Down Royal: Athletes gallop for road race


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Racing resumed at Down Royal, but without the sound of hoof beats

Down Royal Racecourse near Lisburn was the unusual setting for the first official athletics road race in the UK since lockdown.

The venue has been holding horse racing events for more than 200 years, but on Saturday it was the sound of trainers hitting the earth and not hoof beats.

There were about 700 runners competing across three events – the 5km race, the half marathon and the elite 10km race.

Ann-Marie McGlynn won the women’s 10km race with a new Northern Ireland record time of 32 minutes and 42 seconds.

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Ann-Marie McGlynn set a new NI record time in the women’s 10km race

She said: “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,” she added

The men’s 10km contest was won by Stephen Scullion.

He said: “I ran once a day for pretty much the last 15 or 16 weeks.

“Part of that was because of lockdown. You were only allowed out once a day, and the other part was there was no physio. You can’t take risks.

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Olympics hopeful Stephen Scullion won the men’s 10km event

“So I think all being said I probably trained about sixty to seventy percent of my max but that was still a really respectable run.”

Chasing Olympic qualification

Both McGlynn and Scullion are among those hoping to go to the Tokyo Olympics which have been delayed until July 2021.

Because of Covid-19 athletes had to register in advance and give their full contact details.

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About 700 runners took part in the event

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.

BBC News