Paddy lays down marker for season ahead with Glens run

Paddy lays down marker for season ahead with Glens run

10 January 2018

PADDY McDonald flew the East Down flag on New Year’s Day in the popular Race Over the Glens and posted a creditable time of 51.03 for what I recall is a really tough test. 

Paddy was clearly marking down his intentions for the coming year.

Cross country

The first Saturday in the New Year meant it was the International Cross Country at Greenmount and in spite of heavy frost overnight, the bright morning sun quickly burned off all the wintry signs to give almost ideal overhead conditions by the time the first race began. 

Underfoot conditions were soft to yielding to say the least, and by the time the senior women and men had their opportunity to try them out they could best be described as heavy.

Kara the hero

However the East Down U-13 girls, recently crowned All-Ireland champions, were up for a battle with allcomers, including strong contingents from the top Scottish clubs. 

Lauren Madine ran well to take fifth place overall, finishing just seconds behind three Scottish girls and given the same time as the fourth placed runner from Armagh. 

Lucy Foster (18th) and Kara Trainor (42nd) backed her up well and the overall score of 65 gave them fourth place, just outside the medals.

Incredibly, Kara lost her shoe at the start so ran the entire race semi-bare footed and ended up receiving treatment for an extremely sore and half frozen foot.

Mackenzie Murray was the only East Down runner in the U-13 boys’ race and as we have come to expect, he ran very well to take 24th place in the 60 runner event. 


Two of the other age group races also saw only single representatives from East Down with Adam Morgan, who like Mackenzie, never runs a bad race, battling all the way in the nearly 100 runner U-17 boys’ race, which also included the U-20 Men. An extremely stiff task in any circumstances.

Edie Carroll had to compete as our sole runner in the U-17 girls’ race which also included the U-20 women. She too ran well over the challenging course to take 54th place.

Erin is the star

East Down provided six runners in the girls’ primary school race and were well represented by Jodi Foster (4th) — a podium position as medals were given for 1-4 — and a year’s supply of Flahavan’s Porridge. Emily Burns (15th), Kari Foster (29th), Erin Moore (33rd), Anna Boyd (55th) and Ella Telford (56th) completed the squad. 

The feature of this race were Kari’s belly flop inside the first 50 yards which inspired her to to a mud-spitting turbo-charge from last place. 

Incredibly, Erin suffered the same experience as Kara had earlier, losing a shoe, yet running bare-footed to the finish whereupon she too had to receive treatment for veritable frostbite.

It shows that there really is a superb spirit in the junior ranks, not to mention the depths of courage and determination displayed by these very young competitors – warriors perhaps a better deion?

Only one Kieran

Kieran Trainor, another soloist, could feel well pleased with his 26th place in the primary school boys’ race, which included runners from Scotland as well as the cream of the talent from across Northern Ireland.

Ladies star 

East Down ladies fielded nine runners in the international race which is also a Cross Country League fixture, an exceptional number in view of the spate of injuries and illnesses which kept Caroline O’Hare, Niamh Kellett and Deirdre Weatherall on the sidelines. 

Yet, despite the absence of these big hitters, the efforts of the no nonsense nine bring into focus the need for strength in depth to maintain a challenge throughout the long cross country season. 

As if to underline this requirement, it would appear that on first calculations Saturday’s efforts were rewarded with fourth team place, enough to keep them well-positioned in the league table ahead of the final three rounds in the series.   

Surely, no one could argue with the level of commitment by every single one of these brave competitors.

Anyone who has ever run cross country knows how hard it can be, with slippery conditions trying to prevent the left foot following the right foot, or vice versa if you’re left handed, as smoothly as it does on the roads. 

So, the words shouted from the sidelines should be encouragement just to keep going, rather than to try to increase the pace, when it is known that every ounce of energy is being used.


The squad comprised Catherine O’Connor (48th) — a fine run as she appears to be finding her best form again — Joanne Foster (56th) — who never runs a bad race — Aoife Cochrane (63rd) — revelation on Saturday with probably the best race she has run at this or possibly any level — Cheryl Denvir (75th) — another commendable performance by the enthusiastic nurse — and Alison Carroll (91st) with a great captain’s race —  the best I’ve seen her perform.

Perhaps she feels the weight of captaincy has been lifted from her shoulders as she leaves her successor Janine Murray a great legacy with a strong enthusiastic and supportive squad. Clare Carson finished 92nd — another eye opener as she hung in bravely all the way round, Lisa Milligan 97th — she has taken to the grass like a duck to water and has a stamina-induced engine for keeping going in the worst of conditions — Janine Murray 103rd — an excellent choice to succeed Alison and one who will lead by example — and Carmel Tumelty, the ever-reliable who runs everywhere and picks up vital team points, which could be so crucial in the final reckoning.  

Men perform well

East Down’s men had a quintet of runners, and all of whom contributed solid performances in increasingly softening underfoot conditions. 

Led by Martin Willcox (71st), one of the toughest performers around, Dee Murray in (89th) place, Paul Burns (114th), Davy Foster (120th) and Gavin Hynds (127th), the team performed well, having also suffered similarly to the ladies with withdrawals due to injuries to Stephen Heasley and Neil McCartan.

This weekend

It’s off to Cookstown for the re-arranged Cross Country League fixture on Saturday while everyone in the club is looking forward to the Intermediate and Masters Cross Country Championships at the newly-dedicated course at the Billy Neill sports complex near Comber on January 27.