Friday night may well have been the Olympic Opening Ceremony, but on a slightly smaller scale it was also the third running of the NFU Mutual 5 Mile Road Race at the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre in Ballymoney.
The main race was preceded by the Primary School 1K and the Secondary school 1.5K races which were held around the grounds of the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre. It looked like a clean sweep for the Springwell primary school runners with Elle McBroom and Andrew Gordon winning the Primary Boys/Girls race and Oisin Brennan coming home first in the Secondary Boys, but the Brown sisters Rachael and Susannah from Ballymena & Antrim showed their class finishing first and second in the Secondary School girls with Springwell’s Holly Woodhead coming home 3rd. Over 50 school children took part in both races, all finishing received a medal, bottle of water and a much needed Mars bar.
The main race was started at 7.00pm outside the Leisure Centre by the Mayor of Ballymoney, Councillor Evelyne Robinson, with the 150 runners setting off down the Garryduff Road before running through the Riverside Park, up the Bravellen Road, across the Lislagan Road and back down the Garryduff Road to the finish in the grounds of the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre.
The men’s race was dominated from start to finish by the course record holder Joe McAllister (St Malachy’s) and although he failed to break his own record he did post a fantastic 25:21, he was followed by Jarlath Falls (Ballymena & Antrim) in 25:41 and Richard Johnston (City of Derry) 26:34. The female race was a much closer affair with 36 seconds separating the first three, Helena Quinn (Unattached) first in 32.26, Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) second in 32.50 and Deborah Gilliland (Springwell) third in 33.02. Deborah was also the first Female Junior, with fellow junior Neil Johnston taking the Male Junior prize, this bodes well for the future as they were the first male and female Springwell runners across the line.
This was another very successful race and the runners were well looked after with Tea, Coffee and tray bakes in the Conservatory Restaurant during the prize giving for which thanks must go to Julie Newton who laid out a fantastic spread.
Thanks again to the local branch of the NFU Mutual for their continued sponsorship, Mayor of Ballymoney Councillor Evelyne Robinson, Peter Sheils, John and Gareth Faul and Pat Montgomery from the Ballymoney Sports Development Department, Paul Lynas and the staff of the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre, Benny Knight and Alec Walker the DJ’s, all the Marshalls/Water Station helpers and last but not least St Johns Ambulance who once again thankfully were not called into action on the night.