Springwell athletes excel as they take part in 2016 London Marathon

Some of the Springwell runners taking part in this years London Marathon
Some of the Springwell runners taking part in this years London Marathon

Although there were a good number of events available to Springwell runners this week there were two main events that our athletes focused on.

Firstly the mid-week N.I. & Ulster 5k Road Race Championships, held at the Queens PEC, around the Ormeau/Stranmillis Embankment in Belfast and of course the iconic London Marathon!

Springwell Juniors at the end of the Queens Birthday baton relay run

Springwell Juniors at the end of the Queens Birthday baton relay run

The 5k Road Race Championships was held on a fast flat course, albeit with a number of tightish bends to negotiate, around the bridges over the River Lagan.

Although the main problem was the packed and frenetic start which saw over 700 runners take to the line, resulting in a melee for the first half mile, before the crowds eventually strung out and you could finally get into your rhythm!

On the plus side however, the weather was beautiful and the winds were light, hinting at possible Pb running conditions!

Unusually, for a championship race, there was no starting mat, meaning that the further back you were from the start line the more time you lost, which could be considerable in such a large field.

Myself and some other Springwell runners were only about 6-8 rows back but we all lost about 5-6 seconds from our watch times to our Official times, which was disappointing to say the least.

Nevertheless, it was an excellent race and again we saw some stellar performances from our runners with the highly talented Neil Johnston, fresh from his Silver Medal performance at the Irish Universities 3K track final, clinching a superb fourth place Overall in this highly talented field, in a fantastic time of 14:57, only 6” behind the winner Gary Murray of Clonliffe Harriers!

Next in was Jonny McKee, who had another outstanding run to finish a fantastic 15th Overall in a new PB of 15:25, with a mere 3” separating positions 10 to 15!

Jonny is developing extremely well as an athlete and we can look forward to more successful outings from this young man.

Next in was the ever-improving Jimmy Stewart, running his second 5k Pb in a week, following on from a great run at the Bay Road, finishing 90th in 17:46, then Brian Geddis finishing 147th in 18:51, then in 176th Gerry O’Doherty, still on the recovery trail but still far from his best, in 19:12, then in 244th Molly Brennan, having a great run, finishing in 20:05 and finally Jim and daughter Karen Breen, running in together in 29:38!

Meanwhile earlier, in a pulsating and amazingly intense 3k road race, held for the first time this year as a prelude to the main 5k race.

We saw a heroic performance from young Luke Dinsmore who lead from the gun until, in an unfortunate incident, he accidentally clashed with his nearest rival, knocking himself sideways into the kerb and totally losing his rhythm as a result, just 600m from the finish!

To his credit, Luke picked himself up and chased hard to try and regain the lost ground but was only able to secure 5th, in a still extremely rapid 9:54.

Bad luck Luke but extremely well done under the circumstances! By the way, if you think 3k sounds easy, I can assure you otherwise as, from watching the race at close quarters, we were stunned at the sheer level of intensity involved!

On Sunday hundreds of runners from Northern Ireland were in action at the World’s most famous race, the Virgin Money London Marathon.

Annually, the event attracts in excess of 38,000 participants and is always popular with the local running fraternity.

Again we saw some outstanding runs from our Springwell members, plus a fair smattering of PBs at what can be a notoriously difficult run!

First home in a superb PB run was Jason Scott who clocked a brilliant 2:54:7, closely followed by two more PB boys, Anthony Higginbottom in 3:06:05 and Stephen Fillis in 3:08:07. Superb running by all three guys!

Meanwhile Ali Shaw ran a highly commendable 3:15:32, followed by Gary Moore and John Butcher, who both captured excellent new PBs of 3:20:38 and 3:36:28 respectively!

First lady home for the club was the always enthusiastic Catherine Pinkerton in 3:54:05, closely followed by marathon fanatic Nigel McNeill in 3:57:06 and Catherine Butcher in 3:57:16, to complete the list of those who broke the 4hr barrier! Well done girls and guys, brilliant running!

That is not to disrespect those who finished over the four hour time, as to run the distance and complete the course is a terrific achievement at any level and something I myself have never tried, though I do truly admire all those who have taken on and completed this remarkable running challenge!

The remaining Springwell runners who completed this amazing challenge were: Alan McKeeman 4:06:10, Davy Patterson 4:08:08, Annie McClements in possibly her first marathon attempt(?) 4:20:15, Gary Kendall 4:21:40, Kay Hack 4:21:41, Debbie Tutty 4:48:52 and Majella McAteer 4:57:50.

Fantastic achievement by all and very well done!

Earlier in the day during the Junior warm-up races for the main event, we saw a fantastic run by Niamh Carr, who ran a brilliant 18:29 for the 5k in the Mini Marathon U15 girls! Superb run Niamh!

On Thursday evening, 21st April, as part of the national celebrations to mark the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth, Springwell runners were proud to form running relay teams which carried special commemorative batons from the four original council locations in the Northwest to a meeting point at the Council Offices at Coleraine Marina.

Here a squad of Junior runners, along with coaches Ali Bratten and Philip Tweedie, completed the final leg to Harbour Hill, Portstewart, where they were greeted by the current Lord Mayoress, Michelle Knight-McQuillan and the Lord Lieutenant of County Londonderry, who read read out a special message from The Prince of Wales, before a team of archers fired flaming arrows to light one of many beacons lit across the UK & Ireland at a co-ordinated time!

It was a beautiful sunny morning for the Portrush parkrun and although there was a high tide, there was enough sand to revert to the out and back route plus, thankfully, the pebbles at the Whiterocks end , that caused so many problems the previous week, had pretty much disappeared.

Bronagh Sweeney was congratulated on completing her 50th parkrun. First finisher was Raymond Leitch ( Victoria Park and Conswater AC) in 20.26 and first lady was Springwell runner , Sonia Knox in 21.03

This week there was 155 runners, of whom 27 were first timers and 14 recorded new PBs. With 14 different athletics clubs taking part.