Heat and Hills, The Ards Half Marathon 2019

Posted: 3/7/2019

If you tried to drive through Newtownards on Friday evening you couldn’t help but notice the town’s major running event was underway, yes after a break of a year the return of the Ards Half Marathon saw the roads filled with nearly 450 runners taking on the renowned challenge of a hilly 13.1 mile (21.5 km) course with the added challenge of 22 plus degrees of heat. The event was organised by Scrabo Striders running club, directed by Hannah Robinson and supported by Ards & North Down Borough Council and main sponsor Uhire.

Well known and often feared in the running community the course out to Comber and back encompasses two hills participants won’t forget, namely the Scrabo Road and the Moate Road hills. The latter is a particular challenge as runners face it in the latter stage (10 mile) part of the circuit. With plenty of water stations manned by enthusiastic volunteers form Strean Presbyterian Church and Ards Rangers, jelly beans and ice lollies handed out along the way, cheerleaders and enthusiastic course marshals, the level of support for those taking part was phenomenal, creating a brilliant atmosphere.

The race was won by Neill Weir of Willowfield Harriers in an amazing time of 1 hour 16 minutes 05 seconds followed in second place by Gareth Lyons, North Belfast Harriers in 01:17:06 and Stephen Dickson in 3rd place with a time of 01:19:08. In the ladies race 1st place went to Amanda Perry of Ballydrain Harriers in 01:35:20 followed in 2nd by Lisa Corry of Saintfield Striders in 01:38:00 and in 3rd Helen Weir of North Belfast Harriers in 01:39:09. Congratulations all.

Scrabo Striders, in their distinctive purple vests had 99 entrants, the club’s largest half marathon turn out and for Rebecca Lund, Beverley McKee, Catherine Dobbin, Victoria Atkinson, Nicola Forsythe and Tim mahood their first ever half marathon run. The first Strider home was Thomas Steele in 01:33:50 followed by Norman Mawhinney in 01:34:15 taking 1st in the M60 category followed less than a minute later by Jason Lindsay in 01:35:07.

Scrabo’s first lady across the line was Tina Boal in 01:49:42, followed by Lesley Semple in 01:53:51 and Cheryl Mulholland in 01:56:23. Taking 1st place in the F60 category was Liz Turton in 02:01:01. Phenomenal performances. In total 32 Scrabo Striders completed the 13.1 miles in under two hours with a further 28 completing within 2 hours 15 minutes, a great display of #purplepower given the heat. Special mention to Andrea Cairns, an expert in endurance and official tail runner who made sure all competitors got home safely.

The committee of Scrabo Striders Running Club would like to say a huge thank you and congratulations to race director Hannah and her organising team for staging such a successful return of this popular event. Thanks also to a small army of volunteer marshals, pacers and caterers as well as sponsors Agnew Autoexchange, Molly Browns, One Stop Mortgage Shop, The Physio Clinic, Essential Homecare Services, Street Life and send My Bag. Look out for an announcement on the 2020 event very soon!

by George McGonigal, Vice-Chair

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