Thursday 23 May saw the 6th race in the Newcastle Athletic Club’s Hill and Dale Series, Luke’s Mountain. This was a new route for the 2019 Series starting at Meelmore Lodge. Conditions were mild and dry at the start line with a threat of rain as participants lined up to take on the 2,000 feet overall climb, firstly to the summit of Slievenaglough via the Trassey river then up and down to the summit of lesser-known Luke’s Mountain. All 221 runners successfully reached the cut-off point of 18 minutes for the first mile that included around an 800 feet ascent. The overall winner of the race was Seamus Lynch in 35:43, with Ballydrain’s Jared Martin, who is continues to be the talk of the series, finishing 3rd in a time of 38:54 (first male junior home). Well done to Freddy Strickland first in M70 category finishing in 1:02.

On Friday night the Ballydrain ladies once again participated in the Hoka One Runher Coastal Challenge that included 5k, 10k and half marathon distances along the costal path from Holywood to Bangor. There were superb performances all round from the ladies with well-earned half marathon PBs from Amanda Jackson 1:34:25 and Joanne Ewart 1:53:55. In the 10k race Amanda Perry achieved third place overall in a time of 41:26.
The Pure Running Half Marathon Series continued on Saturday 25 May with the Newry half marathon hosted by Newry City Runners. The course, which started in the Albert Basin, took runners along the coastal route to Warrenpoint and the historic Narrow Water Castle on the scenic canal carriageway. The flat out and back route saw excellent results from a Ballydrain duo who consistently perform at their best: Stuart McIver crossed the line in 1:27:01, which saw him take 39th place out of the field of 653 runners; and Paul Edgar finished in 1:33:18, placing 81st. Robert Beattie also continues his great racing form this year and achieved new half marathon PB 1:39:58. There was another strong run from Graham Gibson (1:53:49), this was a 4 minute 27 second PB on his time at the race last year. Special mention to Ballydrain’s Captain Drew Fowler who did an excellent job as the 1:35 pacer.

Debbie Matchett was also represented the club on Saturday at County Antrim Harriers’ 5th Annual Mayfair running festival. Debbie took part in the 5k race which started in the Main Street and raced through Sixmilewater Park. It was a podium finish for Debbie who was third lady home in 20:09.

On Sunday 26 May four members travelled further afield to the Edinburgh Running Festival to race the Edinburgh Marathon. The course heads out to the East Lothian coast this made for tough going with rainy and windy running conditions on the day. Karen McWilliams completed the 26.2 miles in 4:15:09 and Neil McWilliams in 4:52:32. Club Secretary Valarie Martin was running her second marathon of the year and finished in 5:23:43. John Tracey was delighted to run a personal best marathon time of 3:14:39.

Also on Sunday, Catherine Miskelly took part in the Lough Cutra Half Ironman ‘The Gauntlet’. This event is a middle-distance triathlon, pushing competitors to their limit via a 1.9km open water swim in the lake, followed by a 96km bike ride circumnavigating Lough Cutra itself, taking in the beautiful Burren National Park and and finishing with a 21km run. Catherine completed the course in 7:55:03, an amazing time for her first attempt at the discipline and great preparation for her first full Ironman next month.3

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