The 4th of July is synonymous with celebrations, barbeques and firework across the USA. At Ballydrain Harriers we like to celebrate Independence Day a little differently. On this warm summer’s day 6 adventurers headed northwards from Comber to Jordanstown to take part in the East Antrim Marathon Series Independence Day 6-hour Challenge. The object of the exercise was to complete as many of the 4.2-mile laps along the sea front from Jordanstown to Gideon’s Green as possible within the allotted 6 hours. 47 athletes took on the challenge and it was Stuart McIver and William Brown, both of Ballydrain, that came out on top after 6 hours and 24 minutes of running, having completed an outstanding 42 miles. Stuart and William were the only runners to make that distance. Next home for the club was Paul Edgar who finished in a time of 6:09:28 with 38 miles under his belt. Tackling their first Ultra distance were Amanda Jackson and Craig Bradley who both managed an incredible 34 miles in 6:08:06 and 5:15:53 respectively. Finally, Valerie Martin topped the group that completed 4 laps (16.8 miles). Well done everyone on amazing achievements.

The Glenarm 5-mile race took place on July 5th. Organised by the Glenlough Running Club, the event started and finished at the Barbican Gates in the picturesque village of Glenarm. The run covered a mixture of road and trail and took competitors through the grounds of Glenarm Castle. First home was Philip Goss of North Belfast Harriers in a time of 26:45 with Gemma McDonald (Ballycastle Runners) taking first female finisher in 31:38. Paul Flynn was the sole representative of Ballydrain Harriers and came in in 8th position in a time of 30:39.

Also on Friday evening, but a bit closer to home was the Greyabbey 5k and 10k Round the Springs. The 5k event consisted of one loop of a tough, hilly course, made tougher by the warm weather. 14 Ballydrain Harriers out of 222 runners took part. The race was won by Gareth Lyons of North Belfast Harriers in an incredible time of 15:59 with Michael Carville of Ballydrain Harriers coming in 2nd in a time of 17:15. First female finisher was Sarah Jane McFadden of North Belfast Harriers in 19:01. Coach Heather Stanex was first female home for Ballydrain, finishing in 23:14 and picking up the prize for Female Vet Over 35!

There were 139 participants in the 10k event which saw the runners completing 2 laps of the course. The race was won by Stephen Wylie of Victoria & Connswater AC in 33:10 while Kerry Speers of North Down AC took the honours for the women in 39:05. There were 15 Ballydrain Harriers taking part. First home for the club and taking 4th place overall was Drew Fowler in a time of 37:15. Joanne Ewart pulled a PB out of the bag and was first female home for Ballydrain in a time of 49:57. The team award was won by Ballydrain Harrier athletes Drew Fowler, Michael Barton and Shane Andrews. Special mention goes to our club Chairman Phil Gilmore who managed a creditable 46:53 in his return to competitive running.

Ballydrain Harrier and Ultra runner Richard Coey travelled to Ballina in Co. Mayo this weekend to take part in the Ballina AC Back2Back Marathons. The event took place over 2 days and consisted of a short loop followed by five 5-mile loops over road and trail in Belleek Woods. The race went in a clockwise direction on Saturday and switched to anti-clockwise for Sunday. It was well worth the journey for Richard as he finished in 2nd on the Saturday in a time of 3:03 and followed this up on Sunday with a 3:10 marathon to take first place on the day. This was enough to give him the overall win for the Back2Back marathons. Many congratulations Richard, not an easy task.

Finally, huge congratulations to Jared Martin of Ballydrain Harriers who was in Zermatt in the Swiss Alps this weekend representing Ireland in the U20 European Mountain Running Championships. This was a tough 5.91km race that involved 448 metres of climbing and finished with a fast 75 metres descent to the finish line. The top 3 finishers in U20 men’s race all came in within 9 seconds of each other but it was Great Britain’s Joseph Dugdale in a time of 28:48 that took the crown. Second was Alain Cavagna of Italy (28:54) and Ramazan Yorulmaz of Turkey (28:57) finished 3rd. Great Britain were the overall winners of the team prize in which Team Ireland placed 8th out of 12 teams. Jared managed to take 3rd place in the Irish team in a time of 34:45. Well done Jared for a superb achievement.

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