|The H.A.N.D. Run
for Autism 2010
The local Charity H.A.N.D. organised a 10mile walk and run, as well
as a half Marathon throughout the south Armagh countryside, taking
you from Newtownhamilton via Ballymoyer, Whitecross and Lisnalee
to the finish in Lissummon.
As participants arrived in Newtownhamilton to register, they
signed their names and picked up their packs at the local Youth
Club. Anyone who may have been anyway nervous, were put at ease
by the warm friendly welcome which greeted them by the teams
of people taking details, and the marshals and helpers, all gathered
in the main hall warming themselves up, prior to the work which
they had head of them in assisting the runners and walkers in
The atmosphere was rather relaxed as walkers and runners alike
mingled in the youth club mentally preparing themselves for the
task ahead. Outside was a similar scene where groups of runners
and walkers of all abilities chatted in the cool autumn sunshine,
watching as the car park start to fill to capacity, whilst trying
to evade photographer Adrian Rafferty shooting his Nikon in their
Up on the road, outside St Michael’s School, the stage
was set for the off, where the non camera shy Peter Quinn, as
ever, at hand with the microphone warming everyone up with his
witting banter and kept all amused prior to the off. Also on
the stage this year we had a selection of special Olympians from
the Newry District, bringing home the point and the reasoning
behind the actual run. A point which Seán Quinn, one of
the main organisers, noted during his pre run speech.
The first year (2008), they had Boyzone
star Keith Duffy start the race. Last year they had Ulster
Rugby’s Rory Best and
Armagh’s Oisin McConville start the race, with Oisin even
running part of the race. This year they had the local personality
of rally driver Andrew Nesbett start the race, describing his
younger days and journeys around Newtownhamilton, and in particular
a journey over the Tullyet, in a detailed description to those
Reality began to dawn on those taking part, as marshals where
dispatched by bike and car, as the photographer took up position
in his mobile camera unit, and as the paths of the Dundalk Road
began to fill up with onlookers coming out to cheer on all those
taking part. It was indeed clear that it was near time for the
Having listened to the reason why
we were all there and who we were raising the funds for, the
horn blasted as the race commenced.
This year the route was slightly changed from previous and a
lot of those taking part entered the race blind – not worrying
about the exact route, just content in the fact that they were
not only partaking in a run but also the knowledge of knowing
that they were taking in a very well organised event which would
eventually finish up in Lissummon!
As the runners made their way out the Armagh Road the route
ahead was lead by the camera van and marked out by the numerous
friends, family and volunteers marshalling the lanes and byways
of the route. Not only marshalling but also cheering and applauding
walkers and runners alike.
As the route progressed down the School Road back into Newtownhamilton
the street corners, The Square and outside the mart had locals
cheering all on!
The beautiful South Armagh vista inspired many, as they made
their way towards Lissummon, and a real support built, up as
runners helped each other along, chatting and offering words
of encouragement to each other, as they made their way through
As the beauty of the countryside helped runners and walkers in
the quieter areas the more populated areas had supporters offering
drinks, and that, as well as a warm welcome as they passed the
various town lands along the route, and one of the first-aiders
even administering water to her brother regardless as to whether
or not he needed it!!! (He did welcome it once realised what
Supported well at Ballymoyer, the village of Whitecross was
not to be out done, locals standing their gardens and at the
front of their houses applauding, and even on lookers from Newry
and further a field were offering support as the competitors
made an indent into the miles of the route.
All housing areas and local schools became an area for people
to assemble and offer support and refreshments for those making
their way from start to finish. Lisnalee was one such area where
support increased as partakers made their way onto the main Armagh
Road where traffic was stopped to assist in a safe crossing for
Leaving the Armagh Road climbing the Brown Moss Road towards
Lissummon Community Centre the quiet country side was awoken,
as competitors from both walk, half marathon and 10mile run,
approached the finish line, to be welcomed by local sports compare
Damien McCullagh and his quips!
Once over the finish line the well-tuned support crew offered
medals, water and assisted those who may have been in need. This
year one could even be directed to the recording team to collect
your chipped time for those who wanted to keep as a memento.
The crowds at Lissummon greeted all with a warm welcome, and
after a warm shower, all were treated in the hall with food and
drinks, both hot and cold, and made to feel part of the community,
as friends, family, supporters and participants mingled with
organisers and all those who contributed to the event which had
just taken place.
Well supported by the PSNI, the villages and town lands the
route made its way through; it was also supported by local businesses.
This truly was a cross community event in every way, an event
which brought out the generosity of all those who supported it.
From financial assistance, taking part, to making sandwiches
or even collecting used cups and saucers!
Young and old, motorsport to football,
Newtownhamilton to Lissummon – the
HAND Run for Autism spanned many bridges bringing everyone out
to support a very worth while charity in our locale, one which
affects many households in Newry & Mourne.
Whilst those who pounded the roads of South Armagh where finished
after a few hours, acknowledgement has to go to those who organised
it, many hours of their own time was given up over the previous
weeks and months in order to put together such an efficiently
well run event, which was definitely enjoyed by this runner!