Charles Hurst Pacing Teamcharleshurst-agdb-logo-stacked.jpg

Mash Direct Belfast City Half Marathon - Sunday 17th September 2023

Name: Neil Mercerneil-mercer(1).jpg

Paces: Full and Half Marathon

Running Club: North Belfast Harriers

Pacing Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Marathon PB: 2 hours 58 minutes

How long have you paced for? Paced for Belfast City Marathon since 2017, full and half marathon. Paced Walled City Marathon since 2018.

How did you get into running? Began running in 2014 as a way of keeping fit and then got hooked.

Advice for a new runner: To any new runner I would advise that you take your time and build your weekly mileage up slowly. This will hopefully prevent injury. Also, remember each training run is not a race so run at a pace you feel comfortable with. 

On race day, don't get caught up in a race at the start. Start slightly slower and finish strong. It will make running the half marathon more enjoyable. Good luck to everyone taking part.          


Name: Anthony Lavery anthony-pacer.jpg

Paces: Half Marathon

Running Club: Albertville Harriers 

Pacing Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Marathon PB: 3 hours 4 minutes

How long have you paced for? 4 years

How did you get into running? By chance. About 10 years ago myself and a friend were late for a circuits class, so he talked me into a run instead. I managed to complete 1 mile. He then told me about Parkrun at the Waterworks, so I made it my goal to complete a Parkrun without stopping which I eventually did. That was me hooked and the rest is history. I have completed all distances from 5k to an ultra-trail marathon. 

Advice for a new runner: Consistency. If you put the work in, you'll get your just rewards. Embrace the challenge and enjoy the journey.               


Name: John McNallyjohn-mcnally.jpg

Paces: Half Marathon

Running Club: Roadrunners AC

Pacing Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Marathon PB: 2 hours 58 minutes

How long have you paced for? Our club (Roadrunners AC) pace for several big races across NI including the 3-hour pacer group at Belfast City Marathon and pace at Lisburn Half Marathon, Newtownards Half Marathon etc.

How did you get into running? My dad took me out running when I was in primary school- I’ve been a runner ever since! 

Advice for a new runner: Consistency is key! Set yourself a mileage target that is realistic and achievable and build it up slowly from there. Sometimes new runners will catch the running bug but then they inevitably struggle to sustain the mileage or keep up their own motivation levels. Just be consistent and the rest will follow.            


Name: Eimear McCrackeneimear-mccracken.jpg

Paces: Half Marathon

Running Club: Annadale Striders

Pacing Time: 1 hr 45 min

Marathon PB: 3 hours 9 minutes

How long have you paced for? I have previous paced Newry Half Marathon (2.05) and the Belfast City Marathon in 2022 (3 hours 45 minutes)

How did you get into running? I was just bored with the gym and signed up for a leg of the Belfast marathon with work colleagues. I soon fell in love with what running gives back to you. I enjoy the discipline of group training and really enjoy my long runs whether with a group or on my own. In Northern Ireland we have so many different terrains at hand and some breathtaking locations for running. We are very lucky.

Advice for a new runner: Make sure you are wearing the correct trainers. Call into your local running shop and chat to the staff - they will keep you right. Just keep at it. Some days will be hard and others easier but nothing will ever be better than the gift running can bring you and the various friends and characters you will meet along the way. One of the best pieces of advice I would give is to join a running club. Running is better with company and it's great to spend time with like minded people. All runners are friendly folk!         


Name: Paul Brackenpaul-bracken.jpg

Paces: Full & Half Marathon

Running Club: Jog Moira

Pacing Time: 2 hours 

Marathon PB: 3 hours 33 minutes

How long have you paced for? 2022 Mash Direct Belfast City Marathon was my first official pacing role & really enjoyed it. I had previously paced for my running club ‘unofficially’ for a few years.

How did you get into running? I got into running in 2014 as I was very overweight & seen a sign for Wallace parkrun. My goal was to finish it without walking, the rest is history. I've ran 260 parkruns, 102 marathons, various ultra-marathons & I am a member of the 100-mile club. Running is my go-to place & am lucky to have met so many wonderful people on the journey.

Advice for a new runner: I'd recommend running to absolutely anyone regardless of age or current fitness level. It has transformed my life from quite literally not being able to run a mile to running 5 days a week & being part of a great club. Running is great for my physical health but also key to my mental health. I can run in groups, solo or with my dog. I can run roads, trails, mountains, anywhere really. As said before the people I've met on my journey are amazing. If I didn't lace up for that parkrun in 2014, I honestly don't know where I'd be today...          


Name: Victoria Atkinsonvictoria-atkinson.jpg

Paces: Half Marathon

Running Club: Victoria Park Runners

Pacing Time: 2 hours

Marathon PB: 3 hours 27 minutes

How long have you paced for? Paced 2 hours at the 2022 Mash Direct Belfast City Half Marathon, Ards Half Marathon and really enjoyed it.

How did you get into running? Started running when I entered the race for life, since then I joined Scrabo Striders straight away and haven't looked back. I started running longer during lockdown, and since then ran several ultra-marathons, halves and a few marathons.

Advice for a new runner: Don’t worry about pace, run on feel and have fun. It changed my life, I have made friends for life and each event creates a memory. Don't compare yourself either, everyone's journey is different.


 Name: Steven Kelly


Paces: Half Marathon

Running Club: Eglinton Road Runners

Pacing Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Marathon PB: 3 hours 39 minutes

How long have you paced for? Been a pacer for 4 years, last 3 years with Belfast City Marathon. I have paced several events notably Belfast City Marathon and the Walled City Marathon.

How did you get into running? Following a motorcycle accident, I took up running to help my rehab.

Advice for a new runner: No big mileage increases in training - build up the long run gradually.           


Name: Colm Colhouncolm-colhoun.jpg

Running Club: Eglinton Road Runners

Paces: Half Marathon

Pacing time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Marathon PB: 3 hours 46 minutes

How long have you been pacing for: Started pacing at Walled City Marathon 2019 and also paced at BCM 2021 and 2022. 

How did you get into pacing: A running friend recommended I should give it a go. Really enjoyed the experience and found it highly rewarding helping others achieve their running goals.

Advice for a new runner. Join a running club 🏃‍♂️             


 Name: Martin Caldwell


Paces: Full & Half Marathon

Running Club: Crossgar Harriers

Pacing Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Marathon PB: 3 hours 15 minutes at Belfast City Marathon

How long have you paced for? 2 years with Belfast City Marathon, previously paced at Derry & Ards.

Advice for a new runner: For new runners try to join a club, as they will accommodate to you in their training runs. Be honest with yourself about Marathon times. Try to follow a training plan and stick to it. Enjoy your running. It is better to run with a group of people as it makes the miles go by easier.


Name: Andrew McDermott andrew-mcdermott.jpg

Running Club: Dub Runners, Belfast

Pacing Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Marathon PB: 3 hours 17 minutes

How long have you paced for? 3 years

How did you get into running? I’ve been running since signing up for the 2012 Belfast Marathon having previously participated in team sports mostly. 

Advice for a new runner: Give it a go, you’ll be surprised how quickly you improve, what you can achieve and how much it will benefit all areas of your life in general. 


If you have any queries for your Charles Hurst Pacing Team please contact


Mash Direct Belfast City Marathon Sponsors