Weekend Preview: Novosco 10k Grand Prix continues...
Where has this weekend gone? After a bit of a break over the last 5-6 days whilst enjoying some running in Chamonix (France), its back to work for our team, and it’s an excellent weekend of action to look forward too! The inaugural and popular Novosco Grand Prix continues in Comber, while the NIMRA Championship bandwagon rolls towards Spelga Dam in the Mourne Mountains.
Elsewhere, Acorns AC will welcome hundreds of ladies to their Acorns Blue Bells 5k road race and Lisbellaw Football Club will host their annual 5 mile road race. Outside Northern Ireland, familiar faces will be action at the Sub 4 Minute Mile Letterkenny International Track & Field Meeting in County Donegal (Ireland) and at least one athlete from Northern Ireland will line up for Ireland in the European Mountain Running Championships in Italy.
Spelga Skyline Mountain Race:
The weekend action will kick off on Saturday 2nd July 2016 in the Mourne Mountains, where the Belfast Association of Rockclimbers and Fellrunners (BARF) will welcome athletes from across the province to their annual Spelga Skyline Mountain Race. The popular and well organised event will be the sixth race in this year’s Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championship and the winner will have the honour of picking up the coveting 'Denis Rankin Memorial' trophy, which was first introduced last year.
After starting uphill from Spelga Dam, the 20k route, which incorporates 1,400 metres of ascent will see participants travel to the summits of Butter Mountain, Slieve Meelbeg, Slieve Loughshannagh, Slieve Muck, across Deers Meadow to Slieve Moughanmore, onwards to Pierces Castle, Rocky, Hen and finally Cock Mountain before the technical descent back to the Spelga Dam finish line.
Poor visibility played its part in the last round of the Championship at the Flagstaff-Carlingford race, where Armagh AC’s Paul McAnespie and Dromore AC’s Diane Wilson used their navigational skills to seal well-deserved victories. Both could play a part here, but Paul is likely to face the in-form duo of Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) and William McKee (Mourne Runners).
Zak was affected by the conditions at the Flagstaff-Carlingford event, finishing well down the field, but the up and coming star will feature prominently here if he races – especially given that he’ll be going into the race high in confidence after a win at the Loughinisland 5.05 mile road race this week.
After starting the season in blistering form, William McKee has been off the radar over the last 4-6 weeks but the exceptionally talented Kilkeel man may well return to action this week. After wins at Glenariff, The Fallows and Annalong Horseshoe, as well as numerous Hill & Dale Series events, William will start as favourite should he take to the start line. Last year’s winner Clive Bailey (Mourne Runners) should also return, while his Mourne Runners team mates Sam Herron, Gary Bailey, Ricky Hanna and Richard Bell will hope to replicate their impressive performances at the Mont Blanc Marathon events in Chamonix (France) last weekend. Dale Mathers (Mourne Runners), Deon McNeilly (Newcastle AC), David Hicks (Newcastle AC), Colum Campbell (Newcastle AC) and runner up at Flagstaff-Carlingford, Shane Donnelly (Acorns AC) should all be there or there abouts.
In the ladies race, Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) will prove hard to beat over this distance. The Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR reigning Champion is a quality all-round athlete put excels in these longer races and should therefore play a prominent part at the front. However, as always, Diane’s international team mate Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) will be there or there abouts – having won here twelve months ago, Shileen will be worth watching! The same could be said for the ever consistent Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners), Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) and Jacqueline Toal (BARF). Paula McAllister (Ballymena Runners), Ruth Aiken (Ballymena Runners), Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC), Anne Sandford (Lagan Valley AC) and Paulette Thomson (Newcastle AC) will also claim top ten spots in the ladies field should they enter on the day.
Comber 10k Road Race:
Also on Saturday 2nd July 2016, popular local running club Ballydrain Harriers will host the 2nd annual running of their Comber 10k road race. The new flat and fast course, as well as the race’s inclusion in the ongoing Novosco 10k Grand Prix, has undoubtedly played a part in the event attracting a field of well over four hundred athletes… and entries are still available on the day!
The most notable entrant at present is Team GB’s Scottish long distance star Joasia Zakrzewski (Dumfries RC). Joasia is a classy athlete with a marathon personal best of 2:39:15 – she has also represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (2014) where she clocked 2:45:29 for a very credible fourteenth place.
Despite her achievements over the marathon distance, Joasia’s most notable outings have arguably come over ultra-distance. She has finished just outside the podium places at the prestigious Comrades Ultra in South Africa and more impressively, picked up a silver medal at the IAU World & European 100k Championships in Holland (2011) and a bronze medal at the IAU World 100k Championships in Doha in 2014 – the same year, Joasia won the famous HOKA Highland Fling Ultra in Scotland. More recently, the Dumfries RC lady has run 35:44 for 10k and her last outing was a win at the Lofoten Ultra-Trail 50 mile race in 10:38:00 earlier this month.
It will be very interesting to see how Joasia gets on here! Other likely contenders will include North Down AC’s ever improving Katie Moore who has excelled since taking up her studies at the famous sporting and educational establishment Loughborough University – although Katie will have to run a significant personal best to get close to Joasia, her 18:56 at Queen’s 5k shows real potential. Another Dumfries RC athlete, Northern Ireland native Hazel Smyth will also be keen to claim a podium place on home soil but will have to see off the always impressive Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) and former junior Champion Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers) if she wishes to do so. Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers), Natasha Henderson (County Antrim Harriers), Susan Smyth (Dromore AC) and Claire Donnelly (Unattached) should add further depth.
The men’s race could well see unattached athlete Michael Crawley come head to head with up and coming Dromore AC duo Daniel Dawson and Ethan Dunn. Michael ran 15:56 at the Buncrana 5k last month and is consistently in the 34’s over 10k, while Daniel really stepped up a level when he recorded 32:37 in his debut over 10k earlier this month in Lisburn. Young Ethan was part of the NIMRA team who ran well at the WMRA Youth International in the Czech Republic last weekend and will take that confidence into this as he hopes to slash his current 10k best, which sits at 40:31 – he’ll reduce this significantly!
Speaking of junior stars, North Down AC’s Craig McMeechan will feature well at the front of the pack, as will his more experienced North Down AC coach Francis Marsh, who could well take a prize home. The fast improving Stephen O’Gorman adds more class to the Dromore AC line-up, while Willowfield Harriers pair Neill Weir and Garry Morrow should also contest high placings. Martin Wilcox (East Down AC), Lindsay Gordon (North Belfast Harriers) and local running supremo Norman Mawhinney (Ballybrain Harriers) will all run well.
Acorns AC Blue Belles 5k Road Race:
In County Derry/Londonderry on Saturday 2nd July 2016, hundreds of athletes are expected to take to the start line of the Acorns Blue Belles 5k Road Race in Magherafelt. The race will start close to the Meadowbank Sports Arena and finish within the confines of the impressive and well used complex.
Amongst those chasing top honours in the ladies only event will be the host club’s Karen Alexander – the Northern Ireland international has returned to racing recently and enjoyed some excellent results, including a win at the Mourne Way Half Marathon two weeks ago. Karen’s club mate and AAI National Novice XC Champion Natalie Hall (Acorns AC) will start and should challenge at the front, as will the talented Esther Dickson, who has recently joined Newry AC.
Springwell Running Club athlete Gemma McDonald may also enter on the day, while Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers), Tanya Quinn (Sperrin Harriers), Lisa Simpson (Acorns AC), Nicola Swinson (PACE Running Club) and Caroline Taylor (Springwell Running Club) all possess the potential to secure a podium place.
Lisbellaw 5 mile Road Race:
In County Fermanagh, on Saturday 2nd July 2016, a large number of athletes are expected to take part in newly installed Lisbellaw 5 mile road race. The event, which in its previous guise as a 10k race, always seemed to attract a good mixture of athletes, including some high profile names; this will again be the case this year.
Shane Brady (Clones AC), winner of the Lisnaskea 10k two weeks ago, should toe the line here; the runner up, Stephen Cassidy (Enniskillen Running Club) may also make use of the on the day entry. Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) may be a surprise entry having made a welcome return to the competitive racing scene in recent months and the Northern Ireland international could be joined by the in-form Chris McGuirk (Club Unknown). Fergus McGirr (Enniskillen Running Club) and Martin Cox (North Belfast Harriers) could also go well if they race.
In the ladies race, Enniskillen 10k winner Patricia O’Hagan (St Peter’s AC) will take charge if she starts, while Tara Malone (Enniskillen Running Club) could well take on that role should Patricia not compete. Tara's club mate Karen Dolan (Enniskillen Running Club) and Donna Evans (Finn Valley AC) should both perform well.
Letterkenny Sub 4 Minute Mile Challenge Event (Ireland):
In Letterkenny, County Donegal (Ireland), on Saturday 2nd July 2016, a large contingent of athletes from Northern Ireland will line up against competitors from around the globe at the annual Letterkenny Sub 4 Minute Mile Challenge Event, which is held at the Danny McDaid Track in the popular town.
The start list boasts a plethora of talent and amongst the local runners aiming for personal best and podium places will be Andrew Monaghan (Lagan Valley AC), Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC), Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC), Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC), Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC), Gary Slevin (City of Derry AC), Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers), Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), Angeline McShane (City of Derry AC) and a huge representation from Derry City Track Club, including JP Williamson, Conan McCaughey, Tim Shiels, Martin Cox, Conor Doherty, Shane McGowan, Aaron Carlyle, Brandon Connolly, Conor McIlveen and Sean McIntyre.
European Mountain Running Championships (Italy):
In Italy on Saturday 2nd July 2016, at least one runner from Northern Ireland will be on the Ireland team at the European Mountain Running Championships in Arco, Italy. Newcastle AC’s Seamus Lynch was selected based on his finishing position at the Irish Mountain Running Association (IMRA) Euro Trial Race at Crone Wood in May (2016), where he took second place. Seamus and his senior male team-mates, which may include other runners from Northern Ireland (no team line up/start-list is available for the event), will cover 12.3k in distance, incorporating 750m of ascent.
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
Loughinisland 5.05 mile road race 2016:
On Wednesday 29th June 2016, athletes from across the province turned out for the annual Loughinisland 5.05 mile road race, hosted by East Down AC in County Down. Interestingly, year on year this event always brings the question, why 5.05 miles? (Why not 5 miles?). We previously asked the organisers and found out that this is because the race starts on the road (close to a hill) and finishes in the local school, and if the experienced race team altered this, it would be too close to a dangerous section of road; thus it has been left the way it is to ensure the safety of competitors and officials.
Winner in 2014 and 2015 Brendan Teer (East Down AC) was a notable absentee as he continues to recover from injury, but young Newcastle AC athlete and Northern Ireland international Zak Hanna stepped up to the mark with another excellent performance. The podium regular cruised to victory in 26:53 (1st place). In a close race for the runners up spot, Patrick Higgins (Newcastle AC) saw off the challenge of Francis Tumelty (Newcastle AC), with Patrick running 29:29 (2nd place) and Francis 29:40 (3rd place).
In the ladies race, the in-form Amy Bulman (Unattached) followed on from her impressive outing at the Drumlough 5 mile road race with another prize winning performance. Amy led the ladies home in 31:35 (1st place), while North Belfast Harriers’ Mary-Margaret Meade took 2nd place in 31:42. Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) crossed the line in 32:54 to seal a well-deserved 3rd place.
Top 3 Men: 1st Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) – 26:53, 2nd Patrick Higgins (Newcastle AC) – 29:29, 3rd Francis Tumelty (Newcastle AC) – 29:40
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Amy Bulman (Unattached) – 31:35, 2nd Mary-Margaret Meade (North Belfast Harriers) – 31:42, 3rd Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) – 32:54
Full Results: Loughinisland 5.05m Road Race 2016 Results
East Antrim Harriers Forest Trail Series 2016 (Race 4 – Woodburn):
On Tuesday 28th June 2106, nearly two hundred runners descended on Woodburn Forest close to Carrickfergus for the final race of this year’s East Antrim Harriers Forest Trail Series. In pleasant conditions, the athletes negotiated a tough but rewarding 4.2 mile route.
In men’s event, Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC) continued his fine run of form when he dominated proceedings to secure three wins from three appearances in this year’s Series. The always impressive East Coast AC man clocked 24:51 for 1st place; this was enough to see Matthew crowned overall men’s Champion for 2016. Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers) followed in 25:08 (2nd place), before Paul Horan (North Belfast Harriers), another athlete who has impressed throughout the Series, claimed 3rd place in 25:24 – Paul's performances over the four races saw him take 2nd place overall, with Matthew Morrow (Ballymena Runners) taking 3rd place overall. The top three men overall are pictured left (photo by Natasha Henderson).
Claire Donnelly (Unattached) looked in good form as she improved on her performance in Race 3 of the Series. After taking third place in Ballyboley Forest, Claire secured a well-deserved victory here, breaking the tape in 28:52 (1st place). Ballydrain Harriers’ Debbie Matchett clocked 29:30 for 2nd place, finishing just ahead of Larne AC’s Patricia Blair, who ran 29:38 for 3rd place. In the ladies overall final standings, Kerry Bamber (Ballymena Runners) was crowned Champion, with Patricia Blair (Larne AC) and Trudy Brown (Orangegrove AC) taking 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.
Race 4 Podium Places:
Top 3 Men: 1st Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC) – 24:51, 2nd Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers) – 25:08, 3rd Paul Horan (North Belfast Harriers) – 25:24
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Claire Donnelly (Unattached) – 28:52, 2nd Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) – 29:30, 3rd Patricia Blair (Larne AC) – 29:38,
EAH Forest Trail Series 2016 - Overall Final Standings available HERE
AAI National Senior Track & Field Championships (by Athletics NI):
On Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th June 2016, there were several NI athletes in action at the GloHealth Irish Senior Track & Field Championships in Dublin (Ireland). A number of competitors were seeking to catch the attention of the Selectors who met on Sunday evening to select the Ireland team for the European Championships in Amsterdam in 10 days.
Ireland's top high hurdler Ben Reynolds (Tom Reynolds) was a delighted athlete after he took yet another title with ease in a time of 13.89 (-0.5). More importantly this was a qualification time for the Euros. The North Down AC man who has had a frustrating season with few races commented;
"I decided to go back to my old technique . It appears to have really worked even though I was stretching a bit towards the end"
It was smiles all round for Northern athletes who took both 100 metre titles. City of Lisburn AC's Amy Foster (Davy Reid) was never troubled in taking her 5th title in 11.83 against a strong head wind. She was pleased to get another title and is looking forward to the challenges in the Europeans. Multi Paralympic champion Jason Smyth (Clarence Callander / Derry City Track Club) was not to be outdone and took the victory in 10.71secs just ahead of Ballymena & Antrim's Jonathan Browning (Melanie Browning) who got a second successive silver with 10.75secs into a headwind of -1.9.
As expected the Men's 400 metres proved to be the race of the day It was won by Clonliffe's Brian Greggan in 46.28secs. QUB's Andrew Mellon (Brendan McConville) was 5th in a huge PB of 46.80secs. Thanks to this performance he will travel to Amsterdam for the 4x400m Relay. Training partner Adam McComb (North Down AC) ran a PB of 47.61secs to make the final and was just short of this when finishing in 7th place.
The Women's 1,500 metres featured a 61 second final lap by UCD athlete Ciara Mageean (Jerry Kiernan) who won in 4:24.36 with Lisburn team mate Kelly Neely (Ian Neely) taking bronze. In the men's event a fast finishing Michael Dyer (North Down AC / Francis Marsh) just missed out on the medals in an extremely competitive race. There was another title for Crusaders AC Adam McMullen (Alan Kennedy) in the long jump who had a series of big jumps from behind the board finishing with a best of 7.52m.
In the Men's 400 metre hurdles Belfast's Jason Harvey (Crusaders AC / Nick Dakin) made a welcome return to form after an indifferent start to the season to take silver in a time of 51.30secs behind top Irish hurdler Thomas Barr. Rio Olympics bound Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC / Richard Rogers) was 2nd in the Steeplechase behind Leevale's Michelle Finn breaking the 10 minute barrier.
Sommer Lecky (Finn Valley AC / Niall Wilkinson) added the senior title to her Inter Provincial title won the previous day with 1.71m in the rain while Anna McIlmoyle (City of Lisburn AC / Wendy Phillips) secured the bronze with an equal PB of 1.68m. North Down AC's Laura Saulters took bronze in the Triple Jump just 1cm shy of her PB set last weekend.
There were encouraging performances from Youth Academy Athletes with PB's for Ciaran Barnes (City of Lisburn AC / Bill Kelly) and Michael Gaffney (North Down AC / Laura Kerr) in the 400mH (54.86secs) and Javelin (54.49m) respectively. Hurdlers Naomi Morgan (City of Derry AC) and Garbhan McKenna (Shercock AC) finished 3rd and 4th respectively in 15.15secs and 14.99secs.
Glaslough Harriers' Conor Duffy claimed his first National Senior title when he pipped City of Derry AC athlete Conor Bradley in the home straight to win the 5,000m in 14:32.
Full results and Athletics Ireland's report from the Senior Championships can be found HERE.
Energia 24 hour Race (inc AAI National 24 hour Championships):
As entries into the world of ultra running go, this was indeed sensational. The Energia 24 was held on the 25th and 26th June at Victoria Park.
Louise Smart from Newtownabbey announced her arrival with a stunning victory at the Energia24-hour National Championships in Victoria Park which was of international standard.
The 37-year-old BT engineer was unknown before the week-end having not ventured beyond the marathon distance. But she led from start to finish,never stopped or looked back to record an eye-popping winning distance of 204kms (126 miles) - a posting that had the wow factor about it for a novice to the sport and was good enough for 9th overall in a field of nearly 100.
Indeed, there were personal best performances all over the park at an event that will stage the World Championships in Victoria Park next year, as 12 athletes went passed the 200km mark and some 44 passed the 100 miles - comfortably a record for the championship.
There were calmer waters in the men's championship where Eoin Keith from Cork retained his Irish title. Keith registered 242kms (150 miles). Another Cork man Alex O’Shea had gone through the 100 mile mark quickest but Keith, who’s had a red letter year, reeled him in with another Corkman and another newcomer,Aidan Hogan storming through to take second place on 238kms (148 miles) with Belfast’s Madrid-based Mr Consistency Eddie Gallen, a former champion,taking third (230kms/143 miles) just ahead of Belfast’s Tim Bownlie (226kms/140 miles). There had been much interest in the first appearance at a 24-hour race of the Irish 100km record holder Keith Whyte but the Ennis man dropped out after 131kms (81 miles) with a recurrence of a knee injury.
The day had started in world record breaking style with Jan-Albert Lantink from the Netherlands breaking the age-group mark to win the 100kms in 7:07:26 more than 3 minutes inside the old record. The Hengelo athlete had enlisted a doping control officer to ensure the record would be recognised and he lived up to his billing. The women’s 100km title was won by Belgrave Harrier Samantha Amend from Buckinghamshire who posted the fastest women’s time in the UK this year with 8:09:52 putting herself in the frame for GB selection.
Mark Walker, another new ultra face from Bangor, won the 12-hour race in 121kms(75 miles); and it was a Bangor double, with Ballydrain Harrier Fiona Prue - a further debutant at the distance - winning the women’s race in 115 kms( 71 miles) which was good enough for fourth overall. Fiona finished narrowly ahead of Cork blind athlete Sinead Kane who with her guide Philip Bourke, finished runner-up for the second year in a row with 112 kms(70 miles). The oldest competitor in the field 66-year-old Colette O’Hagan from Dundalk registered 79kms(48 miles). Finally, a new name was etched on the 24-Hour relay trophy with Clonmel AC winning from the Mayfiles with Dublin Bay Runners ‘A’ in third.
Hill & Dales Series 2016: Race 11 – Drinahilly:
On Friday 24th June 2016, nearly two hundred athletes descended on Donard Park in Newcastle for the final race of this year’s Hill & Dale Series, Drinahilly. The fast course takes in the spectacular trails around Donard Forest and 4.75 miles in distance with 1,080ft of ascent.
Like Race 10, young Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) took charge and showed no signs of fatigue following his midweek victory at Drumlough as he led the field home in 21:45 (1st place). Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers) showed that he is getting back to full fitness when he claimed 2nd place in 23:21, while Colm Murtagh (Newcastle AC) completed the top three in 23:40 (3rd place).
In the ladies race, Northern Ireland international Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) excelled. Following on from several podium places in the Series, Mari clocked 26:44 for 1st place. Fellow Northern Ireland international’s and Ballymena Runners club mates Gillian Wasson and Paula McAllister contested the runners up spot, but in the end it was Gillian who crossed the line first, taking 2nd place in 27:46; Paula followed followed in 27:57.
Top 3 Men: 1st Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) – 21:45, 2nd Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers) – 23:21, 3rd Colm Murtagh (Newcastle AC) – 23:40
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) – 26:44, 2nd Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners) – 27:46, 3rd Paula McAllister (Ballymena Runners) – 25:57
Ards Half Marathon 2016 (inc NI & Ulster HM Championships):
On Friday 24th June 2016, over five hundred athletes from all of Northern Ireland (and beyond) took to the streets of the County Down town of Newtownards for the annual Ards Half Marathon, which was the sixth race of the ongoing Pure Running-ChampionChip Half Marathon Series. The event was also this year’s NI & Ulster Half Marathon Championships.
The athletes covered a tough but rewarding course, starting and finishing at the town’s Leisure Centre. It was a night were the pre-race favourites dominated, with Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) and Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) claiming the top prizes.
In the men’s race, Mark saw off several talented athletes to secure victory – Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers) and Andrew Monaghan (Lagan Valley AC) chased hard, but ended up battling between themselves for the runners up spot; in itself, this was a great race. At the front, Mark recorded a new personal best of 1:10:20 for 1st place, while Andrew Annett took 2nd place in 1:11:02 – Andrew Monaghan followed in 1:11:12 for 3rd place.
Laura Graham was a dominant figure in the ladies event, leading from gun to tape to secure yet another excellent win in 1:19:31 (1st place); this further cements Laura’s top spot in the Ladies Open category of the ongoing Pure Running Half Marathon Series. Karen Alexander (Acorns AC), who finished Laura in Lisburn, crossed the line in 1:22:33 for 2nd place, while the always impressive Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) claimed 3rd place in 1:24:31.
Top 3 Men: 1st Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:10:20, 2nd Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:11:02, 3rd Andrew Monaghan (Lagan Valley AC) – 1:11:12
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 1:19:31, 2nd Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) – 1:22:33, 3rd Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:24:31
Weekend Preview: Ards HM, AAI T&F, NIMAA T&F, Energia 24hr, Mont Blanc and more…
Whilst we celebrate Northern Ireland’s success in the ongoing European Football Championships in France, the local running seen rolls on. This coming weekend will see athletes take on an excellent variety of events, both at home and outside the province.
The highlights include the Ards Half Marathon, Dromore 10k, Belfast Hills 10 mile race and of course, the returning Energia 24 hour Race, which will incorporate the AAI National 24 hour Championships. Outside Northern Ireland, familiar faces will be in action at the AAI National Senior Track & Field Championships in Santry, Dublin (Ireland) and the famous Mont Blanc Marathon Events in Chamonix, France.
This preview will feature the major Championship fixtures and the Ards Half Marathon, whilst providing useful information on the other races happening over the weekend…
Ards Half Marathon:
The action will kick off later tonight (Friday 24th June 2016) in Newtownards, when hundreds of athletes are expected to take on the sixth race of this year’s Pure Running-ChampionChip Half Marathon Series, the Ards Half Marathon.
North Belfast Harriers’ Mark McKinstry is one of the provinces most in form athletes at the moment and will prove hard to beat here. After running a new 10k personal best of 31:31 at the Dunshaughlin 10k last weekend, the Northern Ireland international will go into this race high in confidence. His 13.1 mile personal best, which stands at 1:11:53 will also stand him in good stead; although this may well be improved upon tonight!
The always impressive Don Travers (Newry City Runners) will also start – like Mark, Don is also running well, a win at the recent Newry Marathon proved that. Don also claimed fifth place at the Lisburn Half Marathon last week. When you add Marc Jennings (North Belfast Harriers), a third place finisher in Lisburn to the line-up, it makes for an interesting race. Other top performers such as Francis Marsh (North Down AC), John Black (North Belfast Harriers), Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers), Mark Cornett (St Peter’s AC), Garry Morrow (Willowfield Harriers) and Dave Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) add further depth and talent to the field.
In the ladies race, Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) will start and will be considered as a strong favourite given her recent exploits. Laura is returning from some down-time after superb performances and the London Marathon and Belfast Marathon and sealed an excellent win at last week’s Lisburn Half Marathon, where she recorded 1:19:51 for top spot. Despite the tough course, Laura should be close to that time here as well, which should be enough to see the Kilkeel lady challenge for honours.
Karen Alexander (Acorns AC), winner of the Mourne Way Half Marathon and a runner up to Laura at the Lisburn Half Marathon, may also start and having proved herself on this course before, she’ll certainly be one to watch. As will the ever consistent Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) and the likes of Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC), Sile Brennan (Orangegrove AC), Susan Smyth (Dromore AC) and Gillian Logan (Orangegrove AC).
Northern Ireland Masters Athletics (NIMAA) Track & Field Championships:
On Saturday 25th June 2016, veteran track specialists from Northern Ireland and Ulster will travel to the home of athletics in Northern Ireland, the Mary Peters Track, for the Northern Ireland Masters Athletics Association (NIMAA) Track & Field Championships.
Despite local hero and World and European Masters 800m Champion being a notable absentee as she takes on the cream of up and coming talent at the AAI National Senior Track & Field Championships in Dublin, this year’s event boasts an array of talent.
Tim Shiels (Derry City Track Club), Gary Henderson (Armagh AC), Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC), Paul McCafferty (City of Derry AC), Stuart Kennedy (Beechmount Harriers), Paul Elliot (North Belfast Harriers), Paul Horan (North Belfast Harriers), Lee Maginnis (Newry AC), Kieran McKeown (East Coast AC), David Steele (Newcastle AC) and Stephen Morris (City of Lisburn AC) will be hot favourites to take to the podium in the men’s age group competition.
Meanwhile, in the ladies events, British Champion Ruth Perioli (Lagan Valley AC), Ann Terek (City of Lisburn AC), Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers), Denise Toner (Clones AC), Catherine Diver (Beechmount Harriers), Emma Smith (Orangegrove AC), Leann Gibson (Victoria Park & Connswater AC) and Joy McAleer (City of Lisburn AC)
Energia 24 hour Race (inc AAI National 24 hour Championships):
Over the course of Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th June 2016 hundreds of athletes will descend on Victoria Park in Belfast for the popular and well-organised Energia 24 hour Race, which once again incorporates the Athletics Ireland National 24 hour Championships.
A new venue, a new date, a record entry and a World Championship to come next year has breathed much new oxygen into the 7th running of the event.
And, it’s oxygen the athletes will need plenty of as they look down the barrel of 24 hours of non-stop running that could mean the completion of some six marathons back-to-back, that’s more than 150 miles and with it a National title and international recognition. After 6 years at the Mary Peters’ Track, Energia24 moves to a 1 mile (1.7k) circuit in Victoria Park in East Belfast in search of more space.
It’s a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the premier event in the sport, the 24 hour World Championships, and world officials will be on hand giving it the once-over stress test. Perhaps in anticipation of that, the 24-entry list has doubled from last year to just under 100 with the 12-hour, 100k and Relays also well supported. The competitors will represent 13 nations, 25 Irish counties and the best represented club will be Dublin Bay Runners.
Race Director Ed Smith says: “We are delighted at the size and the quality of the field and at the same time all too aware that we are under the world microscope and having to deal with a whole new environment in Victoria Park which will include bringing in over 100 lights powered by 20 generators for the night time phase of the event.
“But we already know the circuit is well-used by runners through the success of Parkrun -which will go on as normal on Saturday morning ahead of the start of the race at noon,” he says. It is great to have the use of this upgraded facility - part of the Connswater Regeneration - and with it the support of Belfast City Council alongside our title sponsor Energia, who have been with us from the start when we had 18 entries. Pure Running, Water Within, the international Association of Ultra Runners and the athletics federations north and south have also provided support for the event.”
The top of the leaderboard could have a familiar look to it. National 24-hr Champion Eoin Keith, from Cork, has swept all before him this year winning the 431km Montane Spine Race across the Pennines at the start of the year in spectacular fashion smashing the course record by 15 hours; and then he did something similar at the start of this month at the Northern Traverse covering the 306kms (190 miles) in just over 2 days to win by more than 5 hours. Those races were all about navigation, rough terrain and lots of climbing ,the 24-hour is different - but Keith is a runner for all seasons and Thomas Maguire’s Irish road record of 248kms (154 miles) set in Monaco back in 2009 could come under threat. And, Eoin will know all about 2 former Champions who will also return. Three-time winner John O’Regan, who took time out last year to guide blind runner Sinead Kane; and Belfast’s Madrid-based Eddie Gallen - he set a new Irish 12-hour record in Barcelona in December. Remarkably, this will be his 32nd 24-hr race.
Again the pretenders will be snapping at their heels: Wexford’s James Whitty and Polish athlete Thomas Klimas, who lives in Limerick. They finished 4th and 5th respectively last year (2015). Keith Whyte holds the Irish 100km record and steps up to the 24-hour for the very first time – he will be worth watching. Also there is Galway’s Richard Donovan, the promoter of some of the world’s toughest challenges. He comes back into the ranks and brings a mighty impressive CV with him. He holds the world record for completing 7 marathons on 7 continents in less than 5 days and last year ran from San Francisco to New York a distance of 5,472kms (3,400 miles).
In the absence of current Irish Champion Susan McCartney and Irish record holder Ruthann Sheahan - who is racing in China’s Gobi desert - the women’s race looks wide open. Brenda O’Keefe-Miere from Dublin and Carrick’s Gillian Cordner finished 2nd and 3rd last year and will look to go one better this. In a surprise move, Canadian Amy Masner, from Arklow has opted for the 100km here despite running an eye-popping 218kms (135 miles) at an indoor 24-hr in Finland earlier in the year. In a major boost for the selectors, she has now opted to run for Ireland.
Behind them will come those trying to hit the 100 mile mark and get one of the coveted jackets that welcomes athletes into an exclusive club. Twenty five managed it last year! And then, there will be those raising money for their chosen charity; and Belfast’s Conor Meehan who was so disappointed to miss out last year; and thought he would miss out this year because the date would clash with his wedding day. But, as fate would have it, the race date was moved. Whether Conor will be able to walk up the isle after this remains to be seen!
Much attention in the 12-hour race will be on Jan-Albert Lantink from the Netherlands. The 55-year-old will be attempting 3 world records at 12-hours, 100km and 100 miles and is laying on his own official doping control to ensure any record will be ratified. In the 100k, it will be fascinating to see if Amy Masner can get close to Donegal’s Helena Crossan’s Irish record of 7:52:45 but she’ll have plenty of competition to spur her on in the shape of England’s Samantha Amend and Norwegian Aud Stuhr who are both trying to impress their national selectors.
Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend:
Saturday 25th June 2016:
- Dromore 10k – Dromore Leisure Centre, County Tyrone – 12pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)
- Killyleagh 5 mile Road Race – Bridge Centre, Killyleagh, County Down – 11am (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)
- Belfast Hills 10 mile Trail Challenge – Boys Model School, Belfast, County Antrim – 11am (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)
- Annaghmore 10k - Eglish Road, Annaghmore, County Armagh – 10am (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)
- Fields for Life 10k - Stormont Estate, Belfast, County Antrim - 11am (Entries AVAILABLE on the day
Outside Northern Ireland this weekend...
AAI National Senior Track & Field Championships (Ireland):
On Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th June 2016, a host of Northern Ireland’s top track stars will make the trip south to Santry, Dublin (Ireland), for the annual Athletics Ireland National Senior Track & Field Championships.
After the wet weather at last week’s NI & Ulster Senior Track & Field Championships at MPT Belfast, the local stars will be hoping for better conditions as they aim for personal bests, podium places and qualifying standards for upcoming major international events.
Athletics NI provided the following preview of this weekend’s Athletics Ireland National Senior Track & Field Championships…
Eight Northern Ireland based athletes will be targeting this weekend's GloHealth Irish Senior Championships in Dublin with the key objective to impress the Irish selectors for the European Championships in Amsterdam in 10 days’ time. The team is expected to be announced on Monday 24th June 2016.
Five local women already have the qualification standard and are certain to be selected bar injury. Three men will be striving to qualify at Santry which will feature most of Ireland's top athletes. City of Lisburn AC's Amy Foster is once again Ireland's top sprinter following her sizzling 11.42secs time over 100 metres in Florida last month. She will be looking to snatch the title back from Ferrybank AC’s Kelly Proper who inflicted a rare defeat on the Newtownards woman last year. Amy could have the advantage this time as Proper has yet to compete over the distance this season.
In the equivalent Men's event multi-Paralympic champion Jason Smyth of Derry City Track Club is a mere 0.01secs short of the European qualification mark following his 10.39secs time in the US. He should capture another Irish title with last year's runner up Jonathan Browning of Ballymena & Antrim AC also in the mix.
In the Women's 1,500 metres all eyes will be on Rio bound Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) who will be seeking to add another fast time to her record breaking season following her personal best over 800 metres in Belfast last week. The Portaferry woman will be hoping that defending 1,500 metres champion Sarah Treacy (Ireland) will help her to beat her season's best time of 4:08:00. In the Women's 400 metres hurdles Ballymena & Antrim AC’s Christine McMahon is in the clear spotlight following her recent outstanding 56.42secs time which is a mere 0.22secs short of Rio qualification mark. The 23 year old dental graduate should secure a hat trick of titles ahead of Ferrybank AC’s Jessie Barr.
The Women's steeplechase entries include Rio bound competitors Kerry O'Flaherty of Newcastle AC, Michelle Finn of Leevale AC plus the aforementioned Sarah Treacy. Kerry will be seeking to improve on her sub 10 mins time from Lucerne a few days ago. High hurdler Ben Reynolds (North Down AC) will be hoping to put a frustrating season behind him and achieve what for him should be an easy Euro qualification time of 13.90secs. He should easily defend his title ahead of Carrick's Gerard O'Donnell.
Other Northern Ireland winners should include Finn Valley AC’s Tori Pena who is qualified for Rio in the Pole Vault and Adam McMullan (Crusaders AC) who is currently ranked 16th in Europe in the long jump. His season's best of 7.84 metres is just short of the very difficult 7.95 metres Euro standard.
Mont Blanc Marathon Events (France):
Over the course of the weekend (Friday 24th June to Sunday 26th June 2016) a host of runners from Northern Ireland will compete against thousands of athletes at the prestigious Mont Blanc Marathon events in Chamonix, France.
In recent years the Mont Blanc Marathon and associated 80k, 23k, 10k and Vertical Kilometre races have proved popular with the local trail and mountain running community in NI. This year is no different, with at least fifteen off-road enthusiasts (that we know of) taking part in one of their chosen distances.
Richard Bell (Mourne Runners), Nicki McPeake (Unattached), Ron Peacock (Unattached), David Bell (Mourne Runners), Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC), Catherine Maxwell (East Coast AC), Garth McGimpsey (Mourne Runners), Sam Herron (Mourne Runners), Beverley Herron (Mourne Runners), Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC), Barbara Hunter (Unattached), Taryn McCoy (BARF), Gary Bailey (Mourne Runners), Elaine Hall (Larne AC) and Ricky Hanna (Mourne Runners) are amongst the familiar faces who will take to the start line over what should be an excellent weekend of action in the Alps.
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
Please be aware that there will be significant delays in the uploading of results and articles to our website over the weekend and early next week (from Friday 24th June to Wednesday 29th June 2016). We apologise in advance, but recommend that you check the individual event websites and the Athletics NI website in the meantime.
Pure Running – ChampionChip Ireland Half Marathon Series 2016:
After five races of this year’s Pure Running – ChampionChip Ireland Half Marathon Series, things are starting to take shape in the category standings. The long-standing annual Series continues to draw crowds with no less than 5,117 competitors taking part in the first five events, which were the DUNE Half Marathon, Larne Half Marathon, Omagh Half Marathon, Newry Half Marathon and Lisburn Half Marathon.
To be eligible for honours, runners must complete three races in the first half of the Series (which is now complete) and three races in the second half of the Series. These can be viewed HERE. It is the responsibility of athletes to register for the Series, details on how to do this can be found on the Athletics NI website HERE.
In the Male Open category, North Belfast Harriers’ fast improving Marc Jennings, a podium finisher at last week’s Lisburn Half Marathon, leads the way with consistent performers Aaron Woodman (PACE Running Club) and Gerard Heaney (St Peter’s AC) in pursuit. Marc’s current aggregate time stands at 3:50:47, with Aaron on 3:53:59 and Gerard 3:57:52. Larne AC’s David Noble is the top Vet35 competitor with an aggregate time of 4:16:41, while the Vet40 and Vet45 categories are exceptionally close – in the Vet40 category a mere three seconds split Eric Fairhill (Unattached) and Colin Walker (North Down AC); Eric’s aggregate time is 4:25:11, while Colin’s is 4:25:14. A step up in category, Seapark AC’s Charlie McCormick (4:27:03) leads North Down AC’s Eamon O’Reilly (4:27:08) by just five seconds. North Belfast Harriers men Martin Cox (4:10:23) and Greg McClure (4:34:35) top the Vet50 and Vet55 standings respectively, while Orangegrove AC’s Vet60 athlete Brian Todd (5:43:46) and Vet65 competitor North Down AC’s Terry Aiken (4:33:52) also take charge of their categories going into the second half of the Series.
Top endurance runner Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) has shown her class throughout the Series and leads the Ladies Open category with an aggregate time of 3:57:13, a time that only two men have bettered. Orangegrove AC new girl Gillian Logan, who is currently completing a 10 Half Marathon’s in 100 days Challenge for charity lies second in Ladies Open category with an aggregate time of 5:04:45. The always impressive Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) leads the Vet35 category with a tie of 4:19:00; Judith’s fastest time so far was a 1:24:44 in Larne back in March (2016). Ultra star Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC) heads the Vet40 category with Tara McBride (NICS AC) topping the Vet45 table – Gillian’s aggregate is 4:58:33 while Tara’s is 5:34:48. North Belfast Harriers’ Ita McCambridge is performing well with an overall time of 4:49:14 in the Vet50 age group.
Angus McCready has maintained his record of not having missed any of the races in 8 years having completed his 62nd run at the Lisburn Half Marathon and is joined this year by Anne Moore, Laura Graham, Holly Hunniford, James Wilson, Martin Cox, Alan Brown and Graeme McGowan who have finished all 5 races. They are aiming for the special garment at the end of the Series if they complete all 10 races.
The second half of the Series kicks off in Newtownards this Friday night (24th June 2016). The latest standings can be viewed HERE.
Dunshaughlin 10k Road Race (Ireland):
On Sunday 19th June 2016, several familiar faces were amongst hundreds of competitors who took on the popular Dunshaughlin 10k road race in County Meath, Ireland.
The local athletes performed well, with North Belfast Harriers trio Mark McKinstry, Eddie Cooke and Cathy McCourt all sealing top ten places. In the men's race, Mark McKisntry was in exceptional form as he claimed a new personal best of 31:31 for 4th place. His club mate Eddie Cooke ran well to take 10th place in 33:30. The men's race was won by Kenyan athlete Peter Somba in 29:43 (1st place).
In the ladies race won by Laura Shaughnessy, Cathy McCourt followed on from some excellent results on the local scene. Continuing her return to full fitness, Cathy crossed the line in 39:05 for 10th place.
Full Results: Dunshaughlin 10k 2016 Results
Flagstaff-Carlingford Mountain Race 2016:
On Sunday 19th June 2016, Northern Ireland's mountain runners made the short cross border journey to Carlingford (Ireland) for Round 5 of the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championships.
The annual Flagstaff to Carlingford Mountain Race covers a tough but scenic 11 mile route incorporating 3,000ft of ascent through the Cooley Mountains, finishing in the atmospheric village of Carlingford.
Poor weather conditions played havoc, with athletes struggling with navigation. However, local man Paul McAnespie (Armagh AC) seemed unaffected as he impressed with a well-deserved victory.
The Armagh AC man did have Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) for company during the early part of the race, but with Zak going off-course in poor visibility, Paul went on to win in 1:05:44 (1st place). Acorns AC’s Shane Donnelly followed in 2:04:28 for 2nd place, before in-form Newcastle AC man David Hicks clocked 2:07:08 for 3rd place.
In the ladies race, Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) and Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) were close throughout, with a mere eight seconds splitting them at the final checkpoint. However, on the final section, Diane moved clear to win in 2:09:29 (1st place). Shileen crossed the line in 2:10:57 for 2nd place, while Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners) completed the top three in 2:34:30 (3rd place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Paul McAnespie (Armagh AC) – 1:05:44, 2nd Shane Donnelly (Acorns AC) – 2:04:28, 3rd David Hicks (Newcastle AC) – 2:07:08
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) – 2:09:29, 2nd Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – 2:10:57, 3rd Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners) – 2:34:30
Full Results: Flagstaff-Carlingford Mountain Race 2016 Results
NI & Ulster Senior Track & Field Championships (inc U-18 & U-20 Age Groups) 2016:
On Sunday 19th June 2016, hundreds of athletes descended on a wet and blustery Mary Peters Track in Belfast for the prestigious Northern Ireland & Ulster Senior Track & Field Championships, which also incorporated the Under 18 and Under 20 Age Groups.
Governing body and hosts for the event, Athletics NI, produced the following event review…
Portaferry's Ciara Mageean (coached by Jerry Kiernan) continued her outstanding season with another superb run over 800 metres at yesterday's rain plagued NI & Ulster Athletics Championships at the Mary Peters Track.
The 24 year old Rio bound athlete recorded another PB time of 2:02.84 which is a European qualification mark. It was however the manner of her victory which impressed a drenched but enthusiastic crowd. The UCD woman set out her stall from the gun and raced through 400 metres in 60 secs with only team mate Kelly Nelly (City of Lisburn / Ian Neely) following the hectic pace. At 600 metres Ciara was still on NI record pace but she slowed slightly in the home straight to finish just one second short of the record. A gutsy Neely took second in 2:06.11. Afterwards a delighted Mageean said; "It was tough out there as no one wanted to pace. I wanted to race today to support our local Championships. The 800 is a really good tester for the legs. I will however be racing over 1,500 metres in the Europeans in preparation for Rio. I am having my best season in a long time".
The equivalent Men's race first lap was slower than Ciara's with victory going to Donore's John Travers in 1:56.84. Former world indoors high hurdler Ben Reynolds (North Down AC / Tom Reynolds) battled through a rainstorm to take his 4th title in a time of 14.15secs (-0.5) ahead of Birchfield's Jake Porter (14.31secs). A philosophical Reynolds who is aiming for European qualification this weekend in Dublin said; "I haven't yet gone beyond 3 hurdles in training this season. However my sessions have been going better than ever and I feel I have another NI record in me which is currently 13.48secs. I am really fresh and hope to do well in this weekend's Irish Champs"
Belfast's Adam McMullen (Crusaders AC / Alan Kennedy) who is another European hopeful took an easy long jump victory in 7.50 metres and followed up with a win in the 100 metres in 10.83secs. The 25 year old is currently ranked 16th in Europe in the long jump with his recent PB of 7.84 metres. The Men's 400 metres lived up to expectations despite the withdrawal of former European champion David Gillick who ran 47.50secs in his heat. QUB's Andrew Mellon (Queens / Brendan McConville) took a hard earned victory in an excellent time of 47.88secs. Ireland's Brandon Arrey took silver with 48.34secs with bronze going to Niall Tuohy (49.78secs).
There was a useful double for North Belfast's Caitlin Maguire in the club's first ever sprint victories. The 18 year old was an easy winner of both the 100 metres (12.38secs) and the 200 metres (25.76secs). Lagan Valley's Andrew Monaghan just held off a fighting Conor Duffy of Glaslough to take the win by a quarter of a second in 15:04.09 while NI U-20 record holder John Kelly (Finn Valley / John Kelly Snr) won the senior Shot in 15.86m.
In other news…
Bedford English U-23 Championships and World U-20 trials:
City of Lisburn AC’s Megan Marrs (Tom Reynolds) put herself in the mix for 4x100m Relay selection for British team going to the World Junior Championships in Poland next month. Megan twice bettered the NI Junior Record held by Amy Foster with 11.72secs (1.6) in the heats and 11.78secs (0.6) in the semi-final before finishing 6th in the final. In her 5th race of the weekend, Marrs recorded yet another sub 14 clocking in the 100m Hurdles to finish 5th. European U-23 silver medallist Leon Reid (Birchfield Harriers / James Hillier) successfully defended his 200m title in 21.15secs and will be looking to impress at the British Championships in Birmingham next weekend.
In the big athletics meeting in Nevilles, Belgium, Ireland's top sprinter Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC / Davy Reid) was 2nd in 11.65secs (0.9). Christine McMahon (QUB AC / Ian Neely) recorded a win in the 400m Hurdles in a time of 58.13secs. The Ballymena & Antrim AC athlete was also part of the Ireland 4x400m Relay team who clocked a second European Championships standard this weekend.
Local runners perform well at long distance events outside Northern Ireland:
On Saturday 18th June 2016, runners from Northern Ireland were in action at recognised endurance events outside the province, namely the iconic Bob Graham Ground in England and the World Mountain Running Association Long Distance Mountain Running Championships in Slovenia.
In England, Mourne Runners man William Marks completed the grueling Bob Graham Round, an iconic challenge which requires runners to cover 66 miles, 42 peaks and 27,000ft of ascent. William, running alongside members of Dark Peak Fell Running Club, reached the finish in an excellent 23:16:00.
Further afield, Northern Ireland men Ian Bailey (Newcastle AC) and Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC) represented Ireland at the World Mountain Running Association Long Distance Mountain Running Championships in Slovenia. The course covered 43k in distance and incorporated 2,800m of ascent. Ian led the Ireland team home in 4:24:35 (39th place) with Eoin following in 4:29:30 (43rd place). The race was won by Italy's Alessandro Rambaldini in 3:44:52 (1st place). Full results can be found HERE.
Acorns AC Night of 3,000m Races 2016:
On Friday 17th June 2016, Acorns AC welcomed athletes from across the province to the Meadowbank Sports Arena in Magherafelt (County Derry/Londonderry) for the 2nd annual running of their Night of 3,000m Races.
On the night, there were three separate races, all set in a format that would allow athletes to race alongside competitors of similar ability, therefore improving their chances of achieving new personal bests. Despite the breezy conditions, there were some impressive times posted.
As expected, the fastest time of the night came in the 'sub 10 minute' race (Race 3) – Derry City Track Club's Martin Cox clocked a new event record of 9:04.50 (1st place) for top spot. Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC) continued his return to competition with a good run, crossing the line in 9:14.36 (2nd place), while Derry City Track Club’s Conor Doherty claimed 3rd place in 9:16.36.
The fastest lady of the night was Beechmount Harriers’ Catherine Diver, who ran 10:44.97 in Race 2. In the same race, Ballymena Runners’ Kerry Bamber recorded 10:51.36, which was the second fastest ladies time of the night; Jack McMonagle (City of Derry AC) was the third fastest lady in 11:26.66. In what was an excellent night of competition, a photo-finish had to be used to split Foyle Valley AC’s Oran Gartland and Derry City Track Club’s Chris Millar in Race 2 - Oran eventually getting the nod despite both men finishing in 10:13.07
The opening race of the evening saw Acorns AC pair Andrew Shaw (11:24.66) and Lisa Simpson (12:03.77) reap the rewards for patient races. Both came through well around the half way mark to lead their respective field’s home.
Weekend Preview: NI & Ulster Senior Track & Field Championships and more...
After another busy midweek of action, which saw the continuation of the Novosco 10k Grand Prix, the Pure Running Half Marathon Series and of course Newcastle AC’s Hill & Dale Series, it is now time to once again turn our attention to the weekend and three days of tempting competition.
There are no less than seven fixtures on the official Athletics NI calendar, with the highlights being the popular Acorns AC Night of 3,000m races, Carmen Runners’ Road Relays, the Flagstaff to Carlingford Mountain Race and ultimately Athletics NI’s NI & Ulster Senior Track & Field Championships, which also include the Under 18 and Under 20 Age Group Championships. Local runners will also be in action outside the province, at events in Ireland, England, Slovenia and Belgium.
As part of this weekend preview, we’ll look at the highlighted fixtures above and also give some details in relation to what is going on elsewhere.
Carmen Runners Road Relays:
The weekend action will kick off later tonight (Friday 17th June 2016) in Carrickmore, County Tyrone, where Carmen Runners will host the 2nd annual running of their 4x1 mile road relays. This event attracted extremely positive attention in 2015 and therefore a record crowd is expected to take part in what should be an atmospheric and well-organised race programme.
An impressive 40 plus teams have pre-entered the event, which will raise funds for Carmen Runners and locally based organisation Project Africa Athletics as well as a number of other Northern Ireland charities. Up front the action should be fast and furious with two Derry City Track Club teams entered, having dominated the same event twelve months ago.
Enniskillen Running Club will feature well, as will Sperrin Harriers - so the battle for the main podium places should be interesting in the male and female categories. Lisburn Half Marathon winner Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) looks likely to claim the fastest miler on the night, having ran in the 4:20s at last year’s event, but he may be running on tired legs following his 13.1 mile jaunt 48 hours earlier. The Derry City Track Club contingent may have a thing to say about that with the likes of Matt Doherty likely to start, having come off a fast mile a few weeks back at the our own NiRunning Festival of Miles event in Belfast. Pierce McCullagh will also look to push well under 5 minutes having won the An Creagan 5k this week, and may lead his Sperrin Harriers team onto the podium.
The host club, Carmen Runners, have a number of teams entered, with Ciara Coyle looking to claim the overall fastest ladies miler on the night, which may be enough to have the host club on the winner’s podium in the team category. Clones AC, East Down AC and Mid Ulster AC runners will also feature.
Acorns AC Night of 3,000m Races:
Also tonight, Friday 17th June 2016, another event which attracted rave reviews after its inaugural running will take place in Magherafelt, County Derry/Londonderry. This will of course be the Acorns AC Night of 3,000m Races at Meadowbank Sports Arena. Like our own NiRunning ‘Festival of Miles’, this event is set up to push athletes towards personal bests, with competitors of similar ability competing in the same race.
The programme of events will kick off at 7pm with the 12-14 minute 3,000m athletes taking to the start line. At 7.40pm those athletes hoping to finish between 10-12 minutes will race, with the sub 10 minute competitors finishing off the night.
The host club (Acorns AC) will be well represented, with the likes of Darrell McKee and Bliadhan Glass likely to head their challenge. The aforementioned duo will face tough opposition in the form of City of Derry AC’s Fairhill 5 podium finisher Kyle Doherty and Derry City Track Club men Conan McCaughey, John-Paul Williamson and Matthew Doherty. The ladies race could see in-form Acorns AC star Natalie Hall take to the track.
NI & Ulster Senior Track & Field Championships (inc U-18 & U-20 Age Groups):
On Sunday 19th June 2016, Northern Ireland top local stars will descend on the home of athletics in Northern Ireland, the Mary Peters Track, for the Northern Ireland & Ulster Senior Track & Field Championships, hosted by Athletics Northern Ireland. The event will also incorporate the Under 18 and Under 20 Age Group Championships.
The following event preview is from Athletics NI…
Rio Olympics bound middle distance star Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) will race over 800 metres in. The meeting will also feature hurdler Ben Reynolds (North Down AC) who will have his sights firmly set on qualification for next month's European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam.
Portaferry based Ciara Mageean, who races sparingly, is seeking a fast 800 metres time in preparation for her challenges over 1,500 metres in Brazil this summer. If she succeeds in gaining the services of a pacemaker a NI record may be in the offing as it is only half a second faster than Ciara's personal best time of 2:02.31 set at Upper Malone almost five years ago. The in-form 24 year old will have City of Lisburn AC team mate Kelly Neely and QUB AC’s Katie Kirk as useful opposition.
The meeting is of critical importance to high hurdler Ben Reynolds who has had a frustrating season resulting in Sunday being his first outdoor race of the season. The European qualification mark of 13.90secs should be well within the Holywood man's grasp particularly given his personal best, which was set at this track, is 13.49secs. He will face good competition in the form of Birchfield Harriers’ Jake Porter and Ireland's Gerard O'Donnell.
The race of the day is likely to be the Men's 400 metres where double European Champion David Gillick (Ireland) will be stretched to secure victory. His season's best of 47.24secs is in fact slower than favourite Craig Lynch of Shercock AC who set new figures last weekend of 47.04secs. Added to the mix are QUB AC’s Andrew Mellon (47.48secs) plus Ireland's Chris O'Donnell (48.07secs). North Down AC’s Adam McComb has chosen not to go for a fourth victory in the 400 metres and will instead race over 200 metres. Ballymena & Antrim AC’s Jonathan Browning should take the Men's 100 metres following his recent season's best of 10.72secs. The Women's 100 metres is likely to see a new Champion in the form of Cork's Joan Healy who is ranked third fastest in the Irish list with 11.64secs.
Belfast's Adam McMullan (Crusaders AC) should be able to easily defend his long jump title and will be aiming to improve on his personal best jump of 7.84 metres last month which is close to the difficult European Championships standard of 7.95 metres.
Flagstaff to Carlingford Mountain Race:
On Sunday 19th June 2016, Northern Ireland's mountain runners will congregate in Carlingford (Ireland) for Round 5 of the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championships. The annual Flagstaff to Carlingford Mountain Race covers a tough but scenic 11 mile route incorporating 3,000ft of ascent through the Cooley Mountains, finishing in the atmospheric village of Carlingford.
William McKee (Mourne Runners) has been almost unstoppable this season and considering the fact that he missed last night’s Hill & Dale fixture, he will more than likely be looking for a big performance here. After finishing behind Slovenia bound Ian Bailey (Newcastle AC) at the Slieve Donard Classc three weeks ago, William will be keen to get back to winning ways in the NIMRA Championship – in saying this, the Kilkeel man has had his victory fix with wins at Race 8 and Race 9 of the Hill & Dale Series in-between then and now. Armagh AC star Paul McAnespie, a podium finisher here in 2015, should also return, while Mourne Way Marathon winner Clive Bailey (Mourne Runners) should also take to the start line. Other men to look out for are Chamonix bound duo Richard Bell (Mourne Runners) and Sam Herron (Mourne Runners) and their team mate Dale Mathers (Mourne Runners). Ballymena Runners men Alex Brennan, Connor Reid and Jonathan McCloy may also travel.
In the ladies event, 2014 winner Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) and 2015 winner Shileen O’Kane should both return. The always impressive pair have shown good form so far this season, proving to be regular podium finishers. If both start, Diane should just edge it but Shileen will be high in confidence after a well-deserved win at Race 10 of the Hill & Dale Series last night. Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) may well look to this event as a final test prior to heading to the Mont Blanc events in Chamonix next week, while Newcastle AC’s Paulette Thompson should also feature.
Other events taking place this weekend:
Saturday 18th June 2016:
Tullysaran 10k – Tullysaran Community Centre, County Armagh – 12pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)
Lisnaskea 10k – 131 Main Street, Lisnaskea, County Fermanagh – 12pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)
Loup 10k & 5k – Loup GAC, Loup GAC, County Derry/Londonderry – 11am (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)
Hell ‘4’ Leather 10k & 5k – Loughbeg Road, Toomebridge, County Antrim – 10.30am (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)
Outside Northern Ireland this weekend…
Local track stars will be in action outside Northern Ireland this weekend, with a large representation heading south to Dublin (Ireland) tonight (Friday 17th June 2016) for the GV Ryan Meeting, hosted by the Irish Milers Club (IMC) and Crusaders AC at the Irishtown Stadium. Katie Kirk (QUB AC), Johnny Foster (Annadale Striders), Tim Shiels (Derry City Track Club), Stephen Prentice (Annadale Striders), Michael Dyer (North Down AC), Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), Sean Corry (Omagh Harriers), Paddy Robb (St Malachy’s AC), Craig McMeechan (North Down AC), Jack O’Farrell (Burren AC) and City of Derry AC duo Conor Bradley and Fintan Stewart will be amongst the familiar faces competing.
Further afield, QUB AC and Ballymena & Antrim AC star Christine McMahon will be hoping to replicate the same form that saw her secure an impressive new 400m hurdles personal best of 56.42secs in Geneva last weekend as she competes twice in Belgium over the weekend. The Rio 2016 hopeful will race in the 400mH and 4x400m relay in Nivelles on Saturday (18th June 2016) and then take on the 400mH again on Sunday (19th June 2016) at the Brussels Grand Prix.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland men Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC) and Ian Bailey (Newcastle AC) will be part of a strong Ireland team competing at the World Long-Distance Mountain Running Championships in Slovenia on Saturday 18th June 2016. Eoin and Ian will be joined on the team by Dan Doherty (Scott Running) and Brian McMahon (Clonliffe Harriers). In England, Mourne Runners man William Marks will take on the gruelling Bob Graham Round, starting on Friday 17th June 2016, William and a team from Dark Peak Fell Runners will attempt to cover the iconic 66 mile route, which incorporates 27,000ft of ascent.
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
Hill & Dales Series 2016: Race 10 – The Meels:
On Thursday 16th June 2016, nearly one hundred and fifty athletes descended on Happy Valley in the Mourne Mountains for Race 10 of this year’s Hill & Dale Series, which covered Slieve Meelmore and Slieve Meelbeg. The ‘Meels’ race, which started and finished close to Happy Valley Car Park, saw competitors negotiate 3.5 miles in distance and 1,800ft of ascent.
In the absence of Series star William McKee (Mourne Runners), it was down to one of this season’s top performers, Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC), to take the mantle of pre-race favourite. The up and coming star did just that and having already tasted victory earlier in this year’s Series, the Newcastle AC man led the field home in comfortable fashion, crossing the line in 30:44 (1st place). Just over two minutes later, Mourne Runners’ Timothy Johnston sealed 2nd place in 32:48, a mere four seconds ahead of David Hicks (Newcastle AC), who clocked 32:52 for 3rd place.
In the ladies race, Northern Ireland international Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) looked strong as she completed the challenging route in 39:17; this was enough to see the podium regular take 1st place. Behind, Newcastle AC’s Mari Troeng (2nd place – 40:30) showed no signs of fatigue from a podium spot at the Lisburn 10k 24 hours earlier, when she claimed the runners up spot in what was an exciting finish to the ladies event. Patricia McKibbin (Newcastle AC) completed the top three in 40:52 (3rd place), with East Down AC’s Niamh Kellett following just behind in 41:04 (4th place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) – 30:44, 2nd Timothy Johnston (Mourne Runners) – 32:48, 3rd David Hicks (Newcastle AC) – 32:52
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – 39:17, 2nd Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) – 40:30, 3rd Patricia McKibbin (Newcastle AC) – 40:52
Full Results: Hill & Dales Series 2016 (Race 10 – The Meels) Results
Lisburn Half Marathon & 10k 2016:
On Wednesday 15th June 2016, thousands of athletes and spectators took to the streets of Lisburn for the well-organised annual Lisburn Half Marathon and 10k road races.
The half marathon was part of the Pure Running-ChampionChip Ireland Half Marathon Series, while the 10k race was part of the inaugural Novosco 10k Grand Prix – this obviously attracted more competitors to both races as record numbers took to the start line.
Omagh Harriers’ Stephen Duncan started as favourite in the 13.1 mile race and having claimed the runners up spot here twice, he was keen to make it third time lucky. Despite the efforts of some talented athletes, including the likes of Don Travers (Newry City Runners), Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC), Marc Jennings (North Belfast Harriers) and Danny McLaughlin (Club Unknown) there was no stopping Stephen as he cruised to victory in 1:12:21 (1st place). In the closing stages, in-form Matthew Hewitt and the continually improving Marc Jennings came through well and battled it out for the final two podium spots, with Matthew eventually gaining the edge to take 2nd place in a massive new personal best of 1:16:19. Marc also recorded a personal best of 1:16:20 to claim 3rd place.
In the ladies race, Mourne Runners star Laura Graham looked strong as she dictated proceedings throughout. Just back to full training after successful outings at the London Marathon and Belfast Marathon, the Kilkeel lady once again stole the headlines when she took nearly five minutes off her 2015 time on this course to win in 1:19:51 (1st place). Karen Alexander followed up a win at the Mourne Way Half Marathon over the weekend with another excellent run, taking 2nd place in 1:22:11, while England based Shona Crombie-Hicks (Cheltenham AC) completed the top three in 1:26:34 (3rd place).
Just like the Half Marathon, the 10k race brought a plethora of talent to the start line. As soon as the seemingly endless stream of athletes set off, Daniel Dawson (Dromore AC), Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC), Adam Kirk-Smith (London Heathside AC) and Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers) made their way to the head of the pack.
It was evident that all four would play a prominent part in proceedings and that did indeed prove to be the case, with no one else entering the group. In the end, it was NI & Ulster 5k (Road) medallist Chris Madden who topped the podium, winning in 31:51 (1st place). Adam Kirk-Smith crossed the line in 32:10 (2nd place), before 6.2 mile debutant Daniel Dawson recorded 32:37 for 3rd place.
The ladies 10k wasn't just as close, but still provided spectators with an excellent race to watch – the always impressive Heather Foley (Unattached) bettered her third place finish from last year, with a gun-to-tape win in 37:43 (1st place). Jodi Smith (North Down AC), a second place finisher at the recent Fairhill 5, followed nearly two minutes later in 39:17 (2nd place), while absolutely nothing split Newcastle AC pair Mari Troeng and Sinead Murtagh who finished together; although Sinead’s chip time of 40:52 was one second quicker than Mari’s chip time of 40:53, Mari was awarded 3rd place as she crossed the finish line first.
Podium Places - Half Marathon:
Top 3 Men: 1st Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) – 1:12:21, 2nd Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC) – 1:16:19, 3rd Marc Jennings (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:16:20
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 1:19:51, 2nd Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) – 1:22:11, 3rd Shona Crombie-Hicks (Cheltenham AC) – 1:26:34
Podium Places - 10k Race:
Top 3 Men: 1st Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) – 31:51, 2nd Adam Kirk-Smith (London Heathside AC) – 32:10, 3rd Daniel Dawson (Dromore AC) – 32:37
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Heather Foley (Unattached) – 37:43, 2nd Jodi Smith (North Down AC) - 39:17, 3rd Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) – 40:53
Northern Ireland athletes excel at Convoy 5k:
On Tuesday 14th June 2016, Northern Ireland internationals Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) and Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) excelled as local athletes dominated the podium at the annual Convoy 5k in County Donegal, Ireland.
Almost four hundred athletes took to the start line of the popular event, and in an epic finish, it was Commonwealth Games star Danny Mooney who broke the tape. Danny clocked 15:20 (1st place), to finish a mere one second ahead of club mate Pauric Breslin (Letterkenny AC) ho ran 15:21 (2nd place). Foyle Valley AC's Roy McGilloway crossed the line in 15:46 for 3rd place.
In the ladies race, Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) produced the performance of her life to secure top spot in a new personal best of 16:43 (1st place). Foyle Valley AC's Martina McMullan also ran well to claim the runners up prize in 18:31 (2nd place), before City of Derry AC athlete Jackie McMonagle completed the top three in 19:09 (3rd place).
Full Results: Convoy 5k Road Race 2016 Results
Gladys excels as local ladies secure top ten places in Dublin:
On Sunday 12th June 2016, a large number of runners from Northern Ireland made the cross border journey to Dublin (Ireland) for the annual Irish Runner 5 mile road race, the first event in the Dublin Marathon Race Series.
The performance of the day came from Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games star Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers). Gladys led the ladies field home in an impressive 28:36 (1st place). There were also outstanding runs and top ten places for North Belfast Harriers’ Roisin Hughes and Acorns AC’s Natalie Hall, with Roisin clocking 31:35 for 6th place and Natalie 31:56 for 7th place.
Full Results: Irish Runner 5 mile Road Race 2016 Results
Allan Bogle impresses in Tenerife:
On Saturday 11th June 2016, local international athlete Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) was in action at the tough Tenerife Blue Trail 20k in the Canary Islands. The annual event offers competitors the choice of five different races, from 5k to 97k.
Allan’s 20k event started in Plaza San Agustin and covered some superb mountain-trails with almost 1,300 metres of ascent, and the City of Derry Spartan was the second athlete to make it the finish line in the picturesque town of Puerto de la Cruz. He completed the route in 1:36:57 (2nd place), to finish just over a minute behind winner Antonio Franco (Spain), won ran 1:35:18 (1st place).
Local Ultra runners perform well outside Northern Ireland:
On Saturday 12th June 2016, a number of local Ultra distance athletes from Northern Ireland were in action at major events outside the province, namely the Wicklow Way Ultra in Ireland and the South Downs Way Ultra in England.
In Ireland, BARF’s Martin Mullan took on the Wicklow Way Ultra. Measuring 127k in distance with over 3,000m of ascent, the event is considered as one of the most gruelling in Ireland. Martin performed to his usual high standard, covering the route in 16:30:00 to secure a very credible 11th place. The race was won by Irish international and Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR 2015 finisher Barry Harnett in 13:35:00 (1st place).
Meanwhile, in England, Wioletta Gorman (Unattached) and Fran McFadden (Springwell Running Club) completed the famous South Downs Way 100 mile Ultra, which also incorporated in excess of 4,000m of ascent. The local ladies ran well, with Wioletta finishing in 23:43:31 (12th place lady) and Fran in 25:56:20 (16th place) lady.
Sperrin Harriers Stunnerz in Runnerz 5 mile Road Race 2016:
On Saturday 11th June 2016, well over two hundred ladies descended on the Medowbank Sports Arena for the annual Sperrin Harriers 'Stunnerz in Runnerz' 5 mile road race in Magherafelt, County Derry/Londonderry.
As always, the well organised event attracted a large number of established runners as well as fitness enthusiasts and those out to complete the distance for the first time. Reigning Champion Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) returned to defend her title and despite the fact that she is working her way back to full fitness after an injury setback, the North Belfast Harriers athlete look sharp as she retained her title in 31:03 (1st place). Springwell Running Club’s Gemma McDonald took 2nd place in 31:28, while Lagan Valley AC athlete Suzanne Higgins claimed 3rd place in 32:25.
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) – 31:03, 2nd Gemma McDonald (Springwell Running Club) – 31:28, 3rd Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC) – 32:25
Enniskillen 10k Road Race 2016:
On Saturday 11th June 2016, nearly eight hundred runners took to the start line of the Enniskillen 10k road race in County Fermanagh, an event hosted by the Fermanagh District Council alongside the local Rotary Club at the home of the Enniskillen parkrun at Lake land Forum, Enniskillen.
Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC) took another step up in performances when he added a well-deserved victory to a run of podium places. After a relatively close contest with last year’s runner up Stephen Cassidy (Enniskillen Running Club) and Chris McGuirk (Club Unknown), the Dromore AC man secured top spot in 35:28 (1st place). Stephen Cassidy replicated his 2nd place finish from 2015 in 35:35, while Chris completed the top three in 35:38 (3rd place).
In the ladies race, St Peter’s AC star Patricia O’Hagan looked strong as she cruised to victory. Patricia broke the tape in 40:28 (1st place) to finish just under a minute ahead of last year’s winner Donna Evans (Finn Valley AC) who took 2nd place in 41:18. Enniskillen Running Club’s Tara Malone crossed the line in 41:50 for 3rd place.
Top 3 Men: 1st Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC) – 35:28, 2nd Stephen Cassidy (Enniskillen Running Club) – 35:35, 3rd Chris McGuirk (Club Unknown) – 35:38
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Patricia O’Hagan (St Peter’s AC) – 40:28, 2nd Donna Evans (Finn Valley AC) – 41:18, 3rd Tara Malone (Enniskillen Running Club) – 41:50
Full Results: Enniskillen 10k 2016 Results
Northern Ireland star impresses in Geneva:
On Saturday 11th June 2016, local athlete Christine McMahon (QUB AC - Ballymena & Antrim AC) once again showed her class when securing a personal best and IAAF European Championship 'A' standard in Geneva (Switzerland).
Whilst competing over her favourite 400 metre hurdles at the 'Meeting International De Genève', Christine recorded a new personal best time of 56.42secs to take 2nd place against a top quality opposition. After the race, Christine told us "I'm delighted with today's run - a personal best has been a long time coming!"
This time was a mere 0.22secs off the Rio Olympics qualifying standard for the 400m hurdles, so Christine will look to a competition in France next Saturday (18th June 2016) - there, the British Universities medallist will look to achieve the Rio standard over the 400m hurdles, whilst also representing Ireland in the 4x400m relay. After this, Christine will compete in the AAI Senior Championships.
Active Antrim 5 mile Multi-Terrain Race:
On Friday 10th June 2016, well over one hundred runners descended on the famous Antrim Stadium, at Antrim Forum, for the annual Active Antrim 5 mile race.
After its inception a few years ago, the race has become increasingly popular with competitors, probably because of its flat and fast course, which starts and finishes on the track at Antrim Stadium.
As expected, North Belfast Harriers’ Mark McKinstry, a previous winner of the event, looked a class act as he dominated from start to finish. Mark put in an impressive display of front running to lead the field home in 26:11 (1st place), knocking nearly fifty seconds off his previous winning time on this course two years ago. Behind, his club mate Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers) took 2nd place in 28:03, while Ballymena Runners athlete Richard Agnew continued his recent good form with a podium place. Richard completed the top three in 28:21 (3rd place).
In the ladies race, ever improving podium regular Amy Bulman (Unattached) put in a strong performance to match that of her winning male counterpart. Amy covered the course in 31:52 (1st place) to win by almost two minutes. Lyndsey Tyro (Orangegrove AC), a prize-winner at this event previously, took 2nd place in 33:44, before Sile Brennan (Orangegrove AC) edged out County Antrim Harriers’ Natasha Henderson (4th place – 34:54) to secure 3rd place in 34:48.
Top 3 Men: 1st Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 26:11, 2nd Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers) – 28:03, 3rd Richard Agnew (Ballymena Runners) – 28:21
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Amy Bulman (Unattached) – 31:52, 2nd Lyndsey Tyro (Orangegrove AC) – 33:44, 3rd Sile Brennan (Orangegrove AC) – 34:48
Full Results: Active Antrim 5 mile Multi-Terrain Race 2016 Results
Weekend Preview: A weekend of Road, Mountain, Track and Trail action ahead...
Another weekend is upon us and despite a busy week of fixtures, local athletes will be drawn to a plethora of tempting treats, with no less than seven events listed on the official Athletics NI fixture list. These races cover road, mountain, track and trail, meaning there is something for everyone.
The obvious highlights of the weekend are the Active Antrim 5 mile race, the Mourne Way Marathon events, Stunnerz N’ Runnerz 5 mile road race and the NI & Ulster Age Group Championships.
It’s impossible to cover all seven local fixtures in depth, so we’ll feature the aforementioned events and then note some important details in relation to the remaining fixtures. Familiar faces will also be in action outside the province, with local clubs expected to be represented at Round 1 of the AAI National League in Ireland, and at least two Northern Ireland based runners competing at the Wicklow Way Ultra; meanwhile, one local international will be racing on the stunning trails of Tenerife.
Active Antrim 5 mile Multi-Terrain Race:
The weekend action will kick off tonight, Friday 10th June 2016, when hundreds of athletes and spectators are expected to descend on the famous Antrim Stadium, at Antrim Forum, for the annual Active Antrim 5 mile road race. After its inception a few years ago, this race has become increasingly popular with competitors, probably because of its flat and fast course, which starts and finishes on the track at Antrim Stadium.
North Belfast Harriers’ Mark McKinstry, a previous winner of the event, will start and should certainly be considered as favourite. Mark had to settle for the runners up spot behind the brilliant Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) at the Fairhill 5 last week, but it’s hard to look past the Glenwherry man for top spot here; Mark will smash the 26:50 which saw him win here in 2015. The improving PACE Running Club trio of Oliver Cook, Stephen Nicholson and Aaron Woodman will all feature well up the field, as will City of Derry AC’s Christopher McPeake and Unattached athlete Kevin O’Boyle if they compete. Larne based East Coast AC will be well represented, with Corey Urwin and Kevin Lynch likely to front their challenge for honours.
Fairhill 5 winner Pauline Thom knows Antrim Stadium well as a prominent member of Ballymena & Antrim AC and will hope to replicate the same kind of form that saw her take victory over the same distance in Ballymena last week, when running 30:38. The fast improving podium regular Amy Bulman (Unattached) will also be there or there abouts, while Lyndsey Tyro (Orangegrove AC), Natasha Henderson (County Antrim Harriers) and Connie Hodge (East Coast AC) will all run well.
26extreme Mourne Way Marathon Events:
On Saturday 11th June 2016, local events management company 26extreme will welcome athletes from across the province, and beyond, to the stunning Mourne Mountains for their well-organised Mourne Way Marathon Events. The race programme includes a 52.4 mile Ultra, Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k, all of which take competitors along some of Northern Ireland’s finest trails.
The Ultra event has attracted nearly one hundred entries, with some of Northern Ireland most respected distance athletes set to start. In saying this, the pre-race favourite will be Ireland international Paul Tierney (Ambleside AC), a quality competitor.
Paul was a top ten finisher at the Wicklow Way Ultra back in March (2016), but it was last summer that Paul showed what he is capable of, when he won the famous Lakeland 100 (105 miles with 6,300m of ascent) in 20:42:07. Triathlete Peter Cromie (Unattached) has shown his worth at 26extreme events in the past, winning the Tollymore Trail Ultra in 2014; he will not doubt play a prominent part in proceedings here. Other men to look out for in the Ultra include Paul Nesbitt (Unattached), Ron Peacock (Unattached), Gareth Grew (North Belfast Harriers), Drew Fowler (Ballydrain Harriers) and Thomas Craig (Larne AC).
In the ladies Ultra, the inclusion of BARF’s Joanne Curran on the start line would normally direct us to nominate her as the one to beat – however, as Joanne looks at the bigger picture and an important summer race, the miles and terrain is what she is focused on. In saying this, given her talent, it would be foolish to rule Joanne out of the running. Seapark AC’s ultra-distance specialist Gillian Cordner will also be worth watching.
The men’s marathon will be an excellent race, with four or five top names set to challenge for the top prize. East Coast AC’s Matthew Hewitt has shown excellent forms at the East Antrim Harriers Forest Series, winning two of the three races. Although this is a much longer event, Matty’s recent 2:53:57 marathon jaunt in Newry shows that he has the stamina to cover the distance – also having won the half marathon here previously will stand him in good stead. Martin Rea (North Belfast Harriers) will be come through as the race progresses and has the potential to win, and the same could be said for experienced Mourne Runners man Dale Mathers, who will come to the fore later in the race.
Tim Brownlie (Unattached) will make a return to competition and show perform well, while Dermot Mathers (Newry City Runners), Nicki McPeake (Unattached) and Sean Goodman (Newry City Runners) all have the ability to take a podium place on their day. There may not be any ladies names that jump straight out as possible winners, but the ever consistent trio of Caroline Wade (Newry City Runners), Ciara Foley (Unattached) and Cara Hamilton (North Down AC) could cause a few surprises.
As we go down in distance, the popular of the events increase – the Half Marathon, which starts on the Slievenaman Road, will see well over three hundred runners descend the road towards Spelga Dam and onwards toward the trails which will take them to the finish line in Kilbroney Park. Larne AC men John Neill and Martan Keane will be amongst the front runners on the fast start, but City of Lisburn AC’s Declan Morgan will prefer the more technical section which will follow. All three, alongside the improving Ian Keys (Unattached) should go well.
Meanwhile, in the ladies 13.1 mile race, North Belfast Harriers’ Helen Weir, Orangegrove AC’s Sarah Steer and Unattached athlete Lorna Fitzpatrick, look like the main contenders, but it will be interesting to see how Larne AC’s podium regular Kirsty Sharratt get on in her first race of this kind. Experienced Northern Ireland international Anne Sandford (Lagan Valley AC) and Attracta Magennis (Newry City Runners) will also start. In the 10k race, North Down AC’s Ben Caughers and Ballymena Runners’ Matthew Morrow should feature, while Murlough AC’s Niamh O’Connell and Larne AC’s Julieane Keane will perform well in the ladies race.
NI & Ulster Age Group Track & Field Championships:
Also on Saturday 11th June 2016, hundreds of Northern Ireland’s up and coming athletes will turn out for the NI & Ulster Age Group Track & Field Championships, which will be hosted by Athletics NI at the brilliant Mary Peters Track in Belfast. The event will incorporate age groups Under 14, Under 15, Under 16 and Under 17, with the race programme kicking off at 10am.
There will be a plethora of talent on show, with Enya Haigney (Omagh Harriers), Odhran Hamilton (3 Ways AC), Caleb Moore (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Tony Craig (Lagan Valley AC), Adam Neilly (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Jack Moore (Omagh Harriers) and City of Lisburn AC athletes Grace Hillman, Katie Monteith and Hannah Cochrane amongst those who will be hoping to pick up medals.
Sperrin Harriers Stunnerz N’ Runnerz 5 mile Road Race:
In County Derry/Londonderry on Saturday 11th June 2016, Sperrin Harriers will host the 5th annual running of their ‘ladies only’ Stunnerz N’ Runnerz 5 mile road race in Magherafelt. The race will start close to the Meadowbank Sports and finish within the confines of the Complex, on its impressive running track.
Springwell Running Club’s Gemma McDonald (nee Turley) should go well - Gemma took fourth place at the recent Mayfair 10k road race, where she clocked 40:38; that kind of pace will ensure at least a podium place. North Belfast Harriers’ Cathy McCourt could continue her return to fitness here and should pick up a prize if she does. However, both of the aforementioned ladies will have to be at their best, with an array of quality competitors waiting in the wings for any slip up.
Lagan Valley AC’s Suzanne Higgins, Springwell Running Club’s Karen McLaughlin and PACE Running Club’s Nicola Swinson will be pushing the pace, while the host club’s Emma Rice (Sperrin Harriers), Ciara Coyle (Carmen Runners), Irene Clements (Enniskillen Running Club), Catherine Pinkerton (Springwell Running Club) and Gillian Logan (Orangegrove AC) will all have hopes of a highly placed finish.
Other events taking place this weekend:
Saturday 11th June 2016:
Enniskillen 10k – Lakeland Forum, Enniskillen – 2pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)
Pick & Mix Pairs 10k & 5k – Knockevin Special School, Downpatrick – 11am (Entries AVAILABLE on day)
Sunday 12th June 2016:
Mark Annett Memorial 10k – Greenbank Industrial Estate, Warrenpoint – 11am (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)
Swatragh Davitts 10k – Davitts GAC, Belfast – 12pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)
Outside the province…
As always, familiar faces will be in action outside Northern Ireland. Tonight (Friday 10th June 2016), at least two Northern Ireland based athletes will take on the entire Wicklow Way as the Irish Mountain Running Association (IMRA) host their annual Wicklow Way Ultra. BARF duo Martin Mullan and Jackie Toal will be part of a 56 strong group of athletes hoping to complete the gruelling challenge. Live tracking for the event is available HERE.
Local international athlete Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) will take on the Tenerife Blue Trail 20k in the Canary Islands on Saturday 11th June 2016. The annual event offers competitors the choice of five different races, from 5k to 97k. Allan’s 20k event starts in Plaza San Agustin and covers some superb mountain-trails with almost 1,300 metres of ascent and finishes in the picturesque town of Puerto de la Cruz. On Sunday 12th June 2017, local clubs will be represented at the AAI National League Track & Field Meeting. This weekend will bring Round 1 of the popular annual Series, which in the past has attracted the likes of North Down AC and Lagan Valley AC, amongst others.
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.
Hill & Dale Series 2016: Race 9 – Hen & Cock Mountains:
On Thursday 9th June 2016, nearly two hundred athletes took on Race 9 of this year’s Hill & Dale Series, which covered Hen & Cock Mountains. The race, which started and finished at the bottom of Hen Mountain, saw competitors negotiate 3.5 miles in distance and 1,600ft of ascent.
Just like last week and as he has done throughout the Series so far, William McKee (Mourne Runners) showed his class. Despite the efforts of young Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) and his club mate David Hicks (Newcastle AC), William secured victory in 28:15 (1st place). After taking the runners up spot at the Dromara 5k earlier this week, Zak enjoyed another 2nd place finish in 28:29, while David ensured that the podium for this week’s race was exactly the same as Race 8, when he crossed the line in 28:59 (3rd place).
In the ladies race, the always impressive Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) again led from start to finish, cruising home in 33:04 (1st place). Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) crossed the line in 33:54 for 2nd place, before fellow Northern Ireland international Mari Troeng clocked 38:17 for 3rd place.
Top 3 Men: 1st William McKee (Mourne Runners) – 28:15, 2nd Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) – 28:29, 3rd David Hicks (Newcastle AC) – 28:59
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) – 33:04, 2nd Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – 35:54, 3rd Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) – 38:17
Full Results: Hill & Dale Series 2016 (Race 9 – Hen & Cock) Results
East Antrim Harriers Forest Trail Series 2016 (Race 3 – Ballyboley):
On Tuesday 7th June 2016, nearly two hundred runners descended on Ballyboley Forest close to Larne for Race 3 of this year’s East Antrim Harriers Forest Trail Series. In bright sunny conditions, the athletes negotiated a 4.1 mile route
In men’s event, Race 1 winner Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC) started well and by the half way mark had approximately twenty seconds on North Belfast Harriers’ Paul Horan, who in turn, was well clear of the chasing trio of Paul Curley (North Belfast Harriers), John Neill (Larne AC) and Matthew Morrow (Ballymena Runners). There was no stopping Matthew as he opened the gap further in the second half, eventually cruising to victory in 22:53 (1st place). Paul Horan followed in 24:01 (2nd place), while Paul Curley edged out John Neill and Matthew Morrow to seal 3rd place in 24:16.
Kerry Bamber (Ballymena Runners) continued her dominance of the ladies category with a third victory from three races. However, the NiRunning Mile podium finisher did not have it her own way. At half way, Kerry was in third place, but came through well to break the tape in 26:54 (1st place). Larne AC’s Patricia Blair crossed the line in 27:00 for 2nd place, before Claire Donnelly (Unattached) completed the top three in 27:06 (3rd place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC) – 22:53, 2nd Paul Horan (North Belfast Harriers) – 24:01, 3rd Paul Curley (North Belfast Harriers) – 24:16
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Kerry Bamber (Ballymena Runners) – 26:54, 2nd Patricia Blair (Larne AC) – 27:00, 3rd Claire Donnelly (Unattached) – 27:06
Elsewhere, on Wednesday 8th June 2016, almost one hundred runners turned out for the inaugural Dromara Festival 5k road race, with a further sixty taking part in the 2k run. At the sharp end of the main event, Dromore AC’s Daniel Dawson excelled, winning in 16:02 (1st place). Susan Smyth (Dromore AC) led the ladies home in 20:37 (1st place).
Full Results: Dromara 5k Road Race 2016 Results
VHI Women’s Mini Marathon (10k) 2016:
On Monday 6th June 2016, Northern Ireland based athlete Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC) again showed top form as she sealed a podium place at the well-supported VHI Women’s Mini Marathon (10k) race in Dublin, Ireland.
Up against a field estimated to be around thirty five thousand, the local athlete battled it out at the front with Tipperary lady Siobhan O’Doherty. The pair were embroiled in an excellent dual, with nothing separating them at the halfway point. In the end, there was just three seconds in it, with Siobhan winning in 34:30 (1st place) and Natasha crossing the line in 34:33 (2nd place). Sarah Mulligan of host club Dundrum South Dublin AC took 3rd place in 35:28, followed by Orla Drumm of Crusaders and last year’s winner Maria McCambridge of Dundrum South Dublin and formerly of Letterkenny Athletic Club.
Thousands turn out for SSE Walled City Marathon 2016:
On Sunday 5th June 2016, thousands of athletes brought the City of Derry/Londonderry to a standstill as they took to the Maiden City's streets for the 4th annual running of the well organised SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon; the event has proved exceptionally popular after its successful debut during the UK City of Culture programme 2013.
Although marathon running is not new to the City, given the fact that there used to be a 26.2 mile race there in years gone by, this newly adapted course, and the event in general, appears to be catching the imagination of not only the locals but also the wider running community – this year, it attracted athletes from fourteen different countries.
There was much talk of the Kenyan contingent who would toe the line and in many respects, it was the African athletes who impressed most; however, local talent did shine through. After the late withdrawal of course record holder Freddy Sittuk because of Visa issues, it was down to his fellow countrymen Eric Koech and Dan Tanui, both from the Project Africa Athletics camp, to take charge.
The impressive duo did just that and nothing separated them until the atmospheric finishing straight, when Eric’s late surge ensured that like Belfast City Marathon, he crossed the line just seconds ahead of friend and training partner Dan. Eric recorded 2:23:47 (1st place) to finish just over a minute outside Freddy’s course record of 2:22:34 (2015), while Dan followed just three seconds later in 2:23:50 (2nd place). Rosses AC man Ciaran McGonagle completed the top three in 2:41:24 (3rd place).
In the ladies race, pre-race favourite Pauline Curley (Tullamore Harriers) lived up to expectation within an outstanding performance to claim top honours. Despite the warm conditions, the respected long distance runner led from the off and eventually cruised to victory in an excellent 2:47:20 (1st place); interestingly, this was five seconds quicker than Pauline’s previous course record on 2:47:25 (2015). England based runner and regular competitor in Northern Ireland, Hannah Oldroyd (Saltaire Striders), took the runners up prize in 2:56:14 (2nd place), before favourite Claire McGuigan (Lifford-Strabane AC) secured 3rd place in 3:07:13.
Top 3 Men: 1st Eric Koech (Project Africa) - 2:23:47, 2nd Dan Tanui (Project Africa) - 2:23:50, 3rd Ciaran McGonagle (Rosses AC) - 2:41:24
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Pauline Curley (Tullamore Harriers) - 2:47:20, 2nd Hannah Oldroyd (Saltaire Striders) - 2:56:14, 3rd Claire McGuigan (Lifford-Strabane AC) - 3:07:13
Full Results: SSE Walled City Marathon 2016 Results. Photos above by MyRunResults.
NiRunning - BMC Festival of Miles 2016:
On Friday 4th June 2016, close to one hundred and fifty competitors descended on the sun soaked home of athletics in Northern Ireland, the Mary Peters Track, for the 4th annual 'NiRunning Mile' event, which once again was endorsed by the highly respected British Milers Club (BMC).
Although the sub four minute barrier was not broken on this occasion, the gathered spectators were treated to an exciting night of racing, which culminated in a new ladies event record for Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) and current men’s record holder Mark Hoy (Finn Valley AC) coming within one second of his own 2014 record.
The evening kicked off with several junior ‘fun mile’ races coordinated by Allstars NI Sports Academy, before the more competitive athletes took to the start-line, but it wasn’t until the penultimate race of the night that the previous records came under threat.
Mark Hoy showed that he is getting back to full fitness following a period of injury, when he broke clear in the final lap to secure 1st place in the Elite A race and the fastest time of the night in 4:19.57; interestingly, Mark’s event record stands at 4:19.03 (2014). In an incredibly close battle, Stephen Prentice (Annadale Striders) claimed 2nd place in 4:22.10, a mere 0.03 of a second ahead of Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) who followed in 4:22.13 for 3rd place.
The quickest lady of the night was Northern Ireland international Rachel Gibson (North Down AC). Rachel held the NiRunning Mile event record between 2014 and 2015, before Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC) recorded 4:58.93 in 2015. However, Rachel claimed back the honours with a 4:56.60 finish in the Elite B race, which was the fastest ladies time of the night, and a new event record!
The improving Maeve Lavery (City of Lisburn AC) crossed the line in 5:16.10 in the same race, which saw her take 2nd place in the ladies overall standings. Kerry Bamber (Ballymena Runners) celebrated a new personal best and Ballymena Runners club record of 5:24.45 in race 6A which was enough to see her finish as 3rd place lady in the final standings.
The competitive races kicked off with an excellent showing from 9 year old East Coast AC athlete Rhys McManus, who led Race 1 (Under 10 years old) home in 5:53.03. Fellow East Coast AC athlete, 7 year old Hannah O’Toole, covered the 1,609 metres in 6:38.94.
In the Under 12 event (Race 2), there was an excellent dual between City of Lisburn AC’s Jack McCausland and East Coast AC’s Charlie Patterson. The pair were inseparable until the final lap when Jack surged clear to win in 5:40.36. North Down AC’s Hollie Massey was just as dominant in the Under 12 girls race, crossing the line in 6:33.41.
Unattached athletes Michael Houston (6:34.92) and Suzanne Simpson (7:20.81) led the way in Race 3 (10+ mins, 9-10 mins and 8-9 mins), while Stephen Wills (Unattached) won Race 4 (7-8 mins) in 6:24.90 – Heather Stanex was the leading lady in 6:58.42. Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers) wn Race 5 (6-7 mins) in 5:22.81 but it was young Derry City Track Club athlete Lily Toorish who stole the show, after running 5:40.25.
Next up was by far the most popular ‘predicted time’ races of the night, the 5-6 mins Miles. In total there were three races under this time slot, and it was Darren Hamilton (North Down AC) who clocked the quickest out of the thee, running 5:00.18 in Race 6C. As previously mention Kerry Bamber’s 5:24.45 in the same race was enough to see the Ballymena Runners athlete took 3rd place on the night.
Overall Podium Places:
Top 3 Men: 1st Mark Hoy (Finn Valley AC) – 4:19.57, 2nd Stephen Prentice (Annadale Striders) – 4:22.10, 3rd Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) – 4:22.13
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) – 4:56.60, 2nd Maeve Lavery (City of Lisburn AC) – 5:16.10, 3rd Kerry Bamber (Ballymena Runners) – 5:24.45
Full Results: NiRunning - BMC Mile 2016 Results (Photos from the NiRunning Mile will be added to our Photo Gallery as soon as possible).
Note – We (NiRunning) would like to say THANK YOU to everyone who supported our event; we would also like to extend a special thank you to all the volunteers and officials who made the event possible. Your continued support is very much appreciated.
Weekend Preview: Thousands set for annual SSE Walled City Marathon…
As much of the country gears up for the return of the Grand Fondo cycling bonanza, it will be business as usual for the running fraternity within Northern Ireland. Albeit a quieter weekend on paper than the last few weeks, the coming days throw up some excellent events, with the highlights being our very own annual NiRunning ‘Festival of Miles’ (in association with BMC) and the brilliant Walled City Marathon.
NiRunning ‘Festival of Miles’ in association with BMC:
The weekend action will kick off tonight (Friday 3rd June 2016) when we (NiRunning) host the fourth annual running of our NiRunning Mile, now better known as ‘the Festival of Miles’ in association with highly respected British Milers Club (BMC).
As with the previous two years, the Festival of Miles will take place at the home of athletics in Northern Ireland, the Mary Peters Track in Belfast. The race timetable will kick off at 6.30pm with two FREE un-timed Fun Mile races for children under 8 years of age – we see this as an excellent opportunity for children to experience the track without the pressure of competition (ie timing). These races will be co-ordinated by our friends at Allstars Sports Academy.
Then at 7pm, the official race programme will kick off. The FULL timetable is available below, and for additional information please visit our website HERE.
Registration opens at 6pm:
6.30pm: Under 6 Years 'Fun Mile' (no times recorded)
6.45pm: Under 8 Years 'Fun Mile' (no times recorded)
7pm: Junior Under 10 Years Mile
7.15pm: Junior Under 12 Years Mile
7.30pm: 10 minute plus Mile
7.45pm: 9-10 minute Mile
8pm: 8-9 minute Mile
8.15pm: 7-8 minute Mile
8.30pm: 6-7 minute Mile
8.45pm: 5-6 minute Mile
9pm: Elite Men's and Women’s Mile
Entries are available on the night from 6pm and cost £3 per entry. Registration for each race closes STRICTLY 15 minutes before it’s start time, or sooner if allocated spaces are filled. There will be a maximum of 30 spaces (over 2 races) for each Mile.
At the sharp end, athletes will be gunning for the event records which are held by Finn Valley AC’s Mark Hoy and City of Lisburn AC’s Kelly Neely. In 2014, Mark clocked 4:19.03, while last year, World and European Masters 800m Champion Kelly covered the classic distance in 4:58.93.
Tatts 5 mile & 5k Road Race:
Also tonight (Friday 3rd June 2016), Tattyreagh GAC will welcome hundreds of athletes to their Tatts 5 mile road race and associated 5k race just outside Omagh. The event has become one of the most popular events in the County Tyrone area and with over 400 participates expected, it is certainly stamping it’s authority on the local running scene.
A picturesque, scenic route and warm hospitality will welcome athletes and at the front of the pack, local hero Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) is likely to lead the way. The Northern Ireland XC international may face competition from club mate Chris McGuigan (Omagh Harriers) and Sperrin Harriers Pierce McCullagh, amongst others, but should secure a comfortable win. In the ladies race, Omagh Harriers duo Michelle Sturm and Julie Butler should contest the top prize.
SSE Walled City Marathon:
On Sunday 3rd June 2016, over 1500 athletes will take to the streets of Northern Ireland maiden city, Derry/Londonderry for the annual SSE Walled City Marathon.
The gruelling 26.2 mile distance will not be the only thing the capacity field will have to beat to reach the atmospheric finish area – with temperatures set to reach over 20oc around midday, the heat and humidity, even with a 8.30am start time, adds an extra degree of difficulty.
Race Director Noel McMonagle flagged up the concerns yesterday and confirmed that extra Water Stations will be on the course, bringing the total to nine and added "we would also encourage the spectators along the course to consider setting up Hose points where possible and perhaps have drinks, oranges and sweets on hand for the runners as they pass."
He also confirmed that the usual two Gel stations will be in place along the course and paid tribute to the involvement of the spectators during previous races, a feature much commented upon by runners since the inception of the event in 2013. "People have enthusiastically embraced our event from 2013 and come out in huge numbers to support the runners all along the route " he said and continued, " I have no doubt that will be the case again on Sunday and I would specifically ask that residents in the Bay Road Park area come out and boost the runners at this tough stage, around 23 miles into the race, when spirits could be flagging." There was also a word of advice to runners, "Hats, Sunblock and lots of fluids, all highly recommended, drink early and often!"
As the City prepares to welcome runners from fourteen different countries, nearly one thousand from Northern Ireland, close to five hundred from the Republic of Ireland, and the balance from England, Scotland, Wales, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Kenya, South Africa, Indonesia and the Phillipines, the up-front action is eagerly anticipated.
The 2014 and 2015 men's Champion Freddy Sittuk arrives from Kenya later today and will face a big challenge from his Omagh based countrymen Dan Tanui (Project Africa Athletics) and Eric Koegh (Project Africa Athletics), who have been racing frequently North and South in recent months. The fourth Kenyan entry Elvis Bommett has been unable to get a travel Visa and will not be in the line-up come Sunday.
Freddy ran a very impressive 2:22:34 last year, excellent running on the testing course in and around the Banks of the Foyle but will have his hands full with Eric Koech, who had an outstanding run to finish as runner up at the Belfast City Marathon in in 2:18:43 - Dan Tanui followed in third place, clocking 2:18:46.
It has to be said though, Dan has had the better of the battles since the May Day encounter, going under thirty minutes for 10k and producing a superb 13:57 course record at the Buncrana 5k last week, breaking Freddy's previous record of 14:18. The question is, has Eric Koech been saving himself in the recent races as Dan has blasted away at the front?
Looking at the local talent, Foyle Valley AC’s Chris McGuinness is considered by many as the man to lead the familiar faces home. Although City of Derry AC men Mark Mullan, James Crampsey and Benny Mullan are consistent performers and therefore worth watching in terms of good times and high placings.
Reigning Champion Pauline Curley won in 2:47:29 twelve months ago and the Tullamore Harriers athlete and a former Irish Olympic marathon runner will more than likely head the field once again. Her namesake Anne Curley from Dublin took the top prize in 2014 with 2:57:51 and with Yorkshire based Hanna Oldroyd, a 2:50:07 performer of the marathon distance and no stranger to competing on this side of the Channel, will front the chasers on Sunday.
Although Hannah’s personal best is slower than Pauline Curley’s winning time from 2014, her potential would suggest she could do better. The question is, will she (Hannah) race in the days coming up to WCM as she done on previous weekends in NI? There is absolutely no doubt that if Hannah is fresh, she will play a major part in proceedings!
North West based athlete Sandra McKeever, a recent impressive winner at the Inishowen Half Marathon, is in good form and could go well. Lifford-Strabane AC’s Claire McGuigan has a good pedigree and is reported to be shooting for a time close to the infamous three hour mark, if that pans out she will be close enough to perhaps worry one or more of the expected pace setters.
There will be personal battles fought right through the field and of course, like any major 26.2 mile event, stories will unfold as regular marathon participants and novices all strive to impress their fellow runners and the cheering crowds. Why not get out there on Sunday morning and be a part of it!? The action kicks off at 8.30am at the Everglades Hotel with the leading runners due at the Guildhall Square finish around 10.50am.
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.
Hill & Dales Series 2016: Race 8 - Millstone:
On Thursday 2nd June 2016, nearly two hundred athletes descended on Donard Park for Race 8 of this year’s Hill & Dale Series, Millstone. The race saw competitors cover 4 miles in distance and 1,500ft of ascent and took the field through the trails of Donard Forest onto the final rocky ascent to Millstone Mountain. After hitting the summit, the athletes then made their way back through the forest to the finish in Donard Park.
As he has done throughout the Series, William McKee (Mourne Runners) played a major part in proceedings from start to finish. Although, the Kilkeel man did not have it all his own way, with young Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) putting in yet another impressive display to make William work for his victory. After an excellent battle, William took 1st place in 38:28, with Zak following just eight seconds later in 38:36 (2nd place). In a closely contested encounter for the final podium place, David Hicks (Newcastle AC) just edged out fast finishing club mate Barry McConville (Newcastle AC) to cross the line in 40:22 (2nd place); Barry recorded 40:29 for 4th place.
In the ladies race, Northern Ireland international and winner of the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR and Ben Nevis in 2015, Diane Wilson (Dromore AC), led from start to finish to seal a comfortable win in 45:07 (1st place). Moire O’Sullivan (Unattached) continued her good run of form to take 2nd place in 47:21, just ten seconds ahead of Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC), who completed the top three in 47:31 (3rd place).
Top 3 Men: 1st William McKee (Mourne Runners) – 38:28, 2nd Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) – 38:36, 3rd David Hicks (Newcastle AC) – 40:22
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) – 45:07, 2nd Moire O’Sullivan (Unattached) – 47:21, 3rd Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – 47:31
Full Results: Hill & Dales Series 2016 (Race 8 – Millstone) Results
Fairhill 5 mile Road Race 2016:
On Wednesday 1st June 2016, nearly four hundred competitors took to the start line of the annual Fairhill 5 mile road race in Ballymena, a well-organised event hosted by Ballymena Runners.
In warm sunny conditions the field set off on a reasonably flat and fast two lap route, starting and finishing in the Town Centre.
As the athletes made their way through half way, it was Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) and 2015 runner up Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) who led the way, well ahead of a chasing trio, which included Acorns AC’s Darrell McKee and City of Derry AC duo Kyle Doherty and Emmet McGinty.
In the ladies race, the in-form Jodi Smith (North Down AC) led the way, but local lady Pauline Thom (Ballymena & Antrim AC) was hot on her heals. Behind, Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) had the slightest of leads on Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers), with North Belfast Harriers’ Claire Donnelly further back.
As the race moved into the second lap, there was no stopping Scott Rankin and he relentlessly covered the final miles. The Foyle Valley AC man, who was recently crowned NI & Ulster 10,000m Champion, powered down the finishing straight to break the tape in 25:01 (1st place). The always impressive Mark McKinstry replicated his finishing position from 2015, taking 2nd place in 25:34; this was nearly thirty seconds quicker than Mark’s finishing time twelve months ago! In a closely contested finish, Kyle Doherty just saw off club Emmet McGinty (4th place – 26:51) and Darrell McKee (5th place – 26:51) to secure 3rd place in 26:50.
In the ladies race, there were major changes in the second half, with an inspired Pauline Thom coming through to claim top honours in 30:38 (1st place). Jodi Smith clocked 31:01 for 2nd place, while arguably the performance of the night came from Claire Donnelly, who battled hard to pass respected international athletes Cathy McCourt and Denise Logue to take 3rd place in 31:52.
In the associated 2.5 mile race, there were some glittering performances from some up and coming stars. Luke Kelly (North Belfast Harriers) led the field home in 1st place, while young Sophie McCluney (Club Unknown) took 1st place in the ladies race.
Top 3 Men: 1st Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 25:01, 2nd Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 25:34, 3rd Kyle Doherty (City of Derry AC) – 26:50
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Pauline Thom (Ballymena & Antrim AC) – 30:38, 2nd Jodi Smith (North Down AC) – 31:01, 3rd Claire Donnelly (North Belfast Harriers) – 31:52
Full Results: Fairhill 5 mile Road Race 2016 Results