Saturday 1 December marked the end of the road racing season with the Seeley Cup 10k. The event, hosted by Willowfield Harriers is a flat and fast three lap course, starting on the Ormeau embankment and finishing in the grounds of Ormeau Park. It is always a highly competitive race at the top end of the field and this year was no exception – the overall winner was Ben Branagh (St.Malachy’s AC) in a time of 30:28 with Nakita Burke (Letterkenny AC) winning the ladies race in 34:54. The Harriers were out in force with 32 members running including John Tracey who was back running as a Harrier after a twenty year absence. First three home for the club were Drew Fowler (36:19), Dovydas Pliauga (37:36) and Sam Hughes (38:39). Dovydas finishing off what has been a spectacular road racing season for him ran a 1 minute 3 second PB (his 3rd road 10k PB of the season). First three ladies home for Ballydrain were Debbie Matchett (40:38), Heather Kelly (40:56) and Amanda Jackson (43:59). Debbie’s time placed her 2nd in the F50 age category and the three ladies together placed 6th overall in the ladies team race.
Members Laura Linter and Anne McClurg all had strong runs and achieved new 10k PBs. Junior member Tim Ewart improved his time from the Bangor 10k in September by 31 seconds to achieve a 10k PB of 46:22; mum Joanne ran a 32 second PB to finish in 49:23.
Saturday also saw the third of the eight races in Born 2 Run’s winter race series Run Forest Run took place in Loughgall in the heart of Armagh. Three Harriers were amongst the 347 runners that ran the 10k race which took them on a route through the village of Loughgall and around the forest paths of the country park. The race was won by Stephen Dickson (unattached) in 36:23. Julie Murphy (Lagan Valley AC) was the first lady to cross the line in 39:47. Despite the dismal wet conditions on the day and some unforgiving hills in the last two miles, all three Harriers ran well and enjoyed the race. Debbie Mingout was the first Harrier home in 48:03 followed by Debra Jordan in 51:32 and Violet Davidson in 1:06:52. Debra placed 2nd in her F50 age category and Violet first in F70. 188 runners took on the 5k route which was won by Ballydrain junior member Kyle Ross in 19:07; a double celebration for Kyle as it was a win on his 16th birthday. The following day Kyle also won the 5k at the Crossgar Santa Run in a time of 16:31. A fantastic week-ends running for Kyle.
The Crossgar Santa Run also had a 10k option which had to be changed at the last minute to a 5 mile race as some the paths in the grounds of the Monastery, where the race took place, were not passable. The race was won by Kieran McShane (Murlough AC) in 37:29. Member Claire Ingram ran well to finish 5th overall and place 2nd lady in a time of 39:33. Stephen Watterson followed close behind in 7th place in 40:02.