A busy week for East Down athletes on 3 fronts in 3 very different locations – Wednesday night saw a sizeable number of competitors take part in the Open Graded meeting at Mary Peters Track where blustery weather made conditions far from ideal. Nevertheless Elaine Burch set a personal best 4.58 for the 1500 metres, no doubt assisted by the quality of the senior opposition around her.
Liam Keenan clocked 5.02 for the same distance in the first men’s senior race while former member James O’Hare now running for Annadale Striders won the hotly contested second 1500 in a superb 3.52.6 where the 10th place runner recorded 4.15.8 – hot running by any standard. Brendan Teer chose the 5000 metres for his participation on the night and was a comfortable second in 15.49, behind Annadale’s Owen Carleton.
On to Friday and back to Mary Peter’s Track again, this time for the Les Jones 10K, which starts around the track but quickly distances itself from that easy running surface, climbing out of the bowl to upper Malone before turning back along the Lagan towpath and the welcome awaiting at Shaws Bridge. If you haven’t ran this race before then the gradient from 7K to Barnett’s park is a joy to experience. Nevertheless everyone made it, most with a smile on their face, or perhaps it was a grimace, and some even posted PBs for the distance.
Liam Venney led the East Down contingent filling 13th place in 36.29 with neil McCartan posting 37.18 for his best ever time for the distance. Liam Keenan was out again, happier with his 37.55 in 28th place than his Wednesday efforts, while Francis Tumelty, improving with every outing, clocking 40.24 and must now feel confident of breaking the 40 minute barrier on a friendlier course. Brian Wilson, “fresh” from his exertions on Moughanmore the night before, was quite happy to record 45.06 as he continues his rehabilitation.
The only East Down lady in action was Onagh Breteche and she warmed up for her long Saturday morning run with an excellent 52.52, while Colm McNeill made his annual pilgrimage to the venue and looked comfortable on 55.03.
On to Sunday and the Runner 5 and 10K runs in the grounds of Stormont Estate – as indicated by its name a women’s only event which attracts runners of all abilities to the off road experience in the shadow of the seat of government. Eimear Degan tackled the 5K distance which has a climb to rival Friday night’s course and also saw the welcome return of her mum Barbara as she continues her recovery from her snowballing injuries.
Megan Wilson took on some high class opposition in the 10K and was holding a superb 4th place when she passed me on the 2nd lap (I was marshaling by the way) and in the absence of official results I assume she held onto that spot. Jackie Gilbride and Leanne Oakes showed up well in a huge field and looked in control over both laps and should give both confidence to push on from there.
Next weekend is the Edinburgh Marathon when a large invasion made up of East Down and Murlough AC runners will hit the Scottish capital in an attempt to lower times haggis and possibly a wee dram (non-alcoholic of course) or two. Good luck to all especially the first timers and remember 26.2 Scottish miles are as far as they are here, no additives no discounts.
After that all should be in shape for the 5 and 10K runs in support of Impact Romania in Ballynoe on Sunday 12 June.