Lauren maintains hot streak

Lauren maintains hot streak

11 October 2017

A YEAR on from the optimism produced by the East Down team performances at the 2016 NI Club Relay Championships in Victoria Park in Belfast and the 2017 squads, all five of them, certainly added substance to that hope.

Not only did the individual members of all the teams run as if their lives depended on it, but the level of support for each runner as they ran their respective legs, both from their team-mates and the East Down supporters was indicative of a new found team spirit, which should enable the club to perform well in the upcoming Cross Country League fixtures which begin on Saturday in Comber.

Results: senior men — Matthew McGrattan (11.47), James Smyth (11.58), Dee Murray (12.06), Owen Edwards (12.19). The team was placed 21st  out of 39 in a time of 48.09 

This team did great work with a real look to the future, including as it did three of our leading juniors, soon to become seniors, and the mercurial and inspirational Dee Murray who turned up to spectate, was promptly press-ganged into competing due to a late withdrawal, had to borrow a pair of shorts and vest and ran fantastically well.  

Male masters Team A — Martin Willcox (11.26), James Savage (11.15), Paul Burns (11.27), Barrie Atkinson (10.46). Team placed fifth of 57 in a time of 44.53

A great result given that there was a late replacement brought in and a driving anchor leg by Barrie Atkinson secured an eye catching fifth place. With Acorns having won with a time of 43.15 then there is every reason to target the top spot for 2018 with realistic expectations of at very least a podium place.

Male masters Team B — Gavin Hynds (12.59), Kieran McMahon (13.51), Tom McClean (13.44), Stephen Heasley (12.44). Team placed 37th out of 57 in a time of 53.17

While this may not seem particularly noteworthy in comparison, it most assuredly was a hard earned place with every position fiercely contested, and it certainly earned my utmost admiration and respect.  

The ladies too were very well represented in the masters and open categories, fielding two teams in each and in my view overall on the day they outshone the men.

Ladies masters A — Joanne Foster (12.58), Cheryl Denvir (13.34), Niamh Kellett (12.32). Team placed fifth out of 24 in 39.03.

Ladies masters B —  Patricia Galloway (15.00), Alison Carroll (15.39), Clare Carson (13.52). Team placed 14th out of 24 in 44.31.

An inspiring opening effort by the EDAC ladies who set the standard for the others to follow. To their credit, all of them did.

Senior ladies Team A — Deirdre Weatherall (12.41), Catherine O’Connor (12.33), Caroline O’Hare (12.13). Team placed sixth out of 46 in 37.26.

There was a tremendous battle for every place throughout this race, with the top six positions changing with every circuit. Deirdre Weatherall was totally unfazed lining up alongside Newcastle’s Olympic steeplechaser Kerry O’ Flaherty, but may have paid for the fast pace at which the first of her two laps was run. 

O’Flaherty was almost two minutes clear of the East Down squad when she handed over. Nevertheless, Deirdre brought the team home in eighth place, still well in contention, as Catherine O’Connor took on the task of chasing down her rivals. 

Catherine, in truth, should not have ran at all as she was suffering from a chest infection, but she put that aside rather than let down her partners and actually returned a respectable time of 12.33 for her leg, measuring over two miles distance.

Caroline O’Hare was the last of the trio to set off and soon had the supporters cheering as she closed the gap on her nearest rivals. In the end she had to be, as we all were, satisfied with sixth place.  

This was an excellent result and considering that the fastest leg of the day, 10.33 was run by QUB AC’s Emma Mitchell to claim the top spot, it has laid down a considerable marker for the future.

Senior ladies Team B — Janine Murray (15.01), Ella Carroll (15.58), Aoife Cochrane (15.10). Team placed 28th out of 46 in 46.08

This was a significant occasion for Ella and Aoife as they stepped up to full blown senior competition level. They certainly acquitted themselves very well, taking their lead from Janine, who ran an exemplary first leg and most importantly enjoyed themselves in the process.

Normally, the day after strenuous physical effort is a day of rest and recovery, or at least it used to be back when I was able to do so.

Now it seems that it is the fashion to go and race somewhere else. This is something which applies not only to East Down runners, but as evidenced by Newcastle’s Eoghan Totten, who won the Armagh 10 Mile race in 50.32, after having ran the first leg of the relay for the winning Newcastle AC Team in a ‘leisurely’ 9.35 on Saturday, and indeed by our top distance runner, Laura Graham, who raced in Bangor last weekend just six days after a tough run in the Berlin Marathon and turned up again on Sunday to win the ladies 10 mile race. 

So, Barrie Atinson wasn’t doing anything that a lot of the other top runners don’t do, in fact he was copying what seems to be the right thing for them.  

And he justified it by finishing in 14th place in 58.34 and picking up second place prize in the over 40 category. Likewise, Caroline O’Hare turned out for the second consecutive day too and placed third  in the four mile race at the same venue, with her nemesis from Saturday Emma Mitchell taking the top place again. 

In fact, the only one from East Down who competed on Sunday as her first race of the weekend was Carmel Tumelty, who not only knocked a massive nine minutes off her PB for the distance, but also took the winner’s prize in the over 45 category. Congratulations Carmel and well done to the others too, but don’t forget to take a break — your body needs it.

In the junior races which preceded the relays, Jodie Foster was third in the primary school girls’ race over 800m and her sisters, Kari and Lily, also ran as did Kelsey Murray and Ella Telford. 

Callum Kent was fifth in the primary school boys’ race. Lauren Madine, now a post primary runner, continued as she left off in the younger category, winning the U-13 girls’ race over a one mile distance, with Lucy Foster in sixth place.”

Mackenzie Murray, as usual, ran well in the U-15 boys’ race and Edie Carroll eased back into competition with a sixth place in the U-17 girls’ race over a two-mile course.

It was indeed a marathon weekend of activity on the running front and included in my efforts was a visit to the Athletics NI Pre Conference Endurance Coaches Network with Honore Hoedt on Friday night and the morning session of the coaching conference the next day before heading for Victoria Park and the relays. 

But for Phillip Vint it was just another Saturday, another marathon, this time in Lusk, outside Dublin, where his time of 3.18.2 earned him second place on the podium. Well done to him and to anyone I haven’t mentioned.

This weekend the Comber Cup begins the cross country season and it is the intention to contest every round of the league. The following weekend the Red High 10k and 2 x 5k relay begins at 12 noon. Online entries are open at and entries will be taken on the day.