Last East Down AC Notes For 2018

Christmas Crackers.

Greencastle 5 Miles.

Just as he did last year, Tom Dowey travelled the furthest of the East Down runners over the Christmas period to Greencastle Co. Tyrone, in fact, on Boxing Day to run the famous 5 miles race writes Joe Quinn.  And clearly it is becoming a favourite with him as not only did he improve his time from last year by 11 seconds, to 40.05 but also his finishing place by 21 places from 329th to 308th. This fine run raised him from 6th to 5th place in the Male Over 60 category. So who’ll bet against him taking a podium position in 2019?

Some Christmas cracker! Shaun the Sheep aka James Magennis about to get the lamb chop accompanied by a group of East Down AC runners at the 2018 Cracker.

Burren Townlands Races.  

A shade closer to home, but also on Boxing Day, Declan Teague kept his driving distance within reason as he travelled to Burren, near Newry, for their increasingly popular 10K and 12 Mile races. So having saved on the petrol bill, Declan naturally felt obliged to run the longer distance, which he describes as “a very tough course  with 500 feet of climbing inside the first 4 and a half miles, with the downhill bit just as painful.” So his time of 1.26.40 for the exactly 12 miles route, is highly commendable and also gave him 13th place overall. He then turned out to run with Martin Willcox in Saturday’s Cracker in place of the injured Paul Burns.

The  10K.

Caroline McNabb and Lisa Laird: “I can’t believe we picked the same outfits either!!”

In the 10K race, East Down’s Gordy Graham, clocked 36.03 to claim not only 2nd place overall but to set a new personal best  for the distance. Santa Claus left his best gift for Boxing Day!

Donal Smith and his daughter Kelly also took part in the 10K and Donal retained the bragging rights at Chez Smith for a few weeks more, completing in 54.06 against Kelly’s 55.51, but not for much longer I suspect? The message at this stage is to make the most of it while you can Donal! The two of them turned out again as a friendly twosome in the Cracker on Saturday so perhaps Donal isn’t overdoing the bragging yet?

Turkey Trotters. 

On Thursday afternoon, the Annual Turkey Trot Mountain race saw a number of East Down athletes compete with the most successful being Aaron McGrady as he warmed up for the Christmas Cracker on Saturday. Aaron was prominent throughout the race, which was dominated by Seamus Lynch, who from being 35 seconds behind Eoin Lennon  from Carnethy at the summit reversed that to a positive 18 second advantage at the finish line.

Aaron deservedly snatched the last podium position with a fast finish, giving him a gap of 19 seconds over the 4th placed finisher. Former East Down star junior Megan Wilson, Dark Peak Fell Runners, won the Ladies race in fine style, clocking 68.39 against runner up Shileen O’Kane’s 71.05.

Niall Gibney was East Down’s only other runner and could be mightily pleased with 28th place out of 94 finishers in 72.55.

Castlewellan Crackers. 

Philip Vint after completing his 30th marathon

Having placed 2nd last year when partnered by Zak Hanna the question on everyone’s lips, well at least on the lips of his East Down colleagues who follow these sort of things, was who would Aaron McGrady have to partner him in the famous Cracker race on 29th December.

With Zak teaming up with Seamus Lynch, one half of last year’s winning duo, there was speculation that if Aaron could forge an alliance with Ian Bailley, the other half of Lynch’s  successful outing in 2017, that could be a winning combination. However, on the day Aaron appeared with his long time buddy from his college days, Ronnie Murray, and they proceeded to put a lot of the pundits under pressure by taking up a challenging position in the top half dozen pairings, as the field of 677 couples left the town.

For those of you who don’t know the Cracker is a race run in pairs who must cross the finish line together.  If anyone arrives ahead of his/ her partner they must undergo a sort of quarantine, by waiting in a specified area about 50 metres from the finish line, in order to meet up again and have a reconciliation, before they’re allowed  to cross the line and access the free soup. The first couple to appear in the finish straight was however the aforementioned Hanna/Lynch combo, who comfortably took the top prize, completing the official 8.5 miles with 1300 feet of climbing in 53.24, with the Mourne Runners duo of Timothy Johnston and Jonathan Scott 55.03 in 2nd followed by another all Newcastle pairing of Luke McMullan and Mark Stephens 55.37 in 3rd.

High Fives.

It was not long however until the McGrady/Murray red appeared at the top of the finish funnel, as they took 5th place in 57.03, a really significant result, given that Ronnie had not trained properly for the race and the fact that they finished in such an exalted position surely gives hope to a lot of runners out there who think they could never get close to the front.

Predicted time trial participants and officials pictured at December 2018.

Gordy Graham was the next EDAC runner to appear but was swiftly “quarantined” and had to wait what seemed like an eternity, for his partner Noel Kerr to arrive, which was a bit strange as Noel was setting the pace and apparently going well with less than a mile to run. However they did manage to nail down 15th place, something that most runners would give their eye teeth for.

There were 51 EDAC runners in total spread across the various categories, though the only one to feature in the prize winners was Brain Hamilton who paired up with Martina Elliott of Lunchtime Legends to win the Mixed age120 and over section.  Well done to them.


And indeed to everyone from the Club who ran as EDAC pairings or as half of another registered Club runner pair or with a friend or family member. It is after all a Fun Event and it was obvious that the majority of participants were in fun filled mode and certainly gave the spectators plenty to laugh at.

Maybe next year some of us spectators will be out there running again too?

Another Eams Marathon. 

On Sunday, Phillip Vint was delighted to clock 3.14.10 to take 3rd place in the latest EAMS Marathon in what was his 60th marathon and 10th of 2018. Congratulations to him on this milestone achievement and also on his being voted EDAC Athlete of the Year. At the same venue Clare Carson picked up 2nd place in the Half Marathon distance, recording 1.46.03.

5K Time Trial. 

At the last club night of 2018 on Thursday last 25 of the Clubs athletes put their reputations on the line as they strove to match their predicted time to their actual times on the measured circuit around the Downshire Estate. There was some great pacing with several of the runners coming within seconds of their predictions but Liam Keenan proved the master of pace judgement as he ran his predicted time to the very second.
Thanks are due to Paul Burns for organising and to those who helped with timing, marshalling and food.

London Marathon Place And Irish Marathon Championships.  

Congratulations also to Marguerite Robinson who was the recipient of the Club’s place in the 2019 London Marathon which was drawn on the night, and also to Declan Teague, David Smith and Liam Keenan who were presented with Bronze medals as the third placed team in the Over 50 category in the Irish Championships held in conjunction with the recent Dublin Marathon.

And finally:

I wish every runner out there a Happy, Healthy, and Injury Free New Year 2019. 

Joe Quinn

30 December 2018.