Weekend Report – November 15th

Yet another busy weekend on which to report. It started early for OAC, as early as Wednesday evening with the Run in the Dark. Saturday brought the Tollymore Forest Park Trail Marathon races and the International Masters’ Cross Country spectacle in Dublin. Decathlon, at the Hollywood Exchange, was the venue for Sunday’s Half Marathon and 10k races.

There was a fairly healthy Orangegrove representation on Wednesday evening at the Life Style Sports Run in the Dark in support of the Mark Pollock Trust. Mark Pollock, an Old Boy of Inst and, in his day, a very accomplished rower, lost his sight to a degenerative disease while a student at Trinity College, Dublin. Despite this awful setback he finished his degree and continued to row, winning silver and bronze medals for Northern Ireland in the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Between 2002 and 2010 he took part in numerous adventurous challenges to raise money for the Sight Savers charity.

Mark’s courage and selflessness in the face of personal adversity, particularly through his adventurous achievements and his talent as a motivational speaker, have become an inspiration to many others facing similar challenges. Tragically, in 2010, he suffered another unbelievable setback, falling from an upstairs window and breaking his back in several places. The Mark Pollock Trust, to which this Run in the Dark race will contribute, is aimed at raising much needed funds to facilitate research in paraplegia. Races in support of the Trust are also being run in the Republic of Ireland and in Great Britain and in a number of foreign destinations, including Canada, New Zealand and Singapore. It is a privilege to contribute in someway to this great cause.

There was a super atmosphere in the Stormont Estate for the race. The twinkling of the red runner safety lights added to the occasion, although it was still surprisingly dark on Prince of Wales Avenue in the start/finish area. The route was fairly straightforward. After the start the runners faced the sharp incline to the Edward Carson statue. Following a further incline to near the building itself it was, thankfully, all downhill towards the gate at Massey Avenue and then a left turn on to the B170 towards the Campbell College roundabout for the section along the footpath of the busy A55. From the Knock Road Junction it was then along the Upper Newtownards Road to the Stormont Gates to complete one lap. It was one lap for 5k and two laps for 10k. On the evening, well over 2000 runners gathered for the off. With the Stormont building itself bathed in red light for Remembrance Day the start was a remarkable spectacle.

The following members of the Club took part in the race, although one or two were running under the banners of other concerns. However, on the night it was about participation rather than time and position. The following are chip times:-

5K Jacqui Maxwell 26.40
5K Sarah Malcolmson 29.05
5K Diana Porter 32.16
5K Shona Pryde 35.19
10K Jonny Weston 44.17 (Regent House/OAC)
10K Brian Todd 44.17 (RBAI/OAC)
10K Ian Wilson 52.30
10K Jason Moore 53.52
10K Catherine Fearon 1.00.05
10K Karen Russell 1.00.08
10K Zoe Ni Dhuinn-Bhig 1.06.06

The 5k race was won by Paul McDonnell in 17.52 with Amelia Tyler (North Down) first lady in 21.16. The 10k race was won by Ben Caughers (North Down) in 36.58 with Diane Watson (City of Lisburn) first lady in 42.09.


Saturday’s main event was probably the 26extreme Tollymore Forest Park races in Co. Down. There are ultra marathon (3 loops), marathon (2 loops), half marathon (1 loop) and 10k races. The ultra marathon is approximately 40 miles! All races will be within the confines of Tollymore Forest Park. We wish all Orangegrove members the very best of luck, whichever race they are taking part in. May your training and determination stand you in good stead. They may well need to! The weather forecast is far from promising!

Well done to the following from Orangegrove who braved the elements and took on the mountains at Tollymore on Saturday:

Marathon Michael O’Donoghue 4.22.57 (61st/137)
Half marathon Robin Montgomery 1.30.50  (8th/354)
Half marathon Zoe Ni Dhuinn-Bhig 1.57.44
Half marathon Verity Cornford 2.02.49
10K Ian Wilson 53.35
10K Alison Hall-Thompson 56.38
10K Sarah Malcolmson 58.38
10K Anna Rankin 59.53
10K Mairead Conlon 1.01.42
10K Jackie Grant 1.03.46

The marathon event was won by Andy Guy in 3.04.41 and D. Fowler was first lady in 3.58.08. The Half Marathon event was won by Tony Pfaff in 1.24.35 and Collette McCourt was first lady in 1.27.33. The 10k race was won by Thomas O’Gorman in 38.50 and Laura Graham was first lady in 39.43

Saturday also sees the Masters’ Cross Country International at Santry Demesne, Dublin, near the Airport, involving England, Wales, Scotland, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The match is hosted by one of the home nations every year. This year it fell to the Republic of Ireland to host the event. Two members of Orangegrove are involved in this, Brian Todd (the writer) and Hugh Young (you usually have to be old to be in!). The former is first reserve on the Northern Ireland M60 team and Hugh is a team member of the Northern Ireland M75 team. Reserves who are not used on the day run in the final race of the day, the Open Race. The Women and M65 go at 11.30am in a 6k race. The M50+ run at 12.00pm in an 8k race and the M35+ go at 1.10pm, also 8k. The Open Race is for all age categories and is 6k at 2pm.

The standard is very high and if you are not in form on the day you will quickly find yourself floundering. Teams gather on the Friday evening, the races are on Saturday and there is a Gala Dinner and Prize Giving on the Saturday evening. The 2016 event is in Scotland at Tollcross Park, Glasgow. Any members of Orangegrove, male or female, over the age of 35, should really join the Northern Ireland Masters’ Athletic Association for a small annual fee. Only members of the Association can trial for international teams, but there is also an internal individual masters’ winter league in which the individual pits himself or herself against others in the age group in many of the events we do anyway, cross country, road racing, etc. It will certainly add another dimension to your running and provide an addition interest and maybe even a medal or two at the end of the season.

It was an awful day in Dublin for the International Cross Country. A lovely course in Santry Demesne, but it churned up very quickly. Hugh Young was the sole representative on the Northern Ireland M75 team, so had the weight of the entire nation on his shoulders. Hugh ran well in deteriorating conditions and got round the tough 6k course in 32.28 to finish and so contributed points to the Northern Ireland total. Brian Todd (the writer) was first reserve on the Northern Ireland M60 team. All four team members turned up and were fit on the day so BJT ran in the 6k Open Race, the last race of the day. Thomas Leitch also ran in this race. By the time the Open started the rain had abated, but the mud was ankle deep in places and the going was soft and slow to say the least.

International Race (Ladies and Men M65+/6k)

M75 Hugh Young 32.28

Open Race (6k)

M40 Thomas Leitch 24:02.03
M60 Brian Todd 26:21.07

While the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland had some great individual and team results, sheer numbers and strength in depth ensured that England retained the men’s, ladies and overall trophies. The Republic of Ireland in particular, the host nation, had some great individual results and eventually finished in a very good second place to England. The full verified results have yet to appear.

Sunday morning will see hundreds of athletes gather at the Decathlon store at Hollywood Exchange Retail Park for the annual Decathlon Half Marathon and 10k events on the roads in an around the Hollywood Exchange and the Harbour Estate. This is a well organized and presented event that we should be supporting. It happens on a Sunday morning and although the route lacks memorable vistas the traffic is light on a Sunday morning and it is done and dusted very quickly indeed. There is usually chip timing and the route is so flat that a very good personal best is not beyond the bounds of possibility.

Orangegrove results:

Half marathon Andy McIntyre 1.25.25 (6th/96)
10K Andrew Acheson 39.52
10K Graeme Bennett 43.22
10K Martin O’Brien 45.48
10K Jill Holland 47.45
10K Lisa Fleming 47.53
10K Catherine Fearon 58.48
10K Eoin Woodman 1.08.59

The Half Marathon event was won by a familiar Victoria Park parkrun name, David Procter, in 1.19.04. Sinead Murtagh was first lady in 1.36.40.

Super running from Andrew Acheson on the day, given the added pressure of sporting the No.1 bib! The 10k event was won by Jonathan McKee in 34.45 with Laura Graham first lady in 36.38.

Parkrun ran as usual at Victoria Park on Saturday morning and despite the fairly dismal weather some 195 runners made the start line for the 9.39am off. At the moment, due to building work on the ‘island’ Victoria Park parkrun is running three outer laps rather than two outer laps and the trail lap. The advantage is that although the current layout may be a little repetitive, it is nevertheless clean and dry and very, very fast. If you are going to set a significant personal best at Victoria Park, it will likely be over three outer laps! So, no excuses! But, with a lot going on elsewhere this Saturday it is likely that OAC personal bests will be as rare as an ice cube in the Sahara. So, let us see!

Well, stone the crows, there were OAC personal bests all over the place….everybody and their granny! Well done to the following….Des Fahy (18.40), Darren Houston (19.34), Stephen Anderson (19.55), Stephen Hamilton (20.01), Rodney Corrigan (20.04), Graeme Bennett (20.04), Pauline Bayliss (20.56), Jason Moore (21.38), Kirsty Buchanan (24.29), Trish Magill (25.15), Diana Porter (28.48). Super running from Garry Morrow to ‘win’ the event in 17.01. Paul Woodman was the first OAC finisher in third place in 17.31 and Pauline Bayliss was the first OAC lady in 20.56 (34th).

No volunteers, no parkrun. Parkrun depends on volunteers and those on regular track duty at Victoria are getting old and grey and tired and they need to be given an occasional rest before they keel over on the job. That would mean no start or finish or times or anything! To avoid this happening in the near future, email Gerry Ward on belfastvictoriahelpers@parkrun.com.

If you would specifically like to help out in the clubhouse, baking, serving or just being nice, see Anne Moore and she will put you right, or rather, on the roster. Talk to any of the servers and they will put you in contact and get you started. No better way to start your Saturday… and most of the day is still your own! Get on with it! Don’t just think about it!