A record number of athletes (and spectators) descended on the stunning Mourne Mountains for the annual running of the 26extreme Mourne Way Marathon Series, an event that offered competitors a choice of distances.
The torrential rain which greeted the ultra-runners as they assembled subsided just before the 6am start, much to the delight of the athletes and race officials.
The eighty strong field then set off on a journey that would take them 26.2 miles from Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor to Donard Park, Newcastle and back. It wasn’t just the distance that the athletes had to negotiate though, but also the rugged, wet and at times technical terrain, as well as dense patchy fog and persistent rain. The race was won by Don Travers (Newry City Runners) in 8:11:56 (1st place). Springwell’s Ultra distance specialist, Nicki McPeak finished fourth in 8:46:25.
Respected endurance runner Susan McCartney completed the gruelling distance in 10:17:48 to secure top honours ladies race. Springwell’s Fran McFadden claimed second place in 10:51:22, an excellent achievement after her marathon personal best in the Walled City Marathon.
The strong marathon field set off from Donard Park, Newcastle at 12.30pm, making their way up through Donard Forest before veering right across the Mourne Way towards Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor.
Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) led the field home securing victory in 3:21:06. Ange Stevenson (Newcastle AC) finished strong in the ladies race to win in 4:42:26. Springwell’s Eddie Clyde and Nigel McNeill completed the 26.2 miles in 5:23:19 with John Butcher and Simon Moore coming home in 5:40:09.
Half Marathon: Men: 1st Mark McKinstry (North Belfast AC) - 1:28:54; Ladies: 1st Joanne Bolton (Kimberworth AC) - 1:53:07
10K Race: Men: 1st Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC) - 35:10; Ladies: 1st Ruth Hill (Unattached) - 43:44
5K Race: Men: 1st Andrew McIntyre (Orangegrove AC) - 19:05; Ladies: 1st Joy McAleer (Orangegrove AC) - 23:45.
Springwell juniors travelled to the Mary Peters Track on Saturday and Sunday for the NI & Ulster Track & Field Championships. Despite heavy rain causing challenging conditions, the young athletes all performed well.
800m - Girls U14 Hermione Skuce 3rd 2:31.72; Girls U16 Holly Woodhead 1st 2:22.29 (PB), Aine McKinney 3rd 2:24.10; Boys U17 Zac Hutchinson 3rd 2:03.32 (PB); Boys U18 Brian Tweedie 1st 2:09.41 (PB).
1500m - Girls U17 Aife McSheffrey 3rd 4:46.73(PB); Boys U17 Luke Dinsmore 3rd 4:13.98 (PB); Boys U18 Conor Christie 2nd 4:12.69 (PB).
Girls U15 80m Hurdles - Ellen Kirk 5th 15.36.
Girls U15 High Jump - Ellen Kirk 2nd 1.40m.
Boys U20 5000m - Ryan Murray 1st 18:20.
Shot Putt - Mathew O’Reilly 1st 12.60m.
Discus - Mathew O’Reilly 3rd 32.41m.
On Wednesday evening, Ballymena Runners welcomed well over three hundred athletes to their annual Fairhill 5 Mile Road Race, which takes place in the heart of town .
The positive atmosphere around the start line, located near the Braid Centre, was evident as the competitors prepared for the well organised event. In pleasant, if not a little breezy conditions, the athletes set off the two lap course.
The enthusiastic spectators lining the finishing straight welcomed Paddy Hamilton (Annadale Striders) as the strong running distance athlete powered home in a speedy 24:15. Local man, Jarlath Falls (Ballymena & Antrim, took second place in 25:49. Mark McKinstry (North Belfast) continued his notable form with another podium finish securing third place in 26:33.
Breege Connolly (North Belfast) looked a class above the field as she cruised into the finish, clocking 28:37 to take top honours in the ladies race. Fellow North Belfast athlete, Cathy McCourt crossed the line in 30:29 for second place before Christine Quinn (31:56) just pipped last year’s winner Springwell’s Gemma Turley (4th place - 32:01) for third place.
Springwell Times - Stephen Joyce 28:20 (1st MO35), Paul Thompson 28:57 (2nd MO35), Bryan Edgar 29:14 (1st MO50), Andrew Dowey 29:53, Dale Corbett 30:06, Gerry O’Doherty 30:38 (1st MO55), Christopher Millar 30:43 (PB), Steven Magill 30:55, Hugh Boyle 30:59 (1st MO60), Gemma Turley 32:01, Gerard Mullan 32:08, Brian Geddis 32:51 (2nd MO55), Leslie Ashe 33:01, Linda Gillen 35:05 (1st FO40), Robert Workman 35:39, Mervyn Thompson 35:55, Ali McAllister 37:05 (PB & 2nd FO45), Charlotte Hall 37:28, Russell Watton 38:41, Margaret Edgar 41:54 (PB), Ursula Harper 43:59, Catherine Byers 47:20, Bridgene Dunlop 47:19 (PB), Louise Feeney 47:29 (PB), Christine McKee 47:26 (PB), Denise Walker 47:59 (PB), Danny McHenry 48:34, Donna Mullagan 49:04, Kenneth Bacon 49:19.
One hundred and three runners from turned out on a damp Saturday morning for the Portrush parkrun. Low tide at 10.13am meant the sand was firm and the narrow estuary enabled the run to start and finish on the beach, only the third time this has been possible.
There were 17 first timers, 37 PB’s and representatives of 7 different athletics clubs taking part.
Springwell’s Glenn Millar was first home in a time of 18:40 and teammate Sonia Knox was first lady home in 19:23, both runners achieving new PB’s. Sonia also broke her own female course record by 13 seconds, which she had set on 1 February.
Springwell Times - Glenn Millar 18:40 (PB), Sonia Knox 19:23 (PB), David Jackson 19:40, Johnny Goldie 20:35, Nigel Armstrong 20:39 (PB), Rebekah Hunter 21.46 (PB), Karen McLaughlin 21:58, Jean-Claude Bourgeois 22:02, Mervyn Thompson 22:18, Robert Workman 22:28, Patrick Irwin 23:20 (PB), Lindsay Holden 23:41, Dave Holden 23:41, Rozzy Skuce 24:56, Sarah Chestnutt 25:25, Johnny Strang 25:32 (PB), Lynn Montgomery 25:58 (PB), Melanie Millar 28:14 (PB), Karen Morrison 29:23, Debbie Tutty 31:27, Caroline Taylor 31:28, Molly Blee 33:27, Jillian McLaughlin 36:01. Christopher Millar finished 3rd in a PB time of 19:11 and Kerrie McIlmoyle was 2nd lady in 22:06 at the Derry City parkrun. Bronagh Kearns ran a PB 25:37 at the ECOS parkrun