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Weekly roundup 6/5/24; Hill & Dale Race 4 – Binnian to the top, District Schools T&F, Rotorua Marathon, Belfast Marathon, Milton Keynes Marathon

Hill & Dale Race 4, Binnian to the top 02/05/24

The 4th race in the Hill & Dale race series may be  the shortest in the series and the only point to point race, but it’s definitely one of the toughest. Runners assembled at the start line at the Carrick Little car park on the Head Road and raced a little over 3.5k to the finish line… some 570m above them at the summit of Slieve Binnian! After last year’s brutal conditions with rain, hail and strong winds, the 2024 version brought a clear, calm evening with athletes treated to spectacular sunset views over Silent Valley before they made their way back down to the start. Although most runners raced in club vests or t-shirts conditions in the Mournes remain changeable and marshals from Newcastle AC performed a kit check at the finish line to ensure that all runners heeded the instructions to carry the minimum mandatory safety kit of waterproof full body cover, hat and gloves and a foil blanket. 

Cara Jeffrey’s organisational skills ensured that, for once at a Hill & Dale race, all the North Down AC runners were gathered together for a group photograph before the start – normally a thankless task akin to herding cats! 

Gareth Hardy, John Adgey, Clair Quigley, Matt Ormesher, Sophie Hamilton, Donald Smith, Luke Hamilton, Claire Scott David McKeague, June McMinn, Glynis Boyle, Trevor Patterson[/caption]

The 12 North Down AC runners picked up 2 age group wins and a further 4 top 3 age group placings between them. First to reach the top of Slieve Binnian was David McKeague in 14th place overall and 1st M45 in 29:35. Gareth Hardy finished in 24:40 followed by 3rd F45 Clair Quigley 37:40 and Luke Hamilton 38:35. Matt Ormesher crossed the line in 41:38 ahead of Glynis Boyle 42:24 2nd F60 and Donald Smith 43:18. June McMinn 43:59 was 2nd F65 seconds ahead of Claire Scott 44:02. Trevor Patterson 50:26 was followed by 2 more age group prize winners, John Adgey 1st M80 52:20 and Sophie Hamilton who is having an excellent first season of Hill & Dale, reaching the top of the mountain as 2nd FJ in 57:15.

Matt, Claire, June, Donald, Trevor, Glynis




June & Clair




Glynis, John, Trevor, June, Donald, Claire, Matt


ladies captain, Claire



District Schools track & field – MPT 03/05/24

In the District A finals for the 800m. Carter Rolston (Bangor Grammar School) was 1st and Seb Mair (Campbell College) 4th in the mini boys’ competition. 

Carter Rolston 1st

In the mini girls Sophie Rankin (Bangor Academy) was 5th. In the minor girls Isla Wiltshire Sullivan Upper School) was 5th, Coco Smith (SUS)  7th, Caitlyn Dickenson 8th (Glenlola Collegiate School) and Abbie Small (GCS) 9th.

Caimhe Fenlon (SUS) was 1st in the junior girls’ shot with a PB of 9.23m. 

Congratulations to the club members who now go forward to represent their schools at the Ulster Schools final later this month. 

Jamie Coulter-Smyth Rotorua Marathon 04/05/24

While much of the North Down AC marathon interest was concentrated in Belfast this week our farthest flung club member raced his debut marathon at the Rotorua Marathon in New Zealand’s North Island. Jamie Coulter-Smyth took on Australasia’s oldest marathon event, now in its 60th year, comprising a 1 lap course around the scenic Lake Rotorua, with some challenging hills in the second half. He worked with the lead group of 6 athletes and remained with them until the end, pacing his run perfectly to finish under his goal time in 6th place overall in 2:39:22.

Belfast City Marathon 2024 05/05/24

It’s the biggest race in the running calendar in Northern Ireland and North Down AC members were out in force throughout the event; in addition to those running the marathon or relay legs, several club members volunteered at pack collection at the expo in the Titanic Exhibition Centre while David Seaton, Mags Mathieson, Tony Wall and John McGarvey had start and finish line responsibilities and Reuben Dunne was on duty with St John’s Ambulance helping to keep runners and spectators safe throughout marathon day. The club’s runners on the course, whether doing a relay leg or the marathon were constantly cheered on by a happy bunch of noisy and enthusiastic club supporters who must know every short cut in the city as they popped up in multiple locations along the route between Stormont and  Ormeau Park. 

Several club members including Clair Quigley, Nicola Downey, Jill Eager, Susan Black, Oliver Playfair, Tracy McKittrick, Craig McMeechan, Simon Robinson, Marion Beattie and Agata Young all ran one of the 5 marathon relay legs as part of teams raising funds and awareness for local charities. 

Andy Lowry was the first of the North Down AC marathon runners to cross the finish line in a superb time of 2:54:30, slashing 8 minutes off his PB to break the 3 hour mark for the first time. He was joined in the exclusive sub-3 hour club by Jonathan Gibson 2:57:10, Fiona McQuillan, 8th female overall, and new club member Rob Duncan 2:59:06 who smashed his PB by 29 minutes!

Aaron McAuley was the next club member, finishing his 3rd marathon and first Belfast Marathon close to his London and Dublin times last year in 3:01:16 followed by Andy Belshaw who set a course PB of 3:07:39 on his 20th Belfast Marathon. Darren Edgar set another outstanding PB taking 12 minutes off his time to finish in 3:07:50. Sarah Gibson was 14th female in 3:08:34, 9 seconds faster than her London Marathon time 2 weeks ago. Andrew Nicholson 3:10:18, Dan Foord 3:20:47, Nicklas Arkensparr 3:23:23 and Jamie Andrews 3:30:59 all had excellent runs while Donald Smith’s unorthodox training plan of a marathon and ultramarathon in the last 2 weekends somehow paid off with a 3 minute PB of 3:40:42. Stephanie Graham, still recovering from the Manchester Marathon, ran a comfortable 3:55:01. More used to ultramarathons than a mere 26.2 miles, Jill Connolly’s training and determination to use her strength and fitness gained in recent ultras saw her take nearly 10 minutes off her first marathon time to come in under 4 hours in 3:56:49.   Katlyn Massey 4:12:03 ran a fantastic debut marathon of 4:12:03, expertly paced by her dad, Alan Massey 4:12:04. Angela Fawthrop’s 4:13:27 was a course PB of 34 minutes and an overall marathon PB of 27 seconds. Emma Hegarty was another proud debut marathoner running an excellent 4:16:32. Kim McCourt 4:48:19 was followed by Noel Eager who combined a relay stint in the first leg of the marathon with the full marathon once he’d passed the baton to his relay team mate, completing the course in 4:48:55. Andrea Green 4:49:44 claimed a Belfast Marathon PB while Jenny Keery completed her first marathon in 5:08:42. Julie McCready was another first timer in 5:20:54 while Glenn Frazer set one of the biggest PBs of the day, slicing 27 minutes off his previous best time to finish in 5:25:17.

David Seaton & Mags Mathieson


Andy Lowry & Jonathan Gibson


Andy Belshaw


Sarah Gibson


Steph Graham


Angela Fawthrop


Alan & Katlyn Massey


Reuben Dunne, 2nd left front with St John’s first aiders


Tracy McKittrick, Karen Keery & Jenny Keery


Fiona McQuillan, Aaron McAuley, Andy Lowry (pc Steven Donegan)


Donald Smith


Jill Connolly


Emma Hegarty


Glenn Frazer

Thomas Steele, Milton Keynes Marathon 06/05/24

North Down AC’s Thomas Steele raced the Milton Keynes Marathon on Monday 6th May; the relatively flat and fast course utilised many of the Buckinghamshire city’s wide cycle paths known or redways to bring runners through the city and around the lakes back to the start\finish line at the MK Stadium. The event also marked a milestone for a legendary marathon runner Steve Edwards who completed his 1000th marathon at the event in 4:02:57!  Thomas may have a few marathons to go to catch Steve’s record, but neither Steve Edwards nor most of the marathon runners in Milton Keynes could catch the North Down man today as Thomas completed the marathon in 22nd place and 8th in his age group in 2:49:37. This was also a  9 minute course PB for Thomas on his 3rd running of the event. 

Thomas Steele

Andrea Green