Striders Weekly Update 18/10/2023

Posted: 18/10/2023

On Saturday, a new cross-country event, Spadetown Cup, took place at Lurgan Park.  This was organised by St Peter’s AC, with the view to the event being included in future ANI Cross country league seasons.  Norman Mawhinney completed the approximately 6k course in 25:38, coming 5th in the Men’s Over 50 race and 1st in the M65 category. 

On Sunday, Fiona McDonald took part in a 9k race in Palma, Mallorca.  This was taking place alongside the Marathon and Half Marathon races on the sunny Spanish island.  Fiona crossed the finish line in a chip time of 1:30:58.

Also on Sunday was The Bog Run, a 5km fun run taking in the trails, swamps, lakes and various other obstacles in Castlewellan Forest Park.  The brave Graham family (Heath, Carol and their daughter Natasha) tackled the course, helping to raise money for Cancer Fund for Children in the process.

68 Striders participated in 12 different Parkrun venues on Saturday.  Mark and Matthew Halus headed to Castlewellan to celebrate Mark’s 250th Parkrun milestone, an outstanding achievement!  Ormeau was the most popular place to be with 20 running, and PBs recorded by Matt Bell (19:17) and Karen Wilson (28:47).  12 club members headed to Bangor, where Willow Farrington was 3rd female across the finish line, setting a PB (21:50) along with Laurie Gaffney (33:31) and John Bingham (34:18).  Siobhan Kane (35:21) and Laura Bingham (41:18) achieved course PBs.  Georgia McGonigal ran a PB (33:16) at Waterworks, with her dad Peter running alongside her.  At Stormont, Steven Hanna was on top form with a PB (22:21), while Gareth Davies crossed the line with a course PB (21:16) on his 25th Parkrun.  Also joining the list of course PBs were Martin Conroy (28:24) at Crawfordsburn Country, and Darren (27:33) and Zara (32:56) Johnston at Portrush.  Gavin McDonnell continued his tourism at The Wammy near Stoke-on-Trent, while Liam Rodger and Allie Farley were tail runners at Armagh, ticking another parkrun off on their road to NI “regionnaires” (completing every parkrun in Northern Ireland).

Three Junior Parkrun events were attended by 15 of our younger Striders on Sunday morning.  Hamish Orr-Stewart was 1st across the line in Comber, while Keara Simpson celebrated her 50th run in style with a 2nd place female finish and a PB (9:37).  Keara earns an orange “Ultra Marathon” wristband for this milestone.  Lauren Semple was 3rd female in Bangor, with her brother Owen and Maddie Dynes also running the event for the first time.  Luke and Rory Braniff ran their first Waterworks event, where Willow Farrington was the 3rd female with a course PB (8:05).

At the end of September, The Boyd Rice Solicitors Member of the Month awards were received by two very dedicated and deserving long term members of the club.  Cheryl Alexander is the club’s Kit Secretary, always helpful and providing a warm welcome to both new and existing members.  She is a regular at club training, social runs and parkruns, which she attends with her daughters Eva and Faye.  Cheryl trained hard and put in a fantastic performance at her first ever half marathon in Belfast.  She is also a regular at cross country events, where her baking skills have been rumoured to have increased the popularity of these races!

George McGonigal had a very busy September, completing Strangford Festival 10k, Ards 5 mile, Belfast Half Marathon, Victoria Park Road Relays and Monaghan Phoenix Half Marathon.  George achieved great results in all of these, after organising another fantastic Last Strider Standing event for close to 100 Striders at the start of September.  As well as being a report writer for the Newtownards Chronicle and club website, George is a regular attender at all things club related and is very passionate about running and supporting and encouraging others. 

Thank you to Club Captains Judith Boyd and Andy Haylett for presenting these awards each month.

Search on Facebook or visit to find out more about the club.  Everyone is welcome whether you are a regular runner or running for the first time.  There are training sessions Monday to Thursday evenings at Londonderry Park, social runs Friday night and Sunday morning, parkruns, cross-country and road races, and of course the fantastic Sunday evening trails at Helen’s Tower and the Lead Mines, led by our Head Coach Sonya Summersgill.

Michael Burgess

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