Athletics: Sperrin Harrier enjoy busy weekend

Sperrin Harriers Men who took part in the NI Relays Championships on Saturday
Sperrin Harriers Men who took part in the NI Relays Championships on Saturday

Five teams of Sperrin Harriers made the trip to Victoria Park, Belfast to compete in the NI Relay Championships.

Although six teams had been entered by the club, the Mens Masters Team had to withdraw due to injury.

This event which is organised by Orangegrove Athletic Club, is one of the highlights of the race calendar and attracts strong competition from the top running clubs across Northern Ireland.

First up were the ladies, and despite the girls being caught out by an earlier than billed start, they soon caught up on almost a minute lost, and then overtook a number of those who had started ahead of them.

Amazing runs by lead runners Natalie Hall, Joanne Bell and Hannah Su brought the girls back into competition and their efforts were matched by Angela O’Neill, Sarah Hughes and Emily McGowan when they took on the second leg for each team.

In the final leg Pauline McGurren, Laura Mitchell and Andrea Linton pushed hard to bring all three ladies teams home in respectable positions.

Despite the unconventional start the Ladies A Team finished sixth overall, the Ladies B team finished eleventh, and the Ladies C Team finished fourteenth. A remarkable achievement, and a true test of the girls’ grit and sheer determination.

In the final race two teams of men took on the cream of runners in the province. The Mens A Team had a great start with Gavin Corey powering his way around the two laps of the park to finish his leg in the leading group.

He was followed by Paul O’Callaghan who was also impressive in the second leg to keep the team well up the places.

John Mulhern who was the lead runner in the Mens B Team had a difficult time when his hamstring troubled him for most of the race, and it was left to David Moan to make up for lost time for the B Team in the second leg.

Adrian Devlin took on the third leg for the A Team while Tommy Harraghy did the same for the B Team and both runners pushed hard around the course.

The final runner for the A Team was Club Chairman Mark Reid, who crossed the line in 45.18 giving the team eleventh place. Toirleach Gourley took on the final leg for the B Team and crossed the finish on 51.43.

This great event benefited from favourable weather conditions, and the great comradery shown by the Harrier teams and their supporters was a credit to the club, making the day a most enjoyable one.

Harriers Nicola and Adrian Rea completed the Galway Bay Half Marathon on Saturday. Adrian finished the course, which comprised of a new route this year, in a time of 1:50:18, while Nicola crossed the line in 2:01:42.

On Sunday morning Sperrin Harrier Darren Warnock made his way to Monaghan town for the first year of the Monaghan Marathon which was hosted by Monaghan Phoenix Athletic Club.

Some 130 athletes turned up from all parts of the country for the event. Darren was very happy to finish with a time of 4.00.22 in what was his third marathon in two weeks.

Martin Gallagher Memorial 5K- Stephen McWilliams represented the club in the Maiden City on Sunday. Competing against a strong field of almost eight hundred runners, Stephen completed the course in a time of 28.14.

Runher Titanic 10K- The final event for the Harriers over the eventful weekend was the inaugural ‘ladies only’ event in the Titanic Quarter on Sunday afternoon.

Over twenty ladies travelled down, with the majority of them getting there in a coach piloted by Harrier Deirdre Conway. After safely arriving in the city despite the roadworks detour, the ladies set about their trademark pre-race group warm up, managing to attract members of other running clubs into joining in.

The girls set off at 2pm, many of them taking part in their first 10K despite having only joined the club’s Run 4 Fun in the summer. First Harrier home was Emily McGowan in 52.20.

Next in was Fiona Devlin in 53.06, followed by Ilythia King in 58.45, who is overcoming a recent injury. Harriers Roisin Martin (1.00.15), Gail Magee (1.02.44), Noreen Donnelly (1.02.49), and Roisin Scullion (1.07.44) were next to finish.

Harrier stalwards Deirdre Conway, Joanne Bell and Maureen Mallon encouraged the remaining group of Bernie Sonners (1.07.52), Bronagh McKenna (1.09.41), Brenda Darragh (1.10.49), Alison Taylor (1.12.52), Danielle McCrory (1.13.52), Jacinta Morgan (1.13.5), Michelle Eastwood (1.14.53), Lydia Donnelly (1 16.46) and Niamh McLaughlin (1.19.49).

The girls put in fine performances supporting each other around the course to all finish in good shape and fine form. Afterwards the ladies took part in a group warm down before tucking into a picnic feast of pavlova, chocolate cake and other goodies provided by Michelle Eastwood, Niamh McLaughlin and others.

Cookstown Park Run 5K- Barry O’Neill 21.25(PB), Roddy McIvor 22.15(PB), Patsy Hughes 22.27, Sean Hamill 24.51(PB).

Ballymena Park Run 5K- Stephen McWilliams 27.39

Week ahead: Comber Cup Cross Country 6K(F) and 8K(M) on Saturday 11th October at 2pm; Armagh 10M on Sunday 12th October at 12 noon.

Any member intending to participate in any of the above races is asked to send details in advance to to ensure inclusion in weekly report.

Only three weeks to the first race in our winter league. First race is Davagh 10K on 1st November, followed by Lough Fea 5K on 6th December, Drum Manor 10K on 17th January, An Creagan 5M on 31st January and Lough Fea 10M on 28th February.

Training continues as usual at 6.30pm on Tuesday and Thursday nights at Loughry. Anyone wishing to train on Sunday morning can contact Sean Donnelly.