This week the Olympic Torch arrived in Belfast and North Belfast Harriers’ chair Matt Shields was chosen to carry it through the streets of Belfast on Wednesday 6 June. The Harriers also got some excellent performances on the roads, with victories and personal bests in several local races throughout the week and over the weekend.
Matt Shields Carries Olympic Torch
Matt has been coaching more than 30 years, continues to compete as one of the top veterans runners in his category in Ireland and the UK, and works untold hours in an administrative capacity for the club. This was a great honour and testament to Matt’s dedication to athletics, who told Athletics Northern Ireland:
“To carry the torch is a once in a life time opportunity and a great honour; however I realise it’s an honour afforded to me because of the great work of North Belfast Harriers”.
Connor Magill Wins Craigavon 10k
Connor Magill followed up last weekend’s victory in the Northern Ireland and Ulster 5000 metres race with a win in Wednesday’s Craigavon 10k in a new personal best of 31.44. He was just ahead of clubmate Alan McCullough, who clocked 32.27 for second. Alan Ritchie also set a personal best, timing 34.06, good for sixth place.
Claire Connor had another solid performance, finishing third among the women in 38.46. There were other good runs from Davy Brady (ninth in 35.07), Travis Todd (13th in 35.48), Gerard McNamara (38.47), and Aidan O’Reilly (43.35).
Cathy Takes Top Honours at Ballymena 5 Miler
Cathy McCourt added another victory to her collection of recent wins by topping the field at the Ballymena 5 miler. She timed 29.49. On the men’s side, Conor Curran finished fourth overall and first in the V35 category in 27.24, Paul Jenkins clocked 29.45, and John Patience timed 30.06 and was first in the V50 category. The overall winner was Ballymena and Antrim’s Jarlath Falls in 26.03.
Harriers to the Fore in Tardree Forest
The Harriers swept places 2 to 5 at the Tardree Forest Race on Tuesday, led by Gregory Walsh’s second place (19.10). He was followed home by Marty Rea (19.25), Jim Benson (19.57) and Gareth Grew (20.10 and also first in the V40 category). They were supported by Barry Reid (20.34 for eighth) and Simon Caldwell (15th in 22.03). The hilly, off-road races was approximately 3.5 miles.
The weekend saw more Harriers out and running the various Park Runs throughout Belfast. At the Waterworks, there was a strong showing with Stephen Walker (17.51) and Jim Benson (17.57) finishing second and third behind unattached runner Brendan Grew (17.30).
They were supported by John Murphy (8th in 19.37), Greg McClure (10th in 19.54 – just a week after running the Newry Marathon), Gerry Gribbon (20.10) and Sean McShane, who set a new personal best of 20.13.
Junior athlete Tony McCambridge also logged a new personal best (20.22), and there were solid performances from Kilian Woods (21.56), Jack Carberry (23.08), Mathew Verdon (23.35), Jim Clinton (24.29), Tina Haggan (29.14), Mary Ringland (29.17) and Aaron McCann (34.01).
Dromore’s Geraldine Branagh was the top woman in 19.57.
Over at the Queen’s Park Run, Marty Rea led the field home in 18.37 while John Lavery clocked 25.40. At Victoria Park Run, Mark Shields clocked 20.21, Athanasia Sevastaki was the third woman in 22.56, and Drew Crawford timed 27.00.