Capitan shows the Harriers how it is done.

On Tuesday 30 April, instead of the usual training night, 72 Ballydrain athletes took to the roads around Island Hill in Comber for the annual 4-mile Faulat Shield Club Race and the seventh race in the Ballydrain Super Series.  The rain almost threatened to put a dampener on the race, but thankfully it cleared just in time for the start, and started with a deluge again once it was finished.  The race was open handicap, which means that all athletes were given a starting time based on their current handicap in the Super Series; this is the order they started the race and the winner of the Faulat Shield was the athlete who crosses the finish line first.  First to cross the line in 35:23 and this year’s winner was Karen McWilliams. Second place went to Holly Hunniford 35:49 and third to Gary Adams, who ran 35:56.  After handicaps were taken into consideration, the seventh Superstar of the Super Series was Stephen Johnston who ran 19 seconds faster than Karen on adjusted times.  A special thanks to our sponsors Comber Commercial Centre for providing the 2nd and 3rd place trophies and Kelly Gazzard Sports Massage who provided a spot prize, which was won by Trevor McClurg.

Thursday 2 May saw the fourth race in the Hill and Dale Series 2019.  Starting on the Head Road just above Annalong, the route took runners on a two-mile, 2,000ft climb to the top of Slieve Binnian, the only hilltop finish of the Series.  A tough run, but the view at the finish is more than worth it.  254 runners took on the climb and the race was won by Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) in 20:12.  Jared Martin was first to reach the summit for Ballydrain, placing 7th overall, in a time on 23:51.  He was followed by Andrew Wallace in 31:14 and Mark Duggan in 31:40.  First lady for the Harriers was Alison Stocks in 35:33 followed by Christina McConnell (38:45) and Ann Lacey (40:53).  Congratulations must also go to Jared for placing second in the Schools Districts 5000 metres the day before in 16 minutes 50 seconds, which qualifies him for the Ulster finals in a few weeks time.  Jared has also been confirmed as a member of the Irish Junior Mountain Running team for the European Championships in Zermatt, Switzerland in July.

History was made on Sunday 5 May when the Belfast marathon was run for the first time on a Sunday and runners were treated to a new flatter and faster route.  Kenyan Joel Kositang was victorious winning the race in 2:17:09.  Caroline Jepchirchir, also from Kenya, won the ladies race in 2:34:54, the fastest ever ladies time at the Belfast marathon.  Ballydrain had more than a few champions on the day.  Not least was club Capitan Drew Fowler who ran a marathon personal best time to complete the course in a staggering 2:48:01.  A time like this does not just happen, Drew has put the miles and the hard training in over the winter months and everyone at Ballydrain is immensely proud of their Captain.  Second home for Ballydrain, with a 10 minute PB on his time at the Loch Ness marathon in October 2018, was Stuart McIver in 2:54:47.  Graham Gibson achieved a staggering 18 minute PB on his time at the Dublin marathon, finishing in 4:08:57 and Darren Weir was over the moon to get 15 minute PB and run his first sub 3:30 marathon, finishing in 3:29:13.  Valerie Martin was delighted to run 5:04:15 which was over a 10 minute PB, as was Amanda Jackson with her 7 minute PB and time of 3:19:32.  And the PBs didn’t stop there with the following members all posting new PB times:  Gary Adams (3:31:27), Donna Convery (3:51:24) Louise Hinds (3:51:58), Jill Burgess (3:55:07), Claire Harrison (3:55:57) – Jill and Claire having run the London marathon the week before, amazing ladies.  A special mention for two members who took on the marathon distance for the first time: Chris Cleary ran 4:15:27 and Paula Bradley 5:32:13, what an achievement.  The Ballydrain ladies relay team (Denise Davison, Lea Booth, Shauna Lyman, Karen Gibson and Anne McClurg) also had a strong run and completed the course in 3:44:42.



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