Striders Weekly Update 15/11/2023

Posted: 15/11/2023

Scrabo Striders Article 13th November 2023

By George McGonigal

Clandeboye Lodge was the place to be on Saturday night, as Scrabo Striders Running Club held their annual awards ceremony. The event is the highlight of the club’s social calendar and never disappoints; a time to eat drink and dance and to recognise the individual and collective achievements of the year. Participation in Winter cross country (XC) running has increased at the club thanks to the dedication of coach Fiona McAvoy, replacing fear of mud with fun in the mud.

Testament to this Norman Mawhinney, Graeme McGowan and Martina Finn took part in 9 XC races across the season with Steven Pearson, Andy Haylett and Cheryl Alexander completing at least seven. The following runners also completed at least three cross country events – Peter Briggs, Heath Graham, Peter McGonigal, Jenna Lavery, Emma McCracken, Sheena Crone, Beverley McKee, John Brown, Fiona McAvoy, Amanda Martin, Jonathan Bull, Jenny Taylor and Neill Mearns. Of course, there is always the lure of Cheryl alexander’s home baking waiting at the Scrabo gazebo post-race. Well done all.

The “8 Strides” is an internal club competition to encourage members to do at least 8 runs from a set list throughout the events calendar and has always encouraged greater race participation. This year was no different where 63 adult members completed their minimum eight and picked up a nice wee trophy, along with 24 junior Striders. Great to see. Norman Mawhinney and Jenny Taylor received an additional prize as the athletes who completed the most “Strides”.

Next awards were for “Club Racer”, the lady and gent who show the best performance improvement across a series of club members only events, and this year Nicola Forsythe and Stephen Braniff picked up the prize. As a certain coach says, “hard work pays” and these guys exhibited exactly that throughout the year. Every month the club holds a 3km time trial run, which is very useful for benchmarking and monitoring performance. Matthew Halus and Karen Wilson were presented with trophies recognising the most progress in 3K trial times across the year. Congratulations guys!

Next up were the Coaches Awards, where our hard-working coaching team recognise those who show sustained time reduction across multiple race distances throughout the year. This years’ recipients were Natasha Graham and Michael Williams who exemplify the significant performance improvement that comes with dedication. However, it’s not just about performance at Scrabo Striders it is also about our ethos as an abilities inclusive running club that we cherish most. Each year the club Captains choose an individual who best represents and convey the Strider spirit, particularly in terms of personal time commitment as well as being supportive of and encouraging to others. Very deservedly this Captain’s Awards went to Heath Graham and Louise Barmes.

Just before the music starts two more Striders’ adherents were recognised. Amy Braniff received the Vice-Captains Shield as winner of the VC 4mile challenge handicapped race at hilly Delamont Country Park while Abrar Hossain received the customary brick trophy, and it really is a brick, for being the Last Strider Standing after 14 hours and 58 miles of running!

Scrabo Striders Running Club would like to thank Olli Seeger for the fantastic organisation of our awards night and to all the local businesses that supported us namely Martin Phillps Carpets, Maid You Look, Gaithouse Events, Scrabo Sports Massage, The Physio Clinic, RUN HUB, Del Pieros, The Running Bubble, Urban Fitness, Steven Hanna PT, Dawn Cudworth, Chris Burns Health and Fitness and Bow Bells.

On Saturday 11th November the British & Irish Masters Cross-Country took place in Glasgow, where Scrabo Strider Norman Mawhinney represented Northern Ireland in the men’s 65+ category, covering the six-kilometre course in 23 minutes 14 seconds. This placed Norman 7th in his age category and helped the N. Ireland team secure a bronze medal. Well done Norman and great to see a Scrabo Strider once again competing at such a high level in the sport.

Closer to home the Tollymore Half Marathon also took place on Saturday where competitors faced a gruelling 1600 metre elevation gain through the forest course. Two sturdy Striders met the challenge head on with Michael Warke finishing in 2 hours and 46 seconds and Dee Paterson completing in 2 hours 27 minutes 58 seconds. Tollymore was only the second half marathon distance Dee has taken on. Well done gents.

Saturday morning Parkruns are part of the week for many Scrabo Striders and this week was no exception, with some 62 members running at 11 different locations, with 8 personal best times recorded, 9 course personal bests, two 2nd place and one third place finishes as well as a 50th parkrun milestone achieved by Luke Braniff.

Scrabo Striders did a “takeover” of the Waterworks Parkrun in North Belfast at the weekend. Karen Thompson took on the role of Run Director with a band of Scrabo Strider helpers, where junior Strider Luke Braniff clocked up his 50th!

First across for Scrabo was Matthew Halus blasting the 5km in a time of 18 minutes 39 seconds followed by Matt Bell with a course personal best (CPB) of 19:20, then Colin Harper 19:51 Gareth Davies with a PB of 19:57, Graeme McGowan with a 20-minute PB, Luke Braniff 21:41 (50th) and Steven Hanna with a 22-minute PB. The personal bests kept coming with Kris Williams 24:07, Rory Braniff 24:37, Zara Johnston 26:51 and Keara Simpson in 26:55. Well done all.

Over at Comber Michael Johnston was first Scrabo finisher in 20:56, then Abrar Hossain 21:05, Peter McGonigal 22:53, Lauren Semple on her first ever parkrun grabbing 2nd female place in a time of 24:42 and Peter Doggart with a 25:19 PB. Next came George McGonigal in 25:30, Gayle Malaugh 3rd female in 25:38, Catherine Lavery with a CPB of 27:03 then junior Strider Daniel Barnes in 27:53 on his 10th parkrun. Daniel Clarke blasted Knockbracken in 19:32 while Mariead Curran got a CPB of 41:33.

Parkrun tourism remains as popular as ever so Georgia McGonigal went to Portrush finishing in 33:23, Chris Hollies at Evesham Park in 26:46 and Gavin McDonnell at Bramshall Road nabbing a CPB of 30:31. Ken Rodgers was the sole Strider at Stormont finishing in a solid 27:18. Well done all.

Scrabo Striders very popular Junior section, so much so there is currently a waiting list, showed what they are made of at Sunday morning’s junior Parkruns. At parkway in Comber Hamish Orr-Stewart took 1st place in a personal best (PB) time of 7 minutes 55 seconds over the 2km course with Lauren Semple taking 1st female in 9:09. Then came Joe Brown 9:24, Joshua Bingham 9:26, Danies Barnes 10:10, Liam Robinson 10:31, Lydia Blair 13:04, Nathaniel Frazer 14:04 and Rachel Brown in 14:14.

Over at Bangor Luke Braniff finished in a fantastic 8:22 followed by Rory Braniff 9:15 and Willow Farrington volunteering as tail walker. Keara and Olly Simpson ran Ormeau Park for the first time with a time of 10:05 securing Keara 3rd female and Olly grabbing a personal best of 10:54. Well done Juniors!

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