Gary O’Hanlon and Brian McCluskey came out on top of a record entry of 369 teams to win the Castlewellan Cracker 8 Miles Race promoted by Newcastle AC over a variety of surfaces.
The race was unique in that the runners compete in pairs with the second to finish in each group determining the official time.
Marathon star O’Hanlon and McCluskey had been second last time behind Brendan Teer and Liam Venney but with the East Down pair not going for their hat trick the North East Runners started hot favourites.
They moved into the front in the early stages with Russell White and Andrew Christie, locals David O’Flaherty and David McNeely and Paul Carlin and Seamus Lynch all prominent. Mountain champion Andrew Annett and marathon girl Gladys Ganiel-O’Neill were also in the leading group.
O’Hanlon and McCluskey held their advantage threw the forest park although triathlon star White and Christie never gave up the chase and were only twenty seconds down at the end.
O’Flaherty and McNeilly came third with Carlin and Lynch and North Down’s Dennis Scott and Jamie Budde following.
Incredibly Annett and Gladys had only five men’s teams ahead of them as they crossed the line to win the mixed section easily from Jim Benson and Cathy McCourt with Desi and Heather Foley just behind. Cathy and Heather had been second and third at Greencastle just two days earlier.
Phelim McAllister and Bernard Brady took the M80/89 section with Andrew Guy and David Clarke M90/99, John and Myles Christie M100/109 and Robert Irvine and Francis McCaffery M110/119 also winning their groups.
Amanda Perry and Denise Logue were strongly fancied for the Ladies section and did not disappoint as they finished four minutes before Patricia and Cora McKibbin with Joanne Curran and Jenni Graydon-Black close up in third.