Weekly Report Monday 23rd December – Sunday 29th December 2019

OAC Weekend Report 23rd – 29th Dec

It might have been Christmas week but OAC athletes were still out and about racing (and running off the turkey and mince pies!).

Below is a full round up of all the Christmas action.

Greencastle 5 Mile Road Race, Boxing Day 2019 – By Brian Todd

If you are looking for a serious road race on the 26th December then most roads will lead to the remote Sperrins village of Greencastle Co. Tyrone. If you are based in Belfast it may seem like a long way to travel for a shortish race. However, the traffic is usually sparse and the superb organization implicit in this event make it worthwhile. The course is a roughly rectangular one beginning and finishing at one of the high points in the area and adjacent to the enormous St. Patrick’s GAA club which is race headquarters and post-race festivities centre. The first couple of miles are generally downhill, followed by an undulating section which prepares you for ‘the hill’. This is one hell of a hill which appears to go on forever. However, the final kilometre is downhill and very fast. The organizers have to be congratulated for what is a magnificent community effort to welcome and indulge the runners, all 750 of them. Slick car parking marshals, efficient registration, superb marshalling around the course and much encouragement from the many spectators. At the end of it all a magnificent goody bag which contained, amongst many things, a dozen free range eggs! Greencastle’s green credentials were confirmed by the distribution of boxed water rather than plastic bottles at the end of the race. The usual generous country spread concluded the day. The results spreadsheet is not far short of a work of art, colour coded with mile splits, mile pace and mile rank included. The prize list was very generous too with three prizes up for grabs in every age category. All for a £12 entry fee!! What was there not to like!

Orangegrove was represented by Edwina Ternan, Brian Todd, Eric Fairfield and Keith Weir and their results were as follows:

Keith Weir….30.52 (40/760)

Eric Fairfield….31.45

Edwina Ternan….34.09 (F35-39 category prize, 1st)

Brian Todd….39.30 (M65-69 category prize, 1st)

The Greencastle 5 Mile Road Race was won by Neil Johnston (Springwell) in 24.54. Emma Mitchell (Team Nike) was first lady in 29.20.

Castlewellan Christmas Cracker – 28th Dec 2019

On Saturday 28th December, the running fraternity of Northern Ireland descended on the small Co Down town of Castlewellan for the annual Christmas Cracker event, organised by Newcastle AC.

The unique race is and typically sold out weeks in advance and marks the highlight of the Christmas racing calendar. Running events are usually individual affairs however the ‘Cracker’ as it is affectionately known requires a team of 2 (either male / male, female / female or mixed). Teams do not have to stay together during the race, but must cross the finish line together! Fancy dress is encouraged but entirely optional!

The course changes each year and stays a closely guarded secret by Newcastle AC – teams do not know what to expect! However hills, fields and mud are generally anticipated! The exact distance is also never advised, however runners were told to expect around 8.5 miles! The sense of mystery is really what makes this race special!

The weather on the day was unseasonably warm, much more like Spring time than Christmas time as teams made their way through the town centre into the spectacular Castlelwellan Forest Park. The course took in a brief run past the lake before climbing up the Bannastown Road and into the trails of the park. The climbs totalled about 900 feet –OAC’ers probably felt like fish out of water being more used to Victoria Park, however all teams put in great performances with most opting for fancy dress!

The milder weather lead to a much cleaner race underfoot with less mud than previous years. The hills were still as hilly and the views of The Mourne Mountains still as spectacular.

Everyone descended the climbs safely to the lake where we were greeted by our support crew (Sharon, Brian and Dawn) and a rapturous applause.

Following a couple of swift pints in Maginns and review of Garmin devices to compare course length (!!), it was the bus home back to Belfast.

A great day out was had by all including Crayons, Flamingo, Lama, Bathers, Christmas Suits, Cavemen and Women, Elf, Christmas Tree and Pimp!!!!

Thanks to Newcastle AC for another cracking race!

Below is a list of OAC (full and part teams). Well done everyone who took part.

David Carberry / Gavin McGucken Male 80 – 99 01:17:46

Colin Simpson / Heather Flint Mixed 80 – 99 01:23:17

Jonathan Weston / Carolyn Beattie Mixed 80 – 99 01:25:10

Edwina Ternan / Gillian Logan Female Under 80 01:33:49

Steven Gilliland / AC Jody O’Boyle Club Male Under 80 01:34:16

David Sweeney / Eoghan Rainey AC Male 80 – 99 01:36:57

Sharon Howe / Barry Burns Mixed 80 – 99 01:37:43

David Gilliland / Ciaran Kearney Male 100 – 119 01:40:21

Kerris Hamilton /Verity Cornford Female 80 – 99 01:42:41

Lisa Fleming / AC Cathy Fraser 80 – 99 01:44:41

David Fletcher / AC Ian Wilson Male 80 – 99 01:45:09

Judith McCann / Jenny Powell Female 80 – 99 01:50:09

Ciaran Faloona / Martin Doherty Male 80 – 99 01:51:44