th running of Jimmy’s Ten, to give the St Patrick’s Festival a truly spectacular start writes Joe Quinn.
There were record breaking numbers of participants, both running and walking, in a total not far short of 800, while spectators at the start, finish and around the route provided great encouragement and atmosphere.
The race itself saw a new name added to the illustrious list of winners with North Belfast’s Stephen Scullion dominating from the start and end the dominance of the McAlister / Rowan duo who have claimed the last 9 titles between them.
Scullion, as is his habit, hit the front from the gun and was 27 seconds clear at the halfway point, racing away to cross the finish line 1minute and 14 seconds clear of Joe McAlister with Diarmuid Grant from City of Derry Spartans making his long journey worthwhile completing the podium places.
For the second year in a row North Belfast’s Eamon White took 4th place but had the consolation of taking the Over 40 prize again with Abbey’s Simon Taylor 5th and Willowfield’s Allan McCullough, hinting at a return to form in 6th and claiming the Over 45 title ahead of Newcastle’s Deon McNeilly who actually ran 11 seconds faster than last year. Age clearly means nothing to these two great warriors.
East Down’s first man home was Brendan Teer as last year in seventh place, with training partner and adversary Liam Venney almost 2 minutes behind in 20th
place. Stephen Shannon gave further notice of the rising strength of the promoting club, finishing in 36.29 to take 2nd
place in the Over 35 category, with Liam Keenan producing another fine effort in 37.02.
Providing superb local interest in the Ladies race was Newcastle’s in form Kerry Harty who dominated the race from the start, stretching her 6 second half way lead to half a minute over Dromore’s Julie Turley at the line, with North Down’s Julie Balmer three and a half minutes further back in 3rd
The introduction of pacers proved a popular innovation. The home club provided pace leaders for (sub) 40, 45, 48, 50 and 60 minutes and the idea was to set a steady even pace, the key to all long distance running, to enable runners at various levels to achieve these specific target times.
Philip Vint, whose idea it was, had the honour of leading the 40 minute chasers, which was the one I wanted to do but had to settle for the 60 slot as it was the only one left. And not only did the group leaders provide a focal point to those who stuck with them but also provided a useful marker to others in judging where they were in relation to their own aspirations.
Beating the clock is the goal which fuels runners outside the elite category and for whom the attainment of their target is as important as the performances of those at the front. After race comments certainly indicated it was a great success. Among the many to achieve personal bests were Philip Orr, Maeve McDonald, Anita Redmond, John Oakes, Margaret Straney, Elaine Byrne, Denis McKay, Lorraine McLean, Cathrina Kielty and special guest Gerry Duffy who had travelled from Mullingar to renew his acquaintance with the Quoile Pondage area, the scene of his completion of leg 24 of his 32 marathons in 32 days in each of the counties of Ireland last July.
He was delighted to achieve a personal best of 38.09 and later was presented with a special painting of Down Cathedral to remind him of the climb around it which he enjoyed so much. Gerry has written a book on the 32 Marathon adventure and it will be on sale at end of March.
Another significant and much appreciated feature was the number of runners from the other local clubs, Newcastle and Murlough, and almost a full fifteen from Saul GAC as well as a sizeable presence from Newry City Runners.
Before the presentations the assembled crowd joined in a rousing and sustained ovation to the memory of the late Margaret McGrady who so enjoyed the buzz of Jimmy’s Ten day.
At the closing of the prizegiving the £700 holiday voucher was won by Newcastle’s PJ McCrickard and another voucher to the value of £100, courtesy of Downe Travel Service Ltd, was won by Kim Surginor.
Thanks are extended to Down District Council Chairman Eamonn O’Neill for his attendance, to all the marshals and everyone who helped at registration and with the post race refreshments, the Athletics NI officials, to principal sponsor MB McGrady & Co, Chartered Accountants, the other event sponsors, Dupes DVD and Video Duplication, Translink, Plus2Print, Wrap and Roll and Flowers by Tracey.
A special word is due to the staff in Down Leisure Centre who worked so hard to assist the smooth running of events in the Centre and to the PSNI personnel who contributed significantly to the success of the race by their presence around the course.
Charities to benefit from the proceeds of the event will be Cancer Research UK, the Niall Mellon Township Trust, the Neurosurgery Patient Comfort Fund, Royal Victoria Hospital, the Friends of Cancer Centre, Belfast City Hospital and a local club for children with autism.]]>