Northern Ireland Running

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NiRunning and Belfast Activity Centre launch Rathlin Run 2016:

Entries open for Northern Ireland's most unique running event:

NiRunning (Northern Ireland Running) are very proud to announce that after the success of last year’s Rathlin Run, we will once again be working in association with highly respected charity, Belfast Activity Centre (aka BAC) for the 2016 event, which will take place on Saturday 27th August 2016 (1pm).

The Rathlin Run is Northern Ireland's most unique, and arguably, most challenging road race. This will be the 15th annual running of the event, which was originally introduced by Raleigh International, before Belfast Activity Centre took the reins several years ago.  

The '10 mile challenge', the original distance that caught the imagination of the local running community and cemented the event as an annual favourite, will once again be the feature race.  The associated 5k run will also return, and offer an alternative for those wanting to test themselves over (or enjoy) a flatter, shorter course.  

NiRunning’s Ryan Maxwell spoke about this year’s event, “After the overwhelming success of the Rathlin Run in 2014 and 2015, we (NiRunning) are very excited about going forward into 2016 and working alongside BAC once again.  The atmosphere on the island over the entire race weekend is superb and although it would be easy to rest on those memories and the success that went with them, that is not and will never be something we do. Again, this year, we will be looking at ways to cement the Rathlin Run as one of the best and most iconic races in the UK.”

Belfast Activity Centre's Andrea Kilpatrick also spoke of her excitement for this year’s event, "BAC have been organising Rathlin Run for a number of years and have always thrived on the atmosphere and uniqueness of the event.  As running develops in Northern Ireland and the number of events increase, we feel that our partnership with NiRunning ensures that we keep up with the expectations of runners.  Rathlin Run 2015 was a resounding success, reaching capacity well before race day and with the sun shining, atmosphere flowing and the combined expertise of BAC and NiRunning staff it was a highly enjoyable day for all.”

Andrea added, “Rathlin Island is a beautiful location, where the local community make us feel very welcome and have embraced the race with a number of people from the Island assisting with the organisation, health and safety on the day, volunteering for water stops, running a BBQ and ensuring that everyone reached the island safely and on time via the ferry.  With our growing relationship with NiRunning bringing a fresh breath of air to the Rathlin Run and the recipe of a passionate and dedicated team behind it, we are confident that numbers will reach capacity and it will continue to be a much anticipated event in the Northern Ireland running calendar.”

Entries will be limited to 400 (inclusive of both events), so we would encourage everyone to enter early and make use of the early-bird prices, which are £20 for the 10 mile race and £12 for the 5k race.

Entry Details:

To enter the Rathlin Run 2015 please visit the Belfast Activity Centre website HERE, or contact BAC on 028 90 600 132; you will be able to pay by debit/credit card (or call to the office with cheque or cash).  

The entry fees for 2016 are:  RATHLIN 10 mile Challenge - £25 per individual entry (£20 early bird entry available until 29th February 2016). RATHLIN 5k Run - £15 per individual entry (£12 early bird entry available until 29th February 2016).

Running Club/Charity Package:

Enter a team of 10 runners to qualify for a group entry rate, details below:

  • 10 runners or more, get 10% off total cost
  • 15 runners or more, get 12% off total cost
  • 20 runners or more, get 15% off total cost

Please call Belfast Activity Centre on 028 90 600 132 to secure this rate.

Transport - Important Information:

All runners and supporters are responsible for their own ferry arrangements. To book your outbound and return ferry with the Rathlin Island Ferry visit their on line booking website at or contact the booking office on 028 2076 9299.  We would recommend that you reserve book your return ferry crossings first before confirming your race registration and payment.      

Let your friends know that the challenge is back and save the date!  Please follow us on facebook (NiRunning) and twitter (@NiRunning) if you would like to be kept up to date with the Rathlin Run 2016. You can also follow Belfast Activity Centre on facebook (Belfast Activity Centre) and twitter (@BACCharity).

ChampionChip Ireland launch exciting Novosco 10k Grand Prix 2016:

Novosco 10k Grand Prix launched:

Northern Ireland’s most respected electronic timing company ChampionChip Ireland today launched the NOVOSCO 10K GRAND PRIX.

The unique and exciting Age Graded running competition which will incorporate thirteen well-respected and established 10k races in Northern Ireland.

The ‘not for profit’ Grand Prix is the brainchild of ChampionChip Ireland’s Glenn Grant and was brought together with the assistance of a steering group which includes NiRunning’s Ryan Maxwell, former Athletics NI President John Glover and Novosco employee and keen runner, and Tandragee 10k Race Director Lee Glover.  Northern Ireland based company Novosco, a leading provider of Cloud Technologies, Managed Services and Consulting, are proud title sponsors of the Grand Prix.

Patrick McAliskey, CEO of Novosco, explained, "Everyone at Novosco is proud to be the sponsor of Northern Ireland's new multi-race 10K Grand Prix.  We wish all the participants the very best."

ChampionChip Ireland’s Glenn Grant also spoke of his excitement about the Grand Prix, “Given that the Novosco 10k Grand Prix is an age-graded competition, it will offer all participants, regardless of age, gender or experience, the opportunity to race on a level platform.  We are excited to launch the Grand Prix and are now looking forward to the first race, Jimmy’s 10k, on Saturday 13th March 2016”

The Grand Prix is FREE to enter and participants can register via the official website HERE. Those interested in being part of the Grand Prix must register, then enter their races of choice as normal – runners must complete 6 of the 13 races to qualify.  There are over £6,000 worth of prizes up for grabs, including a prize fund for clubs/teams and corporate teams.

Check out full details in relation to the NOVOSCO 10K GRAND PRIX at the official website HERE.

East Coast AC host Grand Final of popular Junior XC Series:

East Coast AC Junior XC Series 2016:

On Sunday 31st January 2016, Larne based club East Coast AC welcomed athletes from across the province to the Grand Final of their increasingly popular Junior XC Series, sponsored by All Stars Sports Academy.  

The final event of the three race Series took place over a tough course, set within the confines of Larne Grammar School Playing Fields.

The ‘Mini’ age group kicked off proceedings with their 600m race, and set the tone for what was an excellent programme of racing.  The host club’s Kielan McManus (East Coast AC) made it two wins in two with an impressive victory, crossing the line in 2:59 (1st place).  Saoirse Bell (East Coast AC) led the girl’s home in 3:30 (1st place).  In the Minor Girls 1,600m event, Erin Cross (Loughview Primary School) produced a commanding performance to seal top spot in 7:33 (1st place), while Rhys McManus (East Coast AC) completed a clean sweep of Series wins when he clocked 6:55 for 1st place.

In the Junior Girls and Boys 2,400m races, City of Lisburn AC’s Hannah Cochrane and North Belfast Harriers’ Luke Kelly produced classy performances to claim victory in their respective races, with Hannah running 9:50 (1st place) and Luke 9:30 (1st place).  The Senior Boys and Girls 2,400m race was the final event of the day, and it was Larne AC’s Will Barnham who broke the tape.  Will covered the distance in 9:57 (1st place), while Jessica McClements (East Coast AC) won the girls race in 10:20 (1st place).

After the races were complete, the athletes and gathered crowds attended the overall Series prize-giving.  Full results for Race 3 of the Series are available HERE, while the overall results for the Series are available HERE.

National titles and podium places for Northern Ireland track stars:

Local track stars impress in Ireland, Scotland and Wales:

Over the course of the weekend (Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st January 2016), a host of Northern Ireland’s track stars were in action at events in Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  Some were kicking off their 2016 campaign, while others were vying for indoor Championship medals; all performed to a high standard.

Amongst the local competitors, there were at least three National Championship gold medals and nine podium places for familiar faces.  Starting outside the province, Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games star and Irish record holder Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC) was in action over 60m at the Welsh Athletics Indoor Championships.  In her heat, Amy clocked 7.40secs to reach the final, during which, the exceptionally talented athlete recorded 7.39secs for 2nd place – the race was won by Newham & Essex Beagles AC athlete Asha Philip in 7.21secs (1st place).   

At the same event, European Under 23 silver medallist Leon Reid (Birchfield Harriers) lowered his 60m personal best by 0.01secs to 6.75secs to win his heat before finishing in 5th place in the final behind Adam Gemili in 6.82secs. Leon's time equals the fastest by Northern Ireland athlete, Paul Brizzel, over the distance.

In Scotland, Ballymena & Antrim AC man Johnathan Browning produced the performance of his life at the Scottish Athletics Indoor Championships. Up against top quality opposition, Johnathan claimed an excellent 2nd place over 60m, after securing a new personal best of 6.83secs for the distance; he was only beaten by World and European Champion sprinter Richard Kilty (Middlesbrough AC), who ran 6.65secs for 1st place.

Closer to home, a number of Northern Ireland based athletes produced medal (and title) winning performances at the GloHealth AAI National Junior and Under 23 Indoor Championships, hosted by Athletics Ireland at the AIT Arena in Athlone (Ireland).  City of Lisburn AC’s Ben Fisher claimed gold after covering the 60m in 6.99secs (1st place), he then returned to the track to secure a bronze medal in the 60m hurdles final after running 8.58secs (3rd place); the race was won by Annalee AC’s Paul Sexton (1st place - 8.36secs).  There were also National gold medals for Under 23 men Andrew Mellon (North Down AC) and Paddy Robb (St Malachy’s AC) – Andrew won the 60m in 6.92secs (1st place) and Paddy topped the 1500m rankings in 4:05.80 (1st place).

Megan Marrs (City of Lisburn AC) picked up a bronze medal in the 60m event, covering the distance in 7.63secs (3rd place) and a silver medal in the 60m hurdles, after running 8.98secs (2nd place).  The events were won by Emerald AC’s Ciara Neville (1st place - 7.47secs) and Cushinstown AC’s Elizabeth Moreland (1st place – 8.43secs) respectively.  

Ballymena & Antrim AC’s Craig Newell ran well to take the runners up spot in the Junior Men’s 200m event; Craig broke the beam in 22.12secs (2nd place), just 0.13secs behind winner David McDonald (Menapians AC), who ran 21.99secs (1st place).  In a physical Junior 800m event, Lagan Valley AC’s Callum Crawford-Walker again showed his potential, taking 3rd place despite a fall; Callum recovered well to run 1:56.43; the race was won by Tullamore Harriers’ Chinie Izuchukwu in 1:55.79 (1st place).

Full Results:  GloHealth AAI National Junior & Under 23 Indoor Championships 2016 ResultsScottish Athletics National Indoor Championships 2016 ResultsWelsh Athletics National Indoor Championships 2016 Results

Martin Cox and Hannah McGowan win Lifford-Strabane 5k:

Lifford Strabane 5k Series (Race 3 – Lifford):

On Sunday 31st Sunday 2016, Lifford Strabane AC hosted the third and final race of their popular annual Winter 5k Series. On this occasion, athletes travelled to Lifford (Ireland) for the event, which attracted nearly four hundred competitors.

At the front of the pack, Derry City Track Club new boy Martin Cox showed that he will be a valuable addition to the ranks with an impressive display of front running.  He (Martin) looked strong as he cruised home in 15:51 (1st place), nearly twenty seconds ahead of Michael Crawley (Unattached), who claimed 2nd place in 16:15.  Ciaran Collins (Carmen Runners) crossed the line in 16:29 for 3rd place.

In the ladies race, the ever consistent Hannah McGowan (Derry City Track Club) sealed top spot in 19:01 (1st place), while the host club’s Claire McGuigan (Lifford Strabane AC) continued her return to full fitness with a strong run for 2nd place; Claire recorded 19:37 for the distance.  Another Derry City Track Club athlete, Amy McDaid, completed the podium in 20:08 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men:  1st Martin Cox (Derry City Track Club) – 15:51, 2nd Michael Crawley (Unattached) – 16:15, 3rd Ciaran Collins (Carmen Runners) – 16:29

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Hannah McGowan (Derry City Track Club) – 19:01, 2nd Claire McGuigan (Lifford Strabane AC) – 19:37, 3rd Amy McDaid (Derry City Track Club) – 20:08

Full Results:  Lifford Strabane 5k Series (Race 3) 2016 Results

Streets of Ballyshannon 5k (Ireland):

Elsewhere on the roads this weekend (Saturday 30th January 2016), there was further success for Northern Ireland based athletes at the Streets of Ballyshannon 5k road race in County Donegal, Ireland.  Former Enniskillen Running Club athlete and respected marathoner Fergus McGirr (Omagh Harriers) led the field home in  17:21 (1st place).  Fellow Omagh Harriers athlete Derek Somerville also secured a top ten spot when he finished in 19:29 (6th place), while Enniskillen Running Club’s Karen Dolan topped the ladies podium after breaking the tape in 21:24 

Full Results:  Streets of Ballyshannon 5k 2016 Results

Scott Rankin claims podium place as local athletes impress at Raheny 5:

Raheny 5 mile Road Race 2016:

On Sunday 31st January 2016, a number of runners from Northern Ireland travelled south to suburbs of Dublin for the 32nd annual Raheny 5 mile road race, hosted by respected Irish club Raheny Shamrocks AC.

The event is well known for attracted local representation, infact it is an annual outing for several clubs from Northern Ireland – this year East Antrim Harriers travelled en-mass to the event.  Given the new ‘flatter and faster’ course, the local athletes had high hopes as they toed the line.

As always, there was no shortage of impressive performances, with Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) stealing the headlines with a 2nd place finish; Scott secured the runners up spot in an excellent 24:23.  Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) narrowly missed a podium place when he recorded 24:57 for 4th place.  NI & Ulster 10k (road) Champion Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) also finished inside the top ten, taking 6th place in 25:15, while Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) continued his good run of form with an 11th place finish in 25:56.  

Of the large East Antrim Harriers contingent, it was Sam Crawford who led the way, taking 76th place in 28:34. The race was won by Raheny Shamrocks AC star Mick Clohisey in 24:05 (1st place), while Mary Cullen (North Sligo AC) sealed victory in the ladies race in 26:16 (1st place).

Full results for the Raheny 5 mile road race can be found HERE.

David Simpson and Jessica Craig win inaugural Cultra Challenge:

Cultra Challenge 10k 2016:

On Sunday 31st January 2016, nearly five hundred athletes made use of a unique opportunity to take on the inaugural Cultra Challenge 10k and 5k races, held in the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum in Cultra, on the main road from Belfast to Bangor.  The site, which is set over 170 acres of rolling countryside, tells the story of life in early 20th century Ulster and is therefore a fascinating place for an event.

Despite the 10k course measuring closer to 7 miles (rather than 6.2 miles), athletes appeared to enjoy the experience, and it was Newcastle AC’s David Simpson and North Down AC’s Jessica Craig who made history. David went through half way just over a minute ahead of Larne AC’s always consistent Bernard Brady – this lead increased in the second half, with David sealing victory in 39:02 (1st place).  Bernard took 2nd place in 41:29, just ahead of Unattached athlete Glen Taylor, who clocked 41:23 (3rd place).

North Down AC’s Jessica Craig produced arguably the performance of the day.  Despite focusing her efforts over the last year on the track, with several cross country outings as part of her training, Jessica showed her strength on what was a testing course; she broke the tape in 41:39 for 1st place in the ladies race and an excellent 4th place overall.  Rose Mackin (Unattached) and Bridgeen Torrens (Murlough AC) battled it out in a sprint finish, with both ladies crossing the line in 44:04, but it was Rose who was awarded 2nd place, with Bridgeen settling for 3rd place.

In the associated 5k race, Brian Bogle (Unattached) led the field home in 23:26 (1st place), while Hollie Massey (Unattached) topped the ladies podium after recording 25:17 (1st place).

Top 3 Men:  1st David Simpson (Newcastle AC) – 39:02, 2nd Bernard Brady (Larne AC) – 41:29, 3rd Glen Taylor (Unattached) – 41:23

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Jessica Craig (North Down AC\) – 41:39, 2nd Rose Mackin (Unattached) – 44:04, 3rd Bridgeen Torrens (Murlough AC) – 44:04

Full Results:  Cultra Challenge 10k Race and 5k Race 2016 Results – Please Note:  The course measured closer to 11k than the advertised 10k.

Johnston, McMurray, McKinney & Devine win at NI & Ulster XC Championships:

ChampionChip Ireland NI & Ulster Masters Intermediate/Masters XC 2016:

On Saturday 30th January 2016, hundreds of athletes from across the province descended on the University of Ulster's Coleraine Campus for the ChampionChip Ireland sponsored NI & Ulster Intermediate and Masters Cross Country Championships.

An excellent day of competition saw impressive overall race wins for Pauric McKinney (Inishowen AC), Neill Johnston (Springwell Running Club), Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC), Catriona Devine (Finn Valley AC) and Gerry Lynch (City of Derry AC).

The cold and at times wintry conditions took nothing away from an atmospheric and spectator friendly event; the tough underfoot conditions did not deter athletes either.  In the Masters Men's 8k race, Inishowen AC’s evergreen Pauric McKinney once again showed his class.  Following on from his quality outing at last weekend’s AAI National Masters XC Championships in Dundalk, where he narrowly missed a podium place overall, Pauric producing another memorable achievement as he sealed victory in 24:02 (1st place).  City of Derry AC’s Allan Bogle, who played a major part throughout, took 2nd place in 24:17, before Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers), who finished third here last year, completed the top three in 24:42 (3rd place); all three men claimed gold medals in their respective age categories.  In the Masters Men’s team competition, Finn Valley AC took 1st place, with North Belfast Harriers and Newcastle AC taking 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.

In the Intermediate Ladies 4k race, Newcastle AC’s Shalene McMurray once again showed the form that saw her represent Northern Ireland at the IAAF Antrim International XC earlier this month when she secured a well-deserved win, breaking the tape in an impressive 16:33 (1st place).  Young Springwell Running Club star Aife McSheffrey claimed the runners up spot in 17:15 (2nd place), while Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) led a huge Acorns AC representation home in 17:31 (3rd place).  In the team competition, Springwell Running Club took 1st place, with North Belfast Harriers in 2nd place and Acorns AC in 3rd place.

The closely contested Masters Ladies 4k race saw the top six ladies finished within nineteen seconds of each other.  It was Finn Valley AC’s Catriona Devine who led the way, crossing the line in 17:03 (1st place).  The in-form Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers) claimed 2nd place in 17:09, with Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) following two seconds later in 17:11 (3rd place).  In terms of age category placings for the top three finishers, Catriona was the top Vet40 and Julie the runner up in the same category; Louise was the first Vet45 to finish.  In the team competition, North Belfast Harriers sealed 1st place, while City of Derry AC and Finn Valley AC claimed 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.

In the Masters 65+ Men’s race, City of Derry AC legend and Vet70 competitor Gerry Lynch led the field home, covering the muddy 4k route in 18:55 (1st place).  Vet65 men Barry Morris (City of Lisburn AC) and Francis Boal (Lagan Valley AC) followed in 19:22 (2nd place) and 20:32 (3rd place) respectively.

In a competitive Intermediate Men’s 10k race, QUB student and Springwell Running Club athlete Neill Johnston edged out NI & Ulster Novice XC Champion Conan McCaughey (Derry City Track Club) for the title.  Neill completed the distance in 34:38 (1st place), with Conan following in 34:46 (2nd place).  Young Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers) completed the top three in 35:12 (3rd place).  North Belfast Harriers retained their team title, taking 1st place – Acorns AC sealed 2nd place, with Foyle Valley AC taking 3rd place.

Masters Men (8k) – Overall Podium Places:

Top 3 Men:  1st Pauric McKinney (Inishowen AC) – 24:02, 2nd Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) – 24:17, 3rd Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers) – 24:42

Top 3 Teams:  1st Finn Valley AC, 2nd North Belfast Harriers, 3rd Newcastle AC

Intermediate Ladies (4k) – Overall Podium Places:

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC) – 16:33, 2nd Aife McSheffrey (Springwell Running Club) – 17:15, 3rd Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) – 17:31

Top 3 Teams:  1st Springwell Running Club, 2nd North Belfast Harriers, 3rd Acorns AC

Masters Ladies (4k) – Overall Podium Places:

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Catriona Devine (Finn Valley AC) – 17:03, 2nd Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers) – 17:09, 3rd Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – 17:11

Top 3 Teams:  1st North Belfast Harriers, 2nd City of Derry AC, 3rd Finn Valley AC

Intermediate Men (10k) – Overall Podium Places:

Top 3 Men:  1st Neill Johnston (Springwell Running Club) - 34:38, 2nd Conan McCaughey (Derry City Track Club) - 34:46, 3rd Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers) - 35:12

Top 3 Teams:  1st North Belfast Harriers, 2nd Acorns AC, 3rd Foyle Valley AC

Masters Vet65+ Men (4k) – Overall Podium Places:

Top 3 Men:  1st Gerry Lynch (City of Derry AC) – 18:55, 2nd Barry Morris (City of Lisburn AC) – 19:22, 3rd Francis Boal (Lagan Valley AC) – 20:32

Full Results:  NI & Ulster Intermediate and Masters XC Championships 2016 Results (Photos above by Liz Leitch, David Smith and Greg Lavery)

Darragh Crossan and Stephanie Brolly win Dungiven 10k:

Dungiven 10k (and 5k) 2016:

On Saturday 30th January 2016, over two hundred athletes descended on the County Derry/Londonderry town of Dungiven for the annual Dungiven 10k road race and associated 5k road race, organised by St Patrick’s College.

Derry City Track Club athlete Darragh Crossan looked a class act as he cruised to a relatively comfortable victory.  Darragh completed the route in 35:27 (1st place), just over a minute ahead of runner up Kieran McElhinney (Finn Valley AC), who recorded 36:49 for 2nd place.  David Hughes (Unattached) claimed 3rd place in 37:15.

Stephanie Brolly (Unattached) produced a similarly impressive performance to her winning male counterpart, as she secured cruised to victory in the ladies race.  Stephanie broke the tape in 43:49 (1st place).  County Antrim Harriers’ Christine Murray claimed 2nd place in 46:34, before Foyle Valley AC’s Ciara Doran completed the top three in 48:26 (3rd place).

In the associated 5k race, there was a double celebration for the Purvis family, with young Cathaoir Purvis (Acorns AC) sealing top spot in the men’s race in 16:46 (1st place) and Caoimhe Purvis winning the ladies race in 23:36 (1st place).

Top 3 Men:  1st Darragh Crossan (Derry City Track Club) – 35:27, 2nd Kieran McElhinney (Finn Valley AC) – 36:49, 3rd David Hughes (Unattached) – 37:15

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Stephanie Brolly (Unattached) – 43:49, 2nd Christine Murray (County Antrim Harriers) – 46:34, 3rd Ciara Doran (Foyle Valley AC) – 48:26

Full Results:  Dungiven 10k & 5k 2016 Results

Weekend Preview:  Next stop... Coleraine (NI & Ulster XC Championships):

Weekend Preview:  Next stop… Coleraine!

Another weekend is upon us and once again, it’s cross country which takes centre stage.  Athletes are now hoping to put their hard work over the last few months to the test at several NI & Ulster XC Championships.

This week will see the NI & Ulster Intermediate and Masters XC Championships take place in Coleraine, while the NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships will again be hosted in Lurgan Park next month (February 2016).  For now, we’ll look ahead to this weekend’s Intermediate and Masters event, which will be joined on the fixture calendar by several other tempting races, including the Dungiven 10k and the Cultra 10k Challenge.

Junior athletes can also look forward to the Grand Final of East Coast AC’s Junior XC Series in Larne.  Outside the province, there should be local representation at the GloHealth AAI National Junior & Under 23 Indoor Championships and the Raheny 5 mile road race, both in Ireland.

NI & Ulster Intermediate & Masters XC Championships:

On Saturday 30th January 2016, hundreds of athletes from across Northern Ireland and Ulster will descend on the University of Ulster’s Coleraine Campus in County Derry/Londonderry for the NI & Ulster Intermediate and Masters Cross Country Championships, hosted by Athletics NI.  In 2015, both the venue and the quality of competition (and numbers attending) proved impressive and this year will be no different.

The entry criteria means that any athlete who has won a medal at the NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships or AAI Senior/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, the AAI Senior XC Championships, or won the NI & Ulster Intermediate XC as an individual or as part of a team cannot participate in the ‘Intermediate’ Women’s or ‘Intermediate’ Men’s races. 

The Masters Men will kick off proceedings with their 8k race and in truth, it’s hard to look past newly crowned GloHealth AAI Masters XC Champion Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) for top spot here.  Last weekend, the decorated veteran athlete totally dominated proceedings in Dundalk – incidentally, Declan is the reigning Masters XC Champion, having won here in impressive fashion last year!  Pauric McKinney (Inishowen AC) was also in fantastic form in Dundalk last weekend and narrowly missed a podium spot; he should make amends for that here.  Newcastle AC will field a strong Masters team, with Ian Bailey, Deon McNeilly, David McNeilly and David Steele all likely to feature well overall as well as in their own categories and in the team competition.  

Other men to look out for include Ciaran Doherty (Letterkenny AC), Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers), Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC), Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers), Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers) and Ben Morrow (Ballymena Runners), while AAI Masters category medallists Gerry Lynch (City of Derry AC), Gerry O’Doherty (Springwell Running Club) and Peter Lilburn (City of Derry AC) should all secure podium places in their respective categories.

In the Masters Ladies 4k event, Letterkenny AC’s Fionnuala Diver will play a major part in proceedings.  The Letterkenny lady claimed a podium place after an excellent performance at the North West XC a couple of years ago and has the quality to contest a podium place here.  

Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) and Sonia Knox (Springwell Running Club) should also be in the mix, while Roisin Hughes (North Belfast Harriers) will continue her return to top form; the NBH star will go well here.  Ballymena Runners duo Sharon Leetch and Lorna Sibbett will head a huge contingent from the County Antrim town, while Springwell Running Club’s Kerrie McIlmoyle and Fran McFadden will also be worth watching, as will City of Lisburn AC athlete Ann Terek.

The Intermediate Men’s 10k event will live up to the excitement of the Masters races, with a massive field set to take part.  Amongst the front runners will be former NI & Ulster Novice XC Champion Conan McCaughey (Derry City Track Club) – however, Conan will have to be in top form to see off the likes of up and coming North Down AC athlete Jamie McMeechan, City of Lisburn AC’s Chris Madden and Springwell Running Club’s always impressive duo Neil Johnston and Conor Christie.  Acorns AC will look to Darrell McKee, Aaron Meharg, and Bliadhan Glass as they search for high individual placings and top honours in the team competition, while James Hamilton (Ballymena Runners), Pius McIntyre (Foyle Valley AC), Adrian McGowan (Foyle Valley AC), Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers), Gregory Lucy (Willowfield Harriers) and Lindsay Gordon (North Belfast Harriers) will also be chasing a top ten finish.

In the Intermediate Ladies 4k race, Acorns AC’s Karen Alexander should feature well.  After missing much of 2015 through injury, Northern Ireland international Karen will be keen to kick off the New Year in style.  Karen will be joined on the start line by club mate an AAI National Novice XC Champion Natalie Hall as they also look to achieve a high placing for the Acorns AC team.  Also in the classy starting line-up should be Alex Kirk (Springwell Running Club), Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers), Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers), Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC) and ROTG 2016 podium finisher Paul Arthur McCarthy (Ballymena Runners).  The aforementioned Shalene McMurray will have Newcastle AC club mates Mari Troeng, Joanne Mills, Sam McNeilly and Patricia McKibbin for back up, while Aife McSheffrey will join Alex Kirk and Sarah Lindsay in an impressive Springwell Running Club ladies team.

Dungiven 10k:

In Dungiven on Saturday 30th January 2016, local school St Patrick’s College, will host their annual 10k road race (and associated 5k). Last year saw nearly one hundred and fifty competitors take to the start line in what proved to be an enjoyable event, attracting a mixture of well-known athletes as well as fitness enthusiasts.

Reigning Champions John-Paul Gartland (Unattached) and Sarah-Jane McFadden (North Belfast Harriers) have not been competing a lot of late, but may return to action in an effort to retain their titles.  Respected marathon runner John-Paul will undoubtedly play a major part at the front should he toe the line again, but he may come up against some quality opposition in the form of Michael Crawley (Unattached), who has been in top form in the ongoing Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series.  Over and above John-Paul and Michael, other men who could be vying for honours could be Derry City Track Club’s Darragh Crossan, North Belfast Harriers’ Paul Horan and Unattached Gavin Campbell.

In the ladies race, if Sarah-Jane starts, she may face Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers).  Pauline races sparingly, but always very well!  Should both ladies compete, it will be an excellent race.  Catriona Murphy (Termoneeney Running Club) and Ciara Doran (Foyle Valley AC) will also run well if the enter on the day.

Cultra Challenge 10k:

On Sunday 31st January 2016, athletes will have the opportunity to take on a new event in the most unique of settings, the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum in Cultra, on the main road from Belfast to Bangor.  The site, which is set over 170 acres of rolling countryside, tells the story of life in early 20th century Ulster and is therefore a fascinating place for an event.

Hoping to make their own history will be over five hundred athletes who have signed up for either the 10k or 5k races.  At the head of the pack, there will be a close battle for top spot.  Lagan Valley AC’s Bryan Young and Larne AC pair Bernard Brady and Andy Gregg will all be there or there abouts, as will Ballydrain Harriers men Richard Coey and Norman Mawhinney if they start. Gavin Campbell (Unattached) will feature in the top ten depending on how quickly he recovers from his exploits at the Dungiven 10k, while Andrew Muir (North Down AC) and Gary Connolly (Seapark AC) will be hoping to finish well up the field.

North Down AC’s Jessica Craig looks to be the outstanding favourite in the ladies race.  Despite her recent focus being on the track, Jessica will use a winter of cross country and her speed here, which should be enough to see her top the podium.  However, despite her talents, the Northern Ireland international will have to be on top form, as a number of ladies will be aiming for a decent placing – amongst those will be endurance specialist Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC) and Rhonda Brady (Larne AC).  North Down AC trio Sarah Benton, Helen Byers and Cara Hamilton, and Orangegrove AC’s Verity Cornford, should all feature.

East Coast AC Junior XC Series (Race 3) Grand Finale:

Also on Sunday 31st January 2016, Larne based club East Coast AC will host the final race of their increasingly popular Junior XC in the Larne Grammar School Playing Fields (Lower Cairncastle Road, Larne).  The 2nd annual running of the Series has attracted athletes from clubs all over the province and with not only race, but overall Series prizes up for grabs, a large turnout is expected.  Full details of the event (including a race timetable) are available HERE.

GloHealth AAI National Junior and Under 23 Indoor Track & Field Championships (Ireland):

Further afield on Sunday 31st January 2016, a large number of athletes from Northern Ireland are expected to travel south to the AIT Arena in Athlone for the GloHealth AAI National Junior and Under 23 Track & Field Championships, hosted by Athletics Ireland.

In the Junior events, Callum Crawford-Walker (Lagan Valley AC), Megan Marrs (City of Lisburn AC) and Ben Fisher (City of Lisburn AC) will lead the local charge for glory, with strong backing from the likes of Matt Doherty (Derry City Track Club), Fintan Stewart (City of Derry AC), Craig Newell (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Hollie Gilliland (Lagan Valley AC), Olivia Cumming (North Down AC), Gareth Thompson (City of Lisburn AC), Ciaran Barnes (City of Lisburn AC) and Ryan Keenan (City of Lisburn AC).

Meanwhile, Paddy Robb (St Malachy’s AC), Conor Doherty (Derry City Track Club), Andrew Mellon (North Down AC), Adam Cooper (Lagan Valley AC), Anna McIlmoyle (City of Lisburn AC) and Naomi Morgan (City of Derry AC) will be chasing medals in the Under 23 competition.

Raheny 5 mile Road Race (Ireland):

On the same day (Sunday 31st January 2016), local clubs will also be represented on the roads of Ireland, with a sizeable crowd expected to travel to the 31st annual running of the Raheny 5 mile road race, just outside Dublin.  The event, which is organised by Raheny Shamrock AC, has always attracted a plethora of local talent and this year will be no different.

The well-known ‘fast course’ has been slightly altered this year due to road works, but the new route offers even more personal best potential, according to the locals.  In 2015, Strabane based athlete Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) claimed a podium place and North Belfast Harriers’ Mark McKinstry secured a significant 5 mile personal best here.  Ann-Marie should return and Mark may want to take his good form from the cross country season onto the roads as he aims to further improve his 5 mile best of 25:56.  The black and white hoops of East Antrim Harriers should be prominent throughout the field, with veteran Sam Crawford a likely candidate to lead his club mates to the finish.  Athletes from North Belfast Harriers, Beechmount Harriers and Larne AC may also be amongst those who travel, given their interest over the last few years.  Other top names from Northern Ireland who may well feature include Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) and Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC).


As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty one parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.

Athletics Northern Ireland host annual Awards Night in Belfast:

Athletics NI Awards Night 2016:

On Wednesday 20th January 2016, Athletics Northern Ireland hosted their Annual Awards Ceremony at the Ramada Plaza, Shaws Bridge (Belfast) to honour the often unsung heroes of our sport, the volunteers, officials and coaches who are tireless in their commitment and drive to see the sport of Athletics flourish in the Province and further afield.

David Seaton kicked off the evening, with Tom Crick taking over to deluge into the Awards Ceremony. VIP Guests Dame Mary Peters, Maeve Kyle and Alan Tate (JT Inspire, who sponsored some of the awards) where in attendance to present some of these newly designed prestigious awards out to Northern Ireland’s inspiring athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers.

The winners were presented with unique awards and Gary Keenan (President of Athletics NI), David Seaton MBE (Chairman of Athletics NI), Tom Crick (Director of Coaching & Athlete Development of Athletics NI), Maeve Kyle, Dame Mary Peters and Alan Tate.

A list of prize-winners is below: 

Performance Awards:

Junior Performance Coach of the Year – Annie Rose

Disability Performance Coach of the Year – Paddy McKillop

Performance Coach of the Year – Richard Rodgers

Club/Development Awards:

Development Coach of the Year – Roger Sexton

Performance Club of the Year – City of Lisburn AC

Participation Club of the Year – Acorns AC 

Volunteer Awards:

Volunteer of the Year – Ryan Maxwell (pictured right)

Volunteer of the Year – Bryan McCorkell

Millennium Volunteer Awards – Caitlin Fisher & Kurtis Scott

Official of the Year – Lyn Fisher

Lifetime Achievement Awards:

Services to Officiating – Robin Mack

Sean Kyle Award for Services to Officiating – Eric Frizzell

In addition to the Awards in each of the four categories outlined above, certificates were also presented to athletes who broke NI records in 2015:

Ben Reynolds (110mH), Kerry O’Flaherty (3000m Steeplechase), Ciara Mageean (1500m, Mile & 3000m), John Kelly (U20 Shot Putt – 6Kg), Andrew Barkley – (Discus Throw - 1.75Kg), Ben Fisher – (U18 Long Jump), Mark Burton – (U18 Triple Jump), Christian Robinson – (U20 4x100m Relay), Karl McClean – (U20 4x100m Relay), Gareth Thompson – (U20 4x100m Relay), Ben Fisher – (U20 4x100m Relay)

Note:  Article by Athletics NI.  Photos from the Athletics NI Awards Night are available HERE (by Bob Given).

Lyndsey Tyro excels as local athletes impress at events Vietnam and Dubai:

Local athletes impress in Vietnam and Dubai:

Last weekend (Sunday 24th January 2016), Northern Ireland based athlete Lyndsey Tyro (Orangegrove AC) celebrated arguably the biggest achievement of her running career when competing in Ho Chi Minh City, located in southern Vietnam.

Lyndsey and her husband Paul Tyro (Orangegrove AC) took on the famous Ho Chi Minh City ‘Conquer The Bridge’ Half Marathon as they continued their tour of South East Asian Half Marathons.  Lyndsey, a regular on the podium in Northern Ireland, led the ladies field home, breaking the tape in 1:35:05 (1st place).  Paul also ran well, covering the 13.1 mile route in 1:29:13 (17th place).

Meanwhile in Dubai, two Orangegrove AC athletes were in action at the flat and fast Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon.  Both Paul Woodman and Helen Charlton were in good form as they recorded 3:13:12 4:14:40 respectively.  The race was won by Ethiopian Tesfaye Abera Dibaba in 2:04:24 (1st place), while Tirfi Tsegaye, also of Ethipia took the ladies title in 2.19.41 (1st place).

Full Results:  Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon 2016 Results and Ho Chi Minh City Half Marathon 2016 Results (Not Available)

East Antrim Marathon Series Marathon:

Closer to home, the East Antrim Marathon Series hosted one of their regular marathon events on Saturday 23rd January 2016, and it was Dave Slater (Club Unknown) who led the field home in 3:00:00 (1st place).  Enniskillen Running Club's Tara Malone was the first lady to complete the 26.2 mile course in 3:29:07 (1st place).

Athletics NI, IMC and Beechmount Harriers join forces for Belfast International:

Belfast International 2016 launched:

On Tuesday 26th January 2016, the local sporting press gathered alongside some of Northern Ireland’s top athletes at the launch of the Belfast International Track & Field Meeting in Belfast City Hall.

The prestigious event, which will be co-hosted by Athletics NI, the Irish Milers Club and local athletic club Beechmount Harriers, will take place on Saturday 7th May 2016 at the impressive Mary Peters Track in Belfast.

The launch was attended by Belfast’s Lord Mayor Arder Carson who welcomed guests and spoke of his excitement in relation to the event, “I am overjoyed that Belfast has a truly world-class facility that serves both current and future generations of athletes. The presence of a world class venue ensures a legacy of athletics development for the City for many years to come”.

In 2014, the Belfast International brought a large number of quality athletes to the Mary Peters Track, but unfortunately it was cancelled in 2015.  The Irish Milers Club and Beechmount Harriers brought their inaugural event to MPT in the Summer of 2015, which proved a resounding success.  Now, the two events will come together for what should be one of the most noteable events on Northern Ireland soil, especially given its timing, when athletes may be looking to achieve Olympic qualification standards.

Respected Athletics NI Secretary John Allen explained, “This is a fantastic event for everyone involved and provides an opportunity to showcase one of the country’s top athletics arenas. Taking place at the start of the track & field season the Belfast International Athletics Meet will offer fans an opportunity to see world-class athletes compete at the home of Athletics in Northern Ireland ahead of the Games. 

John continued “The Mary Peters Track is a world class standard venue that is open to the whole athletics community, catering to all levels of the sport from school children and club athletes to those training to compete at an international level.” 

The event should attract a host of international talent, with teams from all of the home countries being invited, however, Eamon Christie explained that “local clubs would not be forgotten” given their prominence in making the IMC event in 2015 such a success.

Irish Milers co-founder, Brendan Hackett concluded by saying “The Irish Milers Club was set up to improve the standard of middle distance running in line with the great tradition of middle distance running in Ireland. Our main focus is on staging fast pace races and this event at the Mary Peters Track, Belfast. It is marvellous example of team work and action for the benefit of athletes and the Irish Milers Club are delighted to be part of this and working again with Beechmount Harriers and the Athletics Northern Ireland team.”

ChampionChip Ireland release details of Pure Running HM Series 2016:

Pure Running HM Series 2016:

Northern Ireland’s longest running race series enters its eighth year with Pure Running continuing as the main sponsor.

Associate sponsors ChampionChip Ireland, Athletics NI and Ward Sports Management will again show their support.

The increased prize structure introduced in 2015 has been retained.

The number of races required to count in the categories reverts back to 6 races to be completed from 10, with 3 from the first half of the calendar and 3 from the second half.  When the Series began in 2009 there were six races and they attracted just over 5,600 entrants, the following year had seven races and just over 7,000 entrants.  In 2011 there were six races again but the entrants continued to flock in and there were over 1,000 entrants on average for each race.  Then in 2012 the Series expanded to eight races and the 8,000 mark was exceeded comfortably.  In 2013 there were 10 races in the Series and just short of 9,000 competitors took part with eighteen runners completing all ten. There were also ten races in 2014, but when the introduction of the Dambusters Half Marathon in the Silent Valley area of Mourne Mountains it meant that the Series covered more of the country.  Last year (2015) the number of participants was just short of the 8,000 mark with the same ten races being part of the Series since 2013.

Michael Jenkins has been a supporter of the Half Marathon Series since its inception in 2009 and continues to do so with his Pure Running brand  Pure Running are the chief sponsor along with ChampionChip Ireland, Ward Sports Management and Athletics NI.

Only Angus McCready from Antrim has completed all 57 races in the Series, which is even more remarkable considering he was working and living in England for a while.  The Series has an earlier start than normal this year with the traditional DUNE Half Marathon from Newry to Dundalk moved to Sunday 14th February 2016 and with a slight route alteration.

The Pure Running Half Marathon Series will be comprised of the following races:

Sunday 14th February 2016 - DUNE Cross Border Half Marathon from Newry to Dundalk

Saturday 19th March 2016 – AES Larne Half Marathon

Saturday 26th March 2016 – SPAR Omagh Half Marathon

Sunday 29th May 2016 - Newry Half Marathon and Marathon

Wednesday 15th June 2016 – Lisburn Half Marathon

This completes the first half of the calendar, runners must record a finishing time in at least 3 of these races before going into the second half…

Friday 24th June 2016 – Ards Half Marathon

Saturday 23rd July – Dervock Half Marathon

Sunday 31st July 2016 – Cookstown Half Marathon

Saturday 13th August 2016 – Groomsport Half Marathon

Saturday 20th August 2016 – Born 2 Run Dambusters Half Marathon

Runners must complete at least 6 races from the Series with at least 3 from the first half of the calendar and 3 from the second half of the calendar.  As previously mentioned, the prize fund remains the same as 2015 but runners still must complete all the races in the Series to be awarded a special garment at the end.

The cumulative times of each competitor will be taken to calculate the rank in each category.  If a competitor finishes in more than 6 races then their best six times will be used provided they have completed three races from the first half of races and three from the second half of the above calendar. 

A competitor will stay in the age group they ran in at their first race.  Where two or more competitors have the same cumulative time at the end, their fastest time in any race will be used as a tie break.  Half way times in the Newry Marathon will be admissible if so desired.  Athletics NI will provide a page on its web site with regular updates on the leaders in each category and news of the Series.  Competitors are required to register their time through an online form on the Athletics NI website so that their progress can be logged and ranks accurately recorded.  A runner who fails to register their times through the ANI website could be overlooked when the final prizes are awarded as it’s difficult to accurately log all the times from 10,000 entrants across the Series.

The prize structure is shown HERE.  Prizes will be in the form of vouchers from Pure Running.

Local athletes claim impressive medal haul at AAI National XC Championships:

GloHealth AAI National Intermediate and Masters Cross Country Championships 2016:

On Sunday 24th January 2016, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland made the short cross-border journey to Dundalk (Ireland) for the GloHealth AAI National Intermediate and Masters Cross Country Championships.  

The event was well attended and amongst the notable performances, were at least ten medal winning runs by Northern Ireland based competitors.

Arguably the performance of the day came from multi-title winning City of Derry AC man Declan Reed in the Masters Men’s 7k race.  

Following on from his quality outing at the IAAF Antrim International XC last week, where he led the Northern Ireland team home, Declan dominated proceedings here.  After taking the lead early on, the Spartan athlete quickly forged a gap between himself and the chasing pack.  As the race progressed, Declan gradually increased his lead before breaking the tape in 23:27.  This not only secured 1st place overall, but saw Declan claim 1st place and the associated gold medal in his Vet40 category.  Foyle Valley AC’s Chris McGuinness took 6th place overall in 24:23, which was enough to see him take 2nd place in the Vet35 category.  North Belfast Harriers’ Eamon White also finished in the top ten overall, crossing the line in 24:40 for 10th place; this secured 2nd place in his Vet45 race.  There were also medals for Springwell Running Club’s Gerry O’Doherty and City of Derry AC’s Peter Lilburn in the Vet60 category, with Gerry collecting silver (2nd place Vet60) and Peter bronze (3rd place Vet60). 

City of Derry AC legend Gerry Lynch celebrated victory in the Vet70 category after completing the 4k course in 15:37 (1st place Vet70).  In the Masters Ladies 4k, there were four medals and a team win for City of Derry AC – Hannah Shields and Anne Paul could not be split as they both crossed the line 14:39, taking 26th place and 27th place over respectively.  This meant that Hannah picked up a silver medal and Anne a bronze medal in their Vet50 category – not only this, but the ladies’ performances alongside that of team mates Claire Connor (102nd place overall – 16:25) and Paula McGilloway (117th place overall - 16:46) saw City of Derry AC’s Vet50 Ladies top the team standings in 1st place.  Roisin Lynch (City of Derry AC) was also in good form and picked up a gold medal after leading the Vet65 athletes home.  

There was further success for Northern Ireland athletes in the Intermediate Championships, with NI international’s Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) and Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) claiming podium place.  Mark worked his way through the field well to take a well-deserved 3rd place, after covering the 8k course 27:22.  Newcastle AC’s Seamus Lynch achieved a top ten finish, securing 5th place in 27:49.  The race was won by Annalee AC’s Cian O’Reilly in 27:00 (1st place).  Catherine Whoriskey led the ladies 5k in the early stages and despite dropping several places, the Waterside Half Marathon winner managed to hold on for a bronze medal; Catherine clocked 19:13 for 3rd place.  The race was won by Crusaders AC’s Marie Hyland in 18:56 (1st place).

Full Results:  GloHealth AAI National Intermediate and Masters Cross Country Championships 2016 Results

Paul McCaffery and Moire O'Sullivan win NWTC 5k:

North West Triathlon Club Winter 5k Series – Race 3:

On Sunday 24th January 2016, nearly one hundred athletes turned out for the latest race of the North West Triathlon Club Winter 5k Series in Derry/Londonderry.  Despite the windy conditions along the banks of the River Foyle, there were several notable performances in what was Race 3 of the ongoing Series.

In the men’s event, there was an excellent battle between City of Derry AC club mates Paul McCafferty and Michael Murphy, with little splitting the pair until the final stages when Paul edged clear to win in 16:33 (1st place).  Michael followed in 16:43 (2nd place), before Foyle Valley AC’s Matt McLoughlin (3rd place  - 17:06) prevented a Spartan domination of the podium when he saw of Mark Mullan (4th place – 17:10) by just four seconds.

Moire O’Sullivan (Unattached) produced a strong performance to lead the ladies home in 20:57 (1st place). City of Derry AC’s Karen Cutliffe secured the runners up spot in 21:53 (2nd place), while Inishowen AC’s Patricia McLoughlin completed the top three in 22:11 (3rd place), just ahead of the host club’s Aoife Wilson (NWTC), who recorded 22:20 (4th place).

Full Results:  North West Triathlon Club Winter 5k Series (Race 3) 2016 Results

Michael Crawley and Julie Butler impress at Winter League Trail Series:

Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series (Race 4) 2016:

On Saturday 23rd January 2016 nearly two hundred athletes turned out for the penultimate race of Sperrin Harriers’ annual Winter League Trail Series, the Drum Manor 10k, which took place just outside Cookstown in County Tyrone.

Following on from his previous top quality performances in the Series, it was Michael Crawley who took charge – the unattached athlete dominated proceedings before breaking the tape in 34:41 (1st place).  Willowfield Harriers’ Neill Weir followed in 35:15 (2nd place), before Series regular Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers) claimed 3rd place in 35:44.

In the ladies race, Race 3 winner Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers) produced a strong performance to secure a comfortable victory.  Despite the efforts of the runner up Esther Dickson (Unattached), Julie won in 38:19 (1st place) with Esther taking 2nd place in 40:12.  Ballymena Runners new girl Gillian Wasson continued her return to fitness with a podium place, after securing 3rd place in 41:05.

Top 3 Men:  1st Michael Crawley (Unattached) – 34:41, 2nd Neill Wei (Willowfield Harriers) – 35:15, 3rd Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers) – 35:44

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers) – 38:19, 2nd Esther Dickson (Unattached) – 40:12, 3rd Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners) – 41:05

Full Results:  Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series (Race 4) 2016 Results

Junior athletes take centre stage at East Coast AC Junior XC Series (Race 2):

East Coast AC Junior XC Series (Race 2):

On Saturday 23rd January 2016, nearly sixty junior athletes turned out for Race 2 of the East Coast AC Junior XC Series in Larne, County Antrim.  The increasingly popular Series is sponsored by All Stars Sports Academy.

Following on from the success of Race 1 two weeks ago, this event saw most competitors take on a challenging but enjoyable 772m loop of the Curran Park, with the number of laps being increased with each age category.  The Mini Boys and Girls kicked off proceedings, with a slightly shorter lap of 595 metres and it was East Coast AC’s Madeline McMillan (1st place - 4:07) and Keilan McManus (1st place - 3:29) who secured impressive victories.  

The Minor Girls took to the start line next for their two lap 1,544m race.  Both Zoe Whitford (East Coast AC) and Rhys McManus (East Coast AC) controlled their respective races, with Zoe winning in 7:20 (1st place) and Rhys leading the boys home in 6:54 (1st place).

In the closest race of the day was the Junior Girls three 2,316 metre race – East Coast AC club mates Kelly Patterson and Bradie Hogg battled it out throughout the three lap race and it was only in the final stages that a potential winner came to the fore.  Kelly edged clear to claim victory in 10:23 (1st place), just one second ahead of Bradie who clocked 10:24 for 2nd place.  In the Junior Boy’s race, North Belfast Harriers athlete Callum McIlroy followed up his podium place at the Schools XC during the week with an impress win, taking 1st place in 9:49.  The Senior Boys and Girls also covered 2,316 metres and it was Jessica McClements (Ballycalre High School) and Scott Robinson (Larne AC) who topped the podium, with Jessica running 10:41 (1st place) and Scott 11:24 (1st place).

The Series finale will take place next weekend (Sunday 31st January 2016) at the Larne Grammar School Playing Fields on Lower Cairncastle Road in Larne.  Full details are available HERE.

Full Results:  East Coast AC Junior XC Series (Race 2) 2016 Results

Weekend Preview:  Athletes prepare for road, trail and cross country events...

Weekend Preview: Local competitors look forward to road, trail and cross country events…

As January passes with the blink of an eye, we’re already seeing glimpses of what is to come during the impending track season, with several top performances last weekend.  

However, the emphasis is still on the cross country season – this weekend, a large number of local athletes will make the short cross border journey to Dundalk for the GloHealth AAI National Intermediate and Masters XC Championships.  

Closer to home, Sperrin Harriers and North West Triathlon Club (NWTC) will host races on the trails of Drum Manor (Cookstown) and the roads of Derry/Londonderry respectively. In Larne, East Coast AC will welcome junior athletes to Race 2 of their ongoing Junior XC Series.

Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series (Race 4) – Drum Manor 10k:

On Saturday 23rd January 2016, Sperrin Harriers will host the penultimate race of their ongoing Winter League Trail Series, which has so far proved a huge success, with record numbers turning out.  Race 4 will be no different, with large crowds expected to take on the Drum Manor 10k, close to Cookstown in County Tyrone.  The scenic course will cover a two lap route through Drum Manor Forest.

It’s likely that winners from Race 2 of the Series, Michael Crawley (Unattached) and Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers) will return.  Both were in fine form two weeks ago in An Creagan and will be keen to replicate their performances as they strive towards overall Series glory.  In the men’s race, Michael Crawley, who also won Race 1, could face tough opposition in the form of triathlete and former Sperrin Harriers club mate Gavin Corey.  Gavin is a consistent performer and has placed well in this Series previously; he was a podium finisher in Race 1, which Michael won.  Derry City Track Club new boy and Project Africa Athletics team member Martin Cox will also contest a podium place, as will Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers), Eoin Hughes (Acorns AC) and Conor Reid (Ballymena Runners).  Armagh AC’s Paul McAnespie, North Belfast Harriers’ Simon Reeve and Ballymena Runners’ Alex Brennan never fail to impress off-road and will therefore be worth watching should they toe the line.

In the ladies race, the aforementioned Julie Butler will prove hard to beat, but there are a few ladies who have shown excellent form throughout the Series and for that reason, cannot be discounted.  Emma Rice (Sperrin Harriers) has secured a podium place at each of the Series races so far, with one of these being a win at Race 1; Emma will feature well here.  Gillian Wasson (Springwell Running Club) is a classy athlete and if she’s in-form, will play a major part in proceedings – the same can be said for the relatively unknown Esther Dickson (Unattached), who has burst onto the scene with several podium places at local trail races, with the most recent being Race 3 of this Series when she finished in second place.  Denise Ward (Foyle Valley AC), Angela O’Neill (Sperrin Harriers), Charlene Abraham (Unattached) and Ballymena Runners trio Sharon Harvey, Lorna Sibbett and Ruth Aiken will all finish well up the field.

East Coast AC Junior XC Series – Race 2 (Curran Park, Larne):

On the same day, Saturday 23rd January 2016, Larne based club East Coast AC will welcome junior athletes from across the province to Race 2 of their 2nd annual Junior XC Series.  Two weeks ago, nearly sixty up and coming stars took part in the Series opener and even more are expected here.  On this occasion, the Curran Park in Larne is the venue of choice, with races of various distances taking place for athlete in categories ranging from Under 6 to Under 16.  Full details, including a provisional race schedule are available HERE.

GloHealth AAI National Intermediate & Masters XC Championships (Ireland):

On Sunday 24th January 2016, a large number of runners from Northern Ireland will travel south to Dundalk (Ireland) for the GloHealth AAI National Intermediate & Masters XC Championships, which will take place at the Dundalk IT.   Clubs from every province will be represented at the event, which will attract significant numbers.  Provisional start-lists are available HERE.

Looking at the local prospects, Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) and Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), both of whom represented Northern Ireland at the IAAF Antrim International XC last week, will head the NI challenge for honours in the Intermediate Men’s event, while another of the Northern Ireland team from last week, Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC), should play a major part in proceedings in the Intermediate Ladies race.  North Belfast Harriers men John Black and Marc Jennings will also be in action in the Intermediate Men’s race.

City of Derry AC will be well represented in both the Masters Men’s and Masters Ladies races, with Northern Ireland’s first male finisher at the IAAF Antrim International XC, Declan Reed, likely to be a dominant figure at the sharp end. In terms of the team competition, Declan will be well backed up by the likes of Michael Murphy, Colin Roberts, Paul McCafferty and Peter Lilburn, amongst others.  In the ladies race, the Spartan team of Jackie McMonagle, Anne Paul, Hannah Shields, Claire Connor, Paula McGilloway, Bridgeen Byrne, Una Gavin and Roisin Lynch will run well as individuals and as a team.  Outside of the maiden city’s competitors, Letterkenny AC’s Ciaran Doherty and North Down AC’s Francis Marsh will also place well in the respective categories.

NWTC 5k Series (Race 3):

On the same day (Sunday 24th January 2016), whilst a large number of City of Derry Spartans are in Dundalk, their club mates, alongside the remainder of the local running community will look forward to Race 3 of North West Triathlon Club’s 5k Winter Series.  The popular Series attracts athletes from many of the surrounding running clubs, as well as triathletes.

City of Derry AC’s Mark Mullen is a regular at the NWTC events and will more than likely feature here.  The Spartan athlete will challenge for a podium place alongside the likes of Odhran O’Kane (Blast RC), Luke McCarron (City of Derry AC) and Frankie Bradley (Foyle Valley AC). Meanwhile, in the ladies race, it’s hard to look past Springwell Running Club’s always impressive triathlete Katherine Woods for top spot. Patricia McLaughlin (Inishowen AC) and Deborah McMahon (Foyle Valley AC) will also finish well within the top ten should they race.


As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty one parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.

Northern Ireland men included in Virgin London Marathon elite men's field:

Three NI men in elite field for VLM 2016:

Northern Ireland men Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders), Kevin Seaward (St Malachy's AC) and Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers) will take on some of the world’s best athletes at the prestigious Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday 24th April 2016.

Paul and Kevin will be looking to cement their places in the Rio 2016 Olympics, while Stephen will make a welcome return to competition after some time away from running.

Kevin is currently the fastest marathon qualifier for Rio with a time of 2:14:52, a personal best which he set at the Berlin Marathon in September 2015. 

Paul is the fourth fastest Irish runner with a qualifying time of 2:15:38, a personal best which he set in Berlin (2015).  He is therefore aiming for more in London with the World Half Marathon Championships in March (2016) part of his plans along the way.  “I’m looking forward to competing once again in the London marathon having run there in 2013,” said the Hollywood man. “There is always a fantastic atmosphere and hopefully the race will provide me with the opportunity to show the Irish selectors what I am capable of running when fit and healthy.”

Virgin Money London Marathon 2016 elite men’s field with personal bests: Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) 2:04:00, Dennis Kimetto (KEN) 2:02:57, Wilson Kipsang (KEN) 2:03:23, Endeshaw Negesse (ETH) 2:04:52, Stanley Biwott (KEN) 2:04:55, Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) 2:05:04, Tilahun Regassa (ETH) 2:05:27, Abera Kuma (ETH) 2:05:56, Samuel Tsegay (ERI) 2:07:28, Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (ERI) 2:07:47, Amanuel Mesel (ERI) 2:08:17, Serhiy Lebid (UKR) 2:08:32, Arne Gabius (GER) 2:08:33, Tewelde Estifanos (ERI) 2:09:16, Ghebrezgiabhier Kibrom (ERI) 2:09:36, Vitaliy Shafar (UKR) 2:09:58, Marcin Chabowski (POL) 2:10:07, Scott Overall (GBR) 2:10:55, Chris Thompson (GBR) 2:11:14, Yuki Sato (JPN) 2:12:12, Callum Hawkins (GBR) 2:12:17, Nordstad Moen (NOR) 2:12:54, Andrew Lemoncello (GBR) 2:13:40, Lee Merrien (GBR) 2:13:41, Derek Hawkins (GBR) 2:14:04, Shawn Forrest (AUS) 2:14:37, Kevin Seaward (IRL) 2:14:52Phil Wicks (GBR) 2:15:37, Paul Pollock (IRL) 2:15:38Ben Moreau (GBR) 2:15:52, Ian Kimpton (GBR) 2:15:55, Matthew Hynes (GBR) 2:16:00, John Beattie (GBR) 2:16:38, Jonathan Mellor (GBR) 2:16:52, Andrew Davies (GBR) 2:16:55, Stephen Scullion (IRL) 2:34:33Bedan Karoki (KEN) Debut, Gervais Hakizimana (RWA) Debut, Jonathan Hay (GBR) Debut, Ryan McLeod (GBR) Debut and Alejandro Fernandez Martin (ESP) Debut.

Note:  Information for this article sourced from Irish Runner website HERE.

Local athletes kick off track season at Scottish Indoor Championships:

Scottish Athletics National Open Graded Indoor Track & Field Championships 2016:

This weekend (Saturday 16th January 2016), a number of track stars from Northern Ireland made the journey to Scotland for the Scottish Athletics National Open Graded Indoor Track & Field Championships at the impressive Emirates Arena in Glasgow.

The event has attracted interest from local athletes in the past, with many kicking off their season well; this year was no different.  Throughout the day, organisers put together mixed male and female graded races – the times of 3 or 4 associated heats were then brought together to establish a final ranking, with the fastest runner being declared the overall winner.

Arguably the best performance of the day from a local perspective was that of young Newry AC athlete Anna Fegan.  Competing in Race 18 of the 800m event, Anna recorded 2:45.68, which saw her take 1st place in the race and finish as fastest lady over the allocated heats.  Anna also clocked 50.08secs for 300m, which was enough to finish in 16th place overall.  Ballymena Runners’ James Hamilton led the field home in Race 3 of the 1500m, crossing the line in 4:13.75; James finished in 15th place overall.  Newry AC’s Gavin Crilly covered the 1500m in 4:58.02, securing 6th place in Race 7 and 30th place over four heats.

North Down AC’s Jessica Craig was also competing over 1500m – in Race 7, Jessica took 7th place in a time of 4:41.62 – the saw Jessica finish as 5th place lady.  Ireland international and current Irish Universities 800m Champion Aislinn Crossey (Newry AC & UCD AC) toed the line in Race 15 of the 200m, where she clocked 27.88secs for 5th place in the race and 7th place lady overall.  Also in the 200m was Ellie Murdock (Newry AC); Ellie claimed 4th place in Race 47 of the 200m events, which saw her take 11th place lady over four heats. 

Full Results:  Scottish Athletics National Open Graded Indoor Track & Field Championships 2016 Results (Photo above taken from BBC Sport NI website)

Mark Hoy and Natasha Adams win Lifford-Strabane AC's Raphoe 5k:

Raphoe 5k 2016:

On Sunday 17th January 2016, over three hundred athletes turned out for the second race of the Lifford Strabane AC 5k Series, the Raphoe 5k, which took place in County Donegal, Ireland.

Finn Valley AC’s Mark Hoy stole the headlines in what was a closely contested race; a mere four seconds split the top three men.  NiRunning Mile record holder Mark broke the tape in 15:52 (1st place) and was followed almost immediately by Derry City Track Club’s Martin Cox (2nd place - 15:54) and City of Derry AC’s Emmet McGinty (3rd place - 15:56).

In the ladies race, it was the always impressive Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC) who topped the podium.  Natasha claimed victory in a more relaxed fashion than her male counterpart, winning by almost three minutes when she crossed the line in 17:29 (1st place).  Amy McDaid (Derry City Track Club) followed on from her win at the Carrigans 5k last week with a 2nd place finish in 20:12, while the host club’s Leoni Mullen completed the top three in 20:53 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men:  1st Mark Hoy (Finn Valley AC) – 15:52, 2nd Martin Cox (Derry City Track Club) – 15:54, 3rd Emmet McGinty (City of Derry AC) – 15:56

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC) – 17:29, 2nd Amy McDaid (Derry City Track Club) – 20:12, 3rd Leoni Mullen (Lifford Strabane AC) – 20:53

Full Results:  Raphoe 5k 2016 Results

Alice Aprot Nawowuna and Aweke Ayalew win IAAF Antrim International XC:

IAAF Antrim International XC 2016:

On Saturday 16th January 2016, 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, which was organised by Athletics NI, also included the British Athletics XC Challenge and was part of the ongoing Athletics NI XC League.

Prior to the International events, the exciting programme of competitive Junior races ensured that the atmosphere had built sufficiently for the 'main' events.  There were wins for Charlie Patterson (East Coast AC), Jodie McMullen (Saints & Scholars IPS), Femke Rosbergen (CONAC), Sam Almond (Eden Runners), Niamh Heaney (Omagh Harriers), Sam Hart (Team Kennet), Olivia Nelson (Ireland Development Squad) and Sol Sweeney (Perth Harriers), before Mollie Williams (England) and Euan Gillham (Scotland) celebrated victory in the Junior Ladies and Junior Men's races.

In the ladies 5.6k event, double European XC Champion and Fionnuala McCormack (Ireland) led early on, with Team GB’s Great Edinburgh XC winner Kate Avery on her shoulder.  However, it wasn’t long before Alice Aprot Nawowuna (Kenya), Mimi Belete (Bahrain), Ruth Jebet (Bahrain) and Birtukan Fente Alemu (Ethiopia) moved to the fore.  Alice pushed the pace and very quickly found herself breaking away from former Antrim XC Champion Mimi and Ruth, while Birtukan tired surprisingly quickly and became embroiled in a battle with early leader Fionnuala McCormack and the impressive Kate Avery.  

As the race progressed into the final lap, Alice remained at the head of the pack and looked strong – behind, the pack was splitting, with Mimi looking like the only person who could catch Alice.  The hard working Fionnuala was catching Ruth Jebet and still had Kate for company.  In the end, despite the best efforts of Mimi Belete, it was Alice Aprot Nawowuna who moved into the finishing straight first, breaking the tape in 18:05 (1st place).  Mimi followed in 18:09 (2nd place), before Fionnuala saw off Kate Avery (4th place – 18:16) to take 3rd place in 18:13.

Olympic hopeful Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) was the first of the Northern Ireland ladies team to cross the finish line after taking an excellent 11th place in 19:46.  Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) followed in 20:30 (16th place), with Newcastle AC’s Shalene McMurray (20:52) and Dromore AC’s Rebecca Henderson (21:55) completing the team in 17th place and 21st place respectively.

Over what was now an exceptionally muddy course, the men set off for their 7.4k event.  It was former winner of the event Thomas Ayeko (Uganda) who led the way early on, but there was little between him and a line of chasers – Aweke Ayalew (Bahrain), Timothy Cheruiyot (Kenya), Dawit Wolde (Ethiopia) and Emmanuel Bett (Kenya) were hot on Aweke heals.  By lap two, Emmanuel Bett had dropped off the pace, leaving the Thomas, Aweke, Timothy and Dawite to run side by side as they passed the spectator lined straight at the start of the third lap.

The speedy quartet continued their relentless pace as they raced for home, and it wasn’t until the final straight that the winner became apparent.  In a sprint finish, Aweke Ayalew saw off Thomas Ayeko and Timothy Cheruiyot to break the tape in 21:25 (1st place).  Thomas also clocked 21:25, which was enough for 2nd place, while Timothy completed the top three in 21:27 (3rd place).

Spartan athlete Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) was the first member of the Northern Ireland team to finish, taking 17th place in 24:05.  Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) completed the route in 24:15 (18th place), before Seamus Lynch and Paddy Hamilton finished within three seconds of each other; Seamus crossed the line in 24:34 (21st place), with Paddy running 24:37 (22nd place).

Top 3 Ladies (5.6k):  1st Alice Aprot Nawowuna (Kenya) - 18:05, 2nd Mimi Belete (Bahrain) - 18:09, 3rd Fionnuala McCormack (Ireland) - 18:13

Top 3 Men (7.4k):  1st Aweke Ayalew (Bahrain) – 21:25, 2nd Thomas Ayeko (Uganda) – 21:25, 3rd Timothy Cheruiyot (Kenya) – 21:27

Provisional Results:  IAAF Antrim International XC 2016 Results.  Photos from the IAAF Antrim International XC will be added to our ‘Photo Gallery’ in the coming days.

William McKee and Laura Graham win Born 2 Run Mount Stewart 10k:

Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Mount Stewart 10k:

On Saturday 16th January 2016, over seven hundred participants took on the Born 2 Run Mount Stewart 10k, which is part of the ongoing Run Forest Run Series.

A new venue for this year, Mount Stewart is one of the most unique and unusual gardens in the National Trust’s ownership, enjoying the mild climate of the Ards Peninsula on the shores of Strangford Lough.

The race started and finished in front of the impressive 16th century house and the route was a mixture of road and forest trail taking in some of the most notable highlights of this fine estate, from panoramic views of the lough, through the gardens with their Mediterranean feel and past the lake to wooded areas with a range of plants from all corners of the world.

It was no surprise that pre-event favourites and dominant forces within the Series thus far, William McKee and Laura Graham, both of Mourne Runners in County Down, cruised to victory in their respective races.  In the men’s event, William eased to the win in 33:30 (1st place), well over two minutes ahead of his nearest rival.  Up and coming St Peter’s AC athlete Mark Cornett followed in 36:01 (2nd place), before Camron Burns (Team Runwell) completed the top three in 36:16 (3rd place).

Meanwhile, in the ladies event, Laura produced a similarly convincing win – finishing in an excellent 4th place overall, Laura topped the ladies podium in 36:53 (1st place).  Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) crossed the line in 38:09 for 2nd place, while the in-form Esther Dickson (Unattached) followed on from her podium place in the Sperrin Harriers Winter Trail Series with another prize-winning performance; Esther tool 3rd place in 40:04 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men:  1st William McKee (Mourne Runners) – 33:30, 2nd Mark Cornett (St Peter’s AC) – 36:01, 3rd Camron Burns (Team Runwell) – 36:13

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 36:53, 2nd Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – 38:09, 3rd Esther Dickson (Unattached) – 40:04

Full Results:  Born 2 Run Mount Stewart 10k 2016 Results 

Note:  An extract of this race summary was taken from the Belfast Telegraph report on the event.

Weekend Preview:  All eyes on NI for prestigious IAAF Antrim International XC!

Weekend Preview: Athletics NI host IAAF Antrim International XC 2016…
As we approach another weekend, the official Athletics NI calendar lists just two fixtures!  

Don’t be fooled though - these two events, the IAAF Antrim International XC and the Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Mount Stewart 10k, will collectively attract well over one thousand participants and with it, a plethora of talent.  The IAAF Antrim International XC in particular will see a number of well-known stars from the athletics world take to the start line!

IAAF Antrim International XC:
On Saturday 16th January 2016, our sport’s governing body, Athletics NI will host their annual IAAF Antrim International XC at the expansive CAFRE Greenmount Campus in Antrim.  This year will see arguably the highest quality field in the event’s thirty nine year history.  Alongside the prestigious IAAF Junior (Under 20) and Senior races, there will be a number of age category events within a programme, which is sure to excite any athletics fan.  The event will also incorporate the British Athletics XC Challenge and counts towards the ongoing Athletics NI XC League.
In the men’s event, current European Junior XC Champion Yeman Crippa (Italy) will be one of the stars to look out for in a field littered with talent.  Last month in France, the 19 year old successfully defended his 2014 European Junior XC title with a commanding display of front running which resulted in an impressive victory.  Yeman also showed his calibre when he took a bronze medal in the European Junior 5,000 metres last summer (2015).  

However, despite his quality, the young Italian star will face tough opposition in the form of reigning Antrim international XC Champion Thomas Ayeko (Uganda), who also won in Antrim in 2013.  Another big name who could well gain a rostrum place is 22 year old Aweke Ayalew of Bahrain; Aweke produced the performance of his life at the World XC Championships last March (2015), where he claimed a top ten spot.  

Emmanuel Bett (Kenya) boasted a world best 10,000m time of 26:51 back in 2012 and should also be amongst the front runners here, as will his countryman Dominic Kiptarus (Kenya), who is the younger brother of London 2012 Olympian Antony Chemut.  In 2015, Dominic notched up his greatest achievement, when he won the World Youth XC Championships. 

Decorated Scottish athlete Andrew Butchart (Scotland) and England’s well-known Andrew Hickey (England) will also be worth watching, as will Rio 2016 hopeful Sergiu Ciobanu (Clonliffe Harriers) who recently made his Ireland debut at the European XC Championships.  NI & Ulster 10k Champion Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) should play a part at the front, while Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners), Declan Reed (City of Derry AC), Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) and Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) will be handed the honour of trying to place Northern Ireland well in the team competition.

Not forgetting that the event also counts as part of the ongoing Athletics NI XC League, Foyle Valley AC, Newcastle AC, North Down AC, Willowfield Harriers and East Down AC will field sizeable squads.  After 6 from 9 races have been completed, Foyle Valley AC lead the way in the men’s competition, while Acorns AC hold a one point lead over Foyle Valley AC in the ladies table.
Following on from the star studded men’s race, the ladies event will also prove to be an exciting affair, bringing a number of stars to Greenmount Campus, including three previous Champions.  Former double European Cross Country Champion Fionnuala McCormack (Ireland) will face Mimi Belete (Bahrain) and Antrim XC reigning Champion Birtukan Fente Alemu (Ethiopia).

Last year, Birtukan saw off the returning Steph Twell (Great Britain & NI) to seal victory by sixteen seconds and she’ll be keen to replicate that performance here.  However, the Ethiopian star will not only have to see off the aforementioned former Champions, but she will also be faced with recently crowned European U23 Champion Louise Carton of Belgium as well as the in-form Great Edinburgh XC Champion and Euro XC medallist Kate Avery (Great Britain & NI) who will no doubt be high in confidence and therefore hard to beat.  

Kenyan born Ruth Jebet, who represents Bahrain, should also place well if she shows the same kind of talent that saw her collect gold medals in the 3,000m Steeplechase at the World Junior Championships and the Asian Championships in 2015.  Experienced cross country athlete, 2:30:00 marathoner and podium finisher here in 2013, Louise Damen and Emma Clayton, a World and European Mountain Running Championships medallist will both finish well up the field and head England’s challenge for the team prize.

European XC team medallist Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) will lead the Northern Ireland ladies team which will include Emma Mitchell (Banbridge AC) and Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC); the talented trio should place well both individually and as a team.  In terms of local finishers, Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) and Newcastle AC trio Shalene McMurray, Joanne Mills and Mari Troeng will feature well.  Current leaders of the Athletics NI XC League ladies competition, Acorns AC, will field a strong team, with Natalie Hall likely to lead the way for them.
Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Mount Stewart 10k:
Also on Saturday 16th January 2016, local events management company Born 2 Run will welcome over seven hundred competitors from all over the province (and beyond) to the stunning grounds of Mount Stewart in County Down.  This 10k trail race is the sixth event of the ‘Run Forest Run’ Series and it will be the first time the National Trust property’s grounds, which benefited from a seven million pound refurbishment between 2012 and 2015, has been used as part of the increasingly popular Series.

There is no doubt that Mourne Runners duo William McKee and Laura Graham will play a major part in proceedings at the head of the pack.  The talented pair have dominated the Series thus far, securing victory in their respective races at all of the previous races in the Series.  

Last time out, William was pushed all the way by North Belfast Harriers man Lindsay Gordon, but with Lindsay’s involvement unclear here, it will be down to 24 year old St Peters AC athlete Mark Cornett to lead the charge.  Mark has progressing through the ranks well and is no stranger to the podium, or winning for that fact, after a victory at the Ballyhegan 10k during the latter part of 2015.  

Joining William and Mark in the pursuit for honours will be Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC) and Thomas Leitch (Orangegrove AC), both of whom have been in good form of late.  Stephen claimed a podium place at Born 2 Run’s Loughgall 10k, while Thomas produced a classy performance over tough terrain at the recent Knockdhu Classic Fell Race, where he narrowly missed a podium spot when taking fourth place.  Camron Burns (Team Runwell), Gary Connolly (Seapark AC) and Chris Downey (Orangegrove AC) will all finish well up the field.

In the ladies race, GloHealth AAI National Marathon medallist Laura Graham should control the pace.  Despite competition from the always impressive Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) in several races in the Series, Laura has proved faultless when it comes to securing victory.  Laura will start as strong favourite, while Louise is sure to join her towards the front should she make use of the late entry system (on the day).  The battle for the remaining podium place, or places if Louise doesn’t race, will be contested by two ladies who regularly impress on the trails.  North Belfast Harriers’ Helen Weir and Murlough AC’s Niamh O’Connell have good off-road experience and will definitely be in or around the top three.  Other ladies to look out for include Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC), Attracta Magennis (Newry City Runners) and Orangegrove AC trio Elizabeth Leitch, Catherine Fearon and Verity Cornford.

As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty one parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.

Kerry ready to represent Northern Ireland at Antrim International XC:

Kerry O'Flaherty ready for Antrim International XC - Kate Avery added to line up:

There are just day’s remaining until one of the highlights of the local athletics calendar, the IAAF Antrim International XC (Saturday 16th January 2016), an event hosted by Athletics NI and supported by Antrim & Newtownabbey Council.  

As excitement builds, organisers Athletics NI have spoken with Kerry O’Flaherty, added Catherine Whoriskey to the Northern Ireland ladies team and announced that Great Edinburgh XC Champion Kate Avery will toe the line in Antrim.  Check out the latest information below:

Kerry O’Flaherty to lead NI ladies at Antrim International XC:

Newcastle AC’s Kerry O'Flaherty will be taking to the start line this Saturday at Greenmount, and is ready for a strong race.  Kerry will be representing Northern Ireland, alongside fellow NI ladies Emma Mitchell (Banbridge AC) and Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC).  Four times winner of the Seeley Cup 10k, and 2015 runner up, Kerry has shown fine form of late, setting a personal best time of 9:42.51 in the 3,000m Steeplechase event at the Letterkenny International Track & Field Meet in July 2015.

The 2016 Rio Olympic qualifying athlete is excited about this year’s races in Antrim, with Irish team mate Fionnuala McCormack racing alongside. Kerry will face formidable opposition from previous IAAF Antrim International winners and 2015 European Cross Country Champion, Mimi Belete, Kate Avery, Louise Carton and of course, the previously mentioned Fionnuala McCormack (nee Britton).  Kerry had one of her best races ever in the European Trials when she finished fourth behind clear winner Fionnuala.  Kerry has already qualified for Rio in the Steeplechase but knows that she will have to repeat that form to make the scoring for the Northern Ireland team. Kerry is however confident and feels that the team has the potential to do well on Saturday. 

Kate Avery added to Antrim International XC line-up:

Great Britain & NI’s top cross country runner Kate Avery has been added to the list of star competitors for this weekend's Antrim International Cross Country, which is one of a World Series and supported by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

Athletics NI officials were in celebratory mood yesterday following the news that they had secured the services of the weekend's winner of the Great Edinburgh 6k Cross Country. This success adds to Kate's individual silver medal from last month's European Cross Country Champs in France. The 24 year old, who is a former US Collegiate Champion, is clearly in the form of her life and will fancy her chances at Antrim where she will face probably the highest quality field in the 39 year history of this International.  

Last Saturday (9th January 2016) in Edinburgh, Kate made light of the difficult conditions and took a clear lead after half way from Ireland's Fionnuala McCormack.  Kate went on to secure a comfortable victory and commented; "I found the course difficult as I prefer firmer conditions. I'm over the moon with what is really my first big win".  Kate has previously finished in eighth place at the Antrim International XC, behind winner Mary Cullen back in 2010.  Since then, she is a transformed athlete following her training schedule in America.   She narrowly missed a medal when taking fourth place over 10,000 metres at the Commonwealth Games and just lost the European Cross Country title in Bulgaria thirteen months ago by the proverbial hair's breadth from team mate Gemma Steel.  Kate again secured silver in France last month behind Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands.

Her performance in France was remarkable given that her Father, who was her biggest supporter, had just passed away.   The Sheldon AC woman said that she was thrilled with her second silver as she had not expected to be competing at all because of her family circumstances.  Kate will however need to be at the top of her game at Antrim this week to ensure victory. 

In addition to Fionnuala McCormack, she faces the winners from the past two years. Birtukan Fente Alemu of Ethiopia was the clear winner last year (2015), while Mimi Bahrain narrowly won in 2014.  The field will also include recently crowned European U23 Champion Louise Carton of Belgium. 

Note:  Information for this article taken from Athletics NI website.

Michael Crawley and Julie Butler win at Sperrin Harriers Winter League Series:

Sperrin Harriers Winter League Series (Race 3) 2016:

On Saturday 9th January 2016, Sperrin Harriers hosted the third race of their Winter League Trail Series.  

The increasingly popular Series reached new heights, attracting the largest turnout for the Winter League since it began seven years ago. 

The race, which cover 5 miles in distance, all within An Creagan Forest,  represented the last opportunity for athletes to take part in the minimum three races to compete in the overall league. 

An overwhelming 220 runners entered the race, resulting in a 65 percent increase in entries for this race when compared to 2015.  In the men’s race Michael Crawley (Unattached), winner of Race 1 in the Series cemented his lead in the league when he secured a well-deserved victory in 27:38 (1st place).  Martin Cox (Derry City Track Club) took 2nd place in 27.45, while the host club’s Sperrin Harriers’ Pierce McCullagh secured 3rd place in 28:42.

Omagh Harriers’ Julie Butler sealed victory in the ladies race, powering across the finish line in 31:03 (1st place). Esther Dickson (Unattached) produced a strong performance to take 2nd place in 31:51, just ahead of 2015 winner Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers), who recorded 31:56 for 3rd place.

Top 3 Men:  1st Michael Crawley (Unattached) – 27:38, 2nd Martin Cox (Derry City Track Club) – 27:45, 3rd Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers) – 28:42

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers) – 31:03, 2nd Esther Dickson (Unattached) – 31:51, 3rd Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) – 31:56

Full Results:  Sperrin Harriers Winter League Series (Race 3) 2016 Results

Keith Shiels and Amy McDaid secure Carrigans 5k titles:

Lifford Strabane AC Carrigans 5k 2016:

On Sunday 10th January 2016, over three hundred athletes turned out for the annual Lifford Strabane AC Carrigans 5k road race in the County Donegal village of Carrigans.

At the head of the pack, Foyle Valley AC athlete Keith Shiels continued his return to fitness with an excellent performance.  The Northern Ireland Masters XC international led the field home in 15:52 (1st place), which saw him finish just four seconds ahead of Derry City Track Club’s Matt Doherty, who clocked 15:56 for 2nd place.  Limerick AC’s John McCallion completed the top three in 16:03 (3rd place).

The well represented Derry City Track club also had a prize-winner in the ladies event, with young starlet Amy McDaid crossing the line in 20:46 (1st place).  The in-form Annalisa Mullen (Foyle Valley AC) followed in 21:24 (2nd place), before Ita Kelly (Lifford Strabane AC) completed the course in 21:44 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men:  1st Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC) – 15:52, 2nd Matt Doherty (Derry City Track Club) – 15:56, 3rd John McCallion (Limerick AC) – 16:03

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Amy McDaid (Derry City Track Club) – 20:46, 2nd Annalisa Mullen (Foyle Valley AC) – 21:24, 3rd Ita Kelly (Lifford Strabane AC) – 21:44

Full Results:  Lifford Strabane AC Carrigans 5k 2016 Results

Athletes turn out for East Coast AC Junior XC Series 2016 opener:

East Coast AC Junior XC Series (Race 1):

On Sunday 10th January 2016, Larne based club East Coast AC welcomed nearly seventy junior athletes, between the ages of 4 years old and 16 years old to the first race of their Junior XC Series in Larne, Country Antrim.

The weekend weather conditions forced organisers to lengthen the course lap from 500m to 676m; this meant that the Mini's (Under 6) would take on a 676m course, while the Minor Boys and Girls (Under 10), Junior Boys and Girls (Under 13) and Senior Boys and Girls (Under 16) would cover 1,352m, 2,028m and 2,028m respectively.

The Mini's kicked off proceedings with their one lap 676m race and it was the host club's Mark Magee (East Coast AC) and Madeline McMillan (East Coast AC) who led their respective fields home in 3:26 (1st place) and 4:02 (1st place) respectively.  

In the Minor Girls 1,352m race, Zoe Whitford (East Coast AC) enjoyed a comfortable gun to tape victory, crossing the line in 5:41 (1st place).  The Minor Boys event was a close affair and it took a fast second lap from Rhys McManus (East Coast AC) to see off North Belfast Harriers’ Daniel Kelly for top spot; Rhys clocked 5:26 (1st place) with Daniel running 5:32 (2nd place).

In the Junior Girls 2,028m race, City of Lisburn AC’s Hannah Cochrane looked a class act as she powered to victory in an impressive 7:43 (1st place). The Junior Boys race brought an exciting battle between North Belfast Harriers club mates Luke Kelly and Callum McIlroy, with Luke just edging it to claim victory in 7:38 (1st place).  Larne AC’s Will Barham was the leading Senior Boy, after crossing the line in 7:46 (1st place), while Jessica McClements (Ballyclare Secondary School) topped the Senior Girls standings in 8:32 (1st place).

The next race in the three race Series will take place on Saturday 23rd January 2016 in the Curran Park, Larne (Registration opens 10am, Races commence 11am) – The Series is open to Junior athletes (Under 6 to Under 16) from any club, school or organisation (ie football team, hockey team etc).  Full details are available HERE.

Full Results:  East Coast AC Junior XC Series (Race 1) 2016 Results (Photo by Colleen Taylor)

Kerry O'Flaherty helps Ireland team to podium place at Great Edinburgh XC:

Great Edinburgh XC 2016:

On Saturday 9th January 2016, Northern Ireland’s Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) was in action at the Great Edinburgh XC in Holyrood Park, Scotland as part of an Ireland mixed relay team.

Up against teams from Scotland, England, Wales, Great Britain & NI and a European Select team, the Irish quartet impressed with a third place finish in the 4k event.  

John Travers kicked off the race for Ireland, before handing over to Laura Crowe who really brought the team into contention.  Eoin Everard pushed leader Jake Wightman (Scotland) right to the line before handing over to Euro XC team medallist Kerry for the final leg.  

In the final 1k leg, Kerry battled it out with Scotland ‘B’ team and Great Britain & NI athletes.  The Newcastle AC athlete finished strongly to claim an excellent 3rd place, with a combined team time of 11:44.  Laura Muir led Scotland’s ‘A’ team to 1st place in 11:34.

Celtic International XC at Great Edinburgh XC:

There were also a number of Northern Ireland based junior athletes also in competition at the event, as part of the Celtic International XC.  City of Lisburn AC's James Edgar produced an excellent performance to secure a podium place in his Under 20 race, after covering the 6k course in 20:14 (3rd place).  This was enough to help the Ulster team, which also included Eoin McCann (St Malachy's AC), Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) and Fintan Stewart (Finn Valley AC) to a 2nd place finish in the team competition.  The race was won by Ireland Peter Lynch in 20:08 (1st place); Ireland also won the team prize.

Full results and a report in relation to the event are available on the Athletics Ireland website HERE.  Photo above by Athletics Ireland.

Weekend Preview:  No time for festive hangovers... Welcome to 2016!

Weekend Preview:  No time for festive hangovers…

After the festive season and its vast array of excellent fixtures, it’s now time to look at the first weekend of action in 2016 (well, there were races last weekend… but that was still the holidays!).  

The coming days will see the continuation of Sperrin Harriers’ Winter League Trail Series as well as the always popular Moira Cross Country (Note: As of 3pm on Friday 8th January 2016 Moira XC has been CANCELLED). Junior athletes can also look forward to the return of East Coast AC’s Junior XC Series in Larne.  Aside from these local events, familiar faces from Northern Ireland will also be in action at the Great Edinburgh XC in Scotland and the British Milers Club Track & Field Meeting in Sheffield (England).

Sperrin Harriers’ Winter League Trail Series:

On Saturday 9th January 2016, County Tyrone based club Sperrin Harriers will welcome athletes from across the province to Race 3 of their ongoing Winter League Trail Series.  On this occasion, competitors will have to negotiate a 5 mile route around An Creagan Forest, halfway between Omagh and Cookstown, in the foothills of the scenic Sperrin Mountains.  The race kicks off at 12pm and directions to An Creagan are available HERE.

Reigning Champion Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers) will not return to defend his title, as he is working his way back to full fitness, which means a new winner will be crowned.  Gunning for this may be new ‘King of the Glens’ Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – last year Mark featured prominently in the Series, but has yet to feature this time around.  Following on from his excellent win at Race Over The Glens on New Year’s Day, Mark will go into this one high in confidence, and realistically, should secure top spot if he races.  In saying this, Davagh 10k winner Gavin Corey (Sperrin Harriers) is in good shape, as is his Sperrin Harriers club mate Michael Crawley.  Derry City Track Club new boy Martin Cox will also play a major part in proceedings should he toe the line, while Series regulars Conor Reid (Ballymena Runners) and Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners) should also place well.  Also looking for top ten places will be the likes of Ciaran Collins (Project Africa), Delfim Pimentel (Unattached), Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers), Thomas Leitch (Orangegrove AC), Bryan Edgar (Springwell Running Club) and Mark Alexander (Ballymena Runners).

In the ladies race, Emma Rice (Sperrin Harriers) will hope to keep up her run of podium places following a win at the Davagh 10k and a runners up spot at the Lough Fea 5k.  However, Emma may face the returning Karen Alexander (Acorns AC).  Karen returned to action over Christmas with a podium place at the Greencastle 5 mile road race and will prove hard to beat here, should she race.  Denise Ward (Foyle Valley AC) impressed with a win at the Lough Fea 5k and will therefore be worth watching, while Natalie Hall (Acorns AC), Sharon Leetch (Ballymena Runners), Paula Arthur McCarthy (Ballymena Runners), Angela O’Neill (Sperrin Harriers), Anne Paul (City of Derry AC) and Cheryl Caldwell (Sperrin Harriers) could also contest a podium place.  Ballymena Runners athletes Sharon Harvey, Lorna Sibbett and Ruth Aiken will run well if they enter on the day, as will Sperrin Harriers’ Stephanie Henry.

Moira Cross Country:  IMPORTANT NOTICE:

Moira XC which was due to take place on Saturday 9th January 2016 has had to be CANCELLED due to flooding on the course.  Please circulate this message to the appropriate people. Thank you.

Also on Saturday 9th January 2016, City of Lisburn AC will host their annual Moira XC event in scenic grounds of Moira Demesne. The event offers races for all ages, from junior athletes right through to Masters. The Primary School race heads the timetable (starting at 12pm), with races for Year 8, Year 9 and Year 10 athletes following before the Under 18 Boys (3 mile) and Girls (2 miles) events lead into the Senior/Masters Ladies 3 mile race (1pm) and the Senior/Masters Men’s 4 mile race (1.25pm). On the day entry is available.

Although this event is not part of the Athletics NI Cross Country League 2014/15 it always attracts a fairly sizeable crowd.  Amongst those will be a strong contingent from Acorns AC, with their front runners Aaron Meharg, Darrell McKee, Francis McDaid and Shane Donnelly certain to feature prominently at the head of the pack. Multi-title winning junior athlete and reigning Champion Christy Conlon (Beechmount Harriers) may also return, but could have company at the front in the form of the aforementioned Acorns AC men and the likes of Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC), Neil Weir (Willowfield Harriers), Gerard Heaney (St Peter’s AC), John Black (North Belfast Harriers), Stuart Kennedy (Beechmount Harriers) and Michael Magee (Beechmount Harriers).

Twelve months ago, in 2014, Heather Foley (Unattached) and Lauren Quee (Lagan Valley AC) enjoyed an excellent dual at the front of the ladies race.  In the end, it was Heather who sealed victory – both ladies may return this year, which will again make for an exciting event, although Heather may just have the edge in terms of form this time around.  Beechmount Harriers ladies Gerrie Short and Catherine Diver never fail to impress and both will feature well here should they choose to compete; both ran well at the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker.  Northern Ireland mountain running internationals Catherine O’Connor (East Down AC) and Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) may also enter on the day, while Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers), Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC), Rebecca Harvey (City of Lisburn AC) and Paula Wallace (North Belfast Harriers) will all be hoping for top ten places.

Great Edinburgh Cross Country:

Further afield, on Saturday 9th January 2016, a number of runners from Northern Ireland will be in action at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country. The event, which attracts a plethora of talent from around the world takes places in the famous Holyrood Park in Edinburgh, Scotland.  

European XC team medallist and Rio 2016 qualifier Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) will line up in the International Relay event as part of the Ireland team which also includes John Travers, Laura Crowe and Eoin Everard.  The Irish team will take on impressive sides from the USA, Great Britain, England, Europe, Wales and Scotland.  As part of the wider race programmes, there will be quite a few familiar faces in the Ulster squad, who will compete in the Celtic International XC, which is incorporated within the event.  The squad is as follows:

Under 17 Team:  Sean Corry (Omagh Harriers), Tim Scott (North Down AC), Peter Gracey (Beechmount Harriers), Conor Maguire (Monaghan Phoenix AC), Niamh Heaney (Omagh Harriers), Enya Haigney (Omagh Harriers), Jane Duffy (Club Unknown) and Niamh Carr (Springwell Running Club).

Under 20 Team:  Oisin Gallen (Finn Valley AC), James Edgar (City of Lisburn AC), Craig McMeechan (North Down AC), Eoin McCann (St Malachy’s AC), Laura Gardiner (East Down AC), Edel Monaghan (Omagh Harriers), Clodagh O’Reilly (Annalee AC) and Toni Moore (Omagh Harriers).

Under 23 Team:  Johnny Whan (City of Lisburn AC), Paddy Robb (St Malachy’s AC), Conor Gallagher (St Malachy’s AC), Dalton McGuigan (Finn Valley AC), Katie Moore (North Down AC), Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC), Amy Hamill (Glaslough Harriers) and Zoe Carruthers (City of Lisburn AC).

BMC Sheffield Track & Field Meeting (England):

In England on the same day (Saturday 9th January 2016), local man Callum Crawford-Walker (Lagan Valley AC) will start his 2016 track campaign at the BMC Track & Field Meeting in Sheffield.  Callum will be racing over 800m and will be hoping to improve on his current (recorded) personal best of 1:54.28, recorded in the BMC Watford Meeting last June (2015).

East Coast AC Junior Cross Country Series:

On Sunday 10th January 2016, and following on from an excellent programme of cross country races in Moira a day earlier (Saturday 9th January 2016), junior athletes will once again be in for a treat, when East Coast Athletic Club host the 2nd annual running of their Junior Cross Country Series in Larne. 

The first event of the three race Series will take place at Sandy Bay Playing Fields in Larne, and with races for athletes in age categories ranging from Under 6 to Under 16, it is sure to prove popular with running enthusiasts both locally and in the wider County Antrim area.  Full details of the event are available HERE.


As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty one park run events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.

Hamilton, Lynch, Reed, O'Flaherty & Mitchell to represent NI at Antrim XC:

IAAF Antrim International XC 2016:

Today (Tuesday 5th January 2016), Athletics Northern Ireland confirmed five members of the Northern Ireland senior squad who will compete at the upcoming IAAF Antrim International Cross Country, set to take place on Saturday 16th January 2016 at Greenmount, Antrim.

Slieve Gullion Runners athlete Paddy Hamilton will join NIMRA Champion Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) and established cross country athlete Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) in the men’s team.

In the ladies race, Rio 2016 qualifier Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) will be joined Banbridge AC starlet Emma Mitchell - At present, we are unsure if further names will be added to the team.

The IAAF International will bring a number of stars to Greenmount Campus, including three previous Champions.  Former double European Cross Country Champion Fionnuala McCormack (Ireland) will now face the 2014 Greenmount winner Mimi Belete of Bahrain.

Two years ago, Mimi scored a narrow victory over team mate Maryam Jamal at this event in what was a high quality race where Irish star Fionnuala finished just outside the podium places in fourth - 27 year old Mimi is in fact better known as a 5,000 metres runner, as shown last summer by a World top 12 time of 15:54.71 plus a place in the World Championships final in Beijing.  Twice previous Antrim XC winner Fionnuala will therefore be fully tested by Mimi in any potential sprint finish over an inevitable energy sapping heavy course.  The opposition however, also includes recently crowned European U23 Champion Louise Carton of Belgium plus Antrim XC defending Champion Birtukan Fente Alemu of Ethiopia.

The men's race is also shaping up as one of the best ever with the inclusion of European Junior XC Champion Yeman Crippa of Italy.  Last month in France the 19 year old successfully defended his 2014 title with a commanding display of front running resulting in an easy victory by six seconds. Yeman won at the Great Edinburgh XC meeting a year ago and also took a bronze medal in the European Junior 5,000 metres last summer. At Greenmount, Yeman he will face defending Champion Thomas Ayeko who also won in 2013. Another big name who could well gain a rostrum place is 22 year old Aweke Ayelew of Bahrain who finished in an impressive in the World Cross last March (2015).  

For further information on the Antrim International Cross Country visit - Note:  Report compiled using information from Athletics NI.

Stroke Association launch Resolution Run 5k and 10k 2016:

Resolution Run 5k and 10k 2016:

This week, the Stroke Association officially released details of their increasingly popular Resolution Run 5k and 10k events, which will take place at Queen’s Sport on the Upper Malone Road, Belfast on Sunday 28th February 2016 (11am).  

The annual event attracted a record crowd of over two hundred athletes and fitness enthusiasts in 2015 and is again expected to set new records as runners not only strive for personal bests and prize-winning places, but also to raise awareness and funds for Stroke Association.

Stroke Association’s Paul Montgomery (Race Director) explains, "We heard shocking statistics during 2015 that stroke's on a rapid rise within people of working age in Northern Ireland, but at least half of all strokes can be prevented through simple changes to lifestyle.  Changes like getting rid of the cigarettes, watching your diet and alcohol intake and getting more exercise.  January's all about Resolutions, so why not make the start to the year your body deserves and sign up for Resolution Run?"

"We saw a great increase in the turnout at Upper Malone last year and all things point to another steady rise in 2016.  The route keeps getting great feedback and seems to offer something for everyone, from the cinder paths of the Dub to the meandering Lagan towpath.  It’s the perfect target to set your sights on and get the joints moving after the winter slumber."

Last year, Kent Swann took the 10k title in 35:55, with Gillian Logan claiming top spot in the ladies race in 44:53.  In the 5k, it was Gavin Campbell (18:18) and Amy Bulman (22:49) who topped the podium.  All four are likely to return and you can join them by entering online now at

Local athletes secure podium places at Black & Amber 5 mile Road Race:

Black & Amber 5 mile road race 2016:

On Sunday 3rd January 2016, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland were amongst the eighty strong field who descended on the County Donegal town of Letterkenny for the annual Black & Amber 5 mile road race, an event hosted by Letterkenny AC.

Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games athlete Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) continued his winter training with another impressive display on the roads.  The track star clocked 28:12 to secure 3rd place; the race was won by Danny’s Letterkenny AC club mate Ivan Toner in 27:20 (1st place).  Just behind, 24/7 Triathlon Club’s Gavin Crawford crossed the line in 28:15 for 4th place.

In the ladies race, Foyle Valley AC’s always impressive Gemma McGinty also claimed a podium place when she took 2nd place in 34:03 – Jane McGinley (Letterkenny AC) sealed top spot in 33:09 (1st place).  Gemma’s club mate Verona Campbell (Foyle Valley AC) finished in 38:13, which was enough to see her take 10th place in the ladies category.

Full Results:  Black & Amber 5 mile Road Race 2016 Results

William McKee & Laura Graham continue dominance of Run Forest Run Series:

Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Kilbroney 10k 2016:

On Saturday 2nd January 2016, well over four hundred athletes took on Born 2 Run’s Kilbroney 10k trail race, which took place within the confines of the scenic Kilbroney Park in Rostrevor.  The event was the fifth race of the ongoing ‘Run Forest Run’ Series.

Starting and finishing close to the Cloughmore Inn public house, the course took competitors onto the forest’s trails which overlooked Carlingford Lough, along the Kilbroney River at the Fairy Glen and into the impressive ninety seven acres of forest. 

At the head of the pack, it was the always impressive duo of William McKee (Mourne Runners) and Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) who dominated proceedings.  The pair have been un-stoppable throughout the Series and in truth, looked a class apart again here.

In the men’s race, William had North Belfast Harriers’ Lindsay Gordon for company as the pair left the remainder of the field behind – in the end, William took victory in 34:06 (1st place), with Lindsay following in 34:19 (2nd place).  Mourne Runners man Gary Bailey completed the top three just over three minutes later in 37:24 (3rd place).

Laura sealed top spot in the ladies race, crossing the line in 38:07 (1st place), just ahead of North Belfast Harriers athlete Louise Smith, who clocked 38:59 for 2nd place.  Behind, Laura Bickerstaff (Dromore AC) crossed the line in 42:53 for 3rd place.

Top 3 Men:  1st William McKee (Mourne Runners) – 34:06, 2nd Lindsay Gordon (North Belfast Harriers) – 34:19, 3rd Gary Bailey (Mourne Runners) – 37:24

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 38:07, 2nd Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – 38:59, 3rd Laura Bickerstaff (Dromore AC) – 42:53

Full Results:  Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Kilbroney 10k 2016 Results (Photo by Born 2 Run)

Mark McKinstry and Shileen O'Kane crowned Champions at ROTG 2016:

Race Over The Glens 2016:

On Friday 1st January 2016, nearly four hundred athletes descended on the new look Glenariff Forest Park just outside Waterfoot (County Antrim) for the 20th annual running of Ballymena Runners' traditional Race Over the Glens.  

The course, which measured approximately 6 miles in distance, saw athletes start on a fast road section before ascending to the course's highest point where they were greeted by a lone piper; from here, the field negotiated a long descent, at the bottom of which, they would then face a gruelling climb back up towards the piper.  The final stretch saw competitors descend towards the finish which was located just off the entrance road into the Forest Park, close to the Exhibition Centre.

Earlier heavy showers had subsided just as the athletes made their way to the start line which pleased the spectators, who had gathered in large numbers to watch what would be an exciting event.  In the early stages, Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), Brian Campbell (Willowfield Harriers) and Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers) set the pace, with James McIlroy (Windsor AC) and Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) just behind.  

In the ladies race, local favourite Sharon Leetch (Ballymena Runners) led the way, with NIMRA Champion Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC), Judi Graham (North Belfast Harriers) and Ballymena Runners’ Paul Arthur-McCarthy close behind.  Springwell Running Club duo Gillian Wasson and Kerrie McIlmoyle were also featuring well.

As the race progressed and the leaders made their way up the first section of the tough final ascent, it was Mark McKinstry and Brian Campbell who looked as if they would contest top spot; however, Mark’s North Belfast Harriers club mate could not be discounted with approximately 10 seconds between him and the leading pair.  

Mark was first past the piper for the final time and made short work of the final descent – as he moved onto the undulating final stretch it was obvious that despite his best efforts, the always impressive Brian would be unable to cut the ever increasing gap.  To applause from the gathered crowds, Mark broke the tape in an excellent 35:13 for 1st place.  Brian followed in 35:25 (2nd place), while Andrew followed up his recent performances at Greencastle 5 and the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker with another good run for 3rd place, in a time of 36:07.

In what was a close ladies race, it wasn’t until they neared the final descent that international mountain runner Shileen O’Kane made her move and passed leader Sharon Leetch – this proved to be a race winning decision as Shileen descended quickly and powered along the final trail section to secure victory in 45:00 (1st place).  Sharon took 2nd place in 45:19, before her club mate Paula Arthur-McCarthy was rewarded for a superb run with a podium place; Paula completed the top three in 46:13 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men:  1st Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 35:13, 2nd Brian Campbell (Willowfield Harriers) – 35:25, 3rd Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers) – 36:07

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – 45:00, 2nd Sharon Leetch (Ballymena Runners) – 45:19, 3rd Paula Arthur-McCarthy (Ballymena Runners) – 46:13

Full Results:  Race Over The Glens 2015 Results - Photos from the Race Over The Glens 2016 are now available HERE. Through ROTG, Ballymena Runners are raising money for SOS Charity Villages and you can donate towards this worthy cause HERE.

Note:  Remember - If you would like to catch up on the news from December 2015, just click HERE.  This includes summaries and results of races over the Christmas period.  You can also view the 'news' archive by using the navigation bar at the top of the page.

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