Horrendous weather conditions, wind and rain, did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the thousands of runners taking part in last Monday’s (7 May) Deep River Rock 31st Belfast Marathon.
Conditions may have been bad for the runners but they were not pleasant for thousands of spectators who turned out to cheer on their friends and family.
Despite the atrocious weather conditions, Urga Negewo of Ethopia ran a superb time of 2:13: 41 to slice 75 seconds off the course record set by Jacob Chesire last year.
Kenya’s Alice Chelagat also found the conditions to her liking by taking 20 seconds off Marashet Jimma’s 2008 course record as she came home to win the ladies race in 2:39:02.
Springwell had seven runners completing the full distance, first home was Alistair Shaw in a new PB time of 3:13:25, James McMullan 3:15:02, Philip Given 3:25:24, Ross Armstrong 3:29:42 PB Jean-Claude Bourgeois 3:51:29 and Ali McAllister 4:06:14 PB.
Prospective new member Mark Alexander who trained with the Ballymoney group before Belfast finished in 5:11:58.
Well done to all the Springwell runners who completed legs of the relay for their various teams and those who took part in the fun run.
Springwell runners made a successful raid on the prizes in the Lisnagelvin 5K on Wednesday night 9 May.
There were two Springwell runners among the 120 taking part in the second race in the Furey 5K series on a cold and breezy evening.
Neil Johnston, who is warming up for the Ulster schools 5K at the weekend, finished in a tremendous 5th place, winning the MU20 category in a jaw dropping time of 15.55.
This was a new club record for 5K breaking Colin Loughery’s record (16:14) set back in 2005.
He was supported by Jim Breen who had a good run to win the MO55 category in 18.33.
The male winner was the Kenyan runner Freddie Keron Sittuk in 15.05, who two days earlier finished fifth in the Belfast marathon. Marina Campbell of City of Derry won the woman’s race in 18.32.
Hill & Dales series
Last Thursday, 170 hardy runners lined up at the bottom of a cloud-topped Slieve Binnian for the start of the 4th race in the Hill & Dales series, Binnian to the Top.
Consisting of almost 2000ft of climbing in less than 2 miles, this must be one of the few races where the “sprint finish” consists of scrambling over a steep rocky slope on your hands and knees!
Robbie Bryson, running for Newcastle AC, proved that despite being over 50, he has not lost his legendary climbing ability by leading the field to the summit in an amazing time of 23:32.
Newcastle made it a clean sweep of the top three with Ian Bailey second (24:34) and David McKibben third (25:04).
In the ladies race, Lagan Valley’s Shileen O’Kane took her second victory in the series in 27:37, followed by Diane Wilson in second (28:46) and Springwell’s sole representative in the race, Gillian Wasson, in third and 1st FO35 (29:58).
Belfast Waterworks Parkrun
On Saturday Jim and Agnes Platt took part in the Belfast Waterworks Parkrun. Jim completed the 5K course in 23:17 and Agnes improved her PB for the course to 35:13.
Rising Stars squad
On Saturday, 5 May, Athletics NI held the final competition of the year for the Rising Stars squad at the Antrim Forum. All the athletes who have been training hard in the programme since last September came together to compete in four disciplines, the 100m, Shot Putt, Long Jump and 800m.
Kirsty McBarnet from Ballymena and Antrim AC and Mathew Dalton received trophies for the best over-all male and female performances
The Rising Stars programme is one of the first steps on the Athletics NI Development pathway.
Each athlete receives a high standard of coaching across four key athletic disciplines; sprints, jumps, throws and endurance.
The aim of the programme is to identify and develop young athletes across the multiple disciplines.
Talent Development Coach, Catherine Crawford, also used this opportunity to thank all the coaches on the programme.
Without the commitment on and off the track from each coach the programme would not be able to exist.
Springwell had four junior athletes in the programme.
Their results Aife McSheffrey - Long Jump 3.98, Shot 5.21, 100m 13.9, 800m 2.32.9; Leah Gilfillan - Long Jump 3.42, Shot 5.22, 100m 14.1, 800m 2.48.1; Jill Thompson - Long Jump 3.77, Shot 4.92, 100m 15.8, 800m 188.8.131.52 and Sinead Gormley - Long Jump 3.54, Shot 4.69, 100m 15.9.
The competition ended off with a BBQ and a chance for the athletes to relax with all their new friends.
Flahavan’s Athletics NI Cross Country Squad
Also at the Antrim Forum on Saturday 5 May was the Flahavan’s Athletics NI Cross Country Squad.
Three Springwell juniors went in the 1000m. Andrew Gordon finished 4th in 3.26.2, Stephanie Forsythe-Wilson 3.56.6 and Eileanoir Blair 4.00.0.
On Sunday 29 April the Greater Manchester Marathon returned after a 10-year absence.
The 26 mile 385 yard course took in some key landmarks and beautiful countryside around the borough of Trafford.
The course is one of the flattest in the world, which is great for anyone doing their first marathon, or for those looking to improve their personal best time.
Unfortunately the conditions were to say the least horrendous with gale force winds, torrential rain and bitter cold for the majority of the race, and at stages it was more like a trail race with mud and water 4 inches deep.
First across the line for Springwell was Richard Crown 3:30:35 closely followed by Kenny Coulter 3:30:37, Nicky McPeake 3:30:54, Janeen McGregor 3:49:56 and Paul O’Neill 4.05.21 all were happy with their results and a good weekend was had by all.