First road race after lockdown sees fast times and a Northern Ireland record

Ann-Marie McGlynn Ni record 10k

ChampionChip Ireland, in conjunction with Athletics Northern Ireland, organised the first post lockdown race in the UK with tremendous results at the Down Royal Racecourse near Lisburn.  Around 400 runners competing across three events - 5km, half marathon and 10km set off in waves of 30 and socially distanced during the six hour plus extended programme of events with no spectators on the course.

Despite the lack of spectators, the atmosphere was buzzing as runners were excited to get back to racing on the inner tarmac road of this horse racing venue. The 10k had originally been set up for the Athletics Northern Ireland Marathon Potential 2024 squad on the 4th July and would have been run as a time trial but, when the Northern Ireland Executive announced that competition could resume on 11th July, the date was moved so that times could count on the runbritain rankings.

Ann-Marie McGlynn pictured above, won the women's 10km race in a time of 32:43, that sends her to the top of the Northern Ireland all-time list for 10k on the road. Jessica Craig (handicap 1.3) ran a PB of 35:08 for 2nd. Both are part of the Marathon Potential project with Ann Marie aiming to qualify for Tokyo 2021 and Jessica looking towards Paris 2024.

McGlynn (handicap -1.1) beamed after the three lap course saying, "I had to work for that. I had to stay on the pace, there were a few rises in the wind. I work better with a goal and even though lockdown came in, I had to set myself a time trial and that's what I did."

The men's 10km contest was won in an impressive 29:13 by Stephen Scullion (handicap -5.0), who has already qualified for the Tokyo Olympic marathon and would have expected to have been on his way to Tokyo if there had been no pandemic.He said "I ran once a day for pretty much the last 15 or 16 weeks. Part of that was because you were only allowed once a day during lockdown and the other part was there was no physiotherapist. You can't take risks."

Runner up in a PB of 29:52 was 22 year-old James Edgar (handicap 0.5) who is a renowned tri-athlete from the local City of Lisburn Athletics Club. Marathon Potential runner, Conan McCaughey (handicap -3.8) ran a one second pb of 30:27 for 3rd. 

The Half Marathon was won in 72:55 by M55 World Marathon Record Holder, now 60 years of age, Tommy Hughes (handicap -1.8) who continues to clock 100 mile training weeks to maintain his legendary status. 

Because of Covid-19 athletes had to register in advance and give their full contact details. All runners also wore a chip which provided post-race tracing capability. 

Saturday's meeting was organised by ChampionChip Ireland and there are two further meets planned for next month at Balmoral Park in Lisburn and at Glenarm Castle in County Antrim.

Photo credit: John Glover