Storm Arwen fails to hamper runners

Storm Arwen fails to hamper runners

1 December 2021

THE forecast of high winds and squally showers for the weekend was somewhat accurate, but the timing of Storm Arwen was slightly off schedule with the worst of the weather hitting earlier than had been predicted.

Saturday, in fact, turned out to be a lot calmer than anticipated and while it was bitterly cold, it was dry and bright.

Many country parks and trails had been closed as a precautionary measure causing cancellation of some Parkruns, but the Born2Run crew who were hosting race two of the Run Forest Run Series in Loughgall had held off making the call regarding their race until early on Saturday.

Fortunately, although they had to alter the route slightly due to fallen trees, they were able to proceed with caution.  

With the revised course the the 5k was slightly longer than advertised 3.22 miles instead of 3.12. Not much extra distance on paper but the diversion added another climb for the runners and increased the overall elevation to 207 feet.

Sharon Madine was the sole East Down AC runner as the 5k with 134 runners began. It started with a short loop then headed out into the forest  around the lake staying fairly level for the first 3k was fairly level and then hitting the upward section.

On the flat Sharon had been holding 3rd female place and in fact had just gone into the lead as they reached the start of the incline, but once the climbing began in earnest, she felt her legs go and she had to pull up to catch her breath.

Una Campbell, from Newry City Runners, took the chance to slip past and went on to take first female in 23.17.

Sharon has good stamina and is usually strong on hills but we all get days when the body won’t do what the mind tells it.

Undeterred, she rallied to make use of the long gallop downhill to the line coming across as second female in 23.36 and ninth overall. Two races and two podiums is a great marker for the series. Well done Sharon.


Malcolm Cup

The Malcolm Cup cross-country event was organised by Annadale Striders and took place at QUB Playing Fields on Sunday.

If you managed to find shelter or a spot in the sun, you could have convinced yourself that it was a beautiful day, but the wind was sharp and the chill that crept in as the afternoon went on reminded us all that December was just around the corner.

There were multiple races which gave a full and exciting afternoon for those taking part or watching. The course was made up of laps approximately one mile long which varied by category with a minimum of one lap for the U-13 juniors and four for the open men.

First off were the Masters men, facing three laps with 80 competitors on the start line. Masters applies to all aged 35 or over and EDAC had six men in the race.

Neil Curran, off the back of a strong showing in Comber the previous Sunday, was out to make his mark. He was once again in the top 10 (eighth) and first home for the club. He was also first in his age category and recorded 17.17 for the roughly 5k course, so a successful day for him.

He is enjoying cross-country this season and it shows. He was followed by Martin Willcox, in 34th place with a time of 18.49, Dee Murray 38th (19.06), Jonny Holmes 42nd (19.21), Mark O’Connor 63rd (21.11) and Wayne Giles 80th (23.46).

All commented that this was a very quick course for a cross-country as there was only one hill and the mud was confined to the rutted areas on the corners. Perhaps true lovers of the discipline would say that it wasn’t tough enough but those racing seemed happy nonetheless. 

There were four EDAC women out in the women’s race to test their progress again on a three-lap course.

Wendy Findlay took off with the front half of the pack of 136 runners and hung in to finish well up in 55th place in 23.27.

Roisin Gaffney paced it perfectly, picking up speed as the race progressed. She was 89th in 25.25. Not far behind was Alison Carroll in 25.32.

Tara Findlay stuck to her plan to take it steady and came in in 27.55, looking comfortable enough. They unanimously pronounced it enjoyable and were glad to have made the effort to take part.

Adam Morgan, by virtue of being under 35, had to run in the open race, which was a hotly contested affair with clubs vying for the win for the Malcolm Cup Trophy.

He lined up in the very competitive field prepared to run his own race without concern for the speedsters out for the win. He kept his head and counted off the laps finishing in 30.34 for the four miles.

The transition from junior to senior running can be a hard year or two, but Adam is to be commended on his positivity and his consistent attendance at training. 



The junior races were interspersed with the senior events. It was fantastic to see so many of our young athletes prepared to give it a shot.

For some this was their first attempt at racing let alone cross country but for others this has become an almost weekly occurrence.

East Down AC is proud of all the juniors and enjoys watching them progress and grow in the sport. They all coped well with the course and seemed oblivious to the perishing cold. Not one of them failed to finish and while they may have found it hard going, there were plenty of smiles when it was all over.

All in all, a very successful day for the junior section. Well done to all who took part and kudos to the coaches, who give their time so willingly not only on race day but all year round.

Thanks also to the parents for encouraging their offspring to take part and braving the cold to support them on the day.



Results for all are below with special mention for our two prize winners. In the U-13 boys there were 37 entrants in for the one lap race.

Alex Robinson, who has had a great season so far, stuck the pace well to stay in contention. He was justly rewarded with third place and a trophy to take home.

Oliver Robinson also managed a podium spot when he came second in the U-17 boys in a time of 11.04 for a two lap race. The standard of boys taking part was competitive so he did very well, in fact sprinting to the line to maintain his place.

U-13 boys (37): 3rd, Alex Robinson (5.43), 33rd Freddie Ferguson (7.22).

U-13 girls (26 runners): 23rd Kelsey Murray (8.22).

U-15 boys (26 runners): 8th Aaron Lennon (12.46).

U-15 girls (24 runners): 17th Rebekah Wilson (16.49), 19th Erin Moore (17.30), 21st Hannah Morris (17.52), 23rd Poppy Ferguson (18.30).

U-17 boys (eight runners): 2nd Oliver Robinson (11.04), 13th Jacob Crawford (12.18).


Further from home

Aaron McGrady had been looking forward to the British Athletics Cross Challenge in Liverpool, but having raced it at the weekend he is now keen to put it behind him.

He said that he found himself off the pace with no way to make up places. The fact that it was the trials for the upcoming European XC meant that the standard was extremely high.

The top 48 runners were under 30 minutes for the 9.8k course which is some going when on grass and mud.

Aaron likes to pace conservatively and then gear up when he sees how the race is progressing, but with the first kilometre showing on his watch as just over three minutes gone, he knew that he was going to have to dig deep even to finish.

To his credit he completed the course and in a decent time of 32.40 and while disappointed he lives to fight another day. 



Helen Vint along with husband Phillip travelled to Clontarf at the weekend to take part in a half marathon. It is billed as “Ireland’s flattest half marathon which takes place in the scenic setting of Clontarf Promenade and Bull Island, with views of Howth Head and Dublin Bay”.

Flat it may be, but it was a tough challenge on this occasion due to a strong blustery offshore wind which slowed the runners and added to the chill factor.

Helen was very glad that Phillip was there as a run buddy and delighted that she finished in a more than respectable two hours and four minutes.


Wilmslow 10k

Hannah Somani is clawing her way back to her pre-marathon speed by racing some shorter distances. She set off on Sunday, braving the sub zero temperatures to take part in the popular Wilmslow 10K.

She said that she barely felt warm even mid race and in fact there was a blizzard of snow as they finished. There was a huge crowd with 2,695 on the start line.

Hannah raced very well, finishing 16th female (231 overall)  in a time of 39.06. While this is not a personal best it is close enough to give her the incentive to keep at it.


Seeley Cup

The popular Seeley Cup 10k road race is a welcome break from cross country and in fact sold out weeks ago. Good luck to all heading to Ormeau Park in Belfast this Saturday to race.

There will also be a good crowd going along to spectate as the flat, three lap course is ideal for runners to race hard and for supporters to cheer them on at close quarters.