Weekend Report – November 1st

This is the spooky season and there were a number of Hallowe’en themed runs around the place, such as the East Coast Monster Dash 5k at Carnfunnock on the Antrim Coast Road and the Enniskillen Spooktacular 5k in Co. Fermanagh. However, whether any OAC members were ghoulish enough to partake remains to be seen, but Carnfunnock was within easy striking distance!

Certainly there were some fantastic outfits at Victoria Park parkrun on Saturday morning and some photographs of the antics have been published with this report. The older brethren amongst us, including myself, tend not to dress up as ghosts or skeletons at Hallowe’en as we will be ghosts and skeletons soon enough without wishing it upon ourselves early. However, the main races on Saturday were at Shaw’s Bridge for the Run Forest Run Minnowburn 10k, at Annalong for the Mourne Runners’ Run 4 Rescue 10 mile race in support of the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team and, on Sunday, the spectacular King of Gullion 10k near Newry, in support the Southern Area Hospice.

Well, yes, a number of our members were ghoulish (and daft) enough to make their way to Carnfunnock for the 5k East Coast Monster Dash around the lovely Carnfunnock Country Park at Ballygalley, near Larne. I have included one or two photographs of those from OAC who partook, but I can’t tell who they are or what they are doing. A quick look at the results might shed some light on who is who and what is what. After that it is up to you, although I think I see Lisa Rodham in there, but I can’t be certain! See what you can make of it!

Mairead Napier 47.26
Shona Pryde 48.00
Mary Boyd 48.02
Lisa Rodham 48.03

There is also a mysterious Gavin Browne (M45) listed under Orangegrove in the results (26.38/11th/77), but nobody seems to know anything about him….maybe just a ghostly presence, a passing spirit, an apparition, just a wisp of mist that set off the timing mat (if there was one)! A fairly speedy spirit, nevertheless!

The Carnfunnock race was won by Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) in 21.23 and Allyson O’Toole (East Coast AC) was first lady in 25.16.

A number of Orangegrove members made their way to the Mary Peters Track on Saturday morning for the start of the Minnowburn Run Forest Run 10k race over a lovely route in the Lagan Valley Regional Park which takes in the Lagan towpath, Shaw’s Bridge, Minnowburn Bridge, Gilchrist Bridge and the many trails on both sides of the Lagan which are connected by them. Not the easiest 10k in the world, because once you descend down to the towpath you have got to get yourself back up again. Rumour has it that a group of Orangegrove ladies, accompanied by Reg Sanlon (who else!), will start the race. The ladies are Sarah Malcolmson, Karen Russell, Shona Pryde and Mairead Napier, two of whom were racing the previous evening at Carnfunnock. Time will tell, we wish them well and we await the results with anticipation. The rumours were correct and the results are in:

Reg Sanlon 54.54
Sarah Malcolmson 59.36
Karen Russell 1.01.03
Mairead Napier 1.03.10
Shona Pryde 1.11.40

Very well done indeed to all who raced at Minnowburn. The Minnowburn 10k was won by Don Travers (Newry City Runners) in 36.06 with Roisin Hughes (North Belfast Harriers) first lady in 42.08.

The other Saturday race is the Mourne Runners’ Run 4 Rescue 10 mile race in support of the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team. The race starts in Annalong village and takes the runner on a gentle start along the coastal path before a long difficult climb up to the Dunnywater for the turn and a more pleasant downhill run to the finish and food in the village hall. And what a great cause for which to run! The Mountain Rescue Team do their work in all kinds of weather and conditions and with the recent proliferation in fell running, hill and dale and skyline it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the services of the Team will be increasingly on standby for our sport. I understand that Andy McIntyre and Catherine Fearon will be starting in Annalong; Andy in the 10 miler and Catherine in the parallel 4 mile race. We wish them well!

4 miles Catherine Fearon 37.19 (13th)
10 miles Andy McIntyre 1.07.46 (7th/55)

The 10 mile race was won by William McKee (Mourne Runners) in 57.31 with Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) first lady in 1.04.55.

The 4 mile race was won by James Smyth (East Down AC) in 24.42 and Virginia Ervine (Mourne Runners) was first lady in 29.36.

Sunday will see the iconic King of Gullion 10k race in South Armagh. This is not one for the faint-hearted. The race starts and finishes in the Courtyard/Café area of the Slieve Gullion Forest Park which is at the heart of the Ring of Gullion. The race is initially over well designated trails which then deteriorate into much more difficult terrain which takes the runner to the summit of Slieve Gullion at 573m, in the process offering magnificent views over the beautiful countryside straddling the border in South Armagh and Co. Louth. Rumour has it, and it is only a rumour, that Reg Sanlon will give this one a go as well, despite having raced at Minnowburn the previous day. We wish him well if he does!

Reg Sanlon 1.25.00

Well done, Reg! The King of Gullion race was won by Sean McIntyre in 49.40, with Laura Devine first lady in 56.29.

Chris Downey is in New York City this weekend. Although he is not running in Sunday’s marathon he took the opportunity to run in one of the 5k curtain raisers, the famous Dash to the Finish Line 5k from the United Nations building to the Marathon Finish Line. The race was won by Donn Cabral in 14.19! Chris finished in exactly 20.00. Well done! Over 9000 runners took part in the Dash.

Anne Moore was a little closer to home on Saturday, in East Tyrone to be exact, at Davagh Forest near Cookstown where she was taking part in the first round of the superb Sperrin Harriers’ Winter League Trail Series. Anne covered the 10k in exactly 50.00 to finish in 81st place out of 179. Well done, Ms. Moore! If it wasn’t for the travelling involved more of us would be making our way west of the Bann for this great series of trail races. The next round is Lough Fea on 14th November (5K).

There was one big event during the week at Victoria Park Pavilion, the Annual General Meeting of Orangegrove Athletic Club on Thursday evening. A large crowd gathered for the proceedings, which also included presentations to those who excelled in the Club Championship and other internal competitions such as the Victoria Shield, the Stormont Cup and the Titanic Trophy. A new committee was elected and I can name the main office holders for the year 2015-2016:

Chairman Thomas Leitch
Vice Chairman Darren Marshall
Secretary Sharon Dickenson
Membership Secretary Beverley Martin
Treasurer Andy McIntyre
Ladies Captain Eleanor Acheson
Men’s Captain Robin Montgomery
Social Media Manager Fintan Hurl
Kit Manager Mairead Napier

The outgoing committee was thanked sincerely for its hard work and commitment in what was a challenging year. The incoming committee was wished all the best for the year that lies ahead.

The following awards were made:

The Victoria Shield – Paul Buchanan (runners up Kerris Hamilton and Martin Doherty)
The Stormont Cup – Stephen Anderson (runners up Robin Montgomery and Lisa Rodham)
The Titanic Trophy – The Ladies

Men’s Championship
Winner – Thomas Leitch
Second – Andy McIntyre
Third – Robin Montgomery

Ladies Championship
Winner – Julie McKimm
Second – Emma McWilliams
Third – Verity Cornford

Championship medals for eight or more events were awarded to:

Julie McKimm, Emma McWilliams, Verity Cornford, Catherine Fearon, Thomas Leitch, Andy McIntyre, Robin Montgomery, Chris Downey, Brian Todd, Michael O’Donoghue, Stephen Hamilton and Eoin Woodman.

Special awards were also made to Lyndsey Tyro, Emma Smith and Stephen Orr in recognition of club records set by them during the course of the year.

Probably the main trophy of the year, the President’s Trophy, was awarded to Gillian Sykes in recognition of her untiring and unceasing work with the Junior Section. In Gillian’s absence the trophy was accepted by her husband.

Saturday fell on the 31st October this year and inevitably there was a spooky feeling to the proceedings. Thankfully, the organizers decided not to use the dark recesses of the inner trail on this occasion and the numerous ghosts, ghouls and apparitions who turned up were restricted to three outer laps. There was plenty of colour about the place, most of it black and blood splattered. It was a beautiful autumnal morning. Not much sunshine but plenty of gold and crimson nevertheless, and temperatures for the end of October that were hard to believe. Those wearing base layers, jackets, hats or heavy Hallowe’en apparels were, literally and appropriately, cooked in their own juices. Now, three outer laps is traditionally faster than the usual layout.

So how did it go for OAC personal bests? Well, there was only one, the new Chairman, Thomas Leitch, who was flying this morning and set a personal best of 17.56 for 4th place overall. Very well done indeed! Martin O’Brien set a pb of 22.17 at Stormont parkrun and Darren Houston (21.38), Stephen Anderson (21.40) Chris Woods (24.14) and Deborah Killen (41.07) were first timers at the same location. Pauline Bayliss (the lady with the blue tinted Oakleys) continues to excel at Stormont. Yet another pb of 22.38. She was also first lady this morning. Will we ever see her back at Victoria Park? Well done Pauline! Robin Montgomery was a first timer at Ormeau where he scorched around in 18.28 (fifth place). Well done too, Iseult Fahy (JW11-14), on a great time of 23.39, a personal best for this venue. Michael O’Donoghue was on his travels again and took in Cassiobury parkrun near Watford in Hertfordshire where he recorded his best ever parkrun time (20.27) which gave him 26th out of 236. Well done Michael and very well done indeed to all who ran parkrun this weekend!

It was quite a sad morning at Victoria Park parkrun as parkrun said farewell to Sweatshop sponsorship after many years. The parkrun community owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Sweatshop for their vital contribution to the concept that is parkrun. From lowly beginnings in 2004 parkrun has expanded enormously, and most Saturday mornings, throughout the British Isles, more than 70,000 hopefuls gather to run the trails and paths of their local parks. This enormous expansion would not have been possible without the generosity of Sweatshop and it was appropriate that Orangegrove’s Antra Balcuna (Manageress of the Belfast Sweatshop) spoke at the start of today’s parkrun to say farewell and thank you. It allowed us too to say an even bigger thank you in return.

Don’t forget the volunteering bit! It is a bit unfair to leave it to the same people every weekend! The ethos of parkrun is that you both run and volunteer. Many do the former, but not the latter! It will only take a second or two to send an email to Gerry Ward to offer your services at belfastvictoriahelpers@parkrun.com. Do it, and do it now!