Autumn running in Northern Ireland

Thursday, 25 October , 2012
As the bright nights disappear in autumnal Northern Ireland, the roads are still pounded by runners training for upcoming marathons.  In October, Northern Ireland runners visited no less than six different countries to cover the 26.2 mile distance.  Meanwhile, those remaining on the Emerald Isle were left to contemplate what is on the horizon for them, with most of the long distance junkies looking towards Dublin Marathon on the 29th October for their latest fix, while those preferring shorter distances aim for the impending XC season, or the Seeley Cup 10km Road Race. It was the shorter distances that made most of the headlines at home this month, with the Northern Ireland Relay Championships, hosted by Orangegrove AC taking place in Victoria Park, Belfast.  In an attempt to win ‘bragging rights’, clubs gathered their best runners, and it was Belfast based Annadale Striders who came away with the smiles.  Well, the men did anyway; collecting both the Men’s Senior and Master’s trophies, while North Belfast Harriers won the Women’s Senior title, and North Down AC the Women’s Master’s. This wasn’t Annadale Striders’ only achievement of the month, their team of Eddie McGinley, Andrew Agnew, Ryan McDermot and David Morwood topped the team standings at the very competitive Gerry Farnan XC in Dublin.  Another of their members, Paul Pollock represented Ireland at the World Half Marathon Championships in Bulgaria.  Competing against the world’s best Paul completed the 13.1 mile course in 1:05:38 to take an extremely credible 34th place.  


  Back in Belfast, our own Cross Country season kicked off with a successful event at the Queen’s University playing fields.  Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) and Jessica Craig (North Down AC) won their respective categories.  This race was also used as trials for the Northern Ireland XC team, due to participate in the upcoming British & Irish XC Championships in Belfast on Saturday 10th November 2012. On the roads, Joe McAlister (St Malachy’s AC) and Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) impressed at the Adidas Armagh 10 Mile Road Race, with Joe winning the men’s race in 51:01, and Breege winning the female equivalent in 60:34. The latest ‘Runher’ event took place within the grounds of Stormont Estate, Belfast.  The tough but beautiful setting attracted thousands of female fundraisers, raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity.  At the competitive end of the field, Lisburn AC’s Judith Lowry won the 5km race in 18:40 while Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) crossed the line in 37:26 to win the 10km event. The Northern Ireland mountain running season finished with an excellent race at Slieve Gallion, Magherafelt.  Jonny Steede (Ballymena Runners) covered the 4.5 mile course, with 380 metres of ascending in an excellent 40:29.  While Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) celebrated victory in the female race, clocking 48:28. Personally, not much has changed in relation to my back injury.  I’m still at the mercy of the NHS, while they debate the best way forward.  Although I am extremely frustrated at not being able to run, I am staying involved through writing, and through my NiRunning website.  As I am not competing or training I am now able to get out and about, watching races instead of running in them, and I have found this strangely therapeutic.


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