Winning time being over 2 minutes faster than last year In spite of all the warnings of severe weather and indeed the accuracy of the predictions in some areas, Portaferry on Tuesday night remained oblivious to it all. Indeed the coastline route had never looked better as a record entry took to the roads for the Annual 10 Mile Road Race in celebration of the Gala’s 40th anniversary and conditions were well nigh ideal for running. This was reflected in the times recorded throughout the over 300 participant field, the winning time being over 2 minutes faster than last year and the first 13 runners all dipping under the hour for the distance, compared with just 6 last year. The huge turnout packed the narrow streets and there was a tremendous atmosphere amongst the spectators as the winding stream of runners encircled the town and headed for the country along the lough shore. This event looks set to become the premier race of its kind in the country.
East Down Athletic Club Affiliated to NIAF
Secretary: Joe Quinn
Tel. 02844 614235
Junior Goldclub Accredited
19 July 2007
The Men’s race was a closely contested affair with the leading half dozen staying together until well into the second half when Willowfield’s Deane Fisher applied the pressure, eventually coming home a clear winner in 53.56 ahead of East Antrim’s Ian Bailey (54.18) and Annadale’s Keith Purdy (54.36). In 4th place was the second Willowfield athlete Matthew Wilson (55.08) with East Down’s Brendan Teer maintaining his very consistent season with a comfortable 5th place in 55.36.
The ladies race was won for the second year in a row by North Belfast’s Breege Connolly in 60.51, knocking over 2 minutes off her winning time last year in the process, and well clear of her clubmate Louise McClean (62.02).
This was indeed a high class field with excellent times recorded in all the age categories, none more impressive than Henry Curran’s 62.53 as he finished 2nd of the East Down contingent and further underlined his continuing improvement. Equally so was Stephen Shannon, on his first competitive outing over the distance, hammering out a splendid 69.16 and finishing just ahead of club colleague Mark Quinn who recorded a confidence boosting 69.27.
The ever competitive Brian Hamilton clocked 70.44 to see off the challenge of Nigel Martin (71.16) who left home with the intention of running the Relay with Chris McLoughlin but both of them found the lure of the classic 10 miles too much to resist so ran the full distance instead! Chris, returning from injury, had every reason to be pleased with a time of 75.34, which placed him just outside the top 100 and 3 places ahead of race sponsor Michael Jenkins from Up & Running. A bit further back was the cough carrying Joe Quinn, just breaking the 80 minute barrier by 3 seconds, with Raymond Milligan recording an impressive 83.58 as he comes to terms with the recent sad loss of his father.
They were followed by a delighted Linda Cunningham who posted 92.08, running for most of the way with Julie Smith (91.57), with sister Sheena clocking 96.33.
And in the Relay race East Down’s Helen Murray continued her impressive form when in company with her father, who took the easier first leg, she picked up the winners prize in the Mixed team category and is the only female to have completed every race so far in the Tour of County Down series, of which this was the fourth race. The next one is scheduled for Darragh Cross on 25th August.
Afterwards all enjoyed the refreshments in the splendid surroundings of Race HQ in Ballyphilip Church Hall – in fact many just go for the atmosphere and crack generated post race and indeed if the truth was told, this is what provides the icing on the cake for many runners. There is a unique camaraderie engendered among the running fraternity on such occasions and long lasting friendships are forged after the heat and sometimes pain of competition has subsided. A special word of thanks to the Hall caretaker who was left with the unavoidable aftermath of over 300 (sweaty) runners sharing 4 showers and congratulations to the Gala Committee on their 40th anniversary. See you all, and more, again next year!