New running group takes to the streets of Carrickfergus:

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New Carrickfergus group were ‘Barn to Run’:

The Northern Ireland running community welcomes a new running group to the province.  The new group, called Barn Runners, started approximately three months ago because a small but keen group of runners in the Carrickfergus area decided to set up a running group based around a relaxed and friendly environment.

The aim is to offer both a starting point and guidance for those who were new to running, along with structured training options for those keen to further develop their running.

Through their previous experiences within established running clubs, a number of the founding members had realised that a large percentage of ordinary casual runners felt somewhat intimated with the thought of joining and running within a ‘big running club’.  This sparked Alan Rinchey, Dr Donal McKeown, Neil Reynolds and Neil Porter into action; with the invaluable assistance of their fellow early members, the group worked on providing a place/group where people could meet and run with those of very similar abilities, under the guidance of experienced runners.  This was based on the belief that Barn Runners would open the doors to a wider variety of those who simply enjoy running.

Since their formation, things have moved quickly for Barn Runners; progressing from a small group to over thirty members in just three months.  This is an achievement that the group are very proud of and put down to the time and dedication by many of the members to ensure that others can enjoy the benefits of running in a group.  In keeping with their ethos, being a member of Barn Runners costs nothing (other than the option to purchase running kit).

The group has no official club status and is not currently affiliated to Athletics NI, but this is because the current main objective is to keep things as simple as possible.  The aim of the group is to get people running and focused on their own personal goals, or just simply to run in a friendly and fun environment.  Barn Football Club has also offered the use of their facilities as a meeting point for the aptly named running group (Barn Runners), and the new running kit features the colours and design of the Football Club (Black and Orange).

Although the club have featured at several races, including the Belfast Solstice 5k amongst other events, one of the main events Barn Runners have participated in was the recent Portaferry 10 Mile Road Race.  Eighteen members made the lengthy journey to the shores of Strangford Loch, with sixteen taking on the popular race.  This was the first 10 mile event for most of the runners – in fact half of the runners only took up running in the past year and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of the beautiful route.

The next main event for Barn Runners will be the Belfast Half Marathon on Sunday 22nd September 2013, followed by the Dublin Marathon on Monday 28th October 2013.  Again, this will be the first Half Marathon and Marathon for most who have signed up to the challenge.  Veteran runners Alan Rinchey and Donal McKeown, who both have a wealth of experience in long distance running, help and advise the runners training for these events.  However, the group highlight that there is no obligation whatsoever for members to participate in running events and races.  It’s not always about the speed or the distance – just to get out there and run is an achievement in itself.

Barn Runners have set up a Facebook page to provide regular updates, and to communicate with members.  A social event will also be organised before the end of the year to be held at the Football Club, with further events and activities to be confirmed once the group becomes more established.

For anyone interested in joining Barn Runners, training takes place at 7pm on Tuesday nights and Thursday nights, with some runners also meeting for longer distance training at weekends from Hazelbank in Newtownabbey.