CHIEF organiser of the Greencastle 5 is hoping that the annual St Stephen’s Day run will bring some festive cheer to the Co Tyrone village.
In a little over 30 years the ever-popular Boxing Day run has grown beyond all recognition and race director Oliver McCullagh hopes the 2016 version will be bigger and better than ever.
This year is the 31st running of the Greencastle 5 and McCullagh is looking forward to another stellar event.
“While there is a serious side to the Greencastle run in that it is a full blown Athletics NI race, there is a big social aspect to it,” he said.
“There are people who come to it just to see and meet people they haven’t seen since the previous year.
“The race has done a lot of good over the years and we are looking forward to getting people together again.”
Annually 1000 plus runners and walkers take on the challenge of ‘The Hill’ and initial online entries would suggest a similar turnout on Monday, December 26.
This year all entries are online for the longest established road race of its kind in Tyrone.
Among those likely to be going for gold are defending men’s champion Irish international Paul Pollock, John Paul Williamson, Derry Track Club and Foyle Valley’s Scott Rankin who just last weekend were first and second in the prestigious Seeley Cup race.
Female contenders hoping to strike it rich will include Cathy McCourt, who recently won five medals at the World Masters in Australia and previous winner Maria McCambridge.
“Last year’s winner Anne Marie McGlynn won’t be there this year but it’s shaping up to be another intriguing battle at the top end,” continued Oliver.
“The hope is that in 2016 Greencastle will be bigger and better than ever and this year we have had enquires from a number of clubs that I have never heard of before. Entries so far are on a par with previous years if not better. It’s all looking very positive.”
As always walkers get something of a headstart by setting off at 11am while the wheelchair race begins at 12.50pm. Those taking part in the main race will be under starter’s orders at 1pm.
The main sponsors for this year’s race are PH Shotblasting and Spraying Services, A Donnelly Flooring Ltd and Alpha Flow Screeds.
Following the 2015 race approximately £10, 000 was presented to a number of charities.