Dee and Mackenzie never take a breather

Dee and Mackenzie never take a breather

10 July 2019

THE Murray family began the first of what was to prove an historic and richly rewarding week in athletics circles when they took part in the latest North Down  Track and Field event on Tuesday night at Bangor. 

Mackenzie really set the  standard for what was to follow when, after competing in the 3kg shot putt in which he scored 6.92 metres, he then proceeded to set a new PB 4.51.05 in the 1,500m race in which he was second overall, in a field of 16 which contained several top quality adult runners. 

Dee, meantime, was in equally good form setting a new PB of 18.14.3 for the 5k race, was only 43 seconds behind the race winner. 

Lucy O’Neill also took part  in the 100m U-15 girls’ sprint and later scored an ever-improving 7.15m in the U-15 girls’ shot putt, an encouraging warm up for next weekend’s All Ireland T&F championships in Tullamore.


Already one of the most prolific and competitive duos anywhere, not only in the number of races participated in, but in terms of miles travelled to meetings, the father and son pairing then made the trip to Greyabbey on Friday night to take part in the two races there.

Dee opted for the 10k and Mackenzie, having no choice, as the rules presently restrict him to the 5k distance, gave it a real go. He crossed the finish line in 18.30, in sixth place overall, but first U-15, a real eye-catching performance out of 222 finishers

Meanwhile, Dee was not letting the side down as he again proved best in his age group, clocking yet another sub 40 time, his clocking of  38.32 was also good enough for overall seventh out of the 139 finishers. 

Ford 5k

Newcastle was the venue for a nearer home race on Friday night and several East Down men and women took advantage of the opportunity to warm up for the action in Delamont the next day. 

Gordy Graham took third place overall in 16.29 a mere 22 seconds behind winner,  Newcastle’s David O’Flaherty, while Catherine O’Connor was second female in 18.14 to Gordy’s cousin, Laura Graham, who won  in 17.00. Paul Lloyd was 31st in 19.13 and Donal Smith placed 98th in 25 minutes on the button, out of a total of 156 runners.


As Van Morrison once said: “My momma told me there’d be days like this,”

Thus was described East Down’s fantastic day out in Delamont on Saturday in the 5 X 5k relays, a new and exciting event organised by the Daye Brothers aka Atlas Running, which required teams of five runners each, with each one running a 5k (3.1 miles) lap as the hot and hilly trails and paths around Delamont were described.

At one point we thought we wouldn’t have enough runners to fill three teams so to get four teams of five representing East Down was pretty damn impressive. 

Some pretty impressive performances from the East Down gang as well with victories for the men’s A team and the mixed team and third in the all female team. 

Massive well done to all involved especially the team captain, Deirdre Weatherall who rallied the troops with carrots and sticks and a promise of ice creams, that did not materialise.

All agreed that she did a fine job of getting 20 names in the hat and in the right place at the right time. It was great to see also that several relative newcomers to the club, Gillian and Gerard Grant, Donal Smith, Michael Morrissey and Alison Graham are happy to get involved with some of the older hands and the younger ones to enjoy the delights that a team relay can bring.

Performances of the day have to be shared by Gavin Hynds whose third leg run for the EDAC male B team, which effectively hauled them up from last place to 8th.

His time of 22.47 for the leg was only bettered by runners from the top two teams on the day, and by Neil Curran, the anchor leg runner for the EDAC A team. 

His final leg of 19.18 only put paid to the battling St Peter’s AC quintet during the final lap. The Lurgan team, which had held the lead from the start were understandably disappointed, but the EDAC squad deserved their win.

Track and field 

On to Sunday and it was our juvenile members who had to make the long journey to Tullamore in Co Offally to take part  in the All Ireland T& F Championships. 

Spread over two weekends, it therefore means that, for some, there are two journeys to the heart of Ireland on consecutive weekends. 

Thank you to all the parents for driving all these miles. Your efforts are greatly appreciated by everyone in the club and especially by the athletes themselves

Nevertheless, it proved a great  day at Tullamore at the first of three days of action with the sun shining for a nice change.

East Down had four athletes taking part all in the 800m, but in two different age groups. In the U-14 race Anna Gardiner and Lucy Foster both ran in separate heats with both finishing in sixth position.

The top three in each heat qualified automatically for the final later in the day along with the fastest two finishers outside the top six. 

Unfortunately, both EDAC girls missed out on qualification, but they ran super races with Lucy gaining a PB of 2.26.66 and Anna running 2.26.85. 

Lauren Madine and Kirsti Foster both competed in the U-15 race with both winning their heats and automatically qualifying for the final later in the day. 

A last minute change of time table meant the final was brought forward by an hour so that meant quick warm-ups and back on the track was not the ideal preparation that would normally take place before an All-Ireland final.

Nonetheless, the two girls put their minds to it and gave it their best shot. Having two out of eight from one club in an All-Ireland final is an achievement in itself.

Kirsti came fourth overall in 2.20.77, just missing a medal by tenths of a second. Lauren had to settle for seventh in 2.31 as she was hampered by ankle issues which had developed after her heat. 

Well done to all four for their efforts. All to be repeated on Sunday when the same quartet run in the 1,500s. They will be joined by Kara Trainor running in the 80m and Lucy O’Neill in the shot.

Great Ross run

This is an annual event comprising 5k, 10k and half marathon races based in Ardboe, Co Tyrone and is increasing in popularity every year. 

There was a total of over 800 runners spread across the three events and despite her exertions on Saturday, Deirdre Weatherall and fellow spectator on Saturday and Niamh Kellett made their way to the secluded village of Ardboe, which hosts the races every year.  

Deirdre didn’t show any signs of fatigue as she romped home in sixth place in  1.38.52 in the half marathon. Niamh, however, turned up the heat in the half, finishing second female overall in a time of 1.28.49.