10 November 2017
A Run Through History is the theme for this year’s Greencastle “5” Mile Road Race on St. Stephen’s Day. It’s the 32nd year of the Tyrone classic that has firmly established itself as the top event of its kind over the Christmas holiday period with well over 1500 runners turning out last year.
This year, race director Oliver McCullagh is laying emphasis on the outstanding depth of history associated with the five mile route on the foothills of the Sperrins. From the start close by an Ogham stone to the finish along an old coach road once terrorised by a notorious local highwayman, the area is steeped in history and prehistory.
The Aghascrebagh Ogham stone is the only of its kind in Tyrone and is overlooked by Dun Ruadh, a large circular burial cairn constructed 4000 years ago, and clearly visible in the opening mile of the race.
As the course enters the second mile Formil Hill come into view. According to the Annals of the Four Masters, the Cinel Eoghain (O’Neills) routed the Cinel Conaill (O’Donnells) here in 965 after killing the Donegal men’s leader Maelisa O’Cannon and Moriarty O’Taidhg, heir to the kingdom of Connaught.1 comment awaiting moderation
The two mile marker sees the field turn on to the Crockanboy Road and head back toward the hamlet of Greencastle, formerly known as Sheskinshule (the moving bog) until the mid-nineteenth century.
The three mile point follows shortly afterwards but it is the right hand turn onto the Mullydoo Road when most runners believe they pass through a portal into another world – of pain and punishment – as they climb the steep 800 metre ascent up to the summit of Crockanboy.
From there it’s all the way downhill to the finish along the road once frequented by the notorious local highwayman and used by Hugh O’Neill as he made his way to Rathmullan for his flight to mainland Europe along with Hugh O’Donnell in 1607.
Most of the roads along the course have been resurfaced in the past 12 months and McCullagh is hopeful that he might see a new race record this year.
“We’re hoping Paul Pollock will be back to go for a four-in-a-row,” said McCullagh. “He ran well in Leeds last weekend and he could go close to his race record of 24:07 he set three years ago. The road has been fixed and should provide good fast going for everyone looking to improve their times for the race.”
The race will start an hour earlier this year at 12:00 midday but no entries will be accepted on the morning of the race. Race entry is now open to the 2017 Greencastle “5” at www.greencastle5.com and will close at midnight on December 23.