East Down AC Notes For 10th April 2022
Wednesday saw the welcome return of the Deep River Rock Queen’s 5K and 3K after a 2-year postponement due to COVID. The event incorporating the NI & Ulster 5K Championships was hosted by Queen’s University Belfast and kicked off with a 3K writes Alison Carroll.
Both races started on the Annadale Embankment and took in clockwise laps of the Ormeau and King’s Bridges before finishing outside the Queen’s Sport PEC on the Stranmillis Embankment.
3K is fast and furious
Two juniors were entered the 3K – Jacob Crawford wearing his new trainers (not “magic shoes” but pretty stylish all the same) and Oliver Robinson stood on the start line in nervous anticipation.
Heavy downpours on the drive to the race had necessitated fast wiper mode but thankfully the rain stopped completely before racing began. The sun even appeared but there was little heat to be felt and there was a stiff breeze which was felt keenly on one side of the course and whilst crossing the Ormeau Bridge.
The pace was ferocious from the gun with runners sprinting to get clear passage. Spectators had a ring side view and were able to see the pack twice. Both Jacob and Oliver were ‘surprised’ at how long a 3K felt and also commented that the finishing straight from the Ormeau bridge went on forever.
Jacob finished in 9th place in 10.02 (6th junior) and was happy with that. Oliver was delighted to break the 10 minute barrier in 9.52. He was 5th overall and 3rd placed junior.
This rounded off a great week for Oliver who found out on Monday that he had been selected to represent NI & Ulster in the International U18 Mountain Running Championships based on his win at the recent trials. The race will be taking place in Saluzzo, Italy in June and is sure to be a fabulous experience.
NI & Ulster 5K Championships
As the 3K athletes were streaming across the finish mat, there was an excited buzz on the far side of the river as over 680 5K runners gathered for their turn to race. The flat, fast course is popular with both speed merchants and those who see 5K as a manageable distance.
East Down AC’s Neil McCartan (winner of Jimmy’s 10 2022) was in the top 20 off the start and over the ensuing laps he was doing his utmost to stay there. The lead runners soon split in to smaller packs and the front bunch was quickly whittled down to 3 main contenders.
Ben Branagh (St Malachy’s) took on most of the work on the first half with Nick Griggs glued to his heels. Seventeen year old Griggs from Mid Ulster AC has been causing quite a stir in the last 12 months.
In that time, he has won a gold medal in the European Under 20 3000m Championships in Estonia last July while still only 16 and has since set an indoor European U20 Mile Record by running a sub 4 minute mile (3:56:40) in a.
With speed like that his disposal, he was always going be in contention for the win and once he moved out in front in the last 600m, there was no one who could stay with him. He crossed the line in a 5K personal best of 14.13. Ian Guiden of Clonliffe Harriers took 2nd (14.18) and Ben hung on for 3rd in 14.24.
Fifteen runners in total ran the 5K in sub 15 minutes and another thirty or so managed to break 16 minutes.
Neil McCartan, in a fast finishing bunch, out sprinted Andrew Annett of Mourne Runners to take 19th overall in 15.03. He wasn’t overly happy with the time but he is taking the positive view that he is clearly in good enough shape and can now look forward to the track season ahead.
Emma Mitchell, the female winner at Jimmy’s 10K in March, finished in 16.09 to take the Ladies NI&Ulster 5K title. EDAC’s other interest lay with Adam Morgan who battled hard to finish in 21.01 and Sharon Madine who clocked 22.14.
Neither scored a PB but both enjoyed the atmosphere of the mass race and would recommend it to others as a fun night out. The fact there was free pizza for all was an added bonus!
On Saturday Sharon Madine took on another 5K but it was a very different race than the flat tarmac of Wednesday. This event, hosted by the Born2run team, took place in the beautiful grounds of Glenarm Castle.
There were 3 options with 244 runners doing the Half Marathon, 165 in the 10k and 83 in the 5K. All distances including the 5K involved a mix of terrain. Sharon stuck with the short distance and reported back that the first 1K was flat followed by downhill trails which took the runners out into the forest.
The route then followed narrow grass paths alongside the river before heading back toward the finish along 3K of stony farmland tracks. She enjoyed the mix of surfaces and the scenery and finished 6th Female (7th overall) in 23.07.
Sharon’s enthusiasm for racing befits her role as EDAC Ladies’ Captain. She is always up for challenges that come her way and racing more than once a week is no bother to her.
Donal’s Big Bash
Anyone who knows Donal Smith knows that as well as being a keen member of the East Down Athletics Club, he is also a huge horse racing fan. He has also made no secret that he is due to celebrate his 50th birthday very soon.
To combine all this in a meaningful way, he has worked hard to put together a Charity Fun Run, walk and raffle at the Minerstown Tavern on Easter Tuesday.
As well as being his actual birthday it will be the culmination of his personal #50To50 challenge, which has seen him run at least one mile per day in the 50 days prior. As well as improving his own fitness and well being, he is keen to raise some cash for charity and he plans to split the proceeds between the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund and the Irish Red Cross Ukraine Appeal.
The event will take place on Easter Tuesday, April 19th at the Minerstown Tavern with the Run/Walk starting at 6pm . All are welcome with a suggested voluntary donation of £5 entry fee per adult. (Children taking part will be free of charge but must be accompanied by an adult.)
The route measures 4 miles approx but there is a shorter turn off point if desired. Raffle tickets, (£1 each) will be on sale on the night or can be bought in advance at the Tavern. Prizes include Easter eggs, a £75 voucher for Tedford’s Kitchen, Belfast, a £50 Cake Station, Newcastle voucher and a pair of tickets for Punchestown and Galway horse racing festivals.
All information is available on the Minerstown Tavern’s Facebook page and anyone interested in purchasing raffle tickets and/or donating a prize for the raffle is asked to contact Donal on 07843807516.
Also on Saturday Niall Gibney had a great run at the Seven Sevens organised by NIMRA. This race includes the seven highest peaks over 700m in the Mourne Mountain range.
Starting at sea level in Newcastle, the runners immediately are thrust in to the climb of 850m to the top of Slieve Donard then they continue up and down Commedagh, Bearnagh, Meelmore, Meelbeg, Binnian, Lamagan in that order. At some points they are free to make their own route which requires some navigational skills.
As the race entry page says, ‘It is a real test of mountain craft, mental strength and athletic ability.’
For Niall this is a perfect challenge and he enjoyed all aspects of the event. As part of the British Fell Running Championships it attracted runners from further afield as well as a host of local mountain enthusiasts.
Niall covered 18.72 miles with 8,184 feet of elevation in 4 hours 38 minutes which was a personal best on that course. He finished a commendable 27th out of 177 starters and was 5th local runner home.