Eamon clear in Strangford race

Eamon clear in Strangford race

29 August 2018

STRANGFORD Festival kicked off with a 10k race in the village and when you hear Joe Quinn is involved, you know it isn’t going to be a fun run.

The 10k had a mixture of all terrain, which made it both interesting and challenging with a deceptive finish.

The start line was in view of the ferry terminal and, as the runners turned left onto the slip, they headed up the gradual hill out of Strangford towards the back entrance into Castleward. 

Once inside the grounds of Castleward, they had a few hills to contend with before heading homeward bound. As they made their last descent into the village, an honorary lap of Strangford was certainly a sting in the tail before a sprint to the finish.

Eleven MACers sacrificed their relaxing Friday night by participating in the 10k race that attracted 130 runners. 

First MAC runner home was Eamon McCann, normally a 5k contender, but had a change of plan and stormed home in 41.15, followed across the line by Kieran McShane 41.44 and Brian Fitzpatrick on 42.10, who both have recorded two great times in a six day window. 

Stephen Cassidy came in at 47.05 with an impressive sprint finish, while Jim Ashdown, once again, came in with an eight second PB time of 48.15.

Next in was Sean Looby with a great time of 48.32 before completing a 16 mile training session the following day for the Dublin Marathon. 

Colm Devlin made a rare 10k appearance at 48.56 and not too far behind him was Pat Shields winning yet another age category, and three in a row, with a time of 49.02. 

Anne McCormick, carrying an injury, came in with a respectable time of 52.43 and it was good to see Andy Spence in the MAC colours and racing again, followed by Paula McKibben, who was using the race as a warm up for the Armagh Half Marathon on Sunday.

Thanks are due to the Strangford Festival Committee and to Joe Quinn from East Down AC, for a well organised race and great hospitality. Certainly a 10k race that will be marked in next year’s calendar.

The Strangford 5k featured the same route as the 10k — half uphill and half downhill.

The steady uphill from the village to the turn was a familiar route for Selena, who lives on the outskirts of the course. 

A sea of junior runners took off ahead, 7-10 year-olds passing them in dozens, thus adding insult to injury.  

There was a certain degree of satisfaction when grown ups were able to pass them eventually on the home straight — “catch them in the long grass” as the saying goes. 

The 5k measured a little long, so chip times seemed disappointing at first, but on closer inspection the course measure just around 3.4miles. 

All in all, the 5k runners were pleasantly surprised by their chip times, given the extra distance. 

First MAC lady home was Selena Rooney in a superb time of 30.42, followed by Denise Keenan (33.48), with Lyndsey Shields close on her heels at 34.03 and Norah O’Hare in a time of 35.05.

On Saturday David Stewart took part in the Mourne Sprint Triathlon which, this year was part of the Triathlon Ireland National Series, and attracted a larger entry just short of 300 coming from all parts of Ireland. This event entailed a 750m swim, a 13 miles bike ride and a 5k run.

Conditions were perfect and David had a superb finish with a  pleasing time of 1:30:12, which placed him 157th and the fantastic achievement of fourth in his age group (M55-59). That’s David’s last triathlon for the season — his bike ride will receive special attention over the off-season.

The continuous rain and wind on Sunday morning did not deter four hardy MACers, with a 7am start, running the tough course along the roads of Armagh. Paula McKibbin ran the marathon in a commendable time of 5.19. 

Next was the half marathon. Sean Armstrong sprinted in at 1.40 and Margaret Rowntree in a brilliant 2.06, while Teresa Armstrong completed the 10k in a great time of 1.12.