Something people may not know about North Belfast Harriers, which makes it different from most other running clubs, is that it is a registered charity. Our objectives are to provide opportunities and pathways for all abilities to exercise and socialise through athletics and to fulfil their athletic potential. The benefits are in public health, mental and physical, plus social cohesion.
Breeege Connolly was one such recreational runner that joined us approx fifteen years ago. A young woman coming to live in Belfast for work Breege joined the club to improve her fitness yes but also to meet more people in her new home. It was not long till our then head coach the late Jimmy Nolan spotted that this new recruit had potential so he nudged her towards the more competitive training groups. Breege improved steadily year on year and in the interim period she has won Northern Ireland and Ulster titles both individually and team as well as Irish National individual and team medals and international vest for Northern Ireland and Ireland. Last month this pathway reached a pinnacle when Breege was selected to represent Ireland in the Rio Olympic marathon. A great honour for both Breege and the club.
Throughout this time Breege has remained the same cheerful modest athlete. You will not find her indulging in self promotion through social media instead she competes and leaves it to others to assess the value of her performance. When Breege departs for Rio she will be accompanied by and compete with full time professional athletes. Unlike these athletes Breege has attained the honour under her own endeavours and sacrifices. Apart from assistance by way of running shoes, gratefully supplied by local running shop “Pure Running” in association with Adidas, and guidance from Athletics NI Director of Coaching and Athlete Development Tom Crick, all Breege’s preparations have been self funded while holding down a job as a senior software tester. If you are a local business reading this and looking for a CSR project I am sure Breege would love to hear from you.
Breege is the role model and there is a message in this story and it’s at the heart of what North Belfast Harriers seeks to communicate. As you sit on the sofa reading this you may not be Olympic material but whatever your potential is it is achievable and it’s in your control, you just have to take that first step towards an active lifestyle and believe in yourself. We are here to help you and we would love to see you at one of our programmes so get in touch please.