Striders Weekly Update 25/10/2023

Posted: 25/10/2023

By George McGonigal

This week the main event for local runners Scrabo Striders was the Bobby Rea International Cross-Country (XC) at the Billy Neill fields. Although sunny the expected mud underfoot made for a challenge. The club Juniors did great with Lydia Blair completing her first XC, 5 minutes 7 seconds over 1000m in the Under 10 Girls, with U10 Boys Calum McCready finishing in 04:59 and Owen Semple 05:27. Keara Simpson covered the 1500m U12 Girls race in 06:12 with Hamish Orr-Stewart (05:15), Joshua Bingham (05:31), Adam Haylett (05:52), Rory Braniff (05:53) and Olly Simpson (07:25) competing for the Boys.

The 2500m the U14 category saw Willow Farrington take first Strider in 10:27 followed by Lauren Semple 11:14, Eva Coey 12:04, Zara Johnston 13:06 and Isabella Haylett 13:13. In the boys’ race Harry McCready finished 10:54 followed closely by Daniel Barnes in 13:08. The sole Strider in the U16 boys was Luke Braniff covering 3500m in 14:38. Congratulations Scrabo Juniors!

In the first of two adult races, Senior & U20 Women & Male60 over a 6000m first for Scrabo was Norman Mawhinney in 25:58 followed by Rachel Bell 32:29, Judith Boyd 34:21, Fiona McAvoy 35:04, Emma Stewart 35:28, Martina Finn 37:56, Claire Briggs 39:23, Sara Luce 39:32, Karen Warnock 39:49 then Louise Barnes 39:59. Next to finish with the mud was Gillian Pearson 40:36, Lyndsey Blair 40:46, Emma McCracken 44:14, Sheena Crone 44:18, Cheryl Alexander and Jenna Lavery on 45:37, Jennifer McAteer 50:46, Cheryl McCartney 51:25 and Karen Thompson 51:35.

Now swampy in places for the Men’s 8000m race the first Scrabo finisher was Thomas Steele in an impressive 33:32 and not far behind were Matt Bell and Andy Haylett in 35:29 and 35:54. Next across was Colin Harper 37:42, then Graeme McGowan 38:41, Gareth Davies 38:47, Craig Simpson 44:11, Peter Briggs 44:38, Michael Williams 44:56, Michael Burgess 45:41 followed up by Olli Seeger 47:41, Ian Frazer 48:32 and George McGonigal 49:36. XC truly is a test of strength.

Sunday’s striding took place at the 5k and 10k road races hosted by Saintfield Striders. As expected in this part of County Down there are a few challenging hills for the competitors followed by first-class hospitality post-race. Our junior section did fantastic once again in the 5k, where Luke Braniff was the first Strider home in 21 minutes 28 seconds followed closely by Willow Farrington in 22:15, enough to see Willow take 3rd female in the race and grab a podium photo. Fantastic Willow. Next to cross the line was Judith Boyd in 28:19, Sonya Summersgill 32:52, Nicola Forsythe 32:57, Kim Cochrane 33:56 and Natasha Graham in 34:29.

In the sunshine the next Striders to finish were the three amigos Cheryl Alexander Carol Graham and Emma McCracken all in 35:42, followed by Donna Dugan 36:26, Mariead Curran 40:59 and Christine Kirkwood in 41:32. Well done ladies, think we need a few more gents in this race next year!

Fastest Saintfield 10K Strider was Norman Mawhinney in 41:02 followed by Gareth Davies 44:29, Steven Hanna 47:28 and completing the under 50-minute group first lady across Amanda Martin in 49:55. Sub 55 minutes were Michael Williams 50:30, Chris Edwards 51:36, Penny Hamilton 51:49, Heath Graham 52:09, Darren Johnston 53:18 and Louise Booth in 54:01. More strong performances followed with Graeme Farrington 55:01, Emma Stewart 55:22, Alison Shanks 55:33, Louise Barnes 56:50, Dee Paterson 58:04, Sarah Luce 58:09, then Karen Wilson and Martin Conroy together on 58:27 and Beverley McKee just under the hour in 59:49. Finishing in over the hour were Paul Kirkwood, Kris Williams, Lorraine Adams, Allie Farley and Liam Rodger. Well done all.

Two tough Striders took on the Midnight Marathon at Carrickfergus. Not put off by roads that had turned to small rivers in places, Colin Campbell finished in 6 hours, 8 minutes and 50 seconds with Liam Rodger just three seconds behind. Jennifer McAteer completed the Jog on Cancer 5k at Lurgan Park in 36:57 where she also snapped a pic beside Dame Kelly Holmes! Cathie Lowry and Janice McCartney ran the Centra 10k in Ormeau Park in 01:04:53 and 01:05:19. Thanks for flying the purple flag, folks!

Starting their day with a Saturday morning Parkrun, Scrabo Striders had 39 participants across 12 venues clocking up some personal best (PB) times and milestones along the way. In Comber Curtis McCaw took overall 3rd place covering the 5km distance in 18 minutes 24 seconds, followed by the ever-improving Matthew Halus in 19:33, then Craig Simpson with a course PB of 22:53, Norman Mawhinney in 23:54 and Amanda Piesse 28:43.

Over at Orangefield coach Graeme McGowan recorded his 25th Parkrun in a time of 22:39, followed by Colin Harper in 23:53, Michael Burgess 24:50 and Rachel Lyttle taking 2nd female spot 25:26, while Richard Boville grabbed a CPB of 25:58. Stormont Parkrun saw great Strider representation for Steven Hanna’s 50th milestone finishing in an impressive 22:21 while three other Scrabo Striders grabbed new CPB times namely Dee Patterson 26:27, Karen Wilson 28:52 and Stephen Braniff 31:29.

Over at Bangor Laurie Gaffney secured a new PB of 32:29 while first timers were Catherine Lavery at Portrush, John Neill at Ormeau, Peter Gray in Ayr and Gavin McDonnell in Crewe. Travelling furthest were Hannah Magee (37:35) and Luke Mars (37:36) at Milano Nord Parkrun, Italy.

Sunday’s Comber Junior Parkrun saw Harry McCready take 1st place with a CPB time of 8 minutes 17 seconds over the 2km distance, followed by Rory Braniff 3rd by in 09:15 and Daniel Barnes with a PB of 09:55, Keara Simpson 2nd girl in 09:57 followed Calum McCready with a PB of 10:16, then Lydia Blair 11:15, Olly Simpson 12:10, Maddie Dynes 12:34 and Hamish Orr-Stewart in 13:38. Juniors Keara and Olly Simpson also achieved their 50th Parkrun milestone on Sunday, known as “ultra” distance, congratulations. It’s fair to say the junior section stormed Comber. Over at Belfast Victora Park Nathaniel Frazer finished in 13:02 followed by his sister Harriet in 15:04. Well done Juniors!


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