretty tough cookie.

The minor places were filled by Saintfield Striders Chris McCaffrey 37.07 and Annadale’s Conor McMullan 37.26 with the next three home Noel Napier 38.41, De Murray East Down 39.24 and Ballydrain’s Norman Mawhinney 39.41 deservedly taking the Over 35, Over 45 and Over 55 category prizes respectively,and in fact the only runners to dip under 40 minutes.

First Female finisher was East Down’s Deirdre Weatherall 43.02 with Saintfield  Striders duo Lisa  Corry 45.27 and Mary Gallen 47.37 filling the other two podium places. First Over 35 was East Down’s Patricia Galloway 47.56 with Iryna Kennedy 56.23 Lagan Valley and Violet Spence 73.05 Saintfield Striders took the Over 45 and Over 55 prizes respectively.


The Fun Run was won in convincing style by Ballydrain’s Kyle Ross 22.01  from clubmate Bradley Mullan 22.39 and Murlough’s Eamonn McCann 22.50 while first female home was Saintfield Striderd Caroline Leckey 27.52 from Grace Moody and Katie Quinn both 32.09.


The first round of the 2017/18 Series got under way in the Spring Gardens in Castlewellan Forest Park on Sunday afternoon in what has been described as “typical” cross country weather.  It was mild and damp, progressing to mild and wet until the races were all over when it changed to mild and dry.

Most of  the East Down older juniors at Castlewellan on Sunday afternoon.

However, the spirits of all the Boys and Girls from the 5 participating clubs, Newcastle AC, East Down Ac, Dromore  AC, Burren AC and Three Ways AC were unaffected by the weather and from the P4 and Under Girls which  opened the event to the  Year 11+ Boys race which closed it, every one of the contestants fought for every point they could get. East Down and Newcastle dominated proceedings numbers wise but the other 3 Clubs enjoyed several successes nevertheless.

For example, in the P4 Boys race the top 4 places were filled by runners from 3 Ways  1st  and 4th and Burren 2nd and 3rd before the first Newcastle runner appeared and even longer before Ben McCann and Matthew Boyd put East Down’s  name on the board.

In contrast the P4 Girls and under saw Newcastle 1st 2nd and 4th and East Down 3rd Lily Foster and 5th Aoibheann McVeigh. The East Down quartet of Sophia Milligan, Caragh Moore, Emily Milligan and Bella Cornwell filled 9th to 11th places and having taken a watching brief on their debuts will be out to improve those places next time out.


The P5 Boys and Girls races proved gifts for East Down with Kieran Trainor  and Alex Robinson taking first and second place in the Boys race while the Girls went to Kari Foster and Erin Moore and there was further points gained by virtue of Joscely Wright, Rachel McCartan , Keeva McQuoid and Grace Milligan’s 5th 6th 7th and 9th placings respectively.


Total opposite again in the P6 Boys where JJ Hanna was the only East Down representative, finishing a brave 12th while the Girls P6 was won by Jodi Foster with great support from Ella Telford in 5th  Grace McCann, Anna Boyd and Amy McCartan in 10th 12th and 14th respectively.


The P7 boys was a hard fought contest all the way until East Down’s Ollie Robinson upped the pace on the final hill to outsprint 3 Ways Tiernan O’ Hare and Dromore’s Alex Watson with only a second between each. Callum Kent was only 5 seconds further back in 4th place while James Wright finished well  in 10th place.

East Down’s only runner in the P7 Girls race was Emily Burns who finished a close up second to Dromore’s Ava Mehaffey.


The age group anomalies continued in the Year 8 races with East Down having only one runner in the Boys race was Cormac O’Hare in 10th while the Year 8 Girls was dominated by East Down athletes where Lauren Madine won from Lucy Foster with Anna Gardiner and Kara Trainor were 4th and 5th finishers

The Year 9  Boys only had only one runner from East Down but who could want for a better man than the ever present  ever consistent Mackenzie Murray who battled very effectively to take a well deserved  3 rd place.


The race was won by East Down’s Kirsti Foster from Anna Byrne from 3 Ways and Ciara Savage Newcastle, with Colleen Burke, Seana Murray and Ellen Tumelty in 5th

6th and 7th places respectively


This race was perhaps the most disappointing of the afternoon,  from an East Down perspective with only Jack Carson and Thomas Brown appearing eventually taking 5th and 6th places. And there were No Year 10 Girls from the Club at all.


Both of these races were dominated by East Down with wins in both Boys and Girls sections, Matthew  McGrattan winning from Owen Edwards and Malachy McGrady jun. and Andrew McGrattan showing up well in 4th and Adam Morgan 7th


The girls race was almost as one sided when Edie Caroll led the way home with Aoife Cochrane in 2nd, Rebecca Magee Dromore and Holly Jennings Newcastle preventing an embarrassing clean sweep by keeping Ella Caroll and Aoife Burke apart from the front pairing.


On Saturday morning at all sorts of ridiculous times an increasingly bigger number of hardy souls (or mad eejits depending on our point of view) from East Down’s senior and  allegedly more sensible section were embarking on the latest 26 Extreme event on the Causeway Coast.

The Ultra marathon begins around 7.00am so that by the time the marathons starts the long distance folks (40 miles) are well warmed up and hopefully almost 13 miles into their challenge. Or at least that’s the theory.

This year’s ultra folk were Stephen Heasley 8.13.50 who wearing bib number 53 finished in 53rd place (out of 100). A great effort Stephen, Well done but I suggest you ask for bib number 1 next year!!

Keith Reilly 79th in 9.00,  Michael Cultra 82nd in 9.14 and Oonagh  Brétéché 83rd in 9.14 were thee other members of this Gang of Four who battled some pretty arduous conditions throughout the day before getting the all clear to put their feet up, provided of course they still had the energy.


Raymond Milligan, Linda Cunningham and Declan Teague pictured before the start of the Causeway Coast Marathon on Saturday.

Declan Teague was more than happy to break 4 hours over what he described as a “tough, tough course, muddy underfoot and windy, hilly, stony, rocky with stretches of beach with blowing sand and water but enjoyable in many ways” I think I have deleted all the expletives in his colourful range of adjectives but I suppose you have to be “into” this sort of event to fully appreciate what he’s saying. In the circumstances 3.58 and overall 14th place is a great achievement.

Mickey Cunningham 74th of 203  in 4.56 was the next of the EDAC Marathon Trio to finish, with Raymond Milligan 171st in 6.01. Raymond likes to get value for his money hence his reasoning for staying out as long as he can.

Well Done you guys! It was only after I had written this that I thought “What about Linda?” Linda is always there and wouldn’t have been content with the Half! So back to the results pages again – another of those which doesn’t publish Club names! and there she was 193rd  in 6.52 marginally behind her sister Jackie on this occasion.  Well Done the EDAC Four!


I had heard that Gareth Amos was running the Half marathon with his brother and a quick search revealed that he had finished in 3.18 alongside Paul Amos but there was also a Liam Amos listed as having finished in 2.16. More confusion! Another brother? On the understanding that running with someone means alongside I’ll settle for the fact that Paul is the sibling in question.

Sean Sealey was another who swore never again after his first marathon, yet here he was taking on the challenge of the Causeway half – OK it’s only half the distance but ……….and complete it he did in 3.33 alongside a Susan Sealey? His wife? I hope she appreciates your idea of going out for the day.

And to crown it all Eithne McGrattan and Bernice McCann, the icing on the cake. Although the results have not listed Eithne’s time I know she finished in around 3.48 with the inspirational Bernice crossing the line in 3.55.