The second annual Ford 5k by Bogusboy
The sun was shining and the temperature over 20 degrees for the second annual running of the Ford 5k. With fast times guaranteed on a flat course around the town, a strong field assembled; evidenced by the fact that 43 runners dipped under the magical 20 minute barrier. The main street was lined with spectators as the field of 118 made its way through the town and this certainly lifted the athletes and encouraged and inspired them to run harder. Thanks to all those who came out and clapped and cheered us on – it makes all the difference.
Has Bryansford moved?
For some athletes it was a case of just making it to the line with seconds to spare. Orangegrove AC’s Robin Montgomery, a city slicker in the truest sense of the word, assumed, perhaps logically, that Bryansford GAC would be in Bryansford and spent a while touring the village and surrounding environs looking for long white poles and a field! Alas, the day was saved when he consulted his trusted friend – google maps – and was told that Bryansford is actually in Newcastle. For slightly different reasons John ‘Hen’ Kelly, ironically a resident of Bryansford, arrived a little after Montgomery. His car had broken down on his way to the start line and the Orangegrove man passed the stranded Hen by the roadside not thinking he was a fellow athlete in distress. Hen was also passed by his brother in law, Jim Magorrian, who later declared that ‘the walk would do Hen good! Despite their trials and tribulations Hen finished 37th and Montgomery was 43rd and the last man in before the 20 minute mark.
It is tough and tight at the top
Back at the business end of proceedings, there was a fast and furious start to the race. Getting some good clear road space in a short event is vital and Annett, McNiff, O’Flaherty and Hanna took it out very hard. Annett would prove to be strongest as his renaissance continues. He held on stoically to win in a very fast 15:34 withstanding the challenge of a very strong finishing McNiff, who despite his tender years, is improving tremendously. McNiff crossed the line in 15:33 and had 11 seconds to spare over David O’Flaherty who completed the podium in 15:44. Zak Hanna, a man more at home in the mountains, showed his pace on the road and was fourth in 16:03, comfortably ahead of 5th finisher, Ben Morrow of Ballymena (16:27).
Graham shows her class
The ladies’ race was won convincingly by Mourne Runners’ Laura Graham. Despite being below her best due to injury, she was able to complete the 3.1 miles in 17:40 and win by the emphatic margin of 50 seconds. Her time was good enough for 12th place overall. Second home was NACs Shalene McMurray, another who has raced little in recent months due to injury. Shalene recorded an impressive 18:30, but was made to work extremely hard all the way to the line by Newry AC’s in-form Esther Dickson. The 2017 ladies’ Hill & Dale champion would finish third lady in 18:34.
Juniors record impressive times
McNiff was first junior and was followed by Peter Carty, son of Hill & Dale legend Neil (who incidentally finished 9th overall in 17:25 – not bad for a vet 50!), in 16th place over all in 18 minutes dead and Joshua Paul Courtney of Ballymena and Antrim AC, 20th overall in 18:13. Kirsty Foster of East Down AC was the first female junior over the line in 61st place (21:33, followed her club mate and sister Lucy, 64th in 21:40 and Meadow McCauley of St. Peter’s AC Lurgan, 74th in 23:35.
Sheridan is first Bryansford GAC athlete home
Patrick Sheridan was a prodigious running talent during his school days, capturing many Down and Ulster titles in both cross country and track. The QUB student has more recently devoted more of this sporting time to football, but demonstrated that he has lost little of his speed and power. Despite being warned and threatened of the consequences of finishing before his former mentors and gurus, Sheridan turned on the style on the main street and finished 24th in 18:37. Not bad for a boy who just turned up and ran. Equally impressive was the effort of fellow player Ryan McDonald who matched Sheridan stride for stride most of the way and finished a mere 3 seconds behind in 18:40. Clearly two athletes who will be excellent runners when their playing days are over! Evergreen Jim Magorrian was the third Bryansford GAC athlete home (50th place in 20:28). Clearly not stopping for Hen was the correct decision as he was able to get well warmed up and ready for a fast paced run. Jim is another who has great potential as a competitive runner and is the process of committing to making a commitment to training with his local athletics club – Hen has even offered him a lift to training!!!
32 not out
With 32 athletes in the race, local club Newcastle AC was by far best represented and it was great to see so many red and yellow vests taking part. When one adds to this the number of club members taking entries, organising and supporting, it affirms the commitment of the club to supporting the race and turning it into one of the ‘must do’ events. 17 members of the Bryansford club completed the race; no doubt something they will target as an area for improvement next year. However, many of the members whose running days may be behind them were magnificent in their support, assisting in the marshalling and keeping everyone safe. Next year, the event can only grow even stronger as the word continues to get out about the quality of the race and the potential for fast times. As usual there was a great spread laid on by the hosts after the race and all went home well fed and watered. The race directors would like to sincerely thank all those volunteers who contributed to the smooth running of the event and in particular to the PSNI who were magnificent in ensuring that roads were closed when needed and the health and safety of all participants was never compromised.