AAI National U20 and U23 Indoor Track & Field Championships 2017 (Report by Athletics NI):
On Sunday 29th January 2017, there were a huge number of medals and personal bests for local athletes at the AAI National Under 20 and Under 23 Indoor Track & Field Championships in Athlone, Ireland.
Christian Robinson (City of Lisburn AC/ Alan Kennedy) went in to the U23 60m as the second fastest qualifier but came through strongly in the final twenty metres to take the title in a PB of 6.92secs (1st place). Brothers John and James Kelly (both Finn Valley AC / John Kelly Snr) took the U23 and U20 shot titles with PB’s and 16.75m (7.26kg) and 15.08m (6kg) respectively.
Pole Vaulter Ellie McCartney (City of Lisburn AC / Jim Alexander) won the U20 event with 3.45m before attempting and narrowly missing what would have been a new Irish U20 record of 3.61m. Her training partner, Shane Martin (Ballymena & Antrim / Jim Alexander) won the U20 men’s pole vault with his opening height of 4.10m.
Naomi Morgan (City of Derry AC / Tom Reynolds) won the U23 ladies 60m Hurdles in a seasons best of 9.21secs before adding 5cm to her HJ PB with 1.60m for the bronze medal. In his first year in the U20 age group Aaron Sexton (North Down AC / Roger Sexton) ran an impressive indoor 200m PB to finish in second position with 21.76secs behind Mark Smyth in 21.61secs (1st place).
Craig Newell (Ballymena & Antrim / Ian Neely) twice bettered his outright 400m PB with 49.43secs in the heats before taking the bronze medal in 49.47secs. Caitlin Maguire (North Belfast Harriers / Bill Kelly) finished in 5th place in the 60m with a PB of 7.74secs before reaching the final of the 200m from the tough inside lane. Andrew Proctor (Lagan Valley AC / Phill Snoddy) ran PBs in the 60m (7.15secs) and 200m (22.68secs) and finished in 5th place in the U20 200m final. Garbhan McKenna (Ulster University, Shercock AC / Tom Reynolds) ran a seasons best in the U23 60m Hurdles of 8.59secs to take the silver medal.
Athletes from NI impress in Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland:
On Saturday 28th January 2017, recently crowned NI & Ulster 10k (road) Champion Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) continued her impressive winter campaign, after picking up a gold medal and new personal best in Scotland.
Competing at the Scottish National Indoor Championships, Banbridge athlete Emma recorded a comfortable victory over 1500m, clocking 4:16.20 – this was just under a second quicker than her previous best for the distance and just 1.20secs outside the qualifying mark for the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade in March (2017).
Meanwhile, in England and Wales this weekend, local athletes narrowly missed podium places at prestigious indoor competitions. At Sale Harriers’ City of Manchester Indoor Track & Field Meeting, Olympic Steeplechaser Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC) claimed 4th place over 3,000m flat in a time of 9:18.06. Despite being seven seconds outside her best, this was an impressive outing given that the County Down athlete has been suffering from a virus recently. The race was won by Swansea AC’s Elinor Kirk in 9:00.59 (1st place).
Willowfield Harriers’ Andrew Wright again showed that he is one to watch, whilst competing at the Welsh Athletics National Indoor Championships in Cardiff, Wales. Under 23 competitor Andrew cruised through his 800m heat in 1:56.34 (1st place) before recording 1:55.17 for 4th place in the final, which was won by Alex Coomber (Cardiff AC) in 1:50.49 (1st place).
Raheny 5 mile Road Race (Ireland):
On Sunday 29th January 2017, there was a huge Northern Ireland representation at one of Ireland’s most popular road races, the Raheny 5 mile road race, just outside Dublin. The race provided spectators with an epic finish as pre-race favourites Mark Christie (Mullingar Harriers) and Mick Clohisey (Raheny Shamrock AC) went head to head. Mark edged it in 23:45 (1st place) – Donore Harriers’ Barbara Cleary won the ladies race in 27:41 (1st place).
St Malachy’s AC man Ben Branagh was the first familiar face to cross the line, taking a well-deserved 3rd place in 24:20. City of Derry AC’s John-Paul Williamson, the NI & Ulster 10k (road) Champion, also claimed a top ten finish, crossing the line in 28:52 (6th place). Unattached athlete Cathy McCourt, who medalled at yesterday’s NI & Ulster Masters XC in Derry/Lononderry, was the first local lady home, taking 6th place in 29:29.
Full results for the Raheny 5 mile road race can be found HERE.
NI & Ulster Masters Intermediate/Masters XC 2017:
On Saturday 28th January 2017, hundreds of athletes from across the province descended on the extensive Gransha Grounds for the annual NI & Ulster Intermediate and Masters Cross Country Championships, hosted by Athletics Northern Ireland.
An excellent day of competition saw gold medal winning performances from Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers), Jim Patterson (Newcastle AC), Jodi Smith (North Down AC), Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) and Conan McCaughey (Derry Track Club).
Good running conditions coupled with an excellent atmosphere greeted athletes as they took to the start line. The Masters Ladies and Vet65+ Men were first up for their 4k event. As expected, the fast improving Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) played a major part in proceedings. The pre-race favourite, who has been a podium regular throughout this cross-country season always looked as if she would claim top honours – despite the valiant efforts of Letterkenny AC’s Fionnuala Diver, it was Amy who broke the tape first in 14:30 (1st place). Fionnuala followed just one second later in 14:31 (2nd place), before Cathy McCourt (Unattached) completed the podium places in 14:35 (3rd place). In the team competition, North Belfast Harriers claimed 1st place with Ballydrain Harriers and Letterkenny AC taking 2nd place and 3rd place respectively. Newcastle AC’s Jim Patterson was comfortably the first of the Vet65+ athletes home in 16:12 (1st place).
The Masters Men's 8k race was a competitive affair, with Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC), Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers), Declan Reed (City of Derry AC), Alan O’Hara (North Belfast Harriers) and Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) amongst those at the fore early on. However, in the end, after the pack had reduced to Chris McGuinness, Declan Reed and Stephen Duncan, it was Chris who edged it, claiming victory in 24:57 (1st place). Declan secured the runners up spot in 25:06 (2nd place), with Stephen clocking 25:14 for 3rd place. In the team standings, North Belfast Harriers took 1st place, with Willowfield Harriers in 2nd place and Foyle Valley AC in 3rd place.
In the Intermediate Ladies 4k race, North Down AC’s Jodi Smith followed on from her excellent outing at the recent Antrim International XC with another notable performance. The Northern Ireland international led the field home in 14:40 (1st place), with Letterkenny AC’s Noelene Scanlon taking the silver medal in 14:41 (2nd place) and Springwell Running Club’s Ciara McSherry picking up bronze in 14:44 (3rd place). Noelene Scanlon’s performance led her Letterkenny AC team to 1st place, with Omagh Harriers claiming 2nd place and North Down AC 3rd place.
In a competitive Intermediate Men’s 10k race, Conan McCaughey (Derry Track Club) bettered his runners up medal from 2016 with an outstanding victory. However, it did not come easy, with the Northern Ireland international having to fend off current NIMRA Champion William McKee (Mourne Runners). Conan broke the tape in 30:46 (1st place), just ahead of William who recorded 31:00 (2nd place) – Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers) replicated his third place finish at this event twelve months ago when he completed the course in 31:25 (3rd place). Good packing from Finn Valley AC saw the Donegal men take 1st place in the team standings. Acorns AC claimed 2nd place, while City of Derry AC secured 3rd place.
Masters Ladies (4k) – Overall Podium Places:
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) – 14:30, 2nd Fionnuala Diver (Letterkenny AC) – 14:31, 3rd Cathy McCourt (Unattached) – 14:35
Top 3 Teams: 1st North Belfast Harriers, 2nd Ballydrain Harriers, 3rd Letterkenny AC
Masters Vet65+ Men (4k) – Overall Podium Places:
Top 3 Men: 1st Jim Patterson (Newcastle AC) – 16:12, 2nd Fred Hammond (Lagan Valley AC) – 18:05, 3rd Francis Boal (Lagan Valley AC) – 18:29
Masters Men (8k) – Overall Podium Places:
Top 3 Men: 1st Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) – 24:57, 2nd Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) – 25:06, Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) – 25:14
Top 3 Teams: 1st North Belfast Harriers, 2nd Willowfield Harriers, 3rd Foyle Valley AC
Intermediate Ladies (4k) – Overall Podium Places:
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Jodi Smith (North Down AC) – 14:40, 2nd Noelene Scanlon (Letterkenny AC) – 14:41, 3rd Ciara McSherry (Springwell Running Club) – 14:44
Top 3 Teams: 1st Letterkenny AC, 2nd Omagh Harriers, 3rd North Down AC
Intermediate Men (10k) – Overall Podium Places:
Top 3 Men: 1st Conan McCaughey (Derry City Track Club) – 30:46, 2nd William McKee (Mourne Runners) – 31:00, 3rd Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers) – 31:25
Top 3 Teams: 1st Finn Valley AC, 2nd Acorns AC, 3rd City of Derry AC
Provisional Results: NI & Ulster Intermediate and Masters XC Championships 2017 Results (Photos above by Kathryn Morrow, NiRunning and Finn ValleyAC)
Weekend Preview: Next stop… the Maiden City!
Another weekend is upon us and once again, it’s cross country which takes centre stage. This cross country season has already brought plenty of highlights and there will undoubtedly be many more stories before the attention turns to the road racing season (actually, are there really seasons any more? That’s a topic for another day!).
The XC competition steps up a gear over the next month, with two major events, starting this weekend with the NI & Ulster Intermediate and Masters XC Championships taking place in Northern Ireland’s maiden city, Derry/Londonderry… then the NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships, which will again be hosted in Lurgan Park, will take place in early March (2017). These events alongside the NI & Ulster Novice XC Championships and the popular Athletics NI XC League provide the backbone for the thriving local cross country scene.
Elsewhere in the province, local events management company 26extreme will host the inaugural running of their Mourne Way 10k Night Race. There will be local interest elsewhere this weekend, with familiar faces set to participate in the Raheny 5 mile road race and the Irish Life Health AAI National Junior & Under 23 Indoor Championships, both in Ireland.
NI & Ulster Intermediate & Masters XC Championships:
On Saturday 28th January 2016, hundreds of athletes from across Northern Ireland and Ulster will descend on Gransha Grounds in Derry/Londonderry for the NI & Ulster Intermediate and Masters Cross Country Championships, hosted by Athletics NI.
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 Ladies and Masters Men 65+ will kick off proceedings with their 4k race at 1pm. These event is expected to be a closely contested affair, with in-form Willowfield Harriers athlete Amy Bulman likely to play a major part in proceedings. In what has been her first cross country campaign, Amy has impressed with numerous podium places, which at times, have come against to quality opposition with much more experience. These performances have quite rightly brought confidence, which will hopefully encourage the fast improving athlete to take the race on.
Should Amy which to take the gold medal, she’ll have to see off some experienced and talented athletes – Fionnuala Diver (Letterkenny AC) and Roisin Hughes (North Belfast Harriers) will also be considered as contenders, while Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers), Denise Toner (Clones AC) and Catherine Diver (Beechmount Harriers) all possess the ability to claim a high place and ultimately a medal, if they are in good form. The host club’s Catherine Hribar (City of Derry AC) will place well, as will Martina McMullan (Foyle Valley AC) and Leanne Gibson (Victoria Park & Connswater AC). Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) and Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers) will both finish well up the field. Looking at the team competition, it looks like it will be just as close as the individual race – North Belfast Harriers will be there or there abouts, as will Ballydrain Harriers and Letterkenny AC.
Meanwhile, well-known athletes Jim Patterson (Newcastle AC), Roy Corry (Willowfield Harriers), John Glover (Lagan Valley AC) and Fred Hammond (Lagan Valley AC) will be keen to impress in the Masters Men 65+ race.
Following on from the Masters Ladies will be the Masters Men and their 8k race, which will start at 1.30pm. This race has attracted most competitors, with nearly two hundred athletes signed-up online.
Of those, two men stand out – highly decorated Northern Ireland Masters international team mates Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) and Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers). The exceptionally talented pairing have not been racing just as much as they would like over the last six months, but will still dominate proceeding here. Stephen’s last outing was a 33:33 10k at Eskra in December (2016), while Declan’s was way back September (2016) when he ran 15:06 for 5k in Rathfarnham; he’s been injured since.
Another man who will be a guaranteed front runner on the day is Letterkenny AC’s Irish international Ciaran Doherty; if he’s fit, Ciaran could well challenge for the gold medal. Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers), Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC), David McNeilly (Newcastle AC) and Tommy Simmons (North Belfast Harriers) will all be worth watching, as will be in the mix, while Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers), Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers), Colin Roberts (City of Derry AC) and Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) cannot be ruled out in terms of potential podium placers. Looking at the race for team honours, it’s hard to look past reigning Champions North Belfast Harriers. However, hosts City of Derry AC also have fantastic strength in depth.
The penultimate race of the day will be the Intermediate Ladies 4k (2.10pm). Just like the Masters Ladies event, this one will be close! A good mix of youth and experience will take to the start line, which will make for an interesting race. Joanne Mills (Newcastle AC) and Jodi Smith (North Down AC) should feature at the head of the pack – Joanne hasn’t been racing much recently but never fails to impress when she does start, while Jodi had an excellent run at the Antrim International XC. Junior stars Enya Haigney and Toni Moore, both of Omagh Harriers will go well, especially over this distance!
Ballymena Runners will field a strong team which should be headed by Paul Arthur McCarthy and Kerry Bamber, two accomplished athletes. Dungiven 10k winner Kerrie McIlmoyle (Springwell Running Club) and club mate Molly Brennan (Springwell Running Club) should perform to their usual high standard, as will Sarah Lindsay (North Down AC) and Newcastle AC trio Mari Troeng, Sam McNeilly and Rita Devlin. The aforementioned Newcastle AC ladies will be out to claim the team trophy, but will have to fend off Omagh Harriers and Ballymena Runners.
In what should be an excellent day of competition, the Intermediate Men will provide the finale when they toe the line for their 10k event. Like the other races, although individual honours are at stake, a lot of focus will be on the team aspect as well; there is some excellent silverware up for grabs!
Up front, with high hopes of achieving individual and team medals will be Conan McCaughey (Derry Track Club), Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC), Adam Kirk-Smith (Derry Track Club) and Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers); this quartet will battle it out for the top three places. Clones AC’s Shane Brady, City of Derry AC star Kyle Doherty and versatile Mourne Runners man William McKee may also feature.
Behind, every place counts as the athletes try to help their teams. Conan and Adam will have Chris Millar, Conor McIlveen and the returning Paul Barbour, amongst others as part of their Derry Track Club team. Zak will be looking to Colum Campbell, Patrick Higgins, Martin Melville and David Hicks for support, while Kyle will have Noel Logan and Paul McCafferty on his shoulder as part of a strong Spartans line-up. Willowfield Harriers’ Russell Hughes and Springwell Running Club’s Luke Dinsmore will place well, as will Gavin Corey (Sperrin Harriers) and Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC).
Raheny 5 mile Road Race (Ireland):
On Sunday 29th January 2017, Northern Ireland based clubs should be represented on the roads of Ireland, with a sizeable crowd expected to travel to the 32nd 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’ was slightly altered last year due to road works, but still offered excellent personal best potential, according to the locals – the NI contingent will be hoping for more of the same this time around. Athletes from North Belfast Harriers, East Antrim Harriers, Beechmount Harriers and Larne AC have all made the journey to Raheny in recent years and all could well be represented again. Some top names from Northern Ireland who may well feature include Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners), Kevin O’Boyle (Unattached), Cathy McCourt (Unattached), Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) and Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC).
Irish Life Health AAI National Junior and Under 23 Indoor Track & Field Championships (Ireland):
On the same day (Sunday 29th January 2017), a large number of athletes from Northern Ireland are expected to travel south to the AIT Arena in Athlone for the Irish Life Health AAI National Junior and Under 23 Track & Field Championships, hosted by Athletics Ireland. The event will be streamed LIVE via a link HERE.
Up and coming local athletes who should perform well include Callum Crawford-Walker (Annadale Striders), Matt Doherty (City of Derry AC), Craig Newell (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Ciaran Barnes (City of Lisburn AC) and Ryan Keenan (City of Lisburn AC), Anna McIlmoyle (City of Lisburn AC), Naomi Morgan (City of Derry AC), Adam Cooper (Lagan Valley AC), Caitlin Maguire (North Belfast Harriers), Stephen McGahey (City of Derry AC) and Christian Robinson (City of Lisburn AC). A full entry list for the event is available HERE.
Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend…
Friday 27th January 2017: 26extreme Mourne Way 10k Night Race – Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor (then bus to start line) – 7.30pm (There will be NO on the night entry for this event). Please see HERE for full details.
As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty four parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.
Athletics NI host annual awards night:
On Wednesday 25th January 2017, Athletics Northern Ireland welcomed invited guests to their annual awards night, which this year was held in one of Northern Ireland's most iconic locations, the stunning Titanic building in Belfast.
The evening honoured athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers from across Northern Ireland for their hard work and achievements during the 2015/2016 season.
Lord Mayor of Belfast Alderman Brian Kingston and UK Athletics’ Chair Ed Warner were among the guests of honour at this year’s Athletics NI Annual Awards Evening. Other guests included Chair of the Mary Peters Trust Eilish Rutherford and local pioneering Olympian Maeve Kyle OBE.
The evening began by recognising the athletes and their personal coaches who achieved International Selection during 2016. Tom Crick Director of Coaching & Athlete Development said, “The recognition of coaches alongside their athletes is a key feature of our team’s drive to raise the status of coaching and volunteering in Athletics.”
2016 saw six Northern Ireland records broken, including three by Ciara Mageean (Club: UCD; Coach: Jerry Kiernan) in the 800m, 1500m and Mile. North Down’s Aaron Sexton (Roger Sexton) was also honoured for his U18 200m record as were City of Lisburn AC duo Megan Marrs (Tom Reynolds) for her U20 100m record and Andrew Barkley (Jackie McKernan) for his U20 Discus Record.
Mageean’s coach Jerry Kiernan also picked up the Performance Coach of the Year award in recognition of his efforts guiding her to Bronze in the 1500m at the European Championships in Amsterdam, Netherlands. This was the first major individual medal won by a Northern Irish Athlete at a major non-disability championship since Paul McKee secured Bronze at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in 2003.
In a reversal of last year’s result Disability Performance Coach of the Year, was awarded to Clarence Callender for his work guiding T13 100m sprinter Jason Smyth to Gold at the Rio Paralympic Games. Callender pipped Paddy McKillop, coach to T37 1500m Rio Gold Medallist Michael McKillop, to the award based purely on the relative standard of Jason’s winning time.
This year the award for Junior Performance Coach of the Year was shared by St. Gerard’s AC’s Michael O’Connor and Finn Valley AC’s Niall Wilkinson. Michael received the award for his work with daughter Kate O’Connor who achieved 7th at European Youth Championships in Tbilisi. However, a special mention was made to the other members of Kate’s coaching team which include: Adam McMullen, Dessie Gough, Francis O’Hagan, Laura Kerr and Tom Reynolds.
Niall Wilkinson shared the award for his work with high jumper Sommer Lecky (Finn Valley) who finished the season ranked 10th in Europe as an U18 and made the final at the European Youth Championships. Meanwhile, Development Coach of the Year went to Ballymena and Antrim AC’s Ian Neely. Over the past several seasons Ian has developed Christine McMahon (Ballymena & Antrim AC) from a promising junior right through to achieving the Olympic qualification standard, albeit 5 days too late for Rio. Ian also tutors on the UKA Athletics Coach award where he is a strong advocate for taking a long-term approach to athlete development.
Community Coach of the Year was awarded to North Belfast Harriers’ Matt Shields for his work within the local community as well as his part in setting up Parkrun across the province. Parkrun has given thousands of people an opportunity to challenge themselves in a friendly, accessible environment. The weekly timed runs are held in parks across Northern Ireland and are regularly attended by both recreational runners as well as some of Northern Ireland’s top athletes. This year a new category was added to the awards list. Ollie Wakefield became the first Young Coach of the Year in recognition of his work with North Down AC. Ollie has also become an invaluable member of the Bangor Rising Stars team where his organisational and athlete management skills have been highly commended.
In 2016 Newcastle AC placed several athletes on international teams, while Steeplechaser Kerry O’Flaherty made it all the way to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The club’s diverse membership base makes it one of the few clubs to have beginners training alongside elite athletes on a regular basis. All this helped the County Down club secure the Performance Club of the Year award over stiff competition. Of course, these great performances would not be possible without the officials and volunteers who regularly turn out to support the sport. This year the awards panel presented the Volunteer of the Year award to Liam McGarry. The award honours his dedication to Belfast Running Club, where he works with a diverse range of participants including a small number with intellectual disabilities.
The Officials Committee named Liz Glover as Official of the Year. Liz’s tireless work with the photo finish equipment means she often arrives early to competitions and leaves after everyone else. As an experienced official Liz is often involved in major competitions over the water but also finds time to volunteer for far smaller meets including Athletics NI’s annual Rising Stars competition.
Attending her first Awards evening as President of Athletics NI, Pam Brown presented Joy Alexander with his award for Services to Officiating. Over the years, Joy has become one of the ‘ever present’. She heads the Track and Field Competitions Committee, regularly attending meetings with British Athletics and has officiated at some of the world’s most prestigious Diamond League competitions.
The final award of the evening was the “Sean Kyle Award for Services to Coaching”, named after the legendary Ballymena & Antrim coach who sadly passed away in 2015. Sean’s wife Maeve Kyle OBE was in attendance to present the award to this year’s winner Claire Scarth.
Claire has been involved with Athletics for over 40 years at North Down AC. The Bangor based coach was one of the first to promote the multi-event approach to developing young athletes and over the years has helped numerous athletes’ progress to international level and go on to represent Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games. Many of her athletes have also gone on to set Northern Irish records, the most recent of which was Ben Reynolds who ran 13.48s over 110m Hurdles in 2015. Claire continues to work tirelessly for the club and remains an inspiration to all.
Note: Article (apart from introduction) by Athletics Northern Ireland. Photos from the Athletics NI Awards Night are now available HERE.
Cardiff XC (inc British Cross Challenge and Celtic XC International):
On Sunday 22nd January 2017, a number of Northern Ireland’s best up and coming athletes were in action at the famous Cardiff XC in Wales.
The event, which took place within the complex of Blackweir Fields in the Welsh capital also incorporated the British Cross Challenge and the Celtic International XC.
On what was a chilly day, the performances of local athletes certainly heated things up.
Amongst the top performers was Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) – Conor, who was representing Ireland, followed up his excellent run at last week’s Antrim International with a 14th place finish in the senior men’s race, after covering the 10.37k route in 35:27. The event was won by Dewi Griffith (Swansea AC) in 32:58 (1st place).
A mere one second split Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) and Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers) in the same race. Zak clocked 36:47 for 28th place with Conal following in 36:48 for 30th place; this was good enough to secure 9th place and 10th place respectively in the Under 23 competition. In the Under 20 6.99k race, North Down AC’s Craig McMeechan claimed 9th place in 24:44 – the race was won by Derby AC’s Hugo Milner in 23:41 (1st place).
The senior ladies 6.99k race, which was dominated by Team GB’s Jess Judd (1st place – 26:14), brought quality performances and top ten (category) places for North Down AC’s Katie Moore and City of Lisburn AC’s Zoe Carruthers. Katie crossed the line in 29:25 (28th place), which saw her finish as 6th place Under 23 athlete. Meanwhile, Zoe recorded 30:54 for 36th place and a brilliant 4th place in the Under 20 category.
Four Northern Ireland based athletes finished with forty seconds of each other in the Under 20 ladies 4.97k race, which was won by Anna MacFayden (Forres AC) in 18:35 (1st place). East Down AC’s Laura Gardiner led the way, crossing the line in 21:41 (22nd place), just four seconds ahead of Beechmount Harriers’ Rioghnach Catney, who ran 21:45 for 23rd place. Madison Bowyer (City of Lisburn AC) followed in 21:59 (24th place), before Enya Haigney (Omagh Harriers) finished in 22:22 (26th place).
It was a similar story in the Under 17 Girls 4.29k race, with three familiar faces crossing the line within twenty seconds of each other. North Down AC’s Murphy Miller claimed a top twenty finish in 18:46 (18th place), finishing just ahead of North Belfast Harriers’ Rebecca Wallace (23rd place) and Ballymena & Antrim AC’s Katie Agnew (25th place); both ladies crossed the line in 19:01. The race was won by Sarah Healy (Blackrock AC) in 17:13 (1st place).
LSK Open Masters Relay Championships (Scotland):
Elsewhere on Sunday 22nd January 2017, there was further success for Northern Ireland athletes at the LSK Open Masters Relay Championships in Scotland. Northern Ireland masters international duo Lisa Finlay and Hazel Smyth joined Team GB ultra-runner Joasia Zakrzewski as they guided their Dumfries Running Club to a hat-trick of victories in the ladies race. The ladies completed the three stage relay in 1:08:21 (1st place). Full results for the event are available HERE.
AAI National Intermediate XC Championships 2017:
On Sunday 22nd January 2017, a small number of athletes from Northern Ireland made the long journey south to Galway (Ireland) for the Irish Life Health AAI National Intermediate Cross Country, which were held at the Palace Grounds in Tuam.
Despite the small number, those who did take part delivered in terms of success, with individual, team and county medals all part of an impressive medal haul.
Amongst the excellent performances was a stand-out run from North Down AC’s Northern Ireland international Rachel Gibson, who secured a bronze medal in the ladies race. Up against some tough opposition, Rachel covered the 5k course in 20:46 (3rd place). The race was won by Aoife Cooke (Youghal AC) in 20:01 (1st place).
In the men’s 8k event, which was won by Gowran AC’s Niall Sheehan in 27:53, John Black led a strong North Belfast Harriers team to 2nd place in the team competition won by Clonliffe Harriers (1st place). John claimed 13th place overall in 29:38 and was followed closely by Philip Goss (15th place – 29:44) and Eamon White (16th place – 29:53). Andrew Considine complete the scoring quartet in 30:46 (22nd place). The men, alongside club mates David Clarke and Nat Glenn also guided Antrim to 2nd place in the county standings – Dublin claimed 1st place.
Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series - Race 3 (An Creagan 5 mile Trail Race):
On Saturday 21st January 2017, almost 200 runners turned out for the third race of the Winter League, An Creagan 5 Mile. The frosty conditions didn’t deter runners from across Ulster from taking to the pleasant forest trail course which comprised of two laps of the forest and finished in the courtyard of An Creagan Centre.
Derry Track Club’s Paul Barbour was pursued all the way around the course by Vincent McAlister (Unattached) and Eoin Hughes (Acorns AC), but managed to hold off both chasers to win in a time of 27:03 (1st place). Vincent McAlister followed just four seconds later in 27:07 (2nd place), with Eoin Hughes crossing the line for 3rd place in 27:18.
In the ladies race, Catherine Whoriskey of City of Derry AC made her debut at the Winter League a winning one taking first lady in an impressive time of 28:25 (1st place). Acorns AC star Karen Alexander returned after missing the second race of this year’s Winter League, to claim 2nd place in 30:31, adding to her win at the Series opener, the Davagh 10k. Springwell Running Club’s Ciara Toner took 3rd place in 32:20 to add to her second and first places at the Davagh and Lough Fea races respectively.
Note: Race 4 of the Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series, the Drum Manor Forest 10k, will take place on Saturday 4th February 2017.
St Patrick's Dungiven 10k 2017:
On Saturday 21st January 2017, well over one hundred athletes turned out for the increasingly popular St Patrick's 10k road race in the County Londonderry village of Dungiven. The event also included a competitive 5k race.
Almost immediately, it was clear that the winner would come from a group of three, with Gareth Lyons (Ballydrain Harriers), Jonathan Canning (Foyle Valley AC) and Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) moving to the head of the pack. As the athletes covered the early fast section of the course, little separated the trio - however, as Gareth made a move after 2 miles, it was covered by Jonathan, who went with him and ultimately took the race on. He increased his lead over the long steady climbs, eventually breaking the tape in 34:57 (1st place). Gareth followed in 35:25 (2nd place), with Justin clocking 35:51 for 3rd place.
The ladies race wasn't just as close, but that did't take away from a classy performance by Springwell Running Club's Kerrie McIlmoyle. Kerrie dealt with the tough course well, securing victory in 43:07 (1st place). Elish Bell (Unattached) crossed the line in 47:19 (2nd place), before Lorraine Mullan (Unattached) completed the podium places in 49:59 (3rd place).
In the associated 5k event, which produced so impressive times, it was experience Acorns AC man Bliadhan Glass who emerged victorious. Bliadhan completed the 3.1 mile route in 16:35 (1st place). The ladies were led home by Heather Mullan (Unattached) in 21:37 (1st place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Jonathan Canning (Foyle Valley AC) - 34:57, 2nd Gareth Lyons (Ballydrain Harriers) - 35:25, 3rd Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) - 35:51
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Kerrie McIlmoyle (Springwell Running Club) - 43:07, 2nd Elish Bell (Unattached) - 47:19, 3rd Lorraine Mullan (Unattached) - 49:59
East Coast AC Junior XC Series (Race 2):
On Saturday 21st January 2017, nearly one hundred 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 competitors take on a challenging but enjoyable 650m loop of the Curran Park, with the number of laps being increased with each age category.