On the evening of Saturday 3th August Scrabo Striders Running Club held their “Run the Trails” open race at Mount Stewart, an all abilities running event comprising a 10km and Half Marathon (13.1 mile) chip-timed race around the beautiful forest trails and lake of the estate, starting and finishing in from of the iconic Mount Stewart House. The novel location drew just over 400 competitors and plenty of supporters to the event, blessed with cloudy but warm conditions.
Setting off at 6:30pm to cheers of support and music playing, the 10K race got underway with some 299 entrants smiling and waving for the many cameras. Competing one loop if the course, with the infamous Temple of the Winds hill towards the end, the winner was Mark Rushby from Ballydrain Harriers in an impressive time of 38 minutes 38 seconds, followed in second place by Paul Flynn also of Ballydrain in 38:46 with 3rd place being claimed by Dave Smyth of Island Runners in 40:29.
In the ladies race Clair Quigley from North Down AC crossed the line in 44:22 to claim first place followed by Rachel McCusker of Dewsbury Road Runners in 46:53, with 3rd place going to Claire Ingram of Ballydrain Harriers in 47:39. Hosts Scrabo Striders had some 70 athletes entered, coming in overall 12th for the club was Peter Kerr in 45:30, followed by Justin Clegg 46:58 and Peter McGonigal in 47:43. First Scrabo lady was Lynn Sheldon in 53:35, second Emma Clements 53:48 and third Debbie Atkinson in 55:38, while Kelly Houston ran her first ever 10K on the night with Rachel Murdock volunteering as tail runner. Well done all!
The Half Marathon race set off with some 146 athletes taking part. With comments ranging from “challenging” to “tough” to “brutal” the consensus was that the organisers had mapped out a 13.1 mile course to test the entrant’s mettle.
Rising to this challenge in style was Gareth Lyons from North Belfast Harriers who claimed 1st place in a phenomenal 1 hour, 23 minutes and 36 seconds, well ahead of 2nd place Stephen Dickson in 01:29:24 while 3rd place and a spot on the podium went to Michael McLernon of Dromore AC in 01:31:33. First place in the ladies’ race went to Kerry Speers of North Down AC for the second year in a row in 01:37:38, second place to Linda McDougall 01:46:25 and 3rd to Catherine Cauley of Scrabo Striders in 01:48:45. Congratulations guys, setting the bar high indeed.
Scrabo Striders had 46 athletes take on the Half which saw David Stephenson finish first for the Club in 1 hour 40 minutes 51 seconds, significantly ahead of Jonny Kinney 01:47:55 followed by Abrar Hossain in 01:48:15. The first Scrabo lady to cross the line for Scrabo was Catherine Cauley (01:48:45) followed by Lesley Semple in 01:59:26 and Kerri Anderson in 02:01:24.
Next to finish for Scrabo were Thomas Steele, Connor McNamara, Paul Morrow, Justin Black, Shannon Clegg, John Brown and Garry Cavill. Graeme McGowan and Norman Mawhinney brought up the rear and made sure all made it to the finish safely, these gents having already competed a half marathon earlier the same day!
Scrabo Striders running club would like to give a big thanks to Lady Rose Lauritzen and The National Trust and staff without whose kind permission and enthusiastic assistance this fantastic event would simply not have been possible. Also a big thanks to our main sponsor Patton’s Bakery. The Committee would also like to thank all those who provided sandwiches, cakes and buns for the post-race feed, the volunteer course Marshals and of course the nearly 140 Scrabo Striders who competed.
By George McGonigal
Photo : Gareth Robson Photography