European Mountain Running Championships:
Newcastle AC's Seamus Lynch confirmed his place on the Irish team for the European Mountain Running Championships in Italy (2nd July 2016) with a runners up spot at the IMRA Euro Trial Race in Crone Wood, Wicklow on Saturday 28th May 2016. Seamus covered the 10.5k course, which included 648m of ascent, in 46:05; Brian McMahon (Clonliffe Harriers took 1st place in 45:30. North Belfast Harriers' Andrew Annett could potentially still be selected after finishing in 6th place after running 48:28.
World Long-Distance Mountain Running Championships:
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland men Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC) and Ian Bailey (Newcastle AC) have been named in a strong Ireland team for the World Long-Distance Mountain Running Championships in Slovenia on 18th June 2016. Eoin and Ian will be joined on the team by Dan Doherty (Scott Running) and Brian McMahon (Clonliffe Harriers).
Newry City Marathon/Half Marathon/10k 2016:
On Sunday 29th May 2016, thousands of athletes and spectators took to the streets of Newry for the annual Newry City Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k road races. The Half Marathon event was also the fourth race of the ongoing Pure Running-ChampionChip Ireland Half Marathon Series 2016 (half way times in the 26.2 mile event could also be considered in the ongoing Series).
Extremely hot conditions and a tough course met competitors, but although this obviously had a significant impact on times posted, there were still a number of notable performances. None more so than that of local hero Don Travers (Newry City Runners) – Don, the reigning Champion always looked like he was in control – despite having company in the form of Christopher Devine (Club Unknown) through half way, Don showed his class in the second half to win in 2:44:22 (1st place). Chris held on to take 2nd place in 2:48:21, before Colum Gaile (Club Unknown) complete the top three in 2:51:18 (3rd place).
In the ladies 26.2 mile race, the ever consistent Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) continued what has been an excellent year, when she sealed top spot in 3:18:57 (1st place). Orla French (Club Unknown) completed the course in 3:33:54 for 2nd place, while Caroline Kelly (Club Unknown), who had initially been a head of Orla, took 3rd place in 3:35:01.
Arguably the most impressive performance of the day came in the half marathon, where North Belfast Harriers athlete Eamon White dominated proceedings from start to finish. In a race where North Belfast Harriers stole the headlines with three of their men taking to the podium, Eamon led the way in 1:13:15 (1st place). The improving Marc Jennings took 2nd place in 1:1706, while Andrew Considine continued his return to fitness with a 1:20:11 finish for 3rd place.
The outstanding Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) again impressed with another win in the ladies half marathon. Following on from her memorable runners up spot at the Belfast City Marathon earlier this month, Laura claimed victory in 1:21:06 (1st place); this not only saw Laura win the ladies race, but was enough to secure 4th place overall in a time that was six minutes faster than she ran at this event in 2015.
Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) crossed the line in 1:23:24 for 2nd place, while Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) followed on from her win at the Runher 10k with another podium place – Judith clocked 1:27:21 for 3rd place.
In a closely contested 10k race, only three seconds split the top two. Malachy McAteer (Club Unknown) broke the tape in 37:42 (1st place), just seeing off Peter McConville (Club Unknown), who crossed the line in 37:45 for 2nd place. Tom Monks (Club Unknown) sealed 3rd place in 38:26.
In the ladies race, Tara Kennedy (Club Unknown) cruised to victory in 39:28 (1st place), while in-form Unattached athlete Amy Bulman (40:13) and Murlough AC’s Niamh O’Connell (42:43) took 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.
Provisional Results: Newry City Marathon/Half Marathon/10k 2016 Results
Local athletes impress on the track:
This weekend (Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th May 2016), athletes from Northern Ireland have been in impressive form at track events in Ireland, England and Belgium.
Most notably was an excellent victory for Ciara Mageean at the IFAM track and field meeting in Oordegem, Belgium. Ciara secured top spot over 1500m, running 4:08.05 (1st place), which is just two seconds outside her personal best for the distance. That left the Portaferry woman ahead of Sweden's Sarah Lahti (2nd place - 4:08.91) and Norwegian Karoline Grovdal (3rd place - 4:09.03).
Meanwhile in England, there was local representation at the latest British Milers Club (BMC) Grand Prix in Watford. New Annadale Striders recruit Callum Crawford-Walker (1:52.98) was less than a second away from his 800m personal best when he took 2nd place in the 800 ‘D’ race won by City of Norwich AC’s Paul Goodall (1st place – 1:52.19). Conall Kirk (Lagan Valley AC) ran well and clocked a season’s best of 1:53.29 for 1st place in the 800m ‘H’ race.
City of Lisburn AC’s Erin McIlveen and QUB AC’s Katie Kirk lined up in the ladies 800m ‘B’ event, with Erin taking 2nd place in 2:06.12 and Katie 6th place in 2:08.03. The race was won by Loughborough University’s Bobby Clay in 2:05.15 (1st place). Other performances of note were personal bests for Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers), Fintan Stewart (City of Derry AC), Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) – Andrew ran 3:47.68 for 1500m, Fintan clocked 3:54.51 for 1500m and Chris recorded 14:48.59 for 5,000m; this saw Chris take 3rd place.
In Ireland, there were a number of quality performances by familiar faces at the AAI Games. In the 110m hurdles, North Down AC’s Tom Reynolds clocked 15.20secs to finish behind winner Alex Clarkin (Donore Harriers) who ran 14.18secs (1st place). City of Lisburn AC star Megan Marrs was in competition over the 100m and the 100m hurdles – first up was the 100m hurdles, where she broke the beam in 13.90secs for 2nd place. The race was won by St Laurence O’Toole AC’s Molly Scott in 13.78secs (1st place). Megan then bettered her finishing position when she raced over 100m flat, running 11.72secs for 1st place.
Ballymena & Antrim AC’s Jonathan Browning again showed his talent over 100m. The QUB student covered the distance in an excellent 10.65secs, which secured 1st place. There was further success for local athletes in the 1500m, with Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) winning the ladies race in 4:36.30 (1st place) and Paddy Robb (St Malachy’s AC) taking 3rd place in the men’s event in 3:57.60; the race was won by Willam Crowe (South Sligo AC) in 3:52.73 (1st place).
Slieve Donard Mountain Race (Hill & Dale Series - Race 7):
On Saturday 28th May 2016, Newcastle AC welcomed over two hundred athletes to Race 7 of their ongoing Hill & Dale Series in Newcastle, County Down. The 'Slieve Donard Classic' mountain race measured approximately 5.5 miles in distance and took competitors from Newcastle Main Street to the top of Northern Ireland’s highest mountain (Slieve Donard), which stands at 850 metres.
Aside from the start and finish along the Main Street (via Donard Park), competitors were free to choose their own way to the summit and back, with some opting for the Black Stairs and others, the more runnable Glen River Path.
It was reigning Champion Ian Bailey (Newcastle AC) who stole the headlines. The Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR winner showed his class to see off the in-form pairing of William McKee (Mourne Runners) and Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC). Ian reached the summit in an incredible 36:06 and was followed by Zak (37:04) and William (38:38) respectively. In the ladies race, Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) led the way to the top in 46:19 – behind, Lagan Valley AC’s Shileen O’Kane (48:09), Unattached athlete Becky Quinn (51:09) and Newcastle AC’s Mari Troeng (51:45) were in pursuit.
As the competitors turned and descended towards the finish, there was no stopping the fearless Ian Bailey as he sped downhill, through the forest and onto Main Street to huge applause from the gathered spectators. He covered the final metres quickly to cross the line in a new course record of 53:40 (1st place). William Mc Kee descended well and caught young Zak Hanna to take 2nd place in 56:29, while Zak claimed a well-deserved 3rd place in 57:19.
Like her victorious male counterpart, Diane Wilson made short work of the challenging descent and sealed an impressive victory, crossing the line in 1:06:53 (1st place); interestingly, this was almost three minutes quicker than Diane’s winning time in 2015. Shileen O’Kane claimed the runners up spot in 1:12:06 (2nd place), while Mari Troeng’s strong descent saw her take 3rd place in 1:15:04.
Top 3 Men: 1st Ian Bailey (Newcastle AC) – 53:40, 2nd William McKee (Mourne Runners) – 56:29, 3rd Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) – 57:19
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) – 1:06:53, 2nd Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – 1:12:06, 3rd Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) – 1:15:04
Full Results: Slieve Donard Mountain Race 2016 Results (Photo by Ryan Carson)
Mayfair 10k road race:
On Saturday 28th May 2016, Ballyclare based club County Antrim Harriers welcomed a record number of competitors to the 2nd annual running of their much anticipated Mayfair 10k road race.
The number of participants was not the only record broken, with both the male and female course records being demolished.
It was obvious from the off that Brian Campbell’s record from 2015 was going to come under pressure, with Project Africa Athletics duo Dan Tanui and Eric Koech immediately moving to the front and pushing the pace. By the time the field had reached the 400 metre mark, the pair had forged a 20-30 metre gap.
Dan and Eric battled it out for top spot, while James Trainor (Dub Runners) and Willowfield Harriers trio Christopher Dean, Garry Morrow and Thomas Carson contested the final podium place. In the ladies race, pre-race favourite Heather Foley (Unattached) was living up to expectation and dominating proceedings. Jodi Smith (North Down AC), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) and Gemma McDonald (Springwell Running Club) looked like the main candidates for the remaining two podium place.
Shortly after leaders Dan Tanui and Eric Koech progressed through Doagh Village an onwards towards the finish, Buncrana 5k winner and new record holder, Dan surged clear of his countryman. There was no stopping the Kenyan athlete as he covered the remaining mile at a relentless pace – Dan turned into the finishing straight and negotiated the final hill with ease, before cruising the final descent and breaking the tape in a course record of 30:30 (1st place). Eric Koech followed in 31:21 (2nd place), while James Trainor continued his recent good form with a 35:30 finish for 3rd place.
Heather Foley truly showed her class in the ladies event, with the win never looking in doubt, the international triathlete cruised to victory in a new course record of 36:51 (1st place). Behind, the always impressive Jodi Smith claimed a well-deserved 2nd place in 38:57, before the fast finishing Debbie Matchett completed the top three in 39:37(3rd place).
In the associated 5k race, there was a double success for Larne AC, with Martan Keane and Rhonda Brady winning their respective races. Martan covered the route in 18:21 (1st place), with Rhonda crossing the line in 22:59 (1st place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Dan Tanui (Project Africa Athletics) – 30:30, 2nd Eric Koech (Project Africa Athletics) – 31:21, 3rd James Trainor (Dub Runners) – 35:30
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Heather Foley (Unattached) – 36:51, 2nd Jodi Smith (North Down AC) – 38:57, 3rd Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) – 39:37
Full Results: Mayfair 10k (and 5k) 2016 Results
North Belfast Harriers host annual Belfast Hills event:
On Saturday 28th May 2016, nearly one hundred athletes turned out for the 4th annual North Belfast Harriers Pure Running Belfast Hills 8.8k mountain-trail race.
In the men's race, it was a close battle between the leading quartet of Paul Burns (East Down AC), Martin Rea (North Belfast Harriers), Andrew Milligan (North Belfast Harriers) and Paul Curley (North Belfast Harriers). In the end though, it was Paul Burns who saw of the host club’s trio, when he sealed victory in 34:44. Martin Rea followed just six seconds later in 34:50 (2nd place), while junior athlete Andrew Milligan claimed 3rd place in 34:56.
The ladies race wasn’t just as close, but still brought an excellent performance from Mary Margaret Meade (North Belfast Harriers). The experienced athlete showed her class to break the tape in 39:39 (1st place). Claire Harmon (Belfast Running Club) crossed the line in 41:46 for 2nd place, before Albertville Harriers athlete Beverly Mitchell clocked 43:51 (3rd place) for the final podium place.
Top 3 Men: 1st Paul Burns (East Down AC) – 34:44, 2nd Martin Rea (North Belfast Harriers) – 34:50, 3rd Andrew Milligan (North Belfast Harriers) – 34:56
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Mary Margaret Meade (North Belfast Harriers) – 39:39, 2nd Claire Harmon (Belfast Running Club) – 41:46, 3rd Beverly Mitchell (Albertville Harriers) – 43:51
Full Results: Pure Running Belfast Hills 8.8k 2016 Results
Weekend Preview: A weekend of quality action ahead…
Another busy weekend is upon us and it brings some top quality fixtures, with the highlights being the Slieve Donard Classic Mountain Race, the Mayfair 10k, Newry Half Marathon and Half Marathon, and of course North Belfast Harriers’ Belfast Hills 8.8k Trail Race.
Junior athletes can also look forward to Round 2 of the Northern Ireland Youth Development League (YDL), while there will also be local representation at the latest British Milers Club Meet, which will take place in Watford, England.
Slieve Donard Mountain Race - Hill & Dale Series (Race 7):
On Saturday 28th May 2016, Newcastle AC will host Race 7 of their ongoing Hill & Dale Series in Newcastle, County Down. The Series, which usually takes place on a Thursday night has proved as popular as always, and therefore a large turnout is expected for this race. The Slieve Donard race, one of the country’s iconic running events and also part of the NIMRA Championship, measures approximately 5.5 miles in distance and takes competitors from Newcastle Main Street to the top of Northern Ireland’s highest mountain (Slieve Donard), which stands at 850 metres.
Aside from the start and finish along the Main Street (via Donard Park), competitors are free to choose their own way to the summit and back, with some opting for the Black Stairs and others, the more runnable Glen River Path.
Joe McCann, from organisers Newcastle AC, provided us with the following race preview:
A brief history…
The first race was held in 1945 and 35 different runners have added their name to the illustrious list of winners; Ian Bailey being the most recent when winning for the first time last year in a new course record of 53:45. Bailey was defending his 2014 title and was in sparkling form on the day, climbing like a Sherpa to reach the summit in 37 minutes dead, over a minute clear of Seamus Lynch, who on any other day would more than likely have won the race. Lynch would descend quicker than his rival, but the gap at the top of the mountain was too great and Bailey is no fool when it comes to getting of a mountain in speedy quick time. Lynch would recover 16 seconds, but nowhere enough to eat in to the 72 second gap at the summit.
William McKee was beginning to emerge a serious talent in the hills and his third place would be the platform for him to go on to greater things in late 2015 and early 2016. There is no doubt that he will go much faster this year and take quite a bit of his 57:11 recorded last year. While Bailey is the firm favourite, he has a long way to go to eclipse the achievements of Newcastle’s Deon McNeilly. With an amazing tally of 9 victories and numerous minor placings, he remains the most successful competitor in the race’s long history – no doubt he will be taking to the line once again, though the chances of a 10th title seem most unlikely as his last victory was as far back as 2007.
For a number of years the course went via the Bloody Bridge with a 2 mile run along the road to finish. James McKenny recorded 6 consecutive victories on this course between 1953 and 1958. In the 1998 the decision was taken for safety reasons to revert to the original up and down route starting at the Newcastle Centre and back to Donard Park. However in 2002 a further route change took the finish back at Newcastle Centre to allow more spectators to witness the spectacle and savour the atmosphere of this wonderful test of strength, stamina and endurance. For many years Mike Short held the record with his 1977 run via the Bloody Bridge in 1 hour 4 min 14 seconds.
The 2000 race was also a British Championship Race which was won by Ian Holmes in 50mins 10 seconds, the fastest ever up and down but the finish was in Donard Park. However adding a notional 2mins 30 seconds (the usual time taken by the elite runners like myself!) to Holmes’ time for the run from Donard Park to Newcastle Centre would give him a time of 53mins and the outright record, but only narrowly in light of the performances of local athletes in recent years. Since the route has been extended back to the Newcastle Centre, Scottish International runner John Brooks set an impressive record with 56 mins 34 seconds in 2004. Brooks’ record stood until 2008 when Woods shaved off an impressive 49 seconds on his way to his first win. Amazingly he went even better in 2009 and set a new standard by breaking the 55 minute barrier in an amazing 54:49. Amazing that was until Cunningham lowered the mark by a further 16 seconds in 2010 to set the current fastest time of 54:33. Bailey lowered the mark again to 53:45 and some would contend that he will go even quicker this year; however, much will depend on the conditions underfoot and the weather on the day.
Who will win?
So what of the main northern contenders for the title this year? If form is any barometer then William McKee, fresh from his outstanding performances in opening Hill and Dale races will be the man to beat. However Ian Bailey made a timely return to racing at Loughshannagh and despite not competing much in recent times, is believed to be in training for this one and a fourth successive title is a realistic possibility. On current form Seamus Lynch is capable of winning, but his recent penchant for flatter, more predictable surfaces may mean he is not ‘mountain race fit’. Jonny Steede is another with the ability to be in contention, though every time I mention him he fails to turn up!
Allan Bogle always performs well in the mountains and young Zak Hanna is a good bet for the top 5 and other Newcastle contenders include Steele, Murtagh, Hicks and McConville. Damien Brannigan has declared that he might run. The great man has just returned to training, but is having some trouble with the start/stop button of his watch. Not wishing to purchase a replacement hastily and without due consideration of the various reviews of the range of models on offer, he has taken to carrying an I-phone to record his splits during sessions. However, the battery life might not last the duration of the Donard race. At present, under the guidance of ‘Fun Bobby’, he is considering the merits of putting a PC in a rucksack to ensure that all splits are accurately recorded! If a suitable harness can be found, Brannigan will be at worst a possible maybe!
A challenge from IMRA?
The race has attracted a lot of interest from the Irish Mountain Running Association (IMRA) runners in recent times, with the event counting in the Irish Championships. In both 2015 and 2014. IMRA men have placed in the top 10, Jason Kehoe, Robert Cleary & Bernard Fortune in 2015 and the same three along with Stephen Cleary in 2014. Among these Brian Furey, the Irish champion in both 2010 and 2011 is the most serious contender, but there are other equally serious contenders in Ian Conroy, Tom Blackburn and Peter O’Farrell, all of whom have enjoyed considerable success recently. It will be interesting to see the best of IMRA line up against the best of NIMRA to tackle the steep climb and sharp descent. Mourne’s Sam Herron has featured strongly in the last two years (5th and 3rd respectively) and he will undoubtedly give a good account of himself.
Four in a row for Wilson?
The ladies race in 2015 was a much closer affair than in recent years. Newcastle’s Shalene McMurray had a tremendous lead at the top of the mountain, but was reined in by the excellent descending ability of Diane Wilson. Wilson would win by 40 seconds, overturning a 3 minutes 23 seconds deficient at the summit. East Down’s Catherine O’Connor had a very steady run up and down to secure third place. If all three run, it will be an interesting race to say the least, particularly in light of McMurray’s performance in winning the NI Senior Cross Country title earlier in the year. However, Wilson proved she is still the one to beat with a great run over Loughshannagh last Thursday and few would bet against her joining Bailey in making it four in a row as well.
The race is a tremendous spectacle with stunning views of the mountain (weather permitting!) as the runners tackle the challenge. So bring you binoculars and come down to the Newcastle Centre where there will be a lively atmosphere from 1pm onwards.
Mayfair 10k road race:
Also on Saturday 28th May 2016, Ballyclare based club County Antrim Harriers will host the 2nd annual running of their much anticipated Mayfair 10k road race, an event which is expected to attract well over three hundred competitors.
The stand-out front runners for this race will be Kenyan duo Dan Tanui (Project Africa Athletics) and Eric Koech (Project Africa Athletics). Local information would suggest that the talented pairing, who impressed at the Buncrana 5k during the week, will compete here. Following on from his 13:57 finish for top spot in County Donegal, Dan would have to be considered as the main contender – however, Eric, who pipped him at the Belfast Marathon, will most definitely be there or there abouts.
It is unlikely that reigning Champion Brian Campbell (Willowfield Harriers) will return to defend his title having been off the scene in recent months. Runner up twelve months ago, Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), may opt for his own clubs Belfast Hill 8.8k, but if not, he’ll battle it out with St Malachy’s AC athlete Ben Branagh for the final podium place. Mark was in fine form at the aforementioned Buncrana 5k, where he recorded a new personal best of 15:10. America based student Ben has had a superb year at San Jose college where his has improved his personal bests over 1500m (3:51.83) - 5,000m (14:23.78) – 10,000m (30:48.73); he’ll be looking forward to his first race back on home turf this year! Ballybeen 5k winner Gary Morrow (Willowfield Harriers) will also go well, as will Ballyclare native Andy Gregg (Larne AC) and Dub Runners man James Trainor, a second place finisher at Race 2 of East Antrim Harriers’ Forest Trail Series on Tuesday night.
In the ladies race, it’s hard to look past the always impressive Heather Foley (Unattached). Heather, a successful triathlete/duathlete, recorded 1:00:18 for third place over the tough Bundoran 10 mile course back in march (2016) and her 10k personal best of 37:16 will ensure that she starts as favourite. Ballymena Runners' Geraldine Quigley, Lorna Sibbett and Kerry Bamber will play a prominent part in proceedings should they enter on the day, while Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers), Patricia Blair (Larne AC), Natasha Henderson (County Antrim Harriers) and Janice Plumb (North Belfast Harriers) should also feature.
Pure Running Belfast Hills 8.8k Mountain-Trail Race:
In Belfast on Saturday 28th May 2016, mountain and trail running enthusiasts from across Northern Ireland are expected to descend on the (at first glance) urban setting of Belfast for the Pure Running Belfast Hills 8.8k Mountain-Trail Race, hosted by North Belfast Harriers.
The event starts and finishes close to the Boys Model School and will take competitors on a tough but scenic route through Cavehill Country Park, where on reaching the summit, they will enjoy views over Belfast and as far away as the more familiar Mourne Mountains.
Although attendance is likely to be affected by the Slieve Donard Moutain Race, there will still be a significant turn out for this well-organised race. The host club’s Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) will be the man to watch here. Mark has enjoyed an outstanding year this far and just this week, he recorded an excellent 15:10 for 5k. In 2014, the Northern Ireland international took second place here, but he’ll better that this time around if he races. Paul Horan, who has impressed with one win and one runners up place in the East Antrim Harriers Forest Trail Series, should also play a prominent part in proceedings, as will his North Belfast Harriers club mates Simon Reeve, Nat Glenn, James Brown and Martin Rea.
The ladies winner in 2015, Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC), will more than likely race at Slieve Donard, which will leave the winner’s trophy up for grabs. Helen Weir (North Belfast Harriers) has run well here before and looking at her recent performances on the trails, she (Helen) could feature well. BARF’s Victoria Simms will also be worth watching, as will Liz Leitch (Orangegrove AC) and Nicky McKeag (Ballydrain Harriers).
Youth Development League (Round 2):
Also in Belfast on Saturday 28th May 2016, some of Northern Ireland's most talented up and coming athletes will take to the track (and field) at Mary Peters Track for Round 2 of the Northern Ireland Youth Development League 2016. The junior competitors will race over a variety of distances and the event programme, which kicks off at 10am, will also incorporate open races for senior athletes.
British Milers Club (BMC) Watford Grand Prix:
In England on Saturday 28th May 2016, British Milers Club (BMC) will welcome athletes from all over the world to their latest track and field meeting, the Waterford Grand Prix in England. Amongst the competitors will be a host of familiar faces from Northern Ireland, including Callum Crawford-Walker (Annadale Striders), Katie Kirk (QUB AC), Conall Kirk (Lagan Valley AC), Erin McIlveen (City of Lisburn AC), Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers) and Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC).
Newry City Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k:
On Sunday 29th May 2016, hundreds of athletes are set to take to the streets of Newry for the annual Newry City Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k events; the Half Marathon is also the fourth race of the ongoing Pure Running-ChampionChip Half Marathon Series (half way times in the marathon will also be accepted).
The 13.1 mile event will be by far the most popular, with over five hundred expected to take to the start line. Amongst those will be North Belfast Harriers’ Eamon White and fast improving St Peter’s AC athlete Gerard Heaney, both of whom should contest a place within the top three. Mark Jennings (North Belfast Harriers) will also be there or there abouts, while Oliver Cook (PACE Running Club) and Billy Thompson (Larne AC) will run well. In the ladies race, Bann 10k winner and second place finisher in the Belfast City Marathon, Laura Graham (Mourne Runners), will prove hard to beat. Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC), Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Eileen Stevenson (St Peter’s AC), Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) and Gillian Logan (Larne AC) add further depth and quality to the field.
In the 26.2 mile race, the home crowds will be cheering on local hero and event regular Don Travers (Newry City Runners). If he is in top form, which his top ten finish for the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR team at the recent Wings For Life Endurance Run suggests he is, Don will lead the way, with Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC), Barry Shanks (St Peter's AC), Ryan Armstrong (Ballymena Runners), Drew Fowler (Ballydrain Harriers) and Mark Walker (Unattached) all likely to make the top ten with sub three hour finish times. Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC) and Fiona Prue (Ballydrain Harriers) should place well in the ladies marathon, while Amy Bulman (Unattached) and Niamh O’Connell (Murlough AC) will finish well up the field in 10k race and should therefore claim prizes in the ladies race.
As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty one parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.
City of Derry AC host Buncrana 5k 2016:
On Wednesday 25th May 2016, City of Derry AC hosted the 13th annual running of their Buncrana 5k road race, which took place in perfect conditions just across the border in the Inishowen region of County Donegal (Ireland).
There was much pre-race hype around the fact that Kenyan duo Dan Tanui and Eric Koech, both from the Project Africa Athletics team, would be gunning for the course record (of 14:18); they did not disappoint!
In an excellent race, Belfast City Marathon podium finisher Dan Tanui took over twenty seconds off Freddy Sittuk’s course record after breaking the tape in an outstanding 13:57 (1st place). Fellow countryman Eric Koech claimed 2nd place in 14:33, while Foyle Valley AC’s Scott Rankin recorded a new personal best of 14:37 for 3rd place.
As expected, Letterkenny AC athlete and winner of the recent Strabane-Lifford Half Marathon, Natasha Adams, played a major part in proceedings. There was no stopping the always impressive Northern Ireland international as she negotiated the route in 16:29 for 1st place. Local hero Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) clocked 17:19 for 2nd place, before Natalie Hall (Acorns AC) competed the course in 18:35 (3rd place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Dan Tanui (Project Africa Athletics) – 13:57, 2nd Eric Koech (Project Africa Athletics) – 14:33, 3rd Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 14:37
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC) – 16:29, 2nd Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) – 17:19, 3rd Natalie Hall (Acorns AC) – 18:35
Full Results: Buncrana 5k 2016 Results (Photo by Chris McGuinness)
Bann 10k road race 2016:
On Wednesday 25th May 2016, well over one thousand athletes descended on Havlock Park in Banbridge (County Down) for the annual Bann 10k road race (and associated 5k), an event which covers a traditionally undulating and testing route. The race is was also the fifth event of the ongoing Novosco 10k Grand Prix.
At the head of the pack, Northern Ireland international runner Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) showed his class. Stephen, a winner at the recent Killyclogher 10k, cruised to a comfortable victory in 32:52 (1st place). The continually improving Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC) ran well to secure 2nd place in 35:07, before his club mate Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC), a man usually better known for his exploits on the track, clocked 35:38 for 3rd place.
Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) picked up the top prize in the ladies race after an impressive display of front running. Racing competitively for the first time since her epic performance at the Belfast City Marathon, Laura looked comfortable as she broke the tape in 36:46 (1st place); this not only saw the Mourne Runners athlete take 1st place in the ladies race, but an excellent 7th place overall. Behind, the talented Patricia O’Hagan (St Peter’s AC) ran 40:16 for 2nd place, while Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) recorded 40:35 for 3rd place.
Top 3 Men: 1st Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) – 32:52, 2nd Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC) – 35:07, 3rd Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC) – 35:38
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 36:46, 2nd Patricia O’Hagan (St Peter’s AC) – 40:16, 3rd Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) – 40:35
Full Results: Bann 10k (and 5k) 2016 Results
East Antrim Harriers Forest Trail Series – Race 2:
On Tuesday 24th May 2016, nearly two hundred runners turned out for Race 2 of this year’s popular East Antrim Harriers Forest Trail Series. On this occasion, the venue of choice was Tardree Forest in Antrim.
In bright sunny conditions, the athletes set off on the challenging but rewarding route. Incidentally, the course measured 5k in distance and included some steep ascents, which were negated by good sections of downhill running.
Almost immediately, runner up in Race 1, Paul Horan (North Belfast Harriers) made a move to the front of the pack. Despite the efforts of several men, Paul held on to top spot and secured a well-deserved victory in 18:07 (1st place). Dub Runners’ James Trainor followed in 18:14 (2nd place), before Nigel Kelly (Ballydrain Harriers) completed the top three in 18:29 (3rd place).
In the ladies race, the ever consistent Kerry Bamber (Ballymena Runners) once again excelled. Following on from her excellent start to the Series, Kerry notched up another win, leading the ladies home in 21:10 (1st place). Larne AC’s Patricia Blair claimed 2nd place in 21:49, while Trudy Brown (Orangegrove AC) crossed the line in 22:41 for 3rd place.
Top 3 Men: 1st Paul Horan (North Belfast Harriers) – 18:07, 2nd James Trainor (Dub Runners) – 18:14, 3rd Nigel Kelly (Ballydrain Harriers) – 18:29
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Kerry Bamber (Ballymena Runners) – 21:10, 2nd Patricia Blair (Larne AC) – 21:49, 3rd Trudy Brown (Orangegrove AC) - 22:41
Full Results: East Antrim Harriers Forest Trail Series (Race 2) 2016 Results (Photo above by Robert McGaughey)
City of Derry AC host 13th annual Buncrana 5k road race:
It’s all systems go for Northern Ireland based club City of Derry AC as the put final preparations in place for tonight’s (Wednesday 25th May 2016) much anticipated Buncrana 5k road race, which takes place over a popular flat and fast course in Inishowen, County Donegal (Ireland). The weather forecast looks promising and this will no doubt boost entry numbers for the 13th annual running of the event where fast times and full on, down the field competition has been a feature every year.
Up to three hundred runners of all abilities are expected in Buncrana with on the night entries taken from 5.30pm until 7.15pm at the Race HQ in the Scoil Mhuire premises on St Orans Road, right beside the race start line.
Top Derry/Londonderry athletes Connor Bradley (City of Derry AC) and Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) are among the confirmed big names in the men's race and the talented pairing are likely to come up against former St Malachy’s AC man Gary Murray (Clonliffe Harriers), who just two days ago was named in the Ireland team for this summer’s IAAF European Championships; Gary will race the Half Marathon at the prestigious event in Holland. Letterkenny AC’s Ciaran Doherty, the in-form Finn Valley AC man Barry Harron and evergreen Pauric McKinney (Inishowen AC) will head the challenge for veteran prizes but all of the aforementioned men will have to be at the top of their game if they want to compete with the flying Project Africa Athletics duo of Dan Tanui and Eric Koegh. Information suggests that Dan and Eric are set to attack Freddy Sittuk’s course record of 14:18 – based on their performances at Sunday’s Virgin Media 10k Night Run in Dublin, where Dan and Eric stole the show with an epic battle with fellow Kenyan Peter Somba for top spot, there is a real chance that this record could go! Interestingly, that night Dan won in 29:24!
In the ladies race it’s hard to look past the outstanding Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) for top spot. Ann-Marie and training partner Natasha Adams (Letterkenny), both guided by respected coach Teresa McDaid, will contest top spot, while the host club’s Northern Ireland international Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) is a sure bet for a podium place. Other ladies to look out for could include Claire McGuigan (Lifford-Strabane AC), Gemma McGinty (Foyle Valley AC) and Martina McMullan (Foyle Valley AC).
Given the proven fast course, generous prizes, chip timing, complementary post-race refreshments and a genuinely warm welcome for runners of all abilities, City of Derry AC’s Buncrana 5k has it all......don't miss it! There is still time to enter on the night!
Three NI marathoners named in Ireland’s Rio 2016 team:
Today, Monday 23rd May 2016, Athletics Ireland named the six athletes who will compete in the Rio Olympics marathon this summer, and three of the six are from Northern Ireland.
Kevin Seaward (St Malachy’s AC), Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) and Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) have been named in the team which also includes Mick Clohisey (Raheny Shamrock AC), Lizzie Lee (Leevale AC) and Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole AC).
Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) has been named as reserve on the ladies team and with some uncertainty as to whether Fionnuala McCormack will focus on the marathon or the 10,000m, there could still be a chance that the always impressive Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games star could get a call up.
In response to the announcement, Athletics Northern Ireland released the following article on their website:
Athletics NI officials were in celebratory mood last night when an unprecedented 3 NI marathon runners were selected by Athletics Ireland to compete in the Rio Olympics in August. Annadale's Paul Pollock, Kevin Seaward of St Malachy's and North Belfast's Breege Connolly have all now achieved their athletics dream of representing their country at the highest level.
The announcement is particularly memorable as the last occasion on which NI track and field athletes competed in the Olympics was back in 2000 in Sydney when 800 metres athlete James McIlroy participated along with relay runners Paul Brizzell, John McAdorey and Paul McKee. The selection of Holywood doctor Pollock was especially satisfying as he is currently only ranked 4th in the Irish marathon list, with only 3 being selected for Rio. His time of 2 hrs 15 mins 38 secs from Berlin last autumn is, in fact, 24 secs slower than Clonliffe's Sergeiu Ciobanu time from the same race who has been named as Reserve.
The Irish selectors however, clearly felt that 29 year-old Pollock was the class act as shown by his outstanding recent 14th place in the World Half Marathon in Cardiff where he defeated Ciobanu by a huge margin of almost 4 mins. Immediately after this Paul sustained a foot injury which has now healed. A delighted Pollock said, "I am a very happy man tonight. It's been a very long month and the decision could have gone either way. I will hopefully do justice to my selection by performing well in Rio."
The selection of Seaward and Connolly was much more straightforward with both athletes’ always firm favourites to make the plane for Rio. 29 year-old Cardiff-based teacher, Seaward, is the current Irish No 1 marathon runner with a time of 2.14.52 from Berlin. He was a member of the highly successful Irish team which finished 7th in the European Championships in 2014.
38 year-old Connolly was however, on tenderhooks in recent weeks due to her concern that her 3rd Irish fastest time of 2.37.29 from London a year ago, would be overtaken by other contenders for Rio. However, despite several efforts by a number of runners she retained her 3rd slot, with North Belfast team-mate Gladys Ganiel now being named as Reserve.
A much relieved Connolly commented that she had found the recent weeks quite stressful since she was never sure as to whether other athletes would beat her London time. Connolly will be joined in Rio by Cork's Lizzie Lee and Kilcoole's Fionnuala McCormack. Raheny's Mick Clohisey completes the trio of male selections.
IAAF European Championships (Holland):
Separately, Paul Pollock, Kevin Seaward and former St Malachy’s AC athlete Gary Murray will represent Ireland in the IAAF European Championships Half Marathon in Amsterdam in July. The Women's team includes Breege Connolly and Gladys Ganiel O’Neill.
Local runners secure prizes in England, Holland and Portugal:
This weekend (Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd May 2016), runners from Northern Ireland have shown impressive form to pick up prizes at several major events, with familiar faces taking to the podium at events in England, Holland and Portugal.
In England, Ireland international mountain-trail runner Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC) stormed to victory in the 25k race at the popular Keswick Mountain Festival in England. Eoin, who won the Wicklow Way Ultra back in March, clocked a new course record of 1:51:17 as he took 1st place.
Meanwhile in Holland, Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) showed the Irish selectors that she was in good form with a victory at the Leiden Half Marathon in Holland. The Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games athlete crossed the line in 1:18:27 to win by nearly seven minutes!
In Portugal, Northern Ireland men Stuart Kennedy (Beechmount Harriers) and Cathal McLaughlin (Derry City Track Club) collected team bronze medals at the European Masters (Non-Stadia) Championships in sunny Portugal. Stuart and Cathal were part of the Vet45 team who covered the 3x4k cross country relay in 45:24 (3rd place). The race was won by Portugal in 42:56. Other athletes who performed well at the Championships include Paul Elliot (North Belfast Harriers) and Barry Morris (City of Lisburn AC).
Also competing this weekend was international mountain runner Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC). The talented athlete was in competition at the prestigious Highgate Harriers Night of 10,000m Personal Bests, where he recorded a new personal best of 32:14 to finish in an excellent 6th place in Race 2, which was won by Tom Crouch (St Albans AC) in 31:52 (1st place).
Full Results: Keswick Mountain Festival 2016 Results – Leiden Half Marathon 2016 Results – European Masters (Non-Stadia) Championships 2016 Results - Highgate Harriers Night of 10,000m Personal Bests 2016 Results
Christine excels as local runners impress on the track:
On Saturday 21st May 2016, Northern Ireland lady Christine McMahon (QUB AC) booked her place on the plane to the IAAF European Championships in Amsterdam this July by bettering the 400m hurdles qualifying standard for a second time.
The Queen’s University student and Ballymena & Antrim AC club member made full use of a late call up to the Golden Spike Track & Field Meeting in Ostrava, Czech Republic by running 57.85secs (7th place) in the 400m hurdles race won by Polish athlete Joanna Linkiewicw in 55.40secs (1st place). Christine, who missed her final day of University to compete at the event, was “delighted” at securing a second qualifying time for the upcoming European Championships. A replay of the race is available HERE.
Less than 24 hours later, on Sunday 22nd May 2016, Christine was in action at the prestigious Loughborough International Track & Field Meeting where she took 2nd place in the 400m hurdles ‘A’ race. The Ballymena lady crossed the line in 59.11secs to finish less than a second behind winner Jess Turner (Loughborough University), who ran 58.32secs (1st place). Next up for Christine was a spot on the Ireland 4x400m relay team – the ladies recorded 3:35.03 to take 4th place in the race won by Great Britain & NI in 3:30.16 (1st place).
There were further impressive performances by familiar faces in Loughborough, with at least five Northern Ireland based athletes taking to the start line. Crusaders AC man Jason Harvey ran his second quickest 400m hurdles time of the year when he crossed the line in 51.90secs for 4th place; James Forman (Team Southampton) won in 50.78secs (1st place).
City of Lisburn AC’s always impressive veteran World and European Champion 800m runner Kelly Neely lined up in the talent laden 800m event, where she ran an excellent 2:06.90 (9th place). The race was won by Belfast International participant Alexandra Bell (England) who broke the beam in 2:02.78 (1st place).
Another City of Lisburn AC athlete, Megan Marrs took on her favourite 100m hurdles event. Megan covered the jumps in 13.86secs for 5th place – Great Britain Juniors team member Mollie Courtney won in 13.32secs (1st place). Springwell Running Club’s T47 athlete Sally Brown took on her first 100m race of the season and claimed 6th place in 15.32secs. Well-known Sophie Hahn (Charnwood AC) won in 12.66secs (1st place).
Jengana 10k 2016:
On Saturday 22nd May 2016, nearly one hundred athletes turned out for the 4th annual running of the Jengana 10k, which as always was held within the confines of the stunning Shanes Castle Estate in Antrim.
In decent running conditions, the field set off on the 6.2 mile course, which would take them on a scenic journey through the picturesque Estate. Almost immediately it was clear that the winner would come from the talented duo of Dennis Scot (North Down AC) and Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC). It was a similar situation in the ladies race, with Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC) and Amy Bulman (Unattached) who were contesting top spot.
In the end, it was former winner of the event Dennis Scott who broke the tape first, claiming 1st place in 34:12, just ahead of EAH Forest Series Race 1 winner Matthew, who followed in 34:37 for 2nd place. Unattached athlete Mark Smith completed the top three just under two minutes later in 36:29 (3rd place).
Suzanne Higgins came out on top of what was an equally exciting ladies race, seeing off the fast improving Amy Bulman to win in 40:58 (1st place). Despite having raced three times in seven days, Amy showed no fatigue as she clocked 41:13 for 2nd place. Lagan Valley AC’s Julie Murphy crossed the line in 42:47 for 3rd place.
Top 3 Men: 1st Dennis Scott (North Down AC) – 34:12, 2nd Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC) – 34:37, 3rd Mark Smith (Unattached) – 36:29
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC) – 40:58, 2nd Amy Bulman (Unattached) – 41:13, 3rd Julie Murphy (Lagan Valley AC) – 42:47
Full Results: Jengana 10k 2016 Results (Photo above by Rhonda Brady)
Albertville 4 mile Road Race 2016:
On Friday 20th May 2016, nearly two hundred runners descended brought a sea of colour to the usually dull Duncrue Industrial Estate in Belfast as Albertville Harriers hosted the inaugural running of their Albertville 4 mile road race, a revised version of their former flagship event the Albertville 5.
In wet conditions, the athletes set off and almost immediately it was clear that North Down AC star James Budde would dictate proceedings. The talented athlete featured at the front throughout, eventually securing a well-deserved win in 21:09 (1st place). Behind, it was a battle between North Belfast Harriers club mates Paul Horan and Brendan Grew for the runners up spot, with Paul edging it in 21:39 (2nd place) and Brendan following in 21:51 (3rd place).
In the ladies race, ever improving Newry AC athlete Esther Dickson lived up to her pre-race favourite status. Esther saw off a challenge from Dromore AC’s Laura Bickerstaff to take top spot in 23:51 (1st place), with Laura crossing the line in 24:12 for 2nd place. There was an epic battle for third place, with Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) and Sharon Leetch (Ballymena Runners) all involved. In the end, all three finished within seven seconds of each other, but it was Louise who took a place on the podium, claiming 3rd place in 24:33.
Top 3 Men: 1st James Budde (North Down AC) – 21:09, 2nd Paul Horan (North Belfast Harriers) – 21:39, 3rd Brendan Grew (North Belfast Harriers) – 21:51
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Esther Dickson (Newry AC) – 23:51, 2nd Laura Bickerstaff (Dromore AC) – 24:12, 3rd Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – 24:33
Full Results: Albertville 4 mile Road Race 2016 Results
Runher Coastal 10k & 5k:
On Friday 20th May 2016, popular local running shop Pure Running hosted their annual Runher Coastal 10k and 5k races on the County Down shoreline. The longest event of the evening, the 10k, kicked off at Seapark close to Hollywood and took competitors along the scenic coastal path, past Rockport (where the 5k started) and onwards to the atmospheric finish at Crawfordsburn Country Park near Bangor.
As predicted, Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers), Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) and Lyndsey Tyro (Orangegrove AC) all played a part at the front of the pack. In the end it was sub three hours thirty marathoner Judith Lonnen who stole the headlines. The international duathlete looked strong throughout, breaking the tape in 38:52 for 1st place. Cathy McCourt continued her return from injury with a 2nd place finish in 39:13, before the always impressive Lyndsey Tyro recorded 40:15 for 3rd place.
In the associated 5k, there was no stopping North Down AC’s Jessica Craig as she powered to a comfortable win. The track star never looked back as she claimed a solo victory in 18:46 (1st place). Jodi Smith (North Down AC) covered the course in 20:03 for 2nd place, while recent North Down AC recruit Sarah Lindsay completed a clean sweep of the podium for the County Down club as she crossed the line in 20:35 (3rd place).
10k – Top 3 Ladies: 1st Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) – 38:52, 2nd Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) – 39:13, 3rd Lyndsey Tyro (Orangegrove AC) – 40:15
5k – Top 3 Ladies: 1st Jessica Craig (North Down AC) – 18:46, 2nd Jodi Smith (North Down AC) – 20:03, 3rd Sarah Lindsay (North Down AC) – 20:35
As we head towards the summer season, this week has brought a substantial increase in midweek events, with races taking place in Belfast, Limavady, Annaghmore, Newry and Newcastle. This round-up will feature the highlights of the midweek action before we head into another busy weekend.
On Tuesday 17th May 2016, nearly one hundred athletes turned out for the Ballybeen 5k road race in Belfast. Despite the wet conditions, there were some excellent performances. Sub three-hour Belfast marathoner Gary Morrow (Willowfield Harriers) sealed an impressive victory in 17:31 (1st place), just ahead of Glen Taylor (Unattached), who recorded 17:39 for 2nd place. Deane Fisher (Willowfield Harriers) crossed the line just five seconds later in 17:44 (3rd place).
Meanwhile, in the ladies race, Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) enjoyed her first win since returning from some warm weather training when she clocked 19:45 (1st place) to see off Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) by two seconds, with Debbie running 19:47 (2nd place). Amy Bulman (Unattached) completed the top three in 19:57 (3rd place).
On Wednesday 18th May 2016, rising St Peter’s AC star Mark Cornett took top spot in what was a very closely contested event. Mark covered the route in 36:28 (1st place), with Unattached athletes Conor Grimes (36:30) and David Graham (38:35) taking 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.
Amy Bulman (Unattached), competing in her second race in as many days, took the top prize in the ladies race. The emerging athlete broke the tape in 41:44 to win by well over two minutes. Local lady Rosalyn Dobson (44:16) followed in 2nd place, with Emma Rice (Unattached) running 45:15 for 3rd place.
Wilkies 5 mile Road Race:
Last night (Thursday 19th May 2016) saw nearly one hundred and fifty competitors take to the start line of the well-organised Wilkies 5 mile road race in Derry/Londonderry, an event hosted by Foyle Valley AC. Finn Valley AC’s Barry Harron made his intentions clear from the off, bursting clear on the gun – in truth, there was no catching him as Barry cruised to victory in 24:58 (1st place). In a good battle for the runners up spot, Gavin Corey (Sperrin Harriers) just edged out Michael Crawley (Unattached), with Gavin running 26:42 (2nd place) and Michael 26:60 (3rd place).
NI & Ulster 10,000m medallist Natalie Hall (Acorns AC) topped the ladies podium, but it wasn’t just as easy as her male counterpart. Natalie was embroiled in an epic battle with Ballymena & Antrim AC’s Pauline Thom and eventually, a mere one second split the pair. Natalie crossed the line in 31:12 (1st place), with Pauline taking the runners up spot in 31:12 (2nd place). The host club’s Martina McMullan completed the ladies podium in 31:37 (3rd place).
Hill & Dale Series (Race 6) - Loughshannagh:
Also on Thursday 19th May 2016, Newcastle AC welcomed athletes from all over Northern Ireland to Race 6 of the ongoing Hill & Dale Series. On this occasion, competitors faced the Loughshannagh Horseshoe course, which measured 5 miles in distance with 1,700ft of ascent.
Race organisers set some justifiably strict cut-off times (for safety reasons) and twelve people failed to meet the necessary standard, however, 2016 Series debutant Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR 2015 winner Ian Bailey (Newcastle AC) had no such trouble as he and young Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) showed their strength on the climbs. Eventually though, Ian’s fearless descending saw him move clear of Zak to win in 39:33 (1st place). Zak clocked 41:26 for 2nd place, while David Hicks ensured a clean sweep of the podium for the host club in 44:06 (3rd place).
Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) once again stole the headlines in the ladies event. The ever impressive Northern Ireland international was never really challenged as she powered to victory in 50:22 (1st place). Unattached athlete Moire O’Sullivan took 2nd place in 53:35, just ahead of Lagan Valley AC star Shileen O’Kane, who crossed the line in 53:51.
Newry Mayors 10k:
In Newry on Thursday 19th May 2016, nearly one hundred runners turned out for the Newry Mayors 10k road race and it was local man, Slieve Gullion Runners athlete Joe McKevitt who impressed most. Joe look strong from the off and broke the tape in 36:10 (1st place). Ryan Monaghan (Slieve Gullion Runners) followed in 37:47, before Damien Mulholland (Unattached) was rewarded for a disciplined effort with 3rd place in 38:16.
In the ladies race, Ashlene McGeogh (Unattached) took top spot in 43:05 (1st place), but that was only after fending off a late challenge from Sarah Jane Beattie (Unattached), who ran an excellent second half to finish in 43:11 (2nd place). Aisling Boylan claimed 3rd place in 43:28.
Full results for all races can be found on our RESULTS page.
Weekend Preview: 3 busy days ahead…
Another weekend is upon us and after a busy and exciting midweek of action, the upcoming events will have to deliver something special to match the standard already set. There’s nothing to worry about though, as this weekend will bring some top quality races, all of which will have each and every undecided athlete reaching for their racers!
There will be events on Friday 20th, Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd May 2016, starting with the Runher Coastal 10k tonight and finishing with the 30th annual Belfast 1 World Run on Sunday… and there some exciting events sandwiched inbetween these! Athletes from NI will also take on major events in England.
Runher Coastal 10k & 5k:
As mentioned above, the weekend action will kick off later today (Friday 20th May 2016), when Pure Running host their annual Runher Coastal 10k and 5k races on the County Down shoreline. The longest event of the evening, the 10k, will kick off at Seapark close to Hollywood and take competitors along the scenic coastal path, past Rockport (where the 5k starts) and onwards to the atmospheric finish at Crawfordsburn Country Park near Bangor.
At the competitive end of the pack, North Belfast Harriers' Cathy McCourt looks like a potential contender for the top prize. Cathy has enjoyed success at this race over the last few years and is the current Champion after clocking 36:21 for the course twelve months ago. The Northern Ireland and Ireland international has recently returned from some warm weather training and enjoyed victory at the Ballybeen 5k earlier this week, where she won in 19:45.
However, should Cathy have ambitions of defending her title, she’ll have to be in top form as the always impressive Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC), Lyndsey Tyro (Orangegrove AC) and Maeve Lavery (Dub Runners) may also compete. Sochi 2014 Olympian Aimee Fuller (Team Red Bull) has been working on some promotional material for the event and will also take to the start line, as will former Miss Northern Ireland and serious athlete Tiffany Brien (Unattached) – despite their inclusion for marketing purposes, these two ladies have quality and will play a part at the front of the field.
In the 5k event, Les Jones Memorial 10k winner and Northern Ireland international Jodi Smith (North Down AC) is the stand out candidate if we had to choose a potential winner. Although the in-form Amy Bulman (Unattached), who won the Annaghmore 10k earlier this week, should also challenge for honours.
Albertville 4 mile Road Race:
Also tonight (Friday 20th May 2016), Belfast based club Albertville Harriers will host a revised version of their annual flagship road race… and now, our heading is not a typo! The Albertville 5 is now the Albertville 4.
A distance which was popular ‘back in the day’, a 4 mile race offers regular 5k runners and opportunity to gradually increase their racing miles as they aim towards 5 miles and onwards towards 10k. After an excellent outing at the Terenure 5 mile road race in Ireland last weekend, North Belfast Harriers’ Mark McKinstry may make use of the on the day entries (which are available from the Portside Inn in Duncrue Industrial Estate).
The Glenwherry man recorded 25:48 for a very respectable seventh place in what was a competitive race. It’s hard to look past Mark as pre-race favourite, but others who will have high hopes are Kevin O’Boyle (Unattached), James Brown (North Belfast Harriers), Paul Horan (North Belfast Harriers), William Thompson (Larne AC) and Ryan Armstrong (Ballymena Runners). Larne AC duo Bernard Brady and Emmett Woods will also go well, as will North Down AC’s Nick Irvine.
Amongst those likely to play a part in the ladies race, if they are not on organising duties, is the club’s Sarah Jane Guiney and Tracy Atkinson, both of whom have been running well of late. Should the ladies race, they will face stiff opposition in the form of Newry AC star Esther Dickson, who will be considered as pre-race favourite. Sharon Leetch (Ballymena Runners), Catherine Diver (Beechmount Harriers), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) and Ruth Perioli (Lagan Valley AC) should all race.
On Saturday 21st May 2016, athletes from across the province are expected to descend on Shanes Castle Estate in Antrim for the 4th annual Jengana 10k race, a well-organised event which covers a stunning course within the confines of the popular County Antrim Estate.
Former Champion Dennis Scott (North Down AC) will return and will be hopeful of emulating the performances which saw him secure victory here in 2014, especially after missing out on the event last year. Defending Champion Kevin O’Boyle (Unattached) is unlikely to compete as he is expected to race in Albertville 24 hours earlier, but the men who finished behind him twelve months ago, Noel Connor (Ballymena Runners) and Stephen Nicholson (PACE Running Club) could well return.
In saying this, with East Coast AC’s Matthew Hewitt, winner of the first race of the East Antrim Harriers Forest Trail Series, set to start, both Noel and Stephen could well contest third place with Matthew likely to battle it out with Dennis at the sharp end. PACE Running Club athlete Aaron Woodman and Oliver Cook will also perform well.
Meanwhile in the ladies race, PACE Running Club’s Nicola Swinson, a podium finisher here in 2014 and 2015, should be there or there abouts once again. Despite racing at the Runher Coastal 5k, Unattached athlete Amy Bulman should start here and will go well depending on how she recovered from the previous evenings outing. Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC) and Natasha Henderson (County Antrim Harriers) will also be worth watching.
Highgate Harriers ‘Night of 10,000m Personal Bests’ (England):
In North London (England) on Saturday 21st May 2016, at least one runner from Northern Ireland will be in competition against some of the best distance runners in the UK at the prestigious Highgate Harriers Night of 10,000m Personal Bests, which also incorporated the England 10,000m Championships and the trials for the Great Britain & NI Rio Olympics team.
Regulars Dermot Kerr and Danielle Fegan, both of Armagh AC, are not listed as starters but Northern Ireland will be well represented in the form of Newcastle AC’s Seamus Lynch as the former NIMRA Champion continues to concentrate on the roads. Other familiar faces and regular competitors in NI include Hanna Oldroyd (Saltaire Striders) and Paul Navesey (Crawley AC). The official start lists for the event are available HERE.
Belfast One World 10k Run:
On Sunday 22nd May 2016, hundreds of runners and fitness enthusiasts will take on the 30th annual Belfast One World 10k, a popular event which takes place in Ormeau Park Belfast. In the past, despite much of the emphasis being on the fundraising aspect of the race, there has been a competitive edge which has attracted quite a few well established athletes, and this year should prove similar.
Belfast based club Orangegrove AC are always well represented at this event and this year will be no different. The East Belfast club should dominate at the front, but the actual winner of the race could come from either Willowfield Harriers’ Garry Morrow or Victoria Park & Connswater’s Gary Keenan. Both men have been in decent form recently, with Garry Morrow winning the Ballybeen 5k this week and Gary Keenan clocking 38:17 at the NI & Ulster 10,000m Championships. Unattached athlete Gavin Campbell and Beechmount Harriers’ Michael Magee could also feature.
Defending ladies Champion Jenny Black (Victoria Park & Connswater) may return and will go well if she does. The always impressive Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) will be another one to watch if she enters on the day, while Leann Gibson (Victoria Park & Connswater), Louise Lemon (Victoria Park & Connswater) and Gillian Logan (Larne AC) may also start.
Loughborough International Track & Field Meeting (England):
In England on Sunday 22nd May 2016, we would expect several athletes from Northern Ireland to be in competition at the prestigious Loughborough International Track & Field Meeting, which will be held at the top sporting University in the UK, Loughborough University.
Northern Ireland internationals Jason Harvey (Crusaders AC), Christine McMahon (Ballymena & Antrim AC) and Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC) could be amongst the familiar faces in competition, but one lady who is a definite starter is current Olympic Champion and regular at the event, Jessica Ennis-Hill.
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.
Ballymena Runners star set for European Championships:
Today (17th May 2016), British Athletics named a forty nine strong squad for the upcoming IPC European Championships which will take place in Grosseto, Italy between the 10th and 16th June 2016.
Ballymena Runners' emerging star James Hamilton has been selected in the team which contains eight current World Champions, including the likes of Richard Whitehead, David Weir and Sophie Hahn. James spoke of his delight about representing GB & NI at the Championships, "I'm honoured and very pleased to have been selected to represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the 2016 IPC Athletics European Championships in Grosseto, Italy from the 10th - 16th June. I'm really excited about running in my first international athletics meet."
James will race in the 1500m, a distance were he clocked 4:59.71 at the Belfast International recently. That performance saw the Ballymena Runners man, who works under the guidance of highly respected coaches Ray Curran and Mark Kirk, step up a level and this selection is just reward for his efforts of the last two years. The full team can be view on the British Athletics website HERE.
Strabane – Lifford Half Marathon:
On Sunday 15th May 2016, well over one thousand athletes took to the start lie of the annual Strabane to Lifford Half Marathon, organised by Strabane District Council and the relatively newly amalgamated Lifford-Strabane AC. The race started in Northern Ireland (in Strabane) and took competitors over the border to Lifford in Ireland.
In an interesting race, all of the pre-race favourites played a major part in proceedings, but it was two Project Africa Athletics men who stole the headlines. Eric Koech and Dan Tanui took second and third place respectively at the Belfast City Marathon earlier this month, but on this occasion, things were different.
Dan looked sharp over the shorter distance as sealed victory in 1:06:09 (1st place), with Eric following in 1:07:22 (2nd place). Previous winner of the event, local hero Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers), followed up his win at the recent Killyclogher 10k with a 3rd place finish in 1:09:47.
In the ladies race, as predicted, Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC) excelled in the absence of friend and club mate Ann-Marie McGlynn. The Northern Ireland international looked in top form as she broke the tape in 1:15:21, which not only saw her take 1st place in the ladies race, but 9th place overall. Outgoing Champion Claire McGuigan may not have retained her title, but ran well to take 2nd place in 1:25:51, ahead of the consistent Gemma McGinty (Foyle Valley AC), who followed in 1:32:37 for 3rd place.
Top 3 Men: 1st Dan Tanui (Project Africa Athletics) – 1:06:09, 2nd Dan Tanui (Project Africa Athletics) – 1:07:22, 3rd Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) – 1:09:47
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC) – 1:15:21, 2nd Claire McGuigan (Lifford-Strabane AC) – 1:25:51, 3rd Gemma McGinty (Foyle Valley AC) – 1:32:37
Full Results: Strabane-Lifford Half Marathon 2016 Results
Terenure 5 mile road race:
Also on Sunday 15th May 2016, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland were in action at the Terenure 5 mile road race in Ireland, an event which often attracts local competitors. Amongst those taking on the fast and flat course were a group of athletes from North Belfast Harriers, and it was County Antrim man and Northern Ireland international Mark McKinstry who impressed most, leading the familiar faces home in 25:48, which was enough to secure 7th place. The closely contested race was won by Peter Brandon-Somba (Dunboyne AC) in 23:33 (1st place). Full results can be found HERE.
NI & Ulster 10,000m Championships 2016:
On Sunday 15th May 2016, Athletics NI hosted the annual Northern Ireland & Ulster 10,000m Championships at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast. The race, which was sponsored by ChampionChip Ireland, proved more popular than ever, with twenty competitors taking to the start line.
In blustery conditions, Foyle Valley AC’s Scott Rankin started strongly, ensuring that the race had quality as he took it by the scruff of the neck right from the gun. Scott went through the first kilometre in under three minutes followed at a respectable distance by the in-form David O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC).
Meanwhile, in the ladies race, NI & Ulster Novice XC Champion Natalie Hall (Acorns AC) was the first to show. As the trackside pundits pondered as to whether early pace was optimistic, Scott continued relentlessly. Pre-race favourite in the ladies event, Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) was now coming to the fore, as was Dromore AC’s Laura Bickerstaff, while a group of master’s athletes including reigning Champion Gary Keenan (Victoria Park & Connswater AC), Norman Mawhinney (Ballydrain Harriers) and Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC) were all running well.
By the halfway mark, Scott, who was now on a solo charge for victory, had just dropped outside of 15 minutes but was clearly gunning for his first ever individual NI & Ulster Championship medal, having previously won all but gold! In the end, the Northern Ireland international lapped every other runner on the track as he clocked a very impressive personal best of 30:17 for 1st place. David O’Flaherty followed in 32:32 for 2nd place, while Armagh AC’s Gary Henderson took 3rd place and the associated bronze medal in 33:40.
Catherine Whoriskey was as impressive as her winning male counterpart, securing the gold medal and Championship honours in 36:52 (1st place), while former Under 15 international Laura Bickerstaff (Dromore AC) continued her comeback after 15 years absence to take silver in 38:33 (2nd place), just ahead of Natalie Hall who claimed 3rd place in 39:23.
Top 3 Men: 1st Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 30:17, 2nd David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) – 32:32, 3rd Gary Henderson (Armagh AC) – 33:40
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) – 36:52, 2nd Laura Bickerstaff (Dromore AC) – 38:33, 3rd Natalie Hall (Acorns AC) – 39:23
Full Results: NI & Ulster 10,000m Championships 2016 Results
ChampionChip Ireland – Age Graded Prizes:
As part of the sponsorship of the event, ChampionChip Ireland offered generous prizes for the top three age graded performances of the day, promoting their inaugural Novosco 10k Grand Prix which is ongoing (full details can be found HERE). Men’s winner Scott Rankin topped the rankings with 88% (1st place), while Gary Henderson (86%) and Norman Mawhinney (84.24%) took 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.
Note: Photos and information for this article by John Glover.
Inter-Counties Mountain Running Championships (Wales):
On Saturday 14th May 2016, a team of mountain runners from Northern Ireland were in action at the Inter-Counties Mountain Running Championships in Llanberis, Wales.
The event saw competitors negotiate a tough course measuring approximately 8 miles in distance and incorporating 900 metres of ascent. Mourne Runners athlete William McKee continued the same kind of form that has seen him secure victory in the opening three fixtures of this year’s Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championship when he sealed a 15th place finish against top opposition. William covered the course in 1:04:53 to finish just under two minutes ahead of team mate Zac Hanna (Newcastle AC), who recorded 1:06:44 for 30th place.
International debutant Shane Donnelly (Acorns AC) ran well to take 38th place in 1:09:11 and he was followed across the line by Newcastle AC’s David Hicks in 1:10:45 (46th place). Gary Bailey (Mourne Runners) completed the men’s team in 1:12:32 (59th place).
In the ladies team, East Down AC’s Megan Wilson enjoyed an excellent run as she led the local ladies home in 1:19:14 for 18th place. Experienced international Hazel McLaughlin crossed the line in 1:31:58 (42nd place) which saw her finish just ahead of Paula McAllister (Ballymena Runners), who ran 1:32:34 for 43rd place. Newcastle AC’s Mari Troeng finished just sixteen seconds later in 1:32:50 for 44th place.
The men’s race was won by Ben Mounsey (Calder Valley Fell Runners) in 1:00:31 (1st place), while Heidi Dent (Howgill Harriers) collected the top prize in the ladies event after breaking the tape in 1:08:42 (1st place).
British Milers Club (BMC) Grand Prix (England):
On Saturday 14th May 2016, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland made the journey to England for the British Milers Club (BMC) Grand Prix, which took place at Sports City in Manchester.
There were a number of notable performances, with several familiar faces producing season’s bests or indeed personal bests in their events. Letterkenny AC Ann-Marie McGlynn was in good form as she secured a new personal best in the 2,000m Steeplechase, after completing the distance in 6:42.51; this saw Ann-Marie take 2nd place behind Irish international team mate Sara Treacy, who recorded 6:27.38 for 1st place.
Three local ladies were in action over 1500m, with the in-form Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC) clocking the fastest time of 4:18.79 – this was enough to see Kelly finish in 7th place in the competitive ladies ‘A’ race. North Down AC’s Rachel Gibson took 10th place in the 1500m ‘B’ race in 4:33.16, while her club mate Jessica Craig ran a new personal best of 4:35.88 to finish in 4th place in the ‘C’ race. The fastest lady of the day over 1500m was Birchfield Harriers’ Sarah McDonald, who broke the beam in 4:10.81 (1st place – ‘A’ race).
In the men’s 1500m, Willowfield Harriers’ Andrew Wright and Annadale Striders’ James O’Hare were in competition in the ‘B’ race won by Belgrave Harriers man Nick Goolab, who ran 3:45:14 (1st place). Andrew finished just over four seconds later in 3:49.53 (11th place), with James following in a season’s best of 3:50.14 (13th place).
Johnny Foster (Annadale Striders) kicked off his season with a 2:01:04 clocking for 6th place in the men’s 800m ‘H’ race won by Thomas Marper (Gateshead AC) in 1:57.74 (1st place), while in the ladies 800m two Northern Ireland ladies lined up in the ‘B’ race. Katie Kirk (QUB AC) again showed glimpses of her best as she recorded 2:06.89 for 6th place, with up and coming City of Lisburn AC athlete Erin McIlveen following in 2:08.87 for 7th place. The race was won by Italian athlete Irene Baldessari in 2:03.97 (1st place).
To catch up on the performances of all Northern Ireland based athletes at the BMC Sports City event, please click HERE for full results.
Pure Athletics Track & Field Meeting (USA):
Elsewhere on Saturday 14th May 2016, Northern Ireland's Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC) claimed victory over 100m at the Pure Athletics Track & Field Meeting in Clermont, Florida. After clocking a wind assisted 11.40secs in her heat, Amy went on to win the final in 11.42secs (1st place). The talented Rio Olympics hopeful also recorded 23.90secs for 200m at the event. Full results can be found HERE.
Downpatrick Lions ‘3 Lakes’ Challenge and Loughgall 10k 2016:
On Saturday 14th May 2016, East Down AC and local neighbours Downpatrick Lions Club welcomed over one hundred athletes to their annual Lions ‘3 Lakes’ Challenge, an event which offers participants the choice of either a 14k race or a 7k race, both of which are set on an impressive undulating rural course, starting and finishing at the Lakeside Inn, Downpatrick.
Previous winner of the event, Brendan Teer (East Down AC), returned to competition in impressive fashion. After a number of months on the sidelines, the talented athlete recorded 51:59 (1st place) to secure a comfortable win. Behind, Newcastle AC’s David Simpson followed in 54:22 (2nd place), while East Down AC’s Paul Burns ran well to take 3rd place in in 57:26.
Pre-race favourite Niamh Kellett (East Down AC) lived up to expectation in the ladies race, with a solo effort for top spot. The host club’s emerging star led from gun to tape to win in 1:03:41 (1st place). Ballydrain Harriers duo Amanda Jackson (1:09:11) and Claire Ingram (1:10:38) secured 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.
In the associated 7k race, East Down AC youngsters Daniel Atkinson and Edie Carroll once again showed their potential. Daniel led the men home in 25:57 (1st place), with Edie topping the ladies podium in 29:41 (1st place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Brendan Teer (East Down AC) – 51:59, 2nd David Simpson (Newcastle AC) – 54:22, 3rd Paul Burns (East Down AC) – 57:26
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Niamh Kellett (East Down AC) – 1:03:41, 2nd Amanda Jackson (Ballydrain Harriers) – 1:09:11, 3rd Claire Ingram (Ballydrain Harriers) – 1:10:38
Full Results: Lions ‘3 Lakes’ Challenge 2016 Results
Loughgall 10k 2016:
Elsewhere on Saturday 14th May 2016, nearly one hundred runners turned out for the Loughgall 10k road race in County Armagh. At the head of the pack, there were wins for Conor Grimes (Unattached) and Collette McCourt (Dub Runners).
Conor cruised to victory, breaking the tape in 36:20 (1st place), over six minutes clear of Gordon Glass (Unattached), who crossed the line in 42:33 (2nd place). Malcolm McCullough (Sperrin Harriers) followed in 43:38 for 3rd place). Dub Runners athlete Collette McCourt, who was sitting in third place overall for a part of the race, eventually secured top spot in the ladies race, almost ten minutes ahead of the runner up. Collette recorded 44:20 for 1st place in the ladies race and 4th place over. Behind, unattached athletes Tracey McArdle (54:36) and Marie McCelland (54:49) took 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.
Full Results: Loughgall 10k 2016 Results
Les Jones Memorial 10k 2016:
On Friday 13th May 2016, nearly three athletes descended on the Mary Peters Track in Belfast for the annual Les Jones Memorial 10k, an event hosted by Athletics NI and sponsored by ChampionChip Ireland.
The race was also the fourth event in the ongoing Novosco 10k Grand Prix, a new age graded Series which is in its inaugural year. The 6.2 mile course started and finished on the track and took in the roads, paths and trails in close by Minnowburn, Shaws Bridge and Lagan Towpath area.
At the head of the pack, North Belfast Harriers man Philip Goss showed that he is back to his best with hat was in truth a solo effort. Philip cruised to victory, finishing over a minute clear of his nearest rival in 33:57 (1st place). Philip’s club mate, Marc Jennings continued his rise through the ranks with a 34:48 finish for 2nd place, while another man making significant improvement, Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC) completed the top three in 34:53 (3rd place).
In the ladies race, North Down AC’s Northern Ireland XC international Jodi Smith put in an impressive showing to secure top spot in 39:30 (1st place). City of Lisburn AC star Diane Watson followed in 40:08 (2nd place), before Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) crossed the line in 40:39 for 3rd place.
Top 3 Men: 1st Philip Goss (North Belfast Harriers) – 33:57, 2nd Marc Jennings (North Belfast Harriers) – 34:48, 3rd Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC) – 34:53
Top 3 Ladies: Jodi Smith (North Down AC) – 39:30, 2nd Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) – 40:08, 3rd Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) – 40:39
Weekend Preview: MPT to play host to two major events this weekend!
After the impressively organised and delivered Belfast International Track & Field Meeting last weekend, as well as the NIMRA Championship fixture in Annalong, anyone would be forgiven for looking towards this weekend with a little less enthusiasm – however, that will not be us!
There are some excellent offerings coming up over the weekend, with the Mary Peters Track very much taking centre stage again for the annual Athletics NI Les Jones Memorial 10k road race and the Northern Ireland & Ulster 10,000m Championships; both events are sponsored by ChampionChip Ireland.
There are of course several other events taking place, with the Downpatrick Lions 3 Lake Challenge and the annual Lifford-Strabane Half Marathon likely to attract a lot of interest. Athletes will have further choice in terms of participation options in the form of the Lislea 10k in Newry and the Loughgall Park Run in Loughgall; it must be noted that this s NOT an official free parkrun event.
Athletes from Northern Ireland will also be in action at the British Milers Club (BMC) Meeting in Manchester, England (start lists available HERE) and the Terenure 5 mile road race in Ireland. As previously mentioned, we’re working with minimal resources at the moment (until Thursday 19th May 2016), so this weekend preview will focus on the first four fixtures mentioned above, as we have ready access to information in relation to these.
Les Jones Memorial 10k:
The weekend action will kick off tonight, Friday 13th May 2016, at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast, when well over three hundred athletes are expected to take on the annual Les Jones Memorial 10k, an event hosted by Athletics NI.
The event is also the fourth race of the inaugural NOVOSCO 10K GRAND PRIX – the unique GP is currently being led by Lagan Valley AC’s Ruth Perioli.
The scenic 6.2 mile route, starts and finishes on the track at MPT and covers the neighbouring paths and trails in and around Minnowburn, Barnett’s Demesne and the Lagan Towpath.
Given that reigning Champion Brendan Teer (East Down AC) will more than likely to compete, and the runner up for 2015, David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC), will opt for the NI & Ulster 10,000m Championships this weekend, it looks like third place finisher twelve months ago, Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) will be one of the main contenders this time around. Since recording 35:42 for third place in 2015, Neill has improved significantly, now holding a personal best of 33:25. Recently, he also clocked an excellent 2:38:10 at the Virgin London Marathon.
Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC), Greg Lucy (Willowfield Harriers) and Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC) will also be worth watching. Ireland international Eoin, who is based in Scotland is better known for his performances in the mountains and on the trails – just two weeks ago the NI man claimed fifth place at the prestigious HOKA Highland Fling in Scotland. This followed a win at the Wicklow Way Ultra in Ireland back in March 2016. On record, Eoin’s personal best for 10k is 37:48, but he is capable of much, much quicker if he treats this as a race… more than likely somewhere around the thirty three minute mark; this undulating course will also suit him! Parkrun regular Gregory Lucy ran 37:37 at the Ballynahinch 10k last month and given that this course could be considered as similarly challenging, he should finish well inside the top ten. Meanwhile, the fast improving Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC) is becoming somewhat of a podium regular at local trail races, which should stand him in good stead here.
Marc Jennings (North Belfast Harriers), Patrick Higgins (Newcastle AC), Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers), Mark Weir (North Down AC), Martin Wilcox (East Down AC), Deane Fisher (Willowfield Harriers), and Bernard Brady (Larne AC) should all be looking for a top ten spot, while North Belfast Harriers’ David Clarke will be looking to maintain or further improve on his current second place position in the age graded Novosco 10k Grand Prix.
In the ladies race, Australian based athlete Sarah-Jane Beattie could be the one to watch barring any late high profile entries. The emerging athlete raced at the Armagh 3k back in February 2016, running a useful 11:44 for the distance. However, she will be up against Novosco 10k Grand Prix leader Ruth Perioli (Lagan Valley AC), a British Champion, as well as talented trail runner Sinead Murtagh (Newcastle AC); Sinead’s off-road experience could come in useful on this route. The ever consistent Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) will be there or there abouts, while Anne Havern (Newry City Runners) and Gillian Logan (Larne AC) could well be surprise podium finishers given their form at recent events.
NI & Ulster 10,000m Championships:
Just under 48 hours later, on Sunday 15th May 2016, athletes from across the province will again take to the impressive mondo surface for the annual NI & Ulster 10,000m Championships.
Over the last few years, the event has lacked numbers, which saw organisers team up with the hard working ChampionChip Ireland and host the Championship race as a stand-alone event. This has proved successful in increasing numbers – it has also attracted a talented field.
Amongst the leading male contenders are multiple NI & Ulster Championship medallist Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), the in-form David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and the returning Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) and Gary Henderson (Armagh AC). Considering his personal best is 31:11 and his most recent 10k time (on record) is 31:31, it’s hard to look past Scott Rankin as the pre-race favourite. The humble Foyle Valley AC man has kicked off 2016 well with arguably his most notable performance being a 1:08:32 personal best at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff. He has also recorded 8:27.29 for 3,000m and 14:37 for 5k, all of which bodes well her… when considering both endurance and speed.
Newcastle AC’s David O’Flaherty will go into this event off the back of an excellent run of results, all of which will have helped build the talented County Down man’s confidence ahead of this important fixture. Just last week, David was involved in an epic sprint finish with North Belfast Harriers’ Conal McCambridge over 3,000m at the Belfast International, where the men could not be split after crossing the line in 8:56.62. Prior to this, David clocked an impressive 32:29 over the tough Ballynahinch 10k course, which saw him take second place; he also ran 32:06 for a top ten finish at the Titanic 10k last month. Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) has returned to competition over the last couple of months and impressive as at several high profile events, this included a 32:18 personal best at the Titanic 10k and a 15:30 personal best 5k at Queen’s a few weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Gary Henderson impressed on home turf at the Run Armagh 10k, where his bettered his runners up position from 2015 with a victory in 34:01 – Gary is capable of knocking a minute off that time here! Other men to look out for include Acorns AC’s Darrell McKee, Dromore AC’s Nigel McKibbin and previous medallist over this distance Gary Keenan (Victoria Park & Connswater AC).
In the ladies race, City of Derry AC and Northern Ireland international Catherine Whoriskey looks like the athlete to beat. Catherine represented Northern Ireland at the recent IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, where she ran well to record 1:20:09 for a top ten finish in unpleasant conditions. The Spartan athlete also swapped her City of Derry AC vest for Northern Ireland colours at the IAAF Antrim International XC, where she claimed sixteenth place overall. Catherine picked up an AAI medal at the AAI National Intermediate XC Championships, where she secured third place in a talent laden field.
Another AAI XC medallist, Natalie Hall (Acorns AC) will toe the line. Natalie picked up a gold medal at the AAI National Novice XC Championships – she has also impressed on a local level, most recently with a 19:45 for 5k at the Holy Family 5k road race, which was enough to take second place. Dromore AC’s Laura Bickerstaff and new City of Lisburn AC recruit Maeve Lavery will also feature, as will Leann Gibson (Victoria Park & Connswater AC), who on her day, could contest a podium place.
Downpatrick Lions ‘3 Lakes’ Challenge:
In County Down on Saturday 14th May 2016, East Down AC will assist the local Downpatrick Lions Club in the organisation of their annual Lions ‘3 Lakes’ Challenge, an event which offers participants the choice of either a 14k race or a 7k race, both of which are set on an impressive undulating rural course, starting and finishing at the Lakeside Inn, Downpatrick.
Local man Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC) may return to competitive action after his excellent run at the Virgin Money London Marathon, where he recorded 2:49:46. Paul Carroll (Annadale Striders) and Gareth Lyons (Ballydrain Harriers) took second and third place here in 2015 and both could well return in the hope of bettering those positions; Paul in particular has been quite successful on the prize-winning front at this race over the last few years. Mark McFeeters (Orangegrove AC) should also go well.
East Down AC’s Niamh Kellet looks to be the pick of the ladies pre-entries, but could find it tough if the likes of Karen Alexander (Acorns AC), a previous winner here, decides to make use of the on the day entries. Ballydrain Harriers will bring a strong ladies squad, which will include familiar faces such as Heather McNeilly and Rosi Earney, while the host club’s Clare Carson (East Down AC) will also play a part at the head of the pack. Fellow East Down AC athletes Lisa Milligan and Laura Gardiner should also feature at the front if they turn out on the day.
Strabane – Lifford Half Marathon:
On Sunday 15th May 2016, hundreds of athletes are expected to take on the annual Strabane to Lifford Half Marathon, organised by Strabane District Council and the relatively newly amalgamated Lifford-Strabane AC. The race will start in Northern Ireland (in Strabane) and take competitors over the border to Lifford in Ireland.
In the last two years, Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) has dominated this event, having cruised to victory on both occasions. Interestingly, Stephen won by approximately four minutes in 2014, but this was reduced significantly tweleve months ago, when North Leitrim AC athlete Liam Feely chased the Omagh Harriers man all the way. Despite this, Stephen retained his title and will more than likely return this year in the hope of making it a hat-trick of wins – following an excellent performance to win the Killyclogher 10k last weekend, it’s hard to look past the Northern Ireland international runner.
In terms of competition, fellow Omagh Harriers man Paul Barbour made an impressive return from injury to take second place at the Killyclogher 10k and he may use that confidence as he aims to better his third place finish here in 2015. Gerard Heaney (St Peter's AC) may also play a part, while City of Derry AC trio Gary Slevin, Paul McCafferty and Mark Mullan may all play a part in proceedings.
Letterkenny AC ladies Ann-Marie McGlynn and Natasha Adams will be stand out favourites if they toe the line here, with Ann-Marie likely to edge out Natasha for the top prize. However, should the talented pairing not compete here, Lifford-Strabane AC athlete Claire McGuigan will be aiming to defend her title. Foyle Valley AC should be well represented and amongst their leading contenders will be Denise Ward, Gemma McGinty and Annalisa Mullan.
Other local fixtures taking place this weekend:
Saturday 14th May 2016: Loughgall Park Run 10k/5k, Loughgall Country Park, Loughgall - 10am
Saturday 14th May 2016: Lislea 10k, Lislea Community Centre, Ballyards Road, Armagh – 11am
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.
IMPORTANT NOTE: There may be a significant delay in the uploading of results and articles to our website over the next 5-6 days. We apologise in advance for this, but we will we working with minimum resources during this time.
Hill & Dale Series (Race 5) – Rocky 2016:
On Thursday 12th May 2016, over two hundred athletes descended on the Leitrim Lodge area of the stunning Mourne Mountains for Race 5 of the ongoing Hill & Dale Series, hosted by Newcastle AC.
On this occasion, athletes were faced with a 4.25 mile route, which incorporated 1,600ft of ascent and saw them negotiate ‘Rocky’ Mountain. In pleasant conditions, it was Barry McConville (Newcastle AC) who stole the headlines. After impressing in the opening races of the Series with several podium places, the fast improving athlete secured an excellent victory. Barry crossed the line in 33:22 to claim 1st place by just under a minute from Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers), who had climbed well early on. Neil followed in 34:19 (2nd place), before Colm Murtagh (Newcastle AC) took 3rd place in 34:44.
There were also some impressive performances in the ladies race, with the most consistent ladies of the Series and also the NIMRA season so far, Diane Wilson (Dromore AC), Gillian Wasson (Dromore AC) and Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC), all playing a part. The trio were very much to the fore throughout and it was Diane who led the way, taking top spot in 38:29 (1st place). Gillian clocked 40:07 for 2nd place, while Shileen followed in 40:28 (3rd place) to secure the final podium place.
Top 3 Men: 1st Barry McConville (Newcastle AC) – 33:22, 2nd Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers) – 34:19, 3rd Colm Murtagh (Newcastle AC) – 34:44
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) – 38:29, 2nd Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners) – 40:07, 3rd Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – 40:28
East Antrim Harriers Forest Trail Series – Race 1:
On Tuesday 10th May 2016, a record number of over three hundred athletes took to the start line of the East Antrim Harriers Forest Trail Series opener at Woodburn Forest, close to Carrickfergus.
In the ladies race, Kerry Bamber (Ballymena Runners) looked strong early on and enjoyed an excellent gun to tape victory, despite the best efforts of a talented chasing pack, which included Patricia Blair (Larne AC), Trudy Brown (Orangegrove AC), Natasha Henderson (County Antrim Harriers) and Tracey Atkinson (Albertville Harriers), amongst others. The always impressive and still improving Kerry clocked 20:14 (1st place), which was enough to see off the fast finishing Patricia Blair, who ran 20:17 (2nd place). Trudy Brown secured 3rd place in 21:50.
Weekend Round-Up: A busy and successful weekend for local runners...
This weekend (Friday 6th, Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th May 2016) saw Northern Ireland athletes compete at high profile events both at home and also outside the province.
Understandably, much of the focus has been on the Belfast International Track & Field Meeting at Mary Peters Track, Belfast as well as the third race of the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championship, the Annalong Horseshoe Mountain Race, both of which we have covered further down this 'News' page.
However, there has been other events, here is a round-up of what else has been going on over the weekend.
Holy Family 5k road race:
The weekend action will kick off on Friday 6th May 2016, when Holy Family Primary School hosted the inaugural running of their 5k road race in Magherafelt, County Derry/Londonderry. The course is proved to be flat and fast, with some quick times recorded.
At the head of the pack, City of Derry AC man Christopher McPeake marked his return to competition with a comfortable victory, recording 16:46 for 1st place. There was an excellent battle for the runners up spot, with just one second splitting PACE Running Club’s Stephen Nicholson and North Belfast Harriers’ Vernon Shiels, with Stephen edging it in 17:21 (2nd place); Vernon took 3rd place in 17:22.
In the ladies race, there was no stopping Ballymena Runners’ Sharon Leetch as she sealed victory in 19:12 (1st place). Behind, NI & Ulster Novice XC Champion Natalie Hall (Acorns AC) took 2nd place in 19:45 before the fast improving Amy Bulman (Unattached) completed the top three in 20:03 (3rd place).
Ballyshannon 5k (Ireland):
In Ireland on Friday 6th May 2016, a large number of Northern Ireland based athletes were in action at the Ballyshannon 5k road race, an event hosted by Tir Chonaill AC. The race is part of the ongoing Donegal 5k Grand Prix.
Amongst the most impressive performances of the evening was a win and personal best for Rio Olympic qualifier Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers), who covered the distance in 16:39 (1st place) – this not only secured top spot in the ladies race, but saw Breege claim 4th place overall. Northern Ireland men Michael Murphy (City of Derry AC) and Darragh Crossan (Foyle Valley AC) picked up prizes in the men’s race, finishing just ahead of Breege in 16:15 (2nd place) and 16:32 (3rd place) respectively. Foyle Valley AC’s Gemma McGinty also took to the podium having crossed the line in 19:16 for 3rd place.
Less than 24 hours later in County Tyrone, Killclogher GAC welcomed nearly three hundred athletes to their annual Killyclogher 10k road race on Saturday 7th May 2016. The event has attracted some recognised names over the years and this time proved no different.
Defending Champion Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) looked in good form as he retained his title. The multiple NI Championship medallist put in a classy performance to win in 32:13 (1st place), almost two minutes ahead of his nearest rival. On this occasion that was the returning Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers), who ran well to seal 2nd place in 34:07. Sherlock AC man Michael Reilly crossed the line in 34:43 for 3rd place.
There was an excellent win for the always impressive Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers) in the ladies event. The cross country specialist tends to race sparingly, but excels when she does lace up her racers – this was no different. Michelle led the ladies home in 38:01 (1st place). Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) continued her return to full fitness with a 2nd place finish in 41:26, just seven seconds ahead of Paula Donnelly (Unattached), who recorded 41:33 for 3rd place.
On Sunday 8th May 2016, athletes from across Northern Ireland descended on the Gulladuff area of County Derry/Londonderry for the annual Termoneeny 10k road race, hosted by Termoneeny Running Club. The rural course starts close to the Termoneeny Community Centre and finishes even closer to it (at the main entrance door!) – nearly two hundred competitors took part in the increasingly popular event.
In truth, it was like Michael Crawley (Unattached) versus Acorns AC at the lead of the pack, with no less than five Acorns AC men occupying places in the top six. However, there was no stopping the ever improving Michael as he clocked 34:37 for a comfortable win. Behind Bliadhan Glass (Acorns AC) took 2nd place in 36:25, before Aaron Meharg (Acorns AC) marked his return to competition with a podium place in 36:39 (3rd place).
In the ladies race, Stephanie Brolly (Fighting Fit RC) secured top spot in 44:09 (1st place). The host clubs Catriona Murphy (Termoneeny RC) was a popular prize-winner just over a minute later in 45:02 (2nd place), while her club mate Aine Mulholland also finished to loud cheers from the home supporters in 45:47 (3rd place).
Wings For Life Endurance Race (Ireland):
In Dublin (Ireland) on Sunday 8th May 2016, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland were in action at the unique Red Bull Wings For Life Endurance Race, an event which sees athletes across the globe start out at the same time and be chased by a ‘catcher car’ – your race ends when the car passes you!
Two Northern Ireland men made it into the top ten finishers in Ireland, Don Travers (Newry City Runners) and Jonny Steede (Glens Runners), both competing for the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR race team, produced excellent performances to finish in 48.5k (6th place) and 47.1k (8th place) respectively.
Annalong Horseshoe Mountain Race 2016:
On Saturday 7th May 2016, almost one hundred hardy mountain runners from across the province turned out for the famous Annalong Horseshoe Mountain Race, which was the third race of this year’s Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championship.
The race is classed as a ‘long’ event for NIMRA Championship purposes and measured 13.1 miles in distance with 1,550 metres of ascent incorporated. As expected, Mourne Runners athlete William McKee, winner of the first two races of this year’s Championship, played a major part at the front. In poor conditions, William led the way early on and had Colum Campbell (Newcastle AC) and Shane Donnelly (Acorns AC) for company en-route to the first checkpoint. Despite several ‘changes of the guard’ in-terms of challengers, it was the Kilkeel man who broke the tape first. Showing no signs of fatigue from his Thursday night win at Slieve Binnian, William recorded 2:14:11 for 1st place. Gary Bailey (Mourne Runners) came through well to take 2nd place in 2:20:01, just seeing off the ever improving Colum Campbell, who crossed the line in 2:20:12 (3rd place).
In the ladies race, navigational skills played a part at the front. In the opening stages, race favourites Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) and Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) were very much at the fore, but as visibility decreased, so did their chances of glory. This gave Slieve Binnian Hill & Dale winner Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners) and the always consistent Northern Ireland international Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) the opportunity to take charge from the second checkpoint onwards. At one point Gillian had a staggering twenty five minute lead on Hazel, but this reduced significantly as the pair made their route option and in the end, only a matter of seconds split them, with Gillian racing to the line for victory in 3:08:50 (1st place) and Hazel taking 2nd place in 3:08:56. In a similarly close battle for the final podium place, Jacqui Toal (BARF) clocked 3:09:48 for 3rd place, just ahead of the returning Denise Mathers (Mourne Runners), who ran 3:10:04 for 4th place.
Top 3 Men: 1st William McKee (Mourne Runners) – 2:14:11, 2nd Gary Bailey (Mourne Runners) – 2:20:01, 3rd Colum Campbell (Newcastle AC) – 2:20:12
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners) – 3:08:50, 2nd Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) – 3:08:56, 3rd Jacqui Toal (BARF) – 3:09:48
Full Results: Annalong Horseshoe Mountain Race 2016 Results – Photo above by Mark Alexander (Ballymena Runners). Official photos from the Annalong Horseshoe Mountain Race 2016 (by Jayne Bell) are now available HERE.
Belfast International Track & Field Meeting 2016:
On Saturday 7th May 2016, a plethora of athletic talent from across the UK and Ireland descended on Mary Peters Track, Belfast for the Belfast International Track & Field Meeting organised jointly by Athletics NI, Irish Milers and Beechmount Harriers.
On a day of inspiring athletes, there were numerous quality performances, which helped make the day a resounding success in both the eyes of the athletes and the spectators, despite the wet conditions. Portaferry's Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) started her Olympic track season in style at the Belfast International when she ran a respectable time of 9:07.47 in a mixed race over 3,000 metres.
Ciara was testing her race fitness in her first track race of the year before the critical challenges ahead over her Rio 1,500 metres distance. While the 24 year old was unfortunate to become isolated early in her event she produced a blistering finish for 6th place behind joint winners David O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers) who produced an epic finish which saw both men finish in a dead heat of 8:56.62. After a the race, a relaxed Ciara said; "I consider this to be a strong performance in my first track race this year. I feel there is much more to come. I had no time in mind but I certainly finished strongly. As you can see I wasn't ill afterwards which is my normal form. My first big 1,500 metres test will be in Belgium at the end of the month".
Arguably the performance of the meeting went to Donore Harriers'John Travers who had an impressive solo run in the 3,000m 'A' race, where he had a seven seconds victory margin in 8:03.69. The hard work of the pacemakers ensured that Ireland's Pierre Murchan (8:11.83) and Jack O'Leary (8:14.13) obtained qualification times for the World Junior Championships in Poland this July.
There was intense interest in the talent laden men's 400 metres where double European gold medallist David Gillick was competing in only his second race since 2012. The 32 year old Irish international showed serious signs of his old form as he took 2nd place in 47.24secs ahead of Timmy Crowe (47.37secs) and North Down AC's Andrew Mellon (47.83secs). Afterwards David Gillick denied that he was making a serious attempt to make an Irish Relay team for Rio.
Class double act of the day came from Birchfield Harriers Theo Campbell who won the 400 metres with a massive personal of 46.24secs (1st place). He also edged out Scotland's Cameron Tindle for victory in the 200 metres in 21.4 secs (1st place).
The much anticipated Women's 400 metres hurdles lived up to expectations with British Universities champion Jess Turner, Ballymena & Antrim AC's Christine McMahon and Ireland's Jessie Barr fighting a close battle right to the line. The verdict went to Jess Turner in 58.12secs (1st place) closely followed by Christine McMahon (2nd place - 58.32 secs) who finally defeated rival Jessie Barr (3rd place - 58.50secs). A delighted Christine said; "I was leading with 20 metres to go but my legs just gave way. I am pleased and will get better with a few more races ".
In the much talked about ladies 800 metres Irish Champion Laura Crowe (2:04.21) lost out to Cumbria's Katy Brown who just took the spoils in 2:04.05 (1st place). Once again, Kelly Neely of City of Lisburn AC excelled, bettering her own Vet35 800m record when she finished in 5th place in 2:05.56, just ahead of an improving Katy Kirk of QUB AC (6th place - 2:05.92). The men's 1,500 metres was dominated by Bristol's Dan Studley who romped home in a classy 3:45.77 (1st place) well ahead of Derby's Richard Weir (2nd place - 3:48.40), but in truth, James Hamilton of Ballymena Runners stole the headlines with a win in the 'B' race - the fast improving track star made a sensational breakthrough when he took 8 seconds off his personal best to win in 3:59.71 (1st place) - this is a qualification time for the Rio Paralympics in September. The equivalent ladies race was won by Coventry's Rowena Cole in 4:19.58 secs (1st place) with UCD's Ciara Everard who is bound for Rio in the 800 metres fading to 5th place.
Bath's European Junior high hurdles 4th placer David King was an easy winner in 13.91secs with City of Lisburn's Megan Marrs taking the ladies title in 13.89 secs. Megan just lost in the 100 metres flat to Ireland's Sarah Murray (1st place - 11.90 secs) while Ireland's Eanna Madden won the men's sprint in 10.67secs. Craig Lynch got the verdict for 2nd place from Ballymena & Antrim AC Jonathan Browning with both being timed at 10.80secs.
Full Results: Belfast International 2016 Results - Please Note: The above summary was compiled using information form the Athletics NI race report. Photos from the Belfast International will be added to our website in the coming days.
Weekend Preview: Belfast International, Annalong Horseshoe and more…
After a busy Bank Holiday Weekend which saw tens of thousands of competitors take to the streets of Belfast for the 35th annual Belfast City Marathon, and local athletes excel in the UK and further afield, it is time to turn our attention to this coming weekend’s action.
The undoubted highlight is the Belfast International Track & Field Meeting which will take place on Saturday 7th May 2016 at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast. The event, which will be hosted by the Irish Milers Club (IMC), Athletics NI and local club Beechmount Harriers, will attract a plethora of track talent.
Although this will be the focus of our weekend preview, there are other events taking place this weekend, this includes the third race in this year’s Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association Championship Series, the Annalong Horseshoe, the Holy Family 5k, Killyclougher 10k and the Termoneeny 10k. There will also be a Garmin Mourne Skylin MTR team at the Wings For Life Endurance Race in Dublin, Ireland.
Holy Family 5k Road Race:
The weekend action will kick off later tonight (Friday 6th May 2016), when Holy Family Primary School host their inaugural 5k road race in Magherafelt, County Tyrone. The course is deemed ‘very fast’ by organisers and will therefore attract athletes looking to improve their times over this distance – it is also perfect for those wishing to take on their very first 5k!
Local clubs Magherafelt Harriers, Sperrin Harriers and Acorns AC are likely to be well represented at this event, with a potential winner coming from the likes of Michael Crawley (Unattached), Eoin Hughes (Acorns AC), Diarmuid O’Kane (Acorns AC), Cathaoir Purvis (Acorns AC) Sebastian Wewskiisni (Magherafelt Harriers). Sperrin Harriers’ Tanya Quinn will go well in the ladies race should she make use of the on the night entries.
Belfast International Track & Field Meeting:
On Saturday 7th May 216, the eyes of the track and field world will be on Belfast International Track & Field Meeting at MPT, Belfast. The event follows on from the successful Irish Milers Club (IMC) and Beechmount Harriers Meet in 2015 – this year, Athletics NI have joined the team and the meet is now called the Belfast International.
There is certainly an ‘international’ feel about it with a star studded line-up set to perform on what is the second event on the IMC calendar, following on from the success Greystones Track & Field Meeting last weekend.
Rio Olympics bound Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) is the most notable name on the entry list that reads like a ‘who’s who’ of Northern Irish and Irish athletics – the field also includes several high profile UK mainland stars, including GB international Alexandra Bell.
This early season meeting will be the first serious competition for many of the three hundred athletes from Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, England, Scotland, Poland and Hungary. A select few Irish athletes will have their eyes on making a mark for selection for the European Championships in July 2016.
The aforementioned Ciara Mageean will however be using the occasion of her first track outing of the year to test her fitness for the Olympics in a mixed race over 3,000m. This will be a useful variation for her prior to future races over her shorter Rio 1,500m event. She should however perform well over the longer distance where she holds the NI record of 8:55. The best of the male opposition should be Donore Harriers’ John Travers who ran 7:55 indoors over the winter.
The ladies 400 hurdles will attract a lot of interest with Ballymena & Antrim AC star Christine McMahon once again facing Ferrybank AC’s irish international Jessie Barr. Jessie just got the verdict in this meeting two years ago but this time Christine is on a high following her European ‘B’ standard time last weekend where she claimed silver in the BUCS Championships in 57.78secs. However both may have to play second fiddle to England's Jess Turner who took gold at the BUCS Championships in 57.49 secs.
In the men’s 400 metres North Down AC’s Andrew Mellon ran a personal best of 47.48secs last week and should be in contention against England's James Gladman and Theo Campbell of Scotland who won the B race here two years ago.
Going by the line-up, the ladies 800m should be the race of the day. A plethora of talent will be on show, but it’s likely to come down to Ireland's Laura Crowe, City of Lisburn AC athletes Erin McIlveen and Kelly Neely, or Commonwealth Games runner Katie Kirk (QUB AC) all of whom will be racing.
Aislinn Crossey (Newry AC) had originally been in the line-up, but we believe she may now go in the 1500m, where she will face tough opposition in the form of Rio bound 800m runner Ciara Everard of UCD AC, Great Britain’s Rowena Cole and Banbridge AC’s Emma Mitchell. The men's 800m race will involve England's Bobby Needham, Scotland's Cameron Boyek plus Polish athletes Matusz Borowski and Kamil Gurdak who have personal bests of 1:47. However, St Abban's Brian Kelly who won here 2 years ago is currently in great form.
In the 100m sprints Ballymena & Antrim AC’s in-form Jonathan Browning will face junior Scottish star Cameron Tindle. The absence of Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC) in the ladies event leaves the way clear for a battle between City of Lisburn AC’s Megan Marrs and Scotland's Molly Scott. These two will also clash in the hurdles event. With local high hurdles star Ben Reynolds racing in the US the way should be clear for a victory for Bath's Dave King who was fourth in the European Junior Championships.
The event will be streamed LIVE via YouTube, the link is available HERE. A start list for the event is available HERE and a timetable HERE. Please Note: Some information for the above preview was taken from the Athletics NI website.
Annalong Horseshoe Mountain Race:
Also on Saturday 7th May 2016, mountain runners from across the province will take part in the famous Annalong Horseshoe Mountain Race, which is the third race of this year’s Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championship.
The race is classed as a ‘long’ event for NIMRA Championship purposes and measures 13.1 miles in distance with 1,550 metres of ascent incorporated. After excelling with wins in the opening two races of this year’s NIMRA Championship, Mourne Runners man William McKee is likely to play a major part in proceedings.
That is despite competing at last night’s Hill & Dale ‘Slieve Binnian’ event, where he produced a classy performance to secure victory. This race is probably quite a long one for William, who seems to prefer the shorter faster courses, but there is no doubting the Kilkeel man’s ability when stepping up in distance; afterall, he proved his worth at The Fallows, winning by over four minutes over the 10 mile distance.
Newcastle AC’s David Hick’s performed well at the aforementioned ‘Fallows’ race and will doubt be in the mix here. North Belfast Harriers duo Neil Carty and Tommy Simmons could also start and taking their recent performances into consideration, both should be there or there abouts – Neil narrowly missed a podium place at the Championship opener in Glenariff, while Tommy has shown some great climbing this term to finish well up the picking order in several races. Young Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) has also been in fantastic form this term, while Sam Herron (Mourne Runners), who took third place here in 2015, will also go well. The ever consistent Shane Donnelly (Acorns AC), Deon McNeilly (Newcastle AC) and Dale Mathers (Mourne Runners) are almost certain of a top ten spot should they enter on the day.
In the ladies race, it’s hard to look past the always impressive Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) for top spot should she toe the line. Although, given that Diane dipped her toes into the season (with an excellent win at ‘The Fallows’) a little later than most, the distance here may have an impact. Should Diane falter, Glenariff winner and reigning Champion here, Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) will be the most likely candidate to top the podium – Shileen enjoyed an excellent run for her Belfast based club Lagan Valley AC at last week’s Belfast City Marathon Relay and more recently, took second place at last night’s Hill & Dale Series event at Slieve Binnian. Other ladies to look out for are Yorkshire 3 Peaks participants Jacque Toal (BARF) and Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC), as well as Beverly Herron (Mourne Runners) and Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC).
In County Tyrone on Saturday 7th May 2016, hundreds of athletes and exercise enthusiasts are expected to turn out for the Killyclogher 10k road race, just outside Omagh. In the past, this event has attracted some well-known athlete, with the likes of Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) and Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) on the winner’s trophy.
Derry City Track Club’s Martin Cox, a winner here in 2014, should race and may well come up against current Champion and local running hero Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers), who showed good form to win the recent Ballynahinch 10k last month. This flat and fast course will offer the former Omagh Harriers club mates the opportunity to further improve their 10k bests. Stephen has recorded 30:51 previously, while Martin best recorded 10k is 33:06. Fergus McGirr (Enniskillen Running Club), Darrell McKee (Acorns AC), Peter Neill (Omagh Triathlon Club) and Aidan O'Hagan (Acorns AC) will contest the remaining podium places should they compete.
Sperrin Harriers' Pauline McGurren, the reigning Champion here, will start as favourite. Like her male counterparts, Pauline will be hoping to improve her 10k personal best, which currently stands at 38:55 – given the fact that Pauline has stepped onto the podium in every race she has entered in 2016, she’ll be hard to knock off top spot. Acorns AC’s Novice XC Champion Natalie Hall and Omagh Harriers' Patricia Campbell should also place well if they enter.
On Sunday 8th May 2016, athletes from across Northern Ireland are expected to descend on the Gulladuff area of County Derry/Londonderry for the annual Termoneeny 10k road race, hosted by Termoneeny Running Club. The rural course starts close to the Termoneeny Community Centre and finishes even closer to it (at the main entrance door!).
It is unlikely that defending Champion Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC) will return to defend his title. This may leave the way clear for former winner Jarlath Falls (Ballymena & Antrim AC) to take up the mantle of pre-race favourite, although Jarleth himself has been quiet on the racing front this year. Tommy Hughes (Termoneeny RC), Aaron Meharg (Acorns AC) could start, while Michael Kerr (Carmen Runners) could also contest a podium place if he decides to race having completed the Belfast City Marathon last weekend. Other men to look out for include Bryan Edgar (Springwell Running Club), Bernard Brady (Larne AC) and James Brown (Larne AC). In the ladies race, Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) could return. In 2015, Gemma looked strong as she secured victory by over a minute on Ballymena Runners’ Lorna Sibbett. Lorna’s club mates Paula Arthur-McCarthy and Paula McAllister will feature at the front if they decide to race.
Wings For Life Endurance Race (Dublin):
On Sunday 8th May 2016, five Northern Ireland based athletes will represent the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR at the Wings For Life Endurance Race in Dublin, Ireland. The unique global event, hosted by Red Bull and supported by Garmin, will see competitors from all over the world try to cover the furthest distance before being caught by the ‘catcher car’, which will increase in speed as the race progresses.
Team Manager and Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR course director Justin Maxwell will be joined on the team by Don Travers (Newry City Runners), Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC), Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) and Andrew Guy (East Coast AC) as they try to impress both on a team and individual level.
IMPORTANT NOTE: There may be a significant delay in the uploading of results and articles to our website over the next 7-10 days. We apologise in advance for this, but we will we working with minimum resources during this time.
Hill & Dale Series 2016 - Race 4 (Binnian to the Top):
On Thursday 5th May 2016, over two hundred athletes turned out for Race 4 of the ongoing Hill & Dale Series, a well organised and popular set of trail and mountain races hosted by Newcastle AC. On this occasion, Slieve Binnian was the location of choice, with competitors faced with a short but tough challenge, a 2 mile uphill only route, which incorporated 2,000ft of ascent.
Local athlete and one of the province’s most in-form athletes William McKee (Mourne Runners) put in a strong performance, once again showing his ability on the ascent. In the end, William bettered his third place finish here in 2015 when he sealed victory in 21:38 (1st place), over a minute quicker than he covered the course in twelve months ago. Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC), who won Race 2, followed in 22:34 (2nd place) before the emerging Barry McConville (Newcastle AC) completed the top three in 24:08 (3rd place).
In the ladies race, Gillian Wasson, a recent addition to the Ballymena Runners ranks, continued her good run of form at this year’s Series. Following three podium places in a row, one of which was a win, Gillian clocked 27:46 (1st place) for a comfortable win. Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC) clocked 29:09 for 2nd place, while Murlough AC’s Sinead Murtagh followed just nine seconds later in 29:18 for 3rd place.
Top 3 Men: 1st William McKee (Mourne Runners) – 21:38, 2nd Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) – 22:34, 3rd Barry McConville (Newcastle AC) – 24:08
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners) – 27:46, 2nd Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – 29:09, Sinead Murtagh (Murlough AC) – 29:18
Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon 2016:
On Monday 2nd May 2016, tens of thousands of runners and spectators took to the streets of Northern Ireland's capital city, Belfast for the 35th annual running of the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon and the associated Team Relay event.
Early morning rain and wind threatened to dampen the atmosphere, but as the athletes gathered at the City Hall start line the sun made an appearance. Although the wind remained and made things difficult for competitors, it did not prevent some outstanding performances.
Joel Kositany (Kenya) completed a hat-trick of Belfast City Marathon wins and Berhan Gebremichael (Ethiopia) retained her 2015 crown, but it was the performance of local lady Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) which excited the spectators and media. After clocking an eight minute personal best of 2:48:03 eight days ago, the Kilkeel lady stole the headlines with a second place finish here; just rewards for an excellent run.
The event kicked off at Belfast City Hall were the seemingly endless field set off on the undulating course that would see them make their way to the finish line in Ormeau Park, via East, North, West and South Belfast, as well as a section in Newtownabbey.
The lead pack of two-time Belfast Marathon Champion Joel Kositany (Kenya) and Project Africa Athletics man Eric Koech (Kenya) headed a group of four men, which also included Dan Tanui (Project Africa Athletics) and Christopher Zablocki (Chichester AC) as they went through 10k in approximately 32:07.
In the ladies race, Berhan Gebremichael covered the first 6.2 miles in 37:27, giving her over a minute of a lead on the chasing trio of Laura Graham, Helen Csonge (Hungary) and Josann Attard-Pulis (IL-Fugra) who all passed 10k around 38:32 - Radka Churanova (Czech Republic) followed in 39:23, with Irish Olympian Catriona Jennings (Rathfarnham WSAF) just behind.
Even at 13.1 miles, there was little splitting the leading men, with Joel Kositany, Eric Koech and Dan Tanui all passing the half-way mark in 1:08:33 - Christopher Zablocki had dropped off the pace. Reigning Champion Berhan Gebremichael led the ladies onto the long downhill section towards the Shore Road in Newtownabbey, passing the half-way point in 1:21:50. Laura Graham (13.1 miles – 1:23:16) looked strong, having now settled into the group which she had led through the earlier harsh windy conditions. Behind, Catriona Jennings, Radka Churanova, Josann Attard-Pulis and Helen Csonge were all in contention for the third podium place.
The race progressed through Newtownabbey, along the M2 foreshore and onwards into Duncrue Industrial Estate. At the 21 mile marker, not even a second split the top three men of Joel Kositany, Eric Koech and Dan Tanui, with all clocking 1:51:26; it was obvious that this race was going to the wire! Berhan Gebremichael (21 miles – 2:15:17) was beginning to feel the effects of her solo effort at this stage, and with Catriona Jennings having now withdrawn from the race, it was down to NI & Ulster 10k medallist Laura Graham to chase her down – Laura went through 21 miles in 2:16:31 and set about reducing the gap at the front. Meanwhile, behind the Mourne Runners athlete, Radka Churanova was cementing herself into third place, having gone through 21 miles in 2:19:09.
As the crowds gathered in Ormeau Park to await the finishers, updates from organisers re-iterated the battle that was going on at the head of the pack. It wasn’t until the 23 mile mark when Joel Kositany, determined to complete a hat-trick of Belfast Marathon wins, made his move. He surged and quickly put 10-15 metres on Eric and Dan – without settling, the Kenyan went again and opened the gap further.
Despite their efforts, Eric and Dan could not reduce the fast increasing distance at the front and looked resigned to battling for the runners up spot. Joel further increased his lead, negotiating the Ormeau Road and Ravenhill Road before turning onto the Ormeau Embankment. To huge applause from the crowds, the Kenyan athlete broke the tape in 2:17:39 for 1st place. In a close finish, Eric Koech secured 2nd place in 2:18:43, with Dan Tanui following in 2:18:46 (3rd place).
Ballymena Runners’ Ben Morrow led the local contingent home in 2:42:40 (11th place), with Niall Farquharson the next familiar face to cross the line in 2:47:14 (13th place). Coleraine man Collum Gaile followed just sixteen second later in 2:47:30 (14th place).
In the final stages of the ladies race, Laura Graham relentlessly pursued leader Berhan Gebremichael, an athlete who has never failed to win a marathon she has started. However, the end came just too soon for the Northern Ireland lady, as Berhan was able to hold on, retaining her title in 2:48:26 (1st place). The fast finishing Laura crossed the line thirty seconds later in 2:48:56 (2nd place) – this also saw Laura lead the local runners home, before Radka Churanova completed the top three in 2:51:37 (3rd place). North Belfast Harriers’ Roisin Hughes came through well to take 5th place in the ladies race in 3:02:05, while Belfast Marathon regular Victoria Hunter completed the top three local finishers in 3:06:51 (8th place).
In the associated five person team relay competition, the ‘mixed’ team from North Belfast Harriers led the way, with Adam Boyd crossing the line in 2:24:24 for secure victory. Full results for the relay competition are available HERE.
Top 3 Men: 1st Joel Kositany (Kenya) – 2:17:39, 2nd Eric Koech (Project Africa Athletics) – 2:18:43, 3rd Dan Tanui (Project Africa Athletics) - 2:18:46
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Berhan Gebremichael 2:48:26, 2nd Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 2:48:56, 3rd Radka Churanova (Czech Republic) – 2:51:37
Top Northern Ireland Finishers:
Top 3 Men: 11th Ben Morrow (Ballymena Runners) – 2:42:40, 13th Niall Farquharson (Beechmount Harriers) – 2:47:14, 14th Collum Gaile (Albertville Harriers) – 2:47:30
Top 3 Ladies: 2nd Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 2:48:56, 6th Roisin Hughes (North Belfast Harriers) – 3:02:05, 9th Victoria Hunter (Unattached) – 3:06:51
Remember: If you would like to catch up on our 'News' from April 2016, including a summary in relation performances by Northern Ireland based athletes at major events all over the world this weekend, you can use the navigation banner at the top of the screen (and scroll to April 2015) or click HERE.