Springwell runners perform well at 2016 Belfast City Marathon

Dave Sexton had a great run at the Belfast marathon
Dave Sexton had a great run at the Belfast marathon

This week started off with a strong international flavour on Bank Holiday Monday, featuring participants from across the world at the Belfast City Marathon.

On Saturday the Belfast International Track & Field event saw top-class competitors from across the U.K. and Ireland assemble at the Mary Peters track.

Gentleman Chris Millar en-route at the Annalong Horseshoe

Gentleman Chris Millar en-route at the Annalong Horseshoe

Springwell was represented at both of these high profile events in addition to several local events including the Termoneeny 10k, local and National parkruns and even triathlons!

Tens of thousands of runners and spectators took to the streets of Northern Ireland’s capital city, Belfast for the 35th annual running of the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon and the associated Team Relay event.

Springwell had a good number of runners taking part in both the full marathon and the relay events as well as Chris Denton and Ali Shaw on pacing duties.

As the race progressed so the heat of the sun increased, making the long winding drag up the Antrim Road something of an ordeal as the suns rays beat down relentlessly on the back of the runners heads.

Once this ascent was conquored the runners soon reached the turning point of Gideons Green and then had a long slog back into Belfast into a fierce headwind along the exposed cycle-path beside the M2.

Many runners began to experience cramps at this stage as dehydration began to take its toll.

Although there were plenty of water stations, the water was being offered in plastic cups, rather than bottles, which are hard to grasp when running and also in the process of grabbing them, most of the water is squeezed out, ending up on the ground. Small bottles are much better. Take a note, organisers and sponsors.

First home for the club in a brilliant 36th place overall was Paul Thompson in 02:56:41.

However, Paul was very disappointed, as he had hoped for much better bu,t the weather conditions on the day scuppered any hopes of a sub 3:50, of which Paul is certainly capable. Paul also suffered some cramping in the final few miles further hampering his efforts but sill a great run nonetheless.

Next home for the club was quiet man Dave Sexton, who had an equally fantastic run, finishing 118th in 03:11:19, followed by club newcomer Robert Nethery who ran superbly to finish in a PB of 03:24:31, in his first marathon in club colours. Brilliant Robert!

Next in were training partners and good friends Steven Magill and Hugh Boyle who had both suffered from very poor preparation for Belfast but went ahead with the run anyway, as they did not wish to let down the charity they were running for. Both struggled with injury, tightening calf muscles and lack of miles to record, for them, relatively slow times of 03:25:36 and 03:25:40 respectively. Still great times but, well off their PBs’ and what we know they are capable of.

Next in and having fantastic runs were Stephen Rainey in 03:30:35 PB and Davy MacNicol, who also recorded a PB in finishing in 03:37:20, closely followed by Linda Gillen, another hit by recent injury problems, still recording a fine 03:40:06.

Eddie Clyde, cruised round in 03:54:58, obviously having a ball, along with Nigel McNeill, who recored an identical chip time.

Ladies Club Captain, Ali McAllister performed impressively, while not gaining a PB, broke the 4 hour barrier for Belfast specifically, for the first time and was justly delighted.

Ali also quite possibly recorded the highest number of shout-outs from the spectators!

The benefit of having your name printed on the front of your vest! Finally, for the club, Noel McAllister gamely stuck to the task to also complete the run in under four hours, finishing in 03:59:41.

Having run a few legs of the relay on the day myself and never having done a marathon, it was a great experience to see the levels of sheer commitment and dogged determination displayed by all our runners, at all levels, to complete this distance, regardless of time!

A fantastic achievement by all and very well done, each and everyone, particularly to those who ran PBs on a difficult course, on a difficult day.

It was also great to see many familiar face in the relay teams including Neil Johnston, running for QUB, whose squad finished second in the ULTRA-competitive relay race, Julie Millican, Mervyn Thompson, The Blee family and several of the Portrush parkrun squad, to name but a few.

On Saturday a plethora of athletic talent from across the UK and Ireland descended on Mary Peters Track, Belfast for the Belfast International Track & Field Meeting organised jointly by Athletics NI, Irish Milers and Beechmount Harriers.

On a day of inspiring athletics, there were numerous quality performances, which helped make the day a resounding success in both the eyes of the athletes and the spectators, despite the wet conditions, including a rash of outstanding performances by several of our younger athletes!

Luke Dinsmore had an excellent run to claim victory in the 800m D race in 02:02:76, while Johnny McKee claimed a superb 3rd and 04:03:77 PB in the1500m B race.

In the 1500m A race Neil Johnston finished a highly impressive 8th in 03:55:67 PB, while Aine McKinney excelled in the 800m B race to finish 4th in 02:19:19 PB.

Jack Culbertson also ran a fantastic Pb in the U15 800m race, finishing in 02:21:65 and Ryan Cullen claimed an excellent 4th 200m B race, recording 23:53 over the distance.

Fabulous to see so many PBs so early in the season, the hard winter training obviously paying off, so great credit to their two very dedicated and talented coaches Ali Bratten and Philip Tweedie.

Also on Saturday mountain runners from across the province took part in the famous Annalong Horseshoe Mountain Race, which is the third race of this year’s Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championship.

The race is classed as a ‘long’ event for NIMRA Championship purposes and measures 13.1 miles in distance with 1,550 metres of ascent incorporated, traversing 5 peaks including The Chimney, Commendagh, The Cove, Lamagan and finally Binnian.

Springwells sole representative in this madness was Gentleman runner and Scholar, the erudite Chris Millar, who would undoubtable run much faster if he could just overcome his innate gentlemanliness, stopping frequently to rescue damsels in distress and the like!

Still, young Chris turned in a superb run in this hell on earth, finishing a tremendous 22nd Overall in 03:06:30, in a high quality field, finishing ahead of such notables as Mark Alexander and former team-mate Gillian Wasson.