The annual Enniskillen 10k Road Race and Leisure Walk will be held this Saturday with the runners and walkers leaving the start line at the Lakeland Forum at 2pm.
The annual event is organised by Fermanagh & Omagh District Council in partnership with Enniskillen Rotary Club and the National Trust, and it has once again attracted a huge entry of competitive runners, fun runners and walkers. 
Among the competitors will be up to 40 runners from the local Enniskillen Running Club, with Chairman John McDonnell among those looking forward to getting started. 
With most of the club’s members setting themselves a target time over the course, the club have decided to make use of a few helium balloons to enable runners to follow pace setters.
“People will be setting themselves a goal to get a certain time, so in the 10K we will have pacers that will pace 45 minutes, 50 minutes, 55 minutes and 60 minutes, and those are the four times we are going to target,” said John. 
“This isn’t anything we have done with the council, but we have so many members of the club that are looking to do specific times that we decided we would go ahead and put our own pacers in. It’s more popular in marathons and half marathons, but it is used in 10Ks as well. They will keep a nice steady pace for whatever goal they have, so if it’s a 60 minute 10K they will be doing six minute per K. The helium balloons are there so people can see and they will be attached to the club members shirts or shorts so it will fly above them and give them an indication of where they are and how they are going relative to their pace. There will be four different colours of balloons for the four different target times.”
The pace setters will be hoping not to fall foul of any low hanging branches around Castlecoole, with John admitting it has not always gone to plan in the past. 
“The last time I ran with a pacer I was stuck in a crowd and I was right behind him and the balloon kept hitting me in the face and I couldn’t get out of the way!”
A bigger threat to fast times on the day however is likely to be the weather. If the current hot spell lasts until Saturday the runners will have to ensure they are prepared for warm conditions. 
“You just keep hydrated,” is John’s advice. “You have to listen to your body. It’s not easy running in the heat but runners have to make sure they drink plenty before, during and after the race.”
The field for the event is always packed with occasional runners who are perhaps tackling the course for the first time, and if they enjoy their day on the roads, John is hoping they will feel energised to join their local running club, which meets three times a week.
“It’s a great social thing,” said John. 
“You can’t turn your head in Enniskillen these days without seeing a runner. The club has every different level of ability from spectacular runners who have been running all their lives, to runners who have just started. 
“There is no question it’s more popular than it ever has been and we would love to welcome more people into the club.”