Weekend Report – January 17th
IAAF Antrim International Cross Country, Run Forest Run Series – Mount Stewart 10k, Hong Kong Half Marathon and Parkrun
IAAF Antrim International Cross Country
Undoubtedly the main event of the weekend on the local scene was the Antrim International Cross Country, staged again at the Greenmount agricultural college. One of only twelve international cross country meetings to be awarded a permit by the IAAF, the race has a rich history dating back to 1977 when the inaugural event was held at Mallusk playing fields on the outskirts of Belfast.
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.
Hong Kong Half Marathon
As we all know Paul and Lyndsey Tyro are a couple who like to run the road less travelled, frequently taking part in events that had not been on everyone’s radar, however with their latest adventure they have really outdone themselves. Married in late 2015 they delayed their honeymoon until the new year and are currently on their travels through Asia, taking in Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand.
Unperturbed by the prospect of combining sightseeing with training for the London marathon they have lined up a series of events to keep the mileage ticking over and while some of us were just getting home from a Saturday night on the town they were toeing the line 6000 miles away at the 20th annual Hong Kong Half Marathon. The event, which attracted 23500 entrants, took runners on a tour of the former British colony beginning in Kowloon, passing through the western harbour tunnel onto Hong Kong Island and eventually finishing in, of all places, Victoria Park!!
Torrential rain for the duration of the event made life difficult for the intrepid pair and having to start in the third wave meant making their way through traffic, but in the end there were plenty of positives with Paul finishing in 1:28:29 and Lyndsey, 1:37:19, well done folks and safe travels for the onward journey.
For the 248th time a band of merry men and woman lined up at the old man’s hut in Victoria Park to hear event director Gary Keenan send them on their way with the immortal words ‘it’s a timed run, it is not a race’. In a break from tradition however, the director informed the 145 assembled athletes that due to the frosty conditions this week would be neither a timed run nor a race. Several neighbouring parkruns had fallen foul of the weather, but Gary and the rest of his loyal team are always reluctant to admit defeat, and as was the theme for the day a compromise was reached that involved all runners being awarded the same time of 59:59. In the event of this occurring positions are recorded, the run will count towards the participants running total but with PB’s out of the picture the runner is encouraged to take it easy and concentrate on safety.
For the record Des Fahy, in 10th place, was the first of thirteen Orangegrove athletes to finish, Jenny Powell (50th) was first lady and Tom Smith (47th) was first junior. Incidentally, Tom has now completed 99 parkruns at Victoria Park (out of a total of 105 runs) was one of the original pioneers who ran event 1 on 7th May 2011 and has amassed an impressive 19 PB’s along the way – well done Tom.
Despite the frosty morning the Stormont trails were probably a safe bet to avoid an event cancellation and in the end ten Orangegrove athletes agreed. Stephen Anderson was the first of the contingent with 22:40 for 31st place and not far behind were the remainder of the marathon training group, Ian Grant and Pauline Bayliss. On the day only one Orangegrove PB was recorded, Hannah Macleod, who can also claim membership of the Victoria parkrun event 1 club, celebrated her 202nd with 27:21 for 102nd place. Finishing alongside Hannah, and registering his 150th was the irrepressible Michael O’Donoghue, 5k a decent leg stretch before his afternoon adventures.
Paul Gruhn, another recent Parkrun centurion, was Orangegrove’s sole representative at a frosty Ormeau Park and celebrated his 103rd run with a 27:11. Thomas Leitch stopped off at Comber and recorded a 24:25 at the local parkrun before making his way to Mount Stewart for the main event of the day.
As is customary for the weekly report, I’d like to finish by giving you a gentle nudge in the direction of the Belfast Victoria Parkrun volunteer rota. Gerry Ward is perhaps the nicest person you will ever meet and an hour or two spent in his company will leave you feeling much happier about the world in general. You can get in touch with this hero of the parkrun scene at firstname.lastname@example.org. As usual you are under no obligation to volunteer, but should you choose to, you will be providing a valuable service and will most likely find it an equally rewarding experience.