Run Forest Run – Mount Stewart 10k

The Run Forest Run series is an ever expanding selection of mostly trail runs which the organisers, Born To Run Events, like to describe as ‘great races in great places’. Mount Stewart certainly fits the bill with it’s world class gardens recently added to the UNESCO ‘tentative list’ of world heritage sites, and a grade A listed building that had been home to the family of the Marquess of Londonderry since 1816. The legacy of the Londonderrys is clearly evident in nearby Newtownards whether it be Scrabo Tower, the memorial to the 3rd Marquess or the local airfield which was built on land donated from the aviation enthusiast and 7th Marquess.

Reports from the time suggest that the arrival, by German military aircraft, of Adolf Hitler’s foreign minister Joachim Von Ribbentrop caused more than a stir in the local area, especially given that in 1936, the second world war was looming on the horizon. Undeterred the 7th Lord Londonderry, who himself was Winston Churchill’s cousin, not only hosted Von Ribbentrop at Mount Stewart but travelled to Berlin to meet the Führer in person and asked for him to step back from the brink of war. As history shows he was not successful in this endeavour.

Endeavour of a different variety was clearly on display at the estate on Saturday as at least sixteen hardy individuals donned the orange vest and set off on what was a step into the unknown, given that Mount Stewart was hosting it’s inaugural Born to Run event. From a cold and drizzly start at the main house the runner was treated to an out and back sightseeing tour of the estate, taking in the Bell Tower Village, Temple of the Winds and finally a clockwise loop of the main lake before a downhill finish back to the picturesque courtyard. A surprisingly hilly route made personal bests unlikely for all but the most determined of runner, but at least two of the Orangegrove contingent proved themselves worthy of that title.

Thomas Leitch 37:27 8th/703
Chris Downey 42:38
Brian Todd 43:19 1st M60
Andrew Allen 45:06
Ian Millgate 45:54 PB
Liz Leitch 46:34
Emma McWilliams 49:09
Verity Cornford 49:43 PB
Jason Moore 50:10
Reg Sanlon 51:20
Catherine Fearon 58:59
Mairead Napier 59:56
Sylvia Pearce 1:08:56
Ian Reid 1:09:40
Tania Rothwell 1:09:45
Shona Pryde 1:28:58

Mourne Runners pair William McKee (33:30) and Laura Graham (36:53) continued their dominance of the Run Forest Run series by again taking the top spots, with Thomas Leitch not far behind in an excellent 8th place.

Not for the first time Brian Todd was first in his age category whilst new member Ian Millgate continues to impress and took over a minute off his PB with a fine run. Also claiming a lifetime best was Verity Cornford, who was delighted with a first sub 50 run and for Mairead Napier it was sub 60, with 4 seconds to spare it was never in doubt.

Special mention must go to Ian Reid who recently joined the club after graduating through Jog Belfast. Having conquered 5k, Ian immediately set his sights on doubling up and with a target of sub 70 minutes he paced his effort to perfection to finish on 1:09:40 in his first 10k. Well done Ian (and everyone else).

In what was my first experience of a Born2Run event I have to say I was impressed. Running clubs tend to host the best races because they know what runners want and are not usually motivated by profit, but the Born2Run folks put on a good show from a well marshalled and marked route to a decent spread of soup and wheaten at the finish and a prompt publication of results and photos. Throw in a decent medal to take home and most people agreed it was a grand day out.