Striders Weekly Update 08/11/2023

Posted: 8/11/2023

November’s running calendar kicked off with two events in pleasant conditions, with both Saturday and Sunday being dry and sunny, though with a definite autumn chill in the air. Saturday’s event was the McConnell Shield Cross Country in Ballyclare, organised by East Antrim Harriers. An afternoon of racing saw two Scrabo Striders competing, with Norman Mawhinney crossing the line of the 3 mile Veteran race in a time of 20:06, and Colin Harper taking on the 5 mile McConnell Shield race, finishing in 36:20.

In Ballynahinch on Sunday was the 5K Run to Remember, organised by the Ballynahinch branch of the Royal British Legion in association with Atlas Running. Up until a few days before the event it was looking likely a last-minute re-routing might need to take place, but thankfully recent flood waters had receded by Sunday and the rural roads around the town were flooded with almost 200 runners instead.

The undulating course began on the Belfast Road and headed towards the town centre, before turning left onto Crossgar Road and Ballylone Road, before taking Moss Road back to finish in front of the High School. With the race being the last of Scrabo Striders’ “Eight Strides” internal club competition, it’s no surprise purple vests made up almost a quarter for the field, with the club having 44 entrants taking part.

First Strider across the line and taking 6th place overall in a time of 19:17 was Matthew Halus, followed closely by Norman Mawhinney in 19:38, and Graeme McGowan with a Personal Best (PB) 5K time of 20:07. Next across the line was Gareth Davies (20:43) followed by Steven Hanna with a Course PB of 22:38, taking almost 6 minutes off last year’s effort. Two PBs in a row next for Chris Burns in 22:54 and Harry McCready 6 seconds later in 23:00. George Johnston was next to finish in 23:23, followed by Bobby McGonigal with another big course PB taking 8 minutes off last year’s time in 24:44, Darren Johnston (24:46) and the club’s first lady finisher Amanda Martin in 24:44.

Taking on the course for the first time were Colin Verth and Heath Graham, finishing seconds apart in 25:15 and 25:19 respectively, followed by Mark Halus (26:11) and George McGonigal (26:20). A time of 26:22 was a course PB for Chris Edwards, taking 9 minutes off his previous effort, followed by an overall 5K PB For Zara Johnston. Ian Frazer (26:55) was next in, followed by Fiona McAvoy (27:05), Katy Lyttle (27:06) and Martina Finn (27:57). Continuing the theme of substantial course PBs was next finisher Karen Wilson, knocking 7 minutes off her previous best for a time of 28:14, followed by Dee Patterson in 28:27.

An overall 5K PB of 28:48 was claimed by next finisher Calum McCready, followed by Sarah Luce 2 seconds later. First timer Karen Warnock came across the line in 29:42, with the next 3 finishers being 3 CPBs in a row with Sonya Summersgill (29:58), Judith Boyd (29:59) and Karen Clarke (31:03). Lorraine Adams (31:16) was next in, with first timer Natasha Graham  (31:50), Hugh Lyons (31:57), Nicola Forsythe (32:07), Georgia McGonigal (32:07), Peter McGonigal (32:18), Elaine McGonigal (33:54) and first timer Carol Graham (33:55) all crossing the line under the 34-minute mark.

Lousie Booth was next to finish in 35:42, with Donna Dugan following in 35:51, then first timer Jennifer McAteer (36:34), Lynn McGonigal (37:53), Karen Thompson (40:18) and Sharon Gamble on her first time at the event in 45:22. Congratulations to all runners for completing this tough course.

No running weekend would be complete without parkruns, with 53 Striders running at 14 different venues on Saturday morning. In Comber Zara Johnston claimed a new PB and Maralyn Kennedy a Course PB. Orangefield had 3 First Timers in Keara and Olly Simpson and Maddie Dynes. Ecos in Ballymena also had 3 First Timers with Sarah Luce running with Harry and Calum McCready, who both also got PBs.

A Course PB was had by George McGonigal at Stormont, while John Bingham ran Portadown for the first time. Victora Park in Belfast, where Martin Strachan finished 3rd overall, was the place to be for PBs with Gareth Davies, Chris Edwards, Rory Braniff and Karen Wilson all recording new fastest times, while Willow Farrington clocked a Course PB.

Elsewhere, Thomas Steele was 2nd overall at Bangor, Angie Crone claimed a Course PB at Knockbracken, Matthew Halus was 1st overall at Castlewellan, Michael Warke claimed a PB at Shanganagh in Dublin, and Michael Burgess travelled to Longford where he came in 3rd overall.

Sunday saw 14 of the club’s junior and soon-to-be-junior members running in 5 different junior parkrun venues. Hamish Orr-Stewart crossed the line in 2nd place in Comber with a new PB, followed by Joe Brown (3rd), Liam Robinson, Lydia Blair (3rd F), Maddie Dynes and Jack Robinson. Comber is also where Faye Alexander completed her 25th time in volunteer role, earning a purple milestone t-shirt. Lough Moss saw 1st place and a Course PB claimed by Luke Braniff, followed by Willow Farrington in 3rd and Rory Braniff with a Course PB. In Belfast Victoria, Keara and Olly Simpson were first timers, where Keara claimed a PB and 2nd Female finisher. Daniel Barnes ran in Jordanstown for the first time and was 3rd Male finisher, earning a PB in the process. Finally flying the purple flag in Bangor were Nathaniel and Harriet Frazer.

Scrabo Striders is a friendly, encouraging club where all abilities train together in up to 4 sessions per week, as well as offering 3 social runs per week. The number of achievements mentioned in this article is testament to the hard work put in by club members under the guidance and dedication of a fantastic coaching team. New members are always welcome, and prospective members are encouraged to come along and try a few sessions before committing to membership. More information on Facebook and on


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