On Saturday 8th December Francis Boal travelled to Cookstown to compete in the Mighty Oaks Cross-Country hosted by Acorns AC.  On a tough course, Francis placed 4th in the Masters Men 3 mile race in a time of 29:30.

On Sunday 9th December members Amanda Perry and Roland Coey took part in the Ballygalet 5k hosted by Ballygalet AC in aid of Brain Tumour Research, congratulations to Amanda who was first lady across the line.  Amanda then travelled 4 miles down the road to Kirkistown and ran a 10k race the same afternoon.  She placed second overall in a time of 43:45 and once again placed first lady.

Also on the Sunday eight Ballydrain Harriers were among the 359 runners who took part in the Jingle All the Way 5k in the grounds of Stormont Estate to support Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice.  The race was won by Peter McGarry (Mallusk Harriers) in 18:18 and first lady to finish was Dearbhla Sheridan (Belfast Running Club) in 21:30. Stephen Watterson was first home for Ballydrain; he finished 14th overall and just a second behind Dearbhla.  Anne McClurg was next across the line for the Harriers in 29:14 followed by Debra Jordan in 29:20.

On Saturday 15th December Atlas Running threw a Christmas Party 5k in Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park, Belfast in aid of Cash for Kids.  Paul Butcher (North Belfast Harriers) won overall in 20:24 with Karen Wilton (Jog Lisburn Running Club) taking the top spot in the ladies’ race in 20:28. Harrier husband and wife duo Stephen and Allyson Beattie ran together and completed the race in 31:19 and 31:20.

On Sunday 16th December it was time for the annual Ballydrain club race, The Ballydrain Cup.  The race was run at the Billy Neill Playing Fields and was a 6.5k ‘open’ race.  This means runners start in handicap order and the first across the line wins.  The winner was Dovydas Pliauga in an actual time of 37:28 (adjusted 25:45).  Nathan Beattie was second in an actual time of 38:38 (adjusted 25:38) and Kyle Ross third in 38:51 (adjusted 25:16).  Congratulations also should go to Patrycja McAlpin who won the prize for the best Christmas jumper!

On the 21st December it was the fourth race in the Belfast Telegraph Run Forest Run Series.  The race started in the beautiful village of Rostrevor and took runners on an undulating route around the forest paths of Kilbroney Forest Park.  Ballydrain’s Kyle Ross won the 5k in 19:26 and Drew Fowler was 2nd in the 10k in a time of 38:08.

On Boxing Day Drew Fowler was running again in the Burren Townland Run.  There was both 6 and 12-mile options for the runners.  Drew came 3rd out of the 32 runners that ran the 12-mile race.  He ran a course PB of over 5 minutes finishing in 01:17:16.

Saturday 29th saw one of the highlights of the racing calendar, the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker.   This the 36th time that the race has been run, interestingly it was first held in 1983 in Comber and organized by Ballydrain Harrier Jim Hayes.  The route moved to Castlewellan in the early 2000s and it is now hosted by Newcastle Athletics Club.  Every year the route is a surprise to the runners. This year, much to their relief there was a lot less mud than last year, however the 8.5 mile route did include the dreaded mile climb to the top Slievenaslat – the spectacular views were however worth it (for those runners that took time to pause and take them in).  The race is run in pairs and the teams of two start and finish together; traditionally the race is run in fancy dress and the Harriers turned out in force as a herd of 86 cows!  677 pairs completed the race and the overall winners were Zak Hanna and Seamus Lynch from Newcastle Athletics Club in a time of 00:53:24.  First home for Ballydrain were James Lappin and Paul Flynn who finished 39th overall in a time of 01:05:47.  Next home for Ballydrain and placing 55th overall was Debbie Matchett in 01:07:24 with her partner David McNeilly who runs for Newcastle Athletics Club.  Third across the line for the Harriers and placing 77th was Amanda Perry and her partner Denise Logue in 01:09:13.

Special mention this month goes to Colin Campbell who ran his 40th marathon on Sunday 30th December at the East Antrim Marathons Series marathon in Carrickfergus.  This was Colin’s four marathon in a month, a fantastic achievement.

Finishing off the year in style, member Alberto Osco took part in a 5.5k race in Pamplona in Spain on New Year’s Eve and Richard & Patrycja McAlpin were running 10k in Krakόw, Poland.


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