Weekend Report – April 3rd

With Easter Monday and an action packed weekend you may want to settle down with a cup of tea and a biscuit and get comfy before beginning this week’s lengthy write-up…

An Carn 10k

Easter Monday saw 3 OAC runners pack up their Easter eggs and head to scenic South Derry for the first running of this event organised by Slaughtneil GAC in association with St Patrick’s College, Maghera. We were promised scenic and this was delivered. On the way to registration we got a glimpse of local architect Patrick Bradley’s award winning container house (as featured on Grand Designs). The 10k was a loop, starting and finishing in the grounds of the GAC, the race was accurately measured and Glenn Grant from ChampionChip was there to do the timing.

It was an undulating route (slight understatement) taking in the beautiful country roads around Drumlamph Forest and the scenery at the base of the Carn Trochair mountain. Parts would have been better suited to trail shoes than road shoes, as there were stony sections, potholes and puddles a plenty. It was well marshalled and there were 2 water stations. There was also a 5k out and back route. The 3 OAC athletes ran well and Sarah finished very strongly with a sprint finish which Mo Farah would have been proud of!

Michael O’Donoghue 43.40 (9th) Liz Leitch 46.28 Sarah Malcolmson 59.34 The race was won by Acorns AC sky running expert Shane Donnelly in 36.26. First lady was Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) 40.09. As expected, the spread afterwards was excellent; soup, sandwiches, buns and fruit!

The OAC runners were well supported by Sarah’s husband Steven and Sooty her loyal pooch. If anyone fancies another race in this area, they hold a mountain race up and down the Carn on 12th July.

Whitehead 5 mile road race

Also on Easter Monday a bunch of our athletes made the journey to the beautiful Edwardian town of Whitehead for the annual road race. This is one of the oldest road races in the country, first run in January 1924 and then switched to Easter the following year. It has been run in Waterworks, Ormeau Park and at Ards Airport. This race used to be regarded as the NI novice championship and teams would arrive by the bus load. Our runners arrived by train!

The course is 3 laps around the town, the main challenge is the aptly named Slaughterhill Road. Registration and prize giving are in the community hall where Dusty Springfield performed in the 60s. Our OAC athletes fared very well in changeable weather. Johnny Weston 33.53, Brian Todd 34.11, Carolyn Beattie 37.26, Lisa Rodham 37.36, Gerald Harvey 38.00, Reg Sanlon 40.34, Judith McCann 42.57, Jenny Powell 43.00 and Ian Reid 55.09.

Stephen Prentice was first finisher in 26.42 with Judith Lonnen First Lady in 29.49.

NiRunning Killylane Klassic 5 mile trail run

Brian Todd (his second race in 6 days with a duathlon planned within 24 hours) was the only Orangegrove runner to make the journey to the hills above Larne to Killylane reservoir and Ballyboley Forest. This is a great event and I was disappointed that I was unable to run it this year (have been floored by the lurgy).

It’s organised by Ryan Maxwell and his NIRunning team to raise funds for the upkeep of their super informative website. Ryan and his team do a fantastic amount of voluntary work for our athletics community, so this is a worthy cause and I would like to suggest that it is considered for our next club championship list. The race itself is very well organised, well marshalled, chip timed and with hot dogs afterwards, all for a fiver.

The route is scenic and has a few challenging hills which add to the fun. Anyway, as always, Brian ran very well, he won his age group in a time of 34.21. Well done Brian. The event was won by NI international athlete Mark McKinstry in 26.34, with Ballymena Runners’ Paula McAllister first woman in 33.54

Reading Half Marathon

Not satisfied with having run the majority of races that NI has to offer, Michael O’Donoghue made his way across the water to take part in the Reading Half Marathon. This course was changed last year to a flatter one starting in Green Park with the final straight taking you into the Madejski Stadium. Michael informs me that it was “a very well organised race with ale at one of the water stops, about 16,000 entrants and had a great stadium finish”. Full results aren’t available yet for this race but text confirmation gives him a very impressive time of 1.36.56.

Victoria Shield 2016

With the inclusion of the annual Victoria Shield in the Club Championship, this was always going to be a special event. We had 37 runners which is a record . For those not in the know, the Victoria Shield is a handicapped race, with times worked out on recent 5k form, the slower runners go off first and the aim is that the runners will all merge together in the last 400m and there will be a mad sprint finish! The course is parkrun in reverse.

Read the full race report here

Runher Delamont 10k

The popular Runher series brought over 450 keen runners and walkers to Delamont Country Park on a rather wet Sunday. With a 5k and 10k option the OAC contingent that attended all decided to race instead of taking a trip on the miniature railway and both distances were covered.

This was an 1 or 2 lap undulating, and in places rather mucky course, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of all those running this ladies only race. Puddle jumping was optional although the final stretch included a good climb to the monument followed by a spot of cross-country running across a boggy field before the finish (not optional).

Lyndsey ran the ladies home in the 10k with a podium place of 3rd in line with her race number and a superb time of 43.34. Lisa Rodham came in next with 51.31 followed by Verity Cornford (55.52) and Sarah Malcolmson (1.00.56). Catherine Lavery was the only club member who ran the 5k and finished with an impressive 34.14. Well done to Lyndsey on her top 3 and all that ran in what was a demanding course. The winner of the 5k was Rachel Gibson (North Down) in 20.05 and the 10k was won by Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) in 38.56.

Rabbit Run

The second 5k Rabbit Run and 1 mile Bunny Hop in support of Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice took place at Hazlebank Park in Newtownabbey. Ian Reid was the only member who took the gauntlet for OAC at this event (hot-footing it straight from the Victoria Shield). The 5k race takes you along the coastal path at Belfast Lough with the 1 mile bunny hop option for children to join in beforehand. Ian finished the race in a commendable 35.21. First male home was Marsh Rushby (18.35) and first female was Eimear McBrien (20.21).

Duathlon events

In the last few weeks Brian Todd has been indulging himself in Sprint Duathlon. Last weekend, in the familiar environs of Victoria Park, he managed to complete the two mile run, the ten mile bike ride and final two mile run in 1.05.29 (20th/34), although a vicious south-westerly wind practically ground many of the less experienced cyclists (he amongst them) to a standstill on the exposed Airport Road section. Today (Sunday) at Bishopscourt Motor Racing Circuit, near Downpatrick, he was joined by the very versatile Antra Balcuna who was in great form and finished on the podium as second lady in 1.05.54. Brian was a little slower in 1.07.44, his campaign today negatively affected by yesterday’s fairly brisk five mile trail race up at Killylane Reservoir.


12512777_10153510615157066_7230363561230407810_nDespite the packed schedules over the Easter Weekend and beyond, Parkrun was still as popular as ever with OAC members taking part in plenty of timed runs both at home and further afield. There were no PBs at the club’s home run at Victoria Park or across NI this week with runners possibly saving themselves for the Victoria Shield.

Michael O’Donoghue ran Reading Parkrun in 23.58 prior to the Half Marathon the following day. George Gribben was also in England touristing and ran Huddersfield in 27.17 with Chris Downey running a fantastic 19.04 (7/674) in Greenmount, South Africa to finish his holiday on a high.

Thanks to all those that helped marshall, bake and generally help out at Victoria on Saturday. As we all know, no volunteers, no parkrun!