Weekly Report, Monday 3rd September-Sunday 9th September

As summer slips almost seamlessly into autumn and thoughts turn to cross country there is, nevertheless, much running on tarmac, track and trail still to be done before we begin to contemplate cool afternoons on the grass at the Six Mile Water and elsewhere.

This was not a particularly busy week, but there was still plenty going on. It began early, on Tuesday to be precise, with the Mill Hill Mile at Castlewellan. This is probably the shortest race on our calendar, but it is certainly not one for the faint hearted.

Friday evening brought the Killyleagh Half Marathon, now part of the Pure Running- ChampionChip Ireland Half Marathon Series, and the Killyleagh 10k.

On the following day, Saturday, there was the Larne 10k, hosted by East Coast AC on a two-lap course in and around the Co. Antrim town. This race is a round of the Novosco 10k Grand Prix series and so will be of particular interest to those contemplating a nice little pay cheque just in time for Christmas.

Sunday at Delamont Country Park will bring the Alps 10k and 5k races and fun run. These races are being organized by Atlas Running on behalf of the Alps NI mental health charity to mark World Suicide Prevention Day, 2018. A very worthwhile cause.

However, pride of place this week must go to four of our club members who are competing at the World Masters’ Championships in Malaga, Jacqui Maxwell, Stephen Orr, Ian Wilson and George Gribben. We wish them well on this very elevated stage. I am also aware that individual members are running far and wide; Ali McConnell in Wales, Jason Lanyon in France and Michael O’Donoghue at Dorking, near London.

Mill Hill Mile (Tuesday 4th September, 2018). Report by Gerald Harvey.

Last year it was cold and the storm clouds threatened a total washout, but this time the weather was perfect for running. This race is an awesome hill climb from Annsborough to the Upper Square in Castlewellan and, as a few people have commented, it is hard enough getting a car up that hill never mind running up it. Brian Todd and Gerald Harvey left it late in jogging down from the finish area to the start and almost immediately had to line up (along with Paul Tyro) then race back again. Lyndsey Tyro was there cheering us on and up to the finish.

Paul Tyro finished in 6:43, 18th out of 94 runners, next came Brian Todd in 8:09 (53rd place) and lastly Gerald Harvey in 10:09 (80th place).
The race was won by Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) in 5:25 and first lady was Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) in 6:04, 3rd overall.

The proceeds were all in aid of Mind Your Mate and Yourself, a local mental health charity. Well done to Newcastle AC for organizing the event.

Killyleagh Half Marathon and 10k (Friday 7th September, 2018.)
For 2018 the Killyleagh Half Marathon is part of the Pure Running-ChampionChip Ireland Half Marathon Series. Both the half and the accompanying 10k race are being organized by Atlas Running on behalf of the Action Cancer charity. I haven’t seen a course map for the half but the route is described as taking in the minor roads in and around Killyleagh with views of both Strangford Lough and the Castle. I particularly enjoy Friday evening running and will definitely give this one a go next year. In the end no one from OAC competed in this race.

For the record the Killyleagh Half was won by Chris McCaffrey (Saintfield Striders) in 1.15.41, and Lisa Corr (Saintfield Striders) was first lady in 1.32.02. The 10k race was won by Ronan Brady (unattached) in 37.38 and Amanda Jackson (Ballydrain Harriers) was first lady in 43.22.

Larne 10k (Saturday 8th September, 2018.)

This year the Larne 10k is a round of the Novosco Grand Prix series. The race starts in the town centre at Centre Point on Pound Street before heading along Main Street, Curran Road and Bay Road to the coast. The coastal section is in reverse to that which is part of the Larne Half Marathon. So, runners run up the steep ramp to the Glenarm Road and then back to the start via Victoria Road. This is done twice to complete the full 10k. This race, hosted by East Coast AC, is in its third year and growing in popularity.

On the day this was an extremely enjoyable affair which, after early rain, was blessed with bright sunshine and high temperatures. The unfairly much maligned town looked at its best as we lined up for the start. By the way, nobody was going anywhere until Ryan Maxwell got almost total silence for his race briefing (impressive)….and there were no earphones in sight! The route had a little bit of everything…town centre, coastal fringe, autumnal trees and great support along the way from the locals.

There was certainly no shortage of water on the route and the marshals were everywhere and extremely supportive and encouraging. Mind you, the route was not an easy one and this is maybe reflected in times. The ramp up from the coastal path to the Glenarm Road is encountered twice and it takes its toll. Even the next bit towards the town again is distinctly uphill. High temperatures along Main Street were also a factor and although the sea breeze was welcoming it was also in one’s face.

Nevertheless, a truly memorable race and one which deserves to be well supported. East Coast AC have done a remarkable job in hosting this event and deserve much credit. The traffic management plan must have been a nightmare with one side (the side running south) of the main Glenarm Road closed and then north bound traffic having to stop intermittently to allow the runners to turn into Victoria Road. So, well done to all involved in seeing it through. The event ended with a prize giving and an enjoyable early lunch courtesy of East Coast in Centre Point. Medals for all and a very full goody bag as well. Brian Todd and Andrew Bennett represented OAC with the following times:

Brian Todd…..45.04
Andrew Bennett….52.47

The Larne 10k was won by Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers) in 32.29 and Pauline Thom (Ballymena & Antrim AC) was first lady in 41.17.

World Masters’ Championships, Malaga 2018

The biennial World Masters’ Championships are in Spain this year and four OAC members have made the trip to compete as part of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team, Jacqui Maxwell (10k), Ian Wilson (100m and 200m) and George Gribben (100m and 200m). Stephen Orr is there too, running for Ireland (800m).

Following the 100m heats I publish what coach Alan Martin had to say in his post to Orangegrove (with a little editing):

‘Today it was a privilege to watch two of OAC’s masters sprinters in action in the masters world championships in Malaga. George Gribben was first to the line in the 100m M60 category in a heat which contained some of the best masters athletes from around the world. Returning from injury with little track training in the past two months George had a fantastic run and managed a very creditable 5th position. A few hours later it was the turn of Ian Wilson to step into the blocks, 100m M50 category, which turned out to be the fastest of ten heats in that age group. Ian had a superb run just finishing outside a final qualifying time. Two great runs from our OAC track athletes against the best in the world; no mean achievement for our wee club.
Next races for George and Ian will be the 200m on Friday, Jacqui in the 10k and Stephen Orr 800m on Sunday. Wish them good running. Go OAC.’

Thursday (Alan Martin)
‘Another great day at the World Masters’ Athletics championships in Malaga.
Ian first up this morning in M50 200m (after being indisposed all night with a stomach bug) had the run of his life breaking his PB by 0.27 of a second; in sprinting that’s a good margin. George’s race M60 200m, was not until 19:30 this evening, giving him a long day to keep the nerves at bay. That he did and again he had a blistering run. George, as I mentioned in the previous post, has only just returned from injury. Nevertheless, he managed not only a season’s best but his best run since knee surgery in 2016. You cannot ask for much better than that! Great support from the OAC squad and Anne and Brian from Ni Masters. A super event and well worth the trip. Roll on Toronto 2020; let’s get a team out there.’

Today was Jacqui Maxwell’s turn. Jacqui was entered in the 10k race in tough enough conditions. I quote her exact words having completed the race:
‘Well that was hard. My glute injury was with me the whole way and the last 3K were pretty painful. So glad to finish in 54 mins; I’d have taken that this morning. Where’s the Cava?? Thanks for all your good wishes xx.’
Well done Jacqui Maxwell!

Stephen Orr is due to run in his 800m M40 heat at 19.21 this evening (Sunday). He is in lane 2 on a seeded time of 2.04.02. Best of luck Stephen! This will be updated at a later time!
And, stop press! To quote Stephen Orr directly:

‘Well that was fun! An amazing experience, lining up on the track and seeing German, Argentinian, and Ukrainian vests and loads others around me. Happy to run a season’s best, 5th in my heat (2.05.90) out of 10. Unfortunately, not enough to qualify for the semi-final but a real buzz nonetheless. As a wise man once said “two of the best words in the English language are ‘next time’.

Delighted to come away ranked 33rd fastest over 40 year old in the world!’
Very well done indeed, Stephen Orr!

And some titbits of information. Ali McConnell was in North Wales where she took on a ten mile road race and managed to finish third in her age category. I have no information about actual venue or times but I do know that she appeared in a very fetching evening gown at a reception later that evening! Jason Lanyon (dressed as Mickey Mouse) was taking part in the Marathon du Médoc near Bordeaux where it seems the main aim is to drink as much wine as you can and then fall over the line within a set time to earn a medal. Michael O’Donoghue was doing roughly the same thing, dressed as Mario less his lost moustache, although a little closer to home in Dorking. MOD was taking part in the Bacchus Wine Estate Marathon in which, again, the main aim is to imbibe as much as possible rather than to just finish. Not surprisingly, I have not been in receipt of any coherent information about either venture although times and breathalyser readings will be published as soon as available.

Michael O’Donoghue…..5.49.02 (but, he enjoyed himself!)

Parkrun Antics
There was the usual parkrun toing and froing this weekend with the popularity of this Saturday morning ritual for many showing absolutely no sign of abating. The introduction of the new Glider bus service in Belfast recently has brought the two West Belfast parkruns at Falls and Colin Glen more into contention for those of us based in the east of the city. The purple bendy bus runs past both entrances. The service is not just as frequent on Saturdays as on weekdays but reduced city traffic should make for a fairly speedy journey anyway. The vehicles are very comfortable with wifi and charging points and a very smooth ride indeed. Sustainable cups,…and now sustainable travel (particularly sustainable if you are an OAP!).
There were no OAC personal bests at headquarters, Victoria Park, although Eric Fairfield was first OAC finisher in 19.41. Good to see David Fletcher back from his travels in 21.37. At Stormont, Jacob McKittrick (JM11-14) was 2nd finisher in a personal best time of 18.25. Incidentally, 3rd finisher was David Gribben in 19.34. At Antrim parkrun Kimberley Reynolds was a first timer in 23.18 and Alison Canning ran a personal best of 24.46. At Orangefield there was a personal best of 22.03 for Lyndsey Tyro and at the same venue both David Gilliland (24.28) and Reg Sanlon (32.20) were first timers.
Don’t forget the volunteering bit. Email Gerry Ward on belfastvictoriahelpers@parkrun.com.