Love was in the air on Thursday 14 February for the East Antrim Marathon Series Valentine’s Day event at Loughshore, Carrickfergus. Runners could choose from a number of distances; Harriers William Brown and David Wade chose the marathon distance and Valerie Martin the half marathon. William placed 3rd in the marathon in 3 hours 11 minutes and 29 seconds and David completed the 26.2 miles in 4:57:55. Valerie enjoyed the half marathon (and the medal) completing in 2:27:09.

Thursday night saw the prestigious Armagh International Road Race Event. There were 14 races in total staged on the 1000m circuit around the Mall in Armagh town centre. The event is organised by Armagh Athletic Club and it attracts elite athletes from all over the world. This year, which was the 29th year that the event has been held, saw records broken on the night: Steph Twell  (Aldershot, Farnham & District AC) clocked a course record of 8:59 win the women’s 3k race and Finnish athlete, Topi Raitanen, ran 13:43 to break the men’s 5k course record. Harriers Drew Fowler, Dovydas Pliauga and Paul Flynn were taking part in the 3k men’s race. Dovydas ran a 29 second PB (10:09) and Drew a 17 second PB (9:32).

On Friday 15 February duo Stuart McIver and Paul Edgar were two of the 58 runners who took part in 26 Extreme’s Tollymore 10k Night Edition. The race, which was run on the trail routes round Tollymore Forest Park, was won by Sean Russell (Newcastle AC) in 37:33. Stuart placed 5th overall in a time of 42:28 and Paul was 10th in a time of 44:16.

Colin Campbell travelled to Armagh on Saturday 16 February to take part in a trail marathon hosted by Run Armagh for ‘Big Ronnie McMurdie’ who was running his 100th marathon. On a tough course, Colin did well to complete the race in 4:51.

Andrew Wallace was also competing on Saturday. He was one of 58 runners who took on the 5 mile Donard Wood Trail Race. The event was hosted by Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association with all proceeds raised going to the very worthy Mourne Moutain Rescue. The challenging course, which started in Donard Park in the centre of Newcastle followed the Donard trail and mountain paths, had a total ascent of 300m. Timothy Johnston (Mourne Runners) won the race in 30:01, Andrew placed 26th finishing in 41:12.

On Saturday afternoon it was time for the second of the 15 races in the Ballydrain Super Series, the Mahee Cup. The Mahee Cup is an open handicap 4 mile cross-country race. Handicaps were calculated before the race on the basis of runners fastest 5k and 10k times over the previous year – runners started in handicap order with those with the lowest handicap starting first. The idea behind a handicap system is that all runners in the club have an equal chance of winning.

The cross-country course was in fields off the Ballyhenry Road in Comber – the club would like to say a very big ‘Thank You’ to Andrew Herron for the use of his land. Conditions on the day were firm underfoot, although runners were challenged by the wind, which unfortunately was head-on on the uphill sections of the course. First to cross the line and winner of the Mahee Cup was William Brown. This was an amazing accomplishment considering William had run a 15 mile ‘warm-up’ that morning and had completed a marathon on the Thursday! Drew Fowler was second across the line and Julie McNeilly third. Fastest male and female course times were Drew Fowler and Amanda Perry.

Words cannot really describe the extent of Ballydrain Harrier Catherine Miskelly’s achievement between Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 February in the Last One Standing (LOS) event in Castleward. In the LOS there was a 4.2 mile loop – runners started the loop on the hour, every hour from 12 noon on 16th. They had the one hour to complete each loop, if they didn’t complete the loop within the hour they were disqualified. The race continued until there was only one runner left standing. Catherine completed a staggering 26 laps, which is a distance of just over 109 miles. Catherine was the last lady standing and she equalled the ladies course record. Hopefully Catherine is now reading this with her feet up. Well done Catherine from everyone at Ballydrain.

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