ATHLETICS: Springwell AC holds awards night

Ciara Toner receives the athlete of the year awards from Springwell RC President Jim Reid
Ciara Toner receives the athlete of the year awards from Springwell RC President Jim Reid

Saturday evening saw Springwell Running Club gather at the Bushtown Inn, Coleraine for their annual awards evening.

Hosted by Club President Mr Jim Reid MBE the evening celebrates the athletic achievements and contributions that members have made to the club.

With a year of victories, podium finishes and new club records it was Ciara Toner who won the ladies club championship and the female athlete of the year.

In 2017 Ciara recorded victories at the Termoneeny 10k, Wilkies 5 Mile Road Race and the Dessies 10k Road Race as well as a very credible third place in the 2017 Belfast Half Marathon.

Amongst numerous other wins and podium finishes she also set new club records for the 10k, 10 mile and half marathon distances as well as earning representative honours when she ran for the Northern Ireland Master F35 team at Gransha Park Cross Country.

The men’s club championship was won by Steven McAlary. Steven had a very successful year, winning the Cookstown Half Marathon and the Run Rathlin 10 mile Road Race. He also earned representative honours at the Gransha Cross Country where his efforts earned Northern Ireland the Bronze Medal.

The male athlete of the year was Neil Johnston. Neil has represented Northern Ireland at several events during 2017, including the prestigious Armagh International Road Races and International Track & Field events at the Mary Peters Track.

Throughout 2017 Neil has claimed numerous wins and podium places, most recently winning the Comber Cup, Malcolm Cup and the Gransha Cross Country. In 2017 he set new club records for the 5 and 10k and, when winning the Lacpatrick five he set a new club record for the five mile.

On Saturday 27th January this event, hosted by Athletics NI, was held at the impressive Billy Neill Centre of Excellence for Soccer in Dundonald.

The heavy rain throughout January meant that the course, made up of 2k laps was already heavy going and became increasingly slippy as the race programme progressed. The conditions however did nothing to detract from some excellent performances.

In the Masters Men’s 8k race it was experiences mountain runner Ian Bailey (Newcastle AC) who took first place in a tightly contested race.

There was little between the lead group until the final lap when Ian and Neil Weir (Willowfield Harriers) broke away from the lead group to battle to the line, with Ian just edging it in 27.42.

Neill claimed a well-deserved second place in 27.44, with Dermot McElchar (Finn Valley AC) crossing the line third in 27.59.

Springwell RC had three representatives at the race with Paul Thompson 28th in 30.44, Alex Brennan 42nd 31.50 and Barry Mullan 53rd 32.54.

Saturday 26th January saw the penultimate event of the Sperrin Harriers winter league trail series, the Drum Manor 10k, take place at Drum Manor Forest Park outside Cookstown.

This popular event consisted of two 5k laps through the forest park and it was the winner of the previous race in the series, the An Creagan 5 Miler, Jason Wilson (Ballymena Runners AC) who again won with a time of 37.13, Shane Donnelly (Unaffiliated) was second in 37.36 while Conor Maguire (Omagh Harriers) finished third place in a time of 37.40.