Weekend round up – 28th February

Members of Orangegrove AC were scattered far and wide this weekend, both at home in Northern Ireland and further afield. Pride of place must go to two of our ‘catch me if you can’ ladies Emma Smith and Joy McAleer who were representing Northern Ireland in the British Masters’ Athletics Federation indoor meeting at the Lee Valley Stadium, Edmonton, London. Running indoors, with significant banking, sharp turns and crash mattresses, is far from straightforward. Great running from Emma to record 9.14secs in the 60m and 31.41secs in the 200m. Joy McAleer, running in the 800m event, finished fourth with a personal best time of 2.56mts. Well done ladies, and very well done too to their coach Alan Martin whose efforts and expertise with the sprinters and the more technical events is invaluable to the Club.

Elizabeth and Thomas Leitch were in Anglesea for the Jones O Gymru Half Marathon. Thomas was flying, as usual, and finished in 42nd place overall on 1:25:54 (fifth in his age category) in an enormous field of nearly 1,500 runners. Liz finished 4th in her age category in the impressive time of 1:47:05. Very well done indeed to both athletes.

The final Run Forest Run event (10k) was held at the beautiful Castlewellan Forest Park on Saturday and Orangegrove was well represented as usual. Robin Montgomery finished near the top of the list (8/518) on 39:13. Michael O’Donoghue, who seems to spend his entire life running around Northern Ireland when he is not drinking expensive wine, was on 48:03. New member Kerris Hamilton presented her bona fides on 54:33. The debonair and ever improving Verity Cornford (but try telling her that), finished on 55.58. The ‘happy girls’, Selina Myles and Catherine Fearon, finished together on 1:00:22. Gavin Marshall crossed the line on 1:01:49.

Paul Woodman and Sharon Dickenson preferred a slightly stiffer test in the wilds of the Sperrins at Lough Fay (10 miles), the final round of the Sperrin Harriers’ Winter League Trail Series. Paul finished on 1:07:59.07 and Sharon on 1:21:10.41. Well done to both members for representing OAC at this worthy trail running series west of the Bann.

Brian Todd chose what he thought was the easier option of the Resolution 10k in support of the Stroke Association charity, a charity close to his heart. This was a surprisingly well organized event over a scenic but challenging route, which involved two episodes of mountaineering, in the Lagan Valley Regional Park. Personal bests were out of the question and a time of 45:08 was reasonable given the near need for crampons, ice axes and ropes.

Victoria Park was the place to be on Saturday morning where everyone and their grannies seemed to be setting personal bests in the parkrun…Garry Morrow, Leann Gibson (first lady), Stephen Anderson, Stephen Hamilton, Pauline Bayliss, Louise Browne, Tom Smith, Kirsty Buchanan and Hilary Bradshaw. Particular congratulations to Hilary whose last effort to set a pb at Victoria was completely ruined by the considerable impediment of being attached to the writer by a long piece of pink ribbon. The elegant Lyndsey Pronger, not long returned from warm weather training in New Zealand (if there is warm weather down there) showed up at Ormeau parkrun on Saturday morning and displayed few signs of jetlag to run 20:22, first lady home. Great running.

To those Orangegrove members who were strutting their stuff elsewhere and who have escaped my notice…apologies.

Postscript: Inevitably there would be a few postscripts on such a busy weekend. Thomas and Liz also ran the Conwy parkrun on the day before their half marathon event. Thomas registered 21.47 and Liz was 4th lady on 22.58. That other Victoria Park parkrun in Glasgow was graced by the presence of an OAC member in the youthful form of Jill Holland who skipped round in 35.00.