Weekend Report – April 10th

Considering the congested calendar over the Easter period, the past week was relatively quiet on the home front, but as usual orange vested athletes toed the line in a variety of events both local and national.

North Down AC Track Meet

The first of North Down’s well run track events offered runners of all abilities the opportunity to test how their winter training had progressed and with a variety of distances on offer from 150m to 3000m there was something for everyone to get their teeth into. Thanks to Alan Martin for his roundup of Orangegrove participants:-

This was the first outdoor meeting of the season for the sprinters. First off was junior Reegan McKenzie in the year 8/9 150m who ran a terrific time of 24:31 6th overall and 3rd in age. Next up Beverley Martin also running in the 150m with a time of 26:56 and being the only master athlete in the race an age category win. The next race saw 2 OAC sprinters in action and action it was with Sophia Campbell in her first race for the club just snatching a 3rd place from Lucy Armstrong finishing 4th with respective times of 20:93 and 21:72. The final OG sprinter in action was Jim Harris who also running 150m put in a fantastic age winning performance of 23:45. A great start to the season, well done to all.

Next meet will be at the same venue on Tuesday 24th May and remember it’s open to all, not just the sprint group.


After last weeks backwards parkrun/Victoria Shield frivolity it was a return to the tried and tested anti clockwise model for Saturday’s parkrun. Incidentally, have you ever wondered why track races are run in a counter clockwise direction? A number of theories exist, The dominant limb – statistically more people are right hand and right leg dominant. On an anti clockwise track, the right leg covers more ground and does more work. The earths rotation – all current track records were set on northern hemisphere circuits where the rotation of the earth benefits anti clockwise running.

The sentimental reason – because running in the opposite direction to the hands of a clock symbolises the athletes battle against time.

As you can probably guess from the deployment of those useless facts, not much happened on planet parkrun this weekend. In Victoria Park 224 athletes benefitted from the favourable rotation of the earth, however the only event of note was the continued progress of Rory Hall-Thompson (20:05) who was not only first junior but first Orangegrove athlete overall. Well done Rory. Stormont was the place to be for Orangegrove PB’s this week, Lyndsey Tyro (20:14) was 2nd lady and 8th overall in claiming hers whilst Matthew Sykes ran 25:49 (56th place) to eclipse his previous best. Andrew Tees (23:50, 16th/ 108) and Sarah Steer (27:58, 56th) ran the Cabinteely parkrun in the southern suburbs of Dublin, but unsurprisingly the parkrun tourism award goes to Michael O’Donoghue, who couldn’t resist a pre Manchester marathon loosener at Heaton parkrun (25:30 266th/ 605)

As always, we finish the parkrun roundup with a request for volunteers, why not check the future roster on the Victoria parkrun volunteer page and pick out a weekend that works for you. Some roles require no training and any that do will be fully explained by one of the core team. Should you want to get in touch you can contact Gerry Ward on belfastvictoriahelpers@parkrun.com

Manchester Marathon

Spring has allegedly sprung and with the day’s getting longer so too has the mileage being racked up by the clubs marathon group. London, Belfast and Edinburgh will all see Orangegrove participation, but first up from the spring alumni were Rodney Corrigan and Michael O’Donoghue. For Rodney the rather conservative aim was to dip under four hours and for Michael it was simply another weekend of mega mileage.

With only 54 metres of elevation the organisers claim Manchester to be the flattest marathon course in the UK, and with both men in fine form hopes were high for fast times. In the end both acquitted themselves superbly with Michael running 3:46 and Rodney posting 3:37 (30 min PB!). Closer analysis of the results shows that both went through the 10k mark in around 50mins and hit halfway in slightly over 1:45. Rodney obviously came on strong in the second half to finish slightly ahead of MOD, however a curious statistic in the results indicates that Rodney’s average speed at the 30km mark was a whopping 42km/hr, which begs the obvious question – did Fermanagh’s finest hire a cab in an effort to get one over on Orangegrove’s long distance specialist? On this occasion I think we’ll assume it was a computer glitch and congratulate the lads on a job very well done, enjoy the beers.

Titanic 10k

The main event of the weekend in terms of club participation was undoubtedly the 10th annual running of the 10k road race around the Titanic quarter of Belfast. The area, which is most famously associated with the ill fated cruise liner, has seen significant redevelopment in the past decade however the race itself is one that most runners, the writer included, have a love/hate relationship with. The flat and fast course offers huge potential for quick times and has delivered in the past for many, however if the perennial coastal breeze decides to play up the runner can very quickly feel like they’re fighting a losing battle against a harbour wind tunnel and with little about the Airport Road end of the route to inspire a recovery it can make for a fairly tough day at the office.

Nothing ventured nothing gained however and with that and similar inspirational mantras in mind a total of 14 Orangegrovers set off to tame the Titanic course. As expected the wind was howling along Sydenham Road towards the Odyssey Arena making the outward leg difficult, but Airport Road was less affected and the runners were treated to a strong tailwind in the last stretch towards the finish. Fast times were still possible and in the end many delivered. Over 1000 participated in the event which was eventually won by Thomas Frazer (St Malachy’s AC) in 30:48 with Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) taking the honours for the ladies after posting 34:17. Orangegrove AC:-

Andy McIntyre 36:42 (43rd place)
Robin Montgomery 37:39 PB (3rd in age category)
Paul Tyro 37:58
Des Fahy 38:32 PB
Lyndsey Tyro 39:55
Brian Todd 41:48 (2nd in age category)
Martin O’Brien 43:58
Ian Millgate 46:08
Gerald Harvey 47:16  
Reg Sanlon 48:40 PB
Fintan Hurl 49:02 PB
Chris Downey 58:02

Another outstanding run from Andy, with Robin and Paul not far behind. Great to see a strong contingent of sub 40’s and so many either running a PB or being within touching distance. In the juniors mile, the club was well represented by Iseult Fahy who ran a speedy 6.47 for 36th place. As always, thanks to the support team for the endless encouragement and to Monty for the top quality photography.

Hilltown 10K

Elsewhere, but over the same distance, Thomas Leitch togged out in Hilltown, County Down and performed admirably to take a fine 5th place in a time of 38:02.

With it being a slightly quieter weekend than normal on the running front I thought I’d flesh out the report with a bit of a preview of the upcoming London marathon.
Sunday 24th April 2016 is a day that has been etched in the minds of 36,000 athletes from around the world since the moment they received their London marathon magazines, emails or in my case, notification that I had been drawn out from the club ballot in autumn last year. To run a marathon has become the Everest of running challenges for the novice athlete, to run a fast marathon the target for the more experienced and to run as close to 2 hours the pursuit of the elites. The beauty of our sport is that everyone will toe the line and undertake the same challenge in London, whether it be world record holder Dennis Kimetto, celebrity DJ Chris Evans or the 10 person Orangegrove contingent, all parties will fret over the weather, panic about sleeping in and feel that hollow sensation when you arrive at the start and know that the pain is all ahead of you.

When Pheidippides ran 25 miles from Marathon to Athens, announced Greek victory over the invading Persians, and before he subsequently died from exhaustion, he may have been comforted to know that by the end of the 19th century the Olympic Games would honour his memory by incorporating his 25 mile run as their ultimate test of endurance. He would doubtless have been touched that in 1908, during the London games, the royal family would take such an interest in the commemorative event that they had it extended to 26.2 miles so they could observe the spectacle as it passed Windsor Castle. It’s questionable, however, whether he would have considered his sacrifice worthwhile had he known that in 2010 a man by the name of Jack Woodward would pay his respects by running 26.2 miles around London dressed as a giant testicle.

Dressed in regulation orange, the club will be represented by 10 of its members in London, with Club captain Robin Montgomery leading the pursuit of excellence, both Robin and Thomas Leitch will be hoping that when all is said and done they register a time beginning with a two. Paul Tyro shouldn’t be too far behind, although he faces a battle, with wife Lyndsey, to win the award for ‘fastest in house’. Incidentally, Mrs Tyro gained her entry by running 3:13.58 in last years London marathon and subsequently earned a championship place, the first time this significant honour has been bestowed upon our club, very well done Lyndsey. Stephen Anderson and Pauline Bayliss both conquered the Belfast marathon last May and although Pauline has faced injury problems this time around they are both experienced enough campaigners to get the job done in the big smoke. Jill Long and Trish Magill have the added bonus of having previously completed the London marathon, and will know how to master the course. Speaking of experience Alan Montgomery has been there and done that, albeit 25 years ago in his debut marathon, but we all know that Monty has the necessary grit to see him through the sequel in style.

From my own point of view, this will be my fifth marathon, but first as a member of a running club. Although I’ve not made it to as many of the group long runs as I’d like to have had, and have run a fair bit of solo mileage, I’ve noticed the benefit of the group effort, whether it’s a nugget of advice or just an arm around the shoulder when things haven’t gone as planned. The group have trained hard and deserve to do well, but as we all know part of the lure of the marathon is that it is a difficult beast to tame and even the elites will need everything to be in their favour. Research into what it will take to run a sub 2 hour marathon found that it could only be achieved in optimal cool and calm conditions, with a flat course, few turns and a large group of elite runners capable of sharing the load of pace making until the very end of the race. When you consider that even if all these conditions were in place, the runner would have to have themselves optimally prepared in terms of conditioning, nutrition and mental attitude it’s clear to see why few, if any, can claim to have mastered the marathon distance.

I think it’s fair to say that none of us will break 2 hours any time soon, but my hope is that we all get out of the weekend what we wish for, and when we sit down to dinner together feel proud that we lived up to the club motto – Working together we accomplish more.