Larne Athletic Club held its annual Christmas Dinner and prize-giving in East Antrim Boat Club on Saturday.
Club members, officials, invited guests, family and friends were all in attendance as chairman Andrew Gregg took to the stage to present the club awards. After taking moment to thank the clubs mains sponsors - AES Ballylumford and Chekkers Wine Bar - he went on to summarise another very successful year for the club.
On the race promotion front, the Larne Half-Marathon has now become one of the highlights of the Northern Ireland running calendar, attracting over 1,400 participants. The club also successfully hosted the East Antrim Inter-Club Race and has enjoyed record turnouts at their own handicap races.
Nine of the club’s athletes were selected to represent Northern Ireland and Ireland at various events during 2012. David Clarke, Jenny Magill, Adele Neill, Justin Maxwell, Craig Hutchinson, Andrew Guy, Geraldine Quigley, Greg Lavery and Bernard Brady all received commemorative medals for their efforts.
Other highlights of the year included numerous race wins, podium finishes, team awards and individual award nominations for members at the Larne Sports Awards. The first prize of the night, ‘Newcomer of the Year’, was closely contested, but after finishing fourth in the highly-acclaimed Lurig Challenge Race, a third-place finish at the ‘Inter-Club Race’ and a win in the East Antrim Harriers’ Trail Series, Lyndsey Haggan was presented with the title. David Noble, who has shown a continual and impressive improvement since joining the club, collected the runner-up prize.
‘Performance of the Year’ went to Justin Maxwell. With remarkable displays in Switzerland, Wales, London, Scotland, Dublin and in Northern Ireland, he was awarded the trophy for ‘multiple performances’.
Nigel Kane was awarded ‘Elizabeth Sloan Handicap Series’ trophy, with Kirsty Sharratt as runner-up.
David Henderson was presented with the Handicap Series ‘Wooden Spoon’, while Daniel Magill won the ‘McManus Trophy of Merit’ for the Handicap Series. His consistent performances throughout the series were enough to see off strong challenges from several other members.
The ‘Most Improved Athlete’ award proved to be a challenging decision for the prize-giving committee. So much so that joint-winners were awarded for the first time ever; Greg Lavery and Helen Kane were presented with the award. Greg has returned from injury to become one of the club’s best athletes, while Helen has made remarkable progress after joining the novice group and recently took a massive 15 minutes off her 10k time.
After another impressive season, including wins at the Inter-Club Race, Skerry Heights 10k, Termoneeny 10k and a second place in her category of the Northern Ireland Half Marathon Series, Geraldine Quigley was the deserved recipient of the ‘Female Athlete of the Year’. Kirsty Sharratt was named as runner-up after having an excellent season, which included numerous podium places.
‘Male Athlete of the Year’ went to Justin Maxwell. This year Justin ran 2:38:11 in London Marathon and finished second in the Stranraer Half-Marathon, running 1:16:10. He came third in the notoriously difficult Snowdonia Marathon (2:47:45), before running 2:42:21 in Dublin Marathon just two days later. Justin also led the Northern Ireland team home in a 42km Mountain Race in Switzerland and ran 1:15:43 at the Larne Half-Marathon as well as a new personal best of 56:03 over 10 miles. He was the club’s undoubted leading athlete in 2012.
Nat Glenn, whose performances this season may well have been enough to secure the award any other year, was presented with the runner-up prize. His most notable successes of 2012 included a 1:17:09 Half-Marathon personal best; a 57:42 10-mile personal best, and a third place in the Lurig Challenge Race.
However, Nat didn’t have long to wait to be awarded a winner’s trophy, as he was named ‘Male Veteran Athlete of the Year’. Long-serving member Craig Hutchinson was runner-up. Having won his category in at least eight races and having represented Northern Ireland at the British and Irish Masters he was a popular choice.
Ruth Wilson enjoyed an excellent season, with a second-place finish in her category of the Northern Ireland Half-Marathon Series, and numerous personal bests, most notably over 10k and Half-Marathon distances. She was presented with the ‘Veteran Female Athlete of the Year’ award. Rhonda Brady collected the runners-up prize, which was well-deserved considering her numerous personal bests and podium finishes after returning from injury.
The final trophy of the evening, for ‘Club Person of the Year’ went to Ryan Maxwell for his work in promoting Larne Athletic Club and the Northern Ireland running scene in general, through his own Northern Ireland Running website.
LARNE AC prize-winners: Elizabeth Sloan Trophy for Handicap Series - winner, Nigel Kane; runner-up, Kirsty Sharratt. Handicap Wooden Spoon - winner, David Henderson. McManus Trophy for Merit in the Handicap Series - Daniel Magill. Male Veteran of the Year - winner, Nat Glenn; runner-up, Craig Hutchinson. Female Veteran of the Year - winner, Ruth Wilson; runner-up, Rhonda Brady; Newcomer of the Year - winner, Lyndsey Haggan; runner-up, David Noble. Most Improved Runner - Joint-winners, Greg Lavery and Helen Kane. Performance of the Year - winner, Justin Maxwell (Multiple performances). Female Athlete of the Year - winner, Geraldine Quigley; runner-up, Kirsty Sharratt. Male Athlete of the Year - winner, Justin Maxwell, runner-up, Nat Glenn; Club Person of the Year - Ryan Maxwell.