It was a relatively quiet week in the local racing calendar with Ballydrain’s athletes taking part in just two local events. 

On the 22nd and 23rd of November, East Antrim Marathon Series hosted a 6 hour challenge on a new route from the V36 complex at the Valley Leisure Centre.  Colin Campbell was the sole representative for the club and completed 26.2 miles in commendable 4 hours and 55 minutes.

On Saturday 24th November the 3rd fixture of the 2018/19 Cross Country League took place at Sixmilewater Park in Ballyclare.  The Malcolm Cup hosted by Annadale Striders attracted a strong field of athletes this year.  The first race for Ballydrain’s athletes was the Open Ladies/Masters Ladies/Masters Mens (35-70+) 3 mile race.  21 ladies from the club completed the course along with 3 Masters Men.  The race was won by Gareth Lyons (U/A) in 15 mins 21 secs.  The first female finisher was Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC) in 17:40.   1st home for Ballydrain was Debbie Matchett who ran a strong race in a time of 19:39 which merited her 2nd place in the F50 category.  2nd lady home was Heather Kelly (19:54) followed by 3rd lady Claire Ingram (20:04).  Evan Boyce was the first home for Ballydrain in the male masters race with a time of 20:03.  Frances Boal (M70) finished in 24:37 and Fred Strickland (V70) finished in 27:42.

The second race of the day for Ballydrain’s athletes was the Malcolm Cup 4 mile race.  14 athletes from the club completed the race which was won overall by Neil McCartan (EDAC) in 20:32. 1st home for Ballydrain was Ryan Andrews in a time of 23:21 closely followed by Drew Fowler (23:39) and Dovydas Pliauga (24:41).

Following the 3rd round of the Cross Country league at the Malcolm Cup, Ballydrain ladies have maintained their 2nd place position with 72 points.  NDAC are leading with 78 points and Dromore AC are in 3rd position with 60 points.

Following the day’s successes on Saturday, the Harriers were out in force at La Mon to celebrate each other’s racing achievements and a fantastic year of running success.  The evening kicked off with a glass of fizz and a welcome address by Chairman Phil Gilmore and his trusty aide Club Secretary Valerie Martin.  Tokens of thanks were given to all the coaches who have worked tirelessly all season to motivate and improve every athlete and who offer invaluable advice and support wherever they can.

The floor was then handed to the lead coaches to award the 2018 Group Athlete of the Year Awards. These awards are given at the discretion of the lead coaches of each of the five training groups- Fitness, Progressive, Intermediate, A and A+, and can be awarded for running success, endeavour, special achievements and a myriad of other reasons at the coaches discretion.

This years extremely worthy recipients were Stephen Johnston, Colin Galloway, Jonathan Lilly, Amanda Perry and Nathan Beattie.

The 2018 Youth Athlete of the Year was awarded to Kyle Ross.

This year the club introduced a new award, the Runner’s Runner Award. The winner of the Runner’s Runner is voted for by the members of each of the training groups prior to the Awards Dinner and aims to celebrate those individuals who support and inspire others, lead by example and who exemplify the spirit of the club.

Recipients of the Runner’s Runner Awards 2018 were Denise Bingham, Shirley McCloskey, Mark Elliott and Paul Edgar.

Another new award for 2018, also voted for by the members themselves, is the Club Member of the Year. This award is to be given to the individual who contributed the most to the club throughout the year – the 2018 Award was presented to club secretary Valerie Martin.

The season’s club race trophies were also presented on the night to the following recipients: Ballydrain Cup – Nathan Beattie, Faulat Shield – Peter Stevens, 2018 XC Champions – Heather Stanex and Daniel Burns, Presidents Cup – Joanne Ewart, President Cup Pairs Race – Evan Boyce and Paddy Ritchie, Mahee Cup – Glen Taylor and Faulkner Cup – Paul Flynn.

The grand finale was the announcement of the 2018 Super Series Winner. The Super Series is an internal competition where athletes must complete a given number of pre-selected races to qualify, the results of which are recorded and individual handicaps applied. Every year the competition is fierce and with the results of the final few races kept under wraps there is often a lot of excitement and anticipation for the winner announcement at the Awards Night and this year was no exception! This year’s Super Series winner was Paul Flynn.

To close the formal part of the evening the club also held a ballot for two much coveted places for the Virgin Money London Marathon 2019 – the places were awarded to Rosi Earney and Craig Bradley both of whom are exceptional ambassadors for the club and will no doubt do the club proud on race day and we wish them the best for their training programs.

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