After last week’s excitement with the Belfast City Marathon, and the club’s rather heavy racing schedule over the last few weeks, this weekend was comparatively quiet on the racing scene. But the Harriers produced three of the six individual winners in the three Belfast Park Runs (Alan Ritchie, Claire Connor and Lisa Sturgeon), and got good performances out of Neil Carty and Simon Reeve in the first round of the British Mountain Running Championships at Slieve Bearnagh in the Mournes.
Alan Ritchie led home the field in the Waterworks Park Run, chalking up a new personal best of 16.54, while Claire Connor was the first woman in the Victoria Park Run in a new personal best of 18.46. Lisa Sturgeon, returning to competition after a long lay-off, won her first Park Run at Queen’s in 21.29.
Also at the Waterworks, the Harriers got good finishes from Jim Newberry (fourth in 18.24, just four seconds shy of his PB), Simon Reeve (fifth in 18.40), Lance Breen (ninth in 19.03) and Joe Norney (tenth in 19.07). Also cracking the top 25 were John Murphy (12th in 19.22), Greg McClure (14th in 19.42), Gerry Gribbon (20th in 20.30) and Aodhan O’Reilly (15th in 21.02).
They were supported by Ita McCambridge (22.17), Jack Carberry (23.10 for a new personal best), Paul Williams (23.12), and junior Darragh McNairney, who scored a new personal best in 23.53. Next home were Kilian Woods (24.39), Brendan McCambridge (31.12), Orla McCambridge (31.13), Tina Haggan (36.01) and Aaron McCann (36.03).
The first woman in the event was Dromore’s Geraldine Branagh in 19.11.
Others competing at Queen’s included Marty Rea, whose 18.34 was good for second behind an unregistered runner. Mark Sturgeon was sixth in 19.37, while Damien Gill (22.23) and John Lavery (22.53) turned in their usual solid performances. Drew Crawford was also in action at Victoria, timing 27.19.
Neil Carty and Simon Reeve tested themselves against some of the top mountain runners in Britain in the opening round of the British Championships. This race, held over a challenging circuit in the Mournes, also counts towards the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Championship. Neil placed an impressive tenth in the over-40 age category, 27th overall, in 56.55, while Simon was 89th overall in 1.12.59.