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New course record for Craig McMeechan at Ards Half Marathon 30/06/23

More than 40 North Down AC runners took to the streets of Newtownards and the hills around Scrabo and Comber for the annual Ards Half Marathon on Friday 30th June. The race is generally considered to be one of the toughest road half marathons in Northern Ireland as the undulating course makes it difficult for runners to settle into an evenly paced run. The challenge proved no obstacle to Craig McMeechan who ran with an early breakaway group of 3 runners, including clubmate, Dale Murray, who led the race from the start. By the time he reached the long climb back up the Moate Road to Scrabo Road at @11 miles Craig had opened up a gap of more than 40 seconds from his opponents and he gradually increased his lead as he took advantage of the long descent back down Scrabo Road to the finish line behind the Blair Mayne leisure centre in the town. Craig smashed the course record, winning the race in 1:11:57. Dale Murray was second in 1:14:03. 5 more North Down athletes earned top 20 finishes including James Budde who finished 4th in 1:15:14, taking 1st M40 spot in the process. Ashley Dixon 1:16:07 was 6th and Ross Murray finished 9th in 1:18:03. Richard Gordon’s 1:18:03 and Jonathan Gibson’s 1:20:57 saw them claim 11th and 20th places respectively. Declan Magee finished 22nd in 1:21:50. Fiona McQuillan was the 2nd lady to finish in 31st place overall in a PB of 1:25:12. Next of the NDAC finishers was David Massey in 1:27:05 closely followed by Aaron McAuley 1:27:51. Philip Mulligan claimed 1st M55 in 1:30:40 and Clair Quigley was 1st F40 in 1:33:53. Sarah Gibson took 1st F50 honours in 1:34:43. Tim Cooke 1:38:53, Noel Eager 1:39:14 and Darren Edgar 1:39:38 all finished comfortably inside 100 minutes while Gerry O’Boyle used the hills as a training run for the next phase of his run around the Irish coastline into Galway City, finishing in 1:41:50. The next batch of North Down finishers included Stephanie Graham 1:43:33, Keith Gilmore 1:43:40, Fiona McVicar 1:44:44, Jony Magrath 1:45:22 and Helen Byers 1:46:12. Jacob Sullivan led the North Down runners in the 1:50s finishing in 1:50:34 narrowly ahead of Zara Fulton 1:50:48, Matt Ormesher 1:50:56, Emma Fox 1:52:42 and Cara Jeffrey 1:52:45. John Ferguson 1:53:41 and Wendy Neely 1:53:42 who smashed her course PB by more than 8 minutes.  Nicola Ingram was next to finish in 1:54:54 ahead of Angela Fawthrop in 1:55:37. Tracy McKittrick also set a 6 minute course PB, comfortably achieving her sub-2 hour goal in 1:56:34 with Neill Dickson next to finish in 1:59:01. Elaine McDonnell 2:03:14 and Richard Garrad 2:06:36 were followed by the father and daughter team of Katlyn and Alan Massey. Katlyn 2:07:03 had the faster gun time but her dad pipped her by one second with his chip time of 2:07:02. Steven Boyd 2:11:54, Glenn Frazer 2:19:23 and Hannah Dunne 2:23:47 were the next club finishers ahead of Jill Eager who also smashed her PB by more than 8 minutes to finish in 2:35:44. The final North Down finisher was the oldest competitor in the race and the proud winner of the M75 category in 2:40:24, Pat O’Driscoll. 

[photos: North Down AC at Ards HM]

[photo: Craig McMeechan @11 miles]

[photo: Craig McMeechan, Dale Murray and 1st M50 Philip Mulligan]

[photo: Fiona McQuillan with winner Ivana Anderson and Amanda Perry 3rd]

[photo: Keith Gilmore and Robert Eadie]

[photo: Emma Fox, Tracy McKittrick, Katlyn Massey, Wendy Neely, Nicola Ingram, Stephanie Graham, Matt Ormesher, Neill Dickson, Alan Massey]

[photo: Gerry O’Boyle sprinting for the finish line]

[photo: Cara Jeffrey & Emma Fox]