Northern Ireland Running

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Weekend Preview:  NI athletes look forward to local and national events...

Road, track, trail and cross country on offer this weekend:

As the weekend racing activity begins to increase, this upcoming Saturday and Sunday (the 1st and 2nd February 2014) will see local athletes compete over almost every terrain, with events taking place in Downpatrick (County Down), An Creggan – Omagh (Couny Tyrone), Lifford (Ireland) and Athlone (Ireland).  Northern Ireland will also be represented at the prestigious British University and College Cross Country Championships in Stirling (Scotland).

East Down AC will host their annual 'Rollercoaster Road Races' at Downpatrick Race Course on Saturday 1st February 2014, an event that see's competitors race around the perimeter of the famous horse racing course.  The extensive race programme incorporates something for all ages; focussing on the adult competition, local men Brendan Teer (East Down AC), David O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC), David McNeilly (Newcastle AC) and Paul Carroll (Annadale Striders) could well be amongst the front runners.

Brendan Teer had to watch from the sidelines at the NI & Ulster Junior XC Championships last weekend (Saturday 25th January 2014), as he was ineligible having won the title the previous year, but the East Down AC star got his racing fix with an excellent performance at the Raheny 5 on Sunday (26th January 2014), where he narrowly missed a new personal best after recording a speedy 25:44 in windy conditions; this was enough to secure a twelfth place finish. Newcastle AC pair David O'Flaherty and David McNeilly have both excelled on this course in previous years, with David O'Flaherty leading the field home in 2009 and David McNeilly in 2013.  The talented duo were also part of the victorious Newcastle AC team, who were confirmed as NI & Ulster Junior XC Champions last week.  Individually, David O'Flaherty impressed at the Moira XC, where he won.  

Annadale Striders' Paul Carroll has also been in good form recently; he claimed third place at the Moira XC and also narrowly missed a podium spot in the NI & Ulster Masters XC Championships last week, after taking fourth place.  On the firmer surfaces, Paul has looked strong at the Ormeau Park parkrun, where he recently completed the 5k time-trial in 16:57.  Nigel Grier (Dromore AC), Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC), Ryan Andrews (Ballydrain Harriers), Michael Cultra (East Down AC) and Connor McMullan (Annadale Striders) will also finish well up the field, should they enter on the day.

In the ladies race, Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC), Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC), Catriona Donaldson (Lagan Valley AC) and Cheryl Denvir (East Down AC) should play a part at the head of the field.  Suzanne Higgins looks to have recovered the form that once put her amongst the provinces top ladies, after returning to competition last summer.  Since then, the Lagan Valley AC lady has picked up an award at the Moneymore 10k and looked good throughout the Athletics NI XC League, claiming top ten finishes at both the Springwell and McConnell Shield XC events before the turn of the year.  Suzanne's most recent outing was a 19:15 finish at the Antrim parkrun two week's ago.  The ever-consistent Catherine O'Connor should be there or there abouts; after a slightly disappointing performance at the NI & Ulster XC Championships last week, the local lady well be keen to restore proper order on the terrain where she feels most comfortable.  

Catriona Donaldson had a good run at the IAAF Antrim International XC, this followed some excellent performances towards the end of 2013, the best of which was a win at the 'Run in the Dark' 10k.  The 'Pure Running' lady will no doubt place well if she races.  The same can be said for Cheryl Denvir, who like her aformentioned club mate, Catherine O'Connor, is always in or around the podium places at local events.  However, she (Cheryl) hasn't featured much since her brilliant 3:28:16 finish at the Dublin Marathon in October 2013.  This could be a good thing, as she'll be going into the race fresh.  Virginia Ervine (Mourne Runners), Ruth Magill (Lagan Valley AC), Monica McCrickard (Leitrim Ladies), Mary Mackin (Dromore AC) and Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC) should also be looking for top ten places if they race.

Also on Saturday 1st February 2014, Sperrin Harriers will host the fourth race of their well-organised Winter League Trail Series at An Creggan, close to Omagh (County Tyrone).  On this occasion, participants will complete a 5 mile course.  

Current league leaders, Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) and Michael Crawley (Sperrin Harriers) will resume battle.  The fast improving pair have enjoyed several exciting dual's throughout the Series so far; in Race 1, Mark took fourth place, with Michael claiming fifth place, but since then, Mark has won the previous two races, with Michael taking the runners up spot in both.  

Away from the Series, Mark has produced top performances at the IAAF Antrim International XC and the NI & Ulster Junior XC Championships, placing well in both.  Michael also looked strong at the IAAF XC, this followed a massive personal best at the Greencastle 5 mile road race in late 2013, where the Sperrin Harriers man knocked nearly two minutes off his best when crossing the line in 28:36.  

It is unlikely that Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers) and Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers) will race, so the remaining podium place could go to Michael Kerr (Carmen Runners), or one of three Sperrin Harriers men, namely Delfim Pimentel, Paul O'Callaghan and Aaron Meharg.  All four have featured well in the Series so far, with both Michael Kerr and Aaron Meharg finishing in the top three on one occasion.  Delfim Pimentel claimed fourth place in Race 2, while Paul O'Callaghan, another of the Sperrin Harriers squad who has been improving quickly, took fifth place in his only appearance in the Series, in Race 3.  Mark Alexander (Ballymena Runners), Thomas Leitch (Orangegrove AC), Darren Church (Magherafelt Harriers), Bliadhan Glass (Sperrin Harriers) and Sean O'Gara (Sperrin Harriers) may also toe the line.

The dominant Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers) should continue her strong-hold on the ladies category; having won the previous three races in the Series, it is hard to look past Karen for a pre-race favourite.  Just last Saturday (25th January 2014), the international athlete secured an impressive victory at the Dungiven 10k, following on from a win at the Moira XC earlier this month.  Karen's new club mate, and rising Sperrin Harriers star, Rhian Pegram, will also play a part at the front.  The junior athlete has been making the headlines on a frequent basis recently, with quality performances at the Raheny 5 and Race 3 of this Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series.  She (Rhian) picked up prizes at both, but the most notable being her second place finish in the junior category at the fiercely contested Raheny 5 last week (Sunday 26th January 2014).  Other top contenders will include Patricia Campbell (Omagh Harriers) and Sperrin Harriers ladies, Nuala Kelly, Jacqueline Mulligan and Cheryl Cardwell.  Unfortunately, as of Saturday 1st February 2014 (9am), this event has been POSTPONED, due to significant snow on the course and surrounding areas.  The new date has been confirmed as Saturday 15th February 2014.

Further afield, at least four Northern Ireland athletes will represent their respective Universities/Colleges at the British University and College (BUCS) XC Championships, which will be hosted by Stirling University in Scotland.  AAI National 10k Champion Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers) will be joined by NI XC star, and Scottish Universities XC Champion, Lauren Quee (Glasgow University), as well as Larne AC's junior mountain running international, Ryan Stewart (Dundee University) and Northern Ireland 10,000m record holder and Athletics NI 10k (Road) Champion, Fionnaula Ross (Armagh AC and Glasgow University) on the start line of the prestigious Championships, which have featured some of the UK and Ireland's most talented athletes in the past.

On Sunday 2nd February 2014, many of the provinces top track stars will kick off their season at the Woodies DIY AAI Open Indoor Games, which will be held at the much talked about AIT Arena in Athlone, Ireland.

Amongst those athletes travelling south will be Commonwealth Games qualifier and NI & Ulster 200m/AAI National (Indoor) 400m Champion Jason Harvey (Crusaders AC), Northern Ireland 100m (joint) and 200m record holder Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC), double AAI National U-23 400m (Indoor) Champion Christine McMahon (Ballymena & Antrim AC), AAI National Juvenile, Junior and Senior 800m Champion Aislinn Crossey (Newry AC) and AAI National U-23 800m Champion Katie Kirk (Lagan Valley AC).  Other top NI stars will include Dean Adams (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Kenny Elliot (North Down AC), Curtis Woods (North Down AC), Oisin O'Callaghan (Newry AC), Gareth Hill (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Padjo Hamilton (City of Derry AC), Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC), Alison Armstrong (City of Lisburn AC), Mark Hoy (Finn Valley AC) and Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC).  As part of an exciting new initiative, this event will be streamed live by Athletics Ireland, please keep an eye on their website (HERE) for further details.

Several Northern Ireland based runners are also expected to make the short cross-border trip to Raphoe, County Donegal (Ireland) for the second race of the annual Lifford AC 5k Series on Sunday 2nd February 2014.  After performing well in the opening race in St Johnston/Carrigans two weeks ago, it expected that Benny Mullan (City of Derry AC), Darragh Crossan (Derry City Track Club), Hannah McGowan (Derry City Track Club), Ita Kelly (Omagh Harriers) and Zach McGowan (Derry City Track Club) will again take to the start line.

Northern Ireland will welcome another parkrun to the province this weekend, with the new Carrickfergus parkrun taking place for the first time on Saturday 1st February 2014.  The event will be based out of the Carrickfergus Amphitheatre and Wellness Centre and will commence at 9.30am.  Thirteen of Northern Ireland's other parkrun events will also take place as normal; however, Larne parkrun and Ecos parkrun have been CANCELLED due to flooding on the courses.  For more information on parkrun, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.  

NiRunning 5m Trail Race attracting significant interest:

NiRunning 5m Trail Race - Sunday 16th February 2014 (11am):

In just over two weeks, the first NiRunning event of 2014 will take place in Ballyboley Forest, County Antrim; the inaugural NiRunning 5 mile trail race, which will take place on Sunday 16th February 2014 (11am), has already attracted so much interest that organisers have had to relocate the Race HQ to the Killylane Reservoir side of the scenic forest.


When asked, race director and the man behind NiRunning, Ryan Maxwell explained, "In truth, we have been humbled by the level of interest in the race, from athletes right across the running spectrum.  Due to the amount of pre-entries, and the associated pressure that would have put on the already minimal car parking space at the main car park in Ballyboley Forest, we have been in discussions with the NI Water Service, who have very kindly allowed us access and use of their car parks and site at Killylane Reservoir, just off the main Shanes Hill Road, between Larne and Ballymena.  This is where the Race HQ (including registration and start/finish) will now be located.  Despite the extra space available to us, we would still strongly encourage car sharing." 


Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers), Jonny Steede (Ballymena Runners), David Simpson (Unattached), Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club), Sharon Trimble (North Belfast Harriers) and David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) are amongst the athletes due to toe the line on race day. 


Commonwealth Games qualifier and respected Northern Ireland international, Gladys Ganiel O’Neill spoke of her enthusiasm towards the race, "I am really looking forward to the race in Ballyboley.  I make hill and trail running a regular part of my preparations for marathons, because the ups and downs make you a stronger and better athlete both physically and mentally. I  also just enjoy getting out in Northern Ireland's countryside.  This new race is a great opportunity to keep up my training over the hills and get some good competition in a beautiful setting."

Talented trail and ultra runner, Jonny Steede, winner of the Lost Worlds 100k and Wicklow Way 50k added, “I much prefer trail running to other surfaces, it just feels more natural and enjoyable.  The NiRunning event is a great opportunity to get out onto the Ballyboley Forest trails! I am really looking forward to it.”


The NiRunning race has also attracted interest from major brands, with the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon adding it to their list of recommended events in the run up to the Belfast Marathon on Monday 5th May 2014; information and entry forms for the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon will be available on the day.  The Red Bull promotions team will also be on site, with freebies and information on their upcoming Red Bull Wings running event.  ChampionChip Ireland will provide timing services and athletes and spectators will be able to enjoy pre and post race refreshments from Café Lavinto.


Full details (including directions to Killylane Reservoir) and online entry for the event are available HERE.  Online entry (£5 for affiliated and £7 for un-affiliated) will remain open until Friday 14th February 2014 (5pm).  On the day entry will be available, at a slightly increased rate (£6 for affiliated and £8 for un-affiliated) but will close at 10.45am sharp!  If you require any further information on the NiRunning 5m Trail Race, please email [email protected]

Brendan Grew and Karen Alexander impress at Dungiven 10k:

St Patrick's Dungiven 10k 2014:

On Saturday 25th January 2014, St Patrick's College in Dungiven welcomed nearly one hundred and fifty runners to the inaugural running of their 10k road race in Dungiven, County Derry/Londonderry.

North Belfast Harriers' Brendan Grew was a dominant force at the front from the off, the consistently impressive athlete broke the tape in 35:36 (1st place), thus securing a comfortable victory.  Dermot McElhinney (Sperrin Harriers) followed just under a minute later in 36:23 (2nd place), before another North Belfast Harriers man, Paul Horan, recorded a new personal best of 37:21 for 3rd place.

Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers) continued her rich run of form in the ladies race; the respected Northern Ireland international, who has enjoyed wins at the Sperrin Harriers 10k and Moira XC already this year, led the ladies home in 38:32 (1st place); this was enough to claim an 8th place finish overall!  Denise Toner (Clones AC) took 2nd place in 39:40, while talented Springwell Running Club athlete, Gemma Turley (40:36) battled well for 3rd place.

Top 3 Men:  1st Brendan Grew (North Belfast Harriers) – 35:36, 2nd Dermot McElhinney (Sperrin Harriers) – 36:23, 3rd Paul Horan (North Belfast Harriers) – 37:21

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers) – 38:32, 2nd Denise Toner (Clones AC) – 39:40, 3rd Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) – 40:36

Full Results:  St Patrick's College Dungiven 10k Road Race 2014 Results – We apologise for the late publication of this summary and associated results, but despite our efforts, we were unable to obtain official results until this morning (Thursday 30th January 2014).

Northern Ireland well represented at 30th annual Raheny 5:

Northern Ireland well represented at Raheny 5m Road Race:

On Sunday 26th January 2014, a large contingent of Northern Ireland based runners travelled south to Raheny, just outside Dublin (Ireland), for the 30th annual running of the popular Raheny 5 mile road race, hosted by Raheny Shamrock AC.  Sperrin Harriers, East Antrim Harriers, Larne AC, North Belfast Harriers, East Down AC and Annadale Striders were amongst the local clubs represented in the three thousand strong field.

Annadale Striders man Andrew Agnew, a fifth place finisher in the Athletics NI 10k (Road) Championships at the back end of 2013, produced an excellent performance, despite the windy conditions,  to claim 8th place in 25:28. Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) and Brendan Teer (East Down AC) followed in quick succession, with Declan clocking 25:43 (11th place) and Brendan 25:44 (12th place). Colin Roberts (City of Derry AC) crossed the line in 26:49 (23rd place), before Paul O'Callaghan led a bus load (literally!) of Sperrin Harriers home in 27:59 (57th place).  

The ever improving Michael Crawley (Sperrin Harriers) recorded 28:42 (75th place) for the distance, finishing just ahead of club mate Durmaid O'Kane (92nd place – 28:56).  Commonwealth Games qualifier, Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) kicked off her marathon campaign with a 5th place finish in the ladies race, after completing the course in 29:02; this was a mere one second quicker than East Antrim Harriers legend Sam Crawford, who ran 29:03 (97th place).  Sperrin Harriers' Sean O'Gara was the final NI athlete to break the infamous sub 30 minute barrier, when he crossed the line in 29:44 (127th place).

Fellow Sperrin Harriers member, Martin Loughran (30:10), East Antrim Harriers duo Billy Reed (30:19) and Chris Collins (30:22) and Larne AC's Billy Thompson (30:35) narrowly missed the aformentioned barrier, but should be happy with solid performances.  Aaron Devlin (Sperrin Harriers) clocked 31:20, while East Antrim Harriers' Joe McBride and Andy Liddle crossed the line in 31:35 and 32:08 respectively.  Rodger McLean (Sperrin Harriers) ran a new personal best of 32:52, which interestingly, was exactly the same time as East Antrim Harriers' Michael Allen (32:52).  Adrian McCann (Sperrin Harriers) followed just two seconds later in 32:54; Adrian's new club mate, Rhian Pegram (Sperrin Harriers), produced one of the most impressive performances of the day.  Having recently taken up running, Rhian followed her podium finish at last week's Sperrin Harriers trail race with a runners up spot in the junior ladies category, after running a new personal best of 33:29.

Other top performances from Northern Ireland based athletes included, Jim Finlay (East Antrim Harriers) – 33:38, Gavin Whylie (Sperrin Harriers) – 33:51, Ian Brennan (Larne AC) – 34:06, Martin McMillans (East Antrim Harriers) - 34:11, Tiorleah Gourley (Sperrin Harriers) – 36:09, Jason O'Neill (Sperrin Harriers) – 36:40, Eddie Blayney (East Antrim Harriers) – 38:18, Hannah Su (Sperrin Harriers) – 39:25, John Knocker (Sperrin Harriers) – 39:32, Nicola Gillespie (Sperrin Harriers) – 39:39, Deirdre Bradley (Sperrin Harriers) – 41:17, Fiona Devlin (Sperrin Harriers) – 42:24, Maureen Mallon (Sperrin Harriers) – 47:07, Frances Crawley (Sperrin Harriers) - 47:27, Emma Quinn (Sperrin Harriers) – 49:21, Sharon Scott (Sperrin Harriers) – 50:38 and Cathy Quinn (Sperrin Harriers) – 57:12.

The men's race was won by well-known Irish athlete Mark Christie (Mullingar Harriers) in 23:57, while Mary Cullen (North Sligo AC) won the ladies race in a new course record of 25:35; this was enough to secure a ninth place finish overall for the Irish international cross country star.

Full Results:  Raheny 5m Road Race 2014 Results

Gladys O'Neill claims podium spot as NI athletes impress in Ireland:

Northern Ireland athletes impress in Ireland:

On Sunday 26th January 2014, a number of Northern Ireland athletes were in competition at the annual Dungarvan 10 mile road race in West Waterford, Ireland; an event that attracted one thousand six hundred participants.  Despite the horrendous weather conditions, the local names performed well.

Gary Murray (St Malachy's AC), a bronze medal winner at the recent NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships, produced another notable run.  The talented athlete, who looks to be back to his best after injury, recorded a speedy 50:49 to secure 7th place.  Fellow St Malachy's AC man, John Frazer, who was representing Irish club Crusaders AC, followed in 53:26, before North Belfast Harriers' Gladys Ganiel O'Neill claimed the runners up spot in the ladies race, after crossing the line in 57:27 (2nd place lady).  The men's race was won by Thomas Fitzpatrick (Tallaght AC) in 49:48, while Siobhan O'Doherty (Borrisokane AC) sealed the ladies title in 56:53.

Also this weekend:

Seapark AC's endurance specialist, Gillian Cordner claimed 3rd place in the East of Ireland Marathon Series 26.2 mile event in Longwood, County Meath (Ireland) on Saturday 25th January 2014.  In windy conditions, Gillian ran well, completing the eight lap course in 3:28:00.  The race was won by Ronan Dunphy (Club Unknown) in 2:56:00, while Orna Dilworth (Unattached) claimed the ladies top prize in 3:18:00.

This event followed another East of Ireland Marathon Series (26.2m) event, which took place on Wednesday 22nd January 2014, in Clontarf, County Dublin (Ireland). On that ocassion, Gillian led the ladies home in 3:52:00; her club mate, Gary Connolly (Seapark AC) also completed the 26.2 mile course, crossing the line in 4:03:00. The men's race was won by Ger Copeland (Club Unknown) in 3:23:00.

Full Results:  Dungarvan 10m Road Race 2014 Results (Photograph used above was taken from Cork Running website) East of Ireland Marathon Series:  Clontarf Marathon and Longwood Marathon 2014 Results

Marrs, McMahon and McGarvey claim AAI National Indoor titles:

AAI National Indoor titles for Marrs, McMahon and McGarvey:

On Sunday 26th January 2014, at least seven athletes from Northern Ireland turned out for the Woodies DIY AAI National U-20 and U-23 Indoor Championships at the AIT Arena in Athlone, Ireland.  Megan Marrs (City of Lisburn AC) was the star of the show, but fellow Northern Ireland based runners Christine McMahon (Ballymena & Antrim AC) and Mark McGarvey (City of Derry AC) also claimed AAI National titles.  There were also podium places (and medals) for several other local athletes.

Current Juvenile AAI National Indoors Champion, Megan Marrs looked in exceptional shape as she secured gold medals in the U-20 60m hurdles and the 60m; the City of Lisburn AC star recorded 8.84secs over the hurdles and 7.68secs to win the equivalent 'flat' race.  Ballymena & Antrim AC's Christine McMahon cruised to victory in her U-23 400m event, breaking the beam in 57.36secs, while fellow U-23 athlete, Mark McGarvey topped the podium in his U-23 60m hurdles race, after crossing the line in 8.60secs.  City of Lisburn AC's Adam Hill (8.83secs) finished in 5th place in the same race.

There were also podium places for several other local athletes; Joanna Mills (Ballymena & Antrim AC) and Curtis Woods (North Down AC) both took silver medals in their respective U-23 200m races.  Joanna ran 25.06secs to finish behind Kilkenny City Harriers' Louise Holmes (24.94secs), while Curtis clocked 22.52secs to finish as runner up to DSD AC's Mark Kavanagh (22.16secs).  In the U-20 1500m, Lagan Valley AC's Emer Magee sealed 3rd place in 4:58.08; the race was won by Nadia Power (Templeogue AC) in 4:50.50.  City of Derry AC's Jack McCloskey also ran well, the young Spartan collected a bronze medal after finishing in 3rd place in his U-20 400m event, Jack ran 50.69secs in the race won by Evan McGuire (Galway City Harriers), who won in 49.81secs. East Down AC's Neil McCartan faced tough opposition in his U-23 800m race, but performed well to take 7th place in 4:13.24.  The race was won by Keith Fallon (Galway City Harriers) in 4:00.72.

Full Results:  Woodies DIY AAI National U-20/U-23 Indoor Championships 2014 Results (Photograph used above was taken from Athletics NI website)

Impressive wins for McDermott, Duncan and Sturm at NI & Ulster XC:

Athletes and spectators brave bad weather for exciting XC Championships:

On Saturday 25th January 2014, a record number of athletes braved difficult running conditions to participate in the prestigious NI & Ulster Junior/Intermediate/Masters Cross Country Championships, hosted by Athletics NI in Lurgan Park, Lurgan.  An excellent day of competition saw impressive wins for Ryan McDermott (Annadale Striders), Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) and Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers).  

It was Stephen Duncan who topped the podium first, with his Masters Men 8k event kicking off proceedings.  In truth, the Omagh Harriers man, who was returning from a long spell on the sidelines, looked a class above the competition, leading from start to finish.  Despite a valient effort from former AAI National Marathon and Half Marathon Champion, Pauric McKinney (Inishowen AC), it was Stephen Duncan who crossed the line first, breaking the tape in 29:21.  Pauric McKinney followed in 29:37 (2nd place), with Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers) claiming a well-deserved bronze medal. Eamon had played his part at the front throughout and recorded 29:48 (3rd place) for the distance.  In the team competition, North Belfast Harriers took the gold medal, with East Coast AC and Bailieboro taking 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.

In driving rain, the lntermediate/Masters Ladies and Masters Men 60+ took to the start line for their 4k race, which proved to be one of the closest of the day. In the early stages, Letterkenny AC's Fionnuala Diver led the way, with Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers), Sarah Lindsay (Foyle Valley AC), Donna Evans (Finn Valley AC) and Kay Byrne (Finn Valley AC) in pursuit.  As the race progressed, Michelle Sturm, a silver medal winner in the Intermediate category last year, moved to the front and began to push the pace; this proved to be a wise move, and one that ultimately saw the talented athlete crowned Champion.  She (Michelle) powered into the finishing straight and covered the final metres quickly to secure victory in 17:45 (1st place).  Current NI & Ulster Novice XC Champion, Sarah Lindsay took 2nd place in 17:52, while Fionnuala Diver recorded 17:58 for 3rd place; Fionnaula was the first lady in the Masters category to finish, thus she was crowned NI & Ulster Masters XC Champion.  

Omagh Harriers were victorious in the Intermediate ladies category, with Foyle Valley AC in 2nd place and City of Derry AC in 3rd place.  Finn Valley AC won the Masters ladies title, while Lagan Valley AC and City of Derry AC took 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.  North Down AC legend David Seaton was the first veteran athlete to finish, crossing the line in 19:51.  He (David) was followed by Fred Murdock (North Down AC) and David Nicholson (Ballymena Runners), with David Nicholson (Ballymena Runners) running 20:50 for 2nd place and Fred Murdock (North Down AC) 21:31 for 3rd place, 

The final race of the day saw the Junior/Intermediate Men take to the start for their 10k race; although they did not have to battle the same torrential rain as those before them, the men had to endure a very 'cut up' course.  After a fast start, a group containing Ryan McDermott (Annadale Striders), Eoghan Totten (Newcastle AC), and Finn Valley AC duo Mark Hoy and Gerard Gallagher took up position at the front.  It wasn't until the men entered the third of five laps that a potential winner came to the fore, in the form of AAI National U-23 Champion Ryan McDermott, who began to take charge.  The Ireland international surged clear of the group; Eoghan Totten and Mark Hoy followed, but Gerard Gallagher, a third place finisher last year, started to drop off the leading trio.  As the race entered the final stages, Ryan McDermott continually increased his lead, while Mark Hoy was beginning to forge a gap between himself and Eoghan Totten.  The spectators lined the final straight awaiting the arrival of the leaders; it was Ryan McDermott who emerged from the wooded area first, the Annadale Striders star continued his relentless pace all the way to the finish line, breaking the tape in 36:28.  Mark Hoy sealed 2nd place in 36:40, before Eoghan Totten completed the podium finishers in 37:08 (3rd place).

In the all important NI & Ulster Junior XC team competition, Newcastle AC were rewarded for their close 'packing', with an excellent victory, interesting, 27 years after they last lifted the impressive trophy.  Finn Valley AC took silver medals, with Foyle Valley AC picking up bronze medals.

Individual Podium Places:

Masters Men Top 3 (8k):  1st Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) – 29:21, 2nd Pauric McKinney (Inishowen AC) – 29:37, 3rd Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers) – 29:48

Intermediate Ladies Top 3 (4k):  1st Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers) – 17:45, 2nd Sarah Lindsay (Foyle Valley AC) – 17:52, 3rd Catherine Dooher (Finn Valley AC) – 18:18

Masters Ladies Top 3 (4k):  1st Fionnuala Diver (Letterkenny AC) – 17:58, 2nd Kay Byrne (Finn Valley AC) – 18:12, 3rd Donna Evans (Finn Valley AC) – 18:16

Masters Men 60+ Top 3 (4k):  1st David Seaton (North Down AC) – 19:51, 2nd David Nicholson (Ballymena Runners) – 20:50,  3rd Fred Murdock (North Down AC) – 2:31

Junior/Intermediate Men Top 3 (10k):  1st Ryan McDermott (Annadale Striders) – 36:28, 2nd Mark Hoy (Finn Valley AC) – 36:34, 3rd Eoghan Totten (Newcastle AC) – 37:08

Team Podium Places (including scoring team members):

Masters Men Top 3 (8k):  1st North Belfast Harriers (Eamon White, Neil Carty, Conor Curran and Paul Blaney), 2nd East Coast AC (James Brown, Andy Guy, Greg Lavery and David Clarke), 3rd Baileborough AC (Desmond Duffy, Kieran Cosgrove, Philip Smith and Garry Cosgrove)

Masters Ladies Top 3 (4k):  1st Finn Valley AC (Kay Byrne, Donna Evans, Marie Harper and Eimear Gallen), 2nd Lagan Valley AC (Julie Murphy, Shileen O'Kane, Hazel McLaughlin and Ruth Magill), 3rd City of Derry AC (Hannah Shields, Jackie McGinley, Camila McGranaghan and Claire Connor)

Intermediate Ladies Top 3 (4k):  1st Omagh Harriers (Michelle Sturm, Eilish Flanagan, Roisin Flanagan and Deirdre Haigney), 2nd Foyle Valley AC (Sarah Lindsay, Martina McMullan, Charlene McIntyre and Denise McElhone), 3rd City of Derry AC (Aoife Laverty, Ciara Fraser, Janeen Leese and Camilla McGranaghan)

Junior/Intermediate Men Top 3 (10k):  1st Newcastle AC (Eoghan Totten, David O'Flaherty, Seamus Lynch, David Steele, Ian Bailey and David McNeilly), 2nd Finn Valley AC (Mark Hoy, Colin Watson, Gerard Gallagher, Dermot Brennan, Shane McNulty and Andre Friel), 3rd Foyle Valley AC (Scott Rankin, Keith Shiels, Chris McGuinness, Adrian McGowan, Pius McIntyre and Steven Connor)

Full Results:  NI & Ulster Junior/Intermediate/Masters XC 2014 Results – Photograph's from the NI & Ulster Junior/Intermediate/Masters XC 2014 are now available within our Photo Gallery.

NI athletes pick up medals at AAI National Masters Indoor Championships:

Woodies DIY AAI National Masters Indoors Championships 2014:

On Saturday 25th January 2014, a large number of Northern Ireland based athletes travelled south to the much talked about, and very impressive, AIT Arena in Athlone (Ireland) for the Woodies DIY AAI National Masters Indoor Championships.

There were plenty of top performances from the NI contingent, with at least fourteen of the athletes picking up well-deserved medals.  Patrick Crossan (City of Lisburn AC) and Patsy Forbes (Mid Ulster AC) were two of the most impressive performers, picking up two gold medals each; in his Vet50 200m and 400m events, Patrick clocked 25.94secs and 58.05secs respectively to win.  Meanwhile, Patsy broke the beam first in his Vet70 60m and 200m races, running 8.66secs for 60m and 30.28secs for 200m.

Derry City Track Club duo Cathal McLaughlin (Vet45) and Tim Shiels (Vet35) also collected gold medals, with Cathal winning his 1500m race in 4:20.25 and Tim (2:01.89) leading the field home in his 800m race.  North Belfast Harriers' Claire Connor (10:43.41) cruised to victory in her Vet35 3,000m event, narrowly missing a personal best en-route.  Mickey Linden (Mid Ulster AC) and Bob Douglas (Ballymena & Antrim AC) also topped the podium; Mickey won the Vet50 60m in 7.86secs, while Bob recorded 8.66secs to win his Vet55 60m.  Bob also claimed a silver medal in the Vet55 200m, after running 28.33secs.

Respected athletics journalist, Malcolm McCausland (Derry City Track Club) took 2nd place in his Vet60 1500m race, after covering the distance in 5:16.07. Fellow Derry City Track Club member, Robert Bigger, also ran well to win a silver medal in his Vet55 800m race; Robert ran 2:16.11.  City of Derry AC's Philip Donaghy ran 2:11.64 for 800m, thus taking a bronze medal in his Vet45 race.  Philip McKinney (Ballymena & Antrim AC) and Gary McGee (Derry City Track Club) also collected bronze medals in their Vet35 and Vet45 categories, with Philip running 25.60secs for 200m and Gareth 2:12.17 for 800m.  

There were a number of other notable performances by Northern Ireland athletes, but because of the way in which the results were published, it is difficult to obtain full details of all competitors.  Results showing the podium finishers are available below, should further information become available, we will add it to the summary.

Full Results:  AAI National Master Indoor Championships 2014 Results (Photograph used above is taken from the Athletics Ireland website)

Weekend Preview:  NI & Ulster XC Championships take centre stage:

Weekend Preview:  Athletes gear up for another busy weekend...

After a quiet week on the local running circuit, it's back to business for Northern Ireland's running community.  Cross country enthusiasts from across the province (and beyond) will descend on Northern Ireland's largest public park, Lurgan Park in Lurgan (County Armagh), for the prestigious Northern Ireland & Ulster Junior, Intermediate and Masters Cross Country Championships.  There is also a 10k road race in Dungiven (County Derry/Londonderry); on top of this, Northern Ireland will be well represented at the AXA Raheny 5 mile road race in Ireland and the British Athletics 'Glasgow International Match' in Scotland.

The main action will of course be in Lurgan, where the NI & Ulster Junior/Intermediate and Masters XC Championships will take place on Saturday 25th January 2014.  The entry criteria means that any athlete who has won the NI & Ulster Junior XC Championships, UAC Intermediate XC Championships, AAI Intermediate XC Championships as an individual or part of the winning team; or has been placed 1st or 2nd as an individual or part of a team in the NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships, UAC Senior XC Championships or the AAI Senior XC Championships cannot participate in the ‘Intermediate’ Women’s or ‘Junior/Intermediate’ Men’s races.  

The exciting race programme will kick off at 1.15pm with the Masters Men's 8k race.  David Morwood (Annadale Striders), Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers), Alan O'Hara (North Belfast Harriers), Paul Rowan (Willowfield Harriers) and Francis Marsh (North Down AC) will all play a prominent part in proceedings, should they race.  Both David Morwood and Stephen Duncan missed most of 2013 through injury, but both possess the ability to control the race, if they toe the line.  In-fact, former European Masters 5,000m Champion (2012), David, won this race last year; because the aformentioned entry criteria does not apply to the Masters races, he (David) is eligible to race again.

Alan O'Hara will also be considered as another pre-race favourite; the North Belfast Harriers man enjoyed an excellent 2013, during which he picked up a bronze medal at this event last year.  More recently, Alan claimed a third place finish at the closely contested North West XC.  Paul Rowan has been racing sparingly of late, and hasn't raced at all in this year's cross country league, but based on his 32:12 clocking at the Seeley Cup 10k (November 2013), he is in the shape to perform to his usual high standard.  Versatile athlete, Francis Marsh will also go well; Francis has shown well at recent events in Antrim (IAAF International XC) and Surrey (Surrey XC League).  Last year, he claimed a top ten spot in the Junior/Intermediate race at this event.

Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers), Conor Curran (North Belfast Harriers), James Brown (City of Derry AC), Mark Wright (Annadale Striders), Pauric McKinney (Inishowen AC), Paul Carroll (Annadale Striders), Paul McCafferty (City of Derry AC), Dale Mathers (Newry City Runners), James Brown (East Coast AC) and Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers) will all be amongst the top finishers.  In the team standings, it is hard to look past the incredibly strong North Belfast Harriers team, which includes Alan O'Hara, Eamon White, Conor Curran, Greg Walsh, Neil Carty, Paul Elliot, John Patience and Paul Blaney amongst others.  Teams from City of Derry AC (James Brown, James Cramspey, Mark Mullan, Michael Murphy, Paul McCafferty, Dermot Connolly and Oran McBride), Annadale Striders (Paul Carroll, Mark Wright, Stephen McGrory, David Morwood, Conor McMullan, Michael LeVelley and Martin Sutherland), East Coast AC (James Brown, Nat Glenn, David Clarke, Greg Lavery, Andy Guy, Paul Hutchinson, Stephen McKenna and Naoise McLaughlin), Ballymena Runners (Kevin O'Boyle, Michael Bennett, Alex Brennan, Noel Connor, Ray Curran, Gary Davidson, Tom Mills and Paula Wallace) and Larne AC (Craig Hutchinson, Bernard Brady, Bryan Magee, Billy Thompson, Paul Tilson, Michael Anderson and David Noble) are likely to contest the remaining podium places.

The Intermediate and Masters Ladies 4k race, which also includes the Male Masters 60+ race, will kick off at 2pm.  Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers), Fionnuala Diver (Letterkenny AC), Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers), Denise Toner (Clones AC), Claire Connor (North Belfast Harriers), Donna Evans (Finn Valley AC), Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers) and Mary Meade (North Belfast Harriers) all look like contenders in what should be an excellent race.  In 2013, Denise Toner, Donna Evans and Michelle Sturm were the first three ladies to cross the line, but that was in the absence of many of the other ladies; one of whom, Cathy McCourt, has returned from injury and ran herself into excellent form.  The North Belfast Harriers athlete has been a podium finisher on at least seven occasions since returning from a long-term injury last summer, this included excellent wins at the NIMAA Cross Country (October 2013) and the Lough 5 (December 2013), which added to an international call up to represent Ireland at the British & Irish Masters Cross Country in Cardiff, Wales.  

Fionnuala Diver is a respected athlete from County Donegal; each time the talented lady crosses the border to race in Northern Ireland, she seems to run well. However, her last outing was closer to home, where she won the Letterkenny AC 5 mile road race in 29:51 two weeks ago.  Claire Connor is another top performer, in the last six months, she has ran well on the roads and the track, recording new personal bests over 1500m (5:04.91), 3k (10:26) and 5k (10:18).  On her day, Claire has the ability to mix it with some of the best runners in the province.  Another North Belfast Harriers athlete, Mary Meade, has been in impressive form since returning to competition after a break away from the sport.  Mary, who has a 5 mile personal best of 29:08 (and a 10m Pb of 55:41!), finished well up the field at the IAAF Antrim International XC at the turn of the year, this followed a podium place at the North West XC two weeks prior.  

International XC star, Julie Butler, will be hoping to add another NI & Ulster Championship medal to the one she picked up at the NI & Ulster Masters 3,000m Championships last summer.  Despite not having featured in 2014 as yet, Julie looked sharp whilst representing Northern Ireland at the British & Irish Masters XC Championships in Wales late last year (2013).  When you add athletes such as Donegal Novice XC Champion Helen Stockdale (Finn Valley AC), mountain running internationals Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) and Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC), WPFG XC medallist Paula McAllister (Ballymena Runners), NI & Ulster Novice XC Champion Sarah Lindsay (Foyle Valley AC), international cross country runner Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers) and habitual podium finishers Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC) and Cheryl Denvir (East Down AC) to the mix, it makes for an extremley interesting ladies race.  In the men's 60+ event, Drew Crawford (North Belfast Harriers), Francis Boal (Lagan Valley AC), Willie Weir (Dromore AC), Roy Corry (Willowfield Harriers) and David Seaton (North Down AC) will all be aiming for a high finish and category prizes.

On the team front, Omagh Harriers (Michelle Sturm, Julie Butler, Patricia Campbell, Deirdre Haigney, Caroline Miller, Ita Kelly, Elish Flanagan, Roisin Flanagan, Donna Owen and Karen Neill), City of Derry AC (Catherine Hribar, Amy Jackson, Paula McGilloway, Jackie McGinley, Hannah Shields, Sarah Kivelehan, Janeen Leese, Aoife Laverty, Angela McShane and Camilla McGranaghan) and North Belfast Harriers (Claire Connor, Cathy McCourt, Mary Meade, Mary Reid, Helen Weir, Angela McGreevy and Paula Wallace) look to be the strongest teams in the Intermediate competition, whilst Finn Valley AC (Donna Evans, Helen Stockdale, Kay Byrne, Noreen Bonner, Catriona Devine, Eimear Gallen, Marie Harper and Catherine Dooher), Lagan Valley AC (Hazel McLaughlin, Shileen O'Kane, Julie Murphy, Ruth Magill, Catherine Swail and Iryna Kenndy) and North Down AC (Julie Balmer, Catherine Roberts, Sarah Benton, Ange Perrott, Stephanie Hambling, Jill Aicken, Valerie McDonough and Marie Devine) are certain to finish well up in the Masters category.

The final race of the day is the Junior and Intermediate Men's 10k (2.30pm); an event that will bring some outstanding talent to the start line.  Ryan McDermott (Annadale Striders), Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC), Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers), Adam Boyd (North Belfast Harriers), Eoghan Totten (Newcastle AC) and Conan McCaughey (Enniskillen Running Club) are just a few men who will feature at the head of the field.

AAI National U-23 XC Champion, Ryan McDermott, will hope to bring his outstanding form from 2013 into this race.  The Annadale Striders man represented Ireland at the European XC Championships (at U-23 level) two months ago, this crowned off an excellent season, which included a notable new personal best of 14:52.89 on the track, over 5,000m at the Woodies DIY AAI National Championships.  Foyle Valley AC club mates Keith Shiels and Scott Rankin have shown their worth in the last twelve months; Keith has won at least sixteen races, including major events such as the Waterside Half Marathon, Felix 10k and Dessie's 10k, he (Keith) has also represented Northern Ireland on the track (England Athletics Masters Inter-Challenge) and 'on the country' (British & Irish Masters XC).  

Meanwhile, Scott has looked strong in the opening stages of the Athletics NI XC League, picking up prizes at the Malcolm Cup, Springwell XC and the North West XC.  This followed a massive new 10k personal best of 31:11 at the Seeley Cup 10k (November 2013).  North Belfast Harriers new boy Andrew Annett is a talented athlete over all terrains; the Northern Ireland mountain running international has recorded personal bests at 5k (15:48), 5 miles (26:07) and 10k (32:38) over the last number of months.  Taking into consideration his strength from the mountains and his speed over short distances, Andrew should be amongst the front runners here, in what will be his debut in a 'stag' vest.  Andrew's North Belfast Harriers club mate, Adam Boyd, will also be hoping to be in or around the podium places.  After reducing his 10k personal best by almost one minute to 31:57 at the Seeley Cup 10k, Adam looks to be back to his best following an injury that hampered him during the middle of 2013; he'll have his eyes on going one better than last year (when he finished as runner up to Brendan Teer).  Irish Junior international cross country runner, Eoghan Totten, looked to be in good form at the IAAF Antrim XC, where he covered the tough 10k course in an impressive 32:22, finishing well up the field.  Eoghan has really progressed since representing Ireland at the European XC Championships just over a year ago; he reduced his 5,000m personal best to 14:52.82 and his 10k to 31:09.01.  Recently crowned NI & Ulster Novice XC Champion Conan McCaughey will be looking to add the prestigious 'Junior' title to his growing CV, which includes podium places at the Greencastle 5, Enniskillen 10k, Carmen 10k and the Ballyshannon 5k.

As well as the aforementioned athletes, there is a plethora of talent due to toe the line, amongst these will Mark Hoy (Finn Valley AC), Richard Johnston (City of Derry AC), Gerard Gallagher (Finn Valley AC), James Speight (Finn Valley AC), Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers), Glenn Phair (Annadale Striders), Mark Kendall (Newcastle AC), Conor Christie (Springwell Running Club), Michael Dyer (North Down AC), Pius McIntyre (Foyle Valley AC), David O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC), David McNeilly (Newcastle AC), Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers) and Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers).

As always, the epic battle for the junior cross country team title will watched as closely as the individual contest.  The amount of talent in the field makes it hard to select a pre-race favourite; however, Foyle Valley AC (Keith Shiels, Scott Rankin, Pius McIntyre, Chris McGuinness, Adam McGowan, Declan Doherty, John Collins, Steven Connor, Matthew McLaughlin, Michael McGowan and Darren Wallace), North Belfast Harriers (Adam Boyd, Andrew Annett, Andrew Considine, Brendan Grew, Jim Benson, Alan Ritchie, Mark McKinstry, Phillip Donnelly, Niall Farqharson, Connor McQuillan, John McGuigan, Marc Jennings, Mark McCallion and Paul McAllister), Newcastle AC (Eoghan Totten, Mark Kendall, David O'Flaherty, David McNeilly, Seamus Lynch, Paul Carlin, Ian Bailey, David Steele, Brendan Quail, John Kelly, Eamon McCrickard, PJ McCrickard and Simon Poland) and Finn Valley AC (James Speight, Mark Hoy, Gerrard Gallagher, Colin Watson, Declan Toland, Ryan Porter, Patrick Haynes-Foy, Dermot Brennan, Kieran Callaghan, Andrew Friel, Shane Gallagher, Shane McNulty and Paul Leck) should all be in contention.

Also on Saturday 25th January 2014, St Patrick's College will host a 10k road race in Dungiven, County Derry/Londonderry.  The event will attract a mixture of well-known club athletes as well as local running enthusiasts.  Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club), Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers), David Wright (Lagan Valley AC), Paul Horan (North Belfast Harriers) and Catherine Pinkerton (Springwell Running Club) should all start.

Further afield, athletes from all over the world will take part in the Sainsburys British Athletics 'Glasgow International Match' at the impressive Emirates Indoor Arena in Glasgow, Scotland on Saturday 25th January 2014.  Although start lists for the event were unavailable at the time of publishing, we suspect that several Northern Ireland based athletes may compete at the event.  Further information will be added, should it become available.  This event will be broadcast live on BBC1 from 1.45pm on Saturday (25th January 2014).

On Sunday 26th January 2014, Northern Ireland will be well represented at the 30th annual running of the popular AXA Raheny 5 mile road race, just outside Dublin (Ireland).  Sperrin Harriers, East Antrim Harriers and City of Derry AC athletes will be amongst the 2,000 strong field, with Declan Reed (City of Derry AC), Colin Roberts (City of Derry AC), Emmett McGinty (City of Derry AC), Sam Crawford (East Antrim Harriers), Michael Crawley (Sperrin Harriers), Paul O'Callaghan (Sperrin Harriers), Rhian Pelgram (Sperrin Harriers) all due to participate.

Northern Ireland’s fifteen parkrun events will also 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. 

Podium places for Northern Ireland runners in Ireland and Scotland:

Podium places for Northern Ireland runners in Ireland and Scotland:

On Sunday 19th January 2014, Northern Ireland man Paddy Hamilton (Annadale Striders) claimed a comprehensive victory in the Tuam AC 8k road race in County Galway, Ireland.  The respected athlete, who narrowly missed a podium spot at 'The Streets of Galway 8k' late last year (2013), before going on to make an impressive marathon debut in Dublin (October 2013), looked unstoppable as he led the four hundred and fifty strong field home in 24:21 (1st place), over two minutes clear of his nearest rival.

Also on Sunday 19th January 2014, at least eight runners from Northern Ireland joined in excess of three hundred and fifty athletes on the start line of the Lifford AC 5k in the St Johnston and Carrigans area of County Donegal, Ireland.  City of Derry AC's Benny Mullan, who has been performing well in the NWTC 5k Series, secured the runners up spot in 17:38 (2nd place), just under a minute behind race winner Pauric Breslin (Letterkenny AC), who crossed the line in 16:59. Derry City Track Club athletes Darragh Crossan (18:20) and Zach McGowan (18:34) sealed top ten finishes in 8th place and 10th place respectively, before their club mate Hannah McGowan (21:16) claimed 3rd place in the ladies race, which was won by Claire McGuigan (Lifford AC) in 19:05.  Omagh Harriers' Ita Kelly recorded 22:11 (7th place lady), while Foyle Valley AC man Packy Deehan finished in 22:23 (82nd place); City of Derry AC's Sam Cole also ran well, taking 120th place in 23:36.

Further afield, there was also a podium finish for Larne AC's Ryan Stewart in Scotland.  The Dundee University student joined one hundred and ninety runners at the 'Feel the Burns' Mountain Race, a 14 mile event with 800m of ascending, in Selkirk, Scotland on Sunday 19th January 2014.  The Northern Ireland junior mountain running international played a prominent part at the head of the field, before taking 3rd place in 1:38:40.  The race was won by Paul Faulkner (Carnethy HRC), in a new course record of 1:33:59.

Also in the mountains, but a little closer to home.  Orangegrove AC's Sarah Steer took part in the Howth Mountain Race, a tough 5.1km event (which includes approximately 201 metres of ascending) in Howth, County Dublin (Ireland), on Sunday 19th January 2014.  Sarah was rewarded for her gritty performance with a good placing, after completing the course in 37:15 (26th place lady).  The race was won by Des Kennedy (Raheny Shamrock AC) in 22:54, while Laura Shaughnessy (UCD) secured the ladies title in 27:21.

Full Results:  Tuam 8k 2014 Results - Lifford AC 5k 2014 Results - Howth Mountain Race 2014 Results'Feel the Burns' Mountain Race 2014 Results 

NI athletes in competition at Scottish Athletics National Indoor Open:

Northern Ireland athletes impress in Scotland:

On Saturday 18th January 2014, a large group of athletes from Northern Ireland travelled to Scotland for the Scottish Athletics National Indoor Open Meet at the impressive Emirates Indoor Arena in Glasgow.

Up against some of Scotland's top talent, the local athletes put in some quality performances, with several of the younger athletes showing that they have a very bright future ahead.  Up and coming star, Katie O'Connor (St Gerards AC), who trains with Newry AC, produced one of the day's outstanding performances, claiming victory in the 300m (Race 1), after crossing the line in 42.66secs.  In the 'mixed' 200m (Race 14) won by Glasgow AC's David Wilson (24.65secs), Ireland international and Commonwealth Games hopeful (over 800m), Aislinn Crossey (Newry AC) recorded 26.39secs to claim 5th place. Aisling McNulty (Newry AC) secured 4th place in the 'mixed' 200m (Race 34), after breaking the beam in 31.46secs.  The race was won by Ryan Cydesdale (East Kilbride AC) in 28.22secs.

Banbridge AC's Ben Daly looked strong in his 400m (Race 26) event, taking 3rd place in 55.79secs.  The race was won by Pitreavie AAC in 52.30secs.  There were a host of Northern Ireland based athletes in the seventeen 800m races ran as part of the well attended meet.  In Race 4, Oisin O'Callaghan (Newry AC), a young man who is showing excellent potential, finished in 4th place after running 2:04.67 for the distance.  The race was won by Stewart Millar (Aberdeen AAC) in 2:01.26.  City of Lisburn AC's Jake Harbinson ran well to take 2nd place in Race 6 (of the 800m programme); Jake clocked 2:09.96 in the race won by Giffnock North AC's Ross Gray (2:09.18).  Lee Magennis and David Griffin also raced over 800m (Race 7), with Lee sealing 2nd place in 2:11.37 and David 4th place in 2:14.23.  The race was won by Daniel Rees (Banchory Stonehaven AC) in 2:10.87.

Still in the 800m, Conor Irving (City of Lisburn AC) recorded a new personal best of 2:20.49 claiming 2nd place in Race 9; in the same 'mixed' race, Rebecca Douglas (City of Lisburn AC) look good as she claimed 3rd place in 2:22.58.  The race was won by Ruairidh Bryce (Glasgow AC) in 2:18.34.  There were two Northern Ireland athletes in Race 10 (of the 800m), with City of Lisburn AC's Sean Terek (2:21.76) and Dromore AC's Rebekah Nixon (2:26.35) taking 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.  The race (a 'mixed' event) was won by Calum Esler (Garscube Harriers) in 2:20.76.  Kate O'Hare (Newry AC) ran 2:45.43 in Race 13 (800m), which was won by Dion Ingram (Law & District AC) in 2:32.37.  Young Eoghan O'Callaghan (Newry AC) showed great potential as he sealed a notable win in Race 14 (800m), breaking the beam in 2:36:09.  Race 15 (800m 'mixed' race) saw Newry AC ladies Tara Breen and Lia Robb toe the line; Tara crossed the line in 2:38.75 (2nd place), with Lia following in 2:40.27 (4th place).  The race was won by Calum Hopkins (East Kilbride AC) in 2:37.99. Anna Welsh (Newry AC) recorded 5:12.66 (5th place) in her 1500m 'mixed' race, which was won by Ted Gourley (Giffnock North AC) in 4:51.01.

Full Results:  Scottish Athletics National Indoor Open Meet 2014 Results

Mark McKinstry and Karen Alexander impress at Sperrin Harriers event:

Record turnout at Sperrin Harriers Winter League event:

On Saturday 18th January 2014, Sperrin Harriers hosted the third race of their popular Winter League Series.  The race, which measured 10k in distance, was held in Drum Manor Forest Park, just outside Cookstown and attracted a record breaking field of one hundred and forty athletes. 

As predicted, the men's race turned out to be a close affair between the fast improving duo of Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) and Michael Crawley (Sperrin Harriers).  The pair were inseparable until late on, when Mark moved clear to secure victory in 35:49 (1st place).  Michael followed seven seconds later in 35:56 (2nd place), before Michael Kerr (Carmen Runners) claimed 3rd place in 36:52.

Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers) was a comfortable winner in the ladies race; the local athlete, who has won both races in the Series so far, cruised to victory in 39:17.  Rhian Pegram, a recent and valuable edition to the Sperrin Harriers squad, crossed the line in 43:47 (2nd place), while Cheryl Cardwell (Sperrin Harriers) ensured that the host club made a clean sweep of the podium places in 44:24 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men:  1st Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 35:49, 2nd Michael Crawley (Sperrin Harriers) – 35:56, 3rd Michael Kerr (Carmen Runners) – 36:52

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers) – 39:17, 2nd Rhian Pegram (Sperrin Harriers) – 43:47, 3rd Cheryl Cardwell (Sperrin Harriers) – 44:24

Full Results:  Sperrin Harriers Winter League Series (Race 3) 2014 Results (Results are PROVISIONAL only)

Chris Madden and Donna Evans win Born 2 Run Gosford 10k:

Nearly 500 hundred athletes complete Born 2 Run Gosford 10k:

On Saturday 18th January 2014, events management company 'Born 2 Run', welcomed nearly five hundred athletes to the scenic Gosford Forest, close to Markethill (County Armagh), for the the second race in their 'Run Forest Run' Series; the undulating trail course covered 10k.

City of Lisburn AC's Chris Madden looked sharp from the off, moving to the head of the pack almost immediately.  As the race progressed, Chris, who won the last 26extreme trail race in Castlewellan Forest Park, built on his lead, before breaking the tape in 35:17 (1st place).  After an exciting battle between the talented pairing of Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC) and Stuart Paulin (Unattached), it was the East Coast AC man who claimed 2nd place in 36:33, a mere one second ahead of Stuart, who completed the top three in 36:34 (3rd place).

In the ladies race, Finn Valley AC athlete Donna Evans looked to have shaken off her shoulder injury, as she produced an excellent performance to win in 41:19 (1st place).  Emma McKenna (Monaghan Phoenix AC) and Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC) could hardly be separated after an extremely close finish, but despite both being given the same finish time of 44:27, it was Emma who was awarded 2nd place by the slightest of margins; Catherine took 3rd place.

Top 3 Men:  1st Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) – 35:17, 2nd Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC) – 36:33, 3rd Stuart Paulin (Unattached) – 36:34

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Donna Evans (Finn Valley AC) – 41:19, 2nd Emma McKenna (Monaghan Phoenix AC) – 44:27, Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC) – 44:27

Full Results:  Born 2 Run Gosford 10k 2014 Results (Results are PROVISIONAL only)

Weekend Preview:  NI athletes look forward to events in Gosford, Drum Manor...

Weekend Preview:  Athletes ready for Gosford, Drum Manor, Delamont Park, Glaslough...

This weekend, runners from across the province will once again be preparing themselves for competition, with trail races in Gosford Forest (County Armagh) and Drum Manor (County Tyrone) taking centre stage.  There will also be a Junior XC event in Delamont Park (County Down) and athletes from Northern Ireland will travel to Glaslough (Ireland) and Glasgow (Scotland).

On Saturday 18th January 2014, events management company, Born 2 Run, will welcome hundreds of athletes to their annual 'Run Forest Run' Gosford 10k trail race in Gosford Forest, close to Markethill in County Armagh.

Born 2 Run regular, Don Travers (Newry City Runners), will more than likely be joined at the head of the field by Adam Boyd (North Belfast Harriers), Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC) and Stuart Paulin (Unattached). Despite having to settle for the runners up spot behind Adam at this event last year, international runner and cyclist, Don Travers, will prove hard to beat.  After producing several medal winning performances at the WPFG 2013, the Newry City Runners man went on to win the Groomsport Half Marathon and the Dambusters 10/10, adding to wins at the Run Armagh 10k, Sea 2 Sky 10k and the Castleward Half Marathon. Over and above this, Don recorded his fastest Half Marathon time in three years, clocking 1:14:22 at the Waterside Half Marathon.

Adam (Boyd) will be a tough competitor; the reigning Champion has shown real form since returning from injury in the second half of 2013.  After marking his return with a convincing win at the Moneymore 10k, Adam produced a number of notable performances before recording an outstanding 10k personal best of 31:57 at the Seeley Cup 10k in November 2013.  Matthew Hewitt and Stuart Paulin are two men who consistently impress off-road; Matthew, despite being more known for his ultra-running exploits, kicked off 2014 with an excellent run at the Race Over the Glens on New Years Day.  The East Coast AC star looked strong on the steep climbs and narrowly missed a podium spot, taking fourth  place.  Stuart won the first race in the Born 2 Run 'Run Forest Run' Series in Tollymore Forest at the back end of last year (2013); he is always in or around the prize-winning positions in the Born 2 Run and 26extreme races, proving himself to be a top performer off-road.  Other men to look out for on the day could include, Alan Johnston (Murlough AC), Nigel Grier (Dromore AC), Patrick Sheridan (Newcastle AC), David Gamble (Seapark AC), Paul Nesbitt (Unattached), Sean Goodman (Newry City Runners), Thomas Leitch (Orangegrove AC), Michael Cultra (East Down AC) and Aaron Parks (Armagh AC).

Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers) and Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) will be the stand out performers in the ladies category; Karen is the reigning Champion and the well-known athlete won at least four Born 2 Run races in 2013, more recently, she (Karen) was the third veteran female finisher at the IAAF International XC, adding to several other top quality XC performances.  This includes a win at the McConnell XC and fourth place finishes at the Malcolm Cup XC and the Springwell XC; Karen also won the Burren 10 mile road race on Boxing Day (2013).  Cathy McCourt has also been in good form recently, the North Belfast Harriers athlete was the fourth NI & Ulster finisher, and also the first veteran female finisher, at the previously mentioned IAAF Antrim International XC.  Before that, Cathy finished off a good year (2013), which saw her return well from injury and gain selection for the Ireland Masters XC team, with a win (in the ladies category) at the Lough 5 mile road race on New Years Eve (31st December 2013). Catriona Donaldson (Lagan Valley AC), Anne Havern (Newry City Runners) and Eileen Stevenson (St Peter's AC) will also be in or around the top places, should they toe the line.  Catriona has been running well recently, putting in a good performance at the IAAF Antrim International XC two weeks ago; prior that, since returning to competition, Catriona has picked up prizes at 'Run in the Dark' and the Downpatrick RGU 10k.  

Anne Havern is another lady who regularly finds herself on the podium; in late 2013, the Newry City Runners athlete won the 26extreme Mourne Mini-Marathon and the Run for Autism Half Marathon, she (Anne) also had a good run at the Dublin Marathon (2013), crossing the line in 3:50:38.  Eileen Stevenson finished less than a minute behind Anne at the aformentioned Mourne Mini-Marathon, securing third place.  On top of this, Eileen has also enjoyed good outings at the Bessbrook 10k and more recently at the the Lurgan Park 5 mile road race.  Orangegrove AC's Louise Lemon will also be a contender; after having an excellent 2013, which saw her win every race (ladies category) in the East Antrim Harriers Forest Series, Louise kick started her 2014 campaign with a solid performance at the IAAF Antrim International XC.  Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC), Laura Bateson (Unattached), Paula McKibbin (Murlough AC), Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC), Virginia Ervine (Mourne Runners) and Louise Smart (County Antrim Harriers) will also finish well up the field.

Also on Saturday 18th January 2014, Sperrin Harriers will welcome athletes to the third race of their very popular Winter League Trail Series. The Series has saw competitors complete 10k and 5k races so far; on this occasion, the athletes will face a 10k course at the scenic Drum Manor, just outside Cookstown, County Tyrone.

In the men's race; Brian Young (Unattached), Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) and Michael Crawley (Sperrin  Harriers) should all play a part at the front, having shown well in previous events. The trio finished in third, fourth and fifth place respectively in Race 1 at Davagh Forest; in Race 2 (Lough Fea), Mark secured a well-deserved victory, with Michael finishing as runner-up.  Away from the Series, Brian Young has won trail races in Crawfordsburn Country Park and Tardree Forest in the last six months.  

Mark and Michael have shown real signs of improvement in the last twelve months, with Mark now regularly finding himself in or around the podium places; he (Mark) won the Dambusters 10k and improved his personal bests over 1 mile, 5k, 5 miles, 10k and Half Marathon in 2013, with the most significant of these being an eleven minute personal best over the 13.1 mile distance.  Under the guidance of the Sperrin Harriers coaching team, Michael has become 'one to watch'; an excellent 28:36 at the Greencastle 5, at only his second attempt at the distance (his first was 30:08), shows his potential.  Other top contenders could include Delfim Pimental (Sperrin Harriers), Aaron Meharg (Sperrin Harriers), Michael Kerr (Carmen Runners) and Andy Gregg (Larne AC).

With Karen Alexander likely to race in the Born 2 Run event, Ciara Toner (Springwell Running Club), Nuala Kelly (Sperrin Harriers) and Patricia Campbell (Omagh Harriers) could well contend the podium places in the ladies race.  Ciara is looking good after returning from injury and ran well to finish as runner up to Karen Alexander in Race 1 of the Series, with Nuala taking third spot.  Nuala then claimed second place in Race 2; alongside this, the fast improving athlete has also saw her hard work in training pay off on the road, having taken four minutes off her 10k time in the space of eleven weeks (September 2013 – 46:12, November 2013 – 42:08).  Patricia Campbell has shown good consistency on 'the country', with decent outings at the Malcolm Cup, McConnell Shield and the North West XC.  However, Patricia's real strength is on firmer surfaces, where the Omagh Harriers lady claimed a podium place a the Tattyreagh 5 and just missed top three spots at the Carmen 10k and Donaghmore 5.  More recently, Patricia finished in eleventh place at the Lough 5 (after running 37:52).  Cheryl Cardwell (Sperrin Harriers) and Kerry Stewart (Sperrin Harriers) will also be amongst the top finishers.

Also on Saturday 18th January 2014, junior athletes from Newcastle AC, Burren AC, Dromore AC and East Down AC will battle it out at the final event of the 2013/14 McGrady Financial Junior XC Series.  On this occasion, the venue of choice will be Delamont Park in County Down, with the programme of events starting at 11am.

Further afield, a number of Northern Ireland based athletes will travel to the Scottish National Indoor Open, which will be held at the impressive Emirates Arena in Glasgow, Scotland on Saturday the 19th January 2014.  Aislinn Crossey, Oisin O'Callaghan and Lee Magennis will head a strong Newry AC contingent who are due to participate, while current Northern Ireland 100m (joint) and 200m record holder, Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC), will also race.

On Sunday 19th January 2014, several runners from Northern Ireland are likely to travel south to Glaslough, County Monaghan (Ireland), for the Monaghan AC 5k road race.  James Speight (Finn Valley AC), Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC), Helen Stockdale (Finn Valley AC) and Donna Evans (Monaghan Phoenix AC) could well be amongst the contenders.

Northern Ireland’s fifteen parkrun events will also 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.

Athletes from Northern Ireland set for Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc events:

Northern Ireland runners successful in UTMB draw:

At least eleven of Northern Ireland’s mountain and ultra-running community have had their application to enter the world famous Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (2014) events accepted.

That we know of, Dale Mathers (Newry City Runners), Denise Mathers (Newry City Runners), Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC), Paul Nesbitt (Unattached), Nicki McPeake (Springwell Running Club), Martin Mullan (BARF), William Marks (Mourne Runners), Mark King (Newcastle AC), Donal O'Kane (BARF), Brian Linton (BARF) and Dominic McInerney (Murlough AC) were all successful in the strict registration process. 

To be eligible for entry into one of the three races, held during an action packed weekend at the end of August (2014), each participant had to finish other endurance events at varying distances, within the last year.

From the UTMB website - Doing the Tour du Mont Blanc, allows the runner to discover an incomparable universe, the impressive and magical high mountains; it is sharing the eternal dream of the pioneers, crossing the magical gardens of Gaston Rebuffat and the stories of Roger Frison Roche and discovering the intimate geography of the summits: the roundness of the Mont-Blanc, the ridge of Bionnassay, the Noire de Peuterey, the Dent du Géant, the wall of the Grandes-Jorasses, the northern and southern peaks of the Aiguille du Tour, the Aiguille Verte, the vertical of the Drus.  "It's a real outpouring of granite peaks, of high crystalline summits, where erosion of an exceptional intensity has cut out, sawn, sliced up, broken, smashed the imposing upheaval of ancient rocks, revealing a landscape of exceptional beauty." (Roger Frison-Roche, guide-writer.)

The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® invites runners to live an adventure out of the ordinary by participating to one of the 3 individual races (plus one team event): 

UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, the original and Queen of the races!):

A complete tour of the Mont Blanc, passing through 3 countries: France, Switzerland and Italy, the race that every runner should finish at least once in their life. Le tour of Mont-Blanc, starting from Chamonix, with 168km and 9,600 metres of positive height gain.  Starting, in the centre of Chamonix, on Friday 29th August 2014 at 17:30 will be: Dale Mathers (Newry City Runners), Denise Mathers (Newry City Runners) and Paul Nesbitt (Unattached).

CCC (Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix):

Created in 2006, it has become as popular as its big sister (45 nationalities represented in 2010). The CCC® is considered by many runners to be "the little one" nevertheless it too, constitutes one of the most difficult challenges in ultra - trail. Do not take the CCC® lightly; more than one runner has "burned" their thighs there.  A semi-tour of Mont-Blanc, starting from Courmayeur with 100km and 5,950 metres of positive height gain and in semi-autonomy.  Starting in the centre of Courmayeur Friday 29th August 2014 at 9:00 will be: Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC), Nicki McPeake (Springwell Running Club), Martin Mullan (BARF) and Mark King (Newcastle AC)

TDS (Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie):

Considered to be wilder and more technical than the UTMB® and the CCC®, in the heart of the Aosta valley and the two Savoie, this demanding race offers a new vision of the tour of Mont Blanc. The route will allow the discovery of the col de la Youlaz (2,661m) above Courmayeur, the "passage du Curé" or the sublime view of Mont Blanc from the col de la Gitte in the heart of Beaufortain.  TDS starts from Courmayeur with 119km and 7,250 metres of positive height gain.  Starting this event on Wednesday 27th August 2014 at 07:00 will be: William Marks (Mourne Runners), Donal O'Kane (BARF), Brian Linton (BARF) and Dominic McInerney (Murlough AC).

Greg Roberts and Sarah Kivelehan win NWTC 5k Series (Race 3):

NWTC 5k Series 2013/14 (Race 3):

On Sunday 12th January 2014, North West Triathlon Club (NWTC) welcomed athletes to the third race of their Winter 5k Series, which was held at Foyle Marina, Derry/Londonderry in cold and damp conditions.

Former AAI National 10,000m medallist and runner up in last years Walled City Marathon, Greg Roberts (City of Derry AC), put in a strong performance to break the tape in 16:13 (1st place), the fastest winning time of this years Series so far.  Gavin Crawford (24/7 Triathlon Club), who won Race 1, claimed 2nd place in 16:45, while local man Benny Mullan (City of Derry AC) completed the podium places in 17:16 (3rd place).

In the ladies race, Sarah Kivelehan (City of Derry AC) made it an excellent double for the Spartan's; Sarah ran well to claim top spot in 20:42 (1st place).  Catherine Hribar (City of Derry AC) followed in 22:07 (2nd place), before the host clubs Kelly Derges (North West Triathlon Club) crossed the line in 22:25 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men:  1st Greg Roberts (City of Derry AC) – 16:13, 2nd Gavin Crawford (24/7 Triathlon Club) – 16:45, 3rd Benny Mullan (City of Derry AC) – 17:16

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Sarah Kivelehan (City of Derry AC) – 20:42, 2nd Catherine Hribar (City of Derry AC) – 22:07, 3rd Kelly Derges (North West Triathlon Club) – 22:25

Full Results:  NWTC Winter 5k Series (Race 3) 2014 Results

Athletics NI Cross Country League 2013/14 update:

Athletics NI Cross Country League 2013/14:

As the popular Athletics NI Cross Country League 2013/14 moves into it's final two races, in Enniskillen (Enniskillen XC) and Belfast (Stormont XC), things at the top are hotting up, with prizes and the associated prestige still at stake.

The cross country league, which appears to have played a huge role in attracting many new runners to the cross country scene, has proved a re-sounding success with local clubs, with several bringing bus loads of club members to every one of the completed six races.

Current NI & Ulster Junior XC and NI & Ulster Senior XC Champions, City of Derry AC, lead the way in the men's competition.  The Spartans top the table with 87 points, and along with North Down AC, Springwell Running Club, North Belfast Harriers, Sperrin Harriers and Orangegrove AC, have picked up points in every race so far – Springwell XC, Bobby Rea XC, McConnell Shield XC, Malcolm Cup XC, North West XC and the NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships (Antrim).

Behind City of Derry AC, the strong North Down AC squad, who won the team competition at the Malcolm Cup, sit in 2nd place with 58 points.  However, Francis Marsh and his men will have to watch out as Foyle Valley AC and Springwell Running Club both sit within touching distance on 48 points.  North Belfast Harriers, who claimed second place in the team standings at the McConnell Shield (behind City of Derry AC), are just off the pace with 44 points, while Sperrin Harriers on 35 points, will still have eyes on a top three finish.

In the ladies competition, Springwell Running Club top the table on 87 points.  Like Springwell Running Club, City of Derry AC, Sperrin Harriers and Orangegrove AC have been rewarded for their huge turn-outs, with points at every race.  The City of Derry AC ladies currently hold 2nd place with 52 points, while North Down AC (52 points) sit in 3rd place.  However, North Belfast Harriers (39 points), Omagh Harriers (36 points) and Sperrin Harriers (35 points) will all have ambitions to move into the top three places.

The next race in the cross country league will take place in Enniskillen (County Fermanagh) on Saturday 8th February 2014, with the final event taking place within the grounds of Parliament Buildings, Stormont Estate, Belfast (Country Antrim), on Saturday 22nd February 2014.  Local cross country running enthusiasts will also look forward to the NI & Ulster Junior/Intermediate and Masters XC Championships in Lurgan (Saturday 25th January 2014), as well as the returning Ballydrain Harriers hosted Comber Cup XC (Saturday 15th February 2014).

Current Overall Standings:  Athletics NI Cross Country League 2013/14 (Overall Standings).  Please visit the Athletics NI website for official details regarding the Athletics NI XC League 2013/14.

Northern Ireland athletes impress in Gran Canaria and USA:

Northern Ireland athletes kick off 2014 campaign in Gran Canaria and USA:

This weekend (Saturday 11th January 2014), several Northern Ireland based athletes began their assault on this summer's Commonwealth Games with notable performances at the 'International Meeting Isla de Gran Canaria' in Gran Canaria. 

Jason Harvey (Crusaders AC), who has already achieved the Commonwealth Games qualifying standard for the 400m hurdles, clocked 21.99secs to win the 200m race.  Despite being “disappointed” with his time, the strong nature of this performance bodes well for the up and coming star (who has a 200m personal best of 21.57secs). 

Jason also claimed 4th place (7.21secs) in the 60m final, which featured Irish Universities (indoor) medallist, Dean Adams (Ballymena & Antrim AC).  Dean took 2nd place after breaking the beam in 7.01secs, a mere 0.05secs behind race winner Adrian Perez Souto (Tenerife), who recorded 6.96secs.  

Not to be outdone, Curtis Woods (North Down AC and Liverpool Harriers) and Joanna Mills (Ballymena & Antrim AC) also claimed wins in their respective 400m and 200m events.  In a close contest, Curtis crossed the line in 49.13secs to secure a well-deserved win.  Joanna stormed to victory in her 200m race, crossing the line in 25.23secs, nearly a second quicker than her nearest rival.  The Ballymena & Antrim AC lady narrowly missed a double victory, after finishing 0.01secs behind Sara Maria Martin (Club Unknown) in the 60m race; Sara won in 7.81secs, with Joanna running 7.82secs.

All four of the Northern Ireland athletes, and coach, Paul McKee (Beechmount Harriers) celebrated wins in the 4x100m relays.  The strong team of Paul McKee, Jason Harvey, Curtis Woods and Dean Adams cruised to victory in 42.21secs.  Meanwhile, in the ladies 4x100m, Joanna Mills teamed up with three other athletes to win in 51.74secs, a staggering seven seconds quicker than the runners up.

Full Results:   International Meeting Isla de Gran Canaria 2014 Results

Also this weekend...

Further afield, City of Derry AC star JP Williamson, a student at the Lindsey Wilson College in America (USA), followed up his excellent performance at last weeks IAAF Antrim International XC with a new personal best over 3,000m.  Competing at an indoor event in the USA, JP recorded 8:25.80 for the distance. Further information, including results, will be added if they become available.

Photograph's used above (of Jason and Harvey and Joanna Mills) are taken from the BBC Sport website.

Adrian McGowan (Foyle Valley AC) wins Letterkenny AC 5m Road Race:

Adrian McGowan and Michael Murphy run well in Ireland:

On Sunday 12th January 2014, Northern Ireland man Adrian McGowan (Foyle Valley AC) put on an impressive display of front running to win the Letterkenny 5 mile road race in County Donegal, Ireland.  

The Foyle Valley AC man led from start to finish, eventually breaking the tape in 26:49, approximately one minute ahead Letterkenny AC's Paul McGlinchey (27:45) and Tir Chonaill AC's Paul Ward (27:51), who took 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.  Michael Murphy (City of Derry AC) was also in action at the same event, and just missed a podium place after crossing the line in 28:29 (4th place).  The ladies race was won by Fionnuala Diver (Letterkenny AC) in 29:51.

Full Results:  Letterkenny 5m Road Race 2014 Results

David O'Flaherty and Karen Alexander win at Moira Cross Country:

City of Lisburn AC host annual Moira XC:

On Saturday 11th January 2014, City of Lisburn AC welcomed athletes from across the province to their annual Moira XC, held within the confines of the scenic Moira Demesne in County Down.

The extensive race programme started with a number of competitive junior races, which warmed the spectators up perfectly for the day's 'main events': the ladies 3 mile race and the men's 4 mile race.   In the ladies event, Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers) continued her good form 'on the country'.  The talented athlete, who finished third in the veteran category at the IAAF Antrim XC last week, dominated proceedings from the off, and led the field home in 16:26 (1st place).  Recently crowned 'Queen of the Glens' Shileen O'Kane, followed up her win at the Race Over the Glens, with another podium spot; the Lagan Valley AC athlete recorded 17:16 for 2nd place, while Larne AC's Geraldine Quigley (3rd place – 17:21) completed the ladies top three.

The final race of the day saw the men take to the start line, and it was the versatile Newcastle AC man, David O'Flaherty who took top honours in what was a close race.  David, a consistent performer on the roads, mountains and trails, as well as cross country, broke the tape in 18:47 to win.  AAI National junior age group XC Champion Christy Conlon (Beechmount Harriers) put in a top display to claim 2nd place in 18:49, before Paul Carroll (Annadale Striders) took 3rd place in 18:55.

Top 3 Men (4 miles):  1st David O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC) – 18:47, 2nd Christy Conlon (Beechmount Harriers) – 18:49, 3rd Paul Carroll (Annadale Striders) – 18:55

Top 3 Ladies (3 miles):  1st Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers) – 16:26, 2nd Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – 17:16, 3rd Geraldine Quigley (Larne AC) – 17:21

Full Results:  Moira XC 2014 Results

Stephen Scullion claims top ten place at BUPA Great Edinburgh XC:

Northern Ireland athlete impresses in Scotland:

On Saturday 11th January 2014, Northern Ireland man Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers) lined up against some of the world's top athletes, including current 5,000m and 10,000m World Record holder Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia), in the Men's Invitational 4k race at the BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country in Scotland.

Stephen started well, and found himself in the middle of the chasing pack as the athletes chased Jonathon Taylor (Great Britain) and Asbel Kiprop (Kenya) through the 2k marker in 6:06.  In the the final lap, the former NI & Ulster XC Champion showed great strength, moving from 16th place (at 2k) to finish in 10th place, after crossing the line in 12:20.  The race was won by Garrett Heath (USA) in 11:51.

In the team competition, the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team, which contained no runners from Northern Ireland, topped the final standings.  Gemma Steel, who raced at the IAAF Antrim International XC last week, produced the teams top performance, winning the Ladies 6k event, ahead of Ireland's former European XC Champion, Fionnuala Britton, who finished well to claim the runners up spot.

Full Results:  BUPA Great Edinburgh XC 2014 Results

Weekend Preview:  Local athletes set for events in Moira, Derry/L'Derry...

Weekend Preview:  Moira, Derry/L'Derry, Maguiresbridge...

As the weekend approaches and the memories of last week’s brilliant IAAF Antrim International XC take their place in history, local athletes will be looking forward to competing at events in Moira (County Down), Maguiresbridge (County Fermanagh) and Derry/Londonderry (County Londonderry). Several Northern Ireland runners are also expected to line up at the BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country (which includes Inter-District XC) in Scotland and the Letterkenny AC 5 mile road race in Ireland.

On Saturday 11th January 2014, Cross Country is once again the order of the day in Moira, where City of Lisburn AC will host their annual Moira XC within the confines of the beautiful Moira Demesne, located just off the M1 (Moira Roundabout - West).

The all-inclusive race programme offers races for all ages, but focussing on the Senior and Veteran races, we would expect the likes of Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers), Paul Carroll (Annadale Striders), Paul Blaney (North Belfast Harriers), Gary Keenan (Orangegrove AC), Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), Julie Murphy (Lagan Valley AC), Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC), Catriona Donaldson (Lagan Valley AC) and Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC) to be amongst the front runners in their respective races.

Andrew Considine enjoyed a good run out at the IAAF Antrim International XC last week, so will go into this race high in confidence.  The North Belfast Harriers man also looked as if he was getting back to his best at the recent North West XC, where he clocked 20:32 on a tough 6k course; he (Andrew) also ran 16:57 at the Waterworks parkrun on Christmas Day.  The ever consistent Paul Carroll will also be there or there abouts, should he decide to race; Paul, a regular winner of the Ormeau Park parkrun, has been in good form in the 'muck' this season.  He took second place at in the Horwill Cup race (at the Malcolm Cup XC) in Ballyclare, finishing just four seconds behind his Annadale Striders club mate Mark Wright.  On the roads, Paul ran a speedy 33:20 at the Seeley Cup in November 2013.

Paul Blaney was a podium finisher at this race last year, then went on to produce notable performances on the track (both indoor and outdoor), on the roads, and also in cross country races.  Arguably his best performances came at the Belfast Solstice 5k, where he claimed fourth place in 16:44, and the Seeley 10k, where he crossed the line in 33:32.  International XC man, Gary Keenan turned heads with a stunning display at the British & Irish Masters XC in Cardiff (Wales) at the back end of 2013; the Orangegrove AC star, who was in the form of his life last year, secured a bronze medal at the event after working his way through the field to finish well.  Taking this performance as well as his speed (16:29 for 5k at NI & Ulster Masters 5,000m Championships) into consideration, the well-known Athletics NI official will play a prominent part in proceedings should he start.  

In the ladies race, Rachel Gibson will be considered by many as pre-race favourite.  The North Down AC athlete has shown a fantastic progression in form, right through from her track races, where she has claimed personal bests over 800m, 1500m and 3,000m in the last twelve months, to recent cross country events.  This culminated with a superb performance at the IAAF International XC in Antrim last week.  Representing Northern Ireland, Rachel was the sixth local athlete to finish in a very competitive field.  Lagan Valley AC should be well represented, with Julie Murphy, Catriona McCorkell, Suzanne Higgins and Shileen O'Kane all likely to start.  

Suzanne, Julie and Catriona all finished within forty five seconds of each other at the IAAF Antrim XC, which will make for a fantastic battle here.  All three have been in good form; Catriona looks to be back to her best, having claimed prizes at the Downpatrick 10k and 'Run in the Dark' in late 2013, while Julie took podium places at the NFU Mutal 5 mile race, the Downhill Demesne Trail Race and the Les Jones 10k.  Suzanne returned to competiton last summer (2013) and has since claimed top ten finishes at the Coleraine XC and the McConnell Shield XC, as well as a podium place at the Moneymore 10k.  International mountain runner, Shileen O'Kane has consistently proved herself as a very versatile athlete.  Shileen won the ladies category at the Race Over the Glens on New Year Day (2014).  In 2013, she secured a top ten place at the World Masters Mountain Running Championships in the Czech Republic; Shileen also won local mountain races at Slieve Binnian, Slieve Gullion and Slieve Martin (amongst others), adding to podium places at the Kennedy Kane McArthur Half Marathon and Gr8 Dundrum Run.  Dromore AC's Mary Mackin should also claim a category prize.

Also on Saturday 11th January 2014, Maguiresbridge Village & Rural Development Association will host the Maguiresbridge 10k road race, in County Fermanagh.  Registration is available on the day (at the Church Hall on Drumgoon Road, Maguiresbridge) from 11am, with the event starting at 12pm.  It is likely that there will be a mixture of local club athletes and sporting enthusiasts on the start line, with Enniskillen Running Club athletes, Conan McCaughey, Fergus McGirr, Stephen Prentice and Tara Malone looking like the main contenders.

Further afield, two athletes who represented Northern Ireland at the IAAF Antrim International XC last week, Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers) and Lauren Quee (Unattached), will again don their spikes, this time at the BUPA Great Edinburgh XC in Holyrood Park in Edinburgh on Saturday 11th January 2014. 

Stephen, who finished as runner up to Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) in the NI & Ulster XC Championships, held as part of the International race in Antrim, will toe the line with some of the world’s top athletes in the Invitational 4k race; other entrants include former Olympic Champion and current World 5,000m and 10,000m record holder, Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopa), who just this week announced his intention to run the Paris Marathon, ending speculation that he would line up against Mo Farah at the Virgin London Marathon 2014 (See full story HERE).  Meanwhile, Scottish Universities XC Champion and fifth place finisher in the NI & Ulster XC Championships last week, Lauren Quee, a student at Glasgow University, will take on Scotland’s best athletes in the 6k event.  The Great Edinburgh Cross Country will be live on BBC 1 from 1.15pm (on Saturday 11th January 2014).

On Sunday 12th January 2014, North West Triathlon Club will welcome athletes to the third race of their popular NWTC 5k Series in Derry/Londonderry. Previous race winners, Mark Mullan (City of Derry AC), Gavin Crawford (24/7 Triathlon Club) and Amy McDaid (Derry City Triathlon Club) could be joined on the start line by Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC), Adrian McGowan (Foyle Valley AC), Peter Lilburn (City of Derry AC), Hannah Shields (City of Derry AC), Anne Paul (City of Derry AC) and Paul McGilloway (City of Derry AC).  The race starts at 10am (at Foyle Marina, Derry/Londonderry) and entries are available on the day. 

On the same day (Sunday 12th January 2014), it is expected that several Northern Ireland based athletes will make the short border crossing to Letterkenny, County Donegal (Ireland) for the Letterkenny AC 5 mile road race.  The event, which is an 'out and back' route, starts at the O'Donnell Park roundabout and finishes at the impressive Aura Leisure Centre.  Entries are available on the day at the Aura Leisure Centre.

Northern Ireland’s fifteen parkrun events will also 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.  

Entries now available for NiRunning 5m Trail Race 2014:

NiRunning 5m Trail Race:

NiRunning (Northern Ireland Running) have officially announced the newest addition to their race repertoire, a 5 mile trail race, which will take place in Ballyboley Forest, County Antrim on Sunday 16th February 2014 (11am).  

Online entry for the event is available HERE and will cost £5 (£7 for un-affiliated athletes). This will remain open until Friday 14th February 2014 (5pm).  Entries will also be available on the day, at an increased rate of £6 (£8 for unaffiliated athletes).  Race day registration and number collection will take place in the car park at the Upper Ballyboley Road entrance to Ballyboley Forest from 9.30am. This will close at 10.40am sharp! 

The undulating 5 mile course will cover the fire roads and trails within Ballyboley Forest, and will prove a testing but manageable course for athletes of all abilities (over 16 years old).  Chip timing will also be in operation, thanks to our timing partners, ChampionChip Ireland.  There will be prizes available for the top three male and female finishers as well as male and female category winners in the following age categories: Vet35, Vet40, Vet45, Vet50, Vet55, Vet60 and Vet65.  There will also be team prizes for the first five male finishers (based on accumulative positions) and first three female finishers (based on accumulative positions).  

Full details on the event (including online entry) are available on our 'NiRunning Events' page.  

Northern Ireland athletes compete in Ireland, Scotland and Norway:

Quality performances by Northern Ireland runners outside the province:

Over the weekend, Northern Ireland athletes have been in action outside the province, participating in events ranging from 60 metres to 26.2 miles, in Ireland Scotland and Norway.

On Saturday 4th January 2014, Orangegrove AC athletes Paul Woodman and Joy McAleer took on the Polar Night Half Marathon and 10k in Tromso (Norway).  The races, which attract in excess of one thousand one hundred entrants, started on the Main Street in Storgata, before leading competitors on an 'out and back' route towards the local airport, before returning to the picturesque City Centre and the atmospheric finish area.

Paul, a previous podium finisher at the event, just missed out on the same achievement, after completing the Half Marathon in 1:22:10 (4th place); this was enough to secure a category prize for the Orangegrove AC man, who was featured in the local Norwegian press after competing in a vest and shorts, despite the extremley cold conditions (the article can be found HERE).  In the 10k, Joy also ran well, covering the course in 50:06 (19th place).  The Half Marathon was won by Glenn Thomas Martinson (Norway) in a new course record of 1:10:12, while Karianne Lokken (Norway) claimed the ladies title in 1:27:48.  Sven-Are Paulsen (Norway) won the 10k in 34:31, with German athlete Simone Roatz (38:15) setting a new course record to secure victory in the ladies category. 

On Sunday 5th January 2014, two Northern Ireland Ireland based runners travelled south to the impressive AIT Arena in Athlone, Ireland for the opening fixture in the new Athletics Ireland Indoor National League competition.  Young Newry AC star Oisin O'Callaghan continued to show his potential over 800m; the 15 year old crossed the line in a speedy 2:02.96 (7th place), the race was won by Robert Tully (Star of the Sea AC) in 1:52.00.  In the ladies 60m hurdles, Laura Frey (Lagan Valley AC) took 2nd place after clocking 9.80secs for the distance.  The race was won by well-known Irish lady Sarah Levin (UCD AC) in 8.40secs.  

In the run up to the weekend, Dundee University student, Ryan Stewart (Larne AC) was amongst one hundred and ten hardy competitors who completed the Aonach Mor Uphill (Only) Mountain Race, at the Nevis Range Ski Centre just outside Fort William in Scotland on Wednesday 1st January 2014.  The Northern Ireland junior mountain running international covered the 4k course, which included a gruelling 610m ascent, in 25:04, this was enough to take 5th place in the competitive event, which was won by respected mountain runner Robbie Simpson (Deeside Runners) in 21:13.

Full Results:  Midnight Sun Half Marathon and 10k 2014 ResultsAIT National Indoor League (Event 1) 2014 ResultsAonach Mor Uphill Mountain Race 2014 Results

Korir, Belete, Pollock & Mullan claim titles at IAAF International XC event:

Athletics NI host impressive IAAF XC event:

On Saturday 4th January 2014, the eyes of the athletic world were on Northern Ireland, as the highly respected IAAF road show descended on CAFRE's Greenmount Campus in Antrim, for the annual IAAF Antrim International Cross Country.  The event also included the NI & Ulster Senior Cross Country Challenge as well as the Celtic Cross Country Challenge and the the British Cross Challenge.

Spectators arrived to wet and dull conditions, but it wasn't long before the athletes brightened things up and the weather followed suit.  The International ladies 5,600m race (which included the NI & Ulster XC, Celtic XC Challenge and Veteran Ladies) saw an excellent array of talent toe the line; however, the main players came to the fore quickly, with Fionnuala Britton (Ireland), Gemma Steel (Great Britain) and Charlotte Purdue (Great Britain) heading the lead pack, which also contained Almensh Belete (Belgium), Mimi Belete (Bahrain) and Maryam Jamal (Bahrain); with the Belgian and Bahrain athletes seemingly happy to sit on the heels of Fionnuala, Gemma and Charlotte.

As the race progressed, Fionnaula Britton began to up the pace, but it was at this point that Maryam Jamal, Mimi Belete and Almensh Belete decided to show their class; the trio moved to the front and gradually forged a gap between themselves and the chasing Fionnuala Britton, Gemma Steel and Charlotte Purdue. Meanwhile, accomplished triathlete Eimear Mullan (Springwell Running Club) was leading the NI & Ulster challengers, with Gladys Ganiel O'Neill (North Belfast Harriers), Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC), Lauren Quee (Unattached) and Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) all in contention for podium places.

As the front runners made their way towards the finishing straight, it was Mimi Belete who made the late surge for victory.  This proved to be a good move, and one that saw the Bahrain lady secure victory in 18:07 (1st place).  Olympic medallist Maryam Jamal followed in 18:08 (2nd place), before Almensh Belete completed the ladies top three in 18:21 (3rd place).  

In the NI & Ulster competition; Eimear Mullan, Gladys Ganiel O'Neill and Danielle Fegan held their pace impressively, with Eimear Mullan claiming the NI & Ulster Senior XC title in 19:42 (1st).  Last years winner, Gladys Ganiel O'Neill, took 2nd place in 20:13; Danielle Fegan replicated her finishing position from 2013, claiming the final podium place in 20:23 (3rd place).  North Belfast Harriers' Cathy McCourt continued the form that saw her win several prizes over the Christmas and New Year period, to lead the veteran athletes home in 20:49.  Cathy's club mate, the returning Mary Meade (North Belfast Harriers), crossed the line in 21:17 (2nd place), while Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers) also ran well to finish in 21:27 (3rd place).  

The NI & Ulster Championships ladies team honours went to North Belfast Harriers, while Springwell Running Club and North Down AC took 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.  In the U-23 Celtic Challenge, which was run alongside the International and NI & Ulster XC Championships, Derry City Track Club athlete Amy McDaid was the first Northern Ireland athlete home in 22:59 (10th place).  Unfortunately, Amy's Ulster team did not count in the final standings, which were topped by Ireland.

The International Men's 10,000m race (which also included the NI & Ulster Senior XC and the Celtic XC Challenge) was also an exciting affair; after a fast start, which saw Andy Vernon (Great Britain) move quickly to the front, it was Emmanuel Bett (Kenya), Thomas Akeyo (Uganda) and World Cross Country Champion Japhet Korir (Kenya) who settled and began to set the pace.  

As the men progressed through the second lap (of four), it was Emmanuel Bett who looked strongest, but Thomas Ayeko and Japhet Korir, were still well in the thick of the action as all three continued at a relentless pace.  On the local front, Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) was running very well in sixth place overall; behind, Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers) and Gary Murray (St Malachy's AC) were no more than five metres apart, with Joe McAlister (St Malachy's AC) and Andrew Agnew (Annadale Striders) in tow.

At the head of the field, leaders Thomas Akeyo, Emmanuel Bett and Japhet Korir could not be separated as they gradually opened up a gap on the remainder of the field; it wasn't until they had the finish line in sight that World XC Champion Japhet Korir showed his winning mentality, sprinting the final thirty metres to win in 28:40.  Last years winner, Thomas Akeyo followed in 28:42 (2nd place), with Emmanuel Bett (28:43) just behind in 3rd place.

IAAF World Championship marathon runner, Paul Pollock never took his foot off the gas from the first lap until the finish line; despite losing a few place in the overall race, the Annadale Striders star, who currently hold the AAI National XC title, led the NI & Ulster competitors home in 30:08 (1st place).  The always impressive Stephen Scullion managed to move clear of Gary Murray in the latter stages to eventually claim the silver medal in 30:54 (2nd place); Gary Murray then crossed the line in 31:26 to secure a well-deserved 3rd place.  The NI & Ulster Championships men's team honours went to current NI & Ulster Junior XC Champions, City of Derry AC.  North Down AC and North Belfast Harriers were awarded 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.

In the same race (the International and NI & Ulster XC Championships), Northern Ireland man James Speight (Finn Valley AC) led Ulster to their only Celtic Championship medal of the day in the U-23 category.  James, who completed the course in 33:19 (9th place in U-23 category) claimed a top ten finish in the Celtic Challenge race, which meant fellow Ulster team members; Connor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) – 33:47 (10th place), Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) – 34:41 (11th place) and Ryan Holt (Willowfield Harriers) – 36:44 (12th place) all claimed bronze medals after taking 3rd place in the team final standings. The men's U-23 Celtic Challenge event was won by Jon Hopkin (Wales) in 31:12, with Wales winning gold in the team competition.

Despite the hype around the main male and female IAAF international races, these were not the only good races of the day.  The extensive and quality race programme set an excellent grounding for the 'big' races, building the atmosphere perfectly for the thousands of spectators.

In the enthralling Masters Men's Vet35+ 5,600m event, Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC) broke clear of the early four man lead group including Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC), Michael Magee (Beechmount Harriers) and Craig Hutchinson (Larne AC) to win in 19:11 (1st place).  Omagh Harriers' Peter Neill produced a phenomenal final lap to take 2nd place in 19:18; Larne AC's Craig Hutchinson completed the top three in 19:24 (3rd place).

One of the most impressive performances of the day came from young Ireland star Siobhra O'Flaherty (Ireland) who produced an outstanding display of front running to win the U-17 (3,600m) race in 12:47.  In the same race, the Omagh Harriers team of Elish Flanagan (39th place – 14:38), Toni Moore (50th place – 14:55) and Roisin Flanagan (53rd place – 15:03) claimed 3rd place in the team prize.  English club Birtley AC took the U-17 team title.  In the U-20 Junior Men's 5,600m race, Lagan Valley AC's Ryan Sharkey ran a brilliant race, narrowly missing out on a podium place after crossing the line in 17:45 (5th place).

Podium Places (for selected events):

Top 3 International Men (10,000m):  1st Japhet Korir (Kenya) – 28:40, 2nd Thomas Akeyo (Uganda) – 28:42, 3rd Emmanuel Bett (Kenya) – 28:43

Top 3 International Ladies (5,600m):  1st Mimi Belete (Bahrain) – 18:07, 2nd Maryam Jamal (Bahrain) – 18:08, 3rd Almensh Belete (Belgium) – 18:21

Top 3 NI & Ulster Championship Men (10,000m):  1st Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) – 30:08, 2nd Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers) – 30:54, 3rd Gary Murray (St Malachy's AC) – 31:26

Top 3 NI & Ulster Championship Ladies (5,600m):  1st Eimear Mullan (Springwell Running Club) – 19:42, 2nd Gladys Ganiel O'Neill (North Belfast Harriers) – 20:13, 3rd Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC) – 20:23

Top 3 NI & Ulster Championship Men's Teams:  1st City of Derry AC, 2nd North Down AC, 3rd North Belfast Harriers

Top 3 NI & Ulster Championship Ladies Teams:  1st North Belfast Harriers, 2nd Springwell Running Club, 3rd North Down AC

Top 3 Northern Ireland Masters Ladies (5,600m):  1st Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) – 20:49, 2nd Mary Meade (North Belfast Harriers) – 21:17, 3rd Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers) – 21:27

Top 3 Northern Ireland Masters Vet35+ Men (5,600m):  1st Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC) – 19:11, 2nd Peter Magill (Omagh Harriers) – 19:18, 3rd Craig Hutchinson (Larne AC) – 19:24

Full Results:  IAAF Antrim International XC (inc NI & Ulster XC Championships, Celtic XC Challenge and British Athletics Challenge) 2014 Results  

All results are PROVISIONAL only.  Photograph's from the IAAF Antrim International XC are now available in our Photo Gallery.

Weekend Preview:  Attention turns to IAAF Antrim International XC:

Weekend Preview:  IAAF Antrim International XC takes centre stage...

As the Northern Ireland running community recover from a hectic Christmas and New Year racing calendar, athletes from across the province, and indeed, the world are gearing up for arguably the provinces top running event, the IAAF Antrim International Cross Country, hosted by Athletics NI at CAFRE (Greenmount Campus), Antrim.  

The event, which takes place on Saturday 4th January 2014, will also include the NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships as well as the British Athletics Cross Challenge (full information available HERE) and the Celtic XC Challenge, a competition which will see U-23, U-20 and U-17 teams from Ulster (which contain a large number of NI runners) race against teams from Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  Athletes from Northern Ireland will also race in Tromso (Norway).

At the IAAF Antrim International XC, the extensive racing programme will begin at 11am.  There has been a lot of hype surrounding the International/NI & Ulster Senior XC fields, which is justifiable when a quick glance of the start-list throws up names such as World Cross Country Champion Japhet Korir (Kenya), Emmanuel Bett (Kenya), Thomas Akeyo (Uganda), Andy Vernon (Great Britain), Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders), Fionnuala Britton (Ireland), Gemma Steel (Great Britain), Charlotte Purdue (Great Britain), Freya Murray (Scotland) and London 2012 medallist Maryam Jamal (Bahrain).

Despite having picked up an injury since claiming the World Cross Country title in Poland (March 2013), Japhet Korir (Kenya) will go into the men's 10,000m event as pre-race favourite.  However, the Kenyan star will face stiff competition from fellow countryman Emmanuel Bett and Ugandan athlete Thomas Akeyo.  Emmanuel Bett has ran 48:03 for 10 miles in recent months, while Thomas Akeyo won this title last year.  Since then, he has claimed a podium finish at the Great South Run and qualified for the final of the 10,000m at the World Championships in Moscow (Russia) in 2013.

Northern Ireland men Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) and Stephen Scullion (Clonlife Harriers) both represented Ireland at the European XC Championships in Serbia last month (December 2013) and will lead the local charge as they battle it out for a top international placing, as well as the prestigious NI & Ulster XC title. The talented duo, who currently hold the AAI National XC (Paul) and NI & Ulster Senior XC (Stephen) titles, will be joined on the start line by a plethora of Northern Ireland's top athletes, including Andrew Agnew (Annadale Striders), Paddy Hamilton (Annadale Striders), Joe McAlister (St Malachy's AC), Kevin Seaward (St Malachy's AC), Alan O'Hara (North Belfast Harriers), Andrew Annett (Mourne Runners), Brendan Teer (East Down AC), Declan Reed (City of Derry AC), James Speight (Finn Valley AC), Glenn Phair (Annadale Striders), Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC), Ben Branagh (St Malachy's AC), Owen Carleton (Annadale Striders), Conan McCaughey (Enniskillen Running Club), Michael Dyer (North Down AC), Gary Murray (St Malachy's AC), JP Williamson (City of Derry AC), Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club), Eoghan Totten (Newcastle AC), Stephen Kerr (Armagh AC), Ryan McDermott (Annadale Striders) and Ryan Holt (Willowfield Harriers).  The final trio mentioned (Stephen Kerr, Ryan McDermott and Ryan Holt), will also spearhead the Ulster U-23 challenge on the Celtic XC title (which will be run as part of the International/NI & Ulster XC race), with all three expected to perform well after good outings in recent months.  

In the NI & Ulster XC team competition, Northern Ireland clubs, Annadale Striders, St Malachy's AC and City of Derry AC will all have high hopes of lifting the title; should Annadale Striders field a full strength squad (Paul Pollock, Andrew Agnew, Ryan McDermott, Paddy Hamilton, Glen Phair, Owen Carleton, Stephen McGrory, James O'Hare, Mark Wright, Eddie McGinley, Andrew McKee, Conor McMullan, Paul Carroll and Michel LeVelley), they will be considered by many as pre-race favourites.  However, it is unlikely that several of the names listed will start, which may open the door for St Malachy's AC (Joe McAlister, Kevin Seaward, Gary Murray, Michael McKillop, Ben Branagh, Connor Gallagher, Stephen Rooney, Killian Gargan and Aidan McCormack), or the current NI & Ulster Junior XC Champions, City of Derry AC, and their always closely 'packed' squad (which should feature: Declan Reed, JP Williamson, Allan Bogle, Gary Slevin, Pajo Hamilton, Colin Roberts, Greg Roberts, James Brown, John Lenahan, Emmett McGinty, Connor Doherty, Aaron Doherty, Gavin Stevenson and Kevin Hurley) to take the title; North Down AC also boast an impressive line-up, with Francis Marsh, Michael Dyer, Jordan Stokes, James Budde, Dennis Scott, Brian Barron, Stephen Wylie, Mark Weir, Ben Caughers, Charles McNutt, Les Wilkinson, Nick Irvine and Stuart Donald all likely to compete.

In the U-20 5,600m race, Ryan Sharkey (Lagan Valley AC and Ulster), Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers and Ulster), Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers), Jonny Whan (City of Lisburn AC and Ulster), Conor Christie (Springwell Running Club and Ulster) and Paddy Robb (St Malachy's AC) should all finish well up the field, as will Christy Conlon (Beechmount Harriers and Ulster), Eoin McCann (St Malachy's AC and Ulster) and Patrick McNiff (Banbridge AC and Ulster), Luke Dinsmore (Springwell Running Club), Conor McQuillan (North Belfast Harriers) and Dromore AC trio Timothy McCracken, Daniel Dawson and Jack McKibbin in their U-17 (5,600m) event.

The International/NI & Ulster Championships/Masters Vet35+ ladies 5,600m race may turn out to be one of the closely contested battles of the day, and could produce a dual between well-known British and Irish stars, despite the fact that there is also Bahrain, Kenyan and Belgium interest in the field.  

London 2012 bronze medallist Maryam Jamal is a top class track athlete, but it will be interesting to see if the Bahrain star has what it takes to out-perform double European Cross Country Champion Fionnuala Britton (Ireland) and classy Great Britain athlete Gemma Steel, who has really shown her worth over both road and cross country in the last two years.  

Fionnuala will be eager to win in Antrim again after what she will see as a disappointing performance at the European XC Championships last month (December 2013), where she finished in fourth place.  In the same race, Gemma Steel claimed a silver medal after finishing in second place.   Versatile athlete, Charlotte Purdue (Great Britain) will be another top finisher, the Aldershot, Farnham & District AC lady returned from injury in late 2013 to record 56:57 for 10 miles at the BUPA Great South Run.   Even more impressively, she took second place in her race at the British Athletics Cross Challenge in Liverpool and also picked up a bronze medal at the recent European Cross Country Championships, after taking third place in the U-23 race.  Scottish Olympian, Freya Murray (now Freya Ross), should also start; having led the Team GB contingent home in the London 2012 Olympic marathon, the former European 3,000m (indoor) Champion and double Scottish XC Champion did not make the start line of the 2013 Virgin London Marathon, where she was expected to place well, because of injury. However, since then, she has clocked 1:11:15 for a Half Marathon and 2:35:19 for a Marathon, so is fit to challenge here.

Northern Ireland based Irish International Ann-Marie McGlynn (Lifford AC) will be in the hunt for the NI & Ulster XC title, but the Strabane lady will have to fend off the challenge of North Belfast Harriers' current NI & Ulster XC Champion Gladys Ganiel O'Neill and her club mates, Breege Connolly and Sharon Trimble.  Recently crowned Scottish Universities XC Champion, Lauren Quee (Unattached) will also play a prominent part in the race for local honours, as will Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers), Heather Foley (Unattached), Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC), Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers), Mary Meade (North Belfast Harriers) and City of Derry AC's accomplished international triathlete, Aileen Reid.  Up and coming stars Joanne Mills (University of Birmingham AC) and Megan Wilson (East Down AC) should also run well, while Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) and Marina Campbell (City of Derry AC) will be hoping to build on notable performances in Athletics NI XC League races, where they have both been in or around the top places.  Meanwhile, Northern Ireland Masters XC international ladies, Helen Stockdale (Finn Valley AC), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) and Denise Toner (Clones AC) will contest category awards. 

The Lagan Valley AC  team of Suzanne Higgins, Julie Murphy, Catriona McCorkell, Shileen O'Kane, Hazel McLaughlin, Anne Sanford, Ruth Magill and Rebecca Hunter look like strong challengers for team honours.  However, should North Belfast Harriers field a full strength team (Gladys Ganiel O'Neill, Breege Connolly, Sharon Trimble, Mary Meade, Amanda Perry, Cathy McCourt, Paula Wallace, Thelma McCullough), they (North Belfast Harriers) will prove extremely difficult to beat.

In the U-23 category (which will be run as part of the International/NI & Ulster XC race), Amy McDaid (Derry City Track Club) will represent Ulster in the Celtic XC Challenge, while in the U-20 3,600m race (which will be run separate to the above mentioned races), Yasmin Wilson (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Emer Magee (Lagan Valley AC) and Zoe Carruthers (City of Lisburn AC) will join forces with Annalee AC's future hero Clodagh O'Reilly as they also aim to out perform Ireland, Scotland and Wales in the Celtic Challenge.  Katie Moore (North Down AC) is another notable entry in the U-20 race.  Catriona McGloin (Balmoral Harriers), Emma Laverty (Lagan Valley AC), Aoife Laverty (City of Derry AC), Ciara McKillop (Balmoral Harriers), Toni Moore (Omagh Harriers and Ulster), Lois Hagen (Willowfield Harriers and Ulster) and Madison Bowyer (Lagan Valley AC and Ulster) will be hoping for high placings in their U-17 3,600m event, which will be run alongside the U-20 race.

Meanwhile, the Men's Masters Vet35+ 5,600m race will be run separately to the International/NI & Ulster Championships/U-23 Celtic Challenge event, which could mean that a number of veteran athletes may opt for the International/NI & Ulster XC Championships event in order to assist their associated club; however, this race should still prove an exciting affair.  

Last year's (masters race) winner, Declan Power (Clonliffe Harriers) has not made use of the pre-entry system; but, with late entries available (for this race), he may well toe the line.  Willowfield Harriers' Paul Rowan may well be another contender; having missed the early part of 2013, Paul returned to record a notable 32:12 at the Seeley Cup in November 2013.  Northern Ireland international XC runners Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC) and Bernard Brady (Larne AC) could be potential front runners, while Paul Elliot (North Belfast Harriers), Craig Hutchinson (Larne AC), Karl Dines (Willowfield Harriers) and Ballymena Runners duo Noel Connor and James Turtle will all finish well up the field.  Unattached athlete, Mark Walker claimed a top ten place in 2013, and has improved at a notable race since; if Mark shows the kind of form that saw him secure a prize at the Pure Running Half Marathon Series, he will play a prominent part here.  Jim Newberry (North Belfast Harriers), Irwin Spiers (Sperrin Harriers) and David Seaton (North Down AC) should all finish well up in their relevant categories.

Also on Saturday 4th January 2014, Orangegrove AC athletes Paul Woodman and Joy McAleer will brave the winter elements as they take on the Polar Night Half Marathon and 10k in Tromso, Norway.  The races start on the Main Street in Storgata, before leading competitors on an 'out and back' route towards the local airport, before returning to the picturesque City Centre.  Paul, a previous podium finisher at the event, will take on the 13.1 mile Half Marathon, while Joy will compete in the 10k.

Northern Ireland’s fifteen parkrun events will also 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.  

Jarlath Falls and Shileen O'Kane named 'King' and 'Queen' of the Glens:

Record numbers brave torrential rain for ROTG 2014:

On Wednesday 1st January 2014 (New Years Day), Ballymena Runners welcomed a record number of runners to their annual Race Over The Glens trail race in Glenariff Forest, just outside Waterfoot (County Antrim).

In torrential rain, the athletes set off on the tough 6 mile course, with a group containing Jarlath Falls (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC), Paul Ervine (City of Lisburn AC) and Paul Carlin (Newcastle AC) setting the early pace.  In the ladies race, international mountain runner Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC) was a dominant force from the off, with Trudy Brown (Orangegrove AC), Catriona Kerr (Glens Runners), Anne Johnston (Unattached), Penny Lindsay (East Coast AC) and Helena Dornan (Ballycastle Runners) also amongst the front runners.

In the second half of the race, seven time winner of the event, Jarlath Falls opened up a gap on the lead pack.  Seamus Lynch and Justin Maxwell followed, but despite their efforts, neither were able to catch the relentless Ballymena & Antrim AC athlete, who went on to claim the 'King of the Glen' title for the eighth time after breaking the tape in 38:44 (1st place).  Justin Maxwell finished strongly to take 2nd place in 39:28, just eleven seconds ahead of talented Newcastle AC man Seamus Lynch, who crossed the line in 39:39 (3rd place).

The unstoppable Shileen O'Kane continued to open a gap on the ladies field, before securing a well-deserved victory, and the prestigious 'Queen of the Glen' title in 46:27.  Trudy Brown looked strong as she crossed the line in 49:19 (2nd place), before Penny Lindsay (3rd place – 50:44) was rewarded for an excellent second half performance with a podium place.

In the team competition, the Newcastle AC team of Seamus Lynch, Paul Carlin, Deon McNeilly, Mark Kendall, Brendan Donnelly and Eamonn McCrickard took top honours.

Top 3 Men:  1st Jarlath Falls (Ballymena & Antrim AC) – 38:44, 2nd Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) – 39:28, 3rd Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) – 39:39

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – 46:27, 2nd Trudy Brown (Orangegrove AC) – 49:19, 3rd Penny Lindsay (East Coast AC) – 50:44

Full Results:  Race Over The Glens 2014 Results (Provisional Results)

Note - December 2013 'News', including a summaries and results from events on New Years Eve (31st December 2013), are available HERE or by following the navigational bar at the top of the page.

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