Despite threatening skies, a healthy crowd of more than 250 young runners and their family members and supporters headed out to Pinkerton Academy in Derry on Thursday night, June 26, to help kick off the 40th season of the Greater Derry Track Club’s (GDTC) Summer Fun Runs. And a bunch of Londonderry youngsters put forth top finishes in some of the races.
Some of the best news that evening for the Londonderry athletes and everyone gathered at the Pinkerton track was that the rains didn’t begin to fall in earnest until late in the action, so all 257 runners got to do their running before needing to find cover.
Londonderry runners who posted top-three finishes in their respective races included Grace McDonough (first, 10-year-old girls’ division), Cailey McDonough (first, 11-year-old girls), Emma Donnelly (third, 11-year-old girls), Lillian Law (first, 12-year-old girls), Jake Donnelly (first, 13-year-old boys), and recently-graduated Londonderry High track and field and cross-country running star Damon Kilgore (first, open mile).
As has long been the case, runners are asked to bring a non-perishable food item as their registration fee for the races, and on race night number one some 292 pounds of food were donated and forwarded to Saint Thomas’ food pantry in Derry to help the needy in these tough economic times.
The 40th annual series’ remaining races will take place on Thursdays July 3, 10, 17, 24, and 31.
Registration starts at 6 p.m., with the races beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Runners are led in stretching exercises and given running tips by Greater Derry Track Club members. The 2- and 3-year-olds run 50 meters, 4- to 6-year-olds run 200 meters, 7 and 8s run 300 meters, 9- and 10-year-olds run 600 meters, and the 11 to 13s run a cross-country mile. Those older than 14 run the open mile on the track, and that race brings out local high school elite runners like Kilgore and Pinkerton Academy standout Morgan Sansing.
Children receive participation ribbons each week, supplied by the Derry Recreation Department. Water, Gatorade, and watermelon are also supplied each week. Runners who complete the series will receive medals and T-shirts from the GDTC. For more information and to see pictures and results of the weekly races, go to GDTC.org.