Weekend Report – December 6th

December is traditionally a busy month with a variety of festive events mixed in with the usual fare of cross country and road races… and that is exactly the way it was this weekend.

The main event on Saturday was the annual Annadale Striders’ Malcolm Cup cross country races at the Six Mile Water Park in Ballyclare, on a course roughly similar to the one we used for the McConnell Shield a few weeks ago. This is a lovely little course on the banks of the Six Mile Water, one that is challenging enough without being impossible.

Read the full race report here.

Saturday will also see the third round of the Born 2 Run, Run Forest Run, 10k series at Loughgall, Co. Armagh. The previous round was also in Co. Armagh at Gosford Forest Park. The Loughgall race starts at 11am in Loughgall Country Park, just off the Ballygasey Road, near the village. This is drumlin country, so the course will likely be undulating. Conditions at Loughgall were soggy to say the least and flooding to parts of the course required the organisers to amend the route in a few places. We offer our congratulation to the following from OAC who were on the start line and who made the finish line too in commanding positions:

7th Paul Tyro 33.28
26th Lyndsey Tyro 36.05  (4th lady)
55th Michael O’Donoghue 38.16

The Loughgall 10k was won by William McKee in 29.29 and Laura Graham was first lady in 32.48.

OAC’s resident in the United Arab Emirates, Helen Charlton, has been at it again in the sun. Helen, who is an enthusiastic triathlete, has been concentrating on her running in the past few weeks. On Friday last Helen ran in the Johnson Arabia Dubai Creek Striders half marathon and got round the interesting course in 1 hour 54 minutes, a time which she describes as a ‘tiny pb’, but a ‘little slower’ than she would have liked.

We wish Helen all the best in Dubai from our freezing and blustery outpost in the north west of Europe. Some people have all the luck! However, there is an open invitation from Helen to any member or members of OAC who might be in the Emirates to call with her and a run will be arranged! Emirates fly to Dubai from Dublin twice a day! If we can hire a coach to travel to the Acorns Mighty Oaks Cross Country next Saturday we can certainly charter an Airbus 380 for the trip and Helen, who is an air traffic controller, would surely provide us with priority clearance into Dubai International Airport.

Sunday will see the Saul ‘Round the Griddle’ 10k race at 12.00 noon sharp. This is not an easy one and is billed as Co. Down’s most challenging 10k race. So, you know what you are letting yourself in for! The start is at Saul Community Hall, not too far from Downpatrick, a location which, of course, has strong links with St. Patrick himself, who may well be amongst the spectators. He is apparently not running this year! This is a Joe Quinn and East Down A.C. organised event so, rest assured, it will be a good one with slick organisation and exceptional after race catering and craic. Well worth trying, and there are already one or two Orangegrove names in the pre entry list. Gerald Harvey was intending to run but a niggling leg injury and his determination to stay fresh for his Christmas Cracker run with Jill Holland has caused him to reluctantly pull out. His spot is up for grabs!

Well, two Orangegrovers made it to Saul for the 12 noon start and the same two had featured significantly in the previous evening’s frolics into the wee small hours at Helen’s Bay Golf Club. A beautiful Sunday morning dawned after the night before and the conditions were perfect for a 10k race, cool, dry, sunny, blue sky and, above all, windless. We congratulate the following OAC stalwarts.

Robin Montgomery 39.26 (10th/138)
Ian Wilson 51.18

The Griddle was won by Stephen Wylie (North Down AC) in 34.43 and Heather Foley was first lady in 38.21.

There were a few important charity runs on Sunday as well, the Action on Hearing Loss run at Hazelbank Park, Newtownabbey, and sundry Santa Dashes. Anna Rankin and family were in action at Hazelbank Park and at least Jenny Powell and Chris Downey were involved in Santa Dash runs in Belfast and Donaghadee in support of Cash for Kids. Well done all!

For many people Saturday means only one thing…parkrun! And so it was at 09.30 on the morning of Saturday 5th December, in the year of our Lord, 2015. The range of running ability, as usual, ranged from the exceptional to the barely manageable. But hey, that is what it is all about and nobody’s run on the day was any less valuable than anybody else’s. Indeed, those who struggle to make the start line and who worry about whether they will finish at all are the real stars of the concept that is parkrun. To get out of your bed at all before 9am on any Saturday morning and make the start of a 5k run is a real achievement and one of which to feel proud.

Even though the weather was awful on Saturday morning some 138 park runners made it to Victoria Park for the start of the timed run, and we are proud of each and every one of them. Amongst the Orangegrove contingent the following excelled themselves in terms of personal bests… Sam Rainey (JM11-14) 24.22. Well, it probably wasn’t much of a morning for running personal bests. Well done Andrew Acheson who was first Orangegrover home in 19.45 and to Liz Leitch who was OAC first lady in 23.45. Pauline Bayliss was first lady at Stormont in 22.53. Chris Downey was a very credible 5th/138 in 20.23 at Bangor parkrun.

At the risk of boring you, there is an old saying… ‘no volunteers, no parkrun’! But, nevertheless, it is true, and you need to volunteer soon if you run parkrun on a regular basis. It is just a little selfish to do otherwise, So, do not be a selfish so and so… email Gerry Ward on belfstvictoiahelpers@parkrun.com and give a little back in return for the fun and fulfilment that you have gleaned from the great concept that parkrun undoubtedly is!