The 3rd Running of Sunday’s Molloy’s Fish & Chips Co. Down 5KM took place in Downpatrick in St. Patrick’s Square with all proceeds to local charity Downpatrick Autism Family Support Group!
A spectacle of running uniquely kept within the town centre of the County town of Down with a very special atmosphere because of the lapped course on par with the famous Armagh International Road Running Races in February.
This race is 7 and a bit laps of a circuit starting at Downpatrick Bus Station running down market street turning left towards the St Patrick’s Centre running around the back of the bus station and back out onto Market Street back to the start and do it 7 times to complete the 5km distance labelled fast, flat, PB (Personal Best) Course.
With 3 races for all abilities each race narrowed down to 3 time slots for the distance 25mins + finishing time, then 18-25mins for more seasoned runners, finishing off with the Elite category under 18mins to crown Co. Down 5km champion, it really is for all abilities. The action started of with first, the kids’ fun races half a lap and one lap with ages from as young as 3 to 10 being catered for, goodie bags and medals aplenty.
Next off was the 25mins + category this race caters for runners who have just started their running journey and the smiles could be seen for miles as each lap they were cheered by family members and supporters, however with any race there’s always a competitive end the race was won in fine fashion by improving Christine Rice (Tel’s Fitness) 24mins 33secs with closely followed 2nd Madeleine Crawford (Tel’s Fitness) 24mins 38secs fresh from her Dublin Marathon exploits and 3rd John Connor (Unattached) 25mins 3secs, with every runner collecting an impressive technical event branded tshirt.
The second race was won from the gun with renowed local runner Barrie Atkinson, now with the newly formed Down Triathlon Club, he looked assured from the front and measured his running never looking like he was under a lot of pressure, comfortably winning in a time of 17mins 53sec this bodes well after a break from running were he plan’s to race triathlon next year!
2nd Place went to Niall Goodman (Unattached) who came through well and finished very strong in a fine 18mins 2secs. Same can be said for Kyle Montgomery (Victoria Park & Connswater AC, Belfast) flying home when others we’re tying up in a fine 18min 22secs.
The highlight of the day, however, was who would be crowned Co. Down 5KM male and female champion on this fast, flat, lapped running course. With the atmosphere unrivaled in the town centre, the elite athletes fed off the buzz from the crowd pushing their limits.
From the gun last years runner up Eoin Hughes (Acorns AC) Cookstown, flew to the first bend setting an amazing pace which gapped the field, chatting to Eoin before his plan was to go out hard and keep pushing to try break the 15min barrier and set a new course record!
Eoin is no stranger to breaking record’s together with his father Tommy, they collectively broke the Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon by a father and son at Frankfurt Marathon less than 3 weeks earlier. Tommy “Marrakesh Express” Hughes (59) running 2hrs 27mins and Eoin 2hrs 31mins for a combined time of 4hrs 59mins over 2mins quicker than the previous record.
As the action hotted up and the pace slightly dipped Eoin was on target for breaking 15mins and a new challenge was coming from Club Veteran Eoin Mullan from Omagh Harriers who was picking up his pace and chipping away at Hughes lead, meanwhile in behind Tommy Hughes was writing his own script he was on target to break the World Record 5km time for his age category he needed to break 16mins 30secs.
The excitement amongst the crowds in St. Patrick’s Square knew they were witnessing something special. The bell rang for the last of the 7 laps with the 2 Eoin’s clear of the field and would prove to be a real battle to the finish with Eoin Hughes just getting the kick on Eoin Mullan and crossing the line with hands aloft in a fab new course record of 15mins 9secs and County Down 5km Champion, with the gritty Mullan just behind in 15mins 10secs, 3rd Place went to the North Belfast Harriers athlete Gareth Lyons in 15mins 46secs.
So what of our World Record attempt from a true Northern Irish sporting hero Ex-Olympian Tommy Hughes (Termoneeny Running Club) Magherafelt, again speaking before hand he knew he was in shape and his aim was to go out and press the boundaries of the record. His pace was measured and showing all that experience he fairly nailed the record in a time of 16mins 13secs! The cheers and congratulations at the finish were un-paralled, anyone there knew this was special.
A true modest gent with a steely competitive nature Tommy who competed less than 24hrs earlier in Liverpool and flew home on Saturday evening to then travel to Downpatrick from Magherafelt, is truly phenomenal and he could teach many a young athlete a thing or too!
The ladies race wasn’t as exciting but the personal best performance by Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) 16mins 50secs was one that sets a new course record. Rachel who was runner-up in 2018 shows a continued dedication to improve she has been a great supporter of the Co Down 5km from it’s outset reveling in the lapped nature of the course.
2nd Place went to local girl Catherine O’Connor (East Down Athletic) in 17mins 50secs with the podium finished off with Newcastle Athletics Club’s Mari Troeng 18mins 44secs.
A lovely presentation at the steps of the St Patrick’s Centre for all winners and back to Murphy’s Bar for a fine spread of tea and refreshements were a raffle was held Downpatrick Autism Family Support Group.
The event was massively supported far and wide, we thank everyone for their support the appreciation is greatly received and we are humbled by the generosity within Downpatrick and beyond. While it would be unfair to mention names we’d like to thank all the background team at Tel’s Fitness who are such a community of liked minded people and lastly to the runners who make this event the amazing record breaking success it was in 2019!
Andrew Telford & Gavin Oakes – Tel’s Fitness & Health Studio, Downpatrick