October 3, 2020

Challenging to tough to brutal, just some of the words being used to describe particular sections of the course at The Sugarcane Cafe Bistro, Florida 12 Hour Challenge held last Saturday 12th September 2020. These were the words coming out of the mouths of experienced endurance runners, so spare a thought for the brave souls for whom this was their first endurance experience.

Nestled in the countryside near Lisbane, County Down, Florida Manor is a privately owned secluded estate which offered runners a course that defines the term “mixed terrain”. It’s hard to argue our entrants did not getting bang for their buck with:

1306 m of tarmac
1433 m of coarse stones / gravel
1117 m of grass / cross country / hills
44 m of loose pebbles
200 m of rubber. Yes, really.
With a total positive elevation of 68 m.

58 runners took part covering a total combined distance of 3604 km (2239 miles) from 10am to 10pm. The Men’s Race was won by Johnny Breen who covered 116 km in 29 loops, followed by Dave Stevenson 104 km and Norman Mawhinney 104 km. The Ladies’s Race was won by Shannon Clegg clocking up 92 km in 23 loops followed in second place by Gemma Roddy 76 km and Dawn Ross in third 76 km (19 loops). Johnny and Shannon both picked up the 6 hour bonus prizes.

Full results here –

Well done to all our runners on the day, many of whom went well beyond what they thought they were capable of on a particularly challenging course. Be proud of yourselves! It was a pleasure putting on the event for you. For details on the next one be sue to follow Gaithouse Events on Facebook –

About the Venue

Nestled in 200 acres of countryside to the West of the village of Killinchy lies the spectacular Florida Manor Estate. The Grade B+ Listed Manor house, listed some 42 years ago, retains its original stables courtyard, two gate lodges, a steward’s house and extensive landscaped grounds. A fantastic wedding venue with apartments for hire. Visit

About Our Sponsors
The event was organised by Gaithouse Events with Sugarcane Cafe Bistro in Comber as primary sponsor, followed by DAC Running in Magherafelt, Essential Homecare Services in Newtownards and MediPura. Thank you all.

In the words of some of our competitors…

…”72 miles in 11:46, won by over 7 miles, led from start to finish, ran the 8 fastest laps. What a cracking event at a beautiful location- very tough and varied course (check out those brutal hills).
Congratulations to Shannon Clegg on her brilliant win in the the ladies’ race, to Norman Mawhinney and Dave Stevenson on their big big miles for 2nd and 3rd, and everyone else who competed, blitzed their distance PBs and helped make this such an enjoyable day. Great running by Jacqueline Declan Bernard Jennifer Clive Sammy Eugene Gordon Elaine Terry Graeme and everyone else (sorry, I don’t know everyone’s name).
Superb organisation by George T McGonigal and all at Gaithouse Events, hope this is back on again in 2021. £250 won for NI Children’s Hospice“… Johnny Breen

…”Thank you for a great day of running and opportunity to get big miles in a safe car-free environment. I hope to see you at Florida Manor next year. Well done to all.”… Gordon Glenn

…”Many thanks to all involved in organising and running the event. An amazing first experience and made to feel very welcome by everyone, with a few of the more experienced runners even taking time on the way round to pass on some very useful tips“… Scott Young

“Attempt number 5 after 4 learning experiences and unsuccessful attempts I finally got over 50 miles in an event. Involved nearly 3 hrs of walking to get it done. I will feel this for a few days/weeks but would feel worse if I stopped before I got what I came for. Pace went for 100K but 50 miles is a nice security blanket. Toughest event I’ve ever been involved with but support from the organisers and other competitors was the best I’ve ever experienced”Graeme McGowan


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