Northern Ireland Running

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Fairhill 5m Road Race 2014


On Wednesday 4th June 2014, the NiRunning team made the short trip over Shanes Hill to Ballymena for the annual Fairhill 5 mile road race, hosted by Ballymena Runners.  This was the third year of the event being run over the predominantly Town Centre based course; indecently, the course covers two laps and allows spectators to catch the action as the athletes pass through half way.


In truth, I've come to expect a lot from Ballymena Runners’ events; they are a friendly, well organised club and this always reflects on their races; we've all heard the old story about the Ballymena men being a bit ‘tight’, this may ring true when purchasing post-race ‘refreshments’, however, it would be hard to argue that point given the vast array of prizes and food usually on offer at their events.  


On arrival at the Braid Centre, I had a good catch up with much respected Ballymena men Robert McGaughey and Alex Brennan – I was pleasantly surprised that Alex was racing – A man of his ‘mountain stature’ gracing the roads… that was definitely worth a picture.  No pre-race banter is complete without a good ‘natter’ with one of the hardest working (and most helpful) men on the local running circuit, Glenn Grant (ChampionChip Ireland).  After putting the world to rights it was time to re-locate to the start line, just around the corner.


On exiting the Braid Centre, I was greeted to a sea of light blue; this was the shiny new shirts of the recently formed club Acorns AC, they were out in force, with Aaron Meharg, Lorna Sibbett and Rhian Pegram all in their impressive line-up.  Of course, Ballymena Runners were well represented, as were Larne AC, Springwell Running Club and North Belfast Harriers amongst others.  The start line was littered with a plethora of top local athletes, such as Paddy Hamilton (Annadale Striders), Jarlath Falls (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) and Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers), which ensured a good race at the head of the pack; those hundreds of athletes who lined up behind the big names are also worth a note, all starting with their own hopes and expectations for the forthcoming 5 mile race.


Conditions were pleasant, if not a little breezy as the excitable runners toed the line for the start of the race. As the horn sounded and the record breaking field headed down the street, turning right and out of sight, the gathered spectators made their way to the 'band stand' in the centre of the town to watch the participants go through the half way mark.  


Before long, the lead cyclist came into view, closely followed by Annadale Striders' Paddy Hamilton who was well clear of the field.  Jarlath Falls (Ballymena & Antrim AC) was approximately thirty seconds behind, with Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), Aaron Meharg (Acorns AC) and Brendan Grew (North Belfast Harriers) all in pursuit.   James Hamilton (Club Unknown), Michael Bennett (Ballymena Runners) and Bernard Brady (Larne AC) were also looking strong.  


The ladies race followed a similar pattern to the men, with Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) leading the way, with a sizeable gap between herself and club mate Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers); it was the battle for the final podium spot that looked most interesting, with Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club), Christine Quinn (City of Lisburn AC) and Geraldine Quigley (Larne AC) all in contention.  Behind this trio was in-form Acorns AC pair Lorna Sibbett and Rhian Pegram.


As the enthusiastic officials and spectators moved from the half way point towards the finish, the spectators lined the final run in, while the officials put the finishing touches to the finish area.  During this time, the lead runners of the 2.5 mile Run finished; the winner was up and coming North Belfast Harriers star Connor McQuillan (1st place – 14:34).  Unattached athlete Adele Kennedy took the ladies top prize in 20:43 (1st place).


Loud cheers from the ‘band stand’ indicated the impending arrival of the 5 mile competitors and it was no surprise when the impressive Paddy Hamilton appeared first; the strong running distance athlete powered home in a speedy 24:15 (1st place).  Local man and a regular at the event, Jarlath Falls, took 2nd place in 25:49.  Mark McKinstry continued his notable form with another podium finish; having won the East Antrim Harriers Forest Series race in Woodburn Forest last week, Mark secured 3rd place in 26:33.  Brendan Grew (27:01), a podium finisher at the Jengana 10k last weekend, narrowly missed a podium place after edging out Aaron Meharg (5th place – 27:01) for 4th place.  James Hamilton crossed the line in 27:44, before Bernard Brady recorded a new personal best of 28:14 (8th place) to finish three seconds ahead of local man Richard Agnew (Ballymena Runners) who ran 28:17 (9th place); Springwell Running Clubs Stephen Joyce completed the men’s top ten in 28:20 (10th place).


Breege Connolly looked a class above the field as she cruised into the finish, clocking 28:37 (1st place) for top honours.  Fellow North Belfast Harriers athlete and regular prize winner, Cathy McCourt crossed the line in 30:29 (2nd place), before Christine Quinn (31:56) just pipped last years winner Gemma Turley (4th place – 32:01) for 3rd place.  Ballymena based athlete Geraldine Quigley was rewarded for her good performance with a finish time of 32:37 (5th place), while Acorn AC pair Lorna Sibbett (32:56) and Rhian Pegram (33:16) claimed 6th place and 7th place respectively.  Diane McNeill (Ballymena Runners) followed in 33:37 (8th place), just ahead of Kirsty Sharratt (Larne AC), who showed no signs of fatigue after a good run in Shanes Castle on Saturday (31st May 2014) to record 33:43 (9th place).  Acorns AC lady Jacqueline Mulligan secured a top ten place after running 34:03 (10th place).


Top 10 Men:  1st Paddy Hamilton (Annadale Striders) – 24:15, 2nd Jarlath Falls (Ballymena & Antrim AC) – 25:49, 3rd Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 26:33, 4th Brendan Grew (North Belfast Harriers) – 27:01, 5th Aaron Meharg (Acorns AC) – 27:01, 6th James Hamilton (Club Unknown) – 27:31, 7th Michael Bennett (Ballymena Runners) – 27:44, 8th Bernard Brady (Larne AC) – 28:14, 9th Richard Agnew (Ballymena Runners) – 28:17, 10th Stephen Joyce (Springwell Running Club) – 28:20


Top 10 Ladies:  1st Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) – 28:37, 2nd Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) – 30:29, 3rd Christine Quinn (City of Lisburn AC) – 31:56, 4th Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) – 32:01, 5th Geraldine Quigley (Larne AC) – 32:37, 6th Lorna Sibbett (Acorns AC) – 32:56,  7th Rhian Pegram (Acorns AC) – 33:16, 8th Diane McNeill (Ballymena Runners) – 33:37, 9th Kirsty Sharratt (Larne AC) – 33:43, 10th Jacqueline Mulligan (Acorns AC) – 34:03


After the race, participants made their way back to the warmth of the recently renovated Braid Centre for refreshments, where the generous prize-giving took place. 


All in all, this is an event that I would definitely recommend for next year.  Big congratulations must go to Ballymena Runners and everyone who made the event possible.


Full Results:  Fairhill 5m Road Race 2014 Results – Photographs from the Fairhill 5m Road Race 2014 are now available within our ‘Photo Gallery’.

Greencastle 5m Road Race 2013

The Greencastle 5 mile road race was an event that I had been looking forward to for a while; having worked with Oliver McCullagh (Race Director) and his team in the run up to the race, my eagerness to check out the event for the first time had grown enormously.


On arrival, I was greeted by helpful, informative and friendly marshals who directed me towards the expansive car parking facilities.  Anyone who reads my race reviews will know how much I enjoy arriving at an event which offers pre-race music; I believe that this really helps build the atmosphere for a race, in this case... there was a real buzz around the place, which was also helped by the nice winter weather, perfect for running!


As the field assembled in anticipation of the immanent start, race commentator Dave McKibbin, kept the spectators up to date with the 'runners and riders' for the event, from the well positioned 'media box' at the finish line.  As the starting gun sounded, a massive eight hundred runners set off on the downhill start, on what was the 28th annual running of the prestigious and well-organised event.  The rural, scenic course was set in the foothills of the snow covered Sperrin Mountains and saw competitors complete one loop of a fairly fast course, aside from the the much talked about final climb/hill.


Early on, it was obvious that pre-race favourites Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers), Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC), Conan McCaughey (Enniskillen Running Club), John Lenahan (City of Derry AC) and Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers) would live up to their pre-race billing of possible front runners, with all five playing a major part in proceedings.  In the ladies race, Maria McCambridge (Letterkenny AC), Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers), Denise Toner (Clones AC), Donna Evans (Finn Valley AC) and Heather Foley (Unattached) were looking like the main contenders.


As the athletes disappeared into the distance, I headed for the 3 mile marker with Oliver (McCullagh), where the enthusiastic Race Director pointed out their newly constructed timing arch, something that he had put together personally; for me, this just sums up the enthusiasm and professionalism of the whole Greencastle 5 team.  The precise nature in which every detail was looked after in the run up to race day, and on race day, was very impressive.


It wasn't long before the assembled crowd greeted the leading athlete, who turned out to be Ireland international and AAI  National 10k Champion, Stephen Scullion.  The London based star passed through the three mile marker in 14:41, with Keith Shiels and Conan McCaughey in pursuit.  John Lenahan (City of Derry AC), Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers), Fergus McGirr (Enniskillen Running Club) and a group containing Dermot Kerr (Armagh AC), Brendan Murphy (City of Derry AC), Bernard McCullagh (Club Unknown) and Michael Crawley (Sperrin Harriers) followed.


In the ladies race, well-respected Irish Olympian Maria McCambridge (Letterkenny AC) showed her class.  The AAI National Marathon Champion looked comfortable as she led the ladies through three miles.  Heather Foley (Unattached), Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers), Denise Toner (Clones AC), Marie McGillin (Unattached), Ursula Daly (Sperrin Harriers), Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) and Donna Evans (Finn Valley AC) were also looking good.


In the remaining two miles, despite their efforts, neither Keith nor Conan could catch Stephen, who continued his relentless pace.  Before long, the Clonliffe Harriers star had climbed the notorious final hill and was descending towards the finish.  He cruised to final yards before breaking the tape in 25:09 (1st place), thus retaining his title from 2012.  Keith Shiels followed just over a minute later, in 26:10 (2nd place), while recently crown NI & Ulster Novice XC Champion Conan McCaughey claimed 3rd place in 26:40.  John Lenehan (27:41) and Paul Barbour (27:46) followed in 4th place and 5th place respectively, while another City of Derry Spartan, Brendan Murphy crossed the line in 6th place, having recorded 28:00.  Bernard McCullagh took 7th place in 28:07, before Fergus McGirr (28:11) was rewarded for his efforts with an 8th place finish.  AAI Vet55 10k record holder, Dermot Kerr and Michael Crawley completed the men's top ten in 28:29 (9th place) and 28:36 (10th place) respectively.


In the ladies race, Maria McCambridge secured her sixth victory at this event in 28:25; just seven seconds outside her course record (28:18), which she set in 2012.  Cathy McCourt and Heather Foley enjoyed an excellent dual, but it was Cathy who took control in the latter stage to secure 2nd place in 30:21; Heather Foley followed just seven seconds later in 30:28 (3rd place).  Denise Toner claimed 4th place in 31:54, just ahead of Ursula Daly (32:15) who finished in 5th place.  The always impressive Pauline McGurren crossed the line in 32:23 (6th place), while Donna Evans, who was suffering from a slight shoulder injury, clocked 33:24 (7th place).  North Sligo AC lady Sarah Healy (34:00) and Sperrin Harriers' Nuala Kelly (34:28) then secured 9th place and 10th place, before Deirdre Haigney (Omagh Harriers) completed the ladies top ten in 34:38.


After the race, the athletes and spectators enjoyed a generous array of refreshments, prior to the official prize-giving, which saw prizes handed out to the first five male and female finishers, as well as the top three athletes in every other category through the Vet75.  Priced at a VERY reasonable £10 (which includes a t-shirt, goody bag, refreshments, chip-timing, prize-draw and extremely generous prize-fund), this race is an absolute MUST!


Top 10 Men:  1st Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers) – 25:09, 2nd Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC) – 26:10, 3rd Conan McCaughey (Enniskillen Running Club) – 26:40, 4th John Lenehan (City of Derry AC) – 27:41, 5th Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers) – 27:46, 6th Brendan Murphy (City of Derry AC) – 28:00, 7th Bernard McCullagh (Club Unknown) – 28:07, 8th Fergus McGirr (Enniskillen Running Club) – 28:11, 9th Dermott Kerr (Armagh AC) – 28:29, 10th Michael Crawley (Sperrin Harriers) – 28:36


Top 10 Ladies:  1st Maria McCambridge (Letterkenny AC) – 28:25, 2nd Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) – 30:21, 3rd Heather Foley (North Belfast Harriers) – 30:28, 4th Denise Toner (Clones AC) – 31:54, 5th Ursula Daly (Sperrin Harriers) – 32:15, 6th Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) – 32:23, 7th Donna Evans (Finn Valley AC) – 33:24, 8th Sarah Healy (North Sligo AC) – 34:00, 9th Nuala Kelly (Sperrin Harriers) – 34:28, Deirdre Haigney (Omagh Harriers) - 34:38


Category Winners:  

MenOverall: Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers), Under 20: Gavin Corey (Unattached), Male Open: Brendan Murphy (City of Derry AC), Vet40: Peter Neill (Omagh Harriers), Vet45: Delfim Pimentel (Sperrin Harriers), Vet50: Martin McLaughlin (Omagh Harriers), Vet55: Dermott Kerr (Omagh Harriers), Vet60: Tommy Harraghy (Sperrin Harriers), Vet65: Francis Boal (Lagan Valley AC), Vet70: Jude Collins (Club Unknown), Vet75: Paul Martin (Sperrin Harriers)


LadiesOverall: Maria McCambridge (Letterkenny AC), Under 20: Toni Moore (Omagh Harriers), Female Open: Ursula Daly (Sperrin Harriers), Vet35: Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers), Vet40: Deirdre Haigney (Sperrin Harriers), Vet45: Donna Evans (Finn Valley AC), Vet50: Jacqueline Maxwell (Orangegrove AC), Vet55: Mabel McFall (Ballymena Runners), Vet65: Brigid Quinn (Ballymena Runners)


Full Results:  Greencastle 5m Road Race 2013 Results 


Note:  Photograph's from the Greencastle 5m Road Race 2013 are available within our 'Photo Gallery'.

McConnell Shield Cross Country 2013

On Saturday 9th November 2013, I made the short trip along the A8 to Ballyclare to cover the 79th annual running of the McConnell Shield Cross Country, hosted by East Antrim Harriers.  Personally, this is one of my favourite Cross Country events of the season; not only is it close to home, but it was also the venue of my first ever Cross Country racing experience!  I also think the course is quite pleasant, especially the section that runs through the tree’s at the top end of the course, close to the road.


On arrival, it was evident that it was going to be a top quality day of racing, with recording breaking numbers of athletes at the registration in the nearby Six Mile Leisure Centre.  Spectators were also gathering in the sun soaked Six Mile Water Park, which was in good condition considering the amount of recent rain, long before the racing kicked off.   As the prestigious event enters its 80th year it was good to see it enjoy somewhat of a resurgence, with nearly 150 runners in the ladies race and just as many in the men’s event.


After a good catch up with some familiar and friendly faces, it was time to enjoy the racing.  The programme started with Under 14 and Under 16 races, both of which were well supported and proved excellent ‘atmosphere builders’ for the adult races that followed.    Interestingly, infamous Northern Ireland runner John McKeag, winner of the McConnell Shield race in 1940, watched on as his young relative Scott McKeag (Ballydrain Harriers) won the Under 14 race in a sprint finish, setting things up for an exciting day of competition.  Scott covered the 1 mile course in 5:41; Hannah Boyd (Ballyclare High School) claimed victory in the girl’s race, recording 6:39 for the distance.  Connor McQuillan (North Belfast Harriers) and Lauren Strange (Ballymena & Antrim AC) won the Under 16 (2 mile race) in 11:10 and 14:20 respectively.


It was then the turn of the ladies and male veteran 60+ athletes to toe the line for their 3 mile race. After a fast start, it was Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers), Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers), Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC), Marina Campbell (City of Derry AC) and Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) who took up position at the front.


They were pursued by Paula McAllister (Ballymena Runners), Judi Graham (North Belfast Harriers), Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers), Claire Prenter (North Belfast Harriers) and another group, containing the likes of Ciara Toner (Springwell Running Club), Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) and North Down AC duo Julie Balmer and Roberta Dornan.


As the race progressed, it was Karen Alexander and Michelle Sturm who moved clear, leaving Gemma Turley, Marina Campbell and Suzanne Higgins to battle it out for the final podium spot.  Going into the final lap, a strong looking Karen had a slender lead on Michelle; the Sperrin Harriers athlete managed to increase this enough to come into the home straight with a race winning gap.  Despite Michelle’s fast finish, it was Karen who broke the tape in 18:18, thus securing a well-deserved win.  


Michelle recorded 18:20 (2nd place), before the fast improving Marina Campbell (18:25) beat Gemma Turley (4th place – 18:27) in a sprint finish to claim 3rd place.  The close finishes continued, with Suzanne Higgins showing she is well and truly ‘back’, after just edging Ballymena Runners’ WPFG hero Paula McAllister to the line.  Suzanne claimed 5th place in 18:45, with Paula following one second later in 18:46 (6th place).  North Belfast Harriers’ Judi Graham (7th place – 18:48) celebrated her return to competition with an excellent run, before Julie Balmer (8th place – 18:59) beat Denise Logue (9th place – 19:00) in yet another sprint finish.  Claire Prenter completed the ladies top ten in 19:01.


In the Veteran Men’s race, it was North Down AC legend Terry Aiken who led the field home in 18:48.  Peter Lilburn (City of Derry AC) and David Seaton (North Down AC) followed in 19:28 and 19:58 respectively.


After the excitement of the close ladies race had settled, it was the men’s turn to take to the start line for their 5 mile race.  Not to be outdone, the men also produced an excellent, close race; from the off, a strong lead group of Alan O’Hara (North Belfast Harriers), Declan Reed (City of Derry AC), Brendan Teer (East Down AC), Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC), Greg Roberts (City of Derry AC), Emmett McGinty (City of Derry AC), Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club), Jonny Steede (Ballymena Runners) and Brian Campbell (Willowfield Harriers) moved clear of the field.  Adam Boyd (North Belfast Harriers), Eamonn White (North Belfast Harriers), Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC), Mark Wright (Annadale Striders), Paul Carroll (Annadale Striders) and Patrick Hamilton (City of Derry AC) also started well.


The large lead group stayed firm in the first two laps, before it began to split.  By the time they had reached the penultimate lap, Alan O’Hara, Brendan Teer, Declan Reed and Neil Johnston were looking like the main contenders; however, Jonny Steede, Brian Campbell and Emmett McGinty were all still in the thick of the action.  In the closing stages, it was City of Derry AC man Declan Reed who made a brave move at the front.  This proved to be a good decision, as none of the following trio were able to match the surge.   In the end, it was Declan who claimed victory in 26:01.  Springwell Running Club’s up and coming star, Neil Johnston, produced an excellent final lap to take 2nd place in 26:08, a mere one second ahead of North Belfast Harriers’ Alan O’Hara, who completed the men’s top three in 26:09 (3rd place).  


NI & Ulster Junior XC Champion Brendan Teer took 4th place in 26:13, just ahead of the fast finishing trio of Scott Rankin (5th place – 26:28), Brian Campbell (6th place – 26:32) and Emmett McGinty (7th place – 26:33).  Allan Bogle, an impressive performer at the Springwell XC race, followed in 26:35 (8th place), just ahead of Jonny Steede (27:00) and Adam Boyd (27:04), who claimed 9th place and 10th place respectively.


Top 10 Men (5 miles):  1st Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) – 26:01, 2nd Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) – 26:08, 3rd Alan O’Hara (North Belfast Harriers) – 26:09, 4th Brendan Teer (East Down AC) – 26:13, 5th Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 26:28, 6th Brian Campbell (Willowfield Harriers) – 26:32, 7th Emmett McGinty (City of Derry AC) – 26:33, 8th Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) – 26:35, 9th Jonny Steede (Ballymena Runners) – 27:00, 10th Adam Boyd (North Belfast Harriers) – 27:04


Top 10 Ladies (3 miles):  1st Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers) – 18:18, 2nd Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers) – 18:20, 3rd Marina Campbell (City of Derry AC) – 18:25, 4th Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) – 18:27, 5th Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC) – 18:45, 6th Paula McAllister (Ballymena Runners) – 18:46, 7th Judi Graham (North Belfast Harriers) – 18:48, 8th Julie Balmer (North Down AC) – 18:59, 9th Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers) – 19:00, 10th Claire Prenter (North Belfast Harriers) – 29:01


In the prestigious McConnell Shield final standings, City of Derry AC took top honours, beating North Belfast Harriers and Ballymena Runners, who secured 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.


Full Results:  McConnell Shield XC 2013 Results – Photographs from the McConnell Shield XC are available within our ‘Photo Gallery’.

Pure Running Laganside 10k 2013

On Sunday 1st September 2013, NiRunning had the pleasure of joining thousands of athletes and spectators in Ormeau Park, Belfast for the annual Pure Running Laganside 10k (and associated children's one mile races), organised by North Belfast Harriers.  On arrival, the obvious ‘thump, thump, thump’ of the event music was very apparent, and also very welcome; I honestly think that a good festival style atmosphere around an enclosed race meeting point really helps to build excitement and hype.  The amount of smiling, if not a little nervous faces, proved this.


Prior to the commencement of the main 10k event, there were one mile races for children, an excellent idea, which created a family aspect to the whole day; with many families being represented in both the junior race and the 10k.  Although the participation was more important than prizes (maybe the kids would say different!), a special mention must go to the fastest children of the day, Tony McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers) and Rachel Scott (Lagan Valley AC), who recorded 5:30 and 5:51 respectively; times that many of the watching adults would have settled for.  Over 150 children took part, which was the most important thing.  North Belfast Harriers deserve a lot of credit for adding this event to the programme.


As the time neared 2pm, the nearly 800 strong field made their way to the start line, which was located on the avenue into the Ozone Centre, just off the Ormeau Embankment.  In breezy conditions, athletes set on the two loop course, which would take them towards the City Centre and onto the Lagan Towpath, before returning to the Ormeau Embankment, where they would then cover a second, shorter lap prior to finishing back at the Ozone Centre.  


Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers) and Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) ran through 5k together, in approximately 16:05.  Connor Magill (North Belfast Harriers), Brendan Teer (East Down AC) and Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers) followed in 16:09 with Paul Gleeson (Clones AC), Stephen Wylie (North Down AC), Connor Curran (North Belfast Harriers) and Adam Boyd (North Belfast Harriers) all passing half-way between 16:44 and 16:57.  North Belfast Harriers’ Andrew Considine (17:04) and East Coast AC duo James Brown (17:05) and Justin Maxwell (17:04) were also still in touch.


In the ladies race, pre-race favourite, Teresa McGloin (Foyle Valley AC) had a comfortable lead, crossing the 5k mat in 17:18, just over a minute ahead of City of Lisburn AC’s Kelly Neely (18:35). Heather Foley (Unattached) and Denise Toner (Clones AC) followed in 18:57 and 18:59 respectively. North Down AC’S Julie Balmer (19:19), Springwell Running Club’s Ciara Toner (19:20), Unattached athlete Lauren Quee (19:26), North Down AC’s Rachel Gibson (19:32), DUB Runners’ Maeve Lavery (19:39) and North Belfast Harriers’ Claire Prenter (19:40) all passed in quick succession and were all looking strong, making for an exciting second 5k.


In the second half, Stephen Scullion stamped his authority on the race, and began to move clear of Scott Rankin and the chasing pack.  The ex-North Belfast Harriers man continued to open his lead and was the first to appear into the finishing straight, crossing the line in 30:48 to win.  In the latter stages, an impressive Brendan Teer overtook Scott Rankin, who had shown bravery to go with Stephen Scullion in the early stages, to claim 2nd place in 31:50.  Scott secured a well-deserved 3rd place in 31:57, before Eamon White (32:30) and Connor Magill (32:35) took 4th place and 5th place respectively.  Adam Boyd then edged club mate and friend Conor Curran (7th place – 33:31) to 6th place, crossing the line in 33:19.  East Coast AC’s James Brown continued his excellent run of personal bests, dipping under the 34 minute barrier for the first time with a 33:47 clocking (8th place). A tired but happy Stephen Wylie was next home in 33:49 (9th place), before Justin Maxwell completed the men’s top ten in 33:58 (10th place).


Teresa McGloin continued to go from strength to strength in the ladies category, eventually breaking the tape in an excellent 35:05.  Kelly Neely showed why she is fast becoming one of the provinces top road runners (over and above her exceptional track background), securing the runners up spot in 37:08 (2nd place).  Denise Toner passed Heather Foley (4th place – 38:24) as the pair came into the final straight, taking 3rd place in 38:22.  Ciara Toner (38:58) finished well, pipping Julie Balmer (6th place – 39:00) to 5th place.  Track star, Rachel Gibson followed in 39:11 (7th place), while Claire Prenter showed that she is getting back to her best with an excellent sub 40 minute time of 39:15 (8th place). Lauren Quee (39:23) and Maeve Lavery (39:42) then sealed top ten finishes, taking 9th place and 10th place respectively.


Top 10 Men:  1st Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers) – 30:48, 2nd Brendan Teer (East Down AC) – 31:50, 3rd Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 31:57, 4th Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers) – 32:30, 5th Connor Magill (North Belfast Harriers) – 32:35, 6th Adam Boyd (North Belfast Harriers) – 33:19, 7th Conor Curran (North Belfast Harriers) – 33:31, 8th James Brown (East Coast AC) – 33:47, 9th Stephen Wylie (North Down AC) – 33:49, 10th  Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) – 33:58


Top 10 Ladies:  1st Teresa McGloin (Finn Valley AC) – 35:05, 2nd Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC) – 37:08, 3rd Denise Toner (Clones AC) – 38:22, 4th Heather Foley (Unattached) – 38:24, 5th Ciara Toner (Springwell Running Club) – 38:58, 6th Julie Balmer (North Down AC) – 39:00, 7th Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) – 39:11, 8th Claire Prenter (North Belfast Harriers) – 39:15, 9th Lauren Quee (Unattached) – 39:23, 10th Maeve Lavery (DUB Runners) – 39:42


On crossing the line, athletes were handed a goody bag containing snacks and a voucher for a pair of running socks.  After exiting the finishing funnel, runners and spectators mingled around the stalls, which included race sponsors Pure Running, whilst exchanging their accounts of the race prior to the generous array of prizes being awarded, courtesy of North Belfast Harriers and Pure Running.  North Belfast Harriers’ chosen charity was the Northern Ireland Hospice, who benefited greatly from the event.  


This is an event we (NiRunning) would recommend to everyone; the entry fee (£10) is very reasonable in today’s times, and goes towards what is a great family fun day out with a nice atmosphere; organised with military precision, like all of North Belfast Harriers’ events.  The efforts of ChampionChip Ireland must also be recognised, with every competitor (who left a mobile number) receiving a text message with their official finish time on it, within an hour of finishing the race, that is efficiency!  


Full Results:  Pure Running Laganside 10 2013 Results and Pure Running Children's Mile 2013 Results  - Note - Our Pure Running Laganside 10k photographs have been uploaded to our 'Photo Gallery'.  

Energia 24hr Race 2013

On Friday 19th July 2013, the Energia 24 hour race returned to the newly refurbished Mary Peters Track in Belfast.  In warm conditions, just over fifty competitors started the race, which would run from 6.45pm until 6.45pm on Saturday 20th July 2013.  There was also a 12 hour race and a four person relay team running alongside the ‘main event’, which also incorporated the AAI National 24hr (Track) Championships.


In the early stages, it was evident that both the male and female races would be between a handful of people, with Eoin Keith, John O’Regan and Matthew Moroz running side by side through 20k in 1:49:04, while Eddie Gallen was looking comfortable just behind (20k - 1:49:17).  In the ladies race, current Irish 24 hour record holder Ruthann Sheahan had Aine Gallagher for company as they went through the two hour mark having covered approximately 21k.  Recent Mourne Way Ultra winner Susan McCartney was also running well in third place.  Achill Island based sisters, Donna and Caroline McLoughlin were also looking good.


As the clock read 6:00:00, Eoin Keith had put approximately two laps between himself and John O’Regan, who in-turn, had a similar lead over Eddie Gallen; Matthew Moroz appeared to be beginning to tire and had dropped off the early pace, allowing Barry Thorton to move into the reckoning.  


In the ladies race, Ruthann Sheahan was stamping her authority on the race, moving well clear of the other main challengers, Aine Gallagher and Susan McCartney.  Ruthann had covered 60.8k, while the strong running Susan McCartney (60k) had caught and passed the visibly tiring and aching Aine Gallagher (54k).


Aidan Blake was well clear in the 12 hour race, which was now at the half way stage.  The Irish man, who is an occasional training partner of John O’Regan and Northern Ireland men Martin Rea, Jonny Steede and Justin Maxwell had covered 61.4k, with the nearest person behind him, Anthony Lee having clocked up 52.8k.  In the relay race, Donadea Runners had reached 67.9k as the clock passed six hours; Team Energia (65.4k) were in pursuit.


The sun was in full view as the 24 hour race reached the half-way point at 6.45am on Saturday morning, and by this stage, Eoin Keith’s lead was just as strong as the aforementioned sunshine.  The current Irish (track) record holder had blasted through the 100k mark and was now on 126k; behind the very impressive Ruthann Sheahan was now on 121.6k, leading the ladies race and in second place overall.  John O’Regan (117.2k) and Eddie Gallen (116k) were second and third placed men, with Susan McCartney (114.4k) and Aine Gallagher (98.8k) holding the equivalent places in the ladies race.

Patrick Quinn (108k), David Noone (106.8k), Barry Thornton (106.8k), Vilnis Pleite (102.8k), Eric Hewston (102.8k), Brian O’Kelly (102.8k), Frank McDermott (102.8k), Tim Brownlee (102.4k), Pat Staunton (101.6k), Michael Cultra (101.2k), Matthew Moroz (100.4k), Liam McGarry (100.4k) and Noel Brick (100.0k)  had all reached the infamous 100k barrier.  Other familiar faces, still running well at feeling good at half way included, Robin Alexander (94k) and Iryan Kennedy (81.6k).


Aidan Blake was the only remaining PM to AM 12 hour runner to survive the gruelling race; he covered an excellent 114k from 6.45pm on Friday 19th July to 6.45am on Saturday 20th July 2013. This was a new Energia 12hr event record, beating the 111k set by Sean McCormack in 2011. Despite this, Aidan would have to wait until 6.45pm on Saturday 20th July 2013 to see if he was victorious, as three men Robert Irvine, Joe Moran and Aidan McLoughlin began their 12 hours on the track at 6.45am (doing the AM to PM slot).


As the race entered its second half, it looked as if Aidan Blake’s new 12 hour course record would not be the only record broken, as both Eoin Keith and Ruthann Sheahan were on course for Irish 24hr (track) records, with both having covered over half of the required distances to break their respective records.


Not surprisingly, Eoin Keith was the first athlete to break the 100 mile (160.9k) barrier; Eoin’s time of 15:26:00 beats his own Irish 100 mile (track) record of 16:05:00.  In the ladies race, the tiring Aine Gallagher had now been passed by Donna McLoughlin, who was looking strong and consistent.  Susan McCartney was also looking well, covering lap after lap in effortless fashion.  However, it was going to take something special if Susan was going to catch the outstanding Ruthann Sheahan, who appeared to be getting stronger.  After approximately 18:48:00, Ruthann passed Deirdre Finn’s Irish 24hr (track) record of 181k, which was set at the Energia 24 hour race in 2011, it was now just a matter of how far the talented lady could extend the record by, considering her personal best for 24 hours was 229k.


After nineteen, thirty runners had broken through 100k and six had passed the 100 mile mark (with a further sixteen within sight of it), this included the top three men, Eoin Keith, John O’Regan and Eddie Gallen as well as the top two ladies, Ruthanne Sheahan and Susan McCartney.   Meanwhile, in the 12 hour race, Robert Irvine was the leading 12hr runner on the track, having covered 70.3k; Joe Moran was next with 64.2k.  Donadea Runners had now covered 252.1k and were leading the relay race from Team Energia (183k).


Donna McLoughlin had now cemented herself as third placed lady, with her sister, Caroline showing brilliant strength to move into fourth place.  Local athletes Robin Alexander, Iryna Kennedy and Michael Cultra were all coping well, despite feeling the effects of their heroic efforts.


Eoin continued his record haul, breaking John O’Regan’s previous Energia 24hr record of 213k with three hours remaining, around the same time, Ruthann Sheahan passed through 200k, which ensured that her new Irish (track) record would be ratified for statistical purposes.  As the race entered its closing stages, the number of people passing the 100 mile mark increased, with each being greeted with a huge reception from officials, supporters and athletes alike.


Arguably the events finest moment was to come, with forty eight minutes remaining, the relentless Eoin Keith broke his own Irish 24hr (track) record, which was 235.9k, set in London five years ago (2008).  This was an outstanding achievement and one that summed up the event, which produced so many personal, club and national records.


An astonishing twenty two participants had broken through the 100 mile barrier with thirty minutes remaining; these included Eoin Keith, John O’Regan, Eddie Gallen, Ruthann Sheahan, Susan McCartney, Tim Brownlee, Patrick Quinn, Vilnis Pleite, Brian O’Kelly, Carl Laffan, Pat Staunton, Donna McLoughlin, Robin Alexander, David Noone, Noel Brick, John Coleman, Eric Hewston, Frank McDermott, Gerard McCann, Greame Whittaker, Caroline McLoughlin and Michael Cultra.


The final moments passed quickly, maybe not so much for the athletes, but definitely for the officials, media and supporters and before long, race director Ed Smith sounded the much anticipated horn to signal that the 24 hours had passed.  At which point, the tired ‘warriors’ plunked themselves onto the ‘mondo’ surface awaiting the official measurement of their finishing position.


In the end, Eoin Keith won the men’s event and was crowned the AAI National 24 hour Champion, having covered a sensational 244.6k (152m).  Eoin’s Irish International friends John O’Regan and Eddie Gallen claimed 2ndplace and 3rd place respectively.  John covered 221.0k (137m), while Eddie had clocked up 537 laps, which worked out as 215.0k (133m).  This meant that all three of the top men had broken the previous Energia course record of 213k.


The impressive, and always smiling, Ruthann Sheahan took the ladies title, having ran 225.5k (140m), while Susan McCartney, a lady with a very bright future in ultra-running, took 2nd place with 197.1k; Donna McLoughlin was rewarded for her consistency with a 3rd place finish, having clocked up 166k (103.5m).


In the 12 hour race, Aidan Blake’s Energia course record of 115.9k (72m) was enough to seal victory ahead of North Belfast Harriers man Robert Irvine, who claimed 2nd place with 108.5k (67m).  Joe Moran took 3rd place with 95.5k (59m).  There were no female participants in the 12 hour race. In the 24 hour relay race, Donadea Runners held onto their title from last year, with a total distance of 244.6k (152m), while the sponsor’s team, Team Energia finished in 2nd place with 223.6k (138m).


At the prize-giving, participants enjoyed an excellent selection of refreshments before being presented with the well-deserved medals, prizes and AAI National Championships medals.  In a speech, Eoin Keith expressed his thanks to his fellow athletes, for their help and encouragement throughout the 24 hours.  He added that this was the first 24 hour race that he had ever won and that he was “ecstatic” about this and the fact that he had reached his personal target of 240k.  


Roseann Sheahan added further added to Eoin’s words of thanks and spoke of her love of the event and the newly refurbished Mary Peters Track.  Roseann also said that she was delighted to have added the Irish (track) 24hr record to the road record that she currently holds.


NiRunning followed the event throughout, and would like to congratulate all of those taking part, the amount of records broken shows the sheer quality that was out there, we have no doubt that this event will grow into something even more special in the coming years and would recommend it to anyone who it may interest.  If 12 hours or 24 hours is too much, why not try a relay? Failing that, spectating or helping at the event is also fun.


24hr Race:

Top 3 Men:  1st Eoin Keith – 244.6k, 2nd John O’Regan – 221.0k, 3rd Eddie Gallen – 215.0k

Top 3 Ladies: 1st Ruthann Sheahan – 225.5k, 2nd Susan McCartney – 197.1k, 3rd Donna McLoughlin – 166.0k


12hr Race:

Top 3 Men:  1st Aidan Blake – 115.9k, 2nd Robert Irvine – 108.5k, 3rd Joe Moran – 95.5k

Top 3 Ladies:  None


24hr Relay Race:

Top 2 Teams:  1st Donadea Runners (Ollie Kearney, Charlotte Kearney, Enda O’Carolan and Orna Dilworth) – 298.5k, 2nd Team Energia (Desmond George, Tom Gillen, Sarah Gilmour and John King)


Full Results:  Energia 24hr Race 2013 Results (This is an intial Jpeg.  An electronic version will be added as soon as they are available).  Race Photographs will be added to our Photo Gallery in the coming days (Monday 22nd July or Tuesday 23rd July 2013).

Ards Half Marathon 2013

On Friday 28th June 2013 NiRunning attended the Ards Half Marathon in Newtownards; an event hosted by Ards Borough Council.  This was the 6th annual running of the event which is part of the Pure Running Half Marathon Series and was also the Athletics NI Half Marathon Championships.


On arrival the good organisation of the event was evident, with helpful marshals advising race goers of suitable parking areas and directing the crowds towards the Race HQ, which was located at the Ards Leisure Centre.  There was an obvious buzz around the registration hall, which was further enhanced by a solo, acoustic guitarist playing well-known hits.  As the hundreds of runners passed through the pack collection area, the presence of some of the country’s top runners helped build the excitement for what was shaping up to be a top quality race.


In pleasant conditions, if not a little breezy, the six hundred strong field set off on a 13.1 mile journey that would take them from Newtownards Town Centre and towards Comber, before returning to the finishing area at the Ards Leisure Centre.   Immediately a group of four men, Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders), Freddy Sittuk (Kenya), Alan O’Hara (North Belfast Harriers) and Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC) moved to the head of the field and gradually moved clear of the following pack, which consisted of Francis Marsh (North Down AC), Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers) and Don Travers (Newry City Runners).


The ladies race started in a similar fashion, with Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers), Julie Balmer (North Down AC), Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC), Roisin Hughes (North Belfast Harriers), Gillian Douglas (Unattached) and Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) all in close proximity of each other.


There was no change in the men’s race as they went through the 6.1 mile marker, with Paul, Freddy, Keith and Alan running along together.  Meanwhile, the ladies race was starting to take shape; Julie had moved clear of Kelly and Karen, who were split by approximately four seconds.  Gillian was a minute further back, with Roisin ten seconds behind her.


As the men reached 10 miles, Paul Pollock tested the lead group with a surge, but this was matched by Freddy, Alan and Keith.  However, within a mile, Paul once again upped the pace significantly, this time there was no real response from the chasing trio.  This surge split the group that had been together from the off; Freddy moved in behind Paul, while Keith bravely attempted to hold onto the pair.  Alan was battling well in fourth, especially taking into consideration his outstanding performance just five days ago in Dunshaughlin (Ireland).


By this stage in the ladies race, Julie Balmer had opened up an uncatchable lead on the other ladies; Kelly Neely and Karen Alexander were in pursuit but it was clear that their thoughts were on the runners up spot rather than catching Julie.  Behind, there was an excellent battle going on between Gillian Douglas and Roisin Hughes for fourth place, with just seconds splitting the pair.


As the gathered crowds stared down the long finishing straight, eagerly awaiting the appearance of the first runner, it was Paul Pollock, the current AAI Half Marathon, AAI Marathon and NI & Ulster 5,000m Champion who appeared first.  Paul broke the tape in 1:07:46 to add the Athletics NI Half Marathon title to his growing list of accolades.  Kenyan star, Freddy Sittuk followed in 1:08:48 (2nd place), while Keith Shiels clocked an amazing fourteen minute personal best, crossing the line in 1:09:32 (3rd place) with Alan O’Hara (1:09:50) just behind in 4th place.


Francis Marsh was the next runner into sight, claiming 5th place in 1:15:49, ahead of Andrew Considine (1:15:55) and Don Travers (1:16:08) who took 6th place and 7th place respectively.  Experienced North Belfast Harriers runner Michael Fitzpatrick was the next runner to finish in 19:20 (8th place), before Unattached athlete Richard Coey (9th place – 19:53) and North Belfast Harriers’ Gareth Grew (10th place – 1:20:38) completed the top ten men.


Julie Balmer was the popular winner of the ladies race, the hometown girl covered the course in 1:25:45, adding the Athletics NI Half Marathon title to the Marathon title she won in May 2013.  Kelly Neely continued her excellent form, taking 2nd place in new personal best of 1:26:46; an excellent time for only her second ever Half Marathon.   Karen Alexander completed the ladies podium in 1:27:17 (3rd place), ahead of Roisin Hughes (4th place – 1:31:29) who just got the better of Gillian Douglas (5th place – 1:31:35).  Geraldine Quigley (Larne AC), who is currently second in the Vet35 overall HM series standings, secured 6th place in 1:33:47 before another series regular, Diane Watson finished in 1:35:25 (7th place).  Experienced North Belfast Harriers distance runner Amanda Perry claimed 8th place in 1:36:06 and Cheryl Denvir (East Down AC), winner of the Loughinisland 5.05m race just two days earlier, crossed the line in 1:37:07.  Helen Weir (North Belfast Harriers) recorded 1:37:32 to ensure a top ten placing.


In the team awards, North Belfast Harriers picked up both the Men’s and Women’s Athletics NI Half Marathon titles.  North Belfast Harriers ‘B’ team won silver in the men’s category, with Willowfield Harriers collecting the bronze medal.  North Down AC finished 2nd to North Belfast Harriers in the ladies standings, while Orangegrove AC won the bronze medal.


Top 10 Men:  1st Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) – 1:07:46, 2nd Freddy Sittuk (Kenya) – 1:08:48, 3rd Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC) – 1:09:32, 4th Alan O’Hara (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:09:50, 5th Francis Marsh (North Down AC) – 1:15:49, 6th Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:15:55, 7th Don Travers (Newry City Runners) – 1:16:08, 8th Michael Fitzpatrick (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:19:20, 9th Richard Coey (Unattached) – 1:19:53, 10th Gareth Grew (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:20:38


Top 10 Ladies:  1st Julie Balmer (North Down AC) – 1:25:45, 2nd Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC) – 1:26:46, 3rd Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers) – 1:27:18, 4th Roisin Hughes (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:31:29, 5th Gillian Douglas (Unattached) – 1:31:35, 6th Geraldine Quigley (Larne AC) – 1:33:47, 7th Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) – 1:35:25, 8th Amanda Perry (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:36:06, 9th Cheryl Denvir (East Down AC) – 1:37:07, 10th Helen Weir (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:37:32


Top 3 Men’s Teams:  1st North Belfast Harriers ‘A’ (Alan O'Hara, Andrew Considine, Michael Fitzpatrick), 2nd North Belfast Harriers ‘B’ (Gareth Grew, Laurence Johnston, John McGuigan), 3rd Willowfield Harriers (David Proctor, Daniel Mills, Matt Wilson)


Top 3 Ladies Teams:  1st North Belfast Harriers (Roisin Hughes, Amanda Perry, Helen Weir), 2nd North Down AC (Julie Balmer, Jill Aiken, Sarah Benton), 3rd Orangegrove AC (Jill Holland, Eleanor Acheson, Anita Meli)


After the race, competitors enjoyed free sports massages and a plentiful selection of sandwiches, cakes and biscuits as well as tea and coffee.  It was also great to see so many people remain in the hall to see the prizes being handed out, as well as the Athletics NI Championships medals.  Despite the well-known fact that the 13.1m course is quite tough, this is definitely a race/event that we would recommend.  It’s well organised and has a really good atmosphere, all in all… a great way to spend a Friday night!


Full Results:  Ards Half Marathon 2013 Results - Photographs from the Ards Half Marathon are available in our 'Photo Gallery'.

Runher Coastal Challenge 2013:

On Friday 24th May 2013, NiRunning had the pleasure of covering the Runher Coastal Challenge for the first time.  Having spectated at the Runher 5k and 10k in Stormont Estate, Belfast last summer I had a fair idea of what to expect from the event.  However, I have to say that this particular evening of family orientated fun, racing and great company exceeded my already high expectations!  Considering an ‘early bird’ entry for one of the Runher events can cost as little as £10, it is an event well worth attending, if you’re a female of course… apparently, it’s a girl thing! 


As I was unfamiliar with the Seapark area of Holywood, I was pleasantly surprised by the road signs indicating potential parking areas on the approach to the popular recreational area.  After a nice walk along the coastline I arrived at the start area to find a colourful sea of smiling ladies participating in the energetic and lively warm-up.  On completion of this, it was down to business; although the Runher events are geared more towards participation than prizes, this event was by far the most competitive of the Runher races I have been to.  


A plethora of talented runners, including Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers), Julie Balmer (North Down AC), Jessica Craig (North Down AC), Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers), Natalie Bowbanks (Unattached), Kerry Speers (North Down AC), Ruth Magill (Lagan Valley AC) and Sarah Baxter (Bath AC) were amongst the ladies I knew were due to race.  Whilst I mingled around the starting area, I spotted Judith Lonnen - nee Lowry (City of Lisburn AC) and my ex-Larne AC club mate Paula McAllister (Ballymena Runners) on the start line.


Once the well-organised race officials had grouped the ladies into their allocated starting blocks (based on estimated finish time), Dame Mary Peters sounded the starting horn and the athletes set off on their 10k ‘challenge’, which covered a tough but beautiful course.  


As the leading runners went through 5k, Breege Connolly had opened up a two minute gap on her rivals.  Julie Balmer was next through the half way point, with Kerry Speers, Jessica Craig, Judith Lonnen, Paula McAllister, Cathy McCourt, Helen Bateson (Unattached), Ruth Magill , Lyndsey Pronger (North Down AC), Penny Duncan-Lindsay (East Antrim Harriers) and Amanda Perry following.


In the second half of the race, the pack shuffled a little but that did not include the exceptional leader Breege, who was covering the uneven ground at a relentless pace.  At the atmospheric finish line, the crowds, most of whom had made their way quickly from the starting area to the sunny Crawfordsburn Country Park, were eagerly awaiting the impending arrival of the athletes.  Breege was the first runner into sight, but she still had a tough climb to negotiate.  However, the brilliant North Belfast Harriers lady covered this with ease and breezed into the finish straight, breaking the tape in 36:12 to win; an impressive time considering the course and the headwind.  


Julie Balmer, the first Northern Ireland lady to finish the Belfast City Marathon earlier this month, took 2nd place in 39:11.  Julie’s North Down AC team mate, Jessica Craig returned to competition with an excellent performance and was rewarded with a 3rd place finish after crossing the line in 39:50.  


Paula McAllister, a lady who enjoyed an extremely successful Junior running career before moving away from the serious side of the sport, returned in fine fashion to secure a 4th place in 40:05.  Helen Bateson completed the distance in 40:11 (5th place), before Judith Lonnen finished in 40:49 (6th place).


Cathy McCourt (41:34) continued her return from injury with a 7th place finish, while travel and sports writer Sarah Baxter, who was covering the race for Runners World, crossed the line in 42:15 (8th place).  Experienced Lagan Valley AC runner Ruth Magill was the next to finish in 42:25 (9th place), just ahead of East Antrim Harriers’ Penny Duncan-Lindsay (10th place – 42:41) who completed the top ten ladies.  Amanda Perry followed in 42:44 (11th place) and Lyndsey Pronger (North Down AC) clocked 44:14 (12th place).  Talented ladies Natalie Bowbanks (13th place) and Nikki Heywood (14th place) both crossed the line as the clock read 44:40, with Natalie having just edged out Nikki.


Ballymena Runners’ Joanne Hilditch (45:13) just pipped unattached athlete Niamh Kellett (45:15) to the post, with the ladies taking 15th place and 16th place respectively.  Jodi Smith (Unattached) followed in 45:22 (17th place) with Unattached athlete Carrie Stewart (18th place – 45:24) just two seconds behind.  Unattached runners Jenny McClenahan (19th place – 45:54) and Michele Hudson (20th place – 45:56) completed the top twenty finishers.


After the race, the ladies enjoyed a complimentary massage from Apex Clinic, the new sponsors of the upcoming Physio Room @ NiRunning.  The finish area had a real buzz around it; with music, family games, a childrens play area and a very tempting BBQ, which appeared to be appreciated by the proud finishers.   


Top 20 Ladies:  1st Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) – 36:17, 2nd Julie Balmer (North Down AC) – 39:11, 3rd Jessica Craig (North Down AC) – 39:50, 4th Paula McAllister (Ballymena Runners) – 40:05, 5th Helen Bateson (Unattached) – 40:11, 6th Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) – 40:49, 7th Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) – 41:34, 8th Sarah Baxter (Bath AC) – 42:15, 9th Ruth Magill (Lagan Valley AC) – 42:25, 10th Penny Duncan Lindsay (East Antrim Harriers) – 42:41


11th Amanda Perry (North Belfast Harriers) – 42:44, 12th Lyndsey Pronger (North Down AC) – 44:14, 13th Natalie Bowbanks (Unattached) – 44:40, 14th Nikki Heywood (North Down AC) – 44:40, 15th Joanne Hilditch (Ballymena Runners) – 45:13, 16th Niamh Kellett (Unattached) – 45:15, 17th Jodie Smith (Unattached) – 45:22, 18th Carrie Stewart (Unattached) – 45:24, 19th Jenny McClenahan (Unattached) – 45:54. 20th Michele Hudson (Unattached) – 45:56


Full Results:  Belfast Telegraph Runher Coastal Challenge 2013 Results


A selection of race photographs have also been added to our ‘Photo Gallery’, these were taken at the starting area, half-way point and the finish area.  Well done to everyone involved, entries are now available for the next Runher event, which will take place at Stormont Estate on Sunday 6th October 2013.  Please visit www.runher.co.uk for details.

Ballynahinch Lions 10k Race:


The Ballynahinch Lions 10k race is an event I am always drawn to, although I have never taken part in the race myself, because of it’s proximity to the London and Belfast Marathon’s, I seem to end up there as a spectator every year.  My future in-laws live close by, so in some ways I see the place as a ‘home from home’ and a place where I enjoy spending time; plus, the Montilto Estate is an amazing setting!

On Saturday 27th April 2013, I was once again in attendance, watching as hundreds of athletes and fun runners brought the market town to a standstill.  The atmosphere around 'the square’ is really  nice on 10k day, especially when the expectant crowds can bask in the warm spring sunshine as they wait for the start.  

As Race Officials got the race under way, pre-race favourite Brendan Teer (East Down AC) made his way to the front as expected.  The 2011 winner was up against last years champion Paul Carroll (Annadale Striders) and East Antrim Harriers ‘legend’ Sam Crawford.  Sam looked to be well backed up by his East Antrim Harriers club mates, with the black and white hoops featuring prominently at the front as the field made their way up the Castlewellan Road and out of the Town Centre.  

As the runners came back in towards the town and the impending 5k marker, Brendan was looking strong as he led comfortably, and by the time the current NI & Ulster Junior XC Champion had conquered the tough ‘steps’ section of the course, he had a two minute lead on Paul Carroll, who in-turn had a twenty second gap on Sam Crawford.  Alan Johnston (Murlough AC) was a little further back in fourth place with Colin Stevenson (Ballydrain Harriers), Andy Hewitt (Unattached), Andy Liddle (East Antrim Harriers), Jim Finlay (East Antrim Harriers), Samuel Gill (Unattached) and Phillip McNeill (East Antrim Harriers) all in pursuit.

The ladies race was a lot closer, with experienced runner Mary Mackin (Dromore AC) and Donna McCusker (Murlough AC) going through 5k side by side.  Naimh Kellet (Unattached), Christine Murray (County Antrim Harriers) and Susan Smyth (Dromore AC) followed, with Amanda Russell (Dromore AC) approximately one minute behind.  Further back, Helen McCartan (Dromore AC), and Unattached athletes Ann George, Alison Carroll, Jade Lavery and Fran McBride were all running well.

As the rain began and the spectators moved for shelter, Brendan Teer came speeding into view, quickly covering the remaining downhill meters to finish in 32:29, thus claiming victory in what was a fantastic time considering the difficult course.  Paul Carroll took 2nd place in 35:36, while the final podium place went to popular East Antrim Harriers’ man Sam Crawford (3rd place – 36:15).  Alan Johnston (37:41) was rewarded for his efforts with a very credible 4th place, with Colin Stevenson taking 5th place in 39:16.  Andy Hewitt clocked 39:45 (6th place), just ahead of Jim Finlay (39:54) who had overtaken club mate Andy Liddle (8th place – 40:00) to finish in 7th place.  Samuel Gill (9th place) and Phillip McNeill (10th place) completed the top ten, after running 40:02 and 40:03 respectively.

Mary Mackin’s experience showed in the latter stages of the race, as she took forty seconds out of Donna McCusker to win the ladies category in 44:13.  Donna claimed 2nd place in 44:53, well ahead of Susan Smyth who clocked 45:54 to finish in a well-deserved 3rd place.  Susan had moved from fifth place to third in the second half of the race, showing great strength.  Christine Murray was the next lady home in 46:25 (4th place), ahead of the tired but happy Naimh Kellet (5th place – 46:39) and Amanda Russell (6th place – 47:56).  Helen McCartan recorded 48:27 to take 7th place, while Ann George took 8th place after crossing the line in 48:45.  Alison Carroll dipped under the fifty minute barrier in 49:08 (9th place) before Fran McBride claimed a top ten finish in 50:13 (10th place).

Although there wasn’t much of a ‘do’ after the event, it can easily be excused, as the entire proceeds of the event go to the Ballynahinch Lions designated charity.   There were however, prizes on offer for the winners, certificates for the fun-runners and medals for all finishers.

Top 10 Men:  1st Brendan Teer (East Down AC) – 32:39, 2nd Paul Carroll (Annadale Striders) – 35:36, 3rd Sam Crawford (East Antrim Harriers) – 36:15, 4th Alan Johnston (Murlough AC) – 37:41, 5th Colin Stevenson (Ballydrain Harriers) – 39:16, 6th Andy Hewitt (Unattached) – 39:45, 7th Jim Finlay (East Antrim Harriers) – 39:54, 8th Andy Liddle (East Antrim Harriers) – 40:00, 9th Samuel Gill (Unattached) – 40:02, 10th Phillip McNeill (East Antrim Harriers) – 40:03

Top 10 Ladies:  1st Mary Mackin (Dromore AC) – 44:13, 2nd Donna McCusker (Murlough AC) – 44:54, 3rd Susan Smyth (Dromore AC) – 45:54, 4th Christine Murray (County Antrim Harriers) – 46:25, 5th Naimh Kellet (Unattached) – 46:39, 6th Amanda Russell (Dromore AC) – 47:56, 7th Helen McCartan (Dromore AC) – 48:27, 8th Ann George (Dromore AC) – 48:45, 9th Alison Carroll (Unattached) – 49:08, 10th Fran McBride (Unattached) – 50:13

Full Results:  Ballynahinch 10k Results 2013 – A selection of Race Photographs have also been added to our ‘Photo Gallery’.

Queen's 'Race around the River' 5km Race:


The term ‘student’ is synonymous with character references such as lazy, laid back, lay-about and party animal, amongst others.  However, anyone who participated in the Queen’s Sport ‘Race around the River’ 5km on Wednesday 27th March 2013, an event organised by the students of Queen’s University, Belfast will tell you that this was one student party (or event!) worth attending; it wasn’t for the lazy, nor the laid back and any lay-about would have been in awe at the sheer speed and determination of each and every runner.

On arrival, the race registration and pack collection area seemed well organised and quick; there were also ample changing facilities for competitors, something which was appreciated even more because of the cold conditions outside.

Now in its ninth year, the event regularly attracts the provinces best athletes, ranging from talented track stars to established marathon runners.   This year was no different, despite the absence of Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) and last year’s winner Joe McAlister (St Malachy’s AC), the field was still full of speedy competitors, with London based NI man, Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers) and Paralympic Gold Medallist Michael McKillop (St Malachy’s AC) joining a host of top names on the start line.  After a short delay to accommodate a few late comers, the horn sounded to indicate the start, almost immediately a group containing Stephen Scullion and Annadale Striders trio Eddie McGinley, Andrew Agnew and Ryan McDermott moved to the front.

All four passed what would later be the finish area (outside the Queen’s PEC building) at a quick pace, all looking fairly comfortable.  However, by the second lap, Stephen had pressed ahead, forging a gap of approximately 5-6 seconds between himself and Eddie McGinley, with Andrew Agnew and Ryan McDermott slightly further behind.  Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC), Ciaran Doherty (Letterkenny AC), Richard Johnston (City of Derry AC), Gareth Hill (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Ben Branagh (St Malachy’s AC) and Chris McPeake (City of Derry) were also running well.

Although a little behind, Owen Carelton (Annadale Striders), Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club), Andrew Annett (Mourne Runners), Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers) and Conall Kirk (Lagan Valley AC) were also moving quickly.

In the ladies race, Claire Connor (North Belfast Harriers) had caught and passed early leader Yasmin Wilson (Ballyclare High School), with Ciara Coffey(Unattached), Alex Kirk (Springwell Running Club) and Emma Mitchell (Banbridge AC) all following closely.  Emma Laverty (Lagan Valley AC), Caitriona McGloin (Beechmount Harriers) and Julie Murphy (Lagan Valley AC) were also looking good.

As the race progressed, various battles ensued, not at the head of the pack though, were Stephen Scullion was showing fantastic confidence and composure, moving quickly in what seemed like effortless fashion.  Eddie McGinley was also looking strong but behind, Keith Shiels, Ciaran Doherty had latched onto to his club mates Ryan McDermott and Andrew Agnew.  Andrew Wright and Conall Kirk seemed to get stronger as the race went on, with both working their way through the field.
Claire Connor led the ladies into the final lap and was looking increasingly like the eventual winner, leaving Ciara Coffey, Yasmin Wilson and Alex Kirk to contest the remaining podium places.  Julie Murphy was also in the mix after catching young athletes Emma Laverty and Caitriona McGloin.

As race commentator Dave McKibbin kept the chilled crowd updated on the action, the white vest of Stephen Scullion quickly came into sight.  Running strongly, yet very controlled, the talented athlete crossed the line in a new course record 14:27 to claim a well-deserved win.  Eddie McGinley showed that his recent niggles are well and truly gone, claiming 2nd place in 14:58, before his Annadale Striders’ club mate Andrew Agnew (15:07) just pipped Ciaran Doherty across the line after a tussle for 3rd place.  Although Ciaran (4th place) record the same time as Andrew, 15:07, he did cross the line first.

Keith Shiels finished in an excellent 5th place, running a new personal best of 15:11 while a tired but happy Ryan McDermott clocked 15:22 to take 6th place.  Richard Johnston (15:34) and Gareth Hill (15:37) took 7th and 8th place respectively, before young Andrew Wright finished in an excellent 15:39 (9th place) to claim the top junior male prize.  Another talented youngster, Conall Kirk, completed the top ten in 15:43.

Claire Connor increased her lead significantly to win the ladies race comfortably in 18:17, going one better than her runner up spot last year.  Young Springwell Running Club athlete Alex Kirk (18:45) produced an excellent final lap to take 2nd place, and with it the top junior lady prize, while the ever improving Ciara Coffey (Unattached) recorded 18:47 to claim the final podium spot.

Yasmin Wilson finished (19:07) in 4th place and Julie Murphy completed a fine performance, covering the distance in 19:15 (5th place).  Julie’s club mate, Emma Laverty crossed the line in 19:21 (6th place), just three seconds ahead of Caitriona McGloin (7th place – 19:24) who in-turn beat Beechmount Harriers her club mate Sarah Lavery (8th place – 19:25) by a mere one second. 

Unattached athlete Karen Wilton finished in 19:25 (9th place) before East Down AC’s Catherine O’Connor took 10th place in 20:07.

On finishing, each athlete had access to a sports drink, courtesy of sponsors Powerade and back in the warm Physical Education Centre there were refreshments on offer including much needed tea and coffee.  

Top 10 Men:  1st Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers) – 14:27, 2nd Eddie McGinley (Annadale Striders) – 14:58, 3rd Andrew Agnew (Annadale Striders) – 15:07, 4th Ciaran Doherty (Letterkenny AC) – 15:07, 5th Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC) – 15:11, 6th Ryan McDermott (Annadale Striders) – 15:22, 7th Richard Johnston (City of Derry AC) – 15:34, 8th Gareth Hill (Ballymena & Antrim AC) – 15:37, 9th Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers) – 15:39, 10th Conall Kirk (Lagan Valley AC) – 15:43

Top 10 Ladies:  1st Claire Connor (North Belfast Harriers) – 18:17, 2nd Alex Kirk (Springwell Running Club) – 18:45, 3rd Ciara Coffey (Unattached) – 18:47, 4th Yasmin Wilson (Ballyclare High School) – 19:07, 5th Julie Murphy (Lagan Valley AC) – 19:15, 6th Emma Laverty (Lagan Valley AC) – 19:21, 7th Caitriona McGloin (Beechmount Harriers) – 19:24, 8th Sarah Lavery (Beechmount Harriers) – 19:25, 9th Karen Wilton (Unattached) – 19:25, 10th Catherine O’Connor (East Down AC) – 20:07

Full Results:  Queen’s 5km Road Race 2013 Results – Race Photographs (courtesy of John T Glover and Gareth Heron) are available in our ‘Photo Gallery’.

Northern Ireland Civil Service XC (Stormont):

On Saturday 23rd February 2013, hundreds of athletes and spectators descended on Stormont Estate, Belfast for the annual Northern Ireland Civil Service Cross Country event.


On arrival, there was an obvious buzz in the air.  This could possibly be attributed to the beautiful crisp morning and the vast array of sports taking place around the Civil Service Sports Pavilion.  It is nice to see the government owned grounds, and the brilliant facilities being used by a variety of associations.


Due to the adverse weather conditions over the past few months, organisers were forced to alter the course, moving it onto trails instead the usual cross country route.  Despite this, the race will count as a cross country event for the purposes of the Athletics NI Cross Country League and the Northern Ireland Masters Athletic Association Cross Country League.


After having a good ‘natter’ with Norman Bissett (NIMAA), John Glover (Lagan Valley AC), David Seaton (ANI Chairman) and Joe Quinn (Mr East Down AC) I made my way towards the well attended and quite obviously competitive junior races.  In my opinion, these races always add a family atmosphere to an event, and also provide a good insight into the country’s junior running scene.


In the Primary School boys and girls 1,290m race; Cathal Brennan (3 Ways AC) and Aeda Stewart (Broadbridge PS) celebrated victory in the respective categories.  Cathal crossed the line in 4:27, while Aeda won her race in 4:37.


Next up were the U-13 boys and girls for their 2,580m race.  Willowfield Harriers’ future star Desire Bamisile claimed a comfortable victory in the boys event, clocking an impressive 7:26.  In the girls race, another of Northern Ireland’s top prospects; Emma Hutchinson (Ballymena & Antrim) ran 7:47 to win clearly.  In the U-15 3,870m event; North Belfast Harriers recorded their first victory of the day, after young Conor McQuillan led the boys home in 10:01.  Lois Hagen (Willowfield Harriers) won the girls was the first girl home in 11:13.


In the final junior race of the day, the U-17 boys and girls 3,870m race, Odhran Copeland (Beechmount Harriers) ran well to win, breaking the tape in 9:43.  In the girl’s equivalent, Sarah Lambert (St Peter’s AC) claimed a well-deserved victory in 12:07.


After the junior races had been completed, race officials; which including the familiar faces of Joe Quinn (East Down AC) and Margaret Mathieson (ANI and ‘parkrun’ volunteer) directed the senior and veteran athletes further up the famous Stormont drive-way to the senior/veteran start line, which had a stunning back drop, in the form of Parliament Buildings.


Both the men’s and ladies races set off together, with the men completing a four lap 8km course and the ladies completing a two lap 4.5km course.  As the horn sounded, the runners set off down the drive-way away from Parliament Buildings before taking a sharp left turn onto the newly layed trails.


The ladies race proved to be a close affair, with Patricia O’Hagan (St Peter’s AC), Claire Connor (North Belfast Harriers), Jessica Craig (North Down AC), Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC), Gillian Wasson (Springwell Running Club), Alex Kirk (Springwell Running Club) and Stephanie Hambling (North Down AC) all in contention.

It appears that the leading ladies (mentioned above) covered the course so quickly that the marshalls did not have time to take down tape allowing them access to the final stretch, so at least the first six had the extra obstacle of a steeple-chase style jump barrier prior to entering the home straight along the Stormont drive-way. 


In the end, it was one of the cross country season’s star performers, Patricia O’Hagan (St Peter’s AC) who opened up an uncatchable lead, sealing victory in 15:39.  North Belfast Harriers’ Claire Connor (15:46) claimed a well-deserved 2nd place, while Catherine Whoriskey (15:59) took 3rd place ahead of North Down AC’s Jessica Craig (4th Place – 16:12).  Springwell Running Club duo, Gillian Wasson (16:16) and Alexandra Kirk (16:20), both of whom are running well at the moment, took 5th place and 6th place respectively.


Stephanie Hambling (North Down AC) followed in 16:34 (7th place), before Clones AC’s Helen Stockdale crossed the line in 16:40 (8th place).  Another of the Springwell Running Club ladies, Alison Ranking finished in 16:43 (9th place), just five seconds ahead of City of Derry AC’s Hannah Shields (16:48) who completed the top ten.  The good packing of the aforementioned Springwell Running Club ladies meant that they took the ladies team prize.


As the final female competitors were approaching the finish line, the first male athlete appeared; it was no surprise to see that it was North Belfast Harriers’ Alan O’Hara.  After leading from the off, and putting on an impressive display of front running, Alan ran to an excellent victory.  He crossed the line in 24:57, well clear of his closest competitors; Andrew Annett (Mourne Runners) and Gary Slevin (City of Derry AC) who were locked in an enthralling battle for the runners-up spot.

Andrew had been running well and was in second place for most of the race, but a patient Gary left his move until the final stages and passed Andrew within touching distance of the finish line.  A tired, but happy Gary Slevin recorded 25:38 (2nd place), while Andrew Annett finished in 25:39 (3rd place).


Up and coming Springwell Running Club star Neil Johnston was next home in 25:41(4th place), a mere one second ahead of Chris McPeake (City of Derry AC) who ran 25:42 (5th place).  Chris’ club mate Nick Cassidy followed in 25:47 (6th place), before North Belfast Harriers’ Andrew Considine recorded 25:55 (7th place).  Francis Marsh (8th place - 25:57) came in just under twenty six minutes, while North Belfast Harriers duo Eddie Cooke (9th place – 26:01) and Paul Blayney (10th place – 26:08) completed the top ten.  City of Derry AC won the male team prize.


Francis Marsh (North Down AC) and Gillian Wasson (Springwell Running Club) were the first civil servants in their respective categories, and both led the Northern Ireland Civil Service team to the ‘Sevices Team’ awards.


Primary School Race (1,290m) Winners:

Cathal Brennan (3 Ways AC) – 4:27 and Aeda Stewart (Broadbridge PS) – 4:37


U-13 Race (2,580m) Winners:

Desire Bamisile (Willowfield Harriers) – 7:26 and Emma Hutchinson (Ballymena & Antrim AC) – 7:47


U-15 Race (3,870m) Winners:

Conor McQuillan (North Belfast Harriers) – 10:01 and Lois Hagen (Willowfield Harriers) – 11:13


U-17 Race (3,870m) Winners:

Odhran Copeland (Beechmount Harriers) – 9:43 and Sarah Lambert (St Peter’s AC) – 12:07


Men’s Top 10 (8km):

1st Alan O’Hara (North Belfast Harriers) – 24:57, 2nd Gary Slevin (City of Derry AC) – 25:38, 3rd Andrew Annett (Mourne Runners) – 25:39, 4th Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) – 25:41, 5th Chris McPeake (City of Derry AC) – 25:42, 6th Nick Cassidy (City of Derry AC) – 25:47. 7th Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers) – 25:55, 8th Francis Marsh (North Down AC) – 25:57, 9th Eddie Cooke (North Belfast Harriers) – 26:01, 10th Paul Blayney (North Belfast Harriers) – 26:08


Ladies Top 10 (4.5km):

1st Patricia O’Hagan (St Peter’s AC) – 15:39, 2nd Claire Connor (North Belfast Harriers) – 15:46, 3rd Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) – 15:59, 4th Jessica Craig (North Down AC) – 16:14, 5th Gillian Wasson (Springwell Running Club) – 16:16, 6th Alexandra Kirk (Springwell Running Club) – 16:20, 7th Stephanie Hambling (North Down AC) – 16:34, 8th Helen Stockdale (Clones AC) – 16:40, 9th Alison Rankin (Springwell Running Club) – 16:43, 10th Hannah Shields (City of Derry AC) – 16:48


Full Results:  Stormont XC 2013 Results -  Race photographs available in our ‘Photo Gallery’ section.

NI & Ulster Junior and Masters XC (Lurgan):

On Saturday 26th January 2013, record numbers turned out for this years Northern Ireland & Ulster Junior and Masters Cross Country Championships in Lurgan Park, Lurgan.


The entry criteria means that any athlete who has won the NI Junior XC Championships, UAC Intermediate XC Championships, AAI Intermediate XC Championships as an individual or part of the winning team; or has been placed 1st or 2nd as an individual or part of a team in the NI Senior XC Championships, UAC Senior XC Championships or the AAI Senior XC Championships cannot participate in the ‘Intermediate’ Women’s or ‘Junior/Intermediate’ Men’s races.


The event, organised by Athletics Northern Ireland attracted well over five hundred competitors.  In cool conditions, athletes came up against a damp and heavy 2km looped course, which worsened as the racing programme progressed.


On arrival, I managed to catch part of the Male Masters (Vet 35+) 8km race, and it was the pre-race favourite, Dave Morwood (Annadale Striders) who impressed most.  Running strongly, he was a prominent figure at the front before breaking clear in the closing stages to claim a well-deserved victory in 28:18, making him the new NI & Ulster Masters XC Champion.  Letterkenny AC’s Ciaran Doherty (28:37) took 2nd place, while North Belfast Harriers’ Alan O’Hara (28:50) held off a strong challenge from Ballymena Runners Iain Taggart (4th place – 28:56) to finish in 3rd place. 


North Belfast Harriers duo Eamon White (29:17) and Neil Carty (29:22) finished in 5th place and 6th place respectively, before Annadale Striders’ Mark Wright clocked 29:41 (7th place).  Francis Marsh (North Down AC) completed the course in 30:00 exactly (8th place), just ahead of Paul Blayney (9th place - 30:07) who ensured that North Belfast Harriers were crowned NI & Ulster Masters XC Champions.  Finn Valley AC’s Kieran Carlin (30:12) completed the top ten Masters Men.


Next up were the Junior/Intermediate and Masters Women for their 4km race, despite being a commentator’s nightmare because of the fact that there were ‘three races in one’ it was an exciting event.  As the athletes set off, Denise Toner (Clones AC) moved to the front straight away, she was followed by Donna Evans (Monaghan Phoenix AC), with Omagh Harriers duo Sara Moore and Michelle Sturm just behind.  Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) and Emma Mitchell (Unattached) also started well.


As the race progressed, Michelle Sturm caught her club mate Sara Moore, while Elaine Burch (Lagan Valley AC) and Catriona Devine (Finn Valley AC) worked their way through the field and into the chasing pack.


As the runners descended from the wooded section of the course towards the finish, it was Clones AC’s Denise Toner who came into view first.  She quickly made her way towards the finishing straight and crossed the line in 16:47 to seal an impressive victory.   Monaghan Phoenix AC’s Donna Evans (16:51) took 2nd place, with Omagh Harriers’ Michelle Sturm (16:54) in 3rd place.  Sara Moore (17:04) was next home in 4th place before a train of athletes finished; including Finn Valley AC’s Catriona Devine (5th place – 17:17), Lagan Valley AC’s Elaine Burch (6th place – 17:22), North Down AC’s Rachel Gibson (7th place – 17:26), Finn Valley AC’s Angela Speight (8th place – 17:30), Inishowen AC’s Evelyn McGinley (9th place - 17:31) and Springwell Running Club’s Gillian Wasson (10th place – 17:32) made up the top ten finishers.


In-turn, Denise Toner was crowned winner of the Intermediate Women’s race, with Omagh Harriers duo Michelle Sturm (16:54) and Sara Moore (17:04) taking 2nd and 3rd place respectively.  Springwell Running Club won the Intermediate team race.


Donna Evans’ (Monaghan Phoenix AC) won the Masters Ladies category in 16:51, while Catriona Devine (Finn Valley AC) took 2nd place in 17:17.  Inishowen AC’s Evelyn McGinley claimed the final podium place when she crossed the line in 17:31.  In the Masters Women team standings, Finn Valley AC celebrated victory.


In the competitive IAAF Junior Women’s Race, last years winner Sara Moore (Omagh Harriers) retained her title.  The Northern Ireland International ran a gutsy race, staying close to the front throughout and finishing in 17:04.  Lagan Valley AC’s Elaine Burch (17:22) finished in 2nd place, with Springwell Running Club’s Alex Kirk (17:57) in 3rd place.


In the Male Masters Vet65+ Category, ran within the Women’s 4km race, North Down AC’s Brian Smith (19:14) and David Seaton (19:29) claimed 1st place and 2nd place respectively, with Dromore AC’s Willie Weir (20:05) in 3rd place.


As the rain began to fall, and the course became even more slippy, the Junior/Intermediate Men set off on their five lap 10km race.  Brendan Teer (East Down AC) made his intentions clear from the off, surging to the front of the field. 


He was pursued by Ryan McDermott (Annadale Striders), Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC), Gerard Gallagher (Finn Valley AC), Conan McCaughey (Enniskillen Running Club), James Speight (Finn Valley AC) and Adam Boyd (North Belfast Harriers).


In truth, that was probably the most the front runners saw of Brendan, as he continued to push the pace relentlessly.  Behind him, Annadale Striders’ Ryan McDermott was forced to withdraw due to injury.  At this point some of the chasing pack were beginning to tire, this allowed Adam Boyd to work his way through to join Gerard Gallagher at the front of it. 


Foyle Valley AC’s Puis McIntyre also ran a tactically good race, like Adam; he didn’t push excessively hard at the start and progressively worked his way through the heavy legged runners.  As Brendan Teer continued his exciting display of front running, Adam (Boyd) and Gerard (Gallagher) began to break clear of the now wavering chasing group.  Younsters, Conan McCaughey, James Speight and Ryan Holt were holding on well while Pius McIntyre had now overtaken his club mates Scott Rankin and Keith Shiels.


As the chilled spectators watched for the runners appearing from highest section of the park, it was indeed the impressive Brendan Teer who came into view first, finishing well clear of his opponents in 36:17, thus he was crowned as NI & Ulster Junior XC Champion. 


Meanwhile, behind the East Down AC athlete the race for second place was hotting up.  Adam Boyd and Gerard Gallagher were battling amongst themselves for the silver medal.  As they approached the finish, it was Adam who put in a late surge to edge clear and take 2nd place in 36:58.  Finn Valley AC’s Gerard Gallagher (37:02) settled for an excellent 3rd place. 


James Speight (Finn Valley AC) just pipped Conan McCaughey (Enniskillen Running Club) to the line, to claim 4th place; although both were given the same time of 37:25.  With Conan McCaughey in 5th place, all eyes were on another young runner, Willowfield Harriers’ Ryan Holt (37:42) as he secured a well-deserved 6th place.


Foyle Valley AC duo Pius McIntyre (37:45) and Keith Shiels (37:49) finished in 7th and 8th place respectively, before Dromore AC’s Andrew Hicks (37:52) beat City of Derry AC’s Nick Cassidy (10th place - 37:53) to 9th place by a mere one second.


Nick was the first of the City of Derry AC team to finish, and despite Foyle Valley AC and Finn Valley AC having numerous finishers in high places it was City of Derry AC who claimed an excellent victory in the Junior/Intermediate team competition.  Although the whole team deserve credit for their performance on the day, the counting team members were; Nick Cassidy (10th place – 37:53), James Brown (12th place – 38:20), Brendan Murphy (14th place – 38:31), Chris McPeake (18th place – 39:17), Connor Doherty (31st place – 40:15) and Gary Slevin (35th place – 40:36).


The record entry and amount of support around the course suggests that Cross Country running is regaining the popularity it enjoyed through earlier years.  This must partially be credited to the Athletics NI XC League and also the exciting courses on offer throughout the province.  In years gone by, Lurgan Park was often used for major Cross Country events such as this, so it was fantastic to see competitive racing return to the scenic park.


Results Summary:

Masters Men (Vet35+):  1st Dave Morwood (Annadale Striders) – 28:18, 2nd Ciaran Doherty (Letterkenny AC) – 28:37, 3rd Alan O’Hara (North Belfast Harriers) – 28:50

Team Winners:  North Belfast Harriers


Masters Women:  1st Donna Evans (Monaghan Phoenix AC) – 16:51, 2nd Catriona Devine (Finn Valley AC) – 17:17, 3rd Evelyn McGinley (Inishowen AC) – 17:31.

Team Winners:  Finn Valley AC


Intermediate Women:  1st Denise Toner (Clones AC) – 16:47, 2nd Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers) – 16:54, 3rd Sara Moore (Omagh Harriers) – 17:04

Team Winners:  Springwell Running Club


Junior Women:  1st Sara Moore (Omagh Harriers) – 17:04, 2nd Elaine Burch (Lagan Valley AC) – 17:22, 3rd Alex Kirk (Springwell Running Club) – 17:57


Junior/Intermediate Men:  1st Brendan Teer (East Down AC) – 36:17, 2nd Adam Boyd (North Belfast Harriers) – 36:58, 3rd Gerard Gallagher (Finn Valley AC) – 37:02

Team Winners:  City of Derry AC


Full ResultsNI & Ulster Junior and Masters Championships 2013


Race Photographs are located with our ‘Photo Gallery’.  We would like to apologise in advance for the lack of quality in some of the photographs, this was due to camera problems (in the wet conditions).

Castlewellan Christmas Cracker:

On Saturday 29th December 2012, Newcastle AC hosted the 29th running of the annual Castlewellan Christmas Cracker (previously known as the Comber Christmas Cracker).

On arrival, there was distinct festive atmosphere around the registration area.  Athletes exchanged Christmas pleasantries and discussed what footwear would be most suitable for the mixed terrain course.  Once the final decisions were made, it was down to the hot topic of team tactics before heading towards the slightly cramped start area.

In cold, blustery conditions a total of 315 teams started the race, proving just how popular the festive event has become.  This could partly be accredited to the good organising and post-race refreshments, as well as the fun aspect of having to finish the 10 mile (approximate distance) race with your chosen partner.

As the runners set off, pre-race favourites; Brendan Teer (East Down AC) – Liam Venney (East Down AC), Gary O’Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers) – Brian Mc Cluskey (North East Runners) and David Mc Neilly (Newcastle AC) – Luke Mc Mullan lead the field towards Castlewellan ‘square’.

At the 4 mile mark, just as the runners headed out onto the main road and towards Castlewellan Forest Park, Liam Venney had a clear lead.  Obviously he and Brendan had opted for the ‘I run on ahead and you can catch me towards the end’ tactic. Gary O’Hanlon and Brian Mc Cluskey followed, with Brendan Teer hot on their heels, while local men David Mc Neilly and Luke Mc Mullan seemed to be cruising in 3rd place.  Deon Mc Neilly (Newcastle AC) - Eamonn Mc Crickard (Newcastle AC), Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers) – Paul Blayney (North Belfast Harriers) and Niall Gorham (North East Runners) – Barry Mc Geen (North East Runners) followed.

The ‘mixed team’ of Martin Rea and Gladys Ganiel O’Neill, both of North Belfast Harriers were well in the mix, with their club mates Jim Benson and Gareth Grew just behind, both of whom were ahead of their respective partners; Stephen Walker and Brendan Grew.  Meanwhile, in the ‘ladies team’ race, Lagan Valley AC duo Catriona Mc Corkell and Julie Murphy had a clear lead over their nearest rival Stpehanie Hambling and Debbie Matchett, both from North Down AC.

On entering the tough forest section, places changed, shoes were lost, wrong turns were taken and numerous battles ensued, before the first runners came into sight.  With a clear lead it was Liam Venney who entered the final field in 1st place, on making his way around the difficult, leg sapping loop he was clearly looking behind to see were his partner Brendan Teer was.  

Thankfully, Brendan wasn’t too far behind and he joined up with Liam on the run in to seal an impressive victory, crossing the line in an excellent 59:38, thus retaining the title they won so impressively last year.  

Next home, in 2nd place was the unhappy North East Runners’ duo Gary O’Hanlon and Brian Mc Cluskey who recorded 1:00:52 after allegedly being sent the wrong direction somewhere in Castlewellan Forest.  The host club’s David Mc Neilly and Luke Mc Mullan completed the podium finishers in 1:01:43 before North Belfast duo Neil Carty and Paul Blayney sealed 4th place in 1:03:49.
Outstanding winners of the mixed team category were North Belfast Harriers’ Martin Rea and   Gladys Ganiel O’Neill, their 1:04:10 finish was enough to secure a 5th place finish overall, while Justin Maxwell (Larne AC) – Iain Taggart (Ballymena Runners) took 6th place in 1:04:32.

Deon Mc Neilly (Newcastle AC) and partner Eamon Mc Crickard (Newcastle AC) were next to cross the line in 1:04:49 (7th place) before bothers Gareth and Brendan Grew clocked 1:05:19 (8th place), just ahead of Nigel Mc Kibbin (Dromore AC) and Pete Murtagh (Dromore AC) who ran 1:05:22 (9th place).  North East Runners’ Niall Gorham and Barry Mc Geen completed the top ten finishers in 1:05:26.

As teams continued to finish and runners began to fill the ‘waiting pen’, eagerly awaiting the arrival of their partners, North East Runners’ Shane Jordan and Mary Laverty (1:10:27) finished in 25th place overall, taking 2nd place in the ‘mixed team’ competition, while Lagan Valley AC’s Shileen O’Kane and Jason Radcliffe secured 3rd place in 1:11:22 (31st place overall).

In the ‘ladies team’ race, pre-race favourites Catriona Mc Corkell (Lagan Valley AC) and club mate Julie Murphy celebrated an excellent victory, clocking 1:16:42 (57th place overall).  North Down AC’s Stephanie Hambling and Debbie Matchett  (1:18:53) finished in 2nd place (74th place overall), while Denise Mathers (Newry City Runners) and Mary Mackin (Dromore AC) crossed the line in 1:22:15 to take 3rd place (84th place overall).

After the race, athletes and supporters were invited back to the Castlewellan GAC club house for some home-made soup and accompanying bread rolls.  Given the cold conditions, this was greatly appreciated, especially by supporters.  

What NiRunning think:  It is easy to see why the race has grown to become one of the highlights of the Northern Ireland racing calendar, the hospitality and organisation of Newcastle AC was extremely impressive.  A few people complained (some more annoyed than others!) about either being misdirected within the forest or being confused by the directions but given the festive, fun aspect of the race I think it’s more important to remember how much effort and planning it takes to put on such an event, especially at this time of the year.

Top 5 Mens Teams:  1st Liam Venney (East Down AC) & Brendan Teer (East Down AC) – 59:38, 2nd Gary O’Hanlon (North East Runners) & Brian Mc Cluskey (North East Runners) – 1:00:52, 3rd Luke Mc Mullan (Newcastle AC) & David Mc Neilly (Newcastle AC) – 1:01:43, 4th Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers) & Paul Blayney (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:03:49, 5th Justin Maxwell (Larne AC) & Iain Taggart (Ballymena Runners) – 1:04:32

Top 5 Ladies Teams:  1st Catriona Mc Corkell (Lagan Valley AC) & Julie Murphy (Lagan Valley AC) – 1:16:42, 2nd Stephanie Hambling (North Down AC) & Debbie Matchett (North Down AC) – 1:18:53, 3rd Denise Mathers (Newry City Runners) & Mary Mackin (Dromore AC) – 1:22:15, 4th Joanne Curran BARF) & Taryn Mc Coy (BARF) – 1:22:21, 5th Emily Legg (Wetherby Runners) & Elaine Burch (Lagan Valley AC) – 1:25:15

Top 5 Mixed Teams:  1st Martin Rea (North Belfast Harriers) & Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:04:10, 2nd Shane Jordan (North East Runners) & Mary Laverty (North East Runners) – 1:10:27, 3rd Jason Radcliffe (Lagan Valley AC) & Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – 1:11:22, 4th Mark Alexander (Ballymena Runners) & Gillian Wasson (Springwell Running Club) – 1:11:53, 5th Brian Darby (Lunchtime Legends) & Anne Sandford (Lagan Valley AC) – 1:16:01

Men’s Team Category Winners (with overall placing):
MU70:  Liam Venney (East Down AC) & Brendan Teer (East Down AC) - 59:38 (1st place)
M70-79:  Brian McCluskey (North East Runners) & Gary O’Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers) – 1:00:52 (2nd place)
M80-89:  Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers) & Paul Blaney (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:03:49 (4th place)
M90-99:  Deon McNeilly (Newcastle AC) & Eamon McCrickard (Newcastle AC) – 1:04:49 (7th place)
M100-109:  George Shields (North East Runners) & Eamonn McMahon (North East Runners) – 1:09:49 (24th place)
M110-119:  Dominic McGreevy (Newcastle AC) & Hugh Ross (Unattached) – 1:20:23 (77th place)
M120+:  Ricky Cowan (Mourne Runners) & Willie John Brown (Mourne Runners) – 1:30:38 (139th place)

Ladies Team Category Winners (with overall placing):
FU70:  Catriona McCorkell (Lagan Valley AC) & Julie Murphy (Lagan Valley AC) – 1:16:42 (57th place)
F70-79:  Wendy McClean (Banbridge AC) & Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC) – 1:29:41 (132nd place)
F80-89:  Joanne Curran (BARF) & Taryn McCoy (BARF) – 1:22:21 (85th place)
F90-99:  Stephanie Hamblin (North Down AC) & Debbie Matchett (North Down AC) – 1:18:53 (74th place)
F100-109:  Denise Mathers ( Newry City Runners) & Mary Mackin (Dromore AC) – 1:12:15 (84th place)
F110-119:  Eileen Jordan (North East Runners) & Colette O’Hagan (North East Runners) – 2:09:27 (284th place)

Mixed Team Category Winners (with overall placing):
MXU70:  Shane Jordan (North East Runners) & Mary Laverty (North East Runners) – 1:10:28 (25th place)
MV70-79:  Martin Rea (North Belfast Harriers) & Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:04:12 (5th place)
MX80-89:  Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) & Jason Ratcliffe (Lagan Valley AC) – 1:11:22 (31st place)
MX90-99:  Anne Sandford (Lagan Valley AC) & Brian Darby (Lunchtime Legends) – 1:16:01 (54th place)
MX100-109:  Valerie McDonough (North Down AC) & Michael Roberts (North Down AC) – 1:33:05 (160th)
MX110-119:  Joe Quinn (East Down AC) & Iryana Kennedy (Lagan Valley AC) – 1:55:51 (267th place)
MX120+:  Paula O’Reilly (Orangegrove AC) & Hugh Young (Orangegrove AC) – 1:45:52 (234th place)

Full Results:  Castlewellan Christmas Cracker 2012 Results.  

We have also uploaded over 200 race photographs to our ‘Photo Gallery’.  These pictures were taken by ourselves, Bill Gullier, Brian O’Neill and Dave Goddard.

   Podium 4 Sport Seeley Cup 10km Road Race:

On Saturday 17th November 2012, nearly 1000 runners gathered for what is traditionally viewed as the final race of the road racing season, the Podium 4 Sport Seeley Cup 10km Road Race, incorporating the Northern Ireland 10km Championships.


Covered in winter sunshine, Ormeau Park was buzzing as the runners ventured towards the start line on the Embankment.  After a short delay the runners set off on the 6.21 mile course, covering the roads and paths in and around the park.  Spectators scurried towards the inner sections of the park to catch a glimpse of the provinces talent as they made their way around the two and a half lap course.


In the opening lap, Annadale Striders trio; Paul Pollock, Paddy Hamilton and Owen Carelton featured prominently, as did Foyle Valley AC’s Scott Rankin.  Meanwhile, Kerry Harty (Newcastle AC) led the ladies through 3km, with Julie Turley (Dromore AC) and Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) just behind.


Unfortunately, Julie was forced to withdraw a short time later with a painful stitch.  This left Gladys (17:17) in second place behind Kerry (16:56) going through half way, with North Belfast Harriers’ Claire Connor (18:41) in third place, just ahead of Finn Valley AC’s Angela Speight (18:46), North Down AC’s Jessica Craig (18:50), Armagh City AC’s Danielle Fegan (18:55) and unattached athlete Claire Coffey (19:01).


In the men’s race, Paul Pollock (15:28), Paddy Hamilton (15:28) and Owen Carleton (15:29) were just ahead of Foyle Valley AC’s Scott Rankin going through 5km.  A group containing Alan O’Hara (North Belfast Harriers), Brendan Teer (East Down AC) and Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers) went through half way in just over 16 minutes, while Ballymena & Antrim AC’s Jarlath Falls (16:13), North Belfast Harriers new boy Adam Boyd (16:13), Finn Valley AC’s James Speight (16:20) and Annadale Striders’ Keith Purdy (16:23) followed.


As the expectant crowds gathered their belongings and moved towards the finish line, discussing whether the 30 minute barrier would be broken, despite the strong breeze on the Embankment, it was Annadale Striders Paul Pollock who veered off the main pathway and towards the finish.   He celebrated as he crossed the line in 30:40 to take 1st place, and with it the honour of being Northern Ireland 10km Champion, adding to his already bulging trophy cabinet which includes the National Half Marathon and National Marathon titles!


Club mate Paddy Hamilton (2nd place - 30:49) finished a mere nine seconds behind, with the outstanding Scott Rankin (31:38) taking 3rd place after producing the performance of his life.  Owen Carelton (31:43) took 4th place, while Alan O’Hara ran 32:10 to secure 5th place.  Club mate, Eamon White (32:12) finished in 6th place, while Brendan Teer clocked 32:17 to take 7th place.  Jarlath Falls ran 32:44 (8th place), ahead of Adam Boyd (32:51) and Keith Purdy (33:04) who finished in 9th and 10th place respectively.


In the ladies race, exceptional athlete Kerry Harty, just home from altitude training in Font-Romeu ran strongly through the second half, increasing her lead and taking the ladies 10km title in a personal best time of 34:23.  Gladys Ganiel O’Neill took 2nd place in 34:58, while her club mate Claire Connor (37:50) produced an excellent performance to finish in 3rd place.  Finn Valley’s Angela Speight (38:08) took 4th place, while North Down AC’s current cross country star Jessica Craig (38:20) finished in 5th place.


Armagh AC’s Danielle Fegan secured 6th place after running 38:41, while unattached athlete Ciara Coffey (38:59) completed an impressive season with a 7th place finish.  North Down AC’s Julie Balmer (39:22) returned to racing after her sub 3 hour Dublin Marathon  finish to take 8th place, while her North Down AC club mate, and another lady who is featuring well in recent cross country races, Rachel Gibson crossed the line in 39:26 (9th place).  Dromore AC’s Geraldine Branagh completed the top ten ladies after running 39:30 (10th place).


After a nervous wait, Annadale Striders were awarded the Seeley Cup for the twenty seventh time, after seeing off a strong challenge from North Belfast Harriers.  North Belfast Harriers did have cause to celebrate though, as their ladies were awarded the female team prize.


Participants received a much appreciated bottle of water on finishing, this coupled with the decent technical t-shirt provided in the race pack would be no more than expected for the reasonable entry fee.


Top 10 Men:  1st Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) – 30:40, 2nd Paddy Hamilton (Annadale Striders) – 30:49, 3rd Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 31:38, 4th Owen Carelton (Annadale Striders) – 31:43, 5th Alan O’Hara (North Belfast Harriers) – 32:10, 6th Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers) – 32:12, Brendan Teer (East Down AC) – 32:17, Jarlath Falls (Ballymena & Antrim AC) – 32:44, Adam Boyd (North Belfast Harriers) – 32:51, Keith Purdy (Annadale Striders) – 33:04


Top 10 Ladies:  1st Kerry Harty (Newcastle AC) – 34:28, 2nd Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) – 34:58, 3rd Claire Connor (North Belfast Harriers) – 37:50, 4th Angela Speight (Finn Valley) – 38:08, 5th Jessica Craig (North Down AC), 6th Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC) – 38:41, 7th Ciara Coffey (Unattached) – 38:59, 8th Julie Balmer (North Down AC) – 39:22, 9th Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) – 39:26, 10th Geraldine Branagh (Dromore AC) – 39:30


Full Results:  Podium 4 Sport Seeley Cup 10km Road Race Results 2012.  Please see our ‘Gallery’ and Gareth Heron photography for race photographs.

Gr8 Dundrum Run:

On Saturday 20th October 2012, nearly eight hundred runners brought the County Down village of Dundrum to a standstill, as the third annual running of the Murlough AC organised, Gr8 Dundrum Run took place.  The stunning 8 mile course, took competitors through the Murlough Nature Reserve and across a section of Murlough Beach before returning to the village and atmospheric finish area.


Conditions were almost perfect, bright but with a chill in the air and a light breeze.  Prior to the event, organisers had offered to double the prize money for the winner of each race if they broke the course records set by Brendan Teer and Cathy McCourt last year, but with a stipulation; the male record had to be beaten by two minutes and female by one minute.


The welcoming atmosphere at the event was added to by the pre-race ‘banter’ from guest, UTV presenter, Pamela Ballentine, who encouraged participants to get involved in a warm up, led by current female record holder Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers).  Unfortunately Cathy was unable to race due to injury but made sure that those who were, reached the start line ready to compete.


East Down AC’s Brendan Teer was expected to retain the crown he won so impressively last year, and did not disappoint.  As Pamela set the runners off, Brendan immediately moved to the front.  He was joined briefly at the head of the field by Phil Wood (Unattached), David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC), Martin Rea (North Belfast Harriers) and Paul Carlin (St Johns AC), but by the time the group reached the 2 mile marker, Brendan had already opened a thirty second gap.


After the main event had begun, it was the turn of the enthusiastic junior runners to take to the closed Main Street.  Approximately 50-60 children of various ages participated in the three races, after which, each competitor received a well-deserved medal before having their pictures taken by proud parents and the waiting media.


Meanwhile, in the main race, the men were approaching 3 miles, and Brendan was out of sight.  Phil Wood led the chasing group, with David O’Flaherty, Paul Carlin and Martin Rea close behind.


In the ladies race, pre-race favourite Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers) was creating a similar story to that of her male counterpart.  As she went through the 3 mile marker, there was no other lady in sight.  Shileen O’Kane passed next, with Sinead Murtagh (Castlewellan AC) and Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) in tow.  Lagan Valley duo, Anne Sandford and Hazel McLaughlin followed.


As the men continued relentlessly, there were no major changes in position.  However, the ladies race proved different.  In the following miles, Sinead Murtagh was caught and passed by Hazel McLaughlin and Anne Sandford.  As the ladies went through 6.5 miles Hazel (46:27) had progressed further, catching Diane Watson (46:27). She was now in a battle for third position, behind Karen Alexander and Shileen O’Kane. 


Anne Sandford (46:31) was also closing in on Diane Watson.  East Antrim Harriers’ Jennifer Ashby (47:25) had overtaken the tiring Sinead Murtagh (47:28), who was just holding off the impressive Ruth Little (City of Lisburn AC).


Brendan Teer reached 7 miles in approximately 39:20 and was cruising to victory, while Phil Wood (41:18) had moved clear of Martin Rea (41:44) and David O’Flaherty (41:44), who in-turn had dropped their earlier acquaintance, Paul Carlin and were battling for the final podium place.


As the crowds, entertained by birthday girl Pamela Ballentine, eagerly awaited the return of the athletes, it was indeed the impressive Brendan Teer who entered the long finishing straight first.  As the crowds cheered, he quickly covered the remaining yards, crossing the line in a new course record of 44:47.  Phil Wood was next into view, taking 2nd place in 46:49, with North Belfast Harriers’ Martin Rea (47:00) in 3rd place, just ahead of Newcastle AC’s David O’Flaherty (47:05). 


Paul Carlin (47:52) continued his excellent run, finishing in 5th place, while Bryan Young (Unattached) clocked 48:03 (6th place).  Another Unattached athlete, Brendan Grew took 7th place in 48:09, before East Down AC’s Barry Atkinson crossed the line in 48:26 (8th place).  Barry’s East Down AC club mate, Martin Wilcox (48:48) finished in 9th place, just four seconds ahead of Seamus Lynch (48:52), who completed the top ten.


In the ladies race, Karen Alexander continued her early pace, and gradually increased the gap between herself and the closest competitors, before finishing well clear, breaking the female course record in 52:03.  Shileen O’Kane took 2nd place in 56:26, with Lagan Valley club mate Hazel McLaughlin (57:41) in 3rd place.


Anne Sandford (57:44) passed Diane Watson (58:04 – 5th place) to take 4th place, with Jennifer Ashby next home in 58:21 (6th place).  Ruth Little secured 7th place, crossing the line in 58:51, just ahead of Sinead Murtagh, who recorded 59:01 (8th place).  North Belfast Harriers’ Helen Weir (9th place - 59:21) and local lady, Donna McCusker (59:48) of Murlough AC completed the top ten.


After the race, each competitor was presented with a commemorative medal and a goody bag, before making their way to the local church hall for the prize-giving and generous array of refreshments.


Top 10 Men:  1st Brendan Teer (East Down AC) – 44:47, 2nd Phil Wood (Unattached) – 46:49, 3rd Martin Rea (North Belfast Harriers) – 47:00, 4th David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) – 47:05, 5th Paul Carlin (St Johns AC) – 47:52, 6th Bryan Young (Unattached) – 48:03, 7th Brendan Grew (Unattached) – 48:09, 8th Barry Atkinson (East Down AC) – 48:26, 9th Martin Wilcox (East Down AC) – 48:48, 10th Seamus Lynch (Unattached) – 48:52


Top 10 Ladies:  1st Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers) – 52:03, 2nd Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – 56:26, 3rd Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) – 57:41, 4th Anne Sandford (Lagan Valley AC) – 57:44, 5th Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) – 58:04, 6th Jennifer Ashby (East Antrim Harriers) – 58:21, 7th Ruth Little (City of Lisburn AC) – 58:51, 8th Sinead Murtagh (Castlewellan AC) – 59:01, 9th Helen Weir (North Belfast Harriers) – 59:21, 10th Donna McCusker (Murlough AC) – 59:48


Full Results:  Gr8 Dundrum Run 2012 Results.  Please see our 'Photo Gallery' for race photographs.

'Aurora' Bangor 10k:

On Saturday 29th September 2012, despite blustery conditions, nearly one thousand runners descended on Bangor Leisure Centre for the ‘Aurora’ Bangor 10k, sponsored by North Down Council and organised in conjunction with North Down AC.


Thankfully, neither the predicted road works nor the queues of traffic east of Belfast affected participants travelling from the County Antrim direction.  On entering the registration hall, nearly ninety minutes before the race there was an obvious buzz, complimented by a friendly and welcoming registration team. 


Groups of charity runners discussed suitable paces, while the more experienced runners were more interested in race tactics and possible finish times.  All in all, things were set for an exciting race.


As the crowds gathered in Castle Park for the start of the race, top quality late entrants were indentified.  Amongst these were former Irish half Marathon Champion, Joe Mc Alister (St Malachy’s AC) and current, recently crowned Irish Half Marathon Champion Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders). 


They were joined by Brendan Teer (East Down AC), Stephen Rooney (St Malachy’s AC) and  North Belfast Harriers’ duo Alan O’Hara and Gareth Grew.  While in the ladies race, North Belfast Harriers’ Claire Connor and Gladys Ganiel O’Neill joined pre-entered local ladies Jessica Craig, Julie Balmer and Rachel Gibson (all North Down AC)


Race director and North Down AC legend, David Seaton spoke enthusiastically about the race ahead and of his happiness that so many participants had been attracted to the race. 


As the horn sounded, pre-race favourites Joe McAlister and Paul Pollock showed their intent, immediately surging clear of the field, followed by what seemed to be an endless stream of runners.  As the athletes made their way downhill, through the town centre and out onto the Groomsport Road alongside Bangor Bay, supporters walked quickly towards the finish area in the stunning Ward Park.


By the time front runners  had reached half way, close to Groomsport village Paul Pollock (15:02) had broken clear of Joe McAlister (15:07), albeit by just a few seconds,  while talented North Belfast Harriers’ Alan O’Hara (16:04) and North Down AC’s Michael Dyer (16:04) led the chasing pack.  Brendan Teer (East Down AC) and Stephen Rooney (St Malachy’s AC) followed in 16:12 and 16:16 respectively.


Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (17:41) led North Down AC’s Jessica Craig (18:35) and Julie Balmer (18:58) into the final 5k, with all three looking comfortable.  Recent Portglenone 5k winner Claire Connor (North Belfast Harriers) followed, going through halfway in 19:31, just ahead of North Down AC’s Rachel Gibson (19:37).   


As crowds of spectators scurried into Ward Park, trying to find the perfect spot to watch the finale, positions were changing out on the course.  Paul Pollock had increased his lead over Joe McAlister, while Brendan Teer had closed the gap and caught the chasing group of Alan O’Hara and Michael Dyer.


Michael had tired a little and dropped off Brendan and Alan, who both now knew they would have to battle it out for the final podium place.


Meanwhile, back in the park, Paul Pollock was the first to receive a warm welcome from the awaiting crowds as he finished strongly, claiming a well-deserved 1st place in 30:19, an impressive time considering the blustery conditions.  Joe McAlister (31:39) took 2nd place with Brendan Teer (33:02) just edging Alan O’Hara (33:07) to 3rd place, after overtaking him as the pair entered the park.


Track star Michael Dyer (North Down AC) led the host club home in 5th place, clocking 33:27 while Joe Frazer (St Malachy’s AC) crossed the line in 33:35 (6th place).  Liam Veeney (East Down AC) followed in 33:42 (7th place) meaning that a finisher from either St Malachy’s AC or East Down AC would secure the men’s team prize.  Joe Mc Alister and Joe Frazer smiled as club mate Stephen Rooney (34:02) entered the park and took 8th place, thus cementing the team prize for the St Malachy’s AC men.


Popular North Down AC member Francis Marsh finished in 9th place, running 34:07.  Francis was closely followed by young St Malachy’s AC star Ben Branagh, who completed the top ten when he crossed the line in 34:15.


In the ladies race, the second half played out exactly as the first half had, with Gladys holding onto top spot, crossing the line in 36:49, a tired but happy Jessica Craig (38:39) continued her recent good form, taking 2nd place, while birthday girl Julie Balmer secured an excellent 3rd place in 39:36.


Claire Connor (North Belfast Harriers) ran strongly, holding onto 4th place, completing the course in 40:20.  Impressive Rachael Gibson (North Down AC) secured the female team prize for the ever consistent North Down ladies as she crossed the line in 40:49 (5th place).  Denise Logue followed closely behind, taking 6th place in 40:55.


Gerrie Short (7th place – 42:19), Fiona Johnston (8th place – 43:12) from Up & Runners, Gillian Douglas (9th place – 44:16) and Kate Mc Avoy (10th place – 44:35) completed the ladies top ten.


As the sun shown, hundreds of happy charity runners filtered through the finish to loud cheers of support from hundreds of spectators, creating a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.  As we mingled with tired but motivated finishers several things were constantly mentioned, the extremely reasonable entry fee (Online entry was £11), the fantastic marshalling on the course and the precision in which the race was organised.


A huge array of generous prizes were awarded to race winners, podium finishers, as well as category winners and runners up from Vet35 to Vet70 at the Bangor Leisure Centre by North Down council representatives. 


On finishing, David Seaton (North Down AC) paid tribute to all the runners who participated, making the event an outstanding success and extended genuine words of thanks to North Down Council who’s sponsorship makes the event possible. 


For those, like us wondering where the ‘Aurora’ in the race title originates:  Here goes…  The ‘Bangor Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Complex’ is the official name of the new £38m leisure facility currently in construction at the site of the Valentines Playing Fields.  Construction is due for completion in February 2013.


Top 3 Men: 1st Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) – 30:19, 2nd Joe McAlister (St Malachy’s AC) –31:39, 3rd Brendan Teer (East Down AC) – 33:02


Top 3 Ladies: 1st Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) – 36:49, 2nd Jessica Craig (North Down AC) –38:39, 3rd Julie Balmer (North Down AC) – 39:36.


Male Team Winners:  St Malachy’s AC – Joe Mc Alister (31:39), John Frazer (33:35) and Stephen Rooney (34:02)


Female Team Winners:  North Down AC – Jessica Craig (38:40), Julie Balmer (39:37) and Rachel Gibson (40:49)


Race Results:  Bangor 10k 2012 Results


Please visit our 'Photo Gallery' to view pictures taken at the 'Aurora' Bangor 10k 2012.

 'Up & Running' Laganside 10k:

On Sunday 2nd September, hundreds of enthusiastic runners descended on a lively and somewhat atmospheric Ormeau Park, Belfast for the ‘Up & Running’ Laganside 10k, one of the most popular events on the race calendar.  


With the sun shining and nothing more than a token breeze it looked like the perfect day for personal bests. With music, stalls and a fun run before the main event it emphasised the important family value aspect of running in Northern Ireland, where many of our events can now be enjoyed as a family outing.


As the final fun runners completed an enjoyable event and the road restrictions were being put into place for the start of the ‘main race’, runners crowded the start area.  With many discussing the upcoming race, expectations varied from those wanting personal bests after building their training towards the event, some just out for an enjoyable run and the sense of the achievement that follows while others were admirably out to raise money for charity.


Before the runners set off on the fast, flat course, a minutes silence was held in honour of Northern Ireland distance running legend Moira O’Neill who sadly passed away on Wednesday 29th August after a long battle with cancer.


As the horn sounded, close to 700 participants exited Ormeau Park and swarmed the Embankment, turning right in the direction of the Short Strand, onto Queens Bridge, Oxford Street, through Maysfield onto the Lagan towpath and over Ormeau Bridge before completing a shorter second lap, where they went over the Albert Bridge to Maysfield and onto the towpath back towards the Embankment and the finish in Ormeau Park (Ozone Centre Car Park).


In what appeared to be a tactical race, with the first 5k being run at a relatively conservative pace.  A group led by Annadale Striders’ Keith Purdy, including club mate Paul Carroll, Adam Boyd (Unattached), Francis March (North Down AC) and Daryl Blair (North Belfast Harriers) went through half way close to 16:37, approximately 200-300 metres ahead of the chasing pack which included North Belfast Harriers trio Conor Curran, Martin Rea and Andrew Considine with Andrew Hicks (Dromore AC) also in the mix.


Julie Turley (Dromore AC) led the ladies race at the half way point, with a 5k split of 18:05 she was approximately thirty seconds ahead of London 2012 Irish Olympian Aileen Morrison (City of Derry), who in-turn was also thirty seconds ahead of triathlete Judith Lowry (City of Lisburn AC) who had North Down’s leading lady Jessica Craig hot on her heals.


As the race progressed into the later stages it was Keith Purdy who took advantage of the cracks in the lead group as he gradually ran clear of club mate Paul Carroll, opening a gap wide enough to allow him time to counteract any late surge. 


Meanwhile in the ladies race, Jessica Craig’s disciplined run was reaping rewards as she passed Judith Lowry who was understandably beginning to feel the effects of her early pace.  Judith now had a battle on to keep fourth place with North Down’s Julie Balmer closing fast.


At the finish, the crowds had gathered just inside Ormeau Park, patiently waiting for the runners to appear.  Having been close to the front for the duration of the race, Annadale Striders’ Keith Purdy turned into the final straight with enough time to enjoy the well-deserved applause as he crossed the line in 1st place, with a winning time of 32:54.  Paul Carroll (33:11) followed a few seconds later in 2nd place with ever consistent Adam Boyd (33:24) in 3rd, just ahead of North Down AC’s Francis Marsh (33:27).  North Belfast Harriers Daryl Blair (5th place – 33:39) checked over his shoulder on the run in but was clear of club mate Conor Curran (33:50) who claimed 6th place.  Martin Rea took 7th in 34:23 and secured the male team prize for North Belfast Harriers.  Another North Belfast Harrier, Andrew Considine (8th – 34:27) was next into sight with Dromore AC’s Andrew Hicks (34:38) and Larne AC’s James Brown (35:04) finishing in 9th and 10th respectively.


Julie Turley led the ladies race from the outset and deservedly entered the final straight still in the lead, crossing the line in 36:02, taking 1st place.  Aileen Morrison (37:41), in what could possibly have been her first outing since the Olympics finished in 2nd place while Jessica Craig claimed 3rd place in 38:02.  Club mate Julie Balmer (38:34) had caught Judith Lowry (4th place - 39:22) and beat the City of Lisburn lady to 3rd place.  Dromore AC’s Geraldine Branagh was 6th in 40:10, while Caira Coffey (41:05) took 7th place.  With the ladies team prize still up for grabs the North Down team must have sighed with the relief at the sight of Ali Robinson (8th place – 41:26) cross the line, thus securing the team prize.  Rachel Gibson (Unattached) had a strong race, taking 9th place in 41:36 with Larne AC’s Geraldine Quigley (43:04) completing the top ten.


After crossing the finish line competitors were greeted by smiley, helpful marshalls before being given a goody bag containing well-deserved refreshments.  The sense of achievement around the finish area was clear to see with many runners discussing the ‘ins and outs’ of their race while relaxing in the sunshine to watch the presentation of generous prizes by race director Matt Shields and athletics guru Dave Mc Kibben from the Newsletter.


Top 3 Men:  1st Keith Purdy (Annadale Striders) – 32:54, 2nd Paul Carroll (Annadale Striders) – 33:11, 3rd Adam Boyd (Unattached) – 33:24


Top 3 Ladies:  1st Julie Turley (Dromore AC) – 36:01, 2nd Aileen Morrison (City of Derry) – 37:41, 3rd Jessica Craig (North Down AC) – 38:02


Male Team Winners: North Belfast Harriers – Daryl Blair (33:39), Conor Curran (33:50) and Martin Rea (34:23)


Ladies Team Winners:  North Down AC – Jessica Craig (38:02), Julie Balmer (38:34) and Ali Robinson (41:29)


Full Results:  http://www.championchipireland.com/results/index.php


Please visit our ‘Photo Gallery’ for race day pictures!  You can also review the event yourself in our ‘Forum’.

Kennedy Kane Mc Arthur Festival of Running:

 

In a month when the UK has been truly gripped by Olympic fever, the Kennedy Kane Mc Arthur Festival of Running could not have taken place at a better time.  On Saturday 21st July hundreds of runners descended on the small historic village of Dervock, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.


The Dervock 10km and Half Marathon races are a popular annual event but this year was a little special, there was an additional race; the Marathon. The inclusion of the 26.2 mile race was to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of Dervock born athlete Kennedy Kane Mc Arthur winning the gold medal in the Olympic Marathon in Stockholm, Sweden in 1912; ironically the anniversary takes place in the same year the Olympics are held in Great Britain.


As Kennedy Kane Mc Arthur emigrated to South Africa at the age of 20, he ran the Marathon in the colours of his adopted nation. The significance of Mc Arthur’s achievement should not be under estimated, this was emphasised by the number of South African visitors who made the long journey to take part in the festival.


In itself, the festival was quite possibly as well organised as any Olympic event with a typical Northern Irish friendly and welcoming atmosphere. The village was decorated in colourful bunting with the local football pitch being converted into a finishing area, incorporating ample activities for children and many stalls, serving food, drinks and commemorative accessories.


Another iconic Northern Ireland Olympic Gold Medallist, Dame Mary Peter’s got proceedings under way, starting each of the races.


As the competitors set off, a tough undulating course lay ahead. In the warm humid conditions the regular, well stocked water stations were appreciated and the stunning scenery which included plenty of shaded areas brought a welcome relief from the sunshine.


It was the 10k competitors who entered the finishing straight first, with Matthew Mc Cooke (Ballymena Runners) crossing the line in 35:50 to secure victory. Julie Murphy (Lagan Valley) took the 1st female prize in 42:43.


In the Half Marathon, the first runner home was Alan Mc Cullough (North Belfast Harriers), brother of the famous Northern Ireland boxer Wayne Mc Cullough. Alan, a very popular and successful runner in Northern Ireland crossed the line in 1:11:58 with Julie Balmer (North Down) winning the female race in 1:24:18.


With an extra financial bonus for anyone breaking Kennedy Kane Mc Arthur’s Olympic Marathon winning time of 2:36:55 the crowds were eagerly awaiting the Marathon runners, who completed two laps of the Half Marathon course. It was Geoff Smyth (Unattached) who entered the finishing area first, breaking the tape in 2:57:14. Not close to Mc Arthur’s time but a very respectable time considering the course and the conditions. Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers) took “gold” in the female race, crossing the line in 3:15:45.


All competitors received a special commemorative medal on finishing, as well as a unique technical T-Shirt in the South African colours with Kennedy Kane Mc Arthurs number; 613 printed on the front