Down Royal ready to host the first event of the ChampionChip Ireland Running Series

Organisers of the ChampionChip Ireland Running Series are finishing preparations for the first mass gathering sporting event since the easing of Coronavirus lockdown restrictions in Northern Ireland.

Down Royal Racecourse near Lisburn, will host 700 runners in either the 5km, 10km or half marathon distances on Saturday 18th July. The event is the first portion of the three-event ChampionChip Ireland running series, with future races planned in Lisburn and Glenarm Castle in early August.

The races will definitely be different from the horse races that Down Royal Racecourse are more accustomed to hosting.

Precautions against Covid-19 are the top priority for race organisers who will provide runners with a log-in tracking device chip when they arrive onto the course.

Race organiser, Glenn Grant said “All the runners will have a timing chip. It´s not just to time (the runners) on their run but we can use that chip to log them in and out.”

Grant continued, “When the athletes come onto the course we can log them. That will record what time they came in at. They do the run, when they finish, they cross the finish line and that will log them out of the course and they´ll be asked to go back to their car and leave the site.”

The timing chip will also be used to record data if there is an outbreak of Covid-19. Grant explains, “if someone happens to test positive in the future, we´ll have a full list of who was there, at what time, when they left and who else was there at the same time.”

The event has attracted some of Ireland´s top distance runners, including Tokyo Olympics qualifying hopeful Ann-Marie McGlynn, as well as Stephen Scullion, who already has qualification secured to Tokyo next year.

“To toe the line at Down Royal will be exciting because it´s a great way of testing yourself” says McGlynn. “You don´t know where you´re at really at training, but when it comes to the race, it´s definitely going to be a tester to see where I´m at and I´m excited about that.”

Scullion wanted to emphasise the importance of working together as a team after the Coronavirus pandemic, saying “I think one thing we could all learn from this Covid is that if we all stick together and work together and if you’re having a positive day, you can inspire somebody else to have a positive day.”

“With this event coming up” continued the former Commonwealth Games athlete, “I could have gone there and raced as hard as I could, but it just didn’t feel like the right thing to do. The right thing to do felt like the team aspect and to group together and try to help the other guys.”

Applications to run in the 5km and half-marathon at the event are still available on with the deadline being the 10th July. Applications to run at the events being held at Lisburn and Glenarm Castle in August can also be accessed at www.athleticsni.org/Fixtures/ChampionChip-Ireland-Running-Series.

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Diarmuid Sherry

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