WITH clear skies and a strong breeze, conditions were not the easiest for Stranraer half-marathon runners, though much improved compared to the sweltering heat of the racing at Kirkcudbright the previous weekend.
However, it did not deter 180 athletes from completing the 13.1-mile course, including a large contingent from Northern Ireland. An impressive count of 13 Galloway Harriers took part in the main race with some excellent results across the field.
Kerry Wilson, from Cambuslang Harriers, was first home in an impressive 1:12:55, with more than three minutes between him and the second athlete. First female home was Central AC’s Jennifer Emsley in a blistering 1:20:53.
Having already run and won the four-mile race, Galloway Harrier Ross Bark decided at the last minute to run the half-marathon as well and came a very credible 11th in 1:23:12. Ross also scooped the prize for first local male.
Not to be outdone on the endurance efforts, Rick Williams cycled to Stranraer from Newton Stewart as a warm up for the race and still managed an excellent 36th place with a 1:33:51 finish.
Despite fears of a twinging Achilles, Gatehouse’s Kerry Maxwell was first female Harrier home with an excellent PB run of 1:36:04, 41st overall and first in the F45 age group.
Running his 98th half-marathon, Harrier stalwart John Plumridge ran a brilliant 1:38:54 for second in the M60 category and 52nd overall. Paul Cleer proved that his run at Kirkcudbright last week was just a blip with a stunning and well-paced run for 53rd in 1:39:03, beating club rival Chrissie Vincent, who was six places behind with a PB (her second PB in two weeks for this distance) of 1:40:20. Chrissie was second female Harrier home and third in the F45 category.
Having suffered with illness in the previous week, Jemma McNeill ran a disappointing 1:41:37 for 64th overall and third in the Female Open category.
It was, however, fast enough to earn the girls their first female team trophy. This was a great result given the large numbers of travelling athletes from Scottish and Irish clubs.
Peter Horsell ran his first half for a few years and finished in 1:43:56 for 74th overall and fourth in the M60, followed a couple of minutes later by Newton Stewart’s David Beattie with 1:45:43 for 82nd (12th in M45). Geoff Fidler was just behind with a solid 1:47:28 for 91st.
Emer Beattie came well clear of the two-hour mark with a 1:58:57 finish for 126th place overall, fourth in F45 and first local female prize. After a busy working week, Ailsa Taggart didn’t have high hopes for a great race but proved herself wrong with a brilliant run, finishing in 2:06:17 for 153rd overall and fourth in the F50. She was followed a few minutes later by husband Simon in 2:09:05 for 158th overall (18th in M50).
In the four-mile race, there were 27 finishers, six of whom were Harriers. It was a Harriers’ men’s 1-2-3 with Ross Bark first home in 22:21, followed by Ian Hannah in 24:36 and Sean Connor taking third in 25:52. Allan Strang finished eighth in 32:21. Martina Moore was 10th home and second lady in 32:25, followed by Marie Horsell for 17th in 40.53.
Children of all ages competed in the children’s run. Port William’s Emily Cleer was first girl in the 10-11 race, with Bronagh Beattie third in the under-nine race. Max Williams won the 5-7 age group. Another great weekend of racing for the Harriers.