Up to 1,400 runners and walkers turn out for our second RunHer 10k event by seaside, writes Kerry McKittrick
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AS the sun went down over Crawfordsburn Country Park yesterday evening, it was the perfect setting for the second Belfast Telegraph Coastal 10k Challenge.
In the luscious setting of Crawfordsburn's green trees and rolling hills women of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities took in the journey along some of Northern Ireland's most stunning coastline.
The race was won by Breege Connolly who recently qualified for the Commonwealth Games by running the London Marathon in two hours, 39 minutes.
Barely out of breath at the finish line Breege said: “I never thought I would win today.”
She continued, “It’s a lovely course though and you get so much support the whole way along. It was a lovely run.”
Newtownards woman Julie Balmer followed second, another marathon runner with her recent achievement becoming the fastest Northern Ireland woman to finish this year’s Belfast Marathon.
“I was stunned to come second, especially so close to the marathon,” said Julie.
“I love RunHer, if it wasn’t for this event I wouldn’t have started running and I haven’t stopped since.”
It was a family affair for Julie as her mum also took to the course as a walker.
Conditions on Friday could not have been better for the women taking part as a powerful sun lit up the countryside while runners were kept cool with a light breeze along the sea path.
Along the route physiotherapists were on hand to give aching muscles the once over for stricken runners and of course at the finish line everyone was met with bananas and bottles of water.
As is now the norm for RunHer the celebrities were out in force.
Mary Peters kicked off proceedings with her habitual style and Junior Apprentice runner up Maria Doran took to the course for her first ever 10K.
Sports journalist Denise Watson walked the course but not before announcing her next job — she’ll be a guest presenter on the U105 breakfast show with Maurice Jay for three weeks in June.
“It’s just been decided and I’m really looking forward to it,” said Denise.
“I think it will be good craic and a bit different for me.”
Instead of a nominated charity this year organisers Pure Running decided to let all of the RunHers choose a cause that was close to their hearts.
MacMillan Cancer Care, Age NI and The Alzheimer’s Society were all out in force.
This year was one of the biggest RunHers yet with organisers estimating participants numbered around the 1,400 mark.