Paddy Hamilton continues to impress...
On Sunday 20th April 2017, local man Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) produced an impressive person to lead a 1,600 strong field home at the Boyne 10k in Drogheda, Ireland.
Paddy followed up his winning performance at last weeks Dundalk 10k, when he recorded 32:01 for 1st place. Full results for the event can be found HERE.
North West 10k (Letterkenny, Ireland):
Elsewhere on Sunday 30th April 2017, there was a sizable Northern Ireland contingent at the North West 10k in Letterkenny, County Donegal (Ireland). Donegal club Letterkenny AC dominated proceedings, particularly the ladies race. The men's event was won by Eoghain McGinley (Letterkenny AC) in 32:44 (1st place), with Mark McPaul (Finn Valley AC) securing 2nd place in 33:15. Emerging athlete Vincent McAlister (Unattached), who performed well throughout the Sperrin Harriers Winter League Series, crossed the line in 33:53 for 3rd place.
In the ladies event, Fionnuala Diver (Letterkenny AC) took top honours in 38:31, while her Letterkenny AC club mates Noeleen Scanlon (39:42) and Nikita Burke (41:19) sealed 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.
3 Peaks Mountain Race (England):
Further afield, on Saturday 29th April 2017, several Northern Ireland based athletes travelled to Yorkshire to participant in the iconic ‘3 Peaks’ race. The event starts in Horton, takes in the summits of Pen-Y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough before returning to the finish line in the countryside town (Horton). With in-excess of 23 miles and approximately 1,600 metres of ascent and descent, this race provided a good test for the local competitors.
Northern Ireland international Megan Wilson (Dark Peak Fell Runners) impressed most, securing 7th place in a strong ladies field. Megan recorded 3:44:38 for the route - the ladies race was won in a course record of 3:09:19 by Victoria Wilkinson (Bingley Harriers & AC). Mourne Runners trio Ricky Hanna, David Bell and Clarke Browne also ran well. Ricky (3:59:17) came in just under the four hour mark, while David crossed the line in 4:44:42 and Clarke 5:27:02. Full results from the event can be found HERE.
There was also a large representation from Northern Ireland at the annual Highland Fling 53 mile Ultra in Scotland this weekend (Saturday 29th April 2017). Full results are not currently available but any notable performances will be added to this summary when results are available.
Dream Run Dublin 17 official launch..
Today (Saturday 29th April 2017), we had the honour of launching the #DreamRunDublin17 project at Victoria Park in Belfast.
Nearly 100 athletes applied for 10 available spaces. Olympian Paul Pollock, the lead coach for the project, chose the following athletes: David Conliffe, Tara Malone, Jonathon Little, Darren Wallace, Liosa McKeown, Neil Curran, Barry Reid, Danny Donaldson, Stephen Smartt and Paul Curley.
The athletes completed Belfast Victoria parkrun and then met up with Paul for a chat about the project and what will happen over the next few months in the lead up to Dublin Marathon 2017.
Over the next few days, we'll post up the athlete profiles to the Dream Run Dublin 17 page on our website.
We would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who applied for the #DreamRunDublin17 and also our friends from Belfast Victoria parkrun for their generous hospitality today!
Weekend Preview: Belfast City Marathon takes centre stage…
To the local running fraternity, the May Day Bank Holiday means only one thing, the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon. It’s that time of the year again, when tens of thousands of athletes take to the streets of Belfast (and Newtownabbey) for Northern Ireland’s biggest running event.
Following on from the iconic Virgin Money London Marathon, which attracted thousands of local runners to England, it’s Northern Ireland’s turn to host our 26.2 mile classic.
Although the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon will be the main focus of the upcoming long weekend, there are other events taking place, both within Northern Ireland and further afield. This includes the NI Youth Development League, the prestigious HOKA Highland Fling in Scotland and the 3 Peaks Mountain Race in England. Northern Ireland should also be represented at the British Universities and College Sport (BUCS) Track & Field Championships.
Highland Fling (Scotland):
Early on Saturday 29th April 2017, at least fourteen runners from Northern Ireland will travel to Scotland to take part in the sold out Highland Fling. The event sets off from Milngavie railway station, just north of Glasgow at 6am. Runners will head north, past Loch Lomond and along the famous West Highland Way to Tyndrum.
This event is a 53 mile trail race (inc 2,300m of ascent) will incorporate the Scottish Ultra Running Championships and will therefore attract a highly competitive field. The 800 strong field will include a large number of Northern Ireland athletes, with Aisling Allum (Carnethy HRC), Suzanne Carson (LVO), Joanne Curran (BARF), Adrian Daye (Atlas Running), Jonathan Gibson (Unattached), Mark King (Newcastle AC), Gerry Kingston (BARF), Stuart Maxwell (BARF), Greg McCann (LVO), Mark McGinn (Mid Ulster AC), Dominic McInerney (Newcastle AC), Johnny McKinley (Dromore AC), Geoff Smyth (BARF) and Stephen Wallace (Newcastle AC) all set to compete.
Yorkshire 3 Peaks Race (England):
Also on Saturday 29th April 2017, several Northern Ireland based athletes will travel to Yorkshire to participant in the iconic ‘3 Peaks’ race. The event starts in Horton, takes in the summits of Pen-Y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough before returning to the finish line in the countryside town (Horton). With in-excess of 23 miles and approximately 1,600 metres of ascent and descent, this race will be a good test for the local competitors.
Northern Ireland international Megan Wilson (East Down AC / Cambridge University) will be joined on the start line by Mourne Runners trio Ricky Hanna, David Bell and Clarke Browne. The local quartet will face some formidable opposition, with the likes of Salomon International pair Tom Owens and Ricky Lightfoot certain starters.
NI Youth Development League (Round 1):
Closer to home on Saturday 29th April 2017, some of Northern Ireland’s top up and coming talent will be in action in Round 1 of the NI Youth Development League at Antrim Forum. Round 1 will see Under 13, Under 15 and Under 17 athletes take on a variety of events, with the event kicking off at 10am A timetable for the competition is available HERE.
BUCS Track & Field Championships:
Local students will also be in action at the British Universities and College Sport Track & Field Championships at the famous Bedford International Stadium this weekend (Saturday 29th April to Monday 1st May 2017). Willowfield Harriers man Andrew Wright will compete for his Cardiff University team, taking on his favourite 1500m event. Meanwhile, Adam Hill and Andrew Mellon will represent QUB AC in the 100m hurdles and 400m respectively. Full start lists for the event are available HERE.
Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon 2017:
Over 15,000 competitors will take to the streets of Belfast this May Day Bank Holiday (Monday 1st May 2017) for the 36th annual Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon and associated Team Relay and Marathon Walk events.
The biggest sporting event in the Northern Ireland calendar has again lived up to expectations with some 2,600 taking on the 26.2 mile race and another massive entry of nearly 2,000 five person relay teams, many of whom will be raising funds for this year's official charity Mencap.
The marathon will kick off at Belfast City Hall and take in an undulating course that will see athletes make their way to the finish line in Ormeau Park, via East, North, West and South Belfast, as well as a section in Newtownabbey.
Hoping to lead the way will be 2016 podium finisher Dan Tanui, a Kenyan born athlete who is a member of the Project Africa Athletics team. Twelve months ago, Dan formed part of a leading trio until mile twenty-three, when fellow countryman Joel Kositany surged clear to win in 2:17:39 – Dan recorded 2:18:46 for 3rd place, finishing a mere three seconds behind another Kenyan, Eric Koech (2:18:43).
31 year old Dan (pictured below right) will face tough opposition in the form of fellow Kenyan Bernard Riotich. Bernard has a 26.2 mile personal best of 2:10:18, which he set in Frankfurt back in 2010 – however, despite a 2:10:51 for 2nd place at the Brighton Marathon in 2013, he has never really shown that same form. Three years ago (2014), Bernard narrowly missed a podium place in Belfast, when taking 4th place in 2:23:29.
Another Kenyan to look out for is Hillary Chirchir, who won the North London Half Marathon (2015) in 1:05:35; he has also run 30:34 for 10k. Ebrahim Abdulaziz (Norway) impressed with a 2:16:53 finish at the Berlin Marathon in 2016 and will feature prominently at the front if he gets close that that time. Hungarian athlete Tomas Nagy, who boasts a marathon best of 2:22:49, will return to Belfast and will hope to produce the same level of performance that led him to a podium place in 2015 – that day he recorded 2:24:19.
Mountain runner Lajos Berec (Hungary) has the strength to take on the Belfast course and could therefore provide some competition for the aforementioned elite contenders, particularly if he gets close to his 2:20:55 personal best. Moroccan duo Mostafa Channi and Abdelhadi El Mouaziz will also start and both will play a part at the front. Mostafa has claimed two 5th place finishes in Belfast previously and will be hoping to improve on this and his 2:25:07 best for the course. Meanwhile, Abdelhadi is an excellent addition to the line-up, with a personal best of 2:12:45 (2007); his most recent outing was a 2:20:19 for 13th place at the Seville Marathon in February (2017).
Local athlete Stephen Scullion (Aldershot, Farnham & District AC) narrowly missed the IAAF World Championships and Commonwealth Games standard with a 2:17:59 finish at the London Marathon last weekend. The Northern Ireland man will start here and depending on his recovery post London, should perform well; he will claim the top prize for first place Northern Ireland runner. Like Stephen, Scotland’s Kyle Greig was in competition in London last week – he ran 2:29:54 and anything around that time in Belfast will see the Aberdeen man finish well inside the top ten.
There will be an abundance of local talent vying for the generous prize-fund on offer to local finishers, with Joe McKevitt (Slieve Gullion Runners), Don Travers (Newry City Runners), Aaron Woodman (PACE Running Club), Tommy Hughes (Termoneeny Running Club) and Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers) likely to be amongst those challenging for a top three local finish.
Kenyan pair Pamela Jelimo Kosgei and Salome Jepkoech Kimutai, and Olympian Els Rens will be the athletes to beat in the ladies race, which should be an exciting affair with local hero Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) named on the elite list.
Pamela has run 32:32 (2006) for 10k and 2:39:50 (2014) for 26.2 miles – she has also performed well over shorter distances, with a 1500m best of 4:11 (2006) and 3,000m best of 9:06.01 (2008). Els has a marathon personal best of 2:38:16 (2015) and recorded 2:45:52 at the Olympic Games in Brazil last year (2016). Interestingly, Salome has bettered both Pamela’s and Els’ marathon times with a 2:38:27 clocking, but this was back in 2010. There is no recent evidence of similar performances, despite this, the Kenyan will be considered as a contender.
AAI National Marathon and Marathon Champion Laura Graham has caught the imagination of the province with her rise through the ranks and humble nature; this was evident in Belfast last May when the crowds roared Laura to runners up spot behind Berhan Gebremichael (Ethiopia) – the Kilkeel based athlete, who had completed London Marathon a week earlier, closed a significant early gap to thirty seconds, crossing the line in 2:48:56. Following Belfast Marathon in 2016, Laura went on to secure the National Marathon title in Dublin (October 2016), running 2:41:56, a new personal best.
Again, the Mourne Runners star will go into Belfast Marathon just one week after competing at the London Marathon, were she recorded 2:42:38. Laura has focused on recovery this week and has made her desire to toe the line in Belfast very clear, explaining that running on home soil means everything. If Laura was to seal victory, she would be the first local lady to win the Belfast Marathon since 1999, which would be an incredible achievement.
Radka Churanova (Czech Republic), a third-place finisher here in 2016, will also return and will be high in confidence following an easy victory at the Kuwait Marathon in January – she ran 2:50:58 for the win. Hungarian athletes Agnes Kiss and Vera Gulyas, who hold personal bests of 2:44:17 and 2:55:37 respectively, also add depth to the ladies field.
A number of local ladies will also be chasing personal bests and the prestige of finishing within the top three Northern Ireland finishers. Current AAI National 24hr Champion Louise Smart (County Antrim Harriers) will be amongst those, as will Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC), Tara Malone (1Zero1), Fiona Prue (Ballydrain Harriers), Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers) and Karen McLaughlin (Springwell Running Club).
As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty four parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.
Hill & Dale Series – Slieve Martin (Race 3) 2017:
On Thursday 27th April 2017, nearly three hundred athletes turned out for Race 3 of the ongoing Hill & Dale Series hosted by County Down based club Newcastle AC.
On this occasion, competitors travelled to Kilbroney Forest Park in Rostrevor for the Slieve Martin race, which would see them cover 4.25 miles in distance, incorporating 1,740ft of ascent. The recent poor weather meant that athletes were required to carry ‘full body cover’ for the duration of the race.
William McKee (Mourne Runners) continued his dominance of the Series with another victory, making it three wins from three races. Despite the best efforts of Northern Ireland and Ireland international Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC), William sealed top honours in 32:30 (1st place). Zak took 2nd place in 33:54, while David McKee (Mourne Runners) followed in 3rd place, crossing the line in 34:15.
In the ladies race, Esther Dickson (Newry AC) followed on from her runners up placings at Race 1 and Race 2 with a well-deserved win. The Newry AC athlete, who was recently named on the NIMRA team for the Inter Countries Mountain Running Championships, led the way in 39:41 (1st place). Charlene Haugh (Mourne Runners) ran well to take 2nd place in 40:54, finishing just ahead of Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC), who recorded 41:06 for 3rd place.
Top 3 Men: 1st William McKee (Mourne Runners) - 32:30, 2nd Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) - 33:54, 3rd David McKee (Mourne Runners) - 34:15
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Esther Dickson (Newry AC) - 39:41, 2nd Charlene Haugh (Mourne Runners) - 40:54, 3rd Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC) - 41:06
Full Results: Hill & Dale Series – Slieve Martin (Race 3) 2017 Results
Dundalk 10k 2017:
Elsewhere this week, Northern Ireland man Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) returned to competitive action at the Dundalk 10k road race in Ireland on Tuesday 25th April 2017. The Northern Ireland international recorded an impressive 31:49 for 1st place. Fellow NI man Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) also secured a podium place, taking 3rd place in 33:08. Full results for the event can be found HERE.
QUB AC ladies lose National title in unfortunate circumstances:
After being crowned AAI National Road Relay Champions at the weekend (Sunday 23rd April 2017), Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) ladies have lost their title; this was due to a genuine administrative error.
Emma Mitchell, Sinead Sweeney and Rebecca Henderson all study at Queen’s University and are members of QUB AC – Rebecca also runs for Dromore AC, which is her first claim club. As Dromore AC were not represented at the Irish Life AAI National Road Relay Championships, the team were of the belief that Rebecca could therefore run for QUB AC, her second claim club (a closed club).
After the talented trio secured the title, a complaint was made to Athletics Ireland. The subsequent investigation ruled against QUB AC as, as per AAI rules of open competition, athletes must run for their affiliated club (in our language, first claim club). Therefore, UCD AC are now AAI National Senior Road Relay Champions, with Letterkenny AC promoted to silver and Leevale AC bronze.
Coach Eamonn Christie apologised for the genuine error - he told NiRunning, “I have spoken to two of the other teams involved and will speak to the third in due course. I have explained that this was a genuine error, one that I take full responsibility for – there was no malice. All three girls are members of QUB AC, but QUB AC must be their first claim club when running under Athletics Ireland rules.”
Eamonn added “the girls are gutted and I feel for them. Personally, I am also devastated – but again, this was a genuine error and I want to make that very clear.”
Local athletes selected to represent Ireland at World 24hr Championships in Belfast:
Eddie Gallen (Finn Valley AC), Susan McCartney (BARF), Tim Brownlie (Willowfield Harriers) and Louise Smart (County Antrim Harriers) have been selected to represent Ireland at the 12th IAU World 24-Hour Running Championships on Saturday 1st July 2017. Support crew member Gary McConville is also from Northern Ireland.
The official press release is available below...
Irish team for 24hr World Championships announced:
Belfast man Eddie Gallen will lead the Irish team as they take on the world in his home city at the 12th IAU World 24-Hour Running Championships with Schneider Electric on Saturday,July 1 in Victoria Park.
For Gallen,54, who teaches in Madrid, this will be his 9th World Championship and his 34th 24-hour race. He will be joined in the 12-strong team of 6 men and 6 women, by another Belfast man ,architect Tim Brownlie, 37, who will be making his international debut. And, he will, in turn, be joined by his sister Susan McCartney. McCartney,40, is a part-time primary school classroom assistant who lives in Berkshire, and - as part of their preparation - she will be running the Belfast marathon with her brother. Competing with McCartney in Victoria Park will be National 24-hr Champion Louise Smart, 38. The BT engineer from Newtownabbey will be winning her first vest. It will be only her second 24-hr race. She covered 204kms(126 miles) in her first. Making a welcome return to the women’s team is Irish record holder Ruthann Sheahan,41. The quality engineer from Leap in west Cork came agonisingly close to a medal at the last World Championships in Turin two years ago before collapsing just 40 minutes from the end.
The men's Irish record holder Eoin Keith,48, from Cork will also be there and he’ll warm-up by trying this week-end(April 29) to break the world record for running the 563kms(350 miles) approx from Mizen to Malin in under 4 days. Three of the team will travel long distances to take part: Wexford paediatrician Yvonne Naughton,39 who is based in Seattle; and Dubliners Daragh O’Loughlin, 31, and Malcolm Gamble, 49, both of whom live in Melbourne. The team is completed by Cork’s Aidan Hogan, 44, Kilkenny’s Catherine Guthrie, 45, and Wicklow based Amy Masner,43, who first came to prominence when she ran 218kms (135 miles) in an indoor 24-hour race in Finland last year.
Team manager John O’Regan says: “It is very special for us to have the World Championships on our own doorstep in Belfast. And, as a reflection of that, this is the biggest and perhaps the strongest team we have sent to the Worlds - and one I am confident will give a good account of itself.”
Men: Eddie Gallen (Captain), Eoin Keith, Aidan Hogan, Daragh O’Loughlin, Malcolm Gamble and Tim Brownlie.
Women: Ruthann Sheahan, Amy Masner, Louise Smart, Yvonne Naughton, Susan McCartney and Catherine Guthrie.
Support Crew: John O’Regan (Manager), Kevin Belton, Gary McConville, Liam Tilly, Louis Byrne and Philip Bourke.
Paul Pollock selected for IAAF World Championships in London:
Annadale Striders athlete Paul Pollock (Coach: Andrew Hobdell) has been selected to represent Ireland in the marathon at this Summer’s IAAF World Championships in London (England).
Athletics Ireland announced their initial selections of race walk and marathon athletes yesterday (Tuesday 25th April 2017). Paul, who recorded 2:15:30 at the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon in Japan earlier this year, is the only athlete from Northern Ireland to have bettered the required standard of 2:17:00 for men and 2:38:00 for women – his training partner Kevin Seaward (Coach: Andrew Hobdell), missed out by just eight seconds with his 2:17:08 finish at the London Marathon on Sunday.
Paul took to social media to express his delight at gaining selection, posting “Four years and thousands of miles since my first World Champs, I'm absolutely delighted to have been picked for this year's London World Championships!”
The Holywood man also showed gratitude to those who have assisted him along the way, “A massive thank you (again) to everyone for all the help over the years, especially Jim Aughney and the Marathon Mission and their continued support for Irish distance runners. Looking forward to running with some of my NN Running Team teammates, this time wearing each of our country's colours!”
A full list of athletes selected for the race walk and marathon events can be found HERE.
The IAAF World Athletics Championships will take place in London between the 4th and 13th August 2017. The final Ireland squad which will be confirmed after the 23rd July 2017 qualification deadline for all other events.
AAI National Road Relays and more...
Queen’s University AC ladies were crowned National Senior Road Relay Championships at this weekend’s Irish Life AAI National Road Relay Championships in Dublin (Sunday 23rd April 2017).
Outstanding performances by Sinead Sweeney, Emma Mitchell and Rebecca Henderson, all coached by Eamonn Christie, saw them secure gold in an exciting race. Defending Champions Leevale AC were expected to dominate proceedings and were in the mix early on, but an excellent opening leg from Sinead set things up nicely for Emma, who put QUB in front going into the final leg – Rebecca marked her return from injury with a strong run to seal victory in an overall time of 20:58 (1st place) for 4 miles. UCD AC claimed 2nd place in 21:04, with Letterkenny AC completing the podium in 21:15 (3rd place).
Northern Ireland and Ireland international Ann-Marie McGlynn blasted Letterkenny AC to the Masters Ladies title in a new record of 22:32 (1st place) for 4 miles. Strabane based Ann-Marie was ably assisted by Irene McFadden and Monica McGranaghan.
In other news…
Lagan Valley AC’s Andrew Monaghan sealed an outstanding victory at the 35th annual Cherry Creek Sneak 10 mile race (Sunday 23rd April 2017) in Denver, Colorado (USA). After making up part of a front running trio for much of the race, the Northern Ireland man surged clear in the final 800 metres to break the tape in 55:22 (1st place).
Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games pair Leon Reid (Coach: James Hillier) and Jason Harvey (Coach: Nick Dakin) have also been in competition this week. Birchfield Harriers athlete Leon was in action at the Control Extaordinaro D.M.A in Torremolinos (Spain). He ran 47.13 for 400m and 21.25 (-3.8) for 200m, taking 1st place in both races. Meanwhile, Jason was competing in the 400m hurdles at the USF Collegiate Invitational Track & Field Meeting in Florida (USA) – he clocked 52.22 for 2nd place.
Photo above by Athletics Ireland.
Virgin Money London Marathon 2017:
Kevin Seaward and Laura Graham led the way as thousands of local runners joined the 40,000 strong field at the Virgin Money London Marathon (Sunday 23rd April 2017). Wheelchair athletes Jack Agnew and Andrew Greer also impressed with wins in the associated London Mini-Marathon races.
Cardiff based Kevin Seaward (St Malachy’s AC) and Kilkeel’s Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) both looked set for personal bests for much of the race but were forced to settle for 2:17:08 and 2:42:38 respectively.
Despite clocking excellent finish times for the classic 26.2 mile distance, particularly in warm conditions, both will be disappointed, given their ambitions. Kevin explained (on social media) that cramp forced him to slow the pace late on, posting, “gave it a bit of a go today, inexplicable quad cramps from 20 put end to a good race. That's marathon running!”. The Olympian’s finishing time saw him finish agonisingly close to Athletics Ireland’s IAAF World Championships standard of 2:17:00 and Athletics NI’s Commonwealth Games standard of 2:16:30.
National Half Marathon and Marathon Champion Laura made the brave decision to line up in the elite ladies field and did not look out of place as she ran down five time Olympian Jo Pavey before the European gold medallist decided to drop out. Laura held what would have been personal best pace until the final 7k, before crossing the famous Mall finish line just over forty seconds outside her best. After the race, Laura told Athletics NI, “I really felt it in the final stages, I just lost the mental focus that was there throughout the race. I’m disappointed that I didn’t better my personal best but on a more positive note, this weekend has been an excellent experience and one that will help me going forward.”
Northern Ireland’s Stephen Scullion (Aldershot, Farnham & District AC) made a welcome return to competition, and like Kevin Seaward, narrowly missed the Athletics Ireland’s World Championship standard when finishing in a new personal best of 2:17:59. Kenyan athlete Daniel Wanjiru won the race in 2:05:48, while pre-race favourite Mary Keitany (Kenya) led the ladies home in 2:17:01.
Northern Ireland was also well represented in the London Mini-Marathon, races that cover the final 3 miles of the marathon route. Torque RC wheelchair athletes Jack Agnew and Andrew Greer, both coached by Heather Ardis, excelled with wins in their respective Under 17 and Under 15 races; this completes a hat-trick of wins for Jack at the event.
Ballynahinch Lions 10k:
On Saturday 22nd April 2017, nearly two hundred athletes turned out for the annual Ballynahinch 10k, an event organised by Ballynahinch Lions Club.
Recently formed club Victoria Park & Connswater AC turned out in force and dominated the podium. In the men’s race John Craig (Victoria Park & Connswater AC) enjoyed an excellent battle with Brendan Teer (East Down AC) before running out victorious in 33:38 (1st place) – the returning Brendan took another step towards full fitness with a 33:48 finish for 2nd place, while Stephen Wylie (Victoria Park & Connswater AC) completed the top three in 34:37 (3rd place).
In the ladies race, Commonwealth Games athlete Heather Foley (Unattached) again showed her class, running out clear winner in 38:28 (1st place). Jennifer Black ensured that Victoria Park & Connswater AC were represented on the ladies podium when she recorded 42:12 for 2nd place, finished just under two minutes ahead of Ursula Campbell (Unattached), who crossed the line in 44:06 for 3rd place.
In the associated 5k, Derry Track Club star Conan McCaughey clocked an impressive 15:05 (1st place) to lead the field home. No further information on the 5k race is available.
10k Podium Places:
Top 3 Men: 1st John Craig (Victoria Park & Connswater AC) – 33:38, 2nd Brendan Teer (East Down AC) – 33:48, 3rd Stephen Wylie (Victoria Park & Connswater AC) – 34:37
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Heather Foley (Unattached) – 38:28, 2nd Jennifer Black (Victoria Park & Connswater AC) – 42:12, 3rd Ursula Campbell (Unattached) – 44:06
Full Results: Ballynahinch 10k 2017 Results
Cormac Run 10k:
Elsewhere on Saturday 22nd April 2017, Paul Conway (Club Unknown) and Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) excelled as athletes toed the line for the Cormac Run 10k in Eglish, County Tyrone. Paul claimed 1st place in 35:43, while Pauline led the ladies home and secured 2nd place overall in 39:11. Full results for the event are available HERE.
The Fallows Mountain Race 2017:
On Saturday 22nd April 2017, Northern Ireland’s top mountain runners descended on the scenic Kilbroney Park in Rostrevor for the second race of this year’s Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championship.
‘The Fallows’ mountain race is a medium distance course in terms of NIMRA regulations – it measures approximately 9 miles in distance and incorporates approximately 800 metres of accumulative ascent.
As expected, it was William McKee (Mourne Runners) who took charge at the front. The talented Kilkeel man showed no signs of fatigue from his win less than 48 hours earlier at Race 2 of the Hill & Dale Series, as he cruised to victory in 1:12:23 (1st place). Former NIMRA Champion Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) performed well to secure 2nd place in 1:14:09, before David McKee (Mourne Runners) crossed the line in 1:15:30 for 3rd place.
The ladies race brought an exceptional encounter and one that can only continue to pull the local scene forward – less than a minute split the top three ladies and just over four minutes split the first five. Pre-race favourite Esther Dickson (Newry AC) led the way in 1:28:03 (1st place), with Dromore AC’s Diane Wilson (1:28:16) and Lagan Valley AC’s Shileen O’Kane (1:28:58) taking 2nd place and 3rd place respectively. North Belfast Harriers athlete Martsje Hell took 4th place in 1:30:11, while Moire O’Sullivan (Unattached) followed in 1:30:35 (5th place).
Top 3 Men: 1st William McKee (Mourne Runners) – 1:12:23, 2nd Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) – 1:14:09, 3rd David McKee (Mourne Runners) – 1:15:30
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Esther Dickson (Newry AC) – 1:28:03, 2nd Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) – 1:28:16, 3rd Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – 1:28:58
Full Results: The Fallows Mountain Race 2017 Results
Weekend Preview: London is calling!
Easter Weekend brought with it a number of excellent events and some noteworthy performances, and just last night, William McKee (Mourne Runners) and Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC) continued their winning streak in Newcastle AC’s Hill & Dale Series – basically, it’s been a busy week… but now we must look ahead to an exciting weekend of action.
The annual Virgin Money London Marathon will temp hundreds, if not thousands of local runners to the mainland for what should be an epic event – we’ll be there too, so there may be a delay in the posting of summaries and results over the weekend!
There should also be a large Northern Ireland representation at the AAI National Road Relay Championships in Ireland. The action doesn’t stop locally, with some excellent offerings taking place this weekend, including ‘The Fallows’ Mountain Race, the Run Armagh 10k and the Ballynahinch 10k. These races will form the basis of our weekend preview, but as always, we’ll mention anything else that’s happening this weekend as well.
The Fallows Mountain Race:
On Saturday 22nd April 2017, Northern Ireland’s top mountain runners will descend on the scenic Kilbroney Park in Rostrevor for the second race of this year’s Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championship, which is again sponsored by local company Podium 4 Sport.
‘The Fallows’ is a medium distance course in terms of NIMRA regulations – it measures approximately miles in distance and will incorporate approximately 800 metres of accumulative ascent.
In 2016, William McKee (Mourne Runners) cruised to victory and it’s hard to see anyone coming close the Mourne Runners man this time around. After winning the first NIMRA Championship race in Glenariffe last month, William has gone on to impress in Newcastle AC’s Hill & Dale Series, winning the first two races. David McKee (Mourne Runners) also had an excellent run at the Glenariffe Mountain Race, taking second place – he will be in the mix again here if he takes to the start line. David Hicks (Newcastle AC), Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC), Paul McAnespie (Armagh AC) and Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers) will also challenge for a podium spot, while Shane Donnelly (Acorns AC), Sam Herron (Mourne Runners), Timothy Johnston (Mourne Runners) and Richard Bell (Mourne Runners) should claim top ten places.
In the ladies race, Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) may return to action and following her win here in 2016, would be considered as pre-race favourite. However, the talented Northern Ireland international will face tough opposition in the form of Esther Dickson (Newry AC) – Esther is a newcomer to the mountain running scene and impressed with an excellent performance at the Glenariffe Mountain Race, with a victory. Megan Wilson (Dark peak Fell Runners / East Down AC) will feature at the front if she races, as will Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC), Moire O’Sullivan (Unattached), Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers), Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) and Jackie Toal (BARF).
Ballynahinch Lions 10k:
Also on Saturday 22nd April 2017, the Ballynahinch Lions Club will welcome athletes from across the province to their annual Ballynahinch 10k.
The long standing and popular event has always attracted athletes preparing for Spring marathons but this year, it’s date falls on the weekend of London Marathon and just one week ahead of Belfast Marathon. However, that said, recently revised, flatter course (without the steps) has impressed the masses over the last couple of years and there should therefore be a sizeable turnout.
David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) put in a strong performance at this event in 2016 but was forced to settle for the runners up prize behind Omagh Harriers star Stephen Duncan. This year, David may well be the man to beat! He has reduced his 10k best to 32:03, getting so close to a 31 minute finishing time and although this course may not allow for such a speedy time, it will be this pace that should see the Newcastle AC man run out victorious.
Stephen Duncan recently ran 1:10:05 to win the Omagh Half Marathon, so he himself is also in good form, which makes for an excellent race should both men take to the start line. Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), Paul Carroll (Annadale Striders), Martin Wilcox (East Down AC) and Martin Melville (Newcastle AC) may also be amongst the podium contenders if they make use of the on the day entry.
Current ladies Champion Laura Bickerstaff (Dromore AC) could return to defend her title and will be in good form having just completed some warm weather training. In truth, it’s hard to look past Laura for top spot, however, East Down AC’s emerging Joanne Foster could also go well. Geraldine Quigley (Ballymena Runners) is a previous podium finisher here and will be in the mix once again should she start.
Virgin Money London Marathon:
On Sunday 23rd April 2017, hundreds if not thousands of runners from Northern Ireland will be in action at the World’s most famous race, the Virgin Money London Marathon in England. Annually, the event attracts in excess of 38,000 participants and is always popular with the local running fraternity.
Considering the upcoming IAAF World Championships (2017) and Commonwealth Games (2018), the race has extra importance for those who may be chasing qualifying standards.
There has been a lot of talk this week about potential local athletes who are gunning for the related selection times which are: IAAF World Championships (Marathon) – Men = 2:17:00 and Women = 2:38:00 and Commonwealth Games (Marathon) – Men = 2:16:30 and Women = 2:37:00
In relation to those running, familiar faces such as Kevin Seaward (St Malachy’s AC), Stephen Scullion (Aldershot, Farnham & District AC) and Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) should lead the local men, while Laura Graham (Mourne Runners), Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) and Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) will be the Northern Ireland ladies to look out for.
Irish Olympic hero Kevin has a 26.2 mile personal best of 2:14:52, which he set at the Berlin Marathon in 2015 - based on this, Kevin should make the IAAF World Championships and Commonwealth Games standard. Stephen took a step away from the competitive running scene for a while and returned with the London Marathon as his focus; he will be going for the qualification standards. Foyle Valley AC man Scott will take on his first marathon and should perform well based on his outings over the half marathon distance - his current 13.1 mile personal best sits at 1:07:38 which would suggest that 2:17:00 and 2:16:30 is well within his grasp, if that's what he wants to go for. All in all, we have no doubt that the humble NI international will do himself justice in this classic race.
This week, a lot of pressure has been placed on Laura Graham as she rises through the ranks, with stories of qualification standards and London-Belfast Marathon doubles etc. On Sunday, Laura will be out to better the 2:41:54 personal best she set when winning the AAI National Marathon Championships in Dublin last year (2016); the unassuming athlete has set this as the ultimate goal. Commonwealth Games athlete Gladys Ganiel O'Neill has an excellent marathon personal best of 2:38:47 (2016) and is more than capable of finishing in or around this. Amy Bulman will take on her first marathon and most certainly has the talent to go well under sub 3 if that's what she chooses to aim for.
Aside from the aforementioned six athletes, there is an abundance of local talent heading for London, with Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers), David Noble (Larne AC), Murray Deller (East Coast AC), Garry Morrow (Willowfield Harriers), David Clarke (North Belfast Harriers), David Proctor (Willowfield Harriers) and Ryan Armstrong (Ballymena Runners) just a handful of those likely to perform well on the big stage.
Believe it or not, it's not all about the 26.2 mile event at the Virgin Money London Marathon, with thousands of junior athletes taking on the London Mini-Marathon races in the lead up the the big event - this will include a number of runners from Northern Ireland.
Run Armagh 10k:
Closer to home on Sunday 23rd April 2017, approximately five hundred competitors are expected to take on the 9th annual Run Armagh 10k road race. The event, which is also part of the NOVOSCO 10K GRAND PRIX 2017, covers an undulating, mainly rural course, starting close the famous Armagh Planetarium and finishing on the historic Mall.
Reigning Champions Gary Henderson (Armagh AC) and Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) will both return to defend their titles. We would expect both to be contenders for top honours, but they will face a decent field. In the men’s race, Gary, who recorded 34:01 for top spot twelve months ago, will come up against Dromore AC’s ever improving Stephen O’Gorman. Stephen holds a 10k personal best of 33:22 so will play a prominent part in proceedings. Don Travers (Newry City Runners) and St Peter’s AC duo Mark Cornett and Gerard Heaney could also feature.
In 2016, Louise Smith recorded an excellent 38:12 for victory and the all impressive athletes should lead the pack this time around, especially if she runs that kind of time again. The fact that the race is part of the Novosco 10k Grand Prix will attract several more athletes, but it’s likely that any challenge on Louise’s title hopes will come from Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC), Ciara Coffey (Unattached) and Eileen Jack (Beechmount Harriers).
Other competitive events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend…
Friday 21st April 2017:
Saturday 22nd April 2017:
Sunday 23rd April 2017:
Other competitive events taking place outside Northern Ireland this weekend…
AAI National Road Relay Championships (Ireland):
On Sunday 23rd April 2017, it is expected that several clubs from Northern Ireland will be in action at the AAI National Road Relay Championships, hosted by Raheny Shamrock AC in Dublin, Ireland. North Down AC and North Belfast Harriers could well be the local front-runners, with North Down AC mentioned on the official Athletics Ireland race preview. The preview and final instructions in relation to the event are available HERE.
As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty four parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.
Whitehead 5 mile Road Race 2017:
On Monday 17th April 2017, well over two hundred athletes descended on the County Antrim village of Whitehead for the long-standing Whitehead 5 mile Road Race, an event which has now become almost compulsory on every runner's calendar.
Athletes covered a three lap route, starting and finishing in the village’s atmospheric Main Street.
As soon as the competitors set off, Glens Runners man Jonny Steede made his way to the front of the pack, with Jonathan McKee (Springwell Running Club) and North Belfast Harriers duo Andrew Annett and John Black following just behind.
After a fast first lap, there was nothing splitting the aforementioned quartet, but in the ladies race, Acorns AC’s Leanne Sands had taken up position at the head of the field. Lesley Young (Unattached), Dawn McClure (Unattached) and Beverley Gaston (Larne AC) were in pursuit. As the race progressed, Andrew Annett moved just ahead of club mate John Black, who in turn, had a short lead on Jonathan McKee – Jonny Steede was just behind the leading trio and still well in contention.
Going into the final lap, Andrew led the men and Leanne had cemented her place on the ladies podium. Despite the best efforts of those behind, nothing changed on the third and final 1.6 mile lap with both Andrew and Leanne running out victorious.
Andrew broke the tape in 25:09 for 1st place, just five seconds ahead of club mate John Black who took 2nd place in 25:14. In a battle for third spot, Jonathan McKee just saw off Jonny Steede (4th place – 25:36), crossing the line in 25:33 (3rd place).
Leanne Sands enjoyed a comfortable win, taking 1st place in 33:05. Lesley Young secured the runners up prize in 34:43 (2nd place), before Dawn McClure completed the top three in 35:57 (3rd place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers) – 25:09, 2nd John Black (North Belfast Harriers) – 25:14, 3rd Jonathan McKee (Springwell Running Club) – 25:33
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Leanne Sands (Acorns AC) – 33:05, 2nd Lesley Young (Unattached) – 34:43, 3rd Dawn McClure (Unattached) – 35:57
Full Results: Whitehead 5 mile Road Race 2017 Results
Ballygalget 10k 2017 and more..
On Sunday 16th April 2017, well over one hundred competitors took on the annual Ballygalget 10k road race, an event co-hosted by highly respected local running club East Down AC.
Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC) lived up to status as a potential front runner with a strong performance which ultimately saw the County Down man secure victory. Barrie looked comfortable as he broke the tape in 35:45 (1st place), just over thirty seconds ahead of Lagan Valley AC’s Alex Boyd, who took 2nd place in 36:17. Unattached athlete Peter Gilmore claimed 3rd place in 36:30.
In the ladies race, pre-race favourite Heather Foley returned to defend her title, and did so with ease. The exceptionally talented athlete claimed top honours in 37:49 (1st place). Scrabo Striders athlete Shannon Clegg finished in 2nd place in 46:07, while Unattached athlete Deirdre Martin completed the podium in 47:14 (3rd place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC) – 35:45, 2nd Alex Boyd (Lagan Valley AC) – 36:17, 3rd Peter Gilmore (Unattached) – 36:30
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Heather Foley (Unattached) – 37:49, 2nd Shannon Clegg (Scrabo Striders) – 46:07, 3rd Deirdre Martin (Unattached) – 47:14
Full Results: Ballygalget 10k 2017 Results
Elsewhere this Easter Weekend…
Also on Sunday 16th April 2017, Northern Ireland based athletes claimed a number of podium places at the Harte Insurance Letterkenny 3k and 5k road races in County Donegal, Ireland.
Eoghan McGinley (Letterkenny AC) won the 3k in 9:06 (1st place), with Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC) and Sean Corry (Omagh Harriers) following in 2nd place and 3rd place respectively – Keith clocked 9:13 while Sean ran 9:23. Leoni Mullen (Club Unknown) won the ladies 3k race in 11:20 (1st place) with City of Derry AC Spartan Hannah McGowan taking 2nd place in 11:32.
In the 5k event, which was won by Irish Olympian Catriona Jennings (Letterkenny AC), former Ballymena & Antrim AC athlete Matt Wray (Unattached) secured 2nd place in the men’s race won by Michael Black (Unattached) in 17:26 (1st place) – Matt recorded 17:55 for the distance. Full results for the event can be found HERE.
Beragh 5 mile Road Race 2017:
On Saturday 15th April 2017, nearly two hundred athletes turned out for the annual Beragh 5 mile road race and associated 5k event in County Tyrone. The 5 mile route, which is popular with participants, covered a scenic rural course.
Pre-race favourite and event regular Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) lived up to expectation with a convincing victory. Stephen recorded a speedy 26:29 for 1st place and was followed across the line by the fast improving Vincent McAlister (Unattached), who clocked 27:14 (2nd place). Rasto Naidek (Knockmany Runners) completed the top three in 28:44 (3rd place).
It was a similar story in the ladies race, with event favourite Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) securing top honours with a dominant performance. Pauline broke the tape in 31:29 (1st place), which saw her narrowly miss a top ten place overall (11th place). Young Toni Moore (Carmen Runners) took 2nd place in 33:16, before Paula Donnelly (Club Unknown) claimed 3rd place in 33:29.
In the associated 5k race, Under 17 athlete Matthew Neil of Omagh Harriers led the way with a 17:07 finish for 1st place, while Enya Haigney (Derry Track Club) again showed her potential in the ladies race. Enya crossed the line in 19:06 (1st place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) – 26:29, 2nd Vincent McAlister (Unattached) – 27:14, 3rd Rasto Naidek (Knockmany Runners) – 28:44
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) – 31:29, 2nd Toni Moore (Carmen Runners) – 33:16, 3rd Paula Donnelly (Club Unknown) – 33:29
Full Results: Beragh 5 mile Road Race 2017 Results
Mussenden Challenge 2017:
On Saturday 15th April 2017, Northern Ireland international mountain runners Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) and Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers) claimed top honours at the 3rd annual Mussenden Challenge 10k in Castlerock, close to Coleraine.
Allan, who won the event in it’s inaugural year, led the field home in an impressive 35:20 (1st place). Steven McAlary (Springwell Running Club) claimed 2nd place in 36:50, while Seamus Bradley (Unattached) followed in 39:07 (3rd place).
Meanwhile, in the ladies race, Martsje held off the ever consistent Ciara Toner (Springwell Running Club) to win. The North Belfast Harriers athlete clocked 40:20 for 1st place, with Ciara following nineteen seconds later in 40:39 (2nd place). Alison Rankin (Springwell Running Club) ran well to take 3rd place in 42:10.
Top 3 Men: 1st Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) - 35:20, 2nd Steven McAlary (Springwell Running Club) - 36:50, 3rd Seamus Bradley (Unattached) - 39:07
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers) - 40:20, 2nd Ciara Toner (Springwell Running Club) - 40:39, 3rd Alison Rankin (Springwell Running Club) - 42:10
Full Results: Mussenden Challenge 10k 2017 Results
NiRunning and Belfast Activity Centre launch Rathlin Run 2017:
Today, Friday 14th April 2017, local running website www.nirunning.co.uk (NiRunning - Northern Ireland Running) proudly launched the 16th annual Rathlin Run for 2017, Northern Ireland's most unique, and arguably, most challenging road race.
The event, which is organised in association with highly respected charity Belfast Activity Centre (BAC) will take place on Saturday 26th August 2017.
As always, the incredibly scenic but gruelling '10 mile challenge' will be the feature race with the associated 5k race also returning, therefore offering an alternative for those wanting to test themselves over (or enjoy) a flatter, shorter course.
This year has brought several changes for the increasingly popular event, with the development of an official Rathlin Run website (www.rathlinrun.co.uk) and a more prominent social media presence, via new facebook (@RathlinRunOfficial) and twitter (@RathlinRun) accounts – this will ensure a greater all year round presence for the event, which was originally started in the early 2000’s by Raleigh International.
Entries are now AVAILABLE via the new website at www.rathlinrun.co.uk
Note: There are limited number of 400 entries available, incorporating both events.
It is IMPORTANT to note that participants must book their return ferry to Rathlin Island with event associate sponsors Rathlin Island Ferry Company (via 028 2076 9299) prior to entering the event.
Weekend Preview: Local athletes on Easter prize hunt…
Traditionally, the Easter Weekend is a busy period within the local running scene, and this year is no different – there will be some traditional classics over the next few days, culminating in one of the most popular events of the Easter Holidays, the Whitehead 5 mile road race on Easter Monday (Monday 17th April 2017).
Elsewhere, the Mussenden 10k Challenge will take place in Castlerock, the Ballygalget 10k will attract athletes from around the County Down area and the Beragh 5 mile road race is also taking place in County Tyrone.
The weekend action however, kicks off at a very early 5:30am on Saturday 15th April 2017, with the Solace 5k in Toomebridge (County Antrim) in the north west corner of Lough Neagh. We have been unable to obtain information on this event other than the details listed on the Athletics NI calendar – basically, it starts at 5:30am at Toome House.
Beragh 5 mile Road Race:
A little later on Saturday 15th April 2017, hundreds of athletes are expected to support the annual Beragh 5 mile road race, a popular community event which covers a scenic route through the Mid Tyrone countryside.
Based at Beragh Red Knight’s Gaelic Football Grounds, the fully chip-timed event has in recent years attracted some of the best running talent from across the province, and beyond, infact the course record holder is none other than Project Africa Athletics athlete Vincent Kiprotich who has clocked 24:51 (2015) for the course.
Race co-ordinator Adrian Donnelly said the event continues to attract large crowds every year. “We pride ourselves in hosting one of the best organised road race events in Ulster and the growing number of participants has reflected that. We launched a new Couch to 5k programme in the build up to this year’s run, helping more people push themselves towards taking on the five mile route. But at its heart, the Beragh 5 remains a brilliant day out for all the family.”
Omagh Harriers’ Stephen Duncan has been a regular at this event over the years and won in 26:39 twelve months ago – he should be back this time around and could well be joined by Paul Barbour (Derry Track Club) and Martin Cox (Derry Track Club). The ladies race should feature the always impressive Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers), while Patricia O’Hagan (St Peter’s AC) and Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers) may also play staring roles.
Registration for the Beragh 5 takes place on Friday 14th April 2017 at 7-9pm in St Mary’s Park Pavilion. The entry fee for the 5 mile race is £10 or £12 on race day. The fee for the 5k is £7. The first 250 to register for the 5 mile event receive a t-shirt, with head-buffs for the first 250 entrants for the 5k.
Mussenden 10k Challenge:
Also on Saturday 15th April 2017, athletes will descend on the seaside village of Castlerock, close to Coleraine, for the annual Mussenden 10k Challenge, an event hosted by TVW Sports.
The scenic but challenging course will cover a multi-terrain route, taking in sections of road, grass and sandy beach, but athletes will be rewarded for their efforts with stunning coastal views and a jaunt around the historic Mussenden Temple and Downhill Castle.
Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) and Paul Carroll (Annadale Striders) have previously posted victories here and both could well return this year – in 2015, Allan cruised to victory in a course record of 33:51, which still stands.
Last night’s Castlewellan Hill & Dale winner Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC) won the ladies race in 2015 and 2016 and has placed well overall, it’ll be the same again this year should the Northern Ireland international take to the start line. Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), Ciara Toner (Springwell Running Club), Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners) and Fran McFadden (Springwell Running Club) could also feature.
Ballygalget 10k Road Race:
On Sunday 16th April 2017, East Down AC will co-host the Ballygalget Community 10k road race on the shores of Strangford Lough. The County Down event offers participants a tough but enjoyable course.
Local hero Brendan Teer (East Down AC) could well compete – having made a welcome return from injury at the Craic 10k last month (March 2017), the Northern Ireland man may well use this local race as another opportunity to test his fitness. Brendan may come up against strong opposition in the form of previous winner and club mate Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC), as well as the likes of Gareth Lyons (Ballydrain Harriers), Mark Milligan (East Down AC), Alan Johnston (Murlough AC) and Martin Wilcox (East Down AC).
In the ladies race, 2016 winner Heather Foley (Unattached) will be the stand out competitor if she makes use of the on the day entry system. Heather cruised to victory last year and has been in exceptional form recently, winning the National Duathlon Championships. Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers), Niamh Kellett (East Down AC), Joanne Foster (East Down AC) and Ciara Coffey (Unattached) will all be worth watching should they turn out on race day.
Whitehead 5 mile Road Race:
The extended Bank Holiday weekend will also take in the Whitehead 5 mile road race on Easter Monday, the 17th April 2017. Hundreds of athletes are expected to turn out for the long-standing event, which has now become almost compulsory on every runner's calendar. Starting and finishing in the village’s Main Street the tough but enjoyable course takes in three undulating laps.
Stephen Prentice (Annadale Striders) has always performed well at this event, winning on his two outings in 2014 (26:42) and last year, 2016 (26:23). Despite not having been in competitive action this year, he’ll still feature prominently at the front if he starts. However, the man to watch will be Bay Road 5k winner Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), who will prove hard to knock off top spot should he make the short trip. Mark’s best performance here was a 26:55 for third place in 2014, but he’s capable of slashing that based on recent performances, which includes a silver medal at the NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships and a win at the Larne Half Marathon.
Fellow North Belfast Harriers trio Andrew Annett, Conor Curran and John Black may also be tempted by this one, while their club mate Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers) is an almost certain starter having performed well here previously. Paul Rowan (Willowfield Harriers) and Andrew McIntyre (Orangegrove AC) will also place well.
Cathy McCourt (Unattached), Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) and Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) should lead the ladies chase for honours and all three are more than capable of taking the top prize on their day – if picking one potential winner was a must, it would probably be Amy based on her recent podium place at the Titanic 10k, when against top opposition, she again showed her potential with a third place finish. Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers) and Ruth Perioli (Ballydrain Harriers) could sneak into the top three if any of the aforementioned ladies do not compete.
As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty four parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.
Hill & Dale Series – Castlewellan (Race 1) 2017:
On Thursday 13th April 2017, just shy of three hundred athletes descended on the scenic Castlewellan Country Park in County Down for the first race of this year's Hill & Dale Series, an increasingly popular eleven race Series hosted by Newcastle AC.
The Series opener measured approximately 5 miles in distance and incorporated 900ft of ascent. William McKee (Mourne Runners) made his intentions for the Series very clear from the off in 2016 and the Mourne Runners man did the very same thing here, retaining his title in impressive fashion. William led the 296 strong field home in 34:11 (1st place), with fellow Mourne Runners star David McKee taking 2nd place in 34:39. In an excellent battle for the final podium spot, Newcastle AC's David Hicks saw off club mate David McNeilly (4th place - 36:16) to claim 3rd place in 36:11.
The host club's Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC) was a class act in the ladies race, putting in a strong performance to top the podium in 39:14 (1st place). Esther Dickson (Newry AC) enjoyed her Hill & Dale debut with a 39:44 finish for 2nd place, before Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC) crossed the line in 40:38 for 3rd place.
Top 3 Men: 1st William McKee (Mourne Runners) - 34:11, 2nd David McKee (Mourne Runners) - 34:39, 3rd David Hicks (Newcastle AC) - 36:11
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC) - 39:14, 2nd Esther Dickson (Newry AC) - 39:44, 3rd Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC) - 40:38
Full Results: Hill & Dale Series (Race 1) Castlewellan 2017 Results
Bay Road 5k Road Race 2017:
On Wednesday 12th April 2017, approximately one hundred runners took to the start line of the annual Bay Road 5k road race in Northern Ireland’s maiden city of Derry/Londonderry. The popular and well-organised event, which offers participants a flat and fast course, is hosted by City of Derry AC.
North Belfast Harriers man Mark McKinstry looked a class act at the head of the field as he saw off the ever-impressive Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) to win in 15:21 (1st place). Chris finished in 15:28 for 2nd place, before Dermot McElhinney (City of Derry AC) won an epic three way battle for the final podium place. Dermot, his Spartan club mate Kyle Doherty and Acorns AC man Darrell McKee all finished within one second of each other, with Dermot clocking 15:59 for 3rd place, Kyle 15:59 for 4th place and Darrell 16:00 for 5th place.
In the ladies race, Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) retained her title in exceptional fashion. The Northern Ireland and Ireland international took five seconds off her 2016 winning time to secure victory in 16:12 (1st place). The battle for the runners up prize matched that of the men’s blazing finish for third spot, with Sarah Lindsay (North Down AC) just edging out Kerry Bamber (Ballymena Runners) to secure 2nd place in 18:15 – Kerry, a third place finisher here twelve months ago, recorded 18:16 for 3rd place.
Top 3 Men: 1st Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 15:21, 2nd Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) – 15:28, 3rd Dermot McElhinney (City of Derry AC) – 15:59
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) – 16:12, 2nd Sarah Lindsay (North Down AC) – 18:15, 3rd Kerry Bamber (Ballymena Runners) – 18:16
Full Results: Bay Road 5k 2017 Results - Photo above by Robert McGaughey (Ballymena Runners).
NIMRA announce Inter Counties Teams:
The Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) have announced two strong senior teams for the upcoming Inter Counties Mountain Running Championships, which will take place at Broughton Heights Hill Race, Scotland on Saturday 13th May 2017 at 1pm
The course, which is the same for both male and female competitors will cover 9.6km and incorporate 600m of ascent.
NIMRA has now selected the teams for the above event:
Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) – Team Captain
Ryan Stewart (Shettleston Harriers)
Timothy Johnston (Mourne Runners)
Gavin Mulholland (Calder Valley AC)
Reserve: Shane Donnelly (Acorns AC)
Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – Team Captain
Esther Dickson (Newry AC)
Megan Wilson (Dark Peak Fell Runners)
Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers)
Reserve: Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners)
Ballymena Belles 5 mile Road Race 2017:
On Tuesday 11th April 2017, well over three hundred athletes from across the province turned out for the 4th annual Ballymena Belles 5 mile road race in Ballymena, a ladies only event organised by Ballymena Runners.
In blustery conditions, it was Acorns AC's Natalie Hall, a top ten finisher in the recent NI & Ulster 5k Championships, who secured top honours. Natalie put in a strong performance to see off Albertville Harriers athlete Sarah-Jane Guiney - Natalie crossed the line in in 32:22 (1st place), with Sarah-Jane following in 32:37 (2nd place).
Northern Ireland masters international Tracey Atkinson (Albertville Harriers) completed the top three in 33:42 (3rd place). The ever consistent Karen McLaughlin (Springwell Running Club) took 4th place in 34:01, before Sandra McKeown (Acorns AC) followed up some recent good performances with a 35:06 finish for (5th place).
Top 5 Ladies: 1st Natalie Hall (Acorns AC) - 32:22, 2nd Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers) - 32:37, 3rd Tracey Atkinson (Albertville Harriers) - 33:42, 4th Karen McLaughlin (Springwell Running Club) - 34:01, 5th Sandra McKeown (Acorns AC) - 35:06
Provisional Results: Ballymena Belles 5 mile Road Race 2017 Results
Dream Run Dublin 17 launched:
Rio Olympian Paul Pollock is offering an exciting opportunity to Northern Ireland based runners aiming to take on the Dublin Marathon in 2017.
Local running website www.nirunning.co.uk (Northern Ireland Running) has teamed up with the highly-respected marathoner, who boasts a 26.2 mile personal best of 2:15:30. Paul will take his first steps into coaching by inviting a group of 10 athletes aiming to achieve a sub three hour marathon time at the Dublin Marathon in October 2017.
Applications for the project will be welcomed from ambitious and enthusiastic athletes who are prepared to take on approximately 6 runs per week. Paul, who just last week was named on the elite professional NN Running Team, will set athlete specific training plans himself
The project will include athlete meet ups and training days in the Belfast area, approximately every 4-6 weeks. Races will build from an initial parkrun 5k on Saturday 29th April 2017, to 10k and half marathon, right through to the culmination of the programme in October at the Dublin Marathon, which incorporates the AAI National Marathon Championships.
Speaking about the project, Paul explained that the overall aim is to improve marathon times by Northern Ireland runners. His hope is that in the near future, greater numbers of local athletes will be able to represent Northern Ireland and Ireland at the highest level.
Applicants should be aware that their progression and ultimate result in Dublin will be featured exclusively by www.nirunning.co.uk – this will include photo sessions and video interviews where applicable.
For any applicants who are unfortunately not chosen or believe that the sub three hour mark is still too far beyond them, Paul can be contacted via his website www.ppmarathon.com/get-in-touch, to discuss the possibility of private coaching.
If you are interested in being part of this exciting project, please send your NAME, AGE, CURRENT PERSONAL BESTS and EMAIL ADDRESS to [email protected] by 5pm on Thursday 20th April 2017. Unfortunately applications after the closing date will not be considered under any circumstances and you MUST be able to attend the initial parkrun 5k at Victoria Park, Belfast on Saturday 29th April 2017.
Important Note: In respect of local coaches, it is preferred that applicants are NOT currently being coached.
Kerry claims National title after podium place at Great Ireland Run:
Northern Ireland’s Commonwealth Games and Olympic hero Kerry O’Flaherty (Coach: Richard Rodgers) added another prestigious title to her already impressive running career after securing National gold in Dublin this weekend (Sunday 9th April 2017).
Competing at the Great Ireland Run, which also incorporated the Athletics Ireland National 10k Championships, the Newcastle AC Steeplechaser recorded 34:38 for 3rd place overall – this was enough to see Kerry finish as 1st place Irish lady and therefore top the National podium. England’s Gemma Steel sealed overall victory in the ladies race in 34:15.
Kerry’s strong performance also assisted in ensuring that Ireland retained the Sean Kyle Cup in the international competition against England. City of Derry AC’s Catherine Whoriskey made her debut for Ireland and claimed an excellent 6th place overall in 35:55.
In the men’s race, Irish international Mark Christie (Mullingar Harriers) provided the home cheer by winning the Great Ireland Run and National title in 29:30 (1st place). Team NI Commonwealth Games athlete Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) was the first local finisher home in 12th place overall, crossing the line in 31:35.
Full results from the Great Ireland Run and AAI National 10k Championships can be found HERE.
In other news…
Local athletes also secured National titles on a University level this weekend, whilst competing at the Irish Universities Athletics Association (IUAA) Track & Field Championships in Cork. Both Queen’s University and the University of Ulster were well represented, while Northern Ireland based athletes also turned out for their Irish universities.
QUB AC trio Ben Maze, Christian Robinson and Neil Johnston produced the most impressive performances, with all three collecting gold medals. In the 400m, Ben clocked a QUB record when running 47.61 for victory, while in the 100m, his team mate Christian Robinson sprinted to gold in 11.13. In a tactical 1500m race, Neil topped off an excellent weekend for the local universities with a 4:12.98 for 1st place. Full results for the event can be found HERE.
Russell White and Emma Mitchell sink opposition at TQ10k:
Thousands of athletes took to the roads of the famous Titanic Quarter of Belfast for today’s annual TQ10K (Sunday 9th April 2017), an event hosted by Athletics NI and this year sponsored by Dale Farm Protein Milk.
In warm and blustery conditions, it was Team NI Commonwealth Games star Russell White (Dromore AC) and Northern Ireland and Ireland international Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) who secured top honours.
Elite triathlete Russell White, who boasts a 10k personal best of 31:00, was always going to be a contender, but it was the manner of his victory which caught the eye. Almost immediately after the seemingly endless field set off from the new Titanic Building start line, Russell moved to the head of the pack and pushed the pace – despite battling a notable headwind at times, he held firm, claiming victory in 31:45 (1st place). Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) tried his upmost to close the gap in the final yards and despite being unable to do so, he was rewarded with 2nd place in 31:49. Former TQ10K winner Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) completed the men’s podium in 31:52 (3rd place).
In the ladies race, a late entry from NI & Ulster 10k Champion Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) added to an already strong field, which included AAI National Marathon and Half Marathon Champion Laura Graham (Mourne Runners). Nothing separated the headlining duo until the final stages, when Queen’s University student Emma moved clear to take the win in 34:12 (1st place). Laura narrowly missed a personal best when crossing the line in 34:30 (2nd place), before Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) covered the distance in 37:28 for 3rd place.
After the race, Banbridge native Russell White, who will now travel to Banyoles in Spain for the Summer, could not hide his delight at winning on home soil – he told Athletics NI, “it was great to come away with the win today and I'm so happy that today's race coincided with the short window I have had at home. Today was mainly about getting a good hard hit out and a check of my fitness before I start my triathlon racing for the season.”
Russell added, “I just wanted a good time and wasn't focused by going for the win today, that's why I went off and ran my own pace and didn't care that nobody came with me, it was apparent after the first turn around that a fast time wasn't on the cards today due to the strong winds and nobody to use for shelter at any point, so I just kept my head down and tried not to get caught. It started to get close on the last straight but I was super happy to have done enough to hold everyone off and to have done it on my own.”
Ladies Champion Emma was just as happy, explaining that she was “delighted to win today. The only plan was to win so to do that was great!”
The family focused event also included a 1 mile Run, with Dylan McBride (Willowfield Harriers) and Eimear McBrien (Lagan Valley AC) leading winning in 5:21 and 5:56 respectively.
Top 3 Men: 1st Russell White (Dromore AC) – 31:45, 2nd Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) – 31:49, 3rd Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) – 31:52
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) – 34:12, 2nd Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 34:30, 3rd Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) – 37:28
Donard Challenge 2017:
On Saturday 8th April 2017, the eyes of the UK and Ireland mountain running fraternity was on Northern Ireland as the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) hosted the opening round of the British Fell Running Championships.
This ‘Donard Challenge’ course was designed be NIMRA to provide a testing ‘short’ fell race specifically for the British Championship Series and it did just that. Following the infamous white-out in 2014, today's stunning weather ensured the day was deemed a success even before the runners set off; albeit, the warm and sunny conditions did add to the tough test.
The race started and finished in the well-known Donard Park in Newcastle and covered 10k in distance, incorporating a total of 900m of ascent. In terms of an overview, the course took competitors towards Millstone Mountain before climbing to the summit of Slieve Donard 850m (Northern Ireland’s highest peak) then descending all the way to the finish in Donard Park (sea level).
Strong climbing from Tom Addison (Helm Hill Runners) saw the 2014 British Champion seal an impressive victory ahead of Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR 2016 podium finisher Chris Arthur (Bowland FR) as ten men came in under the hour after what proved to be an excellent race. Tom broke the preverbal tape in 58:03 (1st place), with Chris just behind in 58:17 (2nd place).
Up and coming Helm Hill Runners athlete Joshua Jardine completed the top three in 58:30 (3rd place). Northern Ireland international Gavin Mulholland (Calder Valley AC) led the local contingent into the Donard Park finish in 1:02:18 (22nd place).
In the ladies race, an excellent descent was the difference as Kelli Roberts (Ambleside AC) proved a popular winner with the gathered spectators. Kelli, who came from behind to secure victory, crossed the finish line in 1:11:39 (1st place). Eryri Harriers athlete Miranda Grant followed closely in 1:12:04 (2nd place), which was enough to see her finish just seven seconds clear of early leader Lou Roberts (Ambleside AC), who secured 3rd place in 1:12:11. Northern Ireland’s Esther Dickson (Newry AC) continued her excellent start to mountain running with a stunning running, taking 11th place in 1:17:57.
Prior to the British Championship Donard Challenge, NIMRA hosted the Northern Ireland Junior Mountain Running Championships, which saw athletes cover 6.2k with 400m of ascent. In the boy’s race, there was no splitting best friends Tony McCambridge and Conall McClean, both of St Malachy’s AC as they took joint 1st place. In the girl’s race, Springwell Running Club’s Molly Brennan (1st place) enjoyed a strong performance and win.
Podium Places – NIMRA Donard Challenge:
Top 3 Men: 1st Tom Addison (Helm Hill Runners) – 58:03, 2nd Chris Arthur (Bowland FR) – 58:17, 3rd Joshua Jardine (Helm Hill Runners) – 58:30
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Kelli Roberts (Ambleside AC) – 1:11:39, 2nd Miranda Grant (Eryri Harriers) – 1:12:04, 3rd Lou Roberts (Ambleside AC) – 1:12:11
Full Results: NIMRA Donard Challenge 2017 PROVISIONAL Results
Born 2 Run Castle Ward Half Marathon, 10k & 5k:
On Saturday 8th April 2017, local events management company Born 2 Run welcomed close to seven hundred competitors to the stunning Castle Ward Estate for the 6th annual Castle Ward Challenge Half Marathon, 10k and new this year, 5k race.
In warm and sunny conditions, runners started in the shadow of the majestic 18th century Castle Ward mansion and enjoyed a route that took them on a tour through the estate which is combination of forest trail, open pastures and shoreline paths along the banks of Strangford Lough.
The half marathon event attracted notable talent and it was podium regular Don Travers (Newry City Runners) who excelled. Don continued his recent good form with a comfortable victory, cruising across the line in 1:21:13 (1st place). North Belfast Harriers’ Martin Rea, a pacer at the London Marathon, covered the distance in 1:27:22 for 2nd place, before Beechmount Harriers man Colin Drain completed the top three in 1:28:10 (3rd place).
Another athlete in good form, East Down AC’s Joanne Foster, picked up the top prize in the ladies half marathon. Joanne led the field home in 1:39:34 (1st place), well ahead of Andrea Kennedy (Unattached), who recorded 1:42:23 for 2nd place. Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC) covered the distance in 1:44:37 (3rd place), just seeing off Ballydrain Harriers’ Amanda Jackson who had a gun to tape time of 1:44:41 (4th place).
In the associated 10k race, Orangegrove AC’s Andrew McIntyre eased to victory in 38:43 (1st place), while Mourne Runners’ Joanne Graham took top honours in the ladies race in 45:37 (1st place). Mark Cornett (St Peter’s AC) was the standout competitor in the 5k, winning in 19:53 (1st place) – in the ladies 5k, young Kirsti Foster (East Down AC) won in 22:27 (1st place).
Weekend Preview: Donard Challenge, Titanic 10k and more…
The local running fraternity have an epic weekend of action to look forward to over the coming days – the eyes of the British Isles and beyond will be on the Mourne Mountains as the British Fell Running Championships come to town, while for the road runners… and some potential spring marathoners, the TQ10K will offer the perfect opportunity to set a new personal best over a flat and fast course.
That’s not all, the Born 2 Run Events bandwagon will make its way towards Castle Ward, while a host of Northern Ireland based athletes will take on the Great Ireland 10k in Dublin (Ireland), which incorporates the AAI National 10k Championships – two local ladies will also represent Ireland in the team competition.
Our weekend preview will focus on the above races and also note some events happening elsewhere inside and outside of Northern Ireland this weekend… ENJOY!
NIMRA Donard Challenge Mountain Race:
On Saturday 8th April 2017, Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association will host the first race of this year’s British Fell Running Championships in Newcastle, County Down.
Prior to the 'main event' kicking off, there will be a Junior National Mountain Running Championship race taking place at 10am. Full details are available HERE.
The Donard Challenge race will see some of the UK and Ireland's top fell runners descend on the seaside town, in an attempt to summit Northern Ireland’s highest peak and return to Donard Park in the quickest possible time.
This course was designed be the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) to provide a testing ‘short’ fell race specifically for the British Championship Series. The race will start and finish in the well-known Donard Park, Newcastle, Co. Down.
Covering 10k in distance with 900m of climbing the route offers a challenge to both the new and experience mountain athlete. In terms of an overview, the course will take in Millstone Mountain before climbing to the summit of Slieve Donard 850m (Northern Ireland’s highest peak) then descending all the way to the finish in Donard Park (sea level).
The route: The race starts at the football pitch in Donard Park and follows the forest road to Donard Bridge, then taking the rough cobbled path on the south side of the Glen River before turning south-east using the forest paths to reach CP1: Quarry/wall (Drinneevar 300m, GR376287). Now heading into the open mountain, participants will ascend on rough steep ground to reach CP2, Millstone Mountain summit (460m, GR373285). A short descent off Millstone will be followed by the main climb to the summit of Slieve Donard. Underfoot the ground is mostly heather turning to grass with patches of boulders as it steepens towards the summit. Approaching the summit, runners should pass the lesser cairn first, which is 250 metres before, and 30m below CP3 the actual summit of Slieve Donard (850m, GR358277), located beside the tower at the corner of the Mourne Wall.
From here the route is downhill all the way to the Donard Park finish line. The section to CP4, at the Quarry Gate (320m GR371293) is a mixture of boulders, heather and grass with stony patches, which becomes steeper on the approach to the gateway into the Quarry. Organisers have advised that extra care should be taken on the descent if conditions are misty, as the ridge is both broad and deceptive. From here the quarry take small marked paths through Donard Wood on the south side of Glen River into Donard Park and the finish.
In normal circumstances, Carnethy 5 Hill Race (Scotland) and the Black Combe Fell Race (England) can be considered as relevant in terms of current form, given the distances, terrain and climbing. Both these events, as well as the English Championship opening race at Long Mynd Valleys, appear to have brought together a competitive field of athletes, likewise this event – the Donard Challenge.
The ladies race will see top mountain stars, such as the Carnethy Hill Running Club’s Jasmin Paris, Ambleside AC’s Lou Roberts and the experienced Mercia Fell Runners trio Mel Price, Sarah Ridgeway and Emma Gould battle it out against Helen Berry (Holmfirth Harriers) and the youthful Hannah Russell (Helm Hill Runners), Nichola Jackson (Preston AC) and Bronwen Jenkinson (Eryri Harriers).
Other top ladies set to start include Shona Robertson (Shettleton Harriers), Judith Jepson (Dark Peak Fell Runners) and Northern Ireland athletes Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC), Ciara Largey (Omagh Tri Club), Esther Dickson (Newry AC) and Jackie Toal (BARF), amongst others, will ensure the eventual victor will have to work hard for it.
Jasmin Paris (pictured above) was exceptional in 2016, competing strongly against both male and female competition. In what some would describe as an ‘untouchable’ year the Carnethy HRC athlete, was crowned Champion of the Skyrunning Extreme World Series, as well as smashing records at the three iconic UK ‘Rounds’, The Bob Graham Round, The Ramsey Round and The Paddy Buckley Round. Aside from that, Jasmin won the Isle of Jura Fell Race and the Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain Trail Race, as well as producing other significant performances along the way.
Lou Roberts is an obvious contender in our eyes. The current British Fell Running Champion ran a good race here in 2016 (Donard Commedagh Horseshoe). More recently, Lou took third place at the 16k Black Combe Fell race in England, behind winner Anna Lupton and the youthful Hannah Russell. Another impressive run at Black Combe was that of the aforementioned Hannah Russell. Hannah took second place on the ladies podium. The steep climbs here suit Hannah, but the faster sections will also favour the Carnethy 5 Hill Race winner. The popular Carnethy 5 event wasn’t Hannah’s first win of 2017, in January she took victory in the Scouts Scar race in the Lake district.
Mercia’s English International Fell runner Mel Price a former V40 Champion is another contender, but her competitiveness in the open female category is what makes her worthy of mention. Mel's expertise lies around this distance and this type of course, that said the veteran star showed good form in a previous visit to these shores, taking fifth place at the longer Seven Sevens event in 2015. The 2016 British Fell Running Silver medallist will be a podium contender.
Likewise, three time V40 British Champion Jude Jepson (Dark Peak Fell Runners), will enjoy this course in current conditions. Helen Berry (Homfirth) always races sparingly, but when she puts herself on a start line she performs well – a good competitor. Helen took 4th place at the Donard Commadagh Horseshoe event in 2016 and 3rd at the Seven Sevens in 2015. The Homfirth lady is comfortable on this terrain and will be in contention for a podium place.
Two ladies to watch out for are Preston’s Nichola Jackson and welsh athlete Bronwen Jenkinson (pictured above). Bronwen is the current U23 British Fell Running Champion. In 2016 the Eryri Harrier won the British and Irish Junior Mountain Running Championships, finished 2nd in Home Countries International and took a fantastic 3rdin the World Mountain Running Championships (Bulgaria). Having ran well at the Donard Commedagh Horseshoe in 2016, the talented youth returned to Northern Ireland earlier this year and ran a speedy 10:23 at the 3k race at Armagh International events. Nichola is a former U23 Champion (3 times) and has adapted to the senior ranks impressively, with wins at Box Hill Fell Race, the Wadsworth Trog and recently took 2nd place to GB International Victoria Wilkinson at the English Championship opener in Long Mynd Valleys.
Sarah Ridgeway is the current Skyrunning UK National Champion.
Last October Sarah visited Northern Ireland and raced well against Jasmin Paris in the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR event, eventually finishing 2nd. Over the shorter distance, the Welsh International will compete well. Sarah is comfortable over the rough ground and is a good experienced mountain and fell runner. Top Navigator, if the mist is down!
Emma Gould and Shona Robertson are not to be discounted over this route either, both have fantastic experience in testing conditions and will enjoy this course. Shona, a Scottish International, took a V40 Bronze medal at the World Mountain Running Association event in 2016, whilst Emma has proven her talent both a junior and senior level in recent years.
At local level, current NIMRA Champion Shileen O’Kane will be looking to lead the Northern Ireland contingent home. That said, the Lagan Valley legend will have to hold off the always impressive Ciara Largey and Jackie Toal, as well as Esther Dickson who has stepped towards mountain running from a strong road background. Esther won the opening round of the NIMRA Championship at Glenariff Mountain Race in March, whilst Ciara, a former Lagan Valley Orienteer, took a good 2nd place behind Dromore AC’s Diane Wilson at Slieve Gullion the week before. If there was a prize for most improved mountain and Ultra trail runner of 2016, Jackie would get it. That good form continued into 2017, with a fantastic win at Wicklow Way 51k Ultra 3 weeks ago. Jackie can climb very well over this terrain and will cope on the downhill too. The shorter distance won’t concern her.
Although the 2017 Northern Ireland leg of the British Championship start list doesn't boast regular names such as Scottish International Mountain Runner Finlay Wild (Lochaber AC), previous Champion Rob Jebb (Bingley Harriers), Salomon's Shettleston Harrier Tom Owens and former English Fell Running Champion Simon Bailey (Mercia FR), nor the Isle of Man’s popular Lloyd Taggart of Manx Fell Runners, it does contain an outstanding crop of international fell running talent.
The main contenders are likely to be Carl Bell (Keswick AC), Rob Hope (Pudsley and Bramley AC), Danny Hope (Horwich RMI Harriers), Kim Collison (Borrowdale FR), Rhys Findlay Robinson (Dark Peak), Morgan Donnelly (Borrowdale FR), Tom Addison (Helm Hill Runners), Jethro Lennox (Shettleston Harriers), Andrew Fallas (Carnethy HRC) and Joe Symonds (Shettleston Harriers), amongst a few other notables.
Calder Valley Fell Runner Ben Mounsey, Chris Arthur (Bowland), the ever present veteran Karl Gray (Calder Valley FR) and the youthful Joshua Jardine (Helm Hill Runners, as well as Northern Ireland men Jonny Steede (Glens Runners), Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC), Gavin Mullholland (Calder Valley FR) and Ryan Stewart (Shettleston Harriers) will also be at the sharp end of the field. There is no sign of local boys William McKee and David McKee (Mourne Runners) or Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) on the start list, but it's expected that they would want to test themselves against this line-up given their recent form against top talent.
Former (four times) British Champion Rob Hope (pictured above), current British champion Rhys Findlay-Robinson and the man on form Carl Bell look like the favourites here. Each of the three have shown form in 2017, but its Carl who has impressed the most. In March alone, the Keswick man took wins at Jarretts Jaunt, Carrock Fell Race and the 16k Black Combe event, following that up with 3rd place finish at the aforementioned Long Mynd Valleys race before a further victory at the New Dungeon Ghyll race on 1st April. We would expect this trio to lead this pack out, accompanied by some locals and possibly Shettleston pair Joe Symonds and Jethro Lennox. Salomon GB athlete Joe has returned to the fell running scene having spent some productive time in the ultra racing community, whilst Jethro has worked on some speed – taking the Scottish National Masters Cross Country title since his last visit here. Jethro knows this area well, his strength is evident and with his speed and descending ability, he'll be a podium contender.
Helm Hill Runners normally travel in mass, this event looks to be no different. The two standout athletes on their team sheet look like Tom Addison and young Joshua Jardine. Tom was the 2014 English Fell Running Champion. But more recently (25th March) won the first round of 2017 English Championships at Long Mynd Valleys Fell Race. Earlier in the year, Tom took 2nd place at the Iconic Carnethy 5 Hill Race in the Pentlands. Joshua is a youthful talent that has come to the fore recently. He shows great potential and will progress well at Helm Hill Runners. Racing wise, Joshua took 2nd (behind the speedy Carl Bell –above) at New Dungeon Fell Race last weekend, clearly beating the extremely talented Robb Jebb.
Calder Valley Fell Runners, Karl Gray and Ben Mounsey may not be in contention for the win, but will be looking for a podium spot. Karl, a V45 World Champion Mountain Runner took 3rd place at the recent Heptonstall fell race in what was a tight finish, whilst GB International Ben finished 2nd to Rob Jebb at the 19 mile Wadsworth Trog in February. Northern Ireland man, Gavin Mulholland will be looking for a similar result to his Calder Valley team mates, given his improvements in recent years, the NI International should not be discounted, particularly over this route.
Kim Collison (pictured right with Eoin Lennon) is a man known to the local mountain running scene in Northern Ireland. The GB International Trail and Mountain star took victory in the inaugural Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain Trail Race in the Mourne Mountains back in 2014, before following that up with a win at the iconic Seven Sevens British Championships event in 2015.
Kim has the pace and the obvious experience to cope well here. Another Borrowdale man, Morgan Donnelly is participant who is also familiar with these mountains, through years of competition. Morgan, a former British Champion, impressed recently over the short Causey Pike Fell Race in March. At that event Morgan finished a close 2nd to Salomon International Athlete and top fell runner Ricky Lightfoot.
Three times winner of the gruelling Fellsman Ultra, Adam Perry is another man worth considering. The Inov-8 athlete’s talent over the long distance speaks for itself, he can climb, but will need a turn of pace to stay with the likes of those previously mentioned. Another man with the ability to make the podium in this classic event is Danny Hope. The England International Fell Runner took 3rd place at Black Combe on 11th March (for the second year in a row) with an impressive run.
Andrew Fallas stepped up a level in 2015 and continued that form in 2016, with impressive runs at the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Race and then 6th place finishes at two Syrunning Extreme World Series events, at Tromso and Glencoe, against very talented competition. The Scottish international runner is good over the longer distance, but we think that this course and distance will compliment his talents.
Podium finisher at last year’s Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR, Chris Arthur (Bowland FR) is man who has caught the eye lately, with a few impressive results. He won the Grisedale Grind Fell Race this week in a new course record – he also took third place at the Carrock Fell Race last month, then a week later at the previously mentioned Long Mynd Valleys Championship race he narrowly missed the podium, taking fourth place. Along with the ever-present Martin Mikkelsen-Barron (who finish behind Chris at the Grisedale Grind Fell Race), Chris is one to watch.
Last but by no means least, are the Northern Ireland hopefuls. Jonny Steede, a former NIMRA Champion took a break from fell racing and went on to represented Ireland at the IAU Ultra Trail World championships in Annecy in 2015. Jonny has been concentrating on road speed of late, winning the Antrim 5 mile road race (30/03/2017) as well as the first mountain race of the season – Slieve Gullion (4th March). Jonny has all the attributes to make a big impression on this course.
Ryan Stewart, now of Shettleston Harriers, is a very strong climber and led the field to the summit of Glenariff Mountain Race (finished 5th overall). Aside from running, he showed a little bit of fitness on a recent TV appearance, on the BBCs Special Forces – Ultimate Hell week in South Africa. Ryan will be looking for a good result here, he’s in good shape! Another Scottish based Northern Ireland man Eoin Lennon, running for Carnethy Hill Running Club, is an Irish International Mountain Trail Runner. The podium finisher at Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain Trail Race can climb well and has a lot of pace.
Local man David Hicks (Newcastle AC) took 2nd place in the NIMRA season opener at Slieve Gullion, behind Jonny Steede. The Northern Ireland International Mountain Runner, recently tried his hand in Ultra Running, taking 17th place at the Wicklow Way 51k Ultra (25th March). David has been training on the course and will be looking for a top local finish. Ballymena Runner Connor Reid is another man who has spent a good bit of time on the course and will hope to be one of the top NI finisher.
IMPORTANT NOTE: NIMRA have advised that no on the day entries are available for this event. Final race day instructions can be found HERE.
Born 2 Run Castle Ward Half Marathon, 10k & 5k:
Also on Saturday 8th April 2017, local events management company Born 2 Run will welcome hundreds of athletes to the stunning Castle Ward Estate for the 6th annual Castle Ward Challenge Half Marathon, 10k and new this year, 5k race.
The start line is in the shadow of the majestic 18th century Castle Ward mansion and runners will enjoy a tour through the estate which is combination of forest trail, open pastures and shoreline paths along the banks of Strangford Lough.
Amongst those chasing prizes will be Northern Ireland international Don Travers (Newry City Runners) – Don will compete in the 13.1 mile event and should dominate, with David Graham (Olympian Triathlon Club) the only man likely to trouble him. Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC), Andrea Heslip (Dromore AC) and Amanda Jackson (Ballydrain Harriers) look like the most likely candidates for the ladies podium barring any late entries.
East Coast AC duo Phil Smyth and Brian Maltman have been impressing of late and will both race in the 10k event, with North Belfast Harriers man Gerard McNamara being another familiar name on the start list. The fast improving Joanne Graham (Mourne Runners) should go well in the ladies 10k, but will have to fend off Lorna Fitzpatrick (Murlough AC), Judith Irwin (Ballymena Runners) and Nichola Swann (Invictus Triathlon Club) should she wish to top the podium.
Dale Farm Protein Milk TQ10K:
On Sunday 9th April 2017, former TQ10K Champion Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) and AAI National Marathon and Half Marathon Champion Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) will start as favourites for this weekend’s TQ10K, hosted by Athletics NI and this year sponsored by Dale Farm Protein Milk.
Almost 1,400 competitors will descend on Belfast’s Titanic Quarter for the community focused race programme which also offers a 1 Mile Run for all the family (starting at 12.30pm), providing a perfect atmosphere builder for the main event, which kicks off at 1.15pm.
In 2015, Northern Ireland and Ireland international Conor Duffy saw off Foyle Valley AC’s Scott Rankin to become TQ10K Champion in 31:36. The Glaslough Harriers man, who recently picked up a bronze medal at the NI & Ulster Senior XC in Lurgan, will be keen to regain his title after missing a podium place in 2016 when he finished fourth.
However, despite starting as favourite, Conor will have to be in top form if he wants to finish ahead of the very man who edged him out of the podium places twelve months ago, Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC). Chris’ performance on the flat and fast roads of the Titanic Quarter last year appeared to catapult him to a new level – guided by coach Mark Kirk, he has gone on to pick up prizes at several prestigious events and just last month, recorded an excellent 31:07 at the SPAR Craic 10k in Belfast, finishing as runner up.
Triathlete Russell White (Dromore AC) has a 10k personal best of 31:00 which he set in England in 2016; should he get close to this time, he’ll play a prominent part in proceedings. In-form David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) ran a 32:03 personal best for a podium place at Jimmy’s 10k last month and will be in the mix here, as will 2015 third place finisher Paul Barbour (Derry Track Club), who impressed at last week’s Omagh Half Marathon with a 1:13:10 finish for third place.
The ladies race will feature a host of in-form athletes, none more so than Mourne Runners’ Laura Graham. After finishing third at the TQ10K in 2016 (in 35:21), the Kilkeel based athlete has improved her 10k personal best by almost a minute – it now sits at 34:28. Two weeks ago, Laura smashed her 13.1 mile personal best to win the Larne Half Marathon in 1:16:59; the TQ10K will be her final outing prior to taking on the London Marathon in two weeks.
NI & Ulster Masters XC Champion Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers), who ran 36:50 at Jimmy’s 10k will be worth watching, as will North Down AC’s Rachel Gibson and City of Lisburn AC’s Maeve Lavery. Rachel clocked 37:46 at the recent Jimmy’s 10k, while Maeve ran 37:40 at the SPAR Craic 10k last month. Katie Moore (North Down AC) and Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) will also feature at the front.
SPAR Great Ireland Run (Ireland):
In Dublin (Ireland) on Sunday 9th April 2017, a host of Northern Ireland based athletes will be in action at the SPAR Great Ireland Run, which will incorporate the AAI National 10k Championships.
Amongst those vying for medals will by City of Derry AC’s NI & Ulster Senior XC Champion Aaron Doherty, his Spartan club mate Catherine Whoriskey and Newcastle AC’s Olympic hero Kerry O’Flaherty – Catherine and Kerry have been selected to represent Ireland in the team competition. Other athletes to look out for include Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC), Eddie Cooke (North Belfast Harriers) and London Marathon bound Simon Murray (Annadale Striders).
Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend…
Saturday 8th April 2017: Gortin 10k & 5k Road Races – Gortin Primary School, Gortin – 12pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day!)
Sunday 9th April 2017: Feeny Fast & Furious 10k & 5k Road Races – Feeny Community Cente – 11am (Entries AVAILABLE on the day!)
Other events taking place outside Northern Ireland this weekend…
Outside Northern Ireland, there is expected to be a large local representation at the Irish Universities Athletic Association (IAUU) Track & Field Championships in Cork (Ireland) over the course of this weekend (Friday 7th and Saturday 8th April 2017).
There will also be local runners competing, and pacing, at the Rotterdam Marathon in Holland on Sunday 9th April 2017 – some of those competing may be chasing Athletics Ireland IAAF World Championships and Athletics NI Commonwealth Games qualifying standards.
As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty four parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page
Subway Holywood Exchange Half Marathon & 10k 2017... and more:
On Sunday 2nd April 2017, hundreds of athletes from across Northern Ireland descended on Holywood Exchange just outside Belfast for the inaugural Subway Holywood Exchange Half Marathon and 10k road races. The Half Marathon was also part of the prestigious Pure Running Half Marathon Series 2017.
The Half Marathon route covered two laps of an ‘out and back’ route with a turning point on Airport Road West before following the same road all the way back through Tillysburn Gates and onwards towards the finish line back at Holywood Exchange. The event was organised in conjunction with Charity Partner ‘The MS Society’ and a guaranteed percentage of each entry fee will go directly to The MS Society.
It was a day when pre-race favourites lived up to expectation, with Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers) and Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) winning their respective races. Andrew looked a class act in the men’s race, powering through 6.5 miles alone in 39:03 – he held the pace to win in 1:16:24 (1st place). Brian Taggart (Sperrin Harriers) followed in 1:17:53 (2nd place), while Connor Johnston (Unattached) crossed the line in 1:18:15 for 3rd place.
In the ladies race, established athlete Judith Lonnen led from start to finish. The City of Lisburn AC star cruised to victory in 1:24:44 (1st place). Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers) secured a well-deserved 2nd place in 1:25:23 – Larne based international triathlete Laura Wylie recorded a personal best of 1:30:33 for 3rd place; showing excellent potential over the distance.
In the associated 10k road race, which included one lap instead of the two covered by the 13.1 mile runners, it was David Graham (Unattached) and Claire Quigley (North Down AC) who excelled. David led the way in 33:49 (1st place) with Claire winning the ladies race in 42:10 (1st place).
Full Results: Subway Holywood Half Marathon & 10k 2017 Results
Elsewhere (on Sunday 2nd April 2017)….
At the Seapatrick 10k road race in Banbridge, Dromore AC’s ever improving Stephen O’Gorman put in an impressive show of front running to take top spot in 34:33 (1st place). The ladies race was won by Club Pulse Runners’ Erin Havern in 46:43 (1st place). Full results for the event are available HERE.
Meanwhile, close to Newry, Northern Ireland international Don Travers (Newry City Runners) was in top form as he broke the tape comfortably to win the Hilltown 10k road race in 35:28 (1st place). In the ladies race, emerging Mourne Runners athlete Joanne Graham took top honours in 43:24 (1st place). Full results for the event can be found HERE.
SPAR Omagh Half Marathon 2017:
Wet and windy conditions did not dampen the spirits of thousands of athletes as they took on the 28th annual SPAR Omagh Half Marathon today (Saturday 1st April 2017).
Despite the aforementioned conditions, there were also impressive winning times posted by Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) and Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC).
Pre-race favourite and previous winner of the event Stephen Duncan, a Northern Ireland and Ireland international, put in a strong performance to seal victory. Despite the best efforts of the chasing Mark Long (Foyle Valley AC) and Paul Barbour (Derry Track Club), Stephen broke the tape in 1:10:05 (1st place) for top honours. Mark himself had an exceptional race, taking 2nd place in 1:12:50, before the returning Paul Barbour completed the top three in 1:13:10 (3rd place).
Catherine Whoriskey continued her recent good form with another notable performance and ultimately a comfortable win. The Spartan athlete led from gun to tape to seal victory in a new personal best of 1:16:52 (1st place). Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) narrowly missed a podium place at the Larne Half Marathon two weeks ago but went one better here with a runners up place in 1:23:03 (2nd place) – Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) replicated her podium place from this event in 2016 with another quality run for 3rd place in 1:24:43.
Top 3 Men: 1st Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) – 1:10:05, 2nd Mark Long (Foyle Valley AC) – 1:12:50, 3rd Paul Barbour (Derry Track Club) – 1:13:10
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) – 1:16:52, 2nd Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) – 1:23:03, 3rd Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:24:43
Full Results: SPAR Omagh Half Marathon (inc 5k Run) 2017 Results
Note: Remember - If you would like to catch up on the news from March 2017, including this weekend's preview, just click HERE. You can also view the 'news' archive by using the navigation bar at the top of the page.