We recently had the honour of marking an incredible achievement for 12-year-old Willowfield Harrier Emer McKee from Belfast after competitive road racing made a spectacular return last month.
Emer recorded an amazing time of 16:40 (that's a blistering 5:22 min/mi pace) in the ChampionChip Ireland 5K at Down Royal Racecourse in April and set a new world record for her age. Emer took more than 30 seconds off the previous record for a 12-year-old girl which was set by Annabella Veltcheva in Florida four years ago - even after suffering cuts to both knees in a fall during the run.
Emer started running three years ago with her family at parkrun (at which she is a regular first finisher!) and is already a talent across road, cross country and track. She joined the running club Willowfield Harriers at age nine and appreciates the ongoing support of her coaches who have really helped her keep at it over the years. For Emer, the most appealing part of running is the social aspect and getting to run with her friends in the club.
However, due to the ongoing restrictions, club training had only just resumed again - but Emer had remained focussed and motivated, and had been training by herself the last few months whatever the weather. According to Emer’s mother, Catherine, she had previously run an even faster time of 16:37 on her own around Victoria Park in Belfast in the run up the race so they both knew that she was in peak fitness - but were keen not to apply too much pressure on race day and for her to enjoy her running.
Emer had her sights set on the record since she came agonisingly close back in October. The then 11-year-old was just six seconds off the world record and was determined to beat it when she turned 12 - and it's clear that the hard work, passion and dedication is paying off. We look forward to seeing what the bright future holds for Emer, and what an incredible role model for young athletes across the globe she is.
Thank you to Rebecca Crossley and Willowfield Harriers for their support in creating this print and to Emer’s mum Catherine for the kind words.
“Thank you so much for the beautiful Personal Best Vest print you sent to Emer. It is a fantastic memento of her world-record-breaking run and has pride of place on her wall.
She’s a determined girl and a very dedicated runner and she is just delighted that her hard work has paid off. We never imagined the level of publicity that breaking the record would bring.
This is such a lovely gift and we really appreciate it.”