Greencastle 5 mile Road Race

There are three Greencastles that I know of in Northern Ireland. There is one in North Belfast, one in Co. Down on the shores of Carlingford Lough and then there is an extremely remote Greencastle high up in the Sperrins about half way between Cookstown and Omagh.

Well, the latter one was the venue for the 30th running of the Greencastle 5 mile road race on Boxing Day, and what a great event it was. If ever there was a road race in which the organisers sought to please everyone and succeeded, this was it. This was no little backwoods race either! Over 1000 runners registered and amongst them some of the best in the country, including Paul Pollock who competed in the marathon event at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow and Annemarie McGlynn, recent bronze medal winner in the European Cross Country Championships.

From the moment we arrived at the Greencastle Community Centre in the misty Sperrins it was obvious that this was an enormous community effort. Precision car parking by a squad of assistants, an extremely slick registration process, chip timing, every mile timed, pre race refreshments, great post race refreshments, helpful smiling faces everywhere, more portaloos than at the start of the Belfast City Marathon, closed roads, great signage and a well marshalled and interesting route. And great support along the roads from the local community too and plenty of motivational music just when it was most needed, particularly on that hill!

The route was over the narrow roads in the vicinity of the village. The first three and a half miles were straightforward enough, but then came the ‘killer hill’ which took the runner up into the misty mountains above the Community Centre. The race motto was, appropriately,…‘It’s just a hill, get over it!’ and we did! The final half a mile or more was downhill to the finish. The goody bag provided at the end was like no other I have ever seen and included an anniversary mug and a tastefully designed tee shirt and many other bits and pieces too numerous to mention.

With An Caislean Glas GAC, Tir Eoghain, at the heart of the proceedings it was to be expected that there would be plenty of sustenance thereafter, and there was! Loads of it and we revelled in it. There was even a glass of mulled wine if you craved one. Amazingly there were at least three prizes on offer in each age category, which is very unusual, and the online results table resembles a work of art. Have a look at it!

Prizes were awarded on stage by Mickey Harte, the Tyrone Gaelic Football Manager. And all for a £10 entry fee. If Carlsberg did 5 mile races this would be it!

On the day Orangegrove A.C. was represented by six members, Liz Leitch, Mairead Conlan (a local lass), Thomas Leitch, Robin Montgomery, Des Fahy and Brian Todd. The following times were achieved by each of them:

Thomas Leitch 30.30 (47th/1035)
Robin Montgomery 30.44 (51st/1035)
Des Fahy 32.58 (86th/1035)
Brian Todd 35.21 (169th/1035)
Elizabeth Leitch 38.52
Mairead Conlan 49.23

Well done to all who made the effort to travel long distance on a dull day to take part in this great race. I certainly will be back next year! Maybe this one could become a traditional Boxing Day coach outing for OAC.

The Greencastle 5 mile race was won by Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) in an incredible 24.24. Annemarie McGlynn (Letterkenny A.C.) was first lady in 27.59, a new female course record.