Gary O’Hanlon and Brian McCloskey triumphed over cold snowy conditions and an entry of almost 400 teams to retain their title at the Castlewellan Cracker eight and a half miles race promoted by Newcastle AC.
The event is unique in that the runners compete in pairs with the overall time being determined by the second of each team to cross the line.
O’Hanlon from Clonliffe and McCloskey from North East Runners faced a doubled pronged challenge from the promoting club with David O’Flaherty and Eoghan Totten along with Seamus Lynch and David Steele.
Coming to half way, the reigning champions had a thirty seconds cushion over O’Flaherty and Totten who in turn were eight seconds clear of Lynch and Steele. Stephen Wylie and Eddie Cooke were also looking strong while mountain internationals Iain Whiteside and Megan Crawford were up among the leading male teams as they led the mixed event.
McCloskey had a fall coming to the closing stages but recovered quickly as the pair crossed the line with a sixty six second advantage. Lynch, showing no ill effects after winning the Turkey Trot the day before, and Steele took second with O’Flaherty and Totten holding third.
Scottish based Whiteside and Crawford won the mixed section with only five male pairs ahead of them. Stuart Kennedy and Cathy McCourt were second with Brendan Teer and Turkey Trot winner Catherine O’Connor third.
The Ladies race went to the North Belfast pairing of Janice Plumb and Penny Lindsay.
Lagan Valley’s Hazel McLaughlin and Ursula Daley were second just 24 hours after Ursula filled the same position in Greencastle. Joanne Curran and Taryn McCoy from BARF came third.
Deon McNeilly and Eamon McCrickard from Newcastle took the male 100-109 award with internationals Frank Sharkey and Paul Elliott from Olympic winning the 100-119.