Striders Weekly Update 20/09/2023

Posted: 20/9/2023

Belfast City Half Marathon just gets bigger, with nearly 5000 competitors this year. Sixty-six brave Scrabo Striders were not deterred by the continual downpour and toed the line for a start just after 9am on Sunday. Starting on Ormeau Embankment and then entering the park, the course tops Ormeau Road and then down Ravenhill, by which time everyone was warmed up and the weather forgotten.

Marc Neil was the first Strider to finish the 13.1 miles in what turned out to be an all-time record for a club male member of 1 hour, 15 minutes 26 seconds beating his previous by 2 minutes. Congratulations Marc on the new personal best! Not far behind was Martin Strachan setting an impressive course personal best of 1:19:42, then Norman Mawhinney with an all-time PB of 1:20:46, which is the best Male 65 category time in the UK and Ireland this year, beating the Irish M65 record by over 4 minutes. Congratulations Norman!

The course continued across Albertbridge Road with a welcome water station and plenty of crowds cheering on. Setting sub 1:30 PBs came Andy Haylett 1:24:49 and Colin Harper in 1:29:28, with Michael Devlin on 1:31:03. Heather Baron was first female Scrabo Strider to finish in a personal best time of 1:33:28, followed by Daniel Clarke (1:33:45), 2nd lady Catherine Cauley (1:36:04) and Peter Stevens (1:36:49). Finishing in sub 1 hour 45 minutes were Michael Burgess (1:41:23), Jenny Taylor 3rd female in a PB time of 1:42:41, Jonathan Winter on his first Belfast Half in 1:44:28 and Chris Burns with a PB of 1:44:57.

Finishing in under 1 hour 50 were Gareth Davies 1:46:07 PB, George Johnston in 1:48:04, Michael Warke 1:48:25 and Paul Blair in 1:49:13, who incidentally was running to Comber directly after as part of marathon training! Next across for Scrabo were Alison Busby with a PB of 1:51:09, Amanda Martin 1:51:21, Michael Williams 1:51:23 PB, Sarah Johnston 1:51:29, Peter Briggs 1:51:32, Emma Clements 1:52:20 PB, John Brown 1:53:52 and Penny Hamilton with a personal best of 1:54:09, to completer the sub 1:50 finishers. Great performances all.

The course travels along Newtownards Road into Dee Street, joining the greenway to the underpass into Victoria Park marking the halfway point, where runners were treated to some music. Finishing for Scrabo in under two hours were Colin Clarke 1:56:21, Olli Seeger 1:56:53, Johnny Wray 1:57:53 on his first half marathon in four years, followed by Darren Johnston in 1:58:22 and Emma Stewart with a significant PB of 1:59:32. Seconds over the two hour mark were Gayle Malaugh and Colin Verth in 2:00:42 and 2:00:52 respectively, followed by Katie Lyttle 2:01:05, Heath Graham 2:01:28, George Cash 2:02:27, Catherine Lavery 2:03:06 PB, George McGonigal 2:03:53, Martina Finn 2:04:08 and Louise Barnes, who slashed six minutes off her previous to grab a new PB of 2:04:44.

Proceeding along Airport and Sydenham roads crossing the Lagan at the Big Fish and over to Cornmarket, the course passed City Hall and up Castle Street. Jill Long was the next Strider finisher in 2:05:09, then Andrea Cairns 2:05:37, Caroline Dwyer 2:07:03, Kurtis Hunter 2:09:30 and Curtis Adams in 2:09:53 to complete the under 2 hours 10 grouping. Next with a Belfast Half personal best came Karen Farrelly in 2:10:10 followed by Michele Ennis and Naomi Davidson both with PBs of 2:11:13 and 2:14:16 respectively, then Beverley McKee 2:16:31, Paul Kirkwood 2:19:36, Natasha Graham with a PB of 2:22:08, Peter McGonigal on the same time and Claire McIlveen finishing in 2:24:37.

Then its up the Falls and down the Grosvenor, past Europa and along the Dublin Road towards University Street. By now the runners can taste the finish, with fantastic crowd support and local churches offering fresh orange segments! The next super Scrabo Strider was Nicola Forsythe securing a new course PB of 2:27:17, Janice McCartney seven seconds later, then Karen Clarke in 2:27:30 in her Belfast Half debut, chased to the line a second later by Lyndsey Blair and Karen Warnock. The home stretch is over the Ormeau Bridge and back into the park, to splash through the puddles to the finish line. A new personal best was secured by Elaine McGonigal in 2:31:14 followed just as second later by Carol Graham, grabbing a new course PB of 2:31:15. Three Scrabo ladies finished together on 2:32:35, namely Cheryl Alexander running her first ever half marathon, Jenna Lavery and Emma McCracken on her first Belfast Half.

Finishing off for the club were Kim Cochrane on 2:42:42, Allie Farley and Liam Rodger on 2:53:46. In all Scrabo Striders claimed 19 new personal bests, 5 course bests and smashed the club half marathon distance record. A great day on the roads, well done Striders!

There were other running events happening at the weekend too. Maxine Dynes travelled to the Medieval Marathon in Kilkenny to complete the 30km distance in 4:30:35 while in the Forestside 10k Race Series Norman Mawhinney is placed second after 9 events, Jenny Taylor 17th and Amanda Martin 27th position in a field of 267 competitors. Scrabo Striders hold 3rd place in the team completion also.

Scrabo Striders Running Club train all abilities together on evenings Monday through Thursday. Newcomers are most welcome and can try us out for free.  Find out more at .

By George McGonigal


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