Neil Johnston crossing the finish line at the Greencastle 5 Mile (Pic: Derry Track Club)
The gap between Christmas Day and New Year was once again filled by three very popular events that are in themselves well established Christmas traditions.
Greencastle 5 Mile Road Race
The Greencastle 5 Mile Road Race has always produced a high standard of racing and the 34th staging of the event on Boxing Day was to be no exception. A field of 754 runners turned out for this race and the first mile saw five in form runners fighting for the lead as Neil Johnston (Springwell RC), Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), Eoin Hughes (Acorns AC) and Matthew Neil (Acorns AC) set a blistering pace.
During the second mile Neil Johnston stepped up a gear to establish a lead with Scott Rankin and Mark McKinstry just a few seconds behind. The final three miles of the race saw Neil establish a lead that he was to hold until he crossed the finish line in a winning time of 24.54. Scott finished second in 25.17 and Mark third in 25.33.
Springwell RC Results - 1st Neil Johnston 24.54, 15th Ciaran Ferris 28.00, 57th Alister Jamison 32.07, 67th Maurice Walker 32.32, 107th Ali Shaw 34.14, 518th Paddy Magee 45.17, 521st David Hughes 45.18.
Scott Rankin, Neil Johnston and Mark McKinstry at the Greencastle 5 Mile
BARF Turkey Trot
Another well-established Boxing Day tradition, the BARF Turkey Trot is not for the faint hearted. The 8 mile course through the Mourne Mountains takes runners on 1500 feet of climbing from Tollymore Forest Park through the Hares Gap, and this year the ‘Trot’ became a ‘Paddle’ with some of the sections of the course knee deep in flood water.
Barry Mullan, one of Springwell’s mountain running specialists, had an excellent race, finishing 10th in a time of 1.03.04.
The Castlewellan Christmas Cracker
The 8.5 mile, multi – terrain Castlewellan Christmas Cracker always attracts a large crowd of runners and spectators with its combination of competitive running and fancy dress. The other ‘twist’ to the event is that it’s a pairs race and you cannot finish without your partner. This year’s race took place on the 28th December with a few of the Springwell RC contingent taking the opportunity to dress up for the occasion.
Springwell RC Results - 80th Ali Shaw 1:12:52 (with Robbie Marsh), 226th Adele Tomb & Judith Buchanan 1:23:19, 263rd Gary Kendall 1:25:44 (with Barry Wells), 351st Jimmy Evans & Jason Antrobus 1:32:15, 466th Carolyn Crawford & Sarah Dickinson 1:42:34, 555th David Hughes & Paddy Magee 1:52:49
Judith Buchanan and Adele Tomb go a bit 'Ab Fab' at the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker
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