Another great weekend for Springwell runners

Springwell runners awaiting the start of the Omagh Half Marathon.

Springwell runners awaiting the start of the Omagh Half Marathon.

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After last weekend’s marvellous running by the Purple Army, it was hard to see how that could be out-done.

However, despite the weather doing its worst, the good news continued to pour in with another set of blistering runs and performances from our highly talented athletes, on tarmac, trail and beach!

Happy Springwell runners after completing the arduous Ballyliffin Challenge.

Happy Springwell runners after completing the arduous Ballyliffin Challenge.

On Saturday 26th March, nearly 2000 athletes turned out for the annual SPAR Omagh Half Marathon, a popular event which is also the third race of the ongoing Pure Running – ChampionChip Ireland Half Marathon Series.

In wet and blustery conditions, the competitors negotiated a 13.1 mile route which did a figure of eight loop around the town, before heading out into the countryside and back, the return section being the final 3.1 miles, along a tough, hilly back road, into the fairly strong breeze, really testing your stamina and fitness to the limit.

After last weekend’s heady heights of an incredible 24 PBs at Larne, not too much was expected at Omagh but the phenomenal purple people dont let little things like tough courses and bad weather deter them and once more excelled with four terrific PBs and no less than five people, who were doing back-to-back Halfs, actually recording faster times than their runs at Larne!

The PBs’ recorded were firstly, Jimmy Stewart, first home for Springwell in a fantastic 59th place out of nearly 2000 runners and running nearly 50” quicker than he did at Larne! Great running by Jimmy!

Next were the Magnificent McIlmoyles who both ran PBs at Larne then again at Omagh, with Kerrie smashing hers by a massive 2’ !! Lovely to see the wee tears of joy as Kerrie came to terms with such an outstanding performance!

To round things off, Debbie Tutty, who has been training hard for the London Marathon, produced a tremendous run, reducing her PB over the distance by an astounding 3’ 10”! Superb stuff Debbie, keep up that training, its definately paying off!

David McGaffin and Gerard Mullan were also doing their 2nd Half in as many weeks and both also bettered their Larne times, which is quite amazing given the difference in course profiles and weather conditions on the day! Great going guys!

Other notable performances came from Lady Chair, Karen McLaughlin, who had a fabulous run in her 1st Half in close to 2 years, finishing a fantastic 8th in the Ladies race, claiming the 1st FV45 prize in the process, in a smashing time of 01:31:55 and our very own SuperVet, the astonishing Jim Breen, who won 1st MV60, knocking out a superb 01:29:39 in the process! Outstanding!!

Top 3 Men: 1st Gideon Kimosop (Project Africa Athletics) – 1:05:51, 2nd Gary O’Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers) – 1:09:05, 3rd Gary Henderson (Armagh AC) – 1:14:21

Top 3 Ladies: 1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 1:18:07, 2nd Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:22:10, 3rd Jacqueline McMonagle (City of Derry AC) – 1:29:21

Springwell results

59th Jimmy Stewart 01:24:14 PB, 142nd Gerard Mullan 01:29:13, 150th Jim Breen 01:29:39 1st MV60, 156th David McGaffin 01:30:27, 181 Karen McLaughlin 01:31:55 8th Lady & 1st FV45, 182nd Brian Geddis 01:31:55, 202nd Warren McIlmoyle 01:33:40 PB, 232 Kerrie McIlmoyle 01:35:02 PB &1st FV35, 303rd Ryan Kennedy 01:38:00, 999 Debbie Tutty PB 02:02:49 PB

Also on Saturday 26th March, over 150 athletes descended on the seaside village of Castlerock, close to Coleraine, for the annual Mussenden 10k Challenge, an event hosted by TVW Sports.

The scenic but challenging course covered a demanding multi-terrain route, taking in sections of road, grass and sandy beach although the athletes were rewarded for their efforts with stunning coastal views and a jaunt around the historic Mussenden Temple and Downhill Castle. This was testified to by our own Nigel Armstrong, whom I quote: “Great run today, loved the course, good support along the way, stunning views and a nice burger at the end.”

In an event won by Paul Carroll in 34:47 in the mens race and Shalene McMurray in 36:52 in the Ladies race, our Club Treasurer, Alison Rankin, continued to build her competitive comeback with another great run, finishing a brilliant 7th overall and 2nd Lady in 41:15.

First home for the men was Nigel in a strong 10th place, hot on Alisons heels, recording 41:30. Suggestions that Nigel only ran to get a free burger are disgraceful!

Springwell results: 7th Alison Rankin 41:15 (2nd Lady), 10th Nigel Armstrong 41:30, 18th Deborah Gilliland 43:43, 24th Jean Claude Bourgeois, 26th Neil McIvor 44:42, 39th Hugh Deighan 47:32, 60th Andrew Wilmot 51:14, 71st Michael Rankin 53:52, 98th Angela Calderwood 1:00:00.

Saturday also saw a good turnout of Springwell athletes for the extremely tough but popular Ballyliffin Coastal Challenge in Donegall, which offered a choice of two challenging routes, a 7 miler or a 10 miler, both involving a long steep climb and finishing with a two mile stretch of beach!

First home for the club in the 10 miler was Glenn Millar in a very impressive 64’ 54” and 10th place, in a race won by Seamus Ferry in 60:21. Great running on that course and for the conditions on the day, young Glenn!

First lady home for the Club was the Energiser Bunny herself, Ali McAllister, current Ladies Club Captain finishing in 83:01 and in the top 250 runners. Another great run from Ali!

Good to see Catherine Bell-Allen and Shirley Jackson taking part, as they prepare for an onorous Malin to Mizzen Head cycle challenge and Gregory O’Brien running well on his racing debut in Springwell colours!