It was a busier week of running for the Harriers. The action began on Wednesday 29th January at Delamont Country Park, near Downpatrick. This was the Co. Down Secondary Schools Cross Country Chaampionship, a great opportunity to watch the next generation of runners in action. Ballydrain Harriers were represented in the Senior Boys race which covered 6k. The race was won by Micael McCaul (St. Colmans, Newry) in 23.47, James Gracey (Aquinas G.S. Belfast) was 2nd in 24.27 with Jared Martin (Regent House, Newtownards & Ballydrain Harriers) 3rd overall in 25.15. Matthew Carville (Our Lady and St. Patricks, Knock & Ballydrain Harriers) was very close behind in 6th in a time of 2515. As a result of their super runs, both boys have qualified for the Ulster Schools Cross Country Championship which takes place on Wednesday 12th February at Mallusk Playing Fields. We wish both boys every success on that day also.
On Saturday 1st February, a number of Harriers travelled to Cookstown to run in the ‘Irwin Speirs Memorial Cross Country’. The race was held at the Mid Ulster Sports Arena (MUSA) on a very muddy, hilly course. The ladies race was 5k (3 laps). It was won by Helen Lavery (Beechmount Harriers) in 20.38, Karen Wilton (Jog Lisburn) was 2nd, Leann Gibson (Victoria Park & Connswater AC) 3rd. Our very own Alison Stocks (Ballydrain Harriers) finished 4th overall in 21.53, narrowly missing out on a podium place. Next up for the Harriers were Amanda Perry (23.00) and Emma Newell (25.43). Well done to all of the ladies from Ballydrain who ran and were the 3rd team overall.
The men ran next, covering 6.5k (4 laps). This race was won by Timothy Johnston (Mourne Runners) in 23.33. The home club Acorns had a good day with Vincent McKenna in 2nd and Darrell McKee 3rd. First home for the Harriers was captain Drew Fowler (27.34), leading by example! He was followed by Colin Bell (29.27) and Sam Hughes (30.43).
Luke Wallace runs on having lost a shoe in the mud at Cookstown
A huge thanks to all who made the journey as this race was part of the NI Cross Country League so all runners gained points for the club. A special mention to Darren Weir and Luke Wallace who both lost a shoe during the race and kept on running – this proves how muddy it was! Also to Sam Hughes our chauffeur for the day, thank you!
Saturday also brought nearly 800 runners to Antrim Castle Gardens for the 7th round of the Run Forest Run series. The weather wasn’t as kind as the previous races with wind and rain making the course a little trickier. This is probably the flattest run of the series with the route starting in the grounds of Antrim Castle and looping out and back around the ruins of Shane’s Castle to the finish line in the Castle Gardens. Kyle Ross was the sole representation for Ballydrain in the 5K, finishing in 5th position with a time of 19:24. In the 10k event four members competed with Anne McClurg pipping Jill Burgess at the post to come in first for Ballydrain in a superb time of 50:29.
Also taking place on Saturday was the inaugural We Run Wild NI Carrickfergus Trail Midnight Marathon and Half Marathon. Over 150 competitors donned their high-viz jackets and head torches and, using a road book instead of following route markers, found their own way around the forest paths, reservoir paths, tracks and trails of Carrickfergus. Chris Livingstone was the first home in the marathon in a time of 3:46:48, while Karen Wilton came in first in the half marathon in 1:45:45. For Ballydrain Harriers, Richard Coey finished the half marathon in 1:52:59, taking 4th overall and third male.