Northern Ireland Running

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Conor Bradley and Fionnuala Ross secure Athletics NI titles at Seeley Cup:

Connor Bradley and Fionnuala Ross excel at Athletics NI Championships:

On Saturday 30th November 2013, thousands of athletes and spectators descended on Ormeau Park, Belfast for the annual Seeley Cup 10k, which also incorporated the Athletics NI 10k Championships.

One of the most exciting fields of the year set off on the course, which covers the paths in and around the well used park.  After an excellent race, it was Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC) who claimed top honours and the associated Athletics NI title; Conor, who is more known for his impressive exploits on the track, only competed over the 10k distance for the first time two weeks ago, on grass, at the AAI Inter-Counties XC in Dublin.  The City of Derry Spartan took almost two minutes off that time (32:46), winning the closely contested race in 30:34 . Paddy Hamilton (Annadale Striders) replicated the podium position he claimed last year, after securing 2nd place in 30:39, before Joe McAlister (St Malachy's AC) completed the top three men in 30:50 (3rd place). Special mention must also go to Armagh AC's Dermot Kerr, who set a new Vet55 Irish (Masters) 10k record with his 34:41 (49th place) finish.

Although the ladies race wasn't just as closely contested as the men's, it did provide an interesting battle between Fionnuala Ross (Armagh AC) and Gladys Ganiel O'Neill (North Belfast Harriers), two exceptionally talented ladies.  Fionnuala Ross produced the performance of her life in the second half of the race to claim victory in 34:45, and with it, the Athletics NI 10k title.  Gladys Ganiel O'Neill also ran well, crossing the line in 35:16 (2nd place), while another of North Belfast Harriers' Commonwealth Games qualifiers, Breege Connolly took 3rd place in 36:42.

Top 3 Men: 1st Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC) - 30:34, 2nd Paddy Hamilton (Annadale Striders) - 30:39, 3rd Joe McAlister (St Malachy's AC) - 30:50)

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Fionnuala Ross (Armagh AC) – 34:45, 2nd Gladys Ganiel O'Neill (North Belfast Harriers) – 35:18, 3rd Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) – 36:42

Full Results:  Seeley Cup 10k (inc Athletics NI 10k Championships) 2013 Results (Photograph above taken by Michael Bradley).  Please be aware, if you are viewing the Seeley Cup 10k results from the mobile version of our website, they appear to be showing incorrectly (we do not know why this is happening); we would therefore advise viewing them via the official version of our website.  Also, there are photo's from the Seeley Cup within our Photo Gallery (courtesy of Gareth Heron).

Weekend Preview:  Seeley Cup 10k takes centre stage...

Weekend Preview:  Seeley Cup 10k (inc Athletics NI Championships:

This weekend brings one of the most exciting races on the Athletics NI road racing calendar, the Seeley Cup 10k in Belfast; the popular event, which is expected to attract in excess of one thousand competitors will also incorporate the Athletics NI 10k Championships.  Local athletes will also race in Belfast, Glasgow (Scotland) and Florida (USA).

On Saturday 30th November 2013, a plethora of the provinces top athletes will be amongst the aforementioned crowds at the Seeley Cup 10k; however, last years champion Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) and the current AAI National 10k champion, Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers) are expected to miss out as they, alongside fellow NI athletes, Ryan McDermott (Annadale Striders) and Ann-Marie McGlynn (Lifford AC) prepare for next week's European Cross Country Championships in Serbia.

Paddy Hamilton (Annadale Striders), Eddie McGinley (Annadale Striders), Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC), Declan Reed (City of Derry AC), Brendan Teer (East Down AC), Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC), Brian Campbell (Willowfield Harriers), Alan O'Hara (North Belfast Harriers), Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), Andrew Agnew (Annadale Stiders), Gary Murray (St Malachy's AC) and Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) will all be hoping to play a prominent part in what could well be the most exciting line up of the year.

Annadale Striders club mates Paddy Hamilton and Eddie McGinley will return to competition after excellent marathon debut's at the Airtricty Dublin Marathon last month.  Paddy finished in 2:23:37, with Eddie following closely in 2:24:52; Last year's Seeley Cup runner up, Paddy, has won the Lisburn 10k, Craigavon Lakes 10k, Bann 10k and the Run for Catherina 5k (Ireland) this year, with his fastest 10k time being 30:57.  Eddie claimed a bronze medal at the AAI National 10k (Road) Championships in Phoenix Park, Dublin in April 2013 after recording 31:00 in horrendous conditions. He also finished on the podium at the AAI National 10,000m (Track) Championsips, after running 30:08.  Arguably, Eddie's best 10k performances have come in England, when he won the Highgate Harriers 10,000m in 29:57 and took fourth place at the Sainsburys British 10,000m Championships in 29:32, a massive new personal best. 

Keith Shiels has won no less than sixteen races in 2013 and achieved new personal bests over every distance that he has covered, namely 3,000m (8:47.82), 5k (15:11), 5m (25:51), 10k (30:59) and Half Marathon (1:09:32).  The highlight of this must surely have been a win at his local Half Marathon, in Waterside (Derry/L'Derry).  Just two weeks ago, Keith took a bronze medal in the competitive Vet35 category at the British & Irish Masters International Cross Country in Cardiff, Wales.  Athletics NI 5K (Road) champion and winner of the recent McConnell Shield XC, Declan Reed, will also be amongst the front runners.  After several weeks on the sidelines with a niggle, the Spartan looked in great shape as he surged to victory in Ballyclare earlier this month.  His 30:43 finish at the Trafford 10k this year puts Declan amongst the fastest men in the field and therefore, he is one to watch.

Andrew Agnew will also be there or there abouts; the Annadale Striders athlete recorded his 10k personal best (31:03) on this course two years ago, narrowly missing out on a podium place after finishing in fourth place.  More recently, Andrew really showed his ability when he ran 14:27.34 for 5,000m at a BMC event in Sports City in Manchester.  Brendan Teer and Alan O'Hara have been close to each other all year, with both having put in some exceptional performances.  Brendan has been amongst the prizes at twenty three events this year and is the current NI & Ulster Junior XC champion.  He also finished in third place behind Stephen Scullion and Eddie McGinley at the Belfast City Half Maraton after crossing the line in a new personal best of 1:11:25; last week, the multi-terrain specialist cruised to victory at the Griddle 10k in Downpatrick.  Alan has also been in outstanding form, with notable performances at the Armagh International 5k, Dunshaughlin 10k, Felix 10k, Armagh 10 mile road race and a medal at the NI & Ulster XC Championships on his CV.  Over an above those, Alan has won the Sperrin Harriers 5m Classic, the Decathlon Half Marathon and the Stormont XC.  

It was at this race last year when Scott Rankin really made his presence in the local running scene known, with a superb performance, finishing in third place (31:38) behind Annadale Striders duo Paul Pollock and Paddy Hamilton; the Foyle Valley AC star will be hoping for a similar placing this time around.  Since the Seeley Cup 2012, Scott has continued to improve, with new personal bests over 3,000m (8:39.43), 5k (14:43) and 13.1m (1:11:39).  His race winning performance at the Jude Gallagher 10m race, where he covered the distance in 52:14, did not go un-noticed either. Track star, Conor Bradley narrowly missed a sub four minute mile this season after clocking 4:01.83 at the Morton Games in Dublin.  The City of Derry AC man won the 1500m race at the AAI Games in a new personal best of 3:43.39 and also won Silver medals over 1500m at the AAI National indoor Championships, AAI National (Senior) Championships and the NI & Ulster Championships, as well as another Silver over 3,000m at the AAI National Championships.  Off the track, Conor has impressed at the recent Inter-Counties XC, where his finished his first ever 10k in 32:26.  Given the firmer surface on the Ormeau Park course, he should find himself with the front runners here.

Brian Campbell and Neil Johnston both impressed at the McConnell Shield XC (Ballyclare); Exceptionally talented Brian has returned to competition following injury problems through 2011/2012 and is showing signs that he is back to his best; three weeks ago, he finished in fifth place in what was a quality field in Ballyclare.  The former NIAF Cross Country and Irish Triathlon champion will be looking for a repeat peformance here and could well provide one of the 'suprises' of the day for those who are unfamiliar with his history in the sport.  Interestingly, Brian has never finished outside the top five at the Seeley Cup when he has been competing at it.  Up and coming star, Neil Johnston produced one of the performances of the day at the McConnell Shield, out-pacing several high profile names in the final lap to secure second place.  Our records show that Neil's personal best for 10k is 33:15, but based on his recent outing, he will absolutely smash that at this event.  St Malachy's AC man Gary Murray returned to the competitive scene a few weeks ago and celebrated with a victory at the Donegal Cross Country Championships in Carndonagh (Ireland); this was an excellent return and will mean he goes into this race high in confidence.

There are numerous other top quality athletes that should be at the head of the field, these may include Owen Carelton (Annadale Striders), Patrick Hamilton (City of Derry AC), Connor Magill (North Belfast Harriers), Emmett McGinty (City of Derry AC), Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers), Paul Rowan (Willowfield Harriers), Adam Boyd (North Belfast Harriers), Andrew Annett (Mourne Runners), Pius McIntyre (Foyle Valley AC) and Armagh AC trio Dermot Kerr, Stephen Kerr and Shane Kerr.  Brendan Grew (North Belfast Harriers), David O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC), Francis Marsh (North Down AC), Mark Kendall (Newcastle AC)., Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers), Stephen Prentice (Enniskillen Running Club), Glenn Phair (Annadale Striders) and Mark Wright (Annadale Striders) will also run well.

The ladies will also feature an exciting amount of talent, with Gladys Ganiel O'Neill (North Belfast Harriers), Fionnuala Ross (Armagh AC), Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers), Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC), Lauren Quee (Unattached), Julie Balmer (North Down AC), Marina Campbell (City of Derry AC), Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) and Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC) all likely to battle it out for the podium places.

Gladys O'Neill will go into the event as pre-race favourite; it's impossible to mention Gladys without referring to her excellent outing at the Berlin Marathon, where she achieved a Commonwealth Games qualifying standard after crossing the line in 2:39:26.  

That hasn't been the endurance athlete's only notable performance this year, she also claimed runners up spot at the Irish trials for the European Mountain Running Championships, before going to Bulgaria and represented Ireland at the Championships.  On top of that, Gladys also picked up a Silver medal at the AAI National Half Marathon Championships after running 1:15:08.  At the Loughshore 10k, the North Belfast Harriers lady finished second overall, thus winning the ladies race; she also won the Mourne Way Half Marathon.  

Fionnuala Ross, a student at McNeese College in America, is another lady to watch out for; this year, the Northern Ireland 10,000m record holder (35:18.06) has run a 2:57:03 marathon (in Berlin), then just a few weeks later, she turned out for Armagh AC and ran the fifth quickest leg of the day at the MacAndrew Relays in Scotland.  Cathy McCourt has made the headlines quite a lot recently, the international athlete returned from a long spell of injury in the summer and has impressed on an almost weekly basis since.  Amongst these top performances, were wins at the NIMAA Masters XC and the Donegal XC Championships, as well as podium places at the Fairhill 5, Sperrin Harriers 5m Classic, Runher 10k, Felix 10k and the Bangor 10k.  Cathy also won a Silver medal in the Vet40 category at the British & Irish Master XC International in Cardiff two weeks ago.  Another lady going into this race with high expectation on her shoulders is young Armagh AC lady Danielle Fegan.  After a good run at the Seeley 10k in 2012, Danielle has gone from strength to strength; she started 2013 with a medal at the Athletics NI XC Championships, before taking third place at the Armagh 10 mile road race and a well-deserved victory at the Athletics NI XC League fixture in Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor.

Former international track star Kelly Neely burst onto the road running scene after 'hanging up her spikes' and has made quite an impression, taking prizes at no less than eight occasions since June 2013, winning the Active Antrim 5 mile road race and the Portaferry 10 mile road race.  However, the most impressive thing about Kelly's year has been her adaption to the roads and her subsequent progression; from June to September 2013, the City of Lisburn AC runner has slashed three minutes and one second off her Half Marathon personal best.  

Gemma Turley and Julie Balmer have been two of Northern Ireland's most decorated athletes of 2013.  Between the talented pair, they have at least thirty one podium places and seventeen wins.  Gemma has topped the podium at the Fairhill 5, NFU Mutual 5, Dervock 10k and Causeway Coast 10k to name a few, while Julie dominated the Pure Running Half Marathon Series, winning six of the eight races she entered; Julie was also the first NI lady home at the Belfast City Marathon.  Lauren Quee and Marina Campbell are two ladies in top form at the moment, just last week, Lauren stole the glory at the Scottish University XC Championships after putting in a strong performance to secure victory.  This adds to brilliant runs at the Laganside 10k, Decathlon Half Marathon, Belfast City Half Marathon and the Great Scottish Half Marathon, where she ran a new personal best of 1:25:52.  City of Derry AC's Marina Campbell has started the Cross Country season well, finishing in the top ten in all three races so far.  At the McConnell Shield XC, Marina finished strongly to take third place, less than a week later, she won the tough 'Run in the Dark' 5k in a pretty decent 20:02, especially considering the course.  The confidence gained from this victory could well assist Marina as she strives for a podium place and/or personal best.

Recently crowned NI & Ulster Novice XC champion, Sarah Lindsay (Foyle Valley AC) will also place well, as will Roberta Dornan (North Down AC), Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers), Paula McAllister (Ballymena Runners), Gillian Burns (Dromore AC), Judi Graham (North Belfast Harriers), Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers), Julie Murphy (Lagan Valley AC), Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC), Maeve Lavery (Dub Runners), Trish McClintock (Foyle Valley AC), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) and Claire Prenter (North Belfast Harriers), all of whom have been in or around the podium on several occasions this year.

Also on Saturday 30th November 2013, at least one Northern Ireland runner will line up for the Glasgow University 5 mile road race in Scotland. Larne AC's junior mountain running international, Ryan Stewart will be aiming for a personal best as he takes on the undulating 5 mile course on the outskirts of Glasgow.

On Sunday 1st December 2013, Action Hearing Loss NI will host their second fundraising event of the year, a 5 mile race.  Following the success of the first event, a tough 10k on Divis Mountain, the worthwhile organisation will now offer participants a flat and fast course.  The race is expected to attract a good mixture of fitness enthusiasts and local club runners; respected athletes such as Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers), Paul Woodman (Orangegrove AC), Louise Lemon (Orangegrove AC) and David Turtle (Seapark AC) are likely to be the pace setters. After having won the previous event (Divis 10k), Simon and Louise will be keen to impress once again.  On the day entry is available for this event, with registration taking place in the Portside Inn, Dargan Industrial Estate, Belfast from 9.45am.

Further afield, on Sunday 1st December 2013, East Coast AC athlete Amanda Peoples will join thousands of athletes at Space Coast Marathon in Florida, USA.  The event, which is held in the area surrounding the Kennedy Space Centre, boasts a scenic coastal course.

Northern Ireland’s fifteen parkrun events will also take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.  Please Note:  The Belfast Victoria parkrun has moved to a new temporary home at the ‘Alderman Tommy Patton Park’ (Start Time is 9.15am) at Inverary Avenue, Belfast (just off the Holywood Road, Belfast) whilst the ongoing construction works within Victoria Park take place.  For more information please visit the Belfast Victoria parkrun website HERE. 

Important Notice – Over the next three week's (from today... Friday 29th November 2013) you will notice that things on the website will slow down slightly, by this we mean that race summaries and results will not be available just as quickly and the popular Weekend Preview's will not be compiled again until the 24/12/13 (this will be a Greencastle 5m 'Special').  Don't worry, we haven't abandoned ship! Ryan and Catherine, our two main contributors, are off getting married!  Normal service will resume on Monday 23rd December 2013.  We apologise in advance, but I am sure that you will understand in the circumstances.

Chris Madden and Patricia McKibbin impress at 26extreme opener:

26extreme Winter Trail Races 2013/14:

On Thursday 29th November 2013, well over one hundred athletes descended on Castlewellan Forest Park, County Down, for the first race of the 26extreme Winter Trail Series 2013/14.

The 10k course covered two laps and participants were required to race with guidance of head torches, creating an amazing 'light show' for spectators as they made their way through the forest; from the off, a group of three men, Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC), Martin Flemming (Monaghan Phoenix AC) and Andrew Burns (Unattached) moved clear of the group.

As the race progressed, it was Chris Madden who began to force the pace. The City of Lisburn AC man went through half way approximately ten seconds ahead of Martin and Andrew, but increased the second half to win in 37:10. Martin Flemming, a top ten finisher at the Bessbrook 10k, followed in 38:19 (2nd place), before Andrew Burns crossed the line in 38:47 (3rd place).

In the ladies race, Patricia McKibbin (Unattached), winner the last Hill & Dale race at Milestone, cruised to victory in 45:45. Unattached athlete, Jenny McCready ran well to secure 2nd plce in 46:25, before Teresa Fearon (Unattached) completed the ladies top three in 48:35 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men: 1st Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) – 37:10, 2nd Martin Flemming (Monaghan Phoenix AC) – 38:19, 3rd Andrew Burns (Unattached) – 38:47

Top 3 Ladies: 1st Patricia McKibbin (Unattached) – 45:45, 2nd Jenny McCready (Unattached) – 46:25, 3rd Teresa Fearon (Unattached) – 48:35

Full Results:  26extreme Winter Trail Series 2013/14 Results (Race 1 - Castlewellan)

City of Derry AC announce details of North West XC:

North West XC 2013:

Saturday 21st December 2013 has been confirmed as the date of the annual North West Cross Country meeting in Gransha, Derry/L'Derry and in addition to the usual Open 6k race, there will also be races for U-12's, U-14's and U-16's to complete an attractive race programme.  

The age group races should attract big interest from local schools in advance of the January 2014 District Schools Championships, while the Open 6k will double as an Athletics NI Winter League scoring race and also a NIMAA scoring race.  Competitors in the junior events will all have to be under the stated age on race day, while the Open race will incorporate award categories for U-18's, U-20's, Seniors and Masters.  

The programme starts at 11.45am with the combined Boys/Girls U-12 1k and will conclude with the Open 6k, which has a 12.30pm start time.  The U-14's will race over 2k and the U-16's will tackle 3k.  There is an £1 (2euro) entry fee for the U-12's, U-14's and U-16's, with all finishers getting a commerative ribboned medal.  The Open race has a £6 (7euro) entry fee with awards for the first three across the line and to all age category winners, male and female.  There is also a 4 to score Womens team race and a Mens 6 to score race, so serious competition across the board is anticipated.


Entries will be accepted on the day at Race HQ in the U3A Foyle Building in Gransha Park, but online entry is now available at: [email protected]Simply email your name, club, date of birth and age on race day to the address and you can then pick up your race pack and pay the entry fee from 10am at U3A Foyle Building on race day.  This event is organised by City of Derry Spartans AC and all are welcome.  It is a great opportunity for all "road" only runners and joggers to have a go at Cross Country running.

Northern Ireland athletes named in strong Ireland Euro XC squad:

NI athletes set for Euro XC Championships:

On Monday 25th November 2013, four Northern Ireland runners were named in a strong Ireland team for the upcoming European Cross Country Championships in Belgrade, Serbia on Sunday 8th December 2013.

Outstanding winner of the recent Athletics Ireland Inter-Counties XC race, Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) will be joined in the squad by fellow NI athletes, Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers), Ann-Marie McGlynn (Lifford AC) and winner of the U-23 title at the aforementioned Inter-Counties competition, Ryan McDermott (Annadale Striders).

The NiRunning team wish all four (and the entire team) the very best of luck at the world class event.  The full Ireland team is available HERE.

Lauren Quee secures prestigious Scottish Universities XC title:

Northern Ireland lady impresses in Scotland:

Last weekend (Saturday 23rd November 2013), Northern Ireland lady, Lauren Quee (Unattached), produced one of the performances of her career to win the Scottish Universities Cross Country Championships in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Lauren, a student at the University of Glasgow, covered the 6.5k course in 23:37, beating Katie Bristow (Glasgow Caledonian University) by four seconds (23:42).  This is an excellent achievement and one that she will surely be extremely proud of; during the summer (of 2013), Lauren enjoyed notable outings at the Laganside 10k (9th place - 39:23) and the Belfast City Half Marathon (6th place - 1:27:40), she also claimed top honours at the NICHS 10k in Benone (Limavady) and narrowly missed a top ten finish at the Glasgow Half Marathon, after running a massive personal best of 1:25:52 (13th place).

Full Results:  Scottish Universities XC Championships 2013 Results

Brendan Teer and Heather Foley take top honours at Griddle 10k:

Runners turn out for annual Griddle 10k:

On Sunday 24th November 2013, well over one hundred athletes took on the tough Griddle 10k road race in Downpatrick, County Down; an event hosted by Saul GAC with the assistance of East Down AC.

Pre-race favourite Brendan Teer (East Down AC) once again stole the headlines, the talented local athlete, who is the current NI & Ulster XC champion, covered the course in 34:06 (1st place), thus sealing victory by over two minutes.  Richard Coey (Ballydrain Harriers) continued what has been an excellent year, claiming the runners up spot in 36:45 (2nd place), before Orangegrove AC’s Thomas Leitch (37:24) secured 3rd place.

In the ladies race, emerging star Heather Foley (North Belfast Harriers) led the field home in 38:20 (1st place).  This adds to notable podium places at the Felix 10k, Armagh 10 mile road race and the Loughshore 10k.  Winner of last week’s ‘Run in the Dark’ 10k, Catriona Donaldson (Lagan Valley AC) followed in 40:40 (2nd place); Sinead Murtagh (Castlewellan AC) completed the ladies top three just seventeen seconds later, in 40:57 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men:  1st Brendan Teer (East Down AC) – 34:06, 2nd Richard Coey (Ballydrain Harriers) – 36:45, 3rd Thomas Leitch (Orangegrove AC) – 37:24

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Heather Foley (North Belfast Harriers) – 38:20, 2nd Catriona Donaldson (Lagan Valley AC) – 40:40, 3rd Sinead Murtagh (Castlewellan AC) – 40:57

Full Results:  Griddle 10k 2013 Results

Northern Ireland athletes impressat NAIA XC Championships:

Northern Ireland athletes finish college season in style:

On Saturday 23rd November 2013, two Northern Ireland athletes represented their American College/Universities at the prestigious NAIA Cross Country Championships in Rim Rock Farm, Lawrence, Kansas, USA.

John-Paul Williamson (City of Derry AC) and Sara Moore (Omagh Harriers) both performed well; John-Paul, a student at  Lindsey Wilson College, has been in impressive form this season, picking up top honours at the Midway College XC (8k), Berea College Invitational XC (8k), Kentucky Weselyan Invitational XC (8k) and the Columbia 5k road race, in recent months.  Up against top quality opposition, the City of Derry Spartan produced an excellent performance to record a speedy 25:32 (60th place) for the 8k course.  The race was won by Eric Avila (Southern Oregan College) in 24:02.

In the ladies 5k race, first year student at the Oklahoma City University, Sara showed no signs of nerves in heras she put in a strong performance up against a quality field.  The young Omagh Harriers star, who has represented Ireland at the European Mountain Running Championships in Bulgaria earlier this year, clocked 19:11 for the distance.  The race was won by Hillary Holt (College of Idaho) in 16:48.

Full Results:  NAIA Cross Country Championships 2013 Results - Men and Ladies

Deon McNeilly and Karen Alexander win 'Run 4 Rescue' 10m race:

Athletes turn out to raise funds for the invaluable Mourne Mountain Rescue Team:

On Saturday 23rd November 2013, athletes from across the province turned out for the second annual running of the ‘Run 4 Rescue’ 10 mile race (and associated 4 mile fun run) in Annalong, County Down.  The event was hosted by Mourne Runners and the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team to raise funds for the worthwhile and hard-working Mountain Rescue Team.

International mountain runner, Deon McNeilly (Newcastle AC) showed great strength to fend off the challenge of NIMRA Championship winner Stephen Cunningham (Mourne Runners) to win.  Deon, who has claimed podium places at the Flagstaff to Carlingford and Binnian to the Top mountain races, as well as the Darragh Cross 10k road race, sealed victory 1:01:18, with Stephen taking the runners up spot in 1:01:50 (2nd place).  Dale Mathers (Newry City Runners) completed the men’s top three in 1:03:12 (3rd place).

Last year’s ladies champion, Karen Alexander, was once again a dominant force.  The Sperrin Harriers athlete controlled the ladies race from the gun, before securing top honours in 1:07:07.  Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) continued her excellent form, taking 2nd place in 1:07:07, before Virginia Ervine (Mourne Runners) crossed the line in 1:16:09 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men:  1st Deon McNeilly (Newcastle AC) – 1:01:18, 2nd Stephen Cunningham (Mourne Runners) – 1:01:50, 3rd Dale Mathers (Newry City Runners) – 1:03:12

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers) – 1:07:07, 2nd Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) – 1:15:43, 3rd Virginia Ervine (Mourne Runners) – 1:16:09

Full Results:  Run 4 Rescue 10m Race 2013 Results and Run 4 Rescue 4m Race 2013 Results

Weekend Preview:  Local runners look forward to County Down events...

Events in Annalong and Downpatrick expected to tempt local athletes:

After a hectic weekend of Cross Country action last Saturday and Sunday (16th and 17th November 2013), attention turns to local road races this weekend.  In what has been a relatively quiet month on the official fixture calendar, especially for those preferring road races, events in Annalong and Downpatrick will bring a nice break from the ‘muck’ for some.  

The action kicks off on Saturday 23rd November 2013, when Mourne Runners and the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team hold the second annual running of their Run 4 Rescue 10 mile race (and associated 4 mile fun run) in Annalong, County Down.  The event, which is mainly on the road with a few trail/forest road sections, is held to raise funds for the well-respected and very worthwhile Mourne Mountain Rescue Team.  The race will start from Marine Park, Annalong (County Down) at 11am, registration is available from 9am.

David Simpson (Unattached), Don Travers (Newry City Runners), Clive Bailey (Mourne Runners), Dale Mathers (Newry City Runners) and Eddie Hanna (Mourne Runners) could well toe the line here; Mourne Way Marathon winner, David Simpson, seems to enjoy tough, multi-terrain courses like this and should play a prominent part in proceedings.  David has also impressed at the Tollymore Trail Race and East Antrim Harriers Forest Series this year.  Don Travers has been in top form throughout 2013, recording numerous wins, most notably at the WPFG Trail Race, the Groomsport Half Marathon, Dambusters 10/10 and the Castle Ward Half Marathon.  Last year’s winner, Clive Bailey, will be hoping to be in the thick of the action as he battles to defend his title.  After good outings at the Mourne Seven Sevens and Ben Nevis Mountain race, Clive will go into this event with confidence, as will his club mate, Eddie Hanna.  Eddie was away from the scene for almost two years before making a welcome return in the summer of 2013, when he claimed podium places at the Dambusters 10/10 and ‘The Fallows’.  

Another man who will be amongst the front runners, if he enters on the day, is recently crowned NIMRA ‘Runners Runner of the Year’, Dale Mathers.  Dale has had a phenomenal year, with the highlights being the successful completion of the notoriously difficult UTMB and Bob Graham Round courses.  Other athletes who will finish well up the field could include Richard Bell (Mourne Runners), Mark King (Murlough AC), Sam Herron (Mourne Runners) and Pete Grant (Newry City Runners).

Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers) was a dominant force in this event last year, finishing in second place overall and over six minutes ahead of the next lady. The international athlete, who seems to excel on courses like this, should claim top honours again if she races.  Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) and Denise Mathers (Newry City Runners) will also be in contention for podium places.  Hazel has been training well, and enjoyed some quality running in Snowdonia two weeks ago (read Hazel’s blog regarding the weekend on the NIMRA website HERE).  The Belfast based lady claimed sixth place (in her category) at the World Masters Mountain Running Championships in the Czech Republic in August 2013, she also ran well at the Snowdon International Mountain Race, finishing just outside the top twenty, in what was a quality field. 

Newry City Runners’ Denise Mathers is one of the provinces most consistent and impressive Mountain Runners.  Denise completed the gruelling 101k CCC race at the Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc, a race that included 6,100m of ascending, in 20:38:38, this was enough to secure an impressive 29th place in the ladies field.  Anne Sandford (Lagan Valley AC), Orla McElroy (Unattached) and Monica McCrickard (Leitrim Ladies) will all be aiming for top ten finishes.

On Sunday 24th November 2013, Saul GAC will welcome road running enthusiasts from across the province to their popular Griddle 10k road race in Downpatrick, County Down, which is hosted in conjunction with East Down AC.

Brendan Teer (East Down AC) will start as pre-race favourite; the talented East Down AC man, who was part of the County Down side who claimed a (‘C’ Division) silver medal at the AAI Inter-Counties XC Championships last week, has won an amazing seventeen races this year, and that’s only the one’s we have records for!  Paul Carroll (Annadale Striders), Richard Coey (Ballydrain Harriers) and Brian Young (Unattached) should also play a part at the front if they race.

Paul Carroll has finished second to Brendan twice this year, at the Ballynahinch 10k and the Downpatrick Lions Three Lakes 14k.  On his day, Paul has the ability to push the pace at the front.  He regularly shows this at local parkrun events.  Brian Young races sparingly but always performs well when he laces up his racers, most recently, Brian won the Crawfordsburn 5k Trail Race; he (Brian) also took top spot at one of the East Antrim Harriers Forest Races during the summer, as well as clocking a new Half Marathon personal best of 1:18:04 at the Paris Half Marathon earlier this year.  If Richard Coey signs up on the day, there could well be a decent dual between him and Brian for a podium place; Richard has been one of the success stories of 2013.  The Ballydrain Harriers athlete has worked his way through the ‘ranks’ to become a regular podium finisher.  He has achieved this status at the Groomsport Half Marathon, Castle Ward Half Marathon, Killyleagh 5, Dambusters 10/10 and Loughinisland 5.05 amongst other races.  This year, he (Richard) has progressively reduced his Half Marathon personal best by over two minutes, having run 1:20:46 in Omagh (March 2013) and most recently 1:18:32 at the Waterside Half Marathon (September 2013).  Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), Alan Johnston (Murlough AC), Ryan Andrews (Ballydrain Harriers), Greg McClure (North Belfast Harriers), Michael McKeown (East Down AC) and Jerome McCrickard (Newcastle AC) should also run well.

In the ladies race, Catriona Donaldson (Lagan Valley AC), Catherine O’Connor (East Down AC) and Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC) are likely to battle it out for the top prize.  Catriona enjoyed an excellent victory at last week’s ‘Run in the Dark’ 10k at Stormont Estate, this added to impressive outings at Sea 2 Sky 10k, Larne Half Marathon and Downpatrick 10k.  Local lady, Catherine O’Connor, won the Downpatrick Lions Three Lakes 14k race and has also collected prizes at the Castle Ward 10k and Shore 10k.  The consistent East Down AC lady will be amongst the front runners here.  This summer, Suzanne Higgins returned to competition after nearly two years away from running, announcing her comeback with a top three place at the Moneymore 10k.  Since then, Suzanne has shown that she is well and truly on the way back to top form at XC events in Coleraine and Ballyclare. 

Dromore AC athlete, Susan Smyth, could also be a challenger.  Susan has been in good form this season, finishing on the podium at the Killyleagh 5, Bann 10k and the tough Ballykinlar 10k.  Other ladies who will hope for high placings may include Cheryl Cardwell (Sperrin Harriers), Lisa Milligan (East Down AC), Helen Vint (East Down AC) and Olivia Brown (Ballydrain Harriers).

Northern Ireland’s fifteen parkrun events will also take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.  Please Note:  The Belfast Victoria parkrun has moved to a new temporary home at the ‘Alderman Tommy Patton Park’ (Start Time is 9.15am) at Inverary Avenue, Belfast (just off the Holywood Road, Belfast) whilst the ongoing construction works within Victoria Park take place.  For more information please visit the Belfast Victoria parkrun website HERE.

Athletics NI hold annual awards ceremony at Mary Peters Track:

Athletics NI hand out well-deserved awards:

The Athletics Northern Ireland Annual Awards Ceremony was held at the Mary Peters Track, Belfast on Wednesday 20th November 2013.  These annual awards celebrate the often unsung heroes of athletics in Northern Ireland- the volunteers, officials and coaches who put in a remarkable effort throughout the year to create the foundations on which our sport is built.

Once again sports retailer Podium 4 Sport supported the Awards, providing equipment packs for the winning clubs and goody bags for individual winners including running shoes kindly supplied by Saucony.  Awards were presented by Athletics NI President, Gerry Lynch and Chairman of British Athletics, Ed Warner.  In addition to the Awards presentations were made to athletes who have broken Northern Ireland Records over the past year.

A range of awards were presented to recipients in the following categories: 


Junior Club of the Year – North Belfast Harriers

Senior Club of the Year – City of Derry Spartans AC


Volunteer of The Year - Raymond Black (Willowfield Harriers) and Charlie Large (City of Derry Spartans AC)


Official of the Year - Barbara Scott

Services to Officiating - Ian Atkinson


Coach of the Year – Paul McKee

Services to Coaching – Alan Keys

Northern Ireland Record Breakers (Running Only):

Ben Reynolds (Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow AC) - Ben has broken the 110m hurdles record on several occasions, most recently he set the new record of 13.49secs at the Mary Peters International in Belfast on the 25th June 2013.  This was a World Championship qualifying performance, the second fastest performance in the UK & Ireland.  Unfortunately injury prevented Ben from preparing and competing at the world Championships.

Conall Kirk (Lagan Valley AC) - Conall Kirk is another young athlete who ranks highly in the UK placing 3rd with his U18 record time of 1:51.63 for the 800m at the Irish Milers’ Club Open on the 6th July 2013.  Conall will be aiming to make the World Junior Team for Oregan in July 2014.

Article and Photograph above were taken from the Athletics NI website.

Entries open for 28th annual Greencastle 5m Road Race:

Online entries for prestigious Greencastle 5 are now open:

On Wednesday 20th November 2013, online entries opened for one of the provinces oldest and most prestigious races, the Greencastle 5 mile road race in County Tyrone.  As always, the well-established event, now in its 28th year, will take place on Boxing Day, Thursday 26th December 2013 at 1pm.

In the past, the Greencastle 5 has attracted runners of all abilities from as far away as America, as well as top quality athletes such as Gareth Turnbull, Paul Pollock, James McIlroy, Stephen Scullion, Liz McColgan, Maria McCambridge, Gladys Ganiel O’Neill, Tommy Hughes, Dermot Kerr and Joe McAlister to name a few.  

Despite the infamous 'hill’, the route is fast and lends itself to personal bests.  The current course record holders are Gareth Turnbull (St Malachy’s AC) and Maria McCambridge (Letterkenny AC); Gareth clocked an excellent 24:14 in 2008, while Maria took the ladies record last year (2012) after recording 28:18. 

The entry fee is a very reasonable £10 and includes a quality technical t-shirt, goody bag and post-race refreshments.  Chip timing will be in operation and there will be generous cash prizes on offer for the top five male and female athletes as well as the first three male and female finishers in the Junior (Under 20), Vet40, Vet45, Vet50, Vet55, Vet60 and Vet65 categories.

Online registration and full details of the event are now available at

Sharon Trimble picks up prize at Athletics Ireland awards ceremony:

Northern Ireland runners attend Athletics Ireland awards ceremony:

On Wednesday 20th November 2013, a number of Northern Ireland runners attended the annual Athletics Ireland Awards, which took place in Dublin; at least three were nominated for awards.

North Belfast Harriers athlete Sharon Trimble and her Ireland Mountain Running team mates Sarah McCormack (Clonliffe Harriers AC), Kate Cronin (Raheny Shamrock AC) and Sarah Mulligan (Dundrum South Dublin AC), all pictured left, shared the ‘Mountain Runner of the Year’ award.  The team won bronze medals at the World Mountain Running Championships in Krynica, Poland in September 2013.

Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) and Aislinn Crossey (Newry AC) were nominated for the ‘Endurance Athlete of the Year’ and Junior Athlete of the Year’ awards respectively; these awards were won by Kilcoole AC’s Fionnuala Britton and Emerald AC’s Sarah Lavin, with Fionnaula picking up the ‘Endurance Athlete of the Year’ award and Sarah the ‘Junior Athlete of the Year’ award.

Congratulations must also go to Northern Ireland lady Geraldine Finegan (Dunleer AC), who won the 'Masters Athlete of the Year' award, based on her performance in the Heptathlon and Pole Vault at the Masters World Championships in Brazil last month (October 2013).  The ‘Ultra Runner of the Year’ award was presented to Eoin Keith (Boards AC) for setting a new Irish 24 hour record of 152 miles at the Mary Peter’s Track in Belfast in July 2013.  A full report on the Athletics Ireland awards ceremony can be found on the Athletics Ireland website.

British Athletics Awards - Northern Ireland nominee's need your help! 

Voting closes TONIGHT for the British Athletics Awards:

Today is the final day that you can vote for the Northern Ireland based nominee's in the prestigious British Athletics Annual Awards; City of Derry AC have been shortlisted for ‘Club of the Year’, while hard working Willowfield Harriers man Raymond Black has been named in the shortlist for ‘Volunteer of the Year’.

NI & Ulster Junior Cross Country Champions, City of Derry AC have received their nomination because of their efforts across the board in terms of athletic achievement, increasing participation, sourcing volunteers, collaboration with the community, schools, athlete development from primary schools right up to masters level, coach development and organisation of events.  The local club will find themselves up against Cardiff AAC, Bristol & West AC and Edinburgh AC as they try to secure the prestigious award.

Raymond Black was nominated because of his tireless commitment to athletics in Northern Ireland.  Raymond also works hard on the development of young athletes at Willowfield Harriers; he is also a committee member at the club and a member of the Athletics NI Volunteer squad and can be found assisting organisers at many events, including the Belfast City Marathon.  Raymond has been nominated alongside other Volunteers, including Jim McLaren (Falkirk Victoria Harriers), Nathan Jones (Carmathen & District Harriers) and Tonbridge AC duo Mark and Dawn Hookway.

Please show your support for City of Derry AC and Raymond by voting for them, it will take no more than thirty seconds of your time but will mean so much to athletics in Northern Ireland.  All you have to do is follow this LINK to the British Athletics facebook page, ‘like’ the page and get voting.  Voting closes at midnight tonight (Wednesday 20th November 2013).  NiRunning would like to say GOOD LUCK to both!

Athletics NI launch IAAF Antrim XC (inc NI & Ulster Senior Championships):

Athletics NI launch IAAF Antrim XC 2014:

The annual Antrim IAAF International Cross Country event will take place on the slightly earlier than usual date of Saturday 4th January 2014. Once again the event will encompass the NI & Ulster Senior Cross Country Championships. 

This great all-round event is a key fixture in both the British Athletics Cross Challenge Series and the Athletics NI Cross Country League. Awarded one of only twelve IAAF World Cross Country permits the event is the highlight of the Cross Country calendar in Northern Ireland. A number of top class UK and Irish athletes are expected to confirm their attendance over the coming weeks in addition to the international athletes already committed.

Organised by Athletics Northern Ireland and supported by Antrim Borough Council and Sport Northern Ireland, the races will be held in the picturesque surrounds of CAFRE at Greenmount Campus in Antrim. $15,000 prize money is once again on offer, with $7500 for each of the men's and women's races. Annadale Striders’ athlete, Ryan McDermott joined Alderman Sam Dunlop, Chair of Antrim Borough Council’s Development and Leisure Committee and Antoinette McKeown, Chief Executive of Sport Northern Ireland to launch the 2014 event.  Ryan was part of the strong Irish team that competed at the Lotto Cross Cup in Antwerp earlier this month and finished first in the Under 23 category in the Woodies DIY AAI Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships last weekend.  The Antrim IAAF International Cross Country is one of the largest and most popular events in the Northern Ireland athletics sporting calendar, with more than 1,200 competitors taking part and race categories ranging from Under 13s to Masters. This year Athletics Northern Ireland will also play host to the Celtic Cross Country International in which teams from Ulster, Ireland, Scotland and Wales will all compete for the coveted Individual and Team Trophies.

Alderman Sam Dunlop said, “We are delighted that Athletics Northern Ireland has chosen to return to Antrim for the IAAF International Cross Country. CAFRE, Greenmount Campus is an ideal venue for this world class competition. With its central location and ease of access it is ideal for the many competitors who will travel from overseas.”  Alderman Dunlop continued, “Antrim Borough Council is proud to support this prestigious event, which will no doubt contribute significantly to the Borough, particularly with the inclusion this year of the Celtic Cross Country Championships. We wish Athletics Northern Ireland, CAFRE and the runners every success for January 2014.”

Sport Northern Ireland’s Chief Executive Antoinette McKeown, welcomed the event saying “I am delighted that Sport Northern Ireland is supporting this event through the International Sports Events programme and we look forward to welcoming international athletes here to compete with our home grown talent.  By hosting this event, Northern Ireland athletes will have the opportunity to compete at a high level and I have no doubt this will encourage and inspire them and provide an excellent opportunity to showcase their skills.  It will also help Sport Northern Ireland to achieve one of its main aims – developing improved performance pathways for Northern Ireland athletes, players and sports.”  

Online Entry is now available at (Article taken from Athletics NI website).

Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC) claims podium place in 52.4m Ultra:

Northern Ireland runners compete in County Clare (Ireland):

On Sunday 17th November 2013, at least three Northern Ireland runners travelled to Sixmilebridge in County Clare (Ireland) for the Eddie Murphy Memorial Marathon and associated Half Marathon, 30 mile Ultra Marathon and 52.4 mile Marathon Ultra, all organised by BMOH AC in memory of their late member, Eddie Murphy who sadly passed away in 2011.  

The event, described by organisers as the ‘most unique marathon in Europe’ saw competitors complete their desired distance around a one mile loop of the town.  Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC) and Alistair Shaw (Springwell Running Club) took on the gruelling 52.4m race, with Gillian claiming an excellent 2nd place in the ladies race.  The endurance enthusiast, who has also picked up a prize at the infamous Connemarathon, crossed the line in 8:18:51.  Alistair followed in 8:52:11 (6th place).  The 52.4m event was won by Western States 100 competitor Padraig Mullins (Cork AC) in 6:46:54, while Lost World’s 100k podium finisher Col Conway (Club Unknown) secured the ladies title in 7:38:12.

In the 30 mile Ultra, experienced athlete Gary Connolly finished in 4:43:13, this was enough to secure a very credible 16th place.  Interestingly, having passed the 26.2m mark in this event, Gary has now taken his total number of marathons to fifty.  The race was won by well known ultra runner Mike Curley-Cunningham (Bilboa AC) in 3:19:29.  Previous Energia 24 hour Race winner, Deirdre Finn (Ireland) won the ladies prize in 4:03:34.

Full Results:  BMOH AC ‘Eddie Murphy Memorial’ 2013 Results

Paul Pollock takes AAI XC title as NI athletes impress in Dublin:

Northern Ireland based runners produce top performances in Dublin:

On Sunday 17th November 2013, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland excelled at the Woodies DIY AAI Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships in Santry, Dublin; with places on the Ireland team for the upcoming European Cross Country Championships in Serbia (December 2013) up for grabs, there was no better time to step up to the mark, and Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders), Ann-Marie McGlynn (Lifford AC), Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers) and Ryan McDermott (Annadale Striders) did just that.  Up and coming Beechmount Harriers star, Christy Conlon also made headlines.

An exciting day of racing kicked off with the ‘Even Age Group’ Championships, which saw future Northern Ireland stars Rachel Brown (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Kate Gourley (City of Lisburn AC), Mollie Brown (North Down AC), Abigail McBroom (Springwell Running Club), Sean Corry (Omagh Harriers), Lois Hagen (Willowfield Harriers) and Tony McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers) show there potential. However, the star performer in the Boys and Girls races was young Beechmount Harriers athlete Christy Conlon.  Christy ran a mature race, keeping close to the leaders in the opening laps, before surging clear in the latter stages.  This brave move proved to be a race winning decision, as he went on to secure the prestigious ‘All Ireland’ title.

The U-18 and Junior races also brought some notable performances by local athletes, with Zoe Carruthers (City of Lisburn AC) running well, alongside her County Antrim team mates Emma Laverty, Ella Davis, Harriet Gilmore, Emer Magee, Caitriona McGloin, Rachel Smith, Sorcha Brown, Katie McCambridge and Ciara McKillop in the U-18 Girls 4k race.  Not to be outdone, the U-18 boys were just as impressive in their 6k event, with Ryan Sharkey (Lagan Valley AC) just missing a podium spot after finishing in 4th place.  Recent NI & Ulster ‘Age Group’ Champion Jonny Whan (City of Lisburn AC) also enjoyed an excellent outing.

Yasmin Wilson (Ballymena & Antrim AC) and Eva Laverty (Lagan Valley AC) claimed top ten finishes in the competitive Junior Women’s 4k race, with Yasmin in 5th place and Eva in 8th place.  North Down AC’s Katie Moore also continued her recent good form, sealing 20th place.  The (Junior Women’s) race was won by the outstanding Irish Junior International Siofra Cleirigh-Buttner (DSD AC).  Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers) and Connor Gallagher (St Malachy’s AC) looked strong in the Junior Men’s 6k race; Andrew was amongst the front runners from the off and held on well to take an excellent 7th place. Connor also put in a good performance, claiming 17th place.  Pre-race favourite, Sean Tobin (Clonmel AC) won the Junior Men's title.

The penultimate race of the day, the Senior Women’s 8k, was arguably the most anticipated by the assembled crowds.  This was due to the fact that Double European XC Champion and local hero Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) was amongst the talented line up.  Fionnuala showed her class from the gun, powering her way to victory in 26:05.  Northern Ireland lady Ann-Marie McGlynn enjoyed what could possibly have been the performance of her life.  The Lifford AC athlete went into the final lap in sixth place, approximately 10-15 metres behind Maria McCambridge (DSD AC) and Ciara Durkan (Skerries AC); somehow, Ann-Marie managed to reduce the gap and as the athletes came into the final straight, she put in an excellent sprint finish to take 4th place in 27:19.  This will be enough to ensure that Ann-Marie is selected for the European XC Championships.  North Belfast Harriers’ Commonwealth Games qualifier Gladys Ganiel O’Neill followed in 29:08 (15th place), before North Down AC duo Rachel Gibson (30:19) and Melissa Eccles (33:27) crossed the line in 27th place and 44th place respectively.  Rachel was rewarded for her efforts with a 5th place finish in the U-23 category.

A lot was expected of Northern Ireland man Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) going in to the Senior (and U-23) Men’s 10k, and the local star lived up to and even exceeded expectation (with the manner of his victory).  In the opening stages of the exciting encounter, it looked as if it was going to be a very close race. That was until the third lap, when Paul picked up the pace and quickly opened up a gap on the chasing pack, which in-turn began to split into smaller groups. The Annadale Striders man continued his relentless pace, increasing his lead as the race progressed, before he cruised into the finish to win in 31:02.  Fellow NI man, Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers), finished well to claim 4th place in 31:44.  This performance could well see Stephen join Paul Pollock on the plane to the European XC Championships.  Ryan McDermott (Annadale Striders) provided the cheering spectators with one of the day’s top performances, after beating U-23 favourite John Travers (Donore Harriers) to the title.  Ryan clocked 32:18 to take top honours in the U-23 category and 10th place overall, an outstanding achievement. Connor Bradley (City of Derry AC), competing in his first ever 10k, recorded 32:26 (14th place), before Annadale Striders’ Andrew Agnew (25th place – 33:04) sparked an avalanche of NI finishers, this included St Malachys AC’s Joe McAlister (28th place – 33:15), North Belfast Harriers’ Alan O’ Hara (35th place – 33:31), Ballymena & Antrim AC’s Jarlath Falls (40th place – 33:41) and Foyle Valley AC’s Scott Rankin (42nd place – 33:45).  Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) continued his excellent start to the XC season, crossing the line in 34:13 (54th place), just two seconds ahead of East Down AC’s Brendan Teer (55th place – 34:15).

U-23 athlete James Speight (Finn Valley AC) was the next familiar face home, in 34:17.  This meant that he finished in 57th place overall and 13th place in the U-23 final standings.  Recent Dublin Marathon finisher John Frazer (St Malachy’s AC) clocked 34:27 (62nd place), while Foyle Valley AC’s Chris McGuinness (67th place – 34:38), City of Derry AC’s Emmett McGinty (69th place – 34:41), Mourne Runners’ Andrew Annett (79th place overall and 21st place Under 23 – 34:56) and North Belfast Harriers’ Adam Boyd (79th place – 34:58) all finished within twenty seconds of each other.  North Down AC pair Francis Marsh and James Budde recorded 35:41 (88th place) and 36:10 (94th place), before East Down AC’s Neil McCartan (36:14) sealed 95th place overall and 23rd place in the U-23 category.  Pius McIntyre (Foyle Valley AC) finished in the top one hundred after crossing the line in 36:25 (97th place), while North Down AC trio Dennis Scott (103rd place – 36:39), Stephen Wylie (117th place – 38:04) and Nick Irvine (143rd place – 41:31) all assisted their County Down team, which also included Andrew Annett, Brendan Teer, James Budde, Francis Marsh and Neil McCartan,  to a silver medal in their ‘C’ Division County Championship, which was won by County Louth.  The County Antrim team of Andrew Agnew, Jarlath Falls, Joe McAlister, Alan O’Hara, Stephen Scullion, Adam Boyd, John Frazer, Ryan McDermott and race winner Paul Pollock took 2nd place in the ‘A’ Division County Championship, which was won by County Dublin.

Provisional Results:  Woodies DIY AAI Inter-Counties XC Championships 2013 Results - Woodies DIY AAI 'Even Age Group' Championships 2013 Results.  Photographs from the Woodies DIY AAI XC Championships can be found within our 'Photo Gallery'.

Northern Ireland claim impressive medal haul at B&I Masters XC:

British & Irish Masters International XC: 

On Saturday 16th November 2013, Northern Ireland athletes performed well at the British & Irish Masters XC International in Cardiff, Wales.  The annual event puts Northern Ireland up against strong teams from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.  The Vet35 to Vet60 Men covered 8k, while the Ladies and Vet65+ took on a 6k course.  Three Northern Ireland based athletes collected individual medals, while there were also team prizes for five of the Northern Ireland teams.

In the Vet35 category, Foyle Valley AC star Keith Shiels produced an excellent performance to claim a well-deserved bronze medal in 24:52. The Vet35 race was won by James Thie (Wales) in 24:20.  

Gary Keenan (Orangegrove AC) worked his way through the quality Vet50 field as the race progressed, eventually securing 3rd place and the associated bronze medal in 25:58.  The Vet50 race was won by Chris Harry (England) in 25:50.  Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers), who was representing Ireland’s Vet40 team, picked up a silver medal after taking 2nd place in 21:32.  This was reward for Cathy’s hard work after returning from a long break through injury. The Ladies Vet40 race was won by Miranda Heathcote (England) in 20:21.

In the team standings, the Northern Ireland Vet45 and Vet50 men won bronze medals, while the Northern Ireland Vet40, Vet45 and Vet55 ladies also claimed bronze medals.  Cathy McCourt’s Ireland Vet40 team picked up silver medals.  The scoring members of each medal winning Northern Ireland team were - Men’s Vet45 (8k): Steve Cairns (Hunters Bog Trotters) – 25:22 (5th place), Cathal McLaughlin (Foyle Valley AC) – 25:57 (11th place), Paul McCaffery (City of Derry AC) – 26:32 (16th place) and Nat Glenn (East Coast AC) – 26:34 (17th place).  Men’s Vet50 (8k): Gary Keenan (Orangegrove AC) – 25:58 (3rd place), Craig Hutchinson (Larne AC) – 26:45 (10th place), Noel Connor (Ballymena Runners) – 27:51 (15th place) and John Patience (North Belfast Harriers) – 28:21 (25th place).  Ladies Vet40 (6k): Lisa Finlay (Dumfries AC) – 21:52 (5th place), Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers) – 22:10 (8th place) and Amanda Perry (North Belfast Harriers) – 22:40 (11th place).  Ladies Vet45 (6k): Helen Stockdale (Finn Valley AC) – 22:32 (5th place), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) – 23:21 (9th place) and Jackie McGinley (City of Derry AC) – 23:25 (11th place).  Ladies Vet55 (6k): Ruth Magill (Lagan Valley AC) – 24:57 (8th place), Hazel Imeson (Tamworth AC) – 24:59 (9th place) and Mary Mackin (Dromore AC) – 25:37 (12th place).  

Full Results:  British & Irish Masters XC 2013 Results - We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Northern Ireland team management for their assistance and co-operation over the weekend.  Photograph used above was taken by Elizabeth Leitch.

Karl Kildea and Rachel McKenna take top honours in Aughnacloy:

Hundreds turn out for Aughnacloy 5 mile road race:

On Saturday 16th November 2013, hundreds of athletes from north and south of the border brought the County Tyrone town of Aughnacloy to a standstill as they took on the annual Aughnacloy 5 mile road race.

Karl Kildea (Monaghan Phoenix AC) claimed top honours in the increasingly popular race, leading the field home in 28:04 (1st place).  Established Sperrin Harriers star, Delfim Pimental (pictured left), who ran well at last week’s McConnell Shield XC, took the runners up spot in 29:57 (2nd place).  Delfim’s club mate, Paul McLaughlin sealed 3rd place in a time of 30:30.

In the ladies race, relatively unknown athlete Rachel McKenna (Unattached) produced an excellent run to win in 37:59.  Donna Owens (Monaghan Town Runners) secured 2nd place in 38:39, before Paula Donaghee (Club Unknown) completed the ladies podium in 39:28 (3rd place).  In the Under 16 race, Nathan Gillespie (34:45) and Ellen Rafferty (50:38) put in notable performances to win.

Top 3 Men:  1st Karl Kildea (Monaghan Phoenix AC) – 28:04, 2nd Delfim Pimental (Sperrin Harriers) – 29:57, 3rd Paul McLaughlin (Sperrin Harriers) – 30:30

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Rachel McKenna (Unattached) – 37:59, 2nd Donna Owens (Monaghan Town Runners) – 38:39, 3rd Paula Donaghee (Club Unknown) – 39:28

Full results will be added when they are available.

Weekend Preview:  NI runners look forward to major XC events:

Weekend Preview:  Major XC events take centre stage...

As another weekend approaches, the local running fraternity will turn their attention to the Cross Country season, which is now in full swing; there is little action to speak of locally but there are two major events taking place outside Northern Ireland.  

A large number of NI based athletes will travel to the British & Irish Masters XC International in Cardiff (Wales) and the Woodies DIY AAI National Inter-Counties XC Championships in Santry, Dublin (Ireland). There is only one local race that we are aware of this weekend, this will be in Aughnacloy, County Tyrone.

On Saturday 16th November 2013, Northern Ireland will be well represented at the British & Irish Masters International XC in Cardiff, Wales.  Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC), Steve Cairns (Hunters Bog Trotters) and Gary Keenan (Orangegrove AC) have all been in top form recently and will be hoping to challenge for individual medals whilst assisting their age category team mates towards team honours.  Keith Shiels has been one of the outstanding performers of 2013, with wins at the Waterside Half Marathon, Felix 10k, Whitehead 5, Buncrana 5k and Fairhill 5 on his impressive CV.  The Foyle Valley AC man also cruised to victory at the NIMAA XC last month.  Scotland based Steve Cairns has picked up a number of Masters medals this year, this includes a gold at the British Masters Athletic Federation 10k Championships in Glasgow and silver medals at the Scottish Masters XC Championships and the British Masters Athletic Federation XC Championships.  Gary Keenan recorded a personal best of 16:29.58 at the NI & Ulster Masters 5,000m Championships, this was enough to secure second place overall and first in the Vet50 category.  The Orangegrove AC front man and respected athletics official also put in a top performance to win the PSC Millisle 6 mile road race in 32:59.

In the ladies competition, Denise Toner (Clones AC), Brigid Quinn (Ballymena Runners), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) and Helen Stockdale (Finn Valley AC) should all be in contention in their various categories.    Denise Toner has enjoyed victories in the Enniskillen 10k and Lisbellaw 10k recently, but arguably her biggest achievement of the year was a third place finish and personal best (38:22) at the Laganside 10k in September 2013.  Ballymena Runners legend Brigid Quinn has won her Vet65 category on no less than twelve occasions this year and is held in such high esteem by selectors that she was picked to travel despite the fact that there will not be a Vet65 team; this goes to show how much of a prominent part Brigid may play in her category race.  Debbie Matchett was one of the star performers at the NI & Ulster Masters Track & Field Championships in August 2013; out of the four races Debbie completed, she collected three medals, with one being a gold in the 400m (71.70secs).  Helen Stockdale has had a busy year, the new Finn Valley AC recruit has achieved podium places at Masters events north and south of the border.  In Northern Ireland, Helen claimed silver over 200m and bronze over 800m and 3,000m (all at NI & Ulsters Masters Championships) and in Ireland, the talented athlete has secured two silver medals over 1500m (indoor) and 3,000m, and two bronze medals in the 1500m (outdoor) and 800m (all at AAI Masters Championships).  Helen also won the Donegal Masters Novice XC title earlier this month.

The full Northern Ireland team is as follows: Vet35:  Men: Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC), Anthony Glover (Westbury Harriers), Kevin O’Boyle (Ballymena Runners), Michael Murphy (City of Derry AC), Michael Magee (Beechmount Harriers) and Connor McMullan (Annadale Striders).  Reserves:  Michael Bennett (Ballymena Runners) and Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC).  Ladies:  Denise Toner (Clones AC), Gillian Wasson (Springwell Running Club), Roberta Dornan (North Down AC) and Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers). Reserve:  Paula McAllister (Ballymena Runners)

Vet40:  Men:  Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers), Johnny Park (Orangegrove AC), Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC), Mark Weir (North Down AC), Greg Lavery (East Coast AC) and Philip Donaghy (City of Derry AC).  Ladies:  Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers), Amanda Perry (North Belfast Harriers) and Lisa Finlay (Dumfries AC), Rhonda Brady (Larne AC).  Reserve:  Elizabeth Leitch (Orangegrove AC).

Vet45:  Men:  Steven Cairns (Hunters Bog Trotters), Mark Wright (Annadale Striders), Cathal McLaughlin (Foyle Valley AC), Paul McCafferty (City of Derry AC), Nat Glenn (East Coast AC) and Matt Wray (Ballymena & Antrim AC).  Reserves:  Oran McBride (City of Derry AC) and Ryan Armstrong (Ballymena Runners).  Ladies:  Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers), Hannah Shields (City of Derry AC), Jackie McGinley (City of Derry AC) and Helen Stockdale (Finn Valley AC).  Reserve:  Anne Sandford (Lagan Valley AC).

Vet50:  Men:  Gary Keenan (Orangegrove AC), Craig Hutchinson (Larne AC), David Clarke (East Coast AC), Frank Sharkey (Lagan Valley AC), Noel Connor (Ballymena Runners) and John Patience (North Belfast Harriers).  Reserves:  James Wallace (North Belfast Harriers) and Gerry Duddy (City of Derry AC).  Ladies:  Susanna Allen (Ballymena Runners), Jacqueline Maxwell (Orangegrove AC), Una Gavin (City of Derry AC) and Paula McGilloway (City of Derry AC).  Reserve:  Bridgeen Byrne (City of Derry AC)

Vet55:  Men:  Laurence Johnston (North Belfast Harriers), Derek Donaghy (North Belfast Harriers), Robert Wilson (Willowfield Harriers) and Gerry O’Doherty (Springwell Running Club).  Reserve:  Norman Mawhinney (Ballydrain Harriers).  Ladies:  Mary Mackin (Dromore AC), Hazel Imeson (Tamworth AC), Mable McFaul (Ballymena Runners) and Maureen Oliver (DUB Runners).  Reserve: Elsa Weatherspoon (Ballymena Runners)

Vet60:  Men:  Terry Aiken (North Down AC), Jim Newberry (North Belfast Harriers), Ray Curran (Ballymena Runners) and Peter Lilburn (City of Derry AC).  Ladies:  None.

Vet65:  Men:  Gerry Lynch (City of Derry AC), David Seaton (North Down AC), Francis Boal (Lagan Valley AC) and Willie Weir (Dromore AC).  Reserve: David Nicholson (Club Unknown).  Ladies:  Brigid Quinn (Ballymena Runners) *No Team*

Vet70:  Men:  Brian Smith (North Down AC), Hugh Young (Orangegrove AC), Drew Crawford (North Belfast Harriers) and Michael Spotswood (Duncairn Nomads).  Ladies:  None

NI based athletes, Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) and Paul Elliot (North Belfast Harriers) will run for Ireland at the same event and both should go well.  Cathy has been a regular podium finisher since her return to fitness during the summer and was the outstanding performer at the NIMAA XC last month. More recently, Cathy won the Donegal XC Championships.  Paul Elliot has been just as impressive, the Belfast man ran a new Irish Vet60 10k record (36:36) at the Bangor 10k, this followed category wins at the prestigious Glenmore 5k, Titanic 10k and Armagh International Road Race.  Cathy and Paul will be joined on the Ireland team by two more familiar faces, consistent runners Paul Blaney (North Belfast Harriers) and Geraldine Branagh (Dromore AC).

Also on Saturday 16th November 2013, Aughnacloy Community Association will hold the 2nd annual running of their 5 mile road race in Aughnacloy, County Tyrone.  Last year, the well organised event attracted close to three hundred runners and organisers are hopeful that this year will be similar.  Entry is available on the day (from 1.30pm) and the race will start at 2.30pm.  Although the majority of the field will be local sporting enthusiasts and fun runners, we expect Armagh AC, Omagh Harriers and Sperrin Harriers to be well represented.

On Sunday 17th November 2013, a large Northern Ireland contingent will travel south for the Woodies DIY AAI National Inter-Counties XC Championships in Santry, Dublin (Ireland).  Although there are prestigious County honours up for grabs, the majority of front runners will have one eye on selection for the upcoming European XC Championships in Serbia, with AAI selectors set to attend.  The top three athletes in the Senior and Junior races will gain automatic selection for the aforementioned European XC Championships, while the top three U-23 male and female runners (in the Senior race) will be given favourable consideration with regard to selection for the U-23 team.

Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders), Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers), Ann-Marie McGlynn (Lifford AC), Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) and Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) should all feature at the front of their respective races.    However, the talented NI athletes will face stiff competition from the likes of John Travers (Donore Harriers), Joe Sweeney (DSD AC), David McCarthy (West Waterford AC), Sean Tobin (Clonmel AC), Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC), Sarah Treacy (Moynalvey AC), Lizzie Lee (Leevale AC), Sarah McCormack (Clonliffe Harriers AC) and Maria McCambridge (DSD AC).

Men:  Paul Pollock and Stephen Scullion have been in brilliant form this year; Paul has made it clear that he wants a place on the plane to Belgrade (Serbia), and with his endless list of top quality outings in 2013, selectors will find it hard to leave him out. He (Paul) had an excellent run over marathon distance at the World Championships in Russia, where he recorded 2:16:42 in tough conditions, taking a very credible twenty first place.  The London based star followed this up with a twelfth place finish at the prestigious International de Soria XC in Spain last week.  The outgoing AAI Half Marathon and Marathon Champion has also won the Red Car Half Marathon (England), Ards Half Marathon, Lisburn Half Marathon and claimed a podium place at the Great North 10k Run within the last six months.   

Stephen Scullion is the current AAI 10k (Road) Champion and a fantastic athlete.  Two weeks ago, Stephen led his Clonliffe Harriers team to the Dublin XC title after finishing as runner up to John Travers (Donore Harriers) in the Raheny XC (Ireland).  This adds to great runs (and subsequent wins) at the Fingal 10k, Titanic 10k, Laganside 10k, Omagh Half Marathon and Belfast City Half Marathon.  However, arguably Stephen’s best performance of the season came at the BMC Grand Prix in (Sportcity) Manchester were he ran a massive new 5,000m personal best of 13:58.55 against world class opposition.  

Ryan McDermott (Annadale Striders) ran well at the Lotto Cross Cup in Belgium, where he covered the tough 9.2k course in 30:56 (27th place).  The Belfast man will be hoping to finish well up in the U-23 category.  Eoghan Totten (Newcastle AC) and Stephen Kerr (Armagh AC), both of whom represented Ireland (at U-23 level) at last year’s European Cross Country Championships, will also hope to impress.  Other NI based men to watch out for include John Frazer (St Malachy’s AC), Andrew Annett (Mourne Runners), Andrew Agnew (Annadale Striders), Jarlath Falls (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Connor Bradley (City of Derry AC), Brendan Teer (East Down AC), Alan O’Hara (North Belfast Harriers), Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), Declan Reed (City of Derry AC), Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) and Michael Dyer (North Down AC).  In the Junior Men and U-18 races, Ryan Sharkey (Lagan Valley AC), Jonny Whan (City of Lisburn AC), Ronan O’Fril (St Malachy’s AC), Paddy Robb (St Malachy’s AC), Shane McGowan (City of Derry AC), Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers), Patrick Sheridan (Newcastle AC) and Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers) will all challenge for high places.

Ladies: The ladies race will more than likely grab most of the attention, given the fact that Irish hero and Double European XC Champion Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) will toe the line.  NI & Ulster 800m Champion, Ann-Marie McGlynn (Lifford AC) enjoyed an excellent track season whilst also producing the goods on the road.  The Strabane based lady took top honours at a number of high profile local races, including the Omagh Half Marathon, Waterside Half Marathon and the Strabane 10k.  She (Ann-Marie) also finished just outside the top ten at the SPAR Great Ireland Run, after running 37:00 in what can only be described as awful conditions!  North Belfast Harriers duo Gladys Ganiel O’Neill and Breege Connolly have both achieved Commonwealth Games qualifying times over marathon distance and both have the ability to mix it up with the best.  Gladys, who ran 2:39:26 at the Berlin Marathon (September 2013), has already represented Ireland this year, at the European Mountain Running Championships in Bulgaria.  The hard working athlete also won a silver medal at the AAI Half Marathon Championships, after running her fastest 13.1m time in many years (1:15:08).  

Breege Connolly clocked 2:39:23 at the Virgin London Marathon in April 2013; one month later, she dominated the field at the Runher Coastal Challenge 10k, cruising to victory in 36:12.  This was an excellent time, especially considering the tough, mixed-terrain course.  Over and above these results, Breege has also won the Altamuskin 5 mile road race and finished as runner up in the very competitive ‘Streets of Galway 8k’.  Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), Joanne Mills (Lagan Valley AC), Emma Mitchell (Banbridge AC) and Melissa Eccles (North Down AC) will also race in the Senior Ladies event, while up and coming stars Yasmin Wilson (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Katie Moore (North Down AC) and Eva Laverty (Lagan Valley AC) will line up in the Junior Women’s race.  In the U-18 category, Zoe Carruthers (City of Lisburn AC), Emer Magee (Lagan Valley AC), Catriona McGloin (Beechmount Harriers), Emma Laverty (Lagan Valley AC), Ella Davis (Lagan Valley AC), Ciara McKillop (Beechmount Harriers), Harriet Gilmore (Lagan Valley AC) and Anna Lawther (Ballymena & Antrim AC) will all be hoping to build on their recent good form.

Northern Ireland’s fifteen parkrun events will also take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.  Please Note:  The Belfast Victoria parkrun has moved to a new temporary home at the ‘Alderman Tommy Patton Park’ (Start Time is 9.15am) at Inverary Avenue, Belfast (just off the Holywood Road, Belfast) whilst the ongoing construction works within Victoria Park take place.  For more information please visit the Belfast Victoria parkrun website HERE.

Woodman, Donaldson, Scott and Campbell win 'in the dark':

Over 1,500 runners turn out for 'Run in the Dark':

On Wednesday 13th November 2013, over one thousand five hundred runners descended on Stormont Estate, Belfast for the annual ‘Run in the Dark’ 5k and 10k races; a worthwhile charity event, organised to raise funds for the Mark Pollock Trust.  Official ‘Run in the Dark’ events also took place in Dublin, Cork, Manchester and London. 

In the 5k race, North Down AC man Dennis Scott put in a strong performance, covering the tough course in 17:40 (1st place), this was enough to secure top spot ahead of James Trainor (Unattached), who clocked 18:03 (2nd place) for the distance. Mark Mullan (City of Derry AC), a sub three hour finisher at the Walled City Marathon, crossed the line 18:22 (3rd place).  

Marina Campbell (City of Derry AC) continued what has been an impressive week.  The fast improving Spartan, who claimed a podium finish at the McConnell XC last weekend, led the ladies home in 20:02 (1st place).  Unattached athlete Lynn Lyness followed in 20:40, before North Down AC’s Ange Perrott recorded 21:06, thus sealing 3rd place.

In the 10k race, Paul Woodman (Orangegrove AC) dominated proceedings from start to finish.  The talented athlete, who has really came to the fore in the last few years, went through half way well clear of the chasing pack.  He continued the relentless pace throughout the final 5k to break the tape in 35:59 (1st place). Martin Rea (North Belfast Harriers) ran well to secure 2nd place in 37:06, before his club mate, Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers) completed the men’s podium in 37:21.  

Lagan Valley AC’s Catriona Donaldson (nee McCorkell) made a winning return to competition following her recent wedding, sealing a well-deserved win in 43:06 (1st place).  Unattached athlete Claire McIlwaine produced one of the performances of the night, taking the runners up spot in 43:48 (2nd place), while Nicola McCleery (Unattached) crossed the line in 45:09 for 3rd place.

5k Race:

Top 3 Men:  1st Dennis Scott (North Down AC) – 17:40, 2nd James Trainor (Unattached) – 18:03, 3rd Mark Mullan (City of Derry AC) – 18:22

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Marina Campbell (City of Derry AC) – 20:02, 2nd Lynn Lyness (Unattached) – 20:40. 3rd Ange Perrott (North Down AC) – 21:06

10k Race:

Top 3 Men:  1st Paul Woodman (Orangegrove AC) – 35:59, 2nd Martin Rea (North Belfast Harriers) – 37:06, 3rd Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers) – 37:21

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Catriona Donaldson (Lagan Valley AC) – 43:06, 2nd Claire McIlwaine (Unattached) – 43:48, 3rd Nicola McCleery (Unattached) – 45:09

Full Results:  Run in the Dark 10k Race and 5k Race 2013 Results

Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) hold prize-giving:

Northern Ireland Mountain Running update:

Last weekend, Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) members gathered in O’Hares, Newcastle, for the end of season shindig and associated prize-giving.  The evening kicked off with a plentiful array of refreshments, during which, pictures of dedicated hill runners giving it their all at some of this season’s races were displayed via the ‘big screen’; true to form, this led to some banter around the room.

As with most the NIMRA events the after dinner speaker was the chairman, Ricky Cowan. He started this year’s address with an interesting story about how he had come to know the late, great, Denis Rankin.  This led into the showing of a really good film about the Mourne Wall Walk in 1976.  The film had been made by the BBC and was narrated by Jeremy Paxman.  

One of the stars of that movie was the aforementioned Denis Rankin who was trying to break the record for the route.  This was especially poignant as his widow Madeline had joined the assembled crowds for the evening; she (Madeline) even had a minor role supporting Denis.  It was great to see people literally running in the Mourne Mountains in a pair of dress shoes and flared jeans.  After the movie a man who professes to having been Denis’s sidekick for the past couple of decades, Jim Brown, stepped up to talk about some of their escapades over the years.  It is clear from the love in the room that Denis will be sadly missed.  After the interesting speeches, it was time for the prize giving.  

The top three male and female athletes in the NIMRA Championship were: 

Top 3 Men:  1st Stephen Cunningham (Mourne Runners), 2nd Deon McNeilly (Newcastle AC), 3rd Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers)

Top 3 Ladies: 1st Diane Wilson (Dromore AC), 2nd Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC), 3rd Denise Mathers (Newry City Runners)

The NIMRA Championship category winners were

Men: Vet35 - Stephen Cunningham (Mourne Runners), Vet40 - Clive Bailey (Mourne Runners), Vet45 - Pete Grant (Newry City Runners), Vet50 - Deon McNeilly (Newcastle AC), Vet60 - Stewart Cunningham (Mourne Runners)

Ladies: Vet35 - Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC), Vet40 - Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC), Vet45 - Denise Mathers (Newry City Runners), Vet55 - Mary Mackin (Dromore AC) 

The top three male and female athletes in the NIMRA Grand Prix were:

Top 3 Men: 1st Stephen Cunningham (Mourne Runners), 2nd David McNeilly (Newcastle AC), 3rd Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers)

Top 3 Ladies: 1st Diane Wilson (Dromore AC), 2nd Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC), 3rd Violet Linton (LVO) 

The NIMRA Grand Prix category winners were: 

Men: Vet35 Stephen Cunningham (Mourne Runners), Vet40 Clive Bailey (Mourne Runners), Vet45 Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers), Vet50 Eugene McCann (Newcastle AC), Vet55 Peter Bell (Mourne Runners), Vet60 Stewart Cunningham (Mourne Runners)

Ladies: Vet35 Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC), Vet40 Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC), Vet55 Mary Mackin (Dromore AC)

The last prize of the evening was the Runner’s Runner prize, chosen by the chairman. This was presented to Dale Mathers (Newry City Runners) in light of the fabulous year he has had.  As well as participating in most NIMRA races he has completed the 72 miles and 42 peaks that make up the Bob Graham Round in 22:45:00 and all 168 km of the Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc.  Aside from the obvious, one of the things that has made Dale’s season stand out is that the man just never seems to tire; only a few days after the Bob Graham Round, he was back mixing it up in a NIMRA race.

NIMRA Championship 2014:

NIMRA have also released details regarding the 2014 NIMRA Championship.  The format shall be three short, three medium and three long (distance) category races.  A competitor’s best five results will be assigned Championship points and must these five performances must include a short, a medium and a long race. The remaining two counting races cannot both be from the same category.

The Championship races will be:

Short:  Glenariff (Saturday 15th March 2014), Second short race: Hill & Dale (Thursday 29th May 2014, details to be confirmed) and Slieve Bearnagh (Saturday 23rd August 2014).  Medium:  Commedagh Chase (Saturday 26th April 2014), Flagstaff (Sunday 22nd June 2014) and The Fallows (Saturday 13th September 2014).  Long:  Annalong Horseshoe (Saturday 10th May 2014), Spelga Skyline (Saturday 5th July 2014), Seven Sevens (Saturday 2nd August 2014).

The Grand Prix series will be retired, although there will be discussions about running an Intermediate level Series aimed at those new to mountain running. More information will be added to the NIMRA draft calendar and 2014 events page soon.  Please keep up to date with all things mountain running on the NIMRA website HERE.  All information in the article above was kindly provided by the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA).

Stephen O'Gorman and Hannah Oldroyd excel in tough Forkhill 10k:

Athlete enjoy tough Forkhill 10k road race:
On Sunday 10th November 2013, athletes from across the province took part in the Forkhill 10k road race, hosted by Forkhill GAC; the annual event, which covers a hilly course, attracted in excess of one hundred runners.

Stephen O’Gorman (Newry City Runners) put in the a good performance to win; despite just getting back to full fitness, the local athlete looked strong as he broke the tape in 38:53 to win.  Steve Darby (Barnsley AC), a participant in the inaugural Larne parkrun just over 24 hours earlier, took 2nd place in 39:03, before Eddie Harte (Unattached) crossed the line in 39:56 (3rd place).

In the ladies race, it was the talented parkrun ‘tourist’ Hannah Oldroyd (Airdale Dodgers) who stole the headlines; Hannah, like Steve Darby, was also in action on Saturday (9th November 2013), but showed no signs of fatigue as she cruised to victory in 41:27.  Bessbrook 10k podium finisher, Caitlin Malone (Three Ways AC) secured 2nd place in 45:08, while Michelle O’Neill (Club Unknown) completed the ladies top three in 46:33 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men:  1st Stephen O’Gorman (Newry City Runners) – 38:53, 2nd Steve Darby (Barnsley AC) – 39:03, 3rd Eddie Harte (Unattached) – 39:56

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Hannah Oldroyd (Airdale Dodgers) – 41:27, 2nd Caitlin Malone (Three Ways AC) – 45:08, 3rd Michelle O’Neill (Club Unknown) – 46:33

Entry now OPEN for Walled City Marathon 2014:

Early entry recommended as 250 places sell in first hour of business:

Today, Monday 11th November 2013 brings the opening of entries for the much anticipated Walled City Marathon 2014.  The event proved a huge success in 2013 and organisers will target 1,500 participants (this is the entry limit).  Given the response last year when entries closed in early January, all interested runners should enter as soon as possible to guarantee their place on the start line on Sunday 1st June 2014.

Another massive local entry is anticipated but participation from a much wider base is also expected to increase significantly with the reputation of the WCM spreading across the running fraternity after the success of last year’s race.  Indeed the organisers recently attended the Dublin Marathon Expo and reported an enormous interest from the thousands flocking through the stands over the Dublin Marathon weekend. 

Speaking at last week’s launch the Mayor congratulated the WCM organisers on their 2013 success and confirmed substantial Council financial support for the 2014 event.  "I and Council were really impressed with last June's brilliant event and we are delighted to back the Walled City Marathon in 2014 and help ensure the legacy of this year's inaugural event" said the Mayor, who added "the Marathon certainly embraced the entire community and the community responded magnificently by participating in huge numbers, boosting the race organisation and turning out in their thousands to support the runners" 

Race Director Noel McMonagle thanked the Mayor and Council for their most welcome support and commented "we are delighted to have this crucial Council input and together plan to deliver an event which will surpass even the heights of 2013.  Planning is already at an advanced stage and we look forward to making June 1st next year (2014) another memorable day in the life and times of our city".  He continued "while we have targeted a broader entry base than before, the local growth in running activity is the source of our core participation and with increased community involvement also targeted, next year could be something special"

President of Athletics NI and WCM team member Gerry Lynch, confirmed the support of Athletics NI and the wider athletics fraternity and said that events like the WCM captured the imagination of many, many people, not just club runners. "that is good news for athletics" he concluded.  Early entry is strongly recommended by Scott Galbraith of the WCM team who explained that the entry process, both online and paper, will open at 9am on Monday 11th November 2013.

Online entry is via the website - click on the link for Walled City Marathon entry and proceed with the entry process. The entry fee is £36 plus a £2.20 booking fee.  Entry will be possible also by downloading an entry form and sending the hard copy to WCM, Foyle Hospice, 61 Culmore Rd. Derry, BT48 8JE. The £36 entry fee only will apply for paper entries.

Conan McCaughey and Sarah Lindsay secure Novice XC titles:

NI & Ulster Novice and Uneven Age Group Championships 2013:

On Sunday 10th November 2013, junior and senior athletes from across the province descended on Gransha Grounds, Derry/Londonderry for the NI & Ulster Senior Novice Cross Country Championships; the event also included the NI & Ulster ‘Uneven Age Group’ Championships.

The day started well for Northern Ireland based athletes, with Christy Conlon (Beechmount Harriers), Rachel Brown (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Jonny Whan (City of Lisburn AC), Zoe Carruthers (City of Lisburn AC), Ryan Sharkey (Lagan Valley AC) and Yasmin Wilson (Ballymena & Antrim AC) all claiming gold medals in their respective age categories.  

There were also medal winning performances by Cara Laverty (City of Derry AC), Rachel Scott (Lagan Valley AC), Tony McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers), Aoife Farrell (Enniskillen Running Club), Patrick McNiff (Banbridge AC), Emma Hutchinson (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Kate Gourley (City of Lisburn AC), Ronan O’Fril (St Malachy’s AC), Madison Bowyer (City of Lisburn AC), Emma Laverty (Lagan Valley AC), Conor Christie (Springwell Running Club), Shane McGowan (City of Derry AC), Amy Jackson (City of Derry AC) and Emer Magee (Lagan Valley AC).

It was then the turn of the senior athletes to take to the line; in the men’s 5k race, Enniskillen Running Club’s Conan McCaughey crowned off what has been an excellent year with a well-deserved win.  In what was a close race, the NiRunning ‘blogger’, who is now based in Scotland, secured the NI & Ulster Novice XC title after breaking clear late on to lead the field home in 19:03.20.  Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) took the silver medal in 19:12.35 (2nd place), before Stephen Prentice (Enniskillen Running Club) completed the prize-winning trio in 19:31.90.  The excellent performances by Conan and Stephen led the Enniskillen Running Club team, which also contained Fergus McGirr, Stephen Cassidy, Adam Cooke and Eamonn Monaghan, to the prestigious Senior Men’s Novice XC team title.

The ladies 4k race was also an exciting affair, with Foyle Valley AC lady Sarah Lindsay putting in a notable performance.  Sarah started well, but it was only in the latter stages of the race that she shone, working her way into the lead and ultimately claiming victory in 15:56.65 (1st place).  Charlene McIntyre (Foyle Valley AC) also impressed, claiming the runners up spot in 16:11.65 (2nd place) ahead of Finn Valley AC’s Kathleen McNulty (3rd place – 16:19.85). Following the strong showing from Sarah Lindsay and Charlene McIntyre, as well as their club mate Denise McElhone, Foyle Valley AC were announced as the winners of the Senior Ladies Novice XC title.

NI & Ulster Senior Novice XC podium places:

Top 3 Men:  1st Conan McCaughey (Enniskillen Running Club) – 19:03.20, 2nd Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) – 19:12.35, 3rd Stephen Prentice (Enniskillen Running Club) – 19:31.90

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Sarah Lindsay (Foyle Valley AC) – 15:56.65, 2nd Charlene McIntyre (Foyle Valley AC) – 16:11.65, 3rd Kathleen McNulty (Finn Valley AC) – 16:19.85.

Full Results:  NI & Ulster Novice and Uneven Age Group Championships 2013 Results (Photograph used above was taken my Kieran Carlin)

Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) impresses at prestigious Soria XC race:

Northern Ireland man races in Spain:

On Sunday 10th November 2013, Northern Ireland man Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) lined up against some of the world’s best athletes at the world at the International de Soria Cross Country in Spain.

Paul, who is aiming to represent Ireland at the upcoming European XC Championships in Serbia (December 2013), produced yet another top quality performance.  He (Paul) just missed a top ten finish after covering the tough 10k course in 31:31, this was enough to secure 12th place.  The race was won by Huru Dickson (Uganda) in 30:07.  

Paul, now based in England, will travel home next weekend to take part in the Woodies DIY Inter Counties XC in Dublin (Ireland), an event that will be used by the Ireland XC selectors to pick the team for the aforementioned European XC Championships.

Full Results:  International de Soria XC 2013 Results

Gavin Crawford and Amy McDaid enjoy wins at NWTC 5k Series opener:

Nearly 100 athletes turn out for Winter Series opener:

On Sunday 10th November 2013, North West Triathlon Club welcomed nearly one hundred runners to the first race of their popular Winter 5k Series in Derry/Londonderry.

Respected triathlete and winner of the recent Orla’s (5k) Run, Gavin Crawford (24/7 Triathlon Club) impressed most.  The Letterkenny man produced a strong performance to claim victory in 16:35.  City of Derry AC’s Benny Mullan followed in 16:51 (2nd place), finishing just ahead of his Spartan club mate Mark Mullan, who completed the men’s podium in 16:56 (3rd place).

In the ladies race, young track star Amy McDaid (Derry City Track Club) secured an excellent win.  Amy, a podium finisher at the most recent NiRunning Mile event, broke the tape to win in 19:33.  Unattached athlete Grainne Quigley claimed 2nd place in 22:16, before local lady Paula McGilloway (City of Derry AC) crossed the line in 22:52 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men:  1st Gavin Crawford (24/7 Triathlon Club) – 16:35, 2nd Benny Mullan (City of Derry AC) – 16:51, 3rd Mark Mullan (City of Derry AC) – 16:56

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Amy McDaid (Derry City Track Club) – 19:33, 2nd Grainne Quigley (Unattached) – 22:16, 3rd Paula McGilloway (City of Derry AC) – 22:52

Full Results:  NWTC 5k Series (Race 1) 2013 Results

Declan Reed and Karen Alexander win at McConnell Shield XC:

Spectators treated to exciting Cross Country races in Ballyclare:

On Saturday 9th November 2013, hundreds on athletes and spectators turned out for the 79th annual running of the McConnell Shield Cross Country, hosted by East Antrim Harriers in Six Mile Water Park, Ballyclare.

The race programme started with Under 14 and Under 16 races, both of which were well supported and proved excellent ‘atmosphere builders’ for the adult races that followed.  Full results for these races will be added as soon as they are available.

Nearly two hundred ladies then toed the line for their 3 mile race, which also incorporated the male veteran 60+ race.  After a fast start, it was Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers), Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers), Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC), Marina Campbell (City of Derry AC) and Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) who took up position at the front.

However, as the race progressed, it was Karen Alexander and Michelle Sturm who moved clear, leaving the remaining trio to battle it out for the final podium spot.  Going into the final lap, a strong looking Karen had a slender lead on Michelle; the Sperrin Harriers athlete managed to increase this enough to come into the home straight with a race winning gap.  Despite Michelle’s fast finish, it was Karen who broke the tape in 18:05, thus securing a well-deserved win. Michelle recorded 18:09 (2nd place), before the fast improving Marina Campbell (18:13) beat Gemma Turley (4th place – 18:14) in a sprint finish to claim 3rd place.  In the Veteran Men’s race, it was North Down AC legend Terry Aiken who led the field home in 18:38.

After the excitement of the close ladies race had settled, it was the men’s turn to take to the start line for their 5 mile race.  Not to be outdone, the men also produced an excellent, close race; from the off, a strong lead group of Alan O’Hara (North Belfast Harriers), Declan Reed (City of Derry AC), Brendan Teer (East Down AC), Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC), Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club), Jonny Steede (Ballymena Runners) and Brian Campbell (Willowfield Harriers) moved clear of the field.

The group stayed firm in the first two laps, before it began to split.  By the time they were passing through half way, Alan O’Hara, Brendan Teer, Declan Reed and Neil Johnston were looking like the main contenders; in the closing stages, it was City of Derry AC man Declan Reed who made a brave move at the front. This proved to be a good decision, as none of the following trio were able to match the surge.   In the end, it was Declan who claimed victory in 26:01. Springwell Running Club’s up and coming star, Neil Johnston, produced an excellent final lap to take 2nd place in 26:08, a mere one second ahead of North Belfast Harriers’ Alan O’Hara, who completed the men’s top three in 26:09 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men (5 miles):  1st Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) – 26:01, 2nd Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) – 26:08, 3rd Alan O’Hara (North Belfast Harriers) – 26:09

Top 3 Ladies (3 miles):  1st Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers) – 18:05, 2nd Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers) – 18:09, 3rd Marina Campbell (City of Derry AC) – 18:13

McConnell Shield Team Results:  1st City of Derry AC, 2nd North Belfast Harriers, 3rd Ballymena Runners

Full Results:  McConnell Shield XC 2013 Results.  Photographs from the McConnell Shield XC are now available within our 'Photo Gallery' and a full Race Review has also been added to the 'Race Review' page.

Weekend Preview:  Cross Country events take centre stage:

Major Cross Country events set for Ballyclare and Derry/Londonderry:

As the Northern Ireland Cross Country season begins to dominate the local fixture calendar, the provinces muck-loving running enthusiasts will be in their element.  This weekend brings XC events for both junior and senior athletes, with races taking place in Ballyclare and Derry/Londonderry.  Northern Ireland will also be represented at the Spain and those athletes who favour firmer surfaces will be catered for, by way of a road race in Derry/Londonderry.

The action kicks off on Saturday 9th November 2013, when East Antrim Harriers welcome athletes to Six Mile Water Park, Ballyclare for the 79th annual running of the McConnell Shield Cross Country; this will be the third race of the well supported Athletics NI XC League.

The programme of events will begin with a number of junior races, before the adults take to the start line.  The ladies (and Vet60+ men) 3 mile race will be the first of the senior races and should include a number of local stars.  North Belfast Harriers pair, Gladys Ganiel O’Neill and Cathy McCourt may toe the line; both ladies have been in good form of late, with Gladys returning from her heroic marathon effort in Berlin (where she ran 2:39:26), which saw her achieve a Commonwealth Games qualifying standard, to win the first race in the Athletics NI XC League, the Springwell XC.  

Meanwhile, Cathy has been building herself back to full fitness in impressive fashion.  The talented lady was troubled by injury for nearly eighteen months but returned to competition this year and has since produced a number of notable performances.  Alongside podium places at the Bangor 10k, Felix 10k and Runher 10k, Cathy won the NIMAA XC race in style; just last week, the Ireland International XC runner won the Donegal XC Championships.  Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), Heather Foley (North Belfast Harriers) and Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) could also be contenders.  Up and coming talent, Rachel has started the XC season well.  The North Down AC lady, who enjoyed a good track season, picking up a silver medal over 1500m at the AAI (Indoor) Games in February 2013, claimed top honours in the Open category at the NIMAA XC in Belfast, after taking third place overall.  She (Rachel) also secured a podium place at the Bobby Rea XC in Rostrevor two weeks ago.  

Heather Foley has been running really well recently and has been rewarded with top three placings at the Felix 10k and the Armagh 10 mile road race.  Two weeks ago, Heather secured an excellent second place finish at the Bobby Rea XC.  Gemma Turley has been one of the provinces top performers this year, with no less than eleven race wins under her belt.  This has included high profile victories at the Decathlon 10k, Causeway Coast 10k, Fairhill 5 mile road race, NFU Mutual 5 mile road race and the Sperrin Harriers Classic.  Gemma has also finished well up the field at the Springwell XC and Bobby Rea XC, taking fifth place and sixth place respectively.  Jessica Craig (North Down AC), Gillian Wasson (Springwell Running Club), Roberta Dornan (North Down AC), Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC), Paula McAllister (Ballymena Runners), Marina Campbell (City of Derry AC), Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers), Geraldine Branagh (Dromore AC) and Nuala Kelly (Sperrin Harriers) will all be hoping for top ten places should they enter on the day.

In the men’s 5 mile race, Brendan Teer (East Down AC), Declan Reed (City of Derry AC), Alan O’Hara (North Belfast Harriers) and Ryan McDermott (Annadale Strdiers) will all be hoping to be amongst the front runners.  Pre-race favourite status must go to current NI & Ulster XC Champion Brendan Teer who has kicked off this seasons cross country campaign exactly how he finished the last, in winning form.  Brendan, who has claimed podium places in twenty two of the twenty five races he has took part in this year, won the season opener in Coleraine (Springwell XC) and finished third in the Bobby Rea XC behind international men Ciaran Doherty (Letterkenny AC) and Joe McAlister (St Malachy’s AC).

Athletics NI 5k (Road) Champion Declan Reed is another quality athlete; Declan has improved his personal bests over 3,000m (8:36.43), 5,000m (14:39.34), 5k (14:49) and 10k (30:43) in 2013, he also collected a bronze medal at the NI & Ulster Track & Field Championships after finishing third in the 5,000m. Arguably his (Declan’s) best performance of the year came at the Trafford 10k in England, where he clocked 30:43.  NI & Ulster Masters XC medallist, Alan O’Hara will also play a prominent part in proceedings if he starts.  Alan is another man who has enjoyed an excellent year.  It all started back in February 2013 with a 5k personal best (of 15:14) at the Armagh International 5k, from there, Alan went on to enjoy a huge amount of success over various distances, before returning to Armagh last month to secure the runners up spot at the Armagh 10 mile road race after he recorded 53:10 for the distance.  Young Annadale Striders star Ryan McDermott always seems to deliver over cross country terrain; he ran well in this race last year, and judging by his exceptional track season, which has saw him run personal bests over 800m (1:56:41), 1500m (3:57.70), 3,000m (8:36.20) and  5,000m (14:52.89) he is in even better form going into this year’s event.  In fact, that showed just last week when Ryan represented Ireland at the Lotto Cross (Country) Cup in Belgium, finishing in a very respectable twenty seventh place, in what was a world class field.

Michael Dyer (North Down AC) may also compete; like Ryan, the North Down AC man excelled on the track this year, running new personal bests over 800m (1:50.37) and 1500m (3:47.33).  Last week, he (Michael) told respected athletics journalist Malcolm McCausland (Inside Track – Irish News) that he would be looking at some cross country races over the winter, with the view of returning to the track next year with the strength “to give the Commonwealth Games selectors something to think about” (see full article HERE).  Jarleth Falls (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Adam Boyd (North Belfast Harriers), Francis Marsh (North Down AC), Gary Keenan (Orangegrove AC), Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers) and Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) should also run well.

On Sunday 10th November 2013, junior athletes from all over the province will descend on Gransha Grounds, Derry/Londonderry for the NI & Ulster ‘Uneven Age Group’ Cross Country Championships.   The event will also include male and female ‘Novice’ races.

After an excellent day of racing at the ‘Even Age Group’ Championships in Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor, a lot is expected of this event; with so many top up and coming athletes expected to turn out, this should indeed prove to be the case.  Christy Conlon (Beechmount Harriers), Jake Harbinson (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Zoe Carruthers (City of Lisburn AC), Aoife Laverty (City of Derry AC), Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC), Ronan O’Friel (St Malachy’s AC), Katie Wills (Willowfield Harriers), Emma Hutchinson (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Molly Brown (North Down AC), Luke Dinsmore (Springwell Running Club), Toni Moore (Omagh Harriers) and Rachel Scott (Lagan Valley AC) may be amongst the future stars who toe the line.  

The race day programme will finish with the male and female ‘Novice’ races; Novice races are not open to all athletes, there are criteria which rule athletes out of competition, these are as follow:  An athlete is ineligible to compete in the ANI/UAC Novice Championships if he/she has been; 

1. A medal winner at UAC Intermediate/ANI Junior or Senior cross county, Individual or team (club or county). 

- A medal winner at AAI Novice, Intermediate or Senior cross county, Individual or Team (club or county). 

- An individual gold medal winner or scoring member of the winning team in the UAC/ANI Novice. 

- An Individual medal winner AAI/ANI/UAC in any track (indoor or outdoor) or road championship event at 1500m and upwards in Senior competitions. 

- They must NOT have represented Ireland/Ulster/Northern Ireland at Senior International level. 

2. Athletes must be aged 19 years or over on the 31st December in the year competition to be eligible to compete in the Novice Championships. 

3. Status of an athlete will not be altered during a cross country season (September to April) other than in the case of an individual win.  

Also on Sunday 10th November 2013, local road running enthusiasts will take on the first race of the annual North West Triathlon Club 5k Winter Series. Last year, the four race Series proved popular with many of the North West’s top athletes and this year should be no different. We expect a strong showing from Foyle Valley AC and City of Derry AC.  This may include the likes of Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), James Brown (City of Derry AC), Chris McPeake (City of Derry AC), Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC), Pius McIntyre (Foyle Valley AC), Hannah Shields (City of Derry AC), Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC), Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers), Miriam Bridge (City of Derry AC) and Anne Paul (City of Derry AC).

Further afield on Sunday 10th November 2013, Northern Ireland man Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) will travel to Soria in the North of Spain for the IAAF International de Soria Cross Country; the opening race in the IAAF XC Series (which also includes the IAAF Antrim XC race in Northern Ireland) will attract some of the world’s best athletes.  Paul, who recently re-located to England, has stated that his training is going well and that he is feeling fit and strong.

Northern Ireland runners will also welcome a new parkrun to the province, with the all new Larne parkrun starting on Saturday 9th November 2013 (9.30am). The province’s fifteenth parkrun will start at Dixon Hall (Coast Road, Drainsbay) and take competitors around the scenic Carnfunnock Country Park.  The remaining fourteen parkrun events will take place as normal this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.  Please Note:  The Belfast Victoria parkrun has moved to a new temporary home at the ‘Alderman Tommy Patton Park’ (Start Time is 9.15am) at Inverary Avenue, Belfast (just off the Holywood Road, Belfast) whilst the ongoing construction works within Victoria Park take place.  For more information please visit the Belfast Victoria parkrun website HERE.

NIMRA announce changes to 2014 Mountain Running Championship:

New look NIMRA Championship in 2014:

Recently the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) committee received a signed proposal from some members interested in changing the format of the NIMRA Championship.  This proposal triggered an extra general meeting which was held on Monday October 28th 2013.  At the well attended meeting there was some lively discussion about the proposed change.  A majority decision was reached, so there will be a new look Championship in 2014.

The format shall now be three short, three medium and three long (distance) category races.  A competitor’s best five results will be assigned Championship points and must these five performances must include a short, a medium and a long race.  The remaining two counting races cannot both be from the same category.

The Championship races will be Glenariff (Short), Commedagh Chase (Medium), Annalong (Long), Hill and Dales (Short, TBC), Flagstaff (Medium), Spelga Skyline (Long), Seven Sevens (Long), Slieve Bearnagh (Short) and The Fallows (Medium).  The Grand Prix series will be retired, although there will be discussions about running an Intermediate level Series aimed at those new to mountain running.  More information will be added to the NIMRA draft calendar and 2014 events page soon.  Please keep up to date with all things mountain running on the NIMRA website HERE.

Northern Ireland runners complete ING New York Marathon:

NI runners enjoy ING New York Marathon 2013:

On Sunday 3rd November 2013, at least seven Northern Ireland runners joined in excess of 48,000 people on the start line of the ING New York Marathon in America; the hugely popular marathon returned after a one year gap, after the 2012 event was cancelled because of ‘Hurricane Sandy’.

Gavin Corey (Sperrin Harriers) recorded 3:07:29 to lead the NI contingent home, he was followed into the packed Central Park by Paul McCullagh (Club Unknown) and Susanna Allen (Ballymena Runners), who recorded 3:26:18 and 3:34:50 respectively.  This was another marathon personal best for fast improving Susanna, who missed a Ballymena Runners club record by a mere fifteen seconds.

Chris Downey (Unattached) and Douglas (Club Unknown) crossed the line just four seconds apart, with Douglas running 3:46:11 and Chris 3:46:16.  Matthew Nicholson completed his third marathon in fifteen days (having run Berlin Marathon and Dublin Marathon) in 3:55:40, before Holywood lady Alison Downey (Club Unknown) completed the 26.2 mile race in 4:24:30.  

Cathal Corey (Unattached) couldn’t quite match his son Gavin’s time, but ran very well none the less. Cathal crossed the line in 4:38:51, finishing just ahead of Ballydrain Harriers ladies Rosie Earney (5:09:28) and Heather Stanex (5:09:29) who have admirably raised in excess of £10,000 by completing this event.  A tired but happy looking Colin Downey (Unattached) covered the distance in 5:34:46.  The race was won by Kenyan dup Geoffrey Mutai and Priscah Jeptoo; Geoffrey took the men’s title in a speedy 2:08:24, while the ever impressive Priscah Jeptto claimed the ladies top prize in 2:25:07.

Full Results:  ING New York City Marathon 2013 Results

Stephen Scullion leads Clonliffe Harriers to Dublin XC title:

Northern Ireland man runs well in Dublin:

On Sunday 3rd November 2013, Northern Ireland man Stephen Scullion travelled from his London base to represent his club, Clonliffe Harriers at the Senior Dublin Cross Country Championships in St Anne’s Park, Raheny (Dublin, Ireland), an event hosted by well-known Irish club Raheny Shamrock AC.

Stephen battled in out at the front with exceptionally talented Donore Harriers man John Travers as they covered the 10k course; in the end John (30:50) just pipped Stephen to the finish line, with Stephen claiming 2nd place in 30:56.  This was enough to lead his Clonliffe Harriers side to the prestigious team title.

Full Results:  Dublin XC Championships 2013 Results (Men and Ladies)

Gary Murray and Cathy McCourt impress at Donegal XC Championships:

Impressive performances by NI runners in County Donegal:

On Sunday 3rd November 2013, a number of Northern Ireland based athletes produced excellent performances at the Donegal Cross Country Championships, which were hosted by Inishowen AC in Carndonagh, Ireland.

St Malachy’s AC man Gary Murray returned to racing style; having not raced locally in some time, Gary showed that he has lost none of his talent.  He (Gary) covered the tough 10k course in 34:34, winning by almost one minute.  Fellow NI men Mark Hoy (Finn Valley AC) and James Speight (Finn Valley AC) also ran well, crossed the line in 36:17 (5th place) and 36:58 (9th place).

In the ladies race, Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) celebrated her recent international call-up with another notable performance.  The NIMAA XC winner took 4th place in 20:41.  The closely contested ladies race was won by Laganside 10k winner, Teresa McGloin (Finn Valley AC) in 19:35.

Full Results:  Donegal XC Championships 2013 – Men’s Results and Ladies Results 

McDermott and McGlynn represent Ireland at Lotto Cross Cup:

Ryan McDermott and Ann-Marie McGlynn do Northern Ireland proud in Belgium:

On Sunday 3rd November 2013, two Northern Ireland based athletes represented Ireland at the Lotto Cross (Country) Cup in Antwerp, Belgium.  Ryan McDermott (Annadale Striders) and Ann-Marie McGlynn (Lifford AC) both performed well.

In the ladies 4.7k race, Ann-Marie McGlynn, a fourth place finisher at the recent Gerry Farnan XC in Dublin, produced an excellent performance to claim a top ten spot; the Lifford AC lady crossed the line in 16:30, taking 7th place.  In the equally competitive men’s race, Annadale Striders man Ryan McDermott also ran well, covering the 9.2k course in 30:56 (27th place).  The ladies race was won by Irish hero Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) in 15:40, while Kenyan athlete Alex Kibet secured the men’s title in 27:52.

Full Results:  Lotto Cross Cup 2013 Results

Inaugural 'King and Queen of Gullion' crowned:

Damien McDaid and Mary Laverty win Southern Area Hospice event:

On Saturday 2nd November 2013, runners turned out in force to support the Southern Area Hospice’s King of Gullion 10k race, which was held in conjunction with events management company 26extreme.

The tough course took competitors from the Slieve Gullion Visitor Centre Car Park to the summit of Slieve Gullion (573m), via tarmac paths, trails and sections of open mountain. After a close start, it was Newcastle AC's Damien McDaid who excelled; the local man claimed a well-deserved victory in 47:47; he was followed by Paul O’Neill (Club Unknown), who crossed the line in 48:13 (2nd place). Brendan Savage (Newry City Runners) took the final podium place in 51:51 (3rd place).

Mary Laverty (Club Unknown) claimed top honours in the ladies race, clocking 53:05 (1st place) for the course. Grainne Ni Ullachain (Galway City Harriers), a lady who just missed a top ten finish at the prestigious Streets of Galway 8k during the summer, took 2nd place in 54:09, before Caitlin Malone (3 Ways AC) made sure there was local representation on the ladies podium when she secured 3rd place in 55:40.

Top 3 Men: 1st Damien McDaid (Newcastle AC) – 47:47, 2nd Paul O’Neill (Club Unknown) – 48:13, 3rd Brendan Savage (Newry City Runners) – 51:51

Top 3 Ladies: 1st Mary Laverty (Club Unknown) – 53:05, 2nd Grainne Ni Ullachain (Galway City Harriers) – 54:09, 3rd Caitlin Malone (3 Ways AC) – 55:40

Full Results: King of Gullion 10k 2013 Results (Photograph used above courtesy of Mark Ramsey)

Allan Bogle and Karen Alexander win Sperrin Harriers opener:

Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series 2013 (Race 1):

On Saturday 2nd November 2013, over one hundred runners braved wet and blustery conditions to complete the first race of this year’s Sperrin Harriers Winter Trail Series, which was held at the newly added venue, Davagh Forest, just outside Cookstown.

Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC), who produced arguably the performance of the day at the Springwell XC race two weeks ago, continued his fine form.  The City of Derry AC man was a prominent figure at the front, before leading the field home in 36:46. Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers) also ran well, claiming 2nd place in 37:15; established trail runner, Brian Young (Unattached) completed the men’s top three in 38:01 (3rd place).

In the ladies race, Sperrin Harriers’ leading lady Karen Alexander enjoyed a comfortable victory.  The international athlete covered the undulating 10k course in 41:24.  Ciara Toner (Springwell Running Club) returned to competition after an injury lay off to secure the runners up spot in a solid 43:57 (2nd place), while the fast improving Nuala Kelly took 3rd place in 46:39.

Top 3 Men:  1st Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) – 36:46, 2nd Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers) – 37:17, 3rd Brian Young (Unattached) – 38:01

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Karen Alexander (Sperrin Harriers) – 41:24, 2nd Ciara Toner (Springwell Running Club) – 43:57, 3rd Nuala Kelly (Sperrin Harriers) – 46:39

Full Results:  Sperrin Harriers Winter Trail Series (Race 1)

Pure Running Half Marathon Series 2013 prize-giving held at MPT:

ChampionChip Ireland - Pure Running Half Marathon Series 2013:

On Friday 1st November 2013, ChampionChip Ireland hosted the 5th annual prize-giving for the Pure Running Half Marathon Series, which included the DUNE Half Marathon, Larne Half Marathon, Omagh Half Marathon, Lisburn Half Marathon, Ards Half Marathon, Dervock Half Marathon, Cookstown Half Marathon, Groomsport Half Marathon and the Waterside Half Marathon.

After expressing his thanks to Series sponsors (Pure Running), the sport’s governing body (Athletics NI) and all of the runners who participated in the Series, ChampionChip Ireland’s Glenn Grant informed the assembled crowd that figures for the 2013 Series showed that the Series was continuing to grow in popularity, with a total number of 8,932 runners participating in the ten races; a hardy 18 runners completed all ten races.  

Interestingly, Michael McKeown (East Down AC) and Angus McCready (Up & Runners) have completed in every race since the Series began in 2009, this is a total of 37 races.  Glenn was joined by Carla from Pure Running as they handed out well earned Pure Running Half Marathon Series jackets to all 18 of the runners who had completed all 10 races, they were: Anita Meli (Orangegrove AC), Deirdre Conway (Sperrin Harriers), Selina Myles (Orangegrove AC), Catherine Fearon (Up & Runners), Diane Woods (Unattached), Michael O’Donoghue (Orangegrove AC), Joe Cooney (Unattached), Stephen McStravick (Unattached), Eunan Magee (Unattached), Zdzislaw Malkinski (Orangegrove AC), Eugene Winters (Newry City Runners), Sam Hogg (Lagan Valley AC), Daniel Jack (Unattached), Andrew McIntyre (Unattached), Paul Quinn (Up & Runners), Greame McGowan (Unattached), Michael McKeown (East Down AC) and Angus McCready (Up & Runners).

It was then down to distributing awards to the category prize winners, they were:

Men:  Male Open – 1st David Proctor (Willowfield Harriers), 2nd Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers), 3rd Peter Williams (Unattached).  Male Vet35 – 1st Don Travers (Newry City Runners), 2nd Richard Coey (Ballydrain Harriers), 3rd Chris Denton (Springwell Running Club).  Male Vet40 – 1st Gareth Grew (North Belfast Harriers), 2nd Mark Walker (Unattached), 3rd John McConnell (Up & Runners).  Male Vet45 – 1st Derek Somerville (Omagh Harriers), 2nd Colin Simpson (North Belfast Harriers).  Male Vet 50 – 1st Nigel Greer (North Belfast Harriers) and Male Vet55 – 1st Greg McClure (North Belfast Harriers).

Ladies:  Ladies Open – 1st Roisin Hughes (North Belfast Harriers), 2nd Selina Myles (Orangegrove AC), 3rd Catherine Fearon (Up & Runners).  Ladies Vet35 – 1st Julie Balmer (North Down AC), 2nd Geraldine Quigley (Larne AC), 3rd Janice White (Forge Harriers).  Ladies Vet40 – Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC), 2nd Fiona Johnston (Unattached), 3rd Sarah Benton (North Down AC).  Ladies Vet45 – 1st Penny Lindsay (East Coast AC), 2nd Aine McNeill (Dromore AC).  Ladies Vet50 – Claire Forth (Unattached) and Ladies Vet55 – Mary Mackin (Dromore AC)

Glenn closed proceedings by explaining that his aim for the 2014 Series is to increase participant numbers to over 9,000.  The ChampionChip Ireland man added that he is currently in discussions with several race organisers regarding becoming involved in the Series, but nothing had been confirmed.  Further details on the Pure Running Half Marathon Series 2014 will be made available as soon as possible.

Weekend Preview:  NI athletes prepare for Cookstown, Newry, New York...

Quiet Weekend? Not a chance!

At first glance, the upcoming weekend appears to one of the quietest in some time; however, there are several quality options for anyone motivated by their friends’ marathon exploits last weekend.  There are events taking place in Davagh Forest, just outside Cookstown and Slieve Gullion, close to Newry; on the day entry is available at both races.  Northern Ireland runners will also race in New York (USA) and Antwerp (Belgium).

On Saturday 2nd November 2013, the Sperrin Harriers Winter Trail Series will kick off in Davagh Forest, just outside Cooksown (County Tyrone).  The popular Series never fails to attract runners from across the province and this newly introduced venue, which offers a vast range of newly constructed, quality trails will prove an excellent setting for the opening race of this season’s Winter League, which will see competitors complete an undulating 10k course.

David Simpson (Ballydrain Harriers), Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC), Pius McIntyre (Foyle Valley AC) and local athlete Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers) could be the main contenders on the day.  David Simpson is a top class athlete; the unassuming Ballydrain Harriers man seems to be right at home on the trails, or rough terrain.  He was a dominant force throughout the East Antrim Harriers Trail Series earlier this year, before going on to record impressive wins at the Tollymore Trail Race and the Mourne Way Marathon.  

Allan Bogle is in good form at the moment; he produced an excellent performance at the Springwell XC race two weeks ago to claim a podium place, in what was a very strong field.  The Orienteering expert has also picked up top honours at ‘Binnian to the Top’ and Castlewellan Trail Race, as well as podium spots at the Active Antrim 5 mile road race, the Gortin 10k and the Downhill Demesne Trail Race.  Pius McIntyre won three races in this Series last year, while the host club’s Pierce McCullagh was victorious in two.  Both men will be hoping to replicate that form this term; there should be no reason why they can’t as both have been running well of late.  Pierce clocked 16:41 at the Spooktacular 5k in Enniskillen last week, finishing in fourth place.  He has also performed well in Portglenone, where he finished third in the Run ‘N’ the Bann 5k (16:43).  Pius has run personal bests over 3,000m (9:57.26), 5,000m (16:09.91) and 10k (33:14) this year, with the most notable of these being the 10k performance, which saw him finish as runner up in the Riverine 10k in County Donegal (Ireland).  Other top ten hopefuls could include Kevin O’Boyle (Ballymena Runners), Glenn Donnelly (Sperrin Harriers), Michael Kerr (Carmen Runners), Paul O’Callaghan (Sperrin Harriers), Billy Reed (East Antrim Harriers), Aaron Meharg (Sperrin Harriers), Andy Gregg (Larne AC) and Michael Crawley (Sperrin Harriers).

In the ladies race, Omagh Harriers athlete Michelle Sturm will be considered as pre-race favourite if she enters on the day.  The talented lady looked in great shape when finishing as runner up to Gladys Ganiel O’Neill at the Springwell XC a couple of weeks ago.  Despite not racing that often, Michelle always seems to produce the goods when she does toe the line; she (Michelle) has picked up Championship medals at the Athletics NI 5k (Road) Championships and the NI & Ulster Junior XC Championships already this year.  Sperrin Harriers duo Karen Alexander and Pauline McGurren may also be challengers; Karen’s achievements both locally, national and internationally are well known and on her day the Sperrin Harriers lady will give Michelle a run for her money.  This year, Karen has won ten of the twelve races that she has entered; this has included victories at the Mourne Way Marathon, Gosford 10k, Causeway Coast Half Marathon, Castle Ward Half Marathon and the Cooley Legends Half Marathon, amongst others.  Most recently, she (Karen) just missed a podium spot at the Springwell XC, where she finished in fourth place.  Pauline McGurren has really came to the fore this year, winning the tough Fivemiletown 10k and finishing as runner up at the Sperrin Harriers Classic (Cookstown), Keith Reid Memorial 10k and the Donaghmore 5.05m race; she also claimed a prize after finishing third in the Drumragh 10k.  Anne Paul (City of Derry AC), Patricia Campbell (Omagh Harriers), Louise Lemon (Orangegrove AC), Nuala Kelly (Sperrin Harriers), Kerry Stewart (Sperrin Harriers) and Sarah Steer (Orangegrove AC) will all be looking for high placings should they turn out on the day.

Also on Saturday 2nd November 2013, the Southern Area Hospice will host the inaugural running of their King of Gullion 10k, in association with popular events management company 26extreme.  The fundraising event will see competitors start at the Slieve Gullion Forest Park (Visitor Centre) Car Park and make their way to the summit (573m) of Slieve Gullion, over a mixture of terrain, including tarmac, trail and some short open mountain sections, before returning to the finish.

International long distance runner Don Travers (Newry City Runners) would be the stand out candidate here, if he has recovered well enough from Monday’s Airtricity Dublin Marathon, which he completed in 2:46:31, wearing a skeleton fancy dress outfit!  Aside from this excellent outing, Don has also won the Run Armagh 10k, Sea 2 Sky 10k, Castle Ward Half Marathon and Groomsport Half Marathon; however, arguably his best performance of the year came at the Newry City Marathon, where he clocked 2:34:54 to finish in second place.  Fellow Newry City Runners men, Dale Mathers and Dermot Mathers could be Don’s biggest challengers; throughout 2013, Dale has impressed over the mountains, especially in the longer distance events.  His most notable outing was the Bob Graham Round in England, where he completed the gruelling 74 mile event (which includes 28,500ft of ascending) in 22:45:00, which means his name will be added to the prestigious list of finishers who have crossed the line in less the 24 hours.  Meanwhile, Dermot has impressed on the roads, with comfortable wins at the tough Mullaghbawn 10k and Glenn 10k being amongst his best performances of the year.  Dermot Winters (Newry City Runners), John Garvey (Club Unknown), Jonathan Davis (Club Unknown) and Karl Hearty (Uanattached) will all race and should run well.

Ciara Coffey (Club Pulse AC), Jemma McGourth (Unattached) and Denise Mathers (Newry City Runners) could well play a part at the front of the ladies race. All three are relatively local ladies and always impress when they race; Ciara would be more suited to the roads, but is a top performer none the less, she cruised to victory in the Glenn 10k and is always in or around the podium places when she races.  In June 2013, Ciara finished as runner up in the Lisburn 10k when faced with extremely talented opposition, it was a similar story at Jimmy’s 10k, where she just missed a podium place to take fourth spot.  The Club Pulse AC lady has also picked up prizes at the QUB 5k and the Run Armagh 10k this term.  Up and coming star Jemma, has impressed in several local races this year, winning the Mullaghbawn 10k as well as finishing second to Ciara Coffey at the Glenn 10k; the only thing working against Jemma here is her lack of experience over rough terrain, which will suit international mountain runner Denise Mathers.  Although Denise would maybe not be just as quick as the aforementioned ladies on solid, fast terrain, she will excel when it comes to the trail and open mountain sections.  Denise finished second at the infamous Mourne Seven Seven’s this summer and went on to achieve an amazing twenty ninth place finish at one of the world’s most difficult races, the CCC at the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blance in France, after completing the 101k race (which includes 6,100m of ascending) in 20:38:38.  Sinead Mallon (Newry City Runners), Sinead Canning (Unattached), Roisin Rocks (Newry City Runners) and Aine Fegan (Newry City Runners) should all be in or around the top ten.

Further afield, two Northern Ireland based runners will represent Ireland at the Lotto Cross (Country) Cup in Antwerp, Belgium on Sunday 3rd November 2013. Lifford AC’s Ann-Marie McGlynn and Annadale Striders' Ryan McDermott will join a strong Ireland team headed by double European Cross Country Champion Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) as they battle it out for honours in their respective 4.7k (ladies) and 9k (men) races.

Also on Sunday 3rd November 2013, a number of Northern Ireland based runners will join no less than 45,000 participants at the ING New York City Marathon in America.  After last year’s event had to be cancelled because of ‘Hurricane Sandy’, there is a lot of hype surrounding this year’s race, which as always, will take the competitors on a 26.2m trip around all of New York’s borough’s, including, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Manhattan, before finishing in the scenic Central Park.  Ballymena Runners’ Susanna Allen and Unattached athlete Matthew Nicholson will join Ballydrain Harriers trio Rosi Earney, Heather Stanex and Andrea Jackson on the start line; interestingly (and admirably), the Ballydrain Harriers ladies have raised £10,000 for Action Cancer in the run up to this event. 

Northern Ireland’s fourteen parkrun events will also take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.  A special mention must go to the Waterworks parkrun team in Belfast, as they will celebrate their third birthday tomorrow (Saturday 2nd November 2013).  Please Note:  The Belfast Victoria parkrun has moved to a new temporary home at the ‘Alderman Tommy Patton Park’ (Start Time is 9.15am) at Inverary Avenue, Belfast (just off the Holywood Road, Belfast) whilst the ongoing construction works within Victoria Park take place.  For more information please visit the Belfast Victoria parkrun website HERE.

Note - September 2013 'News' is available HERE or by following the navigational bar at the top of the page.

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