County Down 5k race a success in Downpatrick as new record is set

County Down 5k race a success in Downpatrick as new record is set

14 July 2021

THE fifth running of the Molloys Fish and Chips Co Down 5KM took place at St Patrick’s Square, Downpatrick, on Friday evening with all proceeds going to Air Ambulance NI.

With the added perk of the race being awarded championship status, the winners of the men’s and ladies’ categories in the elite race were also crowned NI and Ulster champions and there was also a highly contested team event.

Logistically a tough ask to achieve a smooth operation of a championship race, the event was conducted in a magical way that many would have deemed impossible just a few months ago due to the current situation. 

Credit is given to organisers Andrew Telford and Gavin Oakes from Tel’s Fitness Studio Downpatrick. In just half a decade they have firmly put this race on the NI running map as a fine event in it’s own right.

The event is a spectacle of running uniquely kept within the town centre of Downpatrick with a very special atmosphere because of the lapped course on par with the famous Armagh international road running races in February.

The race was seven (and a bit) laps of a circuit starting at the town’s bus station, running down Market Street and turning left towards the St Patrick’s Centre.

From there, participants ran around the back of the bus station and back out on to Market Street before heading back to the start to do it the required seven times to complete the distance. 

The races were held over what was labelled a fast, flat, and personal best course.

With three races for all abilities, each race was narrowed down to three-time slots for the distance. 

These were 22 minutes plus finishing time, 17-22 minutes for more seasoned runners and finally finished off with the elite category under 17mins to crown the Co. Down 5km NI and Ulster champions.

The first race off was the 22 minutes category and this race caters for runners who have just started their running journey. 

The smiles could be seen for miles as each lap they were cheered by family members and supporters, however, with any race there’s always a competitive end and this race was won in fine fashion by Neil Young (unattached). 

He is a local runner who took it out from the gun and kept enough up his sleeve to finish the job in a fine winning time of 20 minutes and 16 seconds. 

Young was closely followed by Pearse Brogan (Castlewellan GAC) with a time of  20 minutes 33 seconds and in third 

was local lad Ciaran Morrison (unattached) with a time of 20 minutes 34 seconds.

In fourth place was former Olympian and Commonwealth gold medallist Paddy Barnes who made the trip from Belfast. Every runner collected an impressive branded water bottle.

The second race category (17 minutes - 22 minutes) was a hotly contested one with local runner Brendan McQuaid (Newcastle AC) straight from the start looking assured at the front. 

This was until the last lap when Garry Mulligan (North East Runners AC) smelled blood and hunted him down with measured pacing and a fantastic sprint to the finish to come across the line in 16 minutes 44 seconds – a fine run.

Second place went to Aishlinn Crossey (Newry AC) who came through well and finished very strong in a fine 16 minutes 48 seconds, being the first lady. 

The same can be said for Ciaran Rea (Road Runners AC) flying home when others were tying up, in a fine 16 minutes 54 seconds.

The highlight of the evening was who would be crowned Co Down 5KM NI and Ulster champion, male and female, on this fast, flat, lapped running course. 

With the atmosphere unrivalled in the town centre, the elite athletes fed off the buzz from the crowd pushing their 


With 2019 winner Eoin Hughes (Strive Running Club) and 2018 winner John Black in the field, the times were expected to be hot. 

Conditions were perfect and thrown into the mix was recent Larne ten kilometre winner John Craig (Annadale Striders, Belfast). A great race was in store.

The pace over the first three laps was fast, relentless and the contenders started to show their hand. 

Gavin Corey (Strive Running Club) came to the fore along with mentioned Larne winner Craig, Adam Spratt (Annadale Striders) and 2019 runner-up Eoin Mullan (Omagh Harriers).

The action up front was close with Craig, Corey and Spratt in the first three positions followed by Mullan, Gary Crummy (Newry AC) and Gary Hegarty (Strive RC) who were all on target for breaking 15 minutes and with it, a new course record.

The excitement amongst the crowds in St. Patrick’s Square knew they were witnessing something special. 

The bell rang for the last of the seven laps with Craig leading Corey ever so slightly in what would prove to be a real battle to the finish. 

With Gavin Corey kicking on with just 150 metres to go, he managed to cross the line with his hands aloft in a new course record with a stunning time of 14 minutes 42 seconds. 

Alongside his new record, Corey received the Co Down 5km NI and Ulster Champions gold medal with the gritty John Craig just two seconds behind in 14 minutes 44 seconds. 

Third place went to his colleague Adam Spratt (also Annadale) in 14 minutes 49 seconds.

The Co Down course with a field of 77 participants achieved six runners under 15 minutes and 30 under 16 minutes, which shows the quality of runners who entered.

The fast, flat course warrants a lot of credit to the organisers for finding the gem it really is.

The ladies’ race wasn’t as close, but there was still a fantastic performance by Nakita Burke (Letterkenny AC) in a time of 16 minutes 18 seconds, which was enough to set a new course record. 

Second place went to her club mate Christine Russell with a time of 16 minutes 42 seconds, and the podium was finished off by Lagan Valley’s Caitlyn Harvey in 17 minutes 2 seconds.

A lovely presentation took place at the steps of the St Patrick Centre for all winners to receive their medals, including the winning teams on the night for athletes to count.

The men’s team winners were Annadale Striders in first, North Belfast Harriers in second and Strive Running Club in third.

The ladies’ team winners were again Annadale Striders in first, Victoria Park and Connswater AC in second, and East Down AC in third respectively.

The event was massively supported far and wide, and the organisers thank everyone for their support, the appreciation is greatly received and they are humbled by the generosity within Downpatrick and beyond. 

The organisers would also like to thank their generous sponsors and the runners who made this event such an amazing record-breaking success.