Harriers Run Wild

The week started with a 3k PB for Jared Martin (9:35) at the North Down AC Track and Field Open Meet on Tuesday 7 May. Friday 10 May then saw Run the Runways hosted by Scrabo Striders after the success of their inaugural event last year. The event gives runners the opportunity to run, as the name of the race suggests, on the runaways at Ards Airport – this makes for a very flat and fast course. Conditions were good with the cold, wet weather from earlier in the week having given way for blue skies, sunshine and a light breeze. Runners had the choice of three distances: a 1k race for the Juniors; a 5k which was one lap of the runways; or a 10k taking in two laps. Four Harriers were amongst the 222 runners who took on the 10k distance. The overall winner of the 10k was Ross Moore (Saintfield Striders) in 36:23. Amanda Perry was first Harrier home and winner of the ladies race in 40:25. There was a personal best 10k time from Holly Hunniford (46:32), James Lyons and Francis Boal had strong runs finishing in 53:00 and 53:44, Francis finishing first in his M70 age category.

303 runners opted for the 5k distance, including 67 Ballydrain Harriers as it was the eighth race in the Club’s Super Series. Former Harrier, Gareth Lyons, who now runs for North Belfast Harriers was the winner of the 5k in 16:12. Kyle Ross, Ballydrain Junior member, placed second in 17:00. Kyle has been out of action since early March 2019 due to illness and it was great to see him back out racing again and coming back so strong. Matthew Carville another Junior member was second across the line for the Harriers in 17:25, followed by Sam Hughes in 17:50. First three ladies home for the Harriers were Debbie Matchett (19:28), Amanda Jackson (20:17) and Debbie Mingout (21:43).

There were numerous age category wins and PBs for the Harriers. Debbie Matchett won the F50, Debbie Mingout the F40. Alpher Hutchinson won the Male Open race in a new 5k PB time of 19:40, William Brown won the M35 and set a new PB of 18:19, Colin Bell won the M45 and Sam Hughes the M50. Stuart McIver (18:00), Michael Browne (20:16), Amanda Jackson (20:17), Tim Ewart (20:47), Robert Beattie (20:56), William Alexander (20:44), Jonathan Bull (21:02), Debbie Mingout (21:43), David Bingham (22:37) Emma Newell (22:57), Stephen Drysdale (24:11), Deborah Sherlock (27:15) and Catherine Lavery (28:46) were all delighted to achieve 5k PBs. Congratulations should also go to Abi Carson who placed second in the 1k Junior race.

In terms of the Super Series, with so many athletes racing and so many PBs it was anyone’s guess who would come out on top. But on this occasion, it was a clean sweep for the Fitness Group athletes, with Tricia Kerr taking top spot (adjusted time of 11:52) followed by Stephen Johnston (12:13) and Karen Dempster (12:41).

On Saturday there was a new type of running event put on by We Run Wild Ni. The unique event which had both a half and full marathon took runners through the stunning but challenging trails round Carrickfergus using a road book to self-navigate. Harrier Claire Ingram ran in the half marathon. Claire was leading until 11 miles until she took a wrong turn and ended up running an extra mile. Even with the unplanned detour she finished in third place overall in 2:05:19 behind Robert Elliott (2:02:16) and Wilson McAllister (2:05:03), and took first lady.

Five Harriers travelled to Downpatrick on Saturday for the annual 3 Lakes event organised by Downpatrick Lions Club. There were 15k and 7k routes around the picturesque lakes of Ballydugan, Magheralagan and Loughinisland. Stephen Watterson, Gary Long and Jonathan Lilly were amongst the 63 runners won opted for the 15k. The race was won by Gareth Lyons (North Belfast Harriers) in 52:44. Stephen and Gary finished together in 1:09:25 although who finished in 14th or 15th place is still currently open for debate. Jonathan placed 27th in a time of 1:14:31.

51 runners ran in the 7k, which was won by Dromore AC’s Nigel Grier in 26:39. Ballydrain’s Nathan Lilly and Ben Long ran well and finished in 12th and 17th place in 34:11 and 36:45.

Ten Harriers went further down the road to Newcastle for the Slieve Donard Race hosted by Newcastle Athletics Club. This is a 10k race with a total climb of 850m, it has taken place every year since 1945. First three home for the Harriers were Andrew Wallace 1:16:45, Mark Duggan 1:19:50 and Mark Elliott 1:27:50. Alison Stocks was the first female Harrier in 1:37:39.

The Ballydrain Harriers are hosting the Comber 10K on Friday 21June for the fifth year running. It is now open for entry on the Athletics NI website at https://online.athleticsni.org/ps/event/Comber10k20192. The officially measured course is relatively flat and fast and incorporates two laps of Comber town finishing in the Square. It boasts a generous prize fund and there are medals for all finishers.

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