More than 1,000 women yesterday took part in the annual Runher event in Belfast’s Stormont Estate.
Competitors from across Northern Ireland and their friends and families gathered to take part in the 2011 event, which is sponsored by the Belfast Telegraph. Competitors of all ages and abilities walked or ran five or 10 kilometres to raise money for local charity Cash For Kids.
The day started with a fun run for kids before the main race with all entrants given a free ice-cream — although there was a bouncy castle available for those young ones who didn’t fancy the run.
Cool FM’s Sonya Mac whipped the crowd into a frenzy with some tunes as she broadcast live from the event while people gathered to cheer on the runners.
Before the run there was a round of applause in memory of paralympian Karen Crummey who died in tragic circumstances earlier this year.
Karen had always been a huge fan of the event and her mum Joy was given the honour of sounding the starting klaxon.
There were also plenty of well-known faces taking part with Lynda Bryans, former MLA Dawn Purvis and BBC Northern Ireland weather presenter Celia Daly all donning their trainers.
Bernie McDaniel, Catriona Kavanagh and Amanda Graham from the BBC’s Going The Distance returned to running after their Belfast Marathon triumphs a couple of weeks ago.
The biggest star of all was Coronation Street star Tupele Dorgu who very ably led the start of the 10km race and completed the course with a smile on her face the whole way round.
Jessica Craig won the 5km race for the second year in a row while last year’s runner-up Cathy McCourt gained the 10km title
“I’ve taken part three other times and I always really enjoy the event,” said Jessica Craig.
“I set out to win today so I’m really pleased I managed to do it for the second time in a row — the course is certainly a challenge on this event as there are a few hills,” she said.
Cathy McCourt, winner of the 10km race, said: “It’s been a great day with lots of people taking part.”
“I had hoped to run well but it feels really good to win,” she added.
Runher has been a feature in the running calendar since 2007 and now features both a spring and autumn event every year. Race director Michael Jenkins was delighted with the large turn-out.
“Usually we have hundreds of people showing up but today we’ve broken the 1,000-mark and we hope to double that when it comes to the next event in October.”
“The conditions for today’s races were perfect,” Michael added. “It was cool and therewasn’t any sun.
“There were also been patches of drizzle which helped to keep the runners cool without soaking them.”
Although the frontrunners of the event were certainly tearing around the circuit, the event was described by most as a relaxed and well-organised day out.
Those who weren’t quite ready for the sprint could walk instead of run and many women chose to admire the scenery of the Stormont estate while chatting to their friends as they went.
All competitors were rewarded with an energy boosting banana and bottle of Ballygowan when they completed their challenge at Stormont.