Aaron impresses at Binnian

Aaron impresses at Binnian

8 May 2024

THE fourth race of the Hill and Dale series took place at Slieve Binnian, a straightforward mountain course starting at the bottom and finishing at the top.

A total of 250 entrants descended on Carrick Little where the race starts from, and with clear conditions the runners started the 747 metres climb to the summit and the finish line.

From the gun Newcastle AC’s Tom Crudgington set the pace with East Down AC’s Aaron McGrady in hot pursuit. 

Aaron tried to hang onto Tom’s coat tails but he pulled away as the course got steeper. 

Aaron crossed the finish line in third position in a great time of 25:42. 

James Cuffey is improving race by race and he will be happy with his 16th position in a strong time of 29:47. 

Over the years, Paul Burns has tackled this climb many times and he put a strong run in to cross the line in 33rd spot in a time of 32:24. 

Binnian was Matt Bezzant’s first Hill and Dale race and he enjoyed his first outing in a time of 34:36 to take 59th position. 

In 140th position was Kieran Keown, who is now well into the swing of the series and will be happy with his time of 39:34. 

Not too far behind Kieran was John Taylor, who again is very familiar with this race and the climb that goes with it. He crossed the lofty finish line in 39:50 – a great turnout from the club.


Irish Milers Club

Saturday afternoon at the Morton Stadium, Dublin, saw the first Irish Milers Club meeting. 

All the best athletes from around Ireland take on track events from 800 metres to 3000 metres. 

East Down AC’s Catherine O’Connor headed to Dublin to start her track season with a 3000 metres race. Up against a very strong field, Catherine crossed the finish line in seventh spot out of 13 runners, in a time of 10:03, which is a great start to the season for her.


Belfast Marathon

Early on Sunday morning, the 42nd Moy Park Belfast City Marathon took place with 5,000 full marathon runners and many more taking on the team relay race, raising a lot of money for many charities. 

The race starts on the main drive of Stormont estate and finishes in Ormeau Park, taking in North, South, East and West Belfast with great support from the whole city. 

With clear and warm conditions East Down AC had eight brave runners taking on the challenge and all with different goals. 

Gordy Graham has had a strong start to the road running year and was aiming for a good time up against some top international athletes. 

From the gun Gordy paced a great run, coming in 26th position in a time of 2:36:35, which is 5:54 per mile for 26 miles and some going. 

Dee Murray, who only a couple of weeks ago competed in the Manchester Marathon, hit the roads of Belfast with another strong performance clocking 3:08:27. 

Next in was Daniel Giles, who has been training hard and aiming for a personal best, which he achieved with a very strong 3:16:34 – a great effort from Daniel.

East Down AC’s marathon man Philip Vint is aiming for 100 marathons by the end of the year and he ticked off number 94. 

Philip was running with his friend, Ciaran Sloan, and the guys were both raising money for Children’s Heartbeat Trust who have previously helped Ciaran’s son James. Ciaran has almost raised £10,000 for this great charity. 

The duo crossed the finish line in 3:56:38, which is an amazing effort all round. Sharon Madine was the first East Down AC lady across the finish line and was happy with her running, coming under the four hour mark in 3:58:31. 

The next lady in for EDAC was Joanne Carson, who works away with her training very quietly and turns out for the club, clocking a time of 5:07:20. 

Ella Carroll completed her first marathon last year and was back for more this year, but with injuries hampering her build up, Ella was slightly slower this year in 5:16:52. 

A great event for the runners and the supporters alike, well done all.


Couch to 5K

East Down AC will be starting a weekly Couch to 5K training programme, commencing Wednesday, May 29, for six weeks. 

This will be completely free of charge. The training will assemble at East Down AC clubrooms, Ballydugan Estate, opposite the Royal Mail sorting office at 7pm. For more information contact James on 07752 320350.


Norfolk Marathon

Two weeks ago, East Down AC’s Paul Brear-Clarkson took on the Norfolk Marathon, which is held in Cromer on the coast. 

Paul has been training hard and put in an amazing performance of 2:47:44 to take third place. 

Paul was running this event raising money for The Brainstrust Charity and The Brain Tumour Charity.

What a lot of people and club members do not know, is that over the past two years Paul has been fighting a brain tumour even when he has been competing in races. 

In 2022, Paul noticed that he was getting tired very easily and kept falling asleep, a bruise appeared on his head which he could not explain, so Alice, his wife, took him to Addenbrookes Hospital. 

Paul had a CT scan and was shocked to discover that he had a brain tumour. In September of 2022, Paul had surgery to remove the tumour, he had to learn to talk again, and with seven weeks of daily radiotherapy and 12 months of chemotherapy he started to recover. 

He is still coping with fatigue from the chemotherapy and having a large part of his brain removed.

Paul will be raising money for these two brain charities by also completing the White Peak Marathon, Mourne Way Marathon, Ely Marathon and Valencia Marathon while still recovering from the tumour and the surgery and treatment. 

To do one marathon after life changing surgery is one thing, but to take on four is another. And with Alice, and the dogs McAuley and Mara, supporting him with the massive task, Paul can not fail.