Sport

Reputation everything for events following Belfast fiasco

Malcolm McCausland

ATHLETICS has been in the news this week again but once again for all the wrong reasons.

Most readers will now be aware of the shambles that passed for the Belfast Titanic Half Marathon after the coverage in the media.

The event was run by an event company Endurance Junkie. The race website and Facebook pages were taken down after Sunday’s fiasco.

However, there is still an entry on the CommunityNI site in which William Anderson states: “Endurance Junkie creates events that are fun, enjoyable and leave a lasting impression.”

No-one could argue with the latter although many competitors last Sunday morning may dispute the fun and enjoyable part.

It was William Anderson who appeared on the BBC’s Nolan Show to refute the criticisms of his event.

He obviously has some lessons to learn. Not least of which is that the running community is a very small world.

We all know each other and have done so for many years. Athletics NI chairman Davie Seaton was also on The Nolan Show. Seaton was at the race.

He had risen early on a Sunday morning and had travelled some distance because he had the interest of the sport at heart.

Social media was buzzing in the days before the race with predictions of all sorts of doom. Lamentably most of these were fulfilled and then some more.

The race may have had an ANI permit but what Mr Anderson does not realise is that the running world is small and it is reputation that counts.

If you go to a race in Armagh and it’s organised by Brian Vallely and Dermott Kerr, you know it is sound and you will be treated well. Likewise any of Ryan Maxwell’s promotions whether on the track, trail or road.

 

Similarly, Oliver McCullagh and Michael Ward in Tyrone, Gerry Lynch in Derry and Joe Quinn in county Down can all be relied upon to give value for money.

When clubs like North Belfast Harriers, Sperrin Harriers, Acorns or Ballymena Road Runners put their name to an event, it is quality-assured. These are only a few examples but races survive or fail on reputation.

Undeterred by the criticism, Endurance Junkie is currently accepting entries for other races in the autumn; the Electric Glow 5K in Belfast on October 24 and the Electric Glow in Derry on November 21.

The cost to enter either race is £33.50, although there is a discount for registering earlier.

Runners set to take on 24-hour challenge

Who in their right mind would want to run around a track for 24 hours? Well, apparently a lot of people judging by the entry for this weekend’s Energia Belfast 24 Hour Race at the Mary Peters Track.

Now in its sixth year and incorporating the national championship, it was sold out in the space of two weeks with a lengthy waiting list knocking at the door.

Race director Ed Smith said: “It’s just been crazy. My main problem has been how to accommodate them all on a 400m track. We’ll try and use as many lanes as possible but the day’s coming when we’ll have to find a bigger circuit.”

There’s an impressive cast of Irish internationals spearheading the field. The men’s Irish record holder (245km/152 miles) Eoin Keith (right) is back.

 

Belfast man Eddie Gallen shows no signs of slowing down at 52. Amid emotional scenes, the Madrid-based teacher shared the Irish title last year.

 

The man with whom he shared it, John O’Regan, has nobly foregone the defence of that title. Instead he will guide the first visually impaired athlete to take on the Belfast race, Sinead Kane from Cork.

In another first, Jerry Forde will be the debut wheel-chair competitor to take on the Energia 24. Forde, from Blarney in Cork, suffers from spina bifida but has chalked up an impressive 309 marathons to date.

In the absence of Irish record holder Ruthann Sheahan in the women’s race, look out for Belfast’s Susan McCartney.

The 38-year-old is learning the ultra trade all the time and won her first Irish international vest at the recent world championships in Turin.

Carrickfergus’s Gillian Cordner comes into the event as the first woman from Northern Ireland to run 100 marathons.

The 24-hour race kicks off this evening simultaneously with the first 12-hour race at 6.45pm. The 100km starts one hour later with the second 12-hour start scheduled for tomorrow morning at 6:45am.

Ballykinlar races on firm footing with new route

Ballykinlar is hosting its third annual 10K and 5K run on Sunday July 26 (11am), with both races starting and finishing at the Tadgh Barry Memorial Park.

The event should appeal to new or seasoned runners looking for their next challenge or just wanting to keep fit.

This year the race route has been changed slightly to avoid the dreaded soft sand with more road and the remainder on multi-terrain.

The race starts on the road and heads down to the east Down coast, taking in stunning sea views of the Mourne Mountains and Dundrum Bay.

After running along part of the beach, it heads through the residential area of Ballykinlar to the finishing line.

“It is a day of challenge and personal achievement, whilst raising vital funds for the Niamh McCloskey Brighter Fund,” said race organiser Darren Killen.

“With your help, we can really make a difference proceeds going to Great Ormond Street Hospital.”

Register for the 10K or 5K on www.athleticsni.org/Fixtures/BK10K . Alternatively contact Darren Killen on 0796 982 1092 or James Magennis 0775 232 0350.

Dublin offer for disappointed Titanic entrants

Race director Rob Griffiths is offering 50 per cent off entries to disappointed Titanic entrants for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin Half Marathon on Sunday, August 2.

“As runners ourselves, we understand the level of investment that runners make to prepare for a race and can imagine the disappointment when race day is not the experience that was anticipated,” said Griffiths.

“When news of the Belfast race came out over the weekend, we wanted to do something to support our fellow runners.

“We hope that Titanic participants will continue their race journey and join us in Dublin on August 2 to put their hard training to work.”

Titanic runners must e-mail proof of registration to rnrdublin@competitorgroup.com before July 24 with subject line of “Titanic Transfer” to receive an individual discount code to register for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin Half Marathon (£17.40/€24.50 with the special 50 per cent discount; current full price is £34.80/€49).

Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin Half Marathon also incorporates the AAI National Half Marathon Championships. The event concludes in Phoenix Park with a finish line festival and concert.

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