What a busy week for Ballydrain Harriers with runners competing in many disciplines and distances. First off was Holly Lane who represented the club on Wednesday evening at the Springwell Runners Purple Ladies 5k in Ballymoney. The event was won by Springwell club member Ciara Toner in a superb time of 18:01 while Holly ran the course in 25:23.

Thursday evening saw the 3rd round of the popular Hill & Dale series. This week 14 club members headed down to Kilbroney Park in Rostrevor to tackle the 4.25-mile course that involved nearly 500 metres of climbing through the trails of Kilbroney forest and up the open mountain of Slieve Martin.  The event was won by Newcastle AC runner Seamus Lynch in 34:37 and Mari Troeng also of Newcastle AC was the first female finisher in a time of 43:09. Nathan Beattie was first home for Ballydrain in 40:52, followed by Mark Dugan (44:48) and Andrew Wallace (44:51). Alison Stocks was first for the Ballydrain ladies in a time of 52:36 with Ann Lacey next in 59:59 and Naomi Montgomery hot on Ann’s heels in 1:00:16. Well done to all who took part.

The arrival of Storm Hannah had a big impact on the NIMRA Mourne HighLine which took place in horrendous conditions on Saturday morning. This was the first round in the British Fell Running Championships. Due to the tough conditions the course organisers had to take the difficult decision to use the shorter ‘bad weather’ course. This 8-mile mountain route involved over 700 metres of climbing and, with 60 mph winds it proved to be very challenging. The race was won by Mark Lamb of Keswick AC in 1:03:17 with Kelli Roberts of Helm Hill Runners first female in a time of 1:13:27. Ballydrain Harriers were represented by 3 athletes who all finished the course safely. Out of a field of 234 finishers, Andrew Wallace finished in 120th position in a time of 1:27:19, 150th was Mark Dugan (1:33:26) and 182nd was Mark Elliott (1:40:11). A fantastic achievement for all involved.

While the men were running the Mournes, one of our junior athletes, Jared Martin was taking part in the Irish Junior selection race for the team to represent Ireland in the European Mountain Running Championships in July. The race took place on Djouce mountain in Co. Wicklow and the strong winds brought by Storm Hannah made this an exceptionally tough run. Jared finished in a fantastic 4th position and is now waiting to hear if he has been successful in making the team. Good luck Jared!

Congratulations to Paula Bradley who completed the Dubrovnik half marathon in 2:39. She may have avoided the wind and rain, but the heat of Croatia certainly presented a different type of challenge.

The highlight of the weekend for our club runners was the trip to London for the Virgin Money London Marathon. This is a hugely popular event with on average 400,000 applications for the 40,000 places available. Conditions this year were more favourable for marathon running compared to the heat of last year. Ballydrain Harriers had thirteen athletes representing the club at this year’s event. The marathon was won by Kenyan athlete Eliud Kipchoge who completed the 26.2 miles in 2:02:38 – his second fastest marathon ever and a personal best of nearly 2 minutes in London. The female winner was Brigid Kosgei, also from Kenya in a time of 2:18:20. John Tracey was the first finisher for Ballydrain in a time of 3:08:12 followed by Paul Flynn, who completed Boston marathon 2 weeks ago, in a time of 3:11:51. Amanda Perry was first female for the club in 3:18:51. There were plenty of PBs to report for the club – Craig Bradley took 3 minutes off his previous best, Jill Burgess knocked a minute off hers and Heather Stanex came in 4.5 minutes quicker than London 2017. Taking the most time off their previous marathon times were Rosi Earney and Claire Harrison who managed to reduce their times by 9 minutes and 11 minutes respectively. Fantastic effort ladies. Congratulations to Claire Ingram who was competing in her first marathon and finished in a very respectable time of 3:58:33. Hard work has certainly paid off. Well done to all 13 club members who took part. We are all in awe of your achievements.

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