Weekend Report – January 31st

Yes, it is me again and glad to be back as one of the writing pool! Dismal January is usually far from dismal on the running front and this weekend was no exception. There was the Northern Ireland and Ulster Intermediate and Masters’ Cross Country Championships on Saturday at Coleraine and Sunday saw Orangegrove runners in abundance at the very picturesque 5k and 10k Cultra Challenge trail races around the grounds of the Folk and Transport Museum, near Belfast. Also on Sunday, one or two of us turned up at Bishopscourt Motor Racing Circuit near Downpatrick with our bikes for the first round of the Ni Duathlon series for 2016. So, plenty going on!

NI & Ulster Masters XC Championships

The Athletics NI Northern Ireland Intermediate and Masters’ Cross Country races at the University of Ulster at Coleraine are one of the foremost and most eagerly anticipated cross country races of the season. They take place on an interesting course in the grounds of the University, not far from the convenient Coleraine University railway station. The course comprises both grass and forest trail, with at least one steep hill, and can present a tough enough challenge when the conditions are right, or rather wrong as they usually are. There is an enormous entry list for this event which also comprises a round of the Masters’ Winter League for those of us who are paid up members of the Northern Ireland Masters’ Athletic Association. The races are for both Intermediates and Masters men and ladies. Intermediates are those 35 or younger. Masters comprises those 35 and older. The first race of the day at 1.15pm is for Masters Men (35-64) over a distance of 8k. The ladies (Intermediates and Masters together and Masters’ Men over 65) go at 2.00pm over 4k and the final race of the day for male Intermediates over 10k is at 2.30pm, by which time the course will be in a right mess!

This year Orangegrove will concentrate on the Masters category only with both ladies and men’s teams. The rules are that clubs can enter eight male and female runners, six run and the best four score. However, these are also individual races and all who turn up will run. On the day Orangegrove will, hopefully, be represented by Liz Leitch, Lisa Fleming, Jill Holland, Julie McKimm, and Linda Craig, Thomas Leitch, Robin Montgomery, Darren Houston, Tim Robinson, Michael O’Donoghue, Ian Grant and Jim Harris ; however, it could all be change on the day! May they all run well!

Conditions were far from perfect on the day and it didn’t take long for the course to cut up badly, making the going very tough indeed. We offer our congratulations to the following members of OAC who travelled to Coleraine to represent the Club on a day when it certainly would have been easier to have stayed at home:

Masters Men (8k)

Thomas Leitch 28.31
Robin Montgomery 29.17
Tim Robinson 30.02
Ian Grant 30.56
Darren Houston 30.57
Michael O’Donoghue 32.07

The race was won by Pauric McKinney (Inishowen) in 24.02

Masters Ladies and Men 65+ (4k)

F35 Julie McKimm 20.42
F35 Jill Holland 21.54
F35 Lisa Fleming 22.23
M65 Jim Harris 24.24
F35 Elizabeth Leitch 24.45
F35 Linda Craig 24.45

The F35 race was won by Catriona Devine (Finn Valley AC) in 17.03 while the M65 race was won by Gerry Lynch (City of Derry AC) in 18.55.

Cultra Challenge 5k and 10k

There will undoubtedly be a large Orangegrove turnout on Sunday morning for the new Cultra Challenge 5k and 10k trail races in the grounds of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum at Cultra. Well over 500 have pre registered. These races are being organised by National Museums NI and all proceeds will be donated to Macmillan Cancer Support. The route is ominously described as ‘hilly’ but will, nevertheless, reward the participant with spectacular scenery and the unusual opportunity to run amongst a collection of the best of Ulster’s rural built heritage, including the town of Ballycultra itself. The race starts at Cultra Manor. Built in 1902, the Manor was once the family home of Sir Robert Kennedy, a career diplomat in his day. In 2004 the Folk and Transport Museum was named Irish Museum of the Year and is generally regarded as one of the best and most dynamic in the United Kingdom. At the time of writing the following members have indicated that they are running at Cultra on Sunday: Catherine Lavery, Alan Montgomery, Ian Millgate, Ian Reid (5k), Heather Shanks-Miller, Martin O’Brien (5k), Melinda Wilkinson, Verity Cornford and Selina Myles. However, as before, it may well be all change on the day!

Well, the race went ahead in reasonably stable weather conditions, although I gather there was a little bit of confusion over the length of the route and the direction taken by some runners. Ah well, these things sometimes happen and a worthy charity did, nevertheless, benefit. Before Garmins and TomToms no one would have noticed! The following results are as published or as have been indicated to me. If there are anomalies, please pm me over the next day or so and the report will be corrected before uploading to the main website:


Ian Millgate 49.56
Reg Sanlon 54.31
Melinda Wilkinson 55.52
Heather Shanks-Miller 58.15
Jonny Weston 59.18
Carolyn Beattie 59.19
Catherine Lavery 1.11.36
Selina Myles 1.11.58

The 10k/11k race was won by David Simpson (Newcastle AC) in 39.02.


Ian Reid 40.56

The race was won by Brian Bogle (Unattached) in 23.26.

Hospitales San Roque Gran Canaria Marathon

We don’t see as much of Zdislaw Malkinski as we used to, but he is still running and running very well indeed. Last year he recorded an impressive time in the Belfast half marathon, although he now prefers to run abroad where the temperatures tend to be higher. In fact this past weekend Zdislaw was in Gran Canaria where he took part in the Hospitales San Roque Gran Canaria Marathon, recording 4.16.06. Very well done indeed Zdislaw. I really like Zdislaw because he is, I think, one of the few members of our great club who is actually older than me!

Bishopscourt Race Track Duathlon

Sprint Duathlon in Northern Ireland is run by NI Duathlon and the 2016 season began on Sunday 31st January at Bishopscourt Motor Racing Circuit near Downpatrick, Co. Down. Duathlon is really triathlon without the nasty freezing swim. It involves the competitor running two miles, cycling ten miles and then running another two miles to the finish. The section of circuit used at Bishopscourt was two miles long so it was run a lap, cycle five laps, run a lap. Easier said than done! Obviously there are also transition stages between the run and the cycling bit which can take as long or short a time as you make them. Two OAC members were on the start line for this first duathlon of the year, Brian Todd and Emma McWilliams.

The following times were achieved by the OAC pair:

Emma McWilliams Brian Todd
Run 1 14.58 13.33
Transition 1 52secs 22secs
Cycle 34.04 31.57
Transition 2 41secs 23secs
Run 2 15.15 13.57
Total 1.05.49 1.00.10
(6th female)

Emma, only sister of former international grand prix and Moto GP road racing motorcycling star Jeremy McWilliams was, not surprisingly, very stylish on the bike as she adopted a fast knee out racing style on the sweeping curves of Bishopscourt that would undoubtedly have pleased and impressed her speedy brother who also took part in the duathlon. Her ageing companion, the writer, was less stylish and was indeed ill at ease on the bike and unsteady in places and lucky to finish at all having misjudged his braking on several occasions. Nevertheless, a very enjoyable and very well organised diversion from mere running and one to recommend. A few lessons were undoubtedly learned by the writer from this first duathlon….

  1. Do not eat Indian curry and drink wine the night before.
  2. Practice getting on and off the bike to avoid making a complete fool of yourself.
  3. Start the bike bit in the right gear!
  4. Do not regard the bike bit as a rest opportunity after the run… it is far from it.
  5. Develop a thick skin and pay no attention to other riders who swear at you when you cut in front of them on the bends, especially the ones who are lapping you.
  6. Run faster and ride the bike faster!
  7. Wear the proper kit!
  8. Do not nearly get yourself disqualified by riding your bike over the timing mats in the transition area. It is that, transition.
  9. Be prepared for the very odd feeling you get when you start the second run after the ten mile bike ride. You legs try to continue pedalling even though you are in run mode!


BITEC Bangkok Half Marathon

The Tyro pair, Paul and Lyndsey, are nearing the end of their belated honeymoon sojourn in SE Asia, during which they have taken the opportunity to run a number of half marathon races. On Sunday they ran the very humid BITEC Bangkok half, a race in the Bangna-Trad area of the city they have described as amongst the toughest they have ever done. I have no results to report, but I am sure the speedy pair’s times were very respectable indeed. We are grateful to Paul and Lyndsey for flying the Orangegrove flag in the orient and keeping us informed of their activities.

East Coast Junior Cross Country series

The final placings of competitors in the East Coast Junior Cross Country series were recently published and Orangegrove names appear in the results. Well done to the following Martha Orr (6th/Minor Girls), Isaac Orr (15th/ Minor Boys), Iseult Fahy (12th/ Junior Girls), Rory Hall-Thompson (9th /Junior Boys) and Alfie Houston (13th/Junior Boys). Iseult Fahy was also thirteenth in the recent Down Schools’ cross country races at Delamont. We wish her well in her Ulster Schools’ Cross Country trial in February.


Parkrun at Victoria Park returned to normality this week after the Club Championship antics of last Saturday when the timed run came as near to being a full blown race as it ever had before. There were no orange or light blue vests about this week and the nervy regulars seemed more at ease than they did last week, surrounded as they were then by runners who gave the misleading impression of knowing what they were doing. Conditions were far from ideal, the odd flurry of snow adding to the atmosphere and anticipation. Nevertheless, there was no ice underfoot for the three statutory laps of the lake and at precisely 09.30 they set off to the sound of a bell tolling. It was not an ideal morning for personal bests and there was only one OAC personal best to report. Well done Jacob McKittrick (JM10) on a fine PB of 22.37.

Well done too Paul Woodman who was first finisher this morning in 18.10. I guess running in Dubai last weekend was not exactly best preparation for the distinctly cooler challenge that Paul faced this morning at Victoria Park. Well done Ashleigh Collim who was first OAC lady home in 22.58, closely followed by the ever consistent Sile Brennan in 22.59. There were OAC runners at nearly all the other Belfast parkruns too; Stormont, Ormeau, Waterworks and Colin Glen. Only at Stormont was there a PB set, by Martin Walker in 28.33. However, three Orangegrovers were first timers at the challenging Colin Glen parkrun where Andy McIntyre was first finisher in 19.15. Reg Sanlon got round in 27.26 and Catherine Fearon in 30.05. Very well done indeed! Sarah Malcolmson, recovering from injury, was weekending near Dublin and, having decided to forgo her bacon and eggs for a rather fluffy looking croissant, was a first timer at Malahide parkrun where she registered a respectable 28.52. Well done, Sarah!

Please remember that the parkrun extravaganza depends on the goodwill and commitment of the volunteers. More than most parkruns, Victoria parkrun is being carried along each week by the same regulars. Although they do the job willingly with a smile and a nod they need more help from a larger pool of volunteers. Particularly if you are a regular runner at Victoria your additional help as a volunteer would be greatly appreciated.

Please contact Gerry Ward on belfastvictoriahelpers@parkrun.com. Do it now and make your appearance soon.