Race Around the River unlocks full house of PBs

Race Report by Siobhan Grant

On Thursday night, the yellow and red vests where spotted lining up along the River Lagan for the infamously fast course of Queens Race Around the River 3k and 5k.

Alongside a number of our Senior runners, the Juniors were out in force too.

The looped course has been home to many Personal Bests and as the evenings grow longer it was fantastic to see the 3k set off under dusky skies.

Emily McMullan had claimed earlier in the week that it was brother Ethan who was to blame for her attending this race, though I’m sure after the race she was delighted with her performance and hopefully thanked him for suggesting she takes part also. Emily set off within the large pack of runners for the 3k race which was 1 &¾ loops of the route. She held a steady pace and found great momentum to clock a 3k personal best of 12.50 for 68th place. Off the high of this performance, the next day Emily was instrumental in her school Netball team success at the NI Finals.

Next up it was the turn of big brother Ethan McMullan to toe the line. Fresh from a superb performance at the All Ireland Schools Cross Country Championships, he’d ditched the spikes and took to the tarmac for his first road race of the year. He gave everything he had and was ecstatic to cross the line in 17.09. A personal best over 5k that will set the baseline for him to improve on over the summer.

With just shy of 700 runners in the 5k race, the young legs of Yasin Brannigan proved they were up to the task to run against the ‘big boys’ as he crossed the line in 136th place. Yasin has spent the winter chipping away at his times and including some vital speed and hill work on Saturday mornings in Tollymore that has made a positive impact on his times. He dipped in under 18 minutes on Thursday in 17.53. A phenomenal effort from this young athlete and again a 5k pb.

Swapping the trails of Castlewellan Parkrun for the roads of Belfast, Patrick McDaid was next to cross the line with a fancy new PB too. The past few weeks has seen Patrick test himself at our local parkrun and streamline his racing etiquette under race conditions. This paid off dividends as he crossed the line in 18.02 for 152nd.

Needless to say, all three young men have reaped the benefits of a long, dark winter of relentless training. To kick off the road running season with 5k Personal Bests is a testament to their dedication as rain, snow and wind battered them during their training runs.

With Hill and Dale just around the corner and all three fond of a hill or two, maybe the roads might have to wait a bit longer before they they are fully embraced again and unlock more PBs before the nights turn dark again.