Hundreds of athletes from across N. Ireland descended on Stormont Estate for the penultimate fixture of the ongoing Athletics NI Cross Country League, the Stormont Cross Country, hosted by Northern Ireland Civil Service AC.
Conditions on the day were almost perfect, barring the blustery wind. The race day programme kicked off with Primary School races, before moving onto the Junior races, all of which were hotly contested.
Springwell Juniors Times: Primary School - Keziah McCracken 7:26, Emma Service 11:34. Under 13 Girls - Niamh Mulligan 13:13, Leionha Mulligan 15:10, Amy Craig 15:14. Under 15 Boys - Adam Campbell 19:12.
The ‘main event’ of the day was the combined Senior and Masters Men’s and Ladies race, which saw the ladies complete two laps (3.2 miles) and the men three laps (4.8 miles).
After the field had negotiated the tight first section and things began to settle, it was Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) and Neil Johnston (Springwell RC) who took up position at the front of the men’s pack. In the ladies race, Cathy McCourt (North Belfast) started well, and quickly put a gap between herself and the pursuing Lauren Quee (Lagan Valley AC), Laura Hassan (Springwell RC), Emma Burgess (Highgate Harriers) and Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers).
Cathy McCourt led the ladies into their second lap, which took them from the Pavilion area of the scenic estate right across to the famous ‘Avenue’, were they crossed the road and negotiated a tough ‘boggy’ section before again crossing to head back towards the Pavilion. As they crossed the ‘Avenue’ for the final time Springwell’s Laura Hassan was lying second but had to drop out feeling unwell. In the end, Cathy McCourt broke the tape in 21:03; Lauren Quee took second place in 21:27, while Gerrie Short secured the final podium place in 21:53. In the team competition, Springwell Running Club claimed the top prize and full bonus points to go back to the top of the Cross Country League two points ahead of City of Derry with one race left.
Springwell Ladies Times - Gemma Turley 22:22, Aife McSheffrey 22:43, Fran McFadden 22:49, Deborah Gilliland 24:42, Kerrie McIlmoyle 24:45, Suzanne Arbuthnot 24:48, Bernadette O’Kane 24:57, Karen McLaughlin 25:17, Katherine Woods 26:07, Sarah Chestnutt 26:44, Catherine Butcher 26:57, Catherine Bell-Allen 27:00, Alison McAllister 27:49, Donna Brolly 30:12, Margaret Edgar 30:19, Judith McLaughlin 30:49, Amanda Simpson 31:29, Ursula Harper 31:35, Angela Calderwood 32:42
As the men made their way into the final lap, it was the in-form Seamus Lynch who was in control. Young Neil Johnston was approximately twenty metres back, while Stephen Wylie and David Steele had cemented themselves into third and fourth place respectively. Nothing changed in the final stages apart from the distance between Seamus and Neil; Seamus moved further clear and secured an impressive and well-deserved win in 27:14. Neil followed in 27:27, before Stephen Wylie completed the top three in 28:16 (3rd place). In the team standings, the ever impressive Newcastle AC were victorious. Springwell finish third team and remain in third place in the league.
Spriingwell Mens Times - Neil Johnston 27:27 (2nd MO), Luke Dinsmore28:28, Philip Tweedie 29:04 (1st M45), Paul Thompson 31:25, Conor Christie 31:43, Bryan Edgar 32:15, Colin Loughery 32:32, Ryan Murray 32:41, Gerry O’Doherty 33:33, Paul Campbell 35:49, Ricky Cochrane 36:46, Roger Poland 37:16, Noel McAllister 37:56, Darran Alexander 43:20, Bob McLaughlin 44:59, Kenny Bacon 53:58.
Jim Breen was Springwell’s sole representative at the penultimate race of the Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series in An Creagan, just outside Omagh.
In snowy conditions, Jim completed the five mile course in 34:22 to win the M60 age category.
Omagh Harriers’ Paul Barbour led the runners’ home in 26:48. Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) celebrated her return to action with a master-class in front running leading the ladies home in 32:45.
On Saturday, Springwell Juniors travelled to Magherafelt’s Meadowbank Stadium for the NI & Ulster Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Girls Under 12 Tolulope Jide-Ojo finished second in her 60m heat in 9.09 to qualify for the final. In the final she finished fourth in 9.08. She finished 8th in the 600m in 1:59.35.
Girls Under 14 Natasha Simmons ran 9.51 in her 60m heat. She then ran 3:15.08 in the 800m.
Boys Under 14 Eoghan Gormley finished 11th in 2:39.74.
St Patrick’s College, Dungiven welcomed over one hundred and fifty athletes to the second running of their 10K (and associated 5K) road race.
John Paul Gartland (Unattached) 36:23 and Sarah-Jane McFadden (North Belfast) 45:58 took the major honours.
Springwell Times - Aidan Devine 42:08, Gerard Mullan 42:40, Kevin McLean 43:24, Noel Harkin 44:09 (PB), Simon Moore 45:54, Amanda Connell 47:59, Nigel McNeill 48:25, Nigel Hylands 49:47, David Boorman 56:45
Springwell’s Christopher Millar led the runners home in the 5K crossing the line in 18:53 closely followed by Stephen Fillis second in 19:21.
On Sunday 25 January seven Springwell Runners travelled to Belfast for the latest race in East Antrim Marathon Series. John Apperley led the runners’ home over the 4 lap course to win the race in 3:06:14. Nicki McPeak was 3rd in 3:15:25, Ali Shaw 3:25:25, Colin Apperley 3:56:11, McNeill 3:57:49, John Butcher 3:58:43 and Simon Moore 4:08:09.
Ballycastle Runner Helena Dornan was the first lady home in 3:49:26.
Despite the high winds, the low tide enabled Saturdays Portrush parkrun to take place along the traditional beach route. The rain and hail stayed away just long enough for everyone to cross the finish line.
There were 40 runners with tourist from Lisburn parkrun, 5 first timers, 2 different athletics clubs represented and not surprisingly, due to the conditions, no PB’s.
First to finish was James Stewart in 21:33 and first lady was Sinead Peoples in 22:31 on her first visit to Portrush parkrun.
Springwell Times - Robert Workman 22:55, Mervyn Thompson 24:58, Andy Deal 27:15, Kay Hack 28:02, Fiona Walls 33:11, Abby Dutty 37:56
Debbie Tutty 38:01
Alistair Shaw led the runners’ home at the Waterworks parkrun in 19.00. Phillip Mullan ran 20:52 at Derry City parkrun and Liadhan McAnena ran a PB 31:25.
The Roe Valley Country Park Trail Run organised by Springwell Running Club in association with Northern Ireland Environment Agency will be held on Saturday 7 February. The organisers are delighted that Drenagh Sawmills will once again provide financial assistance for the event and look forward to a good days racing.
Entries will be taken on the day from 10.00 in the Ritter Tea Rooms at the Country Park. The entry fee is £6 for affiliated and £8 for unaffiliated runners with the first 100 runners getting a limited edition Travel Mug.
Racing under way at 11.30 with the Primary School (800m) followed by the Secondary School (1600m) at 11.50. The Female 8K race starts at 12.15 with the Male Junior and Vets at 12.25 and the Male Open at 12.35.