This was another busy week for Ballydrain Harriers.

On Tuesday, 11th June, 75 Ballydrain members took to the track at Mary Peters for our inaugural Club Mile Races.  There was a lot of excitement, and nervousness, in the run up to the event as this was the first time on the track for many of our athletes.  With races arranged in minute intervals according to predicted finishing times from 4-5 minutes up to 10 minutes, this was open to all athletes in the club.

The winner of the Club Mile Races on adjusted times was progressive athlete John Harper, with a fabulous mile time of 7:30.  Ally Wilson continues to improve this year with a 6:46 mile, showing us all how to race on the track by accelerating away from her competition at the bell to storm to victory in her race and give her second place in the Super Series on the night. Third place went to Paul Magee in 7:47, another athlete who is working incredibly hard this year and is one of only 9 individuals to have competed in all Super Series races to date.  The continued commitment is clearly paying off!

The final race of the evening was reserved for five athletes to take on the challenge of running a sub 5 minute mile, with Jared Martin coming home victorious in a phenomenal time of 4:49.  Kyle Ross also managed to dip under 5 minutes in 4:58, with Matthew Carville right behind him in 5:00.

Special mention must go to our esteemed committee member and lead coach, Jim Hayes, who showed us all he’s still a force to be reckoned with dipping under an 8 minute mile in 7:53.

Whilst the majority of the club was busy at the Mary Peters track, a small group travelled to Carrickfergus for the final instalment of the Woodburn Forest Series.  The 5-mile route started at the trail head beside Woodburn Presbyterian Church and traversed a scenic course around the reservoirs and concluded with a steady climb to the finish.  Tuesday night’s race was won by Jordan Herron of Larne AC in 28:14 with Tracey Atkinson of Albertville Harriers crossing the line as first female in 32:54. For Ballydrain, Debbie Matchett had another impressive race, despite having to stop to tie a shoelace and finished 2nd female in 33:08. Amanda Jackson, also having a successful season, finished 5th female in 35:13.   Stuart McIvor who is running with continued strength, finished in 10th place with a time of 31:12.  The overall series winner from the 3 races was Paul Horan of North Belfast Harriers and the overall female winner was Debbie Matchett of Ballydrain Harriers – well done Debbie!  The club prize was claimed by East Antrim Harriers.

On Thursday 13th Race 9 of the Hill and Dale series, Meels, took place.  This race was run in a clockwise direction this year and included the peaks of Meelmore followed by Meelbeg.  The race was won by Mark Stephens of Newcastle AC in 28:47 and Esther Dickson of Newry AC in 34:21. 17 Ballydrain members took to the mountains for this challenge and 1st home again for the club and displaying his talent for this terrain was Nathan Beattie in 35:52 (27th place overall).  Andrew Wallace was 2nd home in 37:51 and Mark Dugan was 3rd in 38:27. The first lady home was Amanda Perry in 44:30.

On Friday the 14th The East Antrim Marathon Series held their 6 Hour Challenge Part 2.  This is a lapped 4.2-mile course which begins at the Loughshore Park at Jordanstown and follows the scenic coastal path to Gideons Green.  Despite the beauty of the course, the inclement weather made for a very challenging run.  The male winner of the event was Mickey McCauley who completed 10 laps and Jill McCann who completed 9 laps.  3 members from Ballydrain undertook the challenge.  Craig Bradley ran the marathon distance in 3:42:53 and Simon Moffett in 4:24:28. Valerie Martin was to sole female representative from Ballydrain and completed the half marathon distance in 2:33:23.  These are commendable times from athletes who have all ran marathons just a few weeks previously.

On Sunday 16th, two members travelled to Kildare for the annual Thoroughbred Runs.  These are four races – 5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon which pass through the Irish National Stud and take in many of the surrounding stud farms throughout the area which are associated with Irish Horse racing.  The Half Marathon was won by Conor Tiernan in 1:11:39 and the female winner was Ellen Hanley of Grange AC in 1:29:35. Club member Debbie Mingout was competing in the half marathon distance and despite the heat and humidity, she thoroughly enjoyed the course and finished with a commendable time of 1:46:52.  The marathon distance was won by Garry Gribben in 2:50:26 and the female winner was Adrienne O’Beirne in 3:35:27. Club member Lisa Whitcroft was running her first marathon in 6 years and absolutely smashed it with a personal best time of 3:41:11.  This fantastic run also saw her claim 3rd female position on the day!

Also, on Sunday 16th, The 40th Annual Blackstaff to Carlingford Mountain Race took place.  It is an 11-mile race with 3000ft of climbing to contend with and follows the ridge of the Cooley Mountains to Slieve Foyle.  The race was won by Oisin Brennan of Springwell AC in 1:48:32. Club member Andrew Wallace had a successful day over this challenging terrain and placed 32nd overall and 4th in his age category with a time of 2:17:14.

During this week, club member Raymond Stanex travelled slightly further afield to compete in the Runchech Series Olomouc Half Marathon.  Despite the 30-degree heat at 7pm, Raymond managed to complete the race in 1:42 – well done Raymond.  He has a further 2 races of this series to complete in September.

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