Newcastle AC at the Strangford Festival 5k and 10k

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Race Report by The Head Chef

Four Newcastle and District AC athletes (and an in form MAC lady) took the picturesque drive through the Lecale countryside to the village Strangford for their now annual 5k and 10k races as part of their yearly festival. Local hotelier Jack O’Hare surprised some by taking a half day off work in preparation but post-race his only thought was about getting home to ensure family pet rabbit Thistle was locked up safe from any loose dogs in Donard Forest.

With the nights now visibly on the turn, fresh from his warm weather training camp in Bundoran the veteran Connaire Mc Veigh post-race was also worried about getting home to lock his poultry and take the lonely Woo Woo for a walk. The pre-race talk in the Downpatrick rush hour traffic was which race they would toe the line to. Would they work on stamina in the 10k or go for speed in the 5k? Burrenbridge’s James King another surprised entry on the night was aiming to get some race sharpening done before the autumn Dublin Marathon and took time out from his gruelling longer miles with coach Higgins.

The race started at the quayside with both McVeigh’s, hotelier O’Hare and King putting their toes to the line together but just as the starters prepared to blow their whistle at 7.01pm the junior Brian Mc Veigh stepped to the side complaining he had travel sickness and deciding to opt the 5km which started at 7.11pm.

As the 10k race took off through the village East Downs Aaron Mc Grady lead the pack and went on for a gun to tape victory. With the veteran Mc Veigh and King running together leading the chasing field with a picturesque route through the Castleward Estate tracks and trails along the Lough shores. Eventually the veteran McVeigh finished in 3rd place overall in a time of 37.27 putting it down his recent break from hilly Donard Forest tracks.

James crossed the line in fourth in 37.57 improving his time from last year. The experienced O’Hare crossed the line in 8th place in a time of 39.18 having a tremendous battle with 10k specialist Karen Wilton. With the finish taking you through the village O’Hare was seen checking out local licensed premises for any threats to his warmest beer garden in Ireland.

The younger Mc Veigh took second place in the 5km race with a time of 18.43 one wonders will he eventually enter a longer race in the distant future as he now considers himself as a short race specialist.

After post-race refreshments the younger McVeigh and the Hotelier O’Hare were spotted eating chips and sampling Guinness shandies on the village Green. The Newcastle crew then made it for home some to prepare for their long Sunday training runs.