East Down AC Members Run Off Their Christmas Turkey

East Down AC members out running over Christmas

East Down AC runners were out running over Christmas

Titanic Festival of Running.

Alison and Ella Carroll with Sharon Madine at the start of the 10K. (Photos 1,2,3 courtesy of East Down AC)

Glenn Grant of Championchip Ireland provided the perfect reason for runners to get off the sofa on Boxing Day. He lined up 2 races – a 5K and a 10K which were held in the Harbour Estate in Belfast and while the weather was unkind to say the least, the course was flat with a perfect surface and the roads were closed writes Allison Carroll.

It may not be everyone’s ideal way to spend the morning after Christmas Day, but close to 400 individuals saw it as a way to offset their indulgence and perhaps make room for round two of festivities.

The 5K started at 10.30 on the dot. So punctual in fact that East Down AC’s Sharon Madine missed the start of that race and so she talked herself into doing the 10K as penance.

There were 168 starters with plenty of quality runners at the front of the pack who were obviously there to do more than merely run off the turkey.

The top 5 men broke 16 minutes with Gerard Heaney of North Belfast Harriers taking the win in 15.36.

The fastest Female was Dearbhla Cox of Annadale Striders in 17.51. East Down had 5 entrants including 3 juniors.

Oliver Robinson led the club home in 17.41 which is a massive 50 seconds faster than his previous best that was set in Victoria parkrun a few months.

Jacob Crawford crossed the line in 18.38 showing that the consistent training is paying off and James Wright was delighted to breach 20 minutes and gain a new personal best time of 19.54.

Gordy Graham (centre) – winner of the Burren Townlands 10 Mile – also pictured are (right) Brendan Heaney 2nd and Conor Morgan (left) 3rd.

These results are a great morale booster for the youngsters. Maureen Kelly (mother of James) ensured that the family standards were upheld when she also bagged a pb with 23.20.

Marguerite (mum to Oliver) said that it took at least until half way to thaw her frozen hands and she was glad to see the finish line looming. She was happy enough with her time of 25.57 and even happier to jump in the car and head home!

Maureen Kelly and Marguerite Robinson all smiles once they were finished the 5K

In the 10K which began at 11.30am there were 230 entrants. The top 3 finishers were in within the 30 minute barrier. In first place was Ben Branagh (a previous Jimmy’s 10K winner) in a time of 29.39. The top Female was Gillian McCrory of St Peter’s AC in 38.31.

James Wright pushing the last few metres of the 5K. (Photos 4, 5 and 6 courtesy of Keep Fit Ireland.)

East Down AC had 4 runners all female. As mentioned Sharon Madine was only there by default. Having got lost en route and failed to get to the 5K start she felt that the only way to save face was to run the 10K.

She actually ran very well and in the end was happy to have doubled her exercise goal for the day. Her time of 46.16 placed her as 15th Female out of 90 and was not that far off her pb.

This is impressive since she prefers 5K to 10K and also that she arrived with no intention of racing that distance.

In addition the blustery conditions were not ideal for chasing times. Alison and Ella Carroll opted for the 10K over the 5K based on the later start and the chance of a lie in.

It turned out that the rain had also eased by then so it was a good call. Alison ran a well paced race and was as pleased with her consistent splits as she was with her time of 51.18.

Ella has not fitted much training in of late but with characteristic grit she ploughed on to the finish in a time of 54.55. Mags Flynn slipped across the line between these two in a very respectable 53.15. It was a well organised event with adequate parking and toilets.

All entrants received a t-shirt and medal and even the poor weather did not detract from the smug feeling of achievement for those who turned out. Kudos to Glenn Grant for his efforts to make this happen.

Burren Townland Races

Jacob Crawford looking focused mid race.

Meanwhile closer to home the rain had cleared early on to give a bright mild day. Gordy Graham was out for the Burren Townland 10 Miler and said it was almost too warm! The contrast in the photos of this compared to the Belfast meet is marked.

Gordy had a great race and took the win by a clear margin in a time of 58.27 but he was keen to point out that his closest adversary Brendan Heaney was denied the chance to race it out when he took an unfortunate tumble.

Gordy had the good grace to help his rival up but it seemed that the fall took its toll and Brendan never really got back on track. He did hold on to second place but he was 4 minutes behind Gordy in the end. Another podium for Gordy to end a successful 2021.

Turkey Trot

It was no surprise to find that Niall Gibney was in the mountains on Boxing Day. This time however instead of a solo escapade, he had signed up for the annual Turkey trot organised by BARF (Belfast Association of Rock climbers and Fell runners).

This arduous run started at Meelmore Lodge then headed up the lane to the Mourne Wall. The climbing continued up to Trassey Track Ford and  then up to the Bernagh-Meelmore col.

Oliver Robinson on his way to a pb in the 5K.

Niall said that the paths were like mini streams after the deluge on Christmas Day and he described the river crossing below the col as “interesting.”

To others that probably means practically impassable but the runners toiled on finally reaching Meelmore-Meelbeg Saddle. Our intrepid mountain man reported that, “From here the brakes were off and it was a fun fast slippery downhill to the Happy Valley.”

A further treacherous stretch took them along the Mourne Way back to the lane to Meelmore Lodge. A run like this requires agility as well as stamina so not all would be fit for the challenge and indeed it was a select field of 73 who set out.

After 1316 feet of climbing  over 4.79 miles Niall was pleased to make the top 20, placing 19th overall. Another challenge safely navigated.