It’s seldom that the words “Stormont, “running” and “perfect” appear in the same sentence, but a large turn out of North Down’s junior and senior athletes ensured that in cross country terms at least, the yellow and blue club vests took advantage of near perfect running conditions to register some superb performances at one of the favourite events on the cross country calendar in the hilly grounds of Stormont estate on Saturday 11th February.
Seemingly unaffected by his superb performance at the Armagh 5k race 2 days earlier, Craig McMeechan fought off a strong challenge from Brandon McKeown of Annandale Striders, accelerating away from him uphill with 800 m to go as if he was running 200m on the track to win the male open race over the hilly 4.2 mile course in 21:59. 7 further North Down men in the top 30; Dale Murray 10th, 23:29 and Gareth Watton 12th, 23:39, Ross Murray 15th, 23:49 and Ricky Jordan 20th in 24:06, James Graham 22nd, 24:07, Jamie McMeechan 27th, 24:36 and Daniel Dines, 28th 24:43 saw the team achieve 2nd place, narrowly pipped to first by North Belfast Harriers.
Katie Moore, 7th, 20:35 was the first North Down finisher in the women’s 3.1 mile race. Fiona McQuillan 10th, 20:47, Clair Quigley 15th ,21:23, Lindsay Doulton 30th, 22;23, Yasmin Wilson 31st, 22:24, and Valerie McDonough 43rd, 22:59 ensured another podium finish for North Down in 3rd place.
The junior races were hotly contested with North Downs’ junior girls taking 3rd place and the junior boys going one better in 2nd. Many of our junior athletes had already competed earlier in the week at the Ulster Schools cross country and the Armagh road races! Carter Rolston won the U13 boys’ race while Coco Smith was 4th U13 in the girls’ race. Lara Cheatley and Freya Lowry also finished strongly in the top 10 in the U13 girls while Isaac Hall was 7th in the boys’ race. At U15, Alex Downey finished 3rd
Not to be outdone by the juniors, the more mature end of the club was ably represented in the M70 category by Terry Eakin and Pat O’Driscoll in the M75 category.