Weekend Report – November 22nd

Compared to some recent weekends this was a fairly slack one. Nevertheless, there was still a lot going on with the North Down A.C. Festival of Cross Country Relays on Saturday and the Run Forest Run Gosford Forest Park 10k race, also on Saturday.

The North Down A.C. Festival of Cross Country Relays is a new and innovative event taking place in the vicinity of the Bangor Aurora, only about 10 minutes walk from Bangor Railway Station. We at Orangegrove know a thing or two about organising relay races, but I don’t think we have ever tried cross country relays. Anyway, this will be a bit of fun in the mud although I suspect that the competitive side in some of us will be on display as well.

In the end three OAC adult teams took to the field on the day, two male and one female. However, before that, the youngsters got a go and Orangegrove was superbly well represented by Rory Hall-Thompson in the U13 race. Rory had a great race and crossed the line in 5.39 to win the event by some twenty-six seconds from the second placed runner. Very well done indeed, Rory… and all has been forgiven for that unnecessary fall in the mud which required him to be transported home by his ever patient mother in a black bin bag!

In the P6 and P7 race Sam Rainey was the Orangegrove representative. Sam completed the primary schools’ course in 4.10, to finish in twenty-sixth place out of thirty-seven. In the U15 race Aaron McCord finished in fifth place (second individual boy) out of twelve in 9.04 and Tom Smith completed the same course in 9.50 for ninth place. Great running by all four members of the Junior Club and many congratulations to them, their coaches and parents. In the final analysis the junior races were straight races rather than relays.

Next came the ladies race and OAC was ably represented by Sharon Corken, Trish Magill and Verity Cornford. The ladies ran the race very well and finished in 38.09 to secure eighteenth place out of twenty-five. It had initially been intended to field two ladies teams but this didn’t come to fruition because of injuries and other factors.

The ladies Senior race was won by a team from Queens University, Belfast, in 28.38 and the ladies Masters race was won by Ballydrain Harriers in 31.05. The total race distance was 7.8k, ie. 3x2600m legs.

Two men’s teams took to the field just after two o’clock as the light began to fade. The Senior team consisted of Robin Montgomery, Chris Downey, Ian Grant and Paul Tyro. The Masters’ team consisted of Tim Robinson, Brian Todd, Stephen Anderson and Darren Houston. In the end, the Senior team completed the course in 39.40 for ninth place out of twenty, while the Masters’ team was not too far behind in eleventh place (third Masters’ team overall). Tim Robinson ran an excellent first leg for the Masters’ team, staying close behind Robin Montgomery. However, Brian Todd was less successful in keeping Chris Downey in his sights. Stephen Anderson and Darren Houston ran great legs to close the distance while at the same time staying ahead of the second North Down team containing the speedy Terry Eakin.

The men’s Senior race was won by a team from Derry City Track Club in 34.37 while Ballydrain Harriers won the Masters race in 37.51. The total race distance was 10.4k, ie. 4 x 2600m legs.

This was an interesting and very enjoyable event in which it was a pleasure to run. The course was interesting and not without a few challenges. Although each leg was only a few kilometres long, the very fast pace required from each competitor to maintain a reasonable position certainly took its toll. It felt more like 10k than 2k! We thoroughly enjoyed it and we will be back next year for more! We offer our grateful thanks to North Down Athletic Club for hosting the relays and providing us with such a warm welcome.

The trail runners of our fraternity, of which there are many, might favour the Run Forest Run Gosford Park 10k as an alternative to the Bangor Cross Country Relays. Gosford Park (or Demesne) is a fully functioning forest park near Markethill in Co. Armagh. The estate is the home of Gosford Castle, a medieval folly designed ‘castle’ built between 1819 and 1855 by Archibald Acheson, 2nd Earl of Gosford (no relation, we think, of Andrew and Eleanor). For many years the castle lay derelict but has recently been tastefully restored and converted into apartments.

The Gosford Park 10k race is the second of an eight race series. If runners complete six of the races they receive a commemorative t-shirt. Medals, of course, are awarded to the finishers of each race. The first round of the series was recently at Minnowburn and the next round, after Gosford, is at Loughgall on the 5th December, the same day as the Malcolm Cup XC at Ballyclare. Trail running at this time of the year can be very enjoyable indeed. Best of luck and good running to those from Orangegrove who head down to Markethill this Saturday!

In the end only three OAC members were in the line up, Michael O’Donoghue, Mairead Napier and the wonderfully named Shona Pryde (there can only be one Shona Pryde in the world and we at OAC have her!). The going was tough enough on an undulating and challenging course. This was not a 10k for the faint hearted! Even MOD has admitted that he struggled a little. Very well done indeed to our three intrepid members who took on the challenge so well. Their times were as follows:

Michael O’Donoghue 45.48 (83rd/498)
Mairead Napier 1.10.04
Shona Pryde 1.10.04

I think it can be assumed that Mairead and Shona ran the race together. Well done MOD and very well done ladies! Great photo too!

The race was won by William McKee in 33.49 and Laura Graham was first lady in 38.38.

NI Duathlon held an event at Victoria Park on Sunday morning and OAC was represented by Michael O’Donoghue and Zoe Ni Dhuinn-Bhig. Duathlon involves running two miles, cycling 10 miles and then another run of two miles to finish. Michael completed the event in 1.11.34 (47th/68) made up from 14.44 for the first two miles, 39.08 for the bike ride and 15.20 for the second two mile run. The remaining time was made up from the two transitions. Zoe was flying and finished in 1.07.47 (36th/68 and 4th lady), made up from 16.46, 31.41 and 16.25. Zoe is one speedy lady on a bike! Well done Michael and Zoe.

As the latest Jog Belfast East at Victoria Park draws to a close, and as graduation beckons, a word of grateful thanks from all of us at OAC to the main coaches, Mary Boyd and Selina Myles, and to all the additional helpers/coaches/encouragers and supporters who have given of their valuable time to help with the latest group of recruits. The weather at times has hardly helped but, regardless of what nature has thrown at them, the sessions have gone ahead and the pinnacle has been reached.

Well done too to the students themselves who have turned up and persisted with the training when, at times, it would have been easier to let it slip. When we cheer the new graduates at this Saturday’s parkrun at Victoria Park, spare more than a passing thought for those who made it possible. Not only does Jog Belfast act as an important recruiting sergeant to our club, (and consider the great people who have joined OAC from Jog Belfast in recent months), but it is also an important revenue earning initiative which greatly assists our general training. Jog Belfast is also an important public service amenity to our local area. Long may it continue!


Saturday morning at Victoria Park brought parkrun as usual. This was the big one for the Jog Belfast East brigade, their graduation day run. After this they will be fully fledged runners with entitlement to continue running at whatever level they choose! Hopefully, one or two will consider joining Orangegrove Athletics Club, where they will receive a warm welcome. Those of us who are more seasoned runners perhaps underestimate a little how important this day is to the Jog Belfast athletes and their coaches. Last night’s sleep will not have been sound for one or two and when that alarm went at 7.30am on the morning there will have been not a little trepidation amongst many. However, as the time for the off approaches the training and advice will kick in and all will be well and success will be the only result. Today’s parkrun results are testament to the effort and determination of everybody involved. Very well done indeed!

In terms of OAC personal bests it was a fairly good day! Very well done to the following…. Andy McIntyre (17.57), Robin Montgomery (18.03), Rodney Corrigan (19.36), Jenny Cochrane (24.24), Chantal Hemphill (24.30), Anna Rankin (25.51), Hilary Bradshaw (27.48), Catherine Lavery (29.40), and Deborah Killen (36.10). Andy McIntyre was first OAC finisher in 17.57 (14th) and Sile Brennan was OAC first lady in 21.18 (33rd). Very well done indeed to those who excelled themselves on Saturday morning! Great running from Brendan Teer (East Down AC) who scorched around in 15.28, twenty three seconds short of the course record (three outer laps) set by Paul Pollock on three outer laps in August 2012. Well done Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC) who set a new VW35-39 course record on Saturday morning (17.40).

Lisa Rodham was flying at Stormont on Saturday morning with a new pb of 24.46. Lyndsey Tyro was second lady at Ormeau in 20.29, which was only ten seconds short of her pb at this venue. Well done, Lisa and Lyndsey!

It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway! ‘No volunteers, no parkrun.’ Your local parkrun needs you… and needs you soon. Volunteer to help out by contacting Gerry on belfastvictoriahelpers@parkrun.com Don’t leave it, do it now! It will make you feel good too and on the odd Saturday in winter volunteering can be a lot more comfortable than actually running!