12-year-old Belfast girl sets new 5K record for her age

Jacob Moreton
·3-min read
Photo credit: Keep Fit Ireland
Photo credit: Keep Fit Ireland

A 12-year-old runner from Belfast ran a 5K in an astonishing time of 16:40 at the weekend, apparently setting a new world record for her age.

Emer McKee, a member of Willowfield Harriers in Belfast, was racing in the ChampionChip Ireland 5K at Down Royal Racecourse on Sunday, April 24, when she recorded her record-breaking time.

According to North Belfast Harriers, one of the oldest athletics clubs in Northern Ireland, the previous record for a 5K by a 12-year-old was 17:16, recorded by Annabella Veltcheva in Clermont, Florida.

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Among those congratulating Emer on social media were her club Willowfield Harriers who said: ‘Our wee superstar! Super proud of Emer and what she has [achieved]!’ Steven Donegan, Men’s Captain of North Down Athletics Club, said: ‘A 12 year old girl ran something like 16:40 at the ChampionChip Ireland 5K this morning, and she fell on the route! Unbelievable! Worlds best apparently’.

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Emer’s school, Our Lady and St. Patrick’s College, also paid tribute, referring to Emer as a ‘phenomenal talent.’

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Emer said she joined her running club at age nine after starting taking part in parkruns with her family. ‘Everybody there was really nice and supportive and friendly,’ she said. ‘All my coaches have helped me to just keep at it.’

According to Emer’s mother Catherine, she had previously run an even faster time of 16:37 around Victoria Park in Belfast before Sunday’s race.

‘Training has only [just] started again,’ she told The Irish News. ‘She had been going out on her own during lockdown and training by herself the last few months.

‘She ran 17:47 in October at Down Royal and was told she was six seconds off a world record for an 11-year-old. She was determined that when she turned 12 she'd beat it.

‘She is so determined and worked really hard to do it,’ Catherine said. ‘She is delighted.’

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