Special Preview: Record numbers expected at ROTG 2017...
After a busy and exciting few days of Christmas racing, it's now time to look ahead to the New Year and arguably one of the most popular and atmospheric events on the local running calendar, Race Over the Glens, hosted by Ballymena Runners.
Although, this 'Special Preview' will focus on ROTG, it isn't the only race taking place over the New Year. Earlier today (Saturday 31st December 2016), hundreds of athletes enjoyed the Lough 5 mile road race (results for the event are available on our website HERE, while a good number are expected to descend on Victoria Park in Belfast for the NI Duathlon 10k and 5k road races on Monday (2nd January 2017).
Race Over The Glens:
On Monday 2nd January 2017, record numbers are expected to travel to Glenariff Forest Park in the heart of the scenic Glens of Antrim, just outside Waterfoot (County Antrim), for the 21st annual running of the Race Over the Glens. Interestingly, in its first ever running in 1995, the race attracted just twenty-five runners; more recently, many more competitors have shown discipline, forgoing the most popular party night of the year (New Years Eve) to ensure they are in tip-top shape to toe the line in the hope of kicking off the New Year in style. Some will be happy that this year is slightly different, with the race being moved back 24 hours to take place on the second day of the year – however, some will miss the ‘proper’ start to the New Year.
Due to tree disease and a number of other factors, the course has changed several times over the years, it now measures approximately 6.5 miles in distance, taking in approximately 320 metres of ascent. All runners will start with their own hopes and expectations, however, at the front of the pack competition for top spot is expected to be fierce – several previous winners could well return. Reigning Champions Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) and Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) are almost certain starters and may well be joined by previous winners such as Jarlath Falls (Ballymena & Antrim AC), James McIlroy (Larne AC), Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) and Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC), amongst others.
In the men’s race, Mark McKinstry may go head-to-head with Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), the man he partnered to an emphatic victory at the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker earlier this week. Both men have enjoyed an exceptional year and should they line up together, it will make for an epic race – throw in North Belfast Harriers’ Andrew Annett, who was third here last year, and that does wet the appetite for a new year encounter to remember.
On their day, any of the aforementioned trio are capable of taking the ‘King of the Glen’ crown! England based Larne man James McIlroy knows this course well and could add extra depth to the stacked field, while Jarlath Falls, who has been off the scene of late, may well return to action given his love for this event – both men will be worth watching considering their immense experience and talent. Glens Runners star Jonny Steede is another athlete who knows what it takes to win here and after returning to good form recently, he will most certainly be in the mix should he make use of the on the day entry system.
Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers), Kevin O’Boyle (Unattached), Connor Reid (Ballymena Runners), Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners), James Trainor (Dub Runners), Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers) and Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) will all be vying for a top ten spot, while Larne AC trio Andy Gregg, Bryan Magee and David Noble, and Willowfield Harriers’ Chris Moren, will all run well.
Shileen O’Kane was crowned ‘Queen of the Glens’ here last year and will be gunning to make it two in a row – based on her recent outings, there is every possibility that the versatile Northern Ireland international will do that! Previous winner Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC) will provide strong opposition if she competes, as will last year’s other podium finishers Sharon Leetch and Paula Arthur-McCarthy, both from Ballymena Runners.
Springwell Running Club’s Ciara Toner has returned to action recently with a win at the Eglinton Trail Race, which definitely puts her in a strong position in terms of podium contenders. The same could be said for experienced Northern Ireland international Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners) and the always impressive Claire MacAuley (Bellahouston Harriers).
Irish 24 hour Champion Louise Smart (County Antrim Harriers) will also compete – albeit a bit short for the emerging ultra-running star, she should still go well, as will Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers), Catriona Kerr (Glens Runners), Karen McLaughlin (Springwell Running Club) and Catherine McLaughlin (Glens Runners).
Belfast New Year 5k and 10k:
Also on Monday the 2nd January 2017, NI Duathlon are hosting both a 5k and 10k road race in support of their Belfast Tandem Cycling Group. Registration for the events will be open from 8am with both races starting at 10am at the Sam Thompson Bridge, Airport Road, Belfast, BT3 9EF. Recently this course has produced quite a few PB's (and one new course record!)
The 5k and 10k are both officially measured road races around the flat, scenic Victoria Park in Belfast, starting and finishing at the Sam Thompson Bridge with timing mats at the start and end of each lap of each race. Entry is £10 online HERE or you can pay and enter on the day. The 5k is open to ages 11+ whilst the 10k is open to ages 15+ (Under 16's can enter with an adult on the day). Each race has prizes for the top three male and female finishers, prizes for first place in each age category, chip timing, bananas, water, 10% off at Athlos Triathlon store and... medals!
The last time the 5k was run back in November 2016, Brendan Guiney (Albertville Harriers) along with City of Lisburn AC runner Kelly Neely, ran out victorious. With online entries coming in thick and fast until midnight on Sunday 1st January 2017 it is likely that there will be a bigger field in both distances than before with runners of all levels keen to bag a PB on a totally flat course at the start of a New Year. Registration and parking are beside the Sam Thompson Bridge. Arrive early to avoid a queue!
Northern Ireland’s parkrun events will have their own local arrangements over New Year period, so we recommend that if you would like more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, you should visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.
Castlewellan Christmas Cracker 2016:
On Tuesday 27th December 2016, a record number of six hundred team descended on the County Down village of Castlewellan for the 33rd annual running of the well-organised Castlewellan Christmas Cracker, hosted by Newcastle AC.
The festive favourite requires athletes to pair up with another runner to complete the course; some opt to run ahead of their team mate, but wait at the 'meeting point' close to the finish, while others run together the whole way.
The course, which measured approximately 8.6 miles in distance, started in the town centre before taking the competitors into the scenic Castlewellan Country Park, where they would negotiate several tough ascents and some excellent trails before heading towards the atmospheric finish line.
At the head of the seemingly endless field, it was pre-race favourites Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) and Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) who impressed most. The Northern Ireland international’s, both of whom seem to excel over this type of course, covered the route in an excellent 49:47 (1st place). This was enough to see them finish just over a minute clear of North Belfast Harriers duo Andrew Annett and Lindsay Gordon, who took 2nd place in 50:59. Triathlete Russell White (Dromore AC) and mountain runner Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) completed the top three in 51:18 (3rd place).
In the mixed team category, it was a similar situation, with pre-event favourites William McKee and Laura Graham, both of Mourne Runners, dominating proceedings. The ever-consistent pairing recorded a brilliant 57:53 to secure 1st place. Stuart Kennedy (Beechmount Harriers) and Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) followed in 1:01:07 (2nd place), before Newry AC pair Gavin Crilly and Esther Dickson crossed the line in 1:01:37 (3rd place).
Ballydrain Harriers duo Amanda Perry and Denise Logue edged what was a very close ladies race, seeing off North East Runners ladies Mary Hearty and Laura O’Driscoll to win in 1:05:32 (1st place). Mary and Laura clocked 1:05:46 (2nd place) for the runners up spot, while Beechmount Harriers pair Catherine Diver and Gerrie Short secured the final podium place in 1:06:32 (3rd place).
Top 3 Male Teams: 1st Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) & Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) – 49:47, 2nd Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers) & Lindsay Gordon (North Belfast Harriers) – 50:59, 3rd Russell White (Dromore AC) & Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) – 51:18
Top 3 Mixed Teams: 1st William McKee (Mourne Runners) & Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 57:53, 2nd Stuart Kennedy (Beechmount Harriers) & Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) – 1:01:07, 3rd Gavin Crilly (Newry AC) & Esther Dickson (Newry AC) – 1:01:37
Top 3 Ladies Teams: 1st Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers) & Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers) – 1:05:32, 2nd Mary Hearty (North East Runners) & Laura O’Driscoll (North East Runners) – 1:05:46, 3rd Catherine Diver (Beechmount Harriers) & Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) – 1:06:32
Greencastle 5 mile Road Race 2016:
On Monday 26th December 2016 (Boxing Day), well over one thousand athletes turned out for the 31st annual running of the Greencastle 5 mile road race in County Tyrone, a popular fixture on the festive racing calendar.
It was no surprise that Olympian Paul Pollock lived up to the pre-race hype surrounding his attempt to make it three successive wins at the Greencastle 5. The talented Northern Ireland and Ireland international looked a class act as he broke the tape in a swift 24:52 (1st place), despite the windy conditions. The always impressive Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) completed the course in 25:25 for 2nd place, while Conan McCaughey crossed the line in 25:57 (3rd place)
Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) ran out victorious in the ladies race after an excellent performance. In what has been an exceptional year for the Spartan athlete, Catherine saw off the challenge of Olympian and AAI National Marathon medallist Catriona Jennings (Letterkenny AC) to secure top honours in 28:12 (1st place). Catriona claimed 2nd place in 28:56, before Cathy McCourt (Unattached) completed the top three in 30:32 (3rd place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) – 24:52, 2nd Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) – 25:25, 3rd Conan McCaughey (Derry Track Club) – 25:57
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) – 28:12, 2nd Catriona Jennings (Letterkenny AC) – 28:56, 3rd Cathy McCourt (Unattached) – 30:32
Full Results: Greencastle 5 mile Road Race 2016 PROVISIONAL Results (Photo by Brian MacGrada)
BARF Turkey Trot 2016:
On Monday 26th December 2016 (Boxing Day), nearly one hundred mountain runners descended on the Mourne Mountains for the BARF (Belfast Association of Rock Climbers & Fell Runners) 'Turkey Trot'.
The interesting route, which covered 5.7 miles in distance and included 435 metres of ascent, started and finished at the bottom of the Trassey Track and took competitors to the Col between Slieve Meelmore and Slieve Bearnagh and onwards towards Slieve Meelbeg and Slieve Meelmore, before descending to Happy Valley and along the Ulster Way back to the Trassey Track.
Cambridge University student and well-known orienteer Paul Pruzina (Ballydrain Harriers) stole the headlines with a dominant performance at the head of the pack. Paul bettered his runners up position from 2015 when he cruised to victory in an impressive 46:00 (1st place). Jack Millar (Club Unknown) followed just over three minutes later in 49:09, before Newcastle AC’s Zak Hanna recorded 49:41 for 3rd place.
In the ladies race, IMRA athlete Moira O’Sullivan, a regular at the annual Turkey Trot, secured top spot in 58:47 (1st place); interestingly, this was nearly five minutes quicker than Moira’s finishing time from 2015, when she took third place. Megan Wilson (East Down AC) impressed with a 1:00:12 finish for 2nd place, while Bethany Haugh (Mourne Runners) continued her rise through the ranks with a podium place – Bethany crossed the line in 1:00:29 for 3rd place.
Top 3 Men: 1st Pruzina (Ballydrain Harriers) – 46:00, 2nd Jack Millar (Club Unknown) – 49:09, 3rd Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) – 49:41
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Moira O’Sullivan (Unattached) – 58:47, 2nd Megan Wilson (East Down AC) – 1:00:12, 3rd Bethany Haugh (Mourne Runners) – 1:00:29
Full Results: BARF Turkey Trot 2016 Results
Special Preview: Christmas 2016...
The Christmas and New Year period is renowned for over indulgence and festivities! It offers some well-deserved time away from the day to day stresses and extra time to fit in some good training… and racing – it’s great!
After Santa has been, the turkey barely has enough time to cool before Boxing Day arrives and signals a busy period in the sporting world. In terms of running, there are several notable events over the Christmas period and of course, we (NiRunning) will be on hand to cover these as best as we can!
This preview will also feature the 31st annual Greencastle 5 mile road race - a Boxing Day classic – and BARF’s popular ‘Turkey Trot'.
Alongside these, we’ll look ahead to the always popular Castlewellan Christmas Cracker. Of course… we’ll also give a mention to all of the other races taking place between now and the New Year.
Greencastle 5 mile Road Race:
On Monday 26th December 2016 (Boxing Day), Greencastle AC will host the 31st annual running of the hugely popular Greencastle 5 mile road race in County Tyrone. Online entries have exceeded the 700 mark suggesting that a record number of athletes will take to the start line - the action at the head of the field looks set to be epic.
Despite storms Barbara and Conor attempting to play havoc with Christmas plans, it looks like the snow, ice and blizzard like conditions from the last few years will make way for some milder weather, which the masses will appreciate as they tackle ‘the hill’.
Course record holder and Olympian, Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders), will toe the line. Following on from his recent impressive outing at the European XC Championships were he led the Ireland team home after taking 36th place, Paul will be confident of completing a hat-trick of wins at Greencastle. In 2014 he set the course record of 24:07, then in 2015 he recorded 24:24 to see of Foyle Valley AC’s ever impressive Scott Rankin. Scott will also return and after having to settle for the runners up spot at the Seeley Cup 10k (NI & Ulster 10,000m Road Championships) and AAI Novice XC, the NI & Ulster 10,000m (Track) Champion and Northern Ireland international will be hoping to go one better and win – however Scott will need to get somewhere close to his personal best of 24:15 (Raheny 5 in 2015).
Derry Track Club star Conan McCaughey is another man to look out for, following some exceptional performances over the last few months. This month alone, Conan has collected bronze medals at the NI & Ulster 10,000m (Road) Championships and the AAI Novice XC Championships, adding to bronze medals at the NI & Ulster 5,000m (Road) Championships and NI & Ulster 5,000m (Track) Championships. The statistics would suggest a third place finish for Conan here, but given his reputation for gutsy performances, a higher finish cannot be ruled out. Another man who will be in the mix at the head of the pack is Slieve Gullion Runners athlete Paddy Hamilton. Paddy kicked off the year with superb performances on the track, winning the AAI National Masters 1500m and 5,000m gold medals, then he impressed on the road with a win at Jimmys 10k (31:37) before taking 20th place at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff (Wales). His most recent outing was a 13.1 mile personal best of 1:06:20 at the Waterford Half Marathon in Ireland – a 14:48 at the Carlingford 5k shows he has the speed to record a low 24:00 finish over 5 miles. North Belfast Harriers duo Andrew Annett and Lindsay Gordon add further depth to an excellent line up; Andrew was fourth here twelve months ago.
City of Derry AC’s John Lenehan and Michael Crawley will both we looking for highly placed finishes, as ill Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC), Gerard Heaney (St Peter’s AC), Stephen Connor (Foyle Valley AC), Michael Kerr (Carmen Runners), Aaron Meharg (Acorns AC), Martin Loughran (Acorns AC) and Armagh AC’s veteran star Dermot Kerr.
Catherine Whoriskey (City Derry AC), arguably one of the provinces in-form athletes, will take to the start line for the first time at this event. After an incredible year, it’s hard to look past the Spartan athlete for top spot. After representing Northern Ireland and the Antrim International XC back in January 2015, Catherine went on to have an exceptional year – starting with a gold medal at the NI & Ulster 10,000m (Track) Championships.
After this, Catherine claimed a top ten finish at the AAI World Half Marathon Championships in Wales, before really stamping her mark on the local scene with wins at the Waterside Half Marathon, in a brilliant new personal best of 1:17:53. In the summer, Catherine secured an National silver medal at the AAI National Half Marathon Championships in Dublin, before going on to impress at some recent local XC event, most notably a comfortable victory the McConnell Shield XC in Ballyclare.
Irish international and Olympian Catriona Jennings (Letterkenny AC), a podium finisher at the AAI National Marathon Championships in October (2016), will also compete and should play a prominent part in proceeding. However, despite her obvious talent, it’s hard to see Catriona matching Catherine for pure speed based on recent performances by both. Six time winner of the event and course record holder Maria McCambridge (DSD AC) may return but that is as yet unconfirmed – should Maria compete, she’ll start as favourite but with Catherine very much capable of getting a finish time well inside the 28’s, Maria will have to work hard if she wants to secure a seventh win at this famous event. Another former winner, Heather Foley (Unattached), will also be worth watching and undoubtedly possesses the talent to cause an upset.
NI & Ulster 10k medallist Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) will also be a podium contender following her superb 36:40 10k personal best at the end of November (2016). Former NI & Ulster Junior XC Champion Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers) will be there or there abouts – Michelle clocked 38:28 to win the recent Eskra 10k, so she’ll be high in confidence; if she’s in top form, Michelle has an excellent chance of making the podium. Other ladies to look out for include Oonagh Fitzpatrick (Enniskillen Running Club), Paula Arthur-McCarthy (Ballymena Runners) and Natasha Henderson (County Antrim Harriers).
Important Note: Online entries for the Greencastle 5 mile road race will remain open until 23:59hrs on Christmas Eve (24th December 2016). Please click HERE for online entry. There will also be a limited number of entries available on race day - athletes are advised to arrive early should they want to enter on the day!
BARF Turkey Trot Mountain Race:
Also on Monday 26th December 2016 (Boxing Day), the Belfast Association of Rock Climbers and Fell Runners (BARF) will welcome mountain running enthusiasts from across the province (and beyond) to their annual Turkey Trot, a traditional annual event in the heart of the Mourne Mountains in County Down.
The 5.7 mile event, which includes 435 metres of ascent, starts and finishes at the bottom of the Trassey Track and takes competitors to the Col between Slieve Meelmore and Slieve Bearnagh and onwards towards Slieve Meelbeg and Slieve Meelmore, before descending to Happy Valley and along the Ulster Way back to the Trassey Track.
Newly crowned NIMRA Champion William McKee (Mourne Runners) will opt for the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker, which will take place just over 24 hours later, and thus, will not feature. This will leave the door open for the likes of Knockdhu Classic winner Colum Campbell (Newcastle AC) to take centre stage. Sam Herron (Mourne Runners) and Gary Bailey (Mourne Runners) should also run well and will need to do so to see of the likes of Dale Mathers (Mourne Runners) and Neil Andrews (East Down AC). Ricky Hanna (Mourne Runners), Pete Grant (Newcastle AC) and Ricky Cowan (Mourne Runners) will all start.
In the ladies race, reigning Champion Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) should return to defend her title. The talented international may well be joined on the Trassey Track start line by Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) and Megan Wilson (East Down AC) – the fast improving Megan could well challenge at the head of the pack and will therefore be worth watching. Behind, Jackie Toal (BARF), Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) and Paulette Thomson (Newcastle AC) should all perform to their usual high standard.
Important Note: Following recent weather warnings is extremely important that all competitors monitor the BARF website and Facebook page to keep up to date with mandatory kit requirements.
Castlewellan Christmas Cracker:
On Tuesday 27th December 2016, a capacity field of six hundred teams are expected to take on the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker. The Christmas Cracker has gone from strength to strength since it was taken over by Newcastle AC and relocated to Castlewellan in the early ‘noughties’. It remains the most unique and one of the best attended events on the Athletics NI calendar. The race requires athletes to run in teams of two and they must finish together; some teams use the tactic of running individually and meeting close to the finish, while others will work together throughout the race.
In 2015, a record breaking four hundred and thirty teams took to the line and 2016 promises to be bigger as entries reached capacity yesterday (Friday 23rd December 2016). This year’s race will again cover a multi-terrain course and will measure approximately 8.5 miles, with most of the action taking place in the area around Castlewellan Forest; it is suitable for runners of all abilities and levels of experience.
Our friends at Newcastle AC provided the following race preview…
It sold out as fast as Guns ‘n Roses at Slane! Additional places were added to the record 426 that took the line last year and as expected, all 600 sold out before race day. No entries will be available on race day and final instructions for competitors are available HERE.
Once again a record number of teams will take to the start for the 33rd Castlewellan Christmas Cracker pairs’ race on Tuesday 27th December 2016. The market town will be awash with colour as 1200 competitors, many of whom will ‘dress for the occasion’, take to the streets. The race has grown exponentially since it was taken over by Newcastle AC and relocated to Castlewellan in the early ‘noughties’ and remains one of the most unique and popular races in the annual ANI calendar. Building on the success of previous years, there are more mixed teams and more all-female teams. Amazingly, in 2004 a total of 54 teams crossed the line. This stands as irrefutable evidence of the amazing popularity of running at present and the desire among athletes of all abilities to get out there and compete. For some it will be to win a category or record a fast time, while for others it will be the joy of finishing and the sense of accomplishment that comes from simply being able to say, ‘I did it.’
What’s it going to be like?
The race itself is a multi-terrain event over approximately 8.5 miles – 9 miles and is suitable for runners of all abilities and levels of experience. The course changes from year to year and this edition has been described as ‘plenty of opportunities for good running, a short and sharp climbs and a great advert for the stunning scenery of rural East Down!’
It will be a case of up close and personal and those with eagle eyes will be able to see the food on the Highwayman’s table if they look long enough! With the Bog of Donard Two and the Prophet involved, you can expect something a wee bit different. The Prophet was rumoured to be clearing forests, hanging gates and ‘making a straight path for the runners’ – surely he is taking the time of Preparation that is Advent just a little too seriously. Part of the tradition is that the Race Directors hold something back as a little surprise on the day. There have been a couple of ‘dry runs’, but they men charge have reliably informed me that there will be an unexpected twist – or two!
It’s a fair test of running…
Part of the beauty of the race is that the race is run in pairs, so you are only as good as your partner; a harsh fact of life that I learn every December and invariably forget by the following year. This year, to save myself tears, I am avoiding the galloping Landlord! Alliances made in September can seriously backfire at the end of December when one partner might be going slightly or a lot better than the other. Equally fascinating is the fact that, while the race remains around 8-9 miles in distance, the course is always different and runners have come to expect the unexpected.
Last year the young gunslingers, Eoghan Totten (Newcastle AC) and Andrew Monaghan (Lagan Valley AC) recorded a very impressive win, beating defending champions Brian McCluskey (North East Runners) and Gary O’Hanlon (Clonliffe Harruers), the pre-race favourites. Our sources have confirmed that both teams are not starting. This leaves the door firmly open for the North Belfast Harriers/Newcastle AC duo of Mark McKinstry and Seamus Lynch to be the men to beat. However, there will be plenty out to challenge them, with the host club lining up a few highly respectable pairings. Russell White (Dromore AC) – Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) and John Black (North Belfast Harriers) – Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers) will also be considered as contenders.
Mourne Runners duo Laura Graham and William McKee have paired up for the mixed event and they should be far too strong for the other mixed teams – it would not be surprising if they finished close to the top five overall. Other teams to look out for include Cathy McCourt (Unattached) – Michael Magee (Beechmount Harriers) and North Belfast Harriers pair Martsje Hell – Alan O’Hara. In the ladies race, Beechmount Harriers pair Catherine Diver and Gerrie Short will challenge for honours, but will have to get the better of Ballymena Runners’ Sharon Harvey – Paula McAllister and Irish international triathletes Emma Sharkey – Laura Wylie.
Race numbers can be collected in the clubrooms of Castlewellan GAC from 11.45am, with the race starting at 1pm. The race starts on the Main Street at the mini roundabout and moves towards the Drumee Road. Spectators will see the athletes again as they come back up the Newcastle Road before entering the Forest Park at the bottom of the town. From there the course takes in some great paths and trails before finishing on in the field on the main entrance to the park. There will be refreshments in the clubrooms after the race and the presentation of prizes will be at around 3.30pm. Why not come out on Tuesday and witness what will be a spectacular occasion!?
Other races taking place in Northern Ireland over the coming days…
Monday 26th December 2016: Brocagh 10k & 5k – Castlebay Community Centre – 10:15am (Entries AVAILABLE on the day!)
Monday 26th December 2016: Burren Townlands 12 mile & 6 mile – Burren Heritage Centre – 10:30am (Entries AVAILABLE on the day!)
Tuesday 27th December 2016: Eglinton Trail Run – Eglinton Community Centre – 11:30am (Entries AVAILABLE on the day!)
Saturday 31st December 2016: Lough 5 mile Road Race – Loughmacrory – 12pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day!)
Northern Ireland’s twenty four parkrun events will have their own local arrangements over the Christmas and New Year period, so we recommend that if you would like more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, you should visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.
British Championship Round – Donard Challenge 2017 – Entries now open!
On the 29th of March 2014, two hundred and fifty men and women, young and old, set off into the mist on a date with destiny. The clag on the hill that day was so dominant it had already claimed an entire mountain range. How could mere mortals armed only with beanie hats and mars bars defeat it’s might?
The answer came screaming in the wind from villages for miles around as locals, and visitors a like, lost their battle with direction ending up as vest clad oddities in front gardens across the Kingdom of Mourne.
Fast forward three years later and Jon Krakauer is still writing a book about the incident. Before it is published we are going to give the fell running nation one last chance to rewrite history. To that end we invite you to take on the Donard Challenge one more time. Dare you return in 2017?
ENTRIES: Enter at on our ONLINE ENTRY SYSTEM. £12.00 per-entry by 26th March 2017, a list of race entries will be published on the NIMRA website. Fee includes light refreshment, showers, car parking, use of Sportident (Si) race management/results system. All Si cards are provided and pre-logged onto the system; no personal Si cards can be used. Substitutions are not allowed. Full details on the route can be located HERE.
Article by NIMRA. Photos by Jayne Bell.
Newcastle AC & North Down AC lead the teams in the 6th Round of the Athletics NI League (article by Athletics NI):
The sixth round of the Athletics Northern Ireland Cross Country league was held last weekend (Saturday 17th December) in conjunction with the City of Derry Spartans promoted North West Championships at Gransha Grounds in Derry/Lodonderry.
This was the final pre-Christmas round and with teams choosing the best four of the six rounds to score we (Athletics NI) are now able to get a clear picture of the league standings to date.
In the Men’s Division, Newcastle & District AC on 104 points have overtaken North Belfast Harriers with 99, while last season’s champions Foyle Valley AC are third on 86. Acorns AC (78), North Down AC (72) and Springwell Running Club (71) are in a dogfight for places 4 to 6.
In the Women’s Division, North Down AC have maintained their dominance and are well clear on 111 points. However, things are very tight for second place with Acorns AC on 84 and Foyle Valley AC on 80. Tafelta AC are a little further back in fourth place on 63 points.
The next round will be on Saturday 14th January 2017 in conjunction with the Antrim International XC at CAFRE‘s Greenmount Campus near Antrim. Then the final round will be on Saturday 4th March 2017 in conjunction with the NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships at Lurgan. This final round will attract double points so it is clear there is still all to run for both at the top and for the minor places.
Current standings for the Athletics NI XC League 2016/17 are available HERE.
Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Kilbroney 10k (and 5k) 2016:
Also on Saturday 17th December 2016, well over five hundred athletes took to the epic trails of Kilbroney Forest, in Rostrevor (County Down), for the fourth race of local event management company Born 2 Run’s ‘Run Forest Run’ Series, the Kilbroney 10k (and associated 5k race).
The main event, the tough 10k race started in the picturesque village of Rostrevor and guided competitors onto the forest’s trails which overlook Carlingford Lough, along the Kilbroney River at the Fairy Glen and into the impressive ninety seven acres of Kilbroney Forest.
At the head of the pack, the relatively unknown Gulbis Kaspars (Unattached) sealed victory in 37:03 (1st place) but in truth, it was Northern Ireland and Ireland international Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) who produced the performance of the day. The Commonwealth Games athlete showed her class when clocking 37:15 for the course, this not only secure 1st place in the ladies race, but saw Gladys take 2nd place overall.
Gavin McCaffrey (Club Unknown) claimed 2nd place in the men’s race in 37:38, before podium regular Oliver Cook (PACE Running Club) completed the top three in 37:50 (3rd place). In the ladies race, Catherine Roberts (North Down AC) crossed the line in 42:31 for 2nd place, while Mourne Runners athlete Bethany Haugh (38:58) saw off a late challenge from Helen Perry (Club Unknown) to take 3rd place.
In the associated 5k race, which kicked off just ahead of the 10k event, Acorns AC athlete Sam Linton led the field home in 18:57 (1st place), while City of Lisburn AC star Ann Terek took the ladies top prize in 20:17 (1st place).
North West XC 2016:
On Saturday 17th December 2016, popular local club City of Derry AC welcomed athletes from across the province to Gransha Grounds in the maiden city of Derry/Londonderry for the North West XC, the latest fixture in the ongoing Athletics NI XC League 2016/17.
Following the competitive and enjoyable junior races, it was the turn of the senior and veteran athletes to take to the start line for their 6k race. At the head of the pack, Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club), Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) and Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) all looked strong, but in the end, it was QUB student Neil who ran out victorious. In a close finish, Neil took 1st place in 18:31, with Mark McKinstry (18:43) and Scott Rankin (18:45) following in 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.
In the ladies race, Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) dominated as expected. The Irish international was in top form as she cruised to victory in 20:32 (1st place). Northern Ireland international and AAI Novice XC medallist Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) secured 2nd place in 22:00, while Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers) completed the top three in 22:17 (3rd place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) – 18:31, 2nd Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 18:43, 3rd Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 18:45
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) – 20:32, 2nd Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) – 22:00, 3rd Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers) – 22:17
Full Results: North West XC 2016 Results
Knockdhu Classic Fell Race 2016:
On Saturday 17th December 2016, nearly fifty athletes turned out for second running of the re-installed of the famous Knockdhu Classic Fell Race in Cairncastle, just outside the coastal town of Larne. In its day, the Knockdhu Classic Fell Race was a prominent fixture on the international calendar. Unfortunately, the race ceased to exist after its final running in 2009.
However, hard work by Lagan Valley AC’s Northern Ireland international mountain runner Hazel McLaughlin, has now allowed many athletes who never had the opportunity to compete at the event the chance to do so; of course, quite a few of the athletes how had raced at the event previously, enjoyed their return. Although a competitive fixture, the race also had a charitable aspect to it, with wall funds raided going to local charity Cancer Focus NI.
The tough course covered approximately 4.3 miles with 1,500m of ascent. In windy conditions the field set off along as relatively fast and flat section before encountering their first thigh burning ascent. Newcastle AC’s ever improving Colum Campbell excelled, breaking the tape in 47:39 (1st place – Sam Herron (Mourne Runners), who was runner up in 2015, again took 2nd place in a time of 48:26; exactly one minute slower than his time twelve months ago! Gary Bailey (Mourne Runners) completed the course in 48:58 (3rd place).
Interestingly, the ladies podium was exactly the same as 2015, with Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) retaining her title in a quicker time of 52:37 (1st place); Shileen’s time in 2015 was 52:50. Gillian Wasson ran well to take 2nd place in 57:45, before Jacque Toal (BARF) crossed the line in 58:20 for 3rd place.
Top 3 Men: 1st Colum Campbell (Newcastle AC) – 47:39, 2nd Sam Herron (Mourne Runners) – 48:26, 3rd Gary Bailey (Mourne Runners) – 48:58
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – 52:37, 2nd Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners) – 57:45, 3rd Jackie Toal (BARF) – 58:20
Weekend Preview: Athletics NI XC bandwagon heads North West on a weekend of off-road treats...
We’re just one week out from the Christmas and New Year holidays and the local fraternity have some exciting presents this weekend, with several off-road treats to help build the atmosphere as we look towards some festive classics over the next 7 to 10 days.
The ever-popular Athletics NI XC League continues with the North West XC, while trail runners will be catered for with Born 2 Run’s Kilbroney 10k. Just outside Larne, there’s the second edition of the revised Knockdhu Classic Fell Race taking place, which returned to the local calendar last year (2015) thanks to the hard work of a local athlete.
Knockdhu Classic Fell Race:
The weekend action
will kick off just outside Larne on Saturday 17th December 2016, where a large
field will take on the famous Knockdhu Classic Fell Race. In its day, the
Knockdhu Classic Fell Race, then organised by Larne AC, was a prominent fixture
on the international calendar. Unfortunately, the race ceased to exist
after its final running in 2009, when Stephen Cunningham and Karen Alexander
Last year (2015), following hard work by Lagan Valley AC’s Northern Ireland international mountain runner Hazel McLaughlin, the race was resurrected. Hazel, who is originally from the Larne area and knows the scenic fells of Knockdhu and Scawt exceptionally well, re-introduced the event as a charity race, with a limited number of places available; these filled very quickly. Now this year, the numbers are not capped and the field is expected to reach 50-60 athletes.
The tough course covers approximately 4.3 miles with 1,500m of ascent - amongst those likely to head the pack are Mourne Runners men Sam Herron and Clive Bailey. Both men featured well at last year’s event, taking second and third place respectively. That was after a close race with fellow Mourne Runners athlete Dale Mathers, who won in 47:19 after beating Sam in an epic sprint finish (which saw Dale hurdle the final fence!).
The talented trio should be joined on the start line by David Turtle (East Antrim Harriers), Billy Reed (East Antrim Harriers), Richard Bell (Mourne Runners), Richard Nunan (IMRA), Mark Alexander (Ballymena Runners), Thomas Leitch (Orangegrove AC), Stuart Maxwell (BARF), Ricky Hanna (Mourne Runners) and Andy Gregg (Larne AC), amongst others.
In the ladies race, it’s hard to look past reigning Champion Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) as a potential winner. The experienced and versatile international athlete was a comfortable winner twelve months ago and should retain her title. However, Shileen will know that she’ll need to be in top form to fend off the likes of Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners) and Jackie Toal (BARF), both of whom possess the talent to challenge at the front. Paula McAllister (Ballymena Runners) and Taryn McCoy (BARF) will also go well, while Paulette Thomson (Newcastle AC) and Helen Weir (North Belfast Harriers) could be surprise contenders.
Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Kilbroney 10k (and 5k):
Also on Saturday 17th December 2016, nearly six hundred athletes are expected to take to the epic trails of Kilbroney Forest, in Rostrevor (County Down), for the fourth race of local event management company Born 2 Run’s ‘Run Forest Run’ Series, the Kilbroney 10k (and associated 5k race). The race starts in the picturesque village of Rostrevor and takes competitors onto the forest’s trails which overlook Carlingford Lough, along the Kilbroney River at the Fairy Glen and into the impressive ninety seven acres of Kilbroney Forest.
Mourne Runners duo William McKee and Laura Graham dominated the ‘Run Forest Run’ Series in 2015, but have not featured thus far in 2016/17 Series. However, this could well be a race that attracts both. In the men’s race, William, winner of the recent Run 4 Rescue 10 mile multi-terrain race, could have B2R Loughgall winner Domhnall Murphy (Club Unknown) and B2R Drum Manor winner Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC) for company – despite their obvious talent, it is unlikely the men will secure their second victory in the Series if William toes the line. PACE Running Club’s Oliver Cook, a regular on the podium, will also be there or there abouts.
Oliver’s club mate, Aaron Woodman (PACE Running Club) could also feature at the head of the pack and will go well if he does compete. Drew Fowler (Ballydrain Harriers), Thomas Craig (Larne AC), Jonny Gregg (Unattached), Bobbie Irvine (Separk AC) and Michael McKeown (East Down AC) should all place well.
AAI National Marathon and Half Marathon Champion Laura Graham will be joined by Commonwealth Games competitors and Northern Ireland and Ireland international Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers). Both ladies will be looking ahead to some good winter training after a year filled with impressive performances, but this will be an excellent race, which will more than likely be decided by the closest of margins! Watch this space! The remaining podium place could well go to the B2R Loughgall and Drum Manor winner Cathy McCourt (Unattached), however, Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) and Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) may also make use of the on the day entry system. Should they do so, this will add further depth to the impressive field. Catherine Roberts (North Down AC), Amy Lavery (Unattached), Natalie Bowbanks (Unattached) and Judith Irwin (Ballymena Runners) will all challenge for a top ten place.
North West XC:
In the Maiden City of Derry/Londonderry on Saturday 17th December 2016, City of Derry AC will host the latest fixture in the competitive Athletics NI Cross Country League, the North West XC. The event, held within the confines of Gransha Grounds, is continually establishing itself as one of the seasonal favourites and as such, will attract a large crowd.
As we move into the second half of the league, North Belfast Harriers and North Down AC top the respective men’s and ladies tables, but there is still plenty to play for and with approximately 200-300 hundred athletes expected to turn out, the competition should fierce. There will be a comprehensive five race programme covering all age groups from Primary Schools to Masters.
The Open 6k at 12.30pm is the feature event and with both Athletics NI XC League and NI Masters Athletic Association (NIMAA) XC League points up for grabs, it will pull in top class performers from all across Northern Ireland and Ulster. North West based clubs City of Derry AC, Derry City Track Club and Foyle Valley AC will all be battling it out for local bragging rights.
After an extremely successful few weeks, Derry Track Club may well field a strong team on what is of course ‘home soil’. JP Williamson (Derry Track Club) has not only enjoyed well-deserved individual success in the form of gold medals at the NI & Ulster 10k Road Championships and the AAI Novice XC Championships, but he has also led his team to silverware at both events – backed up by the likes of Conan McCaughey, Matt Doherty, Conor Doherty, Martin Cox, Paul Barbour and Conor McIlveen (amongst others), the DTC men picked up gold medals at the Seeley Cup and silver medals at the AAI Novice XC. If he runs, it’s hard to look past JP for the win. Should Conan McCaughey (Derry Track Club) and Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) also run, we could well see the trio make up the podium for the third time in as many weeks.
The hosts, City of Derry AC, will also be well represented, with the likes of Emmett McGinty, Noel Logan, Kyle Doherty and returning duo Declan Reed and Allan Bogle all possible starters. Mark McKinstry, John Black and Conall McCambridge may well lead the North Belfast Harriers charge for honours, while Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and Neil Johnston (Foyle Valley AC) will all play a prominent part at the head of the pack if they race.
Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) will be the star of the show in the ladies race. After a notable performance at the AAI National Senior XC Championships, the Letterkenny AC athlete will go into this event as firm favourite. Local hero Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) could be another notable starter and will claim a podium place if she does – on the subject of podium places, North Down AC duo Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson will also challenge for prizes and will be high in confidence after strong outings at the AAI Novice XC last week, where they collected silver and bronze medals respectively. Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers), Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers), Karen Alexander (Acorns AC), Martina McMullan (Foyle Valley AC) and Jackie McMonagle (City of Derry AC) will all run well.
Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend:
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.
Photos above by Jayne Bell, Brian O'Neill and NiRunning.
Fionnuala McCormack set for IAAF Antrim International XC 2017:
Former double European cross country champion Fionnuala McCormack will once again be competing in the Greenmount Cross Country International at Antrim next month (Saturday 14th January 2017). This meeting is one of twelve IAAF World Cross Country permits and is supported by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.
32 year old McCormack has consistently been the top Irish cross country runner in recent years. Last year she led the Irish team to bronze medals in the Euro Championships for the second consecutive year, just last weekend she finished in fifth place at the same event, following on from a fourth place in 2015. Fionnuala enjoyed individual European victories back in 2011 and 2012.
The versatile Kilcoole AC athlete would also like to be remembered for her numerous track achievements. At the start of this year the former Olympic steeplechaser was determined to set new standards over longer distances. McCormack achieved this in spectacular fashion starting with a gutsy fourth place in the European Championships 10,000 metres in Amsterdam.
Fionnuala then followed this up in August with probably her greatest ever achievement in the Rio Olympics marathon. She defied the oppressively hot, humid conditions to battle her way through to a memorable 20th place in a PB time of 2:31:22 leaving many world class athletes in her wake.
McCormack has also experienced success at Greenmount with two previous wins to her credit. She will hoping for a hat trick of victories particularly after her impressive win in Spain a few days ago where she defeated some classy African opposition. Also racing at Greenmount is Kenya's Caroline Kipkirui who is ranked in the World top 20 this year over 5,000 metres. Previous participants in the long history of this event have included Steve Ovett, Steve Cram, Brendan Foster, Paula Radcliffe, John Treacy and Paul Tergat.
Although the international aspect of the event will of course dominate the headlines, the Antrim International XC is also incorporated within the Athletics NI XC League 2016/17. Therefore, a large number of local athletes will be taking to the start line. Online entry and further information about the event is available HERE.
A busy and successful weekend for Northern Ireland based athletes…
The weekend (Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th December 2016) brought an abundance of notable performances from local athletes on the National and International cross country stage. However, there were several other excellent performances by local athletes both in Northern Ireland and further afield, with familiar faces impressing as far away as USA and Spain. We’ve looked at some of the weekend’s fixtures, but here is a summary of what else happened over the last few days…
Atlas Running Events:
Local events management company Atlas Running hosted two events over the weekend, the Hillsborough 10k on Saturday 10th December 2016 and the Crossgar 10k on Sunday 11th December 2016. In Hillsborough, Dromore AC’s Stephen O’Gorman and Unattached athlete Cathy McCourt were victorious. Stephen broke the tape in 34:55 (1st place), while Cathy led the ladies home in 39:30 (1st place). Meanwhile, in Crossgar, Mourne Runners star Laura Graham showed her class – Laura not only won the ladies race, but secured an overall victory in 38:23 (1st place), nearly two minutes ahead of her nearest rival. Newcastle AC’s Patrick Higgins topped the men’s podium in 40:37 (1st place). Full results for both events can be found on our ‘Results’ page HERE.
RunHer Parkanaur 10k & 5k:
On Sunday 11th December 2016, hundreds of athletes descended on the scenic Parkanaur Forest Park in Dungannon for the first ever RunHer Parkanaur 10k & 5k. North Belfast Harriers athlete Ita McCambridge celebrated victory in 46:22 (1st place), with Elaine McGuckin following in 46:46 (2nd place) – Tracey O’Donnell completed the top three in 48:02 (3rd place). In the associated 5k event, Dawn Montgomery claimed top honours in 29:03 (1st place), finishing just ahead of Mairead Conlon, who recorded 29:21 for 2nd place. Laura Deery crossed the line in 29:28 for 3rd place. Full results for both events can be found on our ‘Results’ page HERE.
Telford 10k (England):
In England on Sunday 11th December 2016, local Olympian Kevin Seaward (St Malachy’s AC) was in action at the popular Telford 10k in England. The race, which is synonymous for fast times had eighteen runners finish under 30 minutes. Kevin was one of these, taking 15th place in 29:55. The race was won by Joshua Grace (Aldershot, Farnham & District AC) in 29:21 (1st place). Full results for the event can be found HERE.
Cardiff Met Christmas Grand Prix (Wales):
On the same day (Sunday 11th December 2016), in Wales, Willowfield Harriers man and Cardiff University student Andrew Wright recorded a new 3,000m personal best when competing at the Cardiff Met Christmas Grand Prix in Cardiff. Talented track star Andrew crossed the line in 8:07.85, securing 1st place and a thirteen second personal best. Full results for the event can be found HERE.
Lanzarote Half Marathon (Spain):
On Saturday 10th December 2016, a number of Northern Ireland based athletes joined thousands of competitors on the start line of the Lanzarote International Half Marathon on the Spanish island of Lanzarote. Amongst those competing was Newcastle AC athlete David O’Flaherty, who produced the most notable performance of the NI runners. Taking on his first ever 13.1 mile race, David recorded 1:14:08 for the distance. This was enough to take 4th place – the race was won by Spanish athlete Jaume Leiva in 1:09:15 (1st place). Interestingly, Gary O’Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers), a regular competitor in Northern Ireland, won the associated marathon event in 2:35:30 (1st place). Full results for the event can be found HERE.
KSU Winter Invitational (USA):
Further afield, in America (on Saturday 10th December 2016), Belfast based athlete Conall Kirk (Lagan Valley AC) took to the track for a 1,000m race at the KSU Winter Invitational Track & Field Meeting in Manhattan. Conall claimed 3rd place in an excellent 2:28.19.
AAI National Juvenile Uneven Age Group & Senior Novice XC Championships 2016:
On Sunday 11th December
2016, athletes from Northern Ireland enjoyed success as thousands of athletes
descended on Dundalk IT for the AAI National Juvenile Uneven Age Group and
Senior Novice XC Championships, hosted by Athletics Ireland.
In the Novice Men’s 6,000m event, local athletes completed a clean sweep of the podium. Recently crowned NI & Ulster 10k Champion JP Williamson (Derry Track Club) produced the same level of performance as he did in Belfast two weeks ago when he came from behind once again to secure top spot in 19:00 (1st place). Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) took 2nd place in 19:04, with Conan McCaughey (Derry Track Club) crossing the line in 19:12 for 3rd place – interestingly, this was the same finishing order as the Seeley Cup 10k / NI & Ulster 10k Championships. In the Novice Men’s team competition, Derry Track Club secured 2nd place, with North Belfast Harriers claiming 3rd place. County Antrim took 2nd place and the associated silver in the county competition.
Northern Ireland based athletes also dominated the Novice Ladies 4,000m event, with North Down AC duo Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson taking 2nd place and 3rd place respectively. Jessica clocked 14:45, with Rachel following just five seconds later in 14:50. The ladies race was won by Fiona Kehoe (Kilmore AC) in 14:33 (1st place).
There was further success for local athletes with individual medals for North Down AC’s Craig McMeechan and City of Derry AC’s Oisin Colhoun. Craig claimed 3rd place in the Under 19 competition, while Oisin secured silver when taking 2nd place in the Under 13 event.
In the Under 15 age group, the Lagan Valley AC girls team picked up a well-deserved 2nd place, which also assisted County Antrim in claiming 2nd place in the team standings. Meanwhile, in the Under 17 team category, Omagh Harriers girls finished in 2nd place, while St Malachy’s AC boys took 3rd place; the County Antrim boys team finished in 2nd place. Omagh Harriers enjoyed further team success when their Under 19 girls finished in 3rd place.
European Cross Country Championships 2016:
On Sunday 11th December 2016, three athletes from Northern Ireland were part of a strong Ireland team in competition at the prestigious European Athletics Cross Country Championships in Chia, Italy.
Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders), Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) and Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC) all performed well in warm conditions. In the men's 10k event, Paul recorded 29:42 to secure 36th place. The race was won by Kenyan born Turkish athlete Aras Kaya in 27:39 (1st place). In the team competition, the Ireland men claimed 10th place.
In the ladies 8k race, Ciara Mageean crossed the line in 26:55, which was enough to take 31st place. Steeplechase star Kerry O'Flaherty followed closely in 27:35 for 54th place. The race was won by Turkish athlete Yasemin Can in 24:46 (1st place). The Ireland ladies took 6th place in the team competition.
Full results for the event are available HERE.
Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series - Race 1
On Saturday 10th December 2016, Sperrin Harriers welcomed nearly two hundred athletes to the opening race of their 2016/17 Winter League at Davagh Forest, which is testament to the scenic venues and great atmosphere provided by the series.
In perfect weather conditions Jonny Steede of Glens Runners impressed from the off, building up an unassailable lead to win in a time of 35:01 (1st place). Acorns AC athlete Eoin Hughes tracked Jonny around the testing 10k course but was unable to surpass the eventual victor and finished in 35:52 to take 2nd place. The final podium place went to local athlete Michael Crawley (City of Derry AC) who crossed the line in a time of 36:16 (3rd place).
In the ladies race, local athlete Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) was the clear winner when she completed the scenic course in 39:58 (1st place). The returning Ciara Toner of Springwell Running Club, took 2nd place in 44:11, while running stalwart Anne Paul (City of Derry AC) claimed 3rd place, crossing the line less than a minute later in 45:02.
Top 3 Men: 1st Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) – 35:01, 2nd Eoin Hughes (Acorns AC) – 35:52, 3rd Michael Crawley (City of Derry AC) – 36:16
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) – 39:58, 2nd Ciara Toner (Springwell Running Club) – 44:11, 3rd Anne Paul (City of Derry AC) – 45:02
The next race in the popular series will be the Lough Fea 5k on Saturday 7th January 2017. Full details about the Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series can be found HERE.
Eskra 10k 2016:
On Saturday 10th December 2016, Knockmany Runners welcomed athletes from across the province to the 7th annual running of their Eskra 10k road race in the County Tyrone village of Eskra. The event is also known as the Rudolph Run 10k.
As expected, previous winner of the event and course record holder Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) returned to defend his title. He did not disappoint – despite the best efforts of Enniskillen Running Club pair Stephen Prentice and Adam Cooke, it was Stephen Duncan who claimed top spot in 33:33 (1st place). Stephen Prentice secured 2nd place in 34:50, while Adam impressed with a 35:30 finish for 3rd place.
In the ladies race, the always impressive Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers) looked in good form as she claimed a well-deserved victory. Michelle, an athlete who races sparingly, covered the course in an excellent 38:28 (1st place). Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers), another athlete who never fails to impress, followed in 38:57 (2nd place), before Rudolph Run podium regular Grainne O’Hagan (Knockmany Running Club) completed the top three in 43:06 (3rd place).
In the team competition, Omagh Harriers completed a clean sweep, winning both the men’s and ladies prizes. In the associated 5k race, Dan Haigney (Run for Enda) led the field home in 18:56 (1st place), while Stacey Hinfey (Acorns AC) won the ladies race in 23:20 (1st place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) – 33:33, 2nd Stephen Prentice (Enniskillen Running Club) – 34:50, 3rd Adam Cooke (Enniskillen Running Club) – 35:30
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers) – 38:28, 2nd Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) – 38:57, 3rd Grainne O’Hagan (Knockmany Running Club) – 43:06
Full Results: Eskra 10k (Rudolph Run) 2016 Results
Weekend Preview: Road, trail and XC provide perfect blend for local athletes...
There are just two weekends of running until Christmas - in years gone by, these weeks have been quite quiet as athletes prepare for the festive racing calendar. However, with the now seemingly endless ‘running season’, this weekend will prove just as busy as any with some excellent choices for local athletes.
On the Athletics NI calendar, the Eskra 10k, Sperrin Harriers’ Davagh 10k and the new RunHer Parkanaur are the highlights. Although, events management company Atlas Running are also offering the Hillsborough Santa Run and the Crossgar Santa Run for those looking for some festive cheer (with a competitive edge).
Outside Northern Ireland, an abundance of local talent will be in action at the AAI National Juvenile Age Group and Novice XC Championships in Dundalk (Ireland), while three Northern Ireland based runners will be part of a strong Ireland team competing at the prestigious IAAF European XC Championships in Italy.
Eskra 10k (also known as the Rudolph Run 10k):
On Saturday 10th December 2016, a large turnout is expected at the 7th annual Eskra 10k road race in the County Tyrone village of Eskra. The event, which is hosted by Knockmany Running Club, is also referred to as the Rudolph Run and therefore attracts a mixture of established athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
Previous winner of the race and course record holder Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) should return to defend his title. In 2015, the international athlete saw off a strong challenge from North Down AC’s Stephen Wylie to win in 32:23 – he has run faster over this popular course though, having clocked his course record of 31:44 back in 2011. Fergus McGirr (Omagh Harriers), the third place finisher twelve months ago, should also toe the line and will contest a podium place once again having impressed at the Seeley Cup 10k with a 34:59 finish. Other men who will start include Conor Maguire (Dromore AC), Conor Moore (Foyle Valley AC) and Neil Elliott (1Zero1).
A lot of talk from last year’s event was around the excellent performance of Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC). The Irish international recorded a new ladies course record of 35:01 despite the tough winter conditions – with the weather forecast looking good for this weekend, Ann-Marie should run well under that time, which will see her pick up the £100 bonus for a new course record. Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) may also compete, as could Enniskillen Running Club’s Karen Dolan, a previous winner. Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers), Ita Monaghan (Enniskillen Running Club), Patricia Campbell (Omagh Harriers) and Oonagh Fitzpatrick (Enniskillen Running Club) may all play a part.
Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series 2016/17 – Davagh Forest 10k:
Also on Saturday 10th December 2016, Sperrin Harriers will host the first race of their 2016/17 Winter League Trail Series in Davagh Forest close to Cookstown, County Tyrone. Now in its 8th year, the Series has proven very popular with athletes from all over the province.
A mere eight seconds split former Sperrin Harriers team mates Gavin Corey and Michael Crawley at the Seeley Cup in Belfast two weeks ago, with Sperrin man Gavin clocking 33:11 and Unattached athlete Michael 33:19. Both men are likely starters at this race and should play a prominent part at the head of the pack, not only at this event, but also throughout the Series. Ballymena Runners will also be well represented, with Connor Reid, Alex Brennan and Mark Alexander all possible starters. Newry City Runners’ ever improving Christopher Devine, who ran 33:13 at the Seeley Cup, will also be worth watching. Other competitors could include Delfim Pimentel (Unattached), Paul McAnespie (Armagh AC), Thomas Leitch (Orangegrove AC), Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers) and Bryan Edgar (Springwell Running Club).
Sperrin Harriers duo Emma Rice and Angela O’Neill made a huge impression on the Series in 2015/16, placing well throughout – although not so prominent throughout this year, both ladies should contest a podium place should they start. However, they may well have to fend off stiff competition from Acorns AC’s international trail runner Karen Alexander, who will be hard to knock off top spot should she race. Ballymena Runners ladies Paula McAllister, Ruth Aiken and Judith Irwin will also perform well if they enter on the day. More information on the Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series 2016/17 can be found HERE.
RunHer Parkanaur 10k & 5k:
On Sunday 11th December 2016, the popular RunHer Series will venture into the scenic Parkanaur Forest Park close to Dungannon for the first time. Hundreds of athletes and spectators are expected to turn out for the ladies only event, which will cover a picturesque route.
RunHer podium regulars Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson, both of North Down AC, will be heading to the AAI Novice XC Championships in Dundalk, so will not compete. This will leave the door open for star Irish veteran athlete Cathy McCourt (Unattached) to take top honours. If Cathy is to top the podium, she’ll have to beat in-form City of Lisburn AC athlete Judith Lonnen, who produced an excellent performance to take third place and the associated bronze medal at the Seeley Cup 10k, which incorporated the NI & Ulster 10k Road Championships – Judith recorded 36:40 that day.
Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers), a prize-winner at the RunHer Titanic back in October (2016), should also feature prominently at the head of the pack. St Peter’s AC athlete Patricia O’Hagan could also start and will run well if she does. The same could be said for Ita McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers) and Verity Cornford (Orangegrove AC).
Although online entry for the RunHer Parkanaur 10k and 5k has now closed, on the day entry will be available at Parkanaur Forest Park between 9am and 11am. Entries can also be obtained at Pure Running in Belfast up until 5pm on Saturday 10th December 2016.
Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend:
Saturday 10th December 2016: Atlas Running Hillsborough Santa Run – Hillsborough Village Centre – 2pm (Entries are AVAILABLE on the day).
Sunday 11th December 2016: Atlas Running Crossgar Santa Run – Crossgar Community Centre – 1pm (Entries are AVAILABLE on the day).
Events taking place outside Northern Ireland this weekend:
IAAF European XC Championships (Italy):
On Sunday 11th December 2016, three Northern Ireland based runners will represent a strong Ireland squad at the prestigious European XC Championships in Chia, Italy. Olympians Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders), Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) will all swap their club colours for the green Ireland kit.
Given the success Ireland has achieved at the Euro XC Championships in recent years, the team will be full of confidence as they attempt to secure both individual and team medals. Athletics Ireland produced the following preview for the event…
Italian job awaits for Irish team at Euro Cross…
A 28-strong Irish team will pit their wits against Europe’s finest cross country runners in Chia, Italy this Sunday (December 11).
Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole) is, of course, Ireland’s headline act where she will be hoping to get back on to the individual medal rostrum as well as guiding the women’s team to another podium position. She will be supported on the team by Shona Heaslip (An Riocht), Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle), Ciara Mageean (UCD), Laura Crowe (An Riocht) and Michelle Finn (Leevale).
Mageean will be hoping the firm surface will suit her in Chia in an effort to replicate her junior form over cross country where she finished 7th in the junior race in 2010. The Portaferry woman has been returning to her cross country roots properly since getting into a full rhythm and an injury free build-up. The team has added experience in O’Flaherty and Finn who impressed in the summer in the 3,000m steeplechase having made the European final and competed in the Olympics. McCormack will spearhead the team and a podium position will be in her sights. She would be the first woman to win three European cross country titles should she triumph but will face stiff competition from the likes of Turkey’s Yasemin Can and Meryem Akda. Can cruised to the European 10,000m title in Amsterdam and will be dangerous once more in Chia. Another danger will be Norway’s Karoline Grovdal who was a bronze medallist in Hyeres last year.
An experienced senior men’s team will be led by Mark Christie (Mullingar Harriers) who won the Irish Life Health National Cross Country Championships impressively. Christie has had a hiatus from the European cross since 2010 but has plenty of experience to produce a solid showing alongside Mick Clohisey (Raheny Shamrock), Mark Hanrahan (Leevale), Liam Brady (Tullamore Harriers), Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) and Kevin Dooney (Raheny Shamrock).
Blooding the next generation…
It will be a case of blooding the next generation in the U23 and junior races. Bethanie Murray (DSD) and Amy O’Donoghue (Emerald) will lead Irish hopes in the women’s U23 race with Karl Fitzmaurice (Ennis Track) and Mitchell Byrne (Rathfarnham) representing in the men’s U23 race. Jack O’Leary (Mullingar Harriers A.C.) is the most experience in the junior category at this level having finished 23rd last year with fellow fledglings Peter Lynch (Kilkenny City Harriers A.C.), Darragh McElhinney (Bantry A.C.), Fearghal Curtin (Youghal A.C.), Barry Keane (Waterford A.C.) and Charlie O'Donovan (Leevale A.C.) looking to gain further experience. Sophie Murphy (Dundrum South Dublin A.C.) finished 54th in the junior race and she will be aiming to improve upon that position with Amy Rose Farrell (Blackrock A.C.), Emma O'Brien (Inbhear Dee A.C./Sli Cualann), Carla Sweeney (W.S.A.F A.C.), Jodie McCann (Dundrum South Dublin A.C.), Aisling Joyce (Claremorris A.C.) sampling this level of competition.
AAI National Juvenile & Novice XC Championships (Ireland):
On the same day (Sunday 11th December 2016), a host of local athletes will make the short cross border journey to Dundalk (Ireland) for the AAI National Juvenile & Novice XC Championships, which will be held at the Dundalk IT.
Derry Track Club, North Belfast Harriers and Foyle Valley AC will turn out in large numbers. In the men’s race, DTC, who recently took the team title at the NI & Ulster 10k (Road) Championships, will look to Seeley 10k winner JP Williamson to lead the way once again. Just like Belfast two weeks ago, JP will be backed up by a vast array of talent, including Conan McCaughey, Martin Cox, Matthew Doherty, Paul Barbour, Conor Doherty, Conor McIlveen and new recruit Adam Kirk-Smith. Meanwhile, North Belfast Harriers will look to Andrew Annett, John Black, Conor Curran, Conal McCambridge, Andrew Considine, Philip Goss, Lindsay Gordon and Eddie Cooke for glory. Scott Rankin, Chris McGuinness, Roy McGilloway and Darragh Crossan will ensure that the purple vests of Foyle Valley AC feature well at the front.
In the ladies race, the in-form Jessica Craig (North Down AC) will be one to watch. Following on from several recent quality performances, the last of which was a win at the Malcolm Cup XC last week, the versatile athlete will be gunning for glory. Club mate Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) and City of Lisburn AC rising star Zoe Carruthers should also be in the mix, while in the team competition, Marina Murphy, Amy McDaid and Kendra McMullan will be hoping to secure a medal for Derry Track Club. A full Athletics Ireland preview and entry lists for the AAI National Juvenile & Novice XC Championships 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.
Local runners secure podium places in Ireland:
Over the weekend, Northern Ireland based runners Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) and Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) impressed with podium places at separate running events in Ireland.
On Saturday 3rd December 2016, Rio Olympian Ciara produced an excellent performance at Donore Harriers’ Jingle Bells 5k road race in Dublin, Ireland. In a field of nearly 800 athletes, Ciara led the ladies home in an excellent 15:57 (1st place). Another local Olympian, Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers), also ran well, taking 5th place in the ladies race in 16:44.
The men’s race was won by the host club’s John Travers (Donore Harriers) in 14:07 (1st place). The first familiar face home was North Belfast Harriers’ Stephen Walker, who crossed the line in 17:35 (92nd place). Full results for the event can be found HERE.
On the same day (Saturday 3rd December 2016), the ever-impressive Paddy Hamilton clocked a new half marathon personal best of 1:06:20 to secure 3rd place at the Waterford Half Marathon. Sergiu Ciobanu (Clonliffe Harriers) won the race in 1:05:51 (1st place). Full results can be found HERE.
The Griddle 10k 2016:
On Sunday 4th December 2016, runners from across Northern Ireland turned out for the annual Griddle 10k in County Down, an event hosted by Saul GAC in association with popular local athletic club East Down AC and renowned for its tough but scenic course.
This year’s race will be noted for the return of two East Down AC runners, Brendan Teer and Catherine O’Connor. Brendan made his return to competitive action, while Catherine continued her recent good run of form.
Brendan looked strong as he covered the course in 34:45 (1st place), which was enough to seal a relatively comfortable. The ever-consistent James Trainor (Dub Runners) sealed 2nd place in 36:06, before 2015 champion Stephen Wylie (North Down AC) claiming 3rd place in 36:36.
Catherine O’Connor followed on from her fourth-place finish at the Seeley Cup 10k with another excellent outing. The East Down AC star and Northern Ireland mountain running international clocked 39:59 for 1st place. Patricia McKibbin (Newcastle AC) took 2nd place in 43:07, while Joanne Foster (East Down AC) crossed the line in 45:45 for 3rd place.
Top 3 Men: 1st Brendan Teer (East Down AC) – 34:45, 2nd James Trainor (Dub Runners) – 36:06, 3rd Stephen Wylie (North Down AC) – 36:36
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Catherine O’Connor (East Down AC) – 39:59, 2nd Patricia McKibbin (Newcastle AC) – 43:07, 3rd Joanne Foster (East Down AC) – 45:45
Full Results: Griddle 10k 2016 Results
Action on Hearing Loss 5 mile Road Race 2016:
In Newtownabbey on the same day (Sunday 4th December 2016), nearly sixty runners turned out to support the Action on Hearing Loss 5 mile road race. Although the event was geared towards a worthwhile charitable cause, there was still a competitive edge.
Richard Craig (Club Unknown) led the field home in a respectable 28:41 (1st place), with Kathryn McAllister (Club Unknown) securing the ladies title in 36:04 (1st place). Full results for the event are available HERE.
Malcolm Cup XC 2016:
On Saturday 3rd December 2016, hundreds of athletes and spectators descended on Sixmilewater Park in Ballyclare for the annual Malcolm Cup XC, an event hosted by Annadale Striders - it was also the latest fixture in the Athletics NI Cross Country League.
The extensive event programme kicked off with an Under 11 800m race, which was won by Rhys McManus (East Coast AC) and Ellen Montgomery (Larne AC) in 3:24 and 3:33 respectively.
It was then the Ladies and Vet 35+ Men who took to the start line for their 3 mile event. In what was an excellent race, it was the host club’s Paul Carroll (Annadale Striders) who excelled. In the early exchange, Paul had Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers), Paul Rowan (Willowfield Harriers) and Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC) for company, but despite their best efforts, there was no stopping Paul as he ran out victorious in 16:33 (1st place), just two seconds ahead of Paul Rowan, who clocked 16:35 (2nd place). Neil Carty completed the top three in 16:47 (3rd place).
In the ladies race, North Down AC’s Jessica Craig continued here excellent run of form. Jessica set her stall out from the start and there was no catching the Northern Ireland international as she claimed victory by just under a minute– Jessica broke the tape in 17:46 (1st place), with club mate Jodi Smith (North Down AC) following in 18:34 (2nd place). Up and coming Dromore AC star Rebekah Nixon took 3rd place in 18:47 (3rd place).
Further junior races followed, which were all well supported and fiercely contested. In the Under 13 (1 mile race), Ballydrain Harriers’ Joel Chambers won in 5:27 (1st place), with Mabelle Wilcox taking the girls title in 6:07 (1st place). The Under 15 competitors raced over 2 miles and it was Lorcan McGurk (City of Lisburn AC) and Murphy Miller (North Down AC) who ran out victorious – Lorcan clocked 11:42 (1st place), while Murphy crossed the line in 12:02 (1st place). In the penultimate race of the day, the Under 17 boys 3 mile and girls 2 mile event, Beechmount Harriers’ Peter Gracey led the boys home in 12:35 (1st place), while Emma Hutchinson (Ballymena & Antrim AC), won the girls race in 16:47 (1st place).
It was then the turn of the Senior and Under 20 men to take to the start line for their 4 mile race. After a close race, it was pre-race favourite Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) who came out on top. Seeing off a strong challenge from the always impressive pairing of Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) and Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), the QUB student crossed the line in 20:40 (1st place). Scott recorded 20:48 for 2nd place, with Seamus following in 21:04 (3rd place).
The Under 20 men were almost in-separable through the race with just twenty-five seconds splitting the top three of Lorcan Magee (Beechmount Harriers), Ray Gilloway (Foyle Valley AC) and Luke Dinsmore (Springwell Running Club). In the end, Lorcan won in 22:12 (1st place) – Ray took 2nd place in 22:25 and Luke 3rd place in 22:27.
Veteran Men’s 35+ Race (3 miles) – Top 3: 1st Paul Carroll (Annadale Striders) – 16:33, 2nd Paul Rowan (Willowfield Harriers) – 16:35, 3rd Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers) – 16:47
Ladies Race (3 miles) – Top 3: 1st Jessica Craig (North Down AC) – 17:46, 2nd Jodi Smith (North Down AC) – 18:34, 3rd Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC) – 18:47
Senior Men’s Race (4 miles) – Top 3: 1st Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) – 20:40, 2nd Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 20:48, 3rd Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) – 21:04
Under 20 Men’s Race (4 miles) – Top 3: 1st Lorcan Magee (Beechmount Harriers) – 22:12, 2nd Ray Gilloway (Foyle Valley AC) – 22:25, 3rd Luke Dinsmore (Springwell Running Club) – 22:27
Full Results: Malcolm Cup XC 2016 PROVISIONAL Results (photos above by John Glover and Michael Magee)
Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Loughgall 10k 2016:
On Saturday 3rd December 2016, just over four hundred runners took on Born 2 Run’s Loughgall 10k race in County Armagh. The event was the third race of the event management company’s popular annual Run Forest Run Series.
The course, which measured just short of 6.2 miles, saw competitors complete a short section on the road through the picturesque village of Loughgall, before returning to Loughgall Estate through the impressive main gates. The route then followed the forest paths around the estate, passing Loughgall Golf Course.
Reigning Champions William McKee and Laura Graham, both of Mourne Runners, did not return to defend their titles, which meant that two new winners were crowned. Domhnall Murphy (Club Unknown) led the field home in 37:19 (1st place), just ahead of runner up Terry McCollum (Club Unknown), who recorded 37:24 (2nd place) for the distance. PACE Running Club’s Oliver Cook took 3rd place a further three seconds later in 37:27.
In the ladies race, Cathy McCourt (Unattached) broke the tape in 38:21 (1st place); this was enough to see Cathy take 7th place overall. Talented Amy Lavery (Unattached) took 2nd place in 41:18, before North Down AC’s Catherine Roberts completed the top three in 42:02 (3rd place).
In the associated 5k race, Sam Linton (Acorns AC) secured victory in 19:12 (1st place). Esther Dickson (Newry AC), a podium finisher in the 10k here in 2015, claimed a well-deserved 1st place in the ladies race, clocking 20:25; this was enough to take 4th place overall.
Top 3 Men: 1st Domhnall Murphy (Club Unknown) – 37:19, 2nd Terry McCollum (Club Unknown) – 37:24, 3rd Oliver Cook (PACE Running Club) – 37:27
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Cathy McCourt (Unattached) – 38:21, 2nd Amy Lavery (Unattached) – 41:18, 3rd Catherine Roberts (North Down AC) – 42:02
Weekend Preview: Malcolm Cup XC, Run Forest Run Series and more…
The festive season is now officially upon us – Christmas trees are appearing more and more and this is the time of year when many of us are looking towards the fantastic festive fixtures. However, before then… there are plenty of other exciting events, including this weekend, when the local running fraternity will have some excellent choices.
The popular Athletics NI XC League continues in the form of the long-standing cross country classic, the Malcolm Cup in Ballyclare. Other highlights include Born 2 Run’s Loughgall 10k and East Down AC’s Griddle 10k, both of which will provide additional temptation for those who are as yet undecided as to whether they want to lace up their racers!
Malcolm Cup XC:
Also on Saturday 3rd December 2016, athletes from across Northern Ireland will descend on Sixmilewater Park in Ballyclare for the prestigious Malcolm Cup XC, an event hosted by Annadale Striders.
Following on from the McConnell Shield XC, which was also run within the confines of Sixmilewater Park, the Malcolm Cup XC kicks off the second half of the Athletics NI XC League 2016/17. The impressive programme of events kicks off at 1pm and includes races for Under 11 athletes upwards and culminates in the Malcolm Cup race at 3pm.
The ladies and Vet 35+ Men’s 3 mile race will start at 1.15pm and should be an exciting contest. Just last week, Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) was crowned NI & Ulster 10k (road) Champion after an exceptional outing at the Seeley Cup 10k, where she recorded 33:57 for victory. Emma hasn’t feature much on the grass this term put may now focus on cross country in order to make the Northern Ireland team for the upcoming Antrim International XC in January 2017.
If Emma toes the line, she’ll prove hard to beat – although City of Derry AC’s Catherine Whoriskey, who claimed a top ten spot at last week’s AAI National Senior XC Championships, will provide excellent competition should she return to Ballyclare, where she produced an exceptional performance to win the McConnell Shield XC last month.
Newcastle AC should be well represented as they try to make their way up the Athletics NI XC League table – Joanne Mills and Mari Troeng should head the County Down club’s charge. North Down AC ladies Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson will also play a major part in proceedings should they race. Both have shown good form in recent cross country events – Jessica impressed with a twelfth-place finish at the hotly contested Scottish XC Championships a few weeks ago. Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers), Heather Foley (Unattached), Karen Alexander (Acorns AC), Jodi Smith (North Down AC), Zoe Carruthers (City of Lisburn AC), Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC) and Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers) will also be worth watching.
Meanwhile, in the veteran men’s race, with most of the ‘more junior’ veterans likely to compete in the Malcolm Cup race, Philip Tweedie (Springwell Running Club), Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners), Dale Mathers (Mourne Runners), Thomas Leitch (Orangegrove AC), Paul Elliot (North Belfast Harriers), Billy Reed (East Antrim Harriers), Mark Walker (Unattached), Stuart Kennedy (Beechmount Harriers) and Ray Curran (Ballymena Runners) may well come to the fore.
In the Malcolm Cup race, which will cover 4 miles, a competitive field is expected and it could be the runner up at the recent McConnell Shield XC, Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club), who sets the pace at the head of the pack. The QUB student narrowly missed a podium place at the Seeley Cup last week, taking fourth place in a brilliant 31:24.
In saying this, Neil may face a tough challenge in the form of Glenwherry man Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – in the run up to the Seeley Cup, Mark looked like a real podium contender, but unfortunately he was forced to withdraw prior to race day due to illness; he’ll be eager to get back on the start line and the additional rest could make the difference.
The always impressive Seamus Lynch, who led his Newcastle AC team to a medal in the ‘C category’ at the AAI National Senior XC last week, will be in the mix as Newcastle AC try to improve on their current fourth place in the Athletics NI XC League table. Seamus could be joined by team mates David O’Flaherty, Zak Hanna, David Simpson and David McNeilly, amongst others.
City of Derry AC’s Northern Ireland international Allan Bogle may also enter on the day, while Andrew Considine, Philip Goss, John Black, Conor Curran and Eamon White should represent North Belfast Harriers. Ballymena Runners’ James Hamilton, another impressive performer on the roads of Belfast last weekend, should also race and will be there or there abouts, as will his former team mate Kevin O’Boyle (Unattached), who is running well at the moment.
Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Loughgall 10k: