IT wasn’t for a stroll on the beach that the Dromore athletes travelled last Saturday to Rostrevor - nor was it a ‘walk in the park’ even though the Newry City Runners Cross Country races were staged in the beautiful surroundings of Kilbroney Forest Park.
A tough demanding course and soft conditions underfoot meant that grit and determination would be essential if the local club was to win honours on the day.
Starting with the young athletes - Amy Turley (U8,) Jack Turley and Bethany Nixon (U10) - it was clear that full commitment was on display and all three acquitted themselves well running in categories against older athletes.
Their terrific efforts obviously spurred on the juvenile athletes with Rebekah Nixon in another terrific display of front running, pressing home to victory in the U14 race with over 25 seconds to spare over the 2K course.
Alanna Wilson, although competing against girls a good deal older than her, put in a fine display of quality running and will feel the benefit of this her first full XC season as she continues to build strength for her preferred track season in the new year.
Timothy McCracken, who has been in great form of late, was next in the U16 category, facing boys at least a year older over the 3K course. Timothy’s experience and reputation is building with each race and he put himself right in contention again, sticking with the two front runners until close to the finish when he made a break for home on a tricky hilly section to secure a super second spot.
Then attention turned to the senior athletes with Andrew Hicks in the men’s and Julie Turley and Geraldine Branagh in the female races. This 7K course with three times up the ‘long hill’ was never for the faint hearted but the absolute class of the Dromore athletes shined through with Andrew showing that he is a real force to be reckoned with on the XC scene this season. His third place in a tough and talented field a mark of his marvellous progress.
The imperious Julie Turley was just untouchable and, having shaken off even most of the male opposition in the combined race, she graced the event with real class worthy of her reputation as a top quality local athlete.
However she was not to steal all the honours for the club in this one as Geraldine, in probably one of the grittiest performances of the day grabbed third spot by the scruff of the neck and kept hold of it all the way to the finish.
The smiles in the photograph say it all - another great day for Dromore A.C.!