Fast road racing at the new ‘Balmoral’ with plenty of PBs

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Race Report by Bogboy
(Photos courtesy of John Glover)

After many months of lock down it’s brilliant to see racing back again. After a first series of road races around Down Royal racecourse a couple of weeks ago, this Saturday saw a second series of races at Eikon near Hillsborough.

It was a little windy and each 2.5km circuit incorporated 14 corners of at least 90degrees with two hairpins but it was flat and some of the times that were achieved were fantastic.

First up was the half-marathon incorporating 9 laps of the circuit and Newcastle & District AC’s Thomas O’Gorman ran a steady race to come home in 4th in a new personal best of 1:16:28 ( laps of 8:10, 8:26, 8:26, 8:33, 8:33, 8:31, 8:29, 8:35, 8:48 –  the final one including a 10 seconds or so finishing straight).

As casual as you like a new PB for Thomas O’Gorman over the half-marathon.

A mention too for Castlewellan’s Pearse Brogan who ran a great new PB of 1:35:03.

Next came the ‘B’ 5km and 10km races over 2 and 4 laps respectively. Young Newcastle junior – still an under-11 – Henry Houston ran a great new PB of 19:37 – congrats. Also in PB shape was 17-year-old Ruby McNiff running 19:51.

A new PB over 5k for Ruby McNiff.

In the ‘B’ 10km (for runners with PB outside 36 minutes), Frank Cunningham set out with the intention of leading from gun to tape and that he did. He came home in a new personal best of 36:29 – congrats.

Close behind in 2nd place having run a brilliantly paced race was Phil Murdock. Murdock turned 50 in December past and had run a PB of 38:50 in the Seeley Cup 10k in November. He was training through the winter for the London Marathon and had recorded a 1 hour and 23 minutes PB at the Carlingford half-marathon in March just before lock down. He kept up his consistent work and it paid off with a new personal best of 36:39 today – a massive 2 minutes and 11 seconds better than in November past.

Frank Cunningham, a new PB and a win in the ‘B’ 10k gun to tape.
Massive PB for Murdock – a new decade, a new lease of life.
Richard Rodgers – 41:07… shuffling in a world of pain.

Next up was the 5k ‘elite’ where Eoghan Totten also led from start to finish and was never challenged. He recorded 14:35 and won by 25 seconds from Matthew Neil from Cardiff and Chris Madden of Lisburn was 3rd in 15:15. Totten will now concentrate on the Irish 10,000m on the track in three weeks’ time.

Eoghan Totten flies to a 14:36 5k victory.

Also in the race, Brendan McQuaid ran a brilliant personal best of 16:43 – amazing to think that he was told he wouldn’t run hard again after he tore a cruciate ligament in his knee. Close behind him was 17-year-old Niall Goodman who also ran a PB of 16:50 – congrats.

Brendan McQuaid on the way to new 5k PB.

Returning to racing 11 months after breaking her foot in a steeplechase in Spain was Kerry O’Flaherty. Two operations, one to insert a screw to ensure the 5th metatarsal healed properly and the other in February to remove the screw meant than this return to racing was welcome but also a shock to the system – she came home in 17:05 in 3rd behind Cardiff’s Jenny Nesbitt and Letterkenny’s Nikita Burke and put a good marker down to build on into the future.

Kerry O’Flaherty on way to the finish.

Francis Tumelty had a strong race to finish in 17:24, just outside his PB and back to full fitness.

In the 10k ‘elite’ David McNeilly who also had been preparing for London Marathon and had run a personal best in Carlingford Half-Marathon before lock down came into this race with a personal best of 34:50 and now into the veteran 40 category he blew that out of the water with a remarkable 33:03. Finally, Aidan Brown recorded 34:09 last November in the Seeley Cup 10k and today he crossed the line to record, frustratingly, 34:10 – still a brilliant performance.

Aidan Brown (#584) & David McNeilly (#587) at start of elite 10k.

Congratulations to all the Newcastle & District AC members who took part and let’s hope this racing window stays open for a good bit longer.