North Belfast Harriers were well-represented on the road and trails over the holiday period, with the biggest turn-out from the club coming at the Christmas Cracker in Castlewellan on Saturday 28 December. It was the 30th running of the popular race, which features teams of pairs challenging themselves on the trails and roads of the area, with a new and different course every year.
This year’s edition of the race was about 8.5 miles, and in a departure from recent years, did not enter the forest park but rather traversed fields and roads throughout the country side. It still featured plenty of mud and steep climbs, especially in the final half of the race, which was mostly uphill.
Six teams that included NBH athletes made the podium in various categories.
Harriers featured on the winning teams in two ‘open’ categories: Gladys Ganiel O’Neill teamed up with Andrew Annett, running unattached, to win the ‘mixed’ female-male category in 53.32 (finishing sixth overall in the standings behind five all male teams); and Amanda Perry teamed up with Denise Logue of Ballydrain Harriers to win the female category in 1.04.17. Despite taking a wrong turn before getting back on track, Cathy McCourt and Jim Benson were second in the mixed category in 57.14.
Robert Irvine and Francis McCaffrey took top honours in the male 110-119 age division (calculated by adding the ages of the two runners together) in 63.20. Ita McCambridge and Paddy McCambridge were second in the mixed 100-109 division in 80.27 while Siobhan Drain and Lynn McCullough were third in the female 90-99 division in 84.03.
Other strong efforts were turned in by Mark McKinstry and Nigel McClintock of Ballymena Runners (59.20), Mark McCallion and Marc Jennings (59.59), Sean McShane and Joe Norney (61.50), Gerard McNamara and Michael McKeown of East Down (65.27), Lance Breen and Mark McKeown (73.46), Stephen Walker and Paul Williams (74.45), Kevin Lavery and Vincent Bradley (76.49), John Burns and Orla McCambridge (83.27), and Sandy Carr and Gill McLoughlin (89.22).
The overall winners of the race were Gary O’Hanlon (unattached) and Brian McCluskey of North East Runners in 50.47.
Cathy and Neil Make Podiums on Boxing Day
Cathy McCourt competed in the always-popular Greencastle 5 Mile Road Race on Boxing Day, finishing second in 30.21 on the hilly route. Greg McClure also took part, running 33.30 and placing third in the V55 age division.
Neil Carty ran well in the BARF Turkey Trot in the Mourne Mountains, traversing the 5.7 mile race in 47.12 to place third overall and first in the V45 category. Paul Jenkins ran the East Coast Club Handicap, covering 4.21 miles in Ballyboley Forest in 28.24.
Christmas Parkrun in the Waterworks
The Waterworks hosted a Parkrun on Christmas Day which saw 235 runners turn out for a spin before their holiday dinners. The Harriers were well represented, with Andrew Considine completing the course first in 16.57, followed by junior athlete Conal McCambridge, who set a new parkrun personal best of 17.08. Piaras McShane, another junior athlete, completed his 50th parkrun on the day in 24.27.
Also in the top ten were Michael Fitzpatrick (4th, 17.23), Mark McAllister (5th, 18.23), Paul Elliott (8th, 18.47), and Laurence Johnston (9th, 18.52). They were followed by John Gerard Murphy (20.02), Stephen Walker (20.06), Greg McClure (20.36), Paul Williams (21.06), Niall Armstrong (21.23), Patrick McShane (21.29), Eamon Sheridan (21.59), Conor O’Rawe (22.25), Mannix McAlister (22.41), Kevin Lavery (22.53), Paul Gruhn (22.57), Jim Clinton (23.44), Sean McShane Jr (23.49), Sean McShane (24.27), Ita McCambridge (24.54), Sandy Carr (26.02), Orla McCambridge (27.21), Brendan McCambridge (27.27), Marian Hayes (27.40), John Burns (28.21), Kilian Woods (28.22), Drew Crawford (28.55) and Thomas Reid (33.15).
At the Saturday parkruns, the Waterworks as usual drew the largest number of Harriers, led in by Conal McCambridge, 4th in 18.32. John Gerard Murphy was 10th in 20.42. Other NBH athletes included Drew Knox (21.49), Gerry Gribbon (22.22), Andrew Milligan (22.26), Eamon Sheridan (22.49), Michael McCormick (23.14), Colin Simpson (23.25), Greg McClure (23.57), Patrick McShane (24.36), Sean McShane (24.46), Jack Carberry (24.49), Harry Brewster (25.26), John O’Hare (25.38), Rioghnach Catney (33.48), John Robert Johnston (33.54) and Christine Douglas (34.04).
Gregory Walsh was the first to finish at the Ecos Parkrun in Ballymena (17.46). At Queen’s, Philip Donnelly was fifth in 20.48 and Ciaran Hunter ran 25.01. Jim Clinton completed the Falls route in 25.46. Further afield, Matt Shields ran the Bushy Parkrun in London in 19.09 on Christmas Day, and the Bedfont Lakes Parkrun on Saturday in 19.22. Paul Horan took part in the hilly Sheffield Parkrun (8th, 18.10).