Over 500 take part in KK McArthur Festival

Sara Dickinson, Alanna Millar, Kenneth Bacon (Race Director), Liz Dowey and Carolyn Crawford - all Springwell RC.
Sara Dickinson, Alanna Millar, Kenneth Bacon (Race Director), Liz Dowey and Carolyn Crawford - all Springwell RC.

On Saturday, July 21 hundreds of athletes made their way to Dervock Village for the annual Kennedy Kane Festival of Running, an event organised by Springwell Running Club and Dervock and District Community Association.

The festival, which consisted of a five mile road race replacing the usual 10k event and a new course for the Half Marathon, celebrates the achievements of local man Kennedy McArthur who won Olympic Marathon Gold at the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games.

Lead group at the start of the Half Marathon.

Lead group at the start of the Half Marathon.

And this year saw an unprecedented number of entrants with over 500 competitors between both races.

The overcast, slightly cooler weather of Saturday morning provided ideal running conditions at the start of both races but, as the sun broke through the clouds, and the temperature began to steadily increase the heat began to take its toll.

The five mile race started at 10.45am and a leading group of Oliver Cook (PACE RC), Nat Glenn (North Belfast Harriers) and Jack Kennedy (Unattached) quickly formed.

The relentless pace from Oliver in the first few miles saw him establish a lead which he maintained to dominate the race and win in a time of 28.16. Nat finished second in 29.46 with Jack third in 32.10.

Sperrin Harriers at the finish of the Half Marathon.

Sperrin Harriers at the finish of the Half Marathon.

In the ladies race Caroline Irwin (Springwell RC) led from start to finish, winning in an impressive 36.34 and 15th overall. Hazel Glenn (unattached) was second in a time of 38.51 while Heather Baxter (Larne AC) took third place in 39.51.

The start of the Half Marathon at 11am saw a small group set the pace with experienced athlete Don Travers (Newry City Runners), Paul Thompson (Springwell RC), David Simpson (Newcastle AC), Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers), Gary Henderson (Armagh AC) and Mark Smith (Mallusk Harriers) all in the mix.

As the race progressed it was David who established a commanding lead finishing in 1.15.37, two minutes ahead of second place Neill who crossed the line in 1.17.37.

It was a closer contest for third place but the experience of Don proved the difference as he finished in 1.18.20 to complete the podium.

The five mile race started at 10.45am and a leading group of Oliver Cook (PACE RC), Nat Glenn (North Belfast Harriers) and Jack Kennedy (Unattached) quickly formed. The relentless pace from Oliver in the first few miles saw him establish a lead which he maintained to dominate the race and win in a time of 28.16.

Nat finished second in 29.46 with Jack third in 32.10.

In the ladies race Caroline Irwin (Springwell RC) led from start to finish, winning in an impressive 36.34 and 15th overall. Hazel Glenn (unattached) was second in a time of 38.51 while Heather Baxter (Larne AC) took third place in 39.51.

The start of the Half Marathon at 11am saw a small group set the pace with experienced athlete Don Travers (Newry City Runners), Paul Thompson (SpringwellRC), David Simpson (Newcastle AC), Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers), Gary Henderson (Armagh AC) and Mark Smith (Mallusk Harriers) all in the mix.

As the race progressed it was David who established a commanding lead finishing in 1.15.37, two minutes ahead of second place Neill who crossed the line in 1.17.37.

It was a closer contest for third place but the experience of Don proved the difference as he finished in 1.18.20 to complete the podium.

* This year marks the 107th anniversary of Kennedy Kane McArthur’s gold medal win for South Africa at the 1912 Olympic Marathon.

The festival celebrates ‘Ken’ McArthur who was born in Dervock in 1881 and was the local postman before emigrating to South Africa at the age of 20 in 1901. Although recognised as a promising athlete as a teenager he didn’t pursue an athletics career until his move to South Africa.

His most famous achievement was his victory in the marathon at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics with a time of 2.36.54, in conditions that saw the only fatality at an Olympic Marathon with the death Portuguese athlete Francisco Lazaro.

However Ken didn’t forget his birth town, and shortly after his victory, made a triumphant visit to Ballymoney welcomed by hundreds from the local community.

In a career cut short by injury in 1913 ‘Ken’ ran six marathons and never lost one.

For further information, visit www.springwellrunners.co.uk or find out more on facebook www.facebook.com/KennedyKaneMcArthurFestivalOfRunning.