Northern Ireland Running

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Weekend Preview:  Malcolm Cup XC, Run Forest Run Series and more...

Weekend Preview: Malcolm Cup XC, Run Forest Run Series and more…

As the festive season approaches, athletes are already looking forward to many of the annual highlights between Christmas and the New Year.  

However, before then… there are plenty of other exciting events, including this weekend, when the local running fraternity will have some excellent choices.

Locally, there is the long-standing cross country classic, the Malcolm Cup in Ballyclare; there is also Born 2 Run’s Loughgall 10k, East Down AC’s Griddle 10k and the Action on Hearing Loss Hazelbank Park 5 mile road race.  Outside Northern Ireland, a fairly sizeable crowd are expecting to travel to the GloHealth AAI National Novice and Uneven Age Group XC Championships in Dungarvan, Ireland.

Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Loughgall 10k:

The weekend action will kick of Saturday 5th December 2015 in County Armagh, where local events management company Born 2 Run will host the next installment of their Run Forest Run Series, the Loughgall 10k trail race, which will be held in Loughgall Country Park close to the cathedral city of Armagh.

At the recent Gosford 10k, which was also part of the ongoing Series, it was Mourne Runners duo William McKee and Laura Graham who took top honours.  Both will return and will start as strong pre-race favourites in their respective events.  William will be keen to build on his recent good form, which not only includes the win in Gosford, but also a victory at the MMRT Run 4 Rescue event and a 32:50 10k at the Seeley Cup last weekend. Local hero Don Travers (Newry City Runners) has been enjoying some off-road cycling recently but may take to the trails here; if he does, Don will play a major part in proceedings.  Aaron Woodman (Pace Running Club), Paul Tyro (Orangegrove AC), Jonny Graham (Ballymena Runners) and Bobby Irvine (Seapark AC) should all run well.

In the ladies race, it’s hard to look past AAI National marathon medallist Laura Graham for a potential winner.  The Mourne Runners new girl has been in superb form recently and should secure victory, but that will take nothing away from what should be a good race for the remaining podium places.  Lyndsey Tyro (Orangegrove AC), Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC), Paula Owens (Dub Runners), Ruth Hill (Unattached), Attracta Magennis (Newry City Runners) and Louise Smart (County Antrim Harriers) will all be considered as contenders.

Malcolm Cup XC:

Also on Saturday 5th December 2015, athletes from across Northern Ireland will descend on Sixmilewater Park in Ballyclare for the prestigious Malcolm Cup XC, an event hosted by Annadale Striders.

Following on from the McConnell Shield XC, which was also run within the confines of Sixmilewater Park, the Malcolm Cup XC is incorporated in the popular Athletics NI XC League.  The impressive programme of events kicks off at 1pm and includes races for Under 11 athletes upwards and culminates in the Malcolm Cup race at 3pm.  

The ladies and Vet 35+ Men’s 3 mile race will start at 1.15pm and should be an exciting contest, if the ladies event at the recent McConnell Shield XC is anything to go by.  

Last week, Emma Mitchell (Banbridge AC) was named on the Irish team for the upcoming Euro XC Championships and may use this event as a final tune up race.  The ever improving Under 23 athlete will be amongst the front runners if she does compete, as will Newcastle AC ladies Shalene McMurray and Joanne Mills.  Acorns AC’s Karen Alexander may return to action having enjoyed this race previously, while North Down AC’s Jessica Craig will be another athlete worth watching.  

Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC), Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC), Sharon Leetch (Ballymena Runners), Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) and Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) will all make the top ten if they toe the line.  Meanwhile, in the veteran men’s race, with most of the ‘more junior’ veterans likely to race in the Malcolm Cup race, well-known international’s Paul Elliot (North Belfast Harriers), Billy Reed (East Antrim Harriers) and Ray Curran (Ballymena Runners) may well come to the fore.  Unattached athlete Mark Walker and Beechmount Harriers’ Stuart Kennedy will also contest high placings if they enter on the day.

In the Malcolm Cup event, which will cover 4 miles, a competitive field is expected and it could be the winner of the McConnell Shield XC, Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) who takes charge.  On that day, Paddy edged out City of Derry AC legend Declan Reed and the pair are likely to go head to head once again, with the final podium placer on that occasion, Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), being another competitor who will be hoping to produce a similar performance.  Brian Campbell (Willowfield Harriers), Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), Brendan Teer (East Down AC), Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) and Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) are all capable of winning any race on their day and will therefore play a major part here.

Action on Hearing Loss Hazelbank Park 5 mile Road Race:

On Sunday 6th December 2015, highly respected charity Action on Hearing Loss NI will welcome athletes and fitness enthusiasts to their annual 5 mile road race and associated 1 mile run, which will start and finish at Hazelbank Park in Newtownabbey.

The fast and flat ‘out and back’ route will attract personal best chasers, which may include North Belfast Harriers men Brendan Grew and Simon Reeve.  Dromore AC’s long distance specialist Nigel Grier will also challenge for a prize-winning place, while Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC) and Victoria Simms (BARF) will be amongst the ladies with hopes of topping the podium.  Although online entries for the event have now closed, on the day entry is still available from 9.45am at Hazelbank Park, Newtownabbey.

Griddle 10k:

In County Down on Sunday 6th December 2015, athletes will take on the annual Griddle 10k road race, an event well known for its tough but scenic route.

Previous winner, Brendan Teer (East Down AC) may choose this race over Saturday’s Malcolm Cup XC, given its location.  However, the former NI & Ulster Junior XC Champion may do both – if he does, Brendan will come up against North Down AC’s Stephen Wylie, who should also run well. Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC), Norman Mawhinney (Ballydrain Harriers), Richard Coey (Ballydrain Harriers) and Andrew Muir (North Down AC) will all run well.  In the ladies race, 2013 Champion and exceptionally talented athlete, Heather Foley (Unattached), will prove hard to beat.  Last year’s winner Catherine O’Connor (East Down AC) may also race, while youngster Edie Carroll (East Down AC) will place well.  

GloHealth AAI National Novice and Uneven Age Group XC Championships:

Also on Sunday 6th December 2015, a large number of athletes from Northern Ireland will travel south to St Augustine’s College, Dungarvan in Ireland for the GloHealth AAI National Novice and Uneven Age Group XC Championships.

In the Novice competition, Bliadhan Glass, Darrell McKee and Shane Donnelly will lead a strong Acorns AC team, while NI & Ulster Novice XC Champion Natalie Hall, a new addition to the Acorns AC set-up, will contest the ladies title.  St Malachy’s AC youngsters Conor Gallagher, James Smyth, Killian Gargan and Paddy Robb will also be looking to impress, both individually and as a team – North Down AC’s Rachel Gibson will be worth watching, while in the Junior competition, Christy Conlon (Beechmount Harriers) and Enya Haigney (Omagh Harriers) will be two local athletes with hopes of challenging for National gold medals.


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

Athletics Northern Ireland announce annual awards night:

Athletics NI announce annual awards night (by Athletics NI):

The Athletics Northern Ireland Annual Awards Ceremony will be held in the Ramada, Shaws Bridge on Wednesday 20th January 2016 at 7pm. 

These 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 foundation on which our sport is built. Athletes breaking a Northern Ireland record in 2014-2015 and their coaches will also be recognised, as well as the coaches of athletes selected for a major championship during the 2014-2015 season.

A total of ten individual awards will be presented this year and these are detailed below.  Athletics Northern Ireland online nomination forms will be available from Friday 4th December 2015 at  Nominations close Saturday 31st December 2015 at 5pm.  Athletics NI staff and/or board members will not be eligible.  The following three awards will be determined by an Awards Panel:

Performance Coach of the Year:

This will be awarded to the coach of the athlete who has achieved the highest performance level in terms of world ranking and major championship positioning.

Disability Performance Coach of the Year:

This will be awarded to the coach of the disability athlete who has achieved the highest performance level in terms of world ranking and major championship positioning.

Junior Performance Coach of the Year:

This will be awarded to the coach of the Under 20 athlete who has achieved the highest performance level in terms of British / European ranking and major championship positioning in either Disability or non-disability athletics.

The following 5 awards will be determined by online nomination:

Development Coach:

Awarded to a coach who has shown a commitment to long term athlete development and is focused on delivering a multi-event approach for young athletes in line with the Athlete Development Model. The winner of this award should understand the need for sound physical and technical preparation and demonstrate an athlete centred approach as well as a commitment to their own personal development in the past year. This coach should demonstrate the ability to learn from and share with other coaches.

Participation Club of the Year:

Awarded to a club who provide opportunities to members of the community and athletes of all abilities to regularly participate in structured training sessions and competition. This club should demonstrate best practice in providing appropriately qualified coaches to meet athlete ratios and should provide a safe, friendly environment in line with clubmark recommendations. This club values coaches and athletes and shows a commitment to upskilling volunteers and making a positive impact upon their local community.

Services to Coaching:

This award recognizes a significant contribution to coaching athletics in Northern Ireland over a number of years. The winner of this award will likely have coached at all levels of the pathway from junior to senior performer and will have demonstrated the ability to share knowledge and support the next generation of coaches through informal mentoring.

Performance Club of the Year:

This award recognizes the junior or senior section of a club that has achieved the highest level of performance in club competition at national level. This may be across track & field, road running or cross country. This club should demonstrate a well organised coaching structure that has evolved to meet the needs of their participants and athletes.

Volunteer of Year:

This award goes to an individual who has dedicated a significant amount of their time to the development of a successful club initiative or project/event which has furthered the development and raised the profile of athletics Northern Ireland during 2014-2015.

The following awards will be determined by the Officials Committee:

Services to officiating:

This award recognizes a significant contribution to officiating and the development of officiating in Northern Ireland over a number of years.

Official of Year:

This award goes to the official who has made a significant contribution officiating / the development and deployment of officials during the 2014/2015 season.  The winner of this award will likely have officiated at all levels of competition and will have demonstrated the ability to share knowledge and support the next generation of officials through informal mentoring.

The winners of the coaching awards will go forward to be nominated for the Sport Northern Ireland awards next year.

Gary Murray and Ann-Marie McGlynn secure victory at Seeley Cup 10k:

Seeley Cup 10k 2015:

On Saturday 28th November 2015, a sell-out crowd of one thousand athletes descended on Ormeau Park, Belfast for the annual Seeley Cup 10k road race.  The popular race is seen by many as the road racing ‘season closer’ and despite losing its NI & Ulster Championship status, the event has never lost its prestige.

In wet and windy conditions, the athletes set off on the lapped course, which starts on Ormeau Embankment and finishes in Ormeau Park, taking in a relatively fast route around the aforementioned Embankment and Ormeau Park.  

St Malachy’s AC and Clonliffe Harriers man Gary Murray set the pace from the off and went through the half way marker (5k) in 15:37, approximately ten seconds ahead of Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) and Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), with Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) and Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC) nearly twenty seconds behind.  

In the ladies race, nothing split pre-race favourites Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) as they passed through 5k in 17:16.  North Belfast Harriers athlete Gladys Ganiel O’Neill followed, with Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) and Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC) also in contention.

There was nothing stopping Gary Murray as he powered through the final laps, gradually increasing his lead before crossing the finish line in 31:06 (1st place).  Behind, the in-form Paddy Hamilton edged clear of Scott Rankin to take 2nd place in 31:22, with Scott following in 31:35 (3rd place). 

As the rain began to fall in the second half of the race, IAAF Euro XC team medallist Ann-Marie McGlynn moved clear of Rio Olympic qualifier Kerry O’Flaherty to secure top spot in 34:16 (1st place).  Kerry claimed the runners up prize in 34:27 (2nd place), while Gladys Ganiel O’Neill secured the final podium place in 36:01 (3rd place).

In the hotly contested team competition, North Belfast Harriers took victory in both the men’s and ladies race.  North Down AC and Ballymena Runners claimed 2nd place and 3rd place respectively in the men’s event, while Newcastle AC (2nd place) and City of Lisburn AC (3rd place) completed the ladies team podium.

Top 3 Men:  1st Gary Murray (St Malachy’s AC) – 31:06, 2nd Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) – 31:22, 3rd Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 31:35

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) – 34:16, 2nd Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) – 34:27, 3rd Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) – 36:01

Provisional Results:  Seeley Cup 10k 2015 Results

Weekend Preview:  Seeley Cup 10k 2015 takes centre stage...

Weekend Preview:  Seeley Cup 10k takes centre stage…

A glance at this weekend’s fixtures would lead to believe that it will be a quiet weekend with just two races listed on the official Athletics NI calendar. 

However, Saturday’s Seeley Cup 10k will attract a sell-out crowd of 1,000 athletes and several hundred are expected to toe the line for the Northside Galliagh Gallop 5k on Sunday – junior athletes will also look ahead to the next round of the McGrady Financial XC Series.

Seeley Cup 10k:

On Saturday 28th November 2015, just over one thousand athletes and hundreds of spectators are expected to descend on Ormeau Park in Belfast for the annual Seeley Cup 10 road race.  The event used to be the NI & Ulster 10k Championships, but despite losing its Championship status to the Laganside 10k, it has still held onto its reputation as one of the provinces most popular and prestigious events.

The sell-out field will be hoping that the predicted poor weather does not make an appearance as they strive for personal bests over what is a relatively flat and fast course.  Amongst those taking to the start line with high expectations of victory will be reigning Champions Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) and Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC).  However, both will face tough opposition!

In the men’s race, Paul, who returned to action following a well-deserved break, to claim an impressive third place at last weekend’s AAI Inter-Clubs XC in Dublin, has openly stated that he is not operating at 100% fitness – this will not rule the exceptionally talented athlete and three time winner of the event from starting as pre-race favourite.  The host club’s Brian Campbell (Willowfield Harriers) is also a previous podium finisher at the Seeley Cup and has previous clocked 31:33 here – he may have to run slightly quicker than that if he wants to edge out the likes of Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners), Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) and Keith Shiels (Foyle Valley AC).

Paddy Hamilton has won the Seeley Cup on at least two occasions (2005 and 2006) and has secured a podium finish in the last three times he has turned out at the event; considering his recent form, which has included wins at the McConnell Shield XC and Bobby Rea XC and a 30:53 for second place at Laganside 10k, it hard to look past Paddy for a podium spot.  Meanwhile, Foyle Valley AC men Scott Rankin and Keith Shiels will also be worth watching.  Scott has multiple 10k Championship medals to his name and claimed one of those medals here in 2013, when he took bronze for third place.  Interestingly, Scott recorded his 10k best (based on current records) at the Seeley Cup, a speedy 31:11 in 2013.  Keith Shiels is just back to competition follow approximately a year of fighting niggles and should place well – especially if he can get close to his personal best of 30:59.

Andrew Agnew (Annadale Striders), Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers), Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers), Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club), Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) and Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) may also prove to be worthy prize-winners but in truth, given the talent set to compete, it’s difficult to even select the top ten – Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC), Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC), Paul Rowan (Willowfield Harriers), Conor Curran (North Belfast Harriers) and Eoighan McGinley (Rathfarnham WSAF) are all good enough to win local races on their day, but will be happy with a top ten place here, as long as they push their current personal bests.  Gavin Corey (Sperrin Harriers), John Black (North Belfast Harriers), James Hamilton (Ballymena Runners), Gary Henderson (Armagh AC), Francis Marsh (North Down AC), Ben Morrow (Ballymena Runners), Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) and Jordan Stokes (North Down AC) add good depth to the outstanding field.

The ladies race will bring an exciting battle between Irish international athletes Kerry O’Flaherty and Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC).  Both ladies have continually shown their class over the last eighteen months but in their last outing it was very much a story of happiness and sadness – at Sunday’s Inter-Clubs XC in Dublin, Kerry took fourth place and sealed a place at the IAAF Euro XC, while Ann-Marie was extremely unlucky when a collision with a fellow athlete caused her to lose her shoe, and despite braving it out for another lap, Ann-Marie had to withdraw.  On a brighter note, the current NI & Ulster 10k road Champion (Ann-Marie) collected an award at this week’s AAI National Awards Ceremony for being part of the Ireland team who took bronze at the Euro XC.

Although Rio 2016 qualifier Kerry will go into the event as favourite, this could be an exceptionally close race and therefore will prove to be a superb spectacle.  Behind, it’s all about the battle for the remaining podium place, which in itself will be very hard to predict. Commonwealth Games marathoner Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers), World Masters 800m Champion Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC) and AAI National Marathon medallist Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) could all be contenders.

Two weeks ago, Laura and Kelly could not be split as they crossed the line together at the Decathlon 10k, with both being awarded joint 1st place with a winning time of 36:38.  Since then, Laura has claimed victory at the Gosford 10k. Meanwhile, experienced distance runner Gladys ran 37:28 at the Laganside 10k back in September and has continued to show some good form as she works her way back to full fitness; just last week she clocked 18:19 at the Fall parkrun.  Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC), Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers) and Maeve Lavery (Dub Runners) will all be worth watching, while Sharon Leetch (Ballymena Runners), Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers), Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC), Tara Malone (Enniskillen Running Club) and Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers) will all be aiming for a highly placed finish and personal best.

North Side Galliagh Gallop 5k:

On Sunday 29th November 2015, City of Derry AC will host the North Side Galliagh Gallop 5k race in the Galliagh area of the Maiden City of Derry/Londonderry.  A large representation is expected from City of Derry AC, with Gary Slevin, Michael Melarkey and Aaron Doherty likely to be amongst the front runners.  Foyle Valley AC men Chris McGuinness and Pius McIntyre could also play a part, while Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC), Martina McMullan (Foyle Valley AC) and Gemma McGinty (Foyle Valley AC) should dominate the ladies event.

McGrady Financial Junior XC Series:

On Sunday 29th November 2015, junior athletes from East Down AC, Newcastle AC, Dromore AC, Burren AC and 3 Ways AC will contest Race 3 of the ongoing and very popular Series.  On this occasion, Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor is the venue of choice – racing kicks off at 1pm.


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

Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR named on Skyrunning UK Series 2016:

Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR 2016:

After the successful Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race and ‘GTR’ 2015, the NiRunning Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR team are very pleased to announce that the date of next year’s event will be Saturday 22nd October 2016 (8am), with the increasingly popular ‘GTR’ taking place on Friday 21st October 2016 (7.30pm).  Entry for both events will be available from St Patrick’s Day – Thursday 17th March 2016 at 7am.  

We are also pleased to announce that the race will again form an important part of the Skyrunning UK Series, joining high-quality events in England, Scotland and Wales.  

Next year (2016) will see the official start of the prestigious Series, which has been building over the last two years.  A points structure is now in place and is available HERE.  To qualify for the Series, runners must participate and finish in a minimum of 4-races. Points are accumulated and the male and the female with the most points will be crowned Skyrunning UK 2016 Series Champions.  It is possible to run all Skyrunning UK races and use your best 4 performances for the ranking.

Full details in relation to the Skyrunning UK 2016 Series calendar is available HERE.

Pollock, O'Flaherty, Mitchell and Edgar named in Ireland European XC team:

Four local runners picked for Ireland squad:

Today, Monday 23rd November 2015, Athletics Ireland announced that Kilcoole AC’s Fionnuala McCormack (nee Britton) and Raheny Shamrock AC’s Mick Clohisey will lead their respective teams at the IAAF European Cross Country Championships in Hyeres, France on Sunday 13th December 2015.

The team includes four Northern Ireland based athletes, with Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) and Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) named in the Senior team, Emma Mitchell (Banbridge AC) in the Under 23 side and City of Lisburn AC’s new Under 18 Champion James Edgar selected for the Junior team.

All four impressed with their performances at the GloHealth AAI National Inter-Club XC Championships at Santry yesterday (Sunday 22nd November 2015) – the summary and results for that event is available below.

To see the full Ireland team for the IAAF European XC Championships please click HERE.

Cross country titles and podium places for local athletes in Dublin:

GloHealth AAI National Inter-Clubs XC 2015:

On Sunday 23rd November 2015, a host of Northern Ireland based athletes produced impressive performances whilst in competition at the GloHealth AAI National Inter-Clubs XC Championships in Santry, Dublin.

In the junior categories, City of Lisburn AC triathlete James Edgar sealed a memorable victory in the Under 18 event, completing the tough 5k course in 18:53 (1st place) – fellow NI man Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) took 2nd place eight seconds later in 19:01.

The ladies 8k event brought a plethora of talent to the fore and with the National title and places in the Irish Euro XC team up for grabs, competition was fierce.  Northern Ireland’s Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) narrowly missed a podium place as she claimed 4th place in the race won by the inspiring Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole AC).  There was joy for Banbridge AC’s Under 23 star Emma Mitchell in the same race; Emma took 10th place overall and this saw her secure 2nd place and the associated silver medal in the Under 23 category.

In the final event of the day, the men’s 8k race, there was further medals for local athletes, with former Champion Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) claiming 3rd place in 31:33.  The race was won by Raheny Shamrock AC’s Mick Clohisey in 31:11 (1st place).

Full Results:  GloHealth AAI National Inter-Clubs XC 2015 Results

JP Williamson and Sara Moore secure 'All American' status at National XC:

Local runners excel at NAIA XC Championships:

Over the weekend (Saturday 21st November 2015), local athletes John Paul Williamson (City of Derry AC) and Sara Moore (Omagh Harriers) continued to show their potential whilst representing their respective colleges at the NAIA (National) Cross Country Championships in America.

Up against some outstanding collegiate talent at the prestigious event in McAlpine Park, Charlotte, North Carolina, both JP and Sara gained ‘All American’ status, an award given to the most talented athletes within each year – both have previously achieved the status as they work their way through their university studies.

Competing in the men’s 8k event, which attracted well over three hundred athletes, JP secured 26th place in a time 25:11 – the race was won by Geoffrey Kipchumba (William Carey College) in 23:55 (1st place).  In the ladies, Sara Moore clocked an excellent 18:05 to finish in 22nd place – the race was won by Kellian Hunt (Biola) in 17:16 (1st place).

Full Results:  NAIA National XC Championships 2015 Results

Hundreds turn out for North Down AC 'Festival of XC Relays' in Bangor:

North Down AC host ‘Festival of XC Relays’:

On Saturday 21st November 2015, well-respected local athletics club North Down AC hosted their unique ‘Festival of Cross Country Relays’ in Bangor, County Down.  The event took place on the grounds around Castle Park and the Bangor Aurora Leisure Complex.

The extensive race programme kicked off with a number of junior races, which saw Nathan Semple (Towerview PS), Elle Gordon (North Down AC), Rory Hall-Thompson (Orangegrove AC), Anna Conlon (St Peter’s AC), Thomas Patterson (North Down AC) and Alisha Turner (St Columbanus AC) all win their respective age category races.

It was then time for the Senior and Masters athletes to take centre stage, with the ladies going first; each team consisted of three ladies, with each covering a distance of 2,600m (meaning that each team covered 7.8k).  

After a close race with the QUB AC team led by Katie Kirk, Dromore AC ran out winners in the Senior Ladies category, with Rebecca Henderson, Rebekah Nixon and Laura Bickerstaff completing the distance in 28:38 (1st place).  In the Masters Ladies category, the Ballydrain Harriers team of Amanda Perry, Heather Kelly and Denise Logue took top spot in 31:05 (1st place).

Next up were the men, for the last race of the day.  In a slightly different set-up to the ladies event, the men’s teams consisted of four athletes, each completing 2,600m (therefore each team were faced with 10.4k).  Derry City Track Club continued to build their strong reputation as their team of Darragh Crossan, Matt Doherty, Conor Doherty and Cathal McLaughlin powered to victory in 34:37 (1st place).  In the Masters Men’s category, the Balldrain Harriers team of Richard Coey, Mark Earney, Peter Barbour and Norman Mawhinney replicated the performance of their female club mates as they took top honours in 37:51 (1st place).

Full Results:  North Down AC ‘Festival of XC Relays’ 2015 Results

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

Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Gosford 10k 2015:

On Saturday 21st November 2015, just shy of five hundred runners descended on Gosford Forest Park just outside Armagh for the annual Born 2 Run Gosford 10k, which was the second race of the event management company’s Run Forest Run Series.

The tough but scenic course proved popular with competitors and despite it being such a challenging route, still the front runners still produced some notable times. None more so than winner William McKee - the Mourne Runners man dominated proceedings and clocked an excellent 33:49 for 1st place.  Behind, the fast improving Gerard Heaney claimed 2nd place in 35:08, while Aaron Woodman (PACE Running Club) covered the distance in 36:51 (3rd place).

In the ladies race, pre-race favourite and one of the most in-form ladies in the province, Laura Graham (Mourne Runners), once again impressed.  Following on from wins at last week’s 26extreme Tollymore 10k and Decathlon 10k, Laura secured another victory, taking top spot in 38:38 (1st place).  North Belfast Harriers’ Louise Smith took 2nd place in 39:53, with East Down AC lady Niamh Kellet completing the top three in 41:34 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men:  1st William McKee (Mourne Runners) – 33:49, 2nd Gerard Heaney (St Peter’s AC) – 35:08, 3rd Aaron Woodman (PACE Running Club) – 36:51

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 38:38, 2nd Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – 39:53, 3rd Niamh Kellet (East Down AC) – 41:34

Full Results:  Born 2 Run Gosford 10k 2015 Results

Weekend Preview:  Athletes look ahead to major XC and trail running events...

Weekend Preview:  Athletes look forward to major XC and Trail Running events…

On a weekend when the running scene within Northern Ireland will be highlighted by way of a programme on Channel 4 about our very own Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race, local athletes can look ahead to major events in Bangor and Armagh.  There should also be a large Northern Ireland representation at the GloHealth AAI National Inter-Club XC Championships in Santry, Dublin (Ireland).

Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race on TV:

The weekend action will kick off on TV this week!  On Saturday 21st November 2015, Channel 4 will be broadcasting a 30 minute TV programme about NiRunning’s recent Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race.  The event attracted a capacity field, with 200 runners from 14 countries taking to the start line.  The show will start at 7.05am and will also be aired on Channel 4 +1 (8.05am) – it will also be available on 4OD (Channel 4 ‘on demand’).

Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Gosford 10k:

Also on Saturday 21st November 2015, Born 2 Run will welcome hundreds of athletes to their annual Gosford 10k trail race, which is part of the ongoing ‘Run Forest Run’ Series.  The undulating 6.2 mile course will take competitors on a ‘figure of eight’ loop of the scenic Gosford Forest Park.

Newry City Runners’ Don Travers may start and if the talented athlete does, he’ll be hoping to take his recent Cycle-Cross form onto the trails.  Don is an established and respected multi-discipline athlete and will prove hard to beat if he makes use of the on the day entry system.  Aside from the Northern Ireland international, St Peters AC’s up and coming star Mark Cornett could also be worth watching – he ran 1:02:01 at last month’s Armagh 10 mile road race.  Mountain runner Sam Herron (Mourne Runners) will be another front runner and the 1,000ft + of accumulative ascent will definitely suit him.  Danny Fagan (Armagh AC), Shane Duffy (Fitness 4 Life) and Gerard Heaney (St Peter’s AC) will all finish well up the field.

In the ladies race, AAI National Marathon medallist Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) will go into the event as pre-race favourite and in truth, the in-form athlete will take some beating.  Last weekend she sealed victory and the 26extreme Tollymore 10k and then went on to take joint first place with Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC) at the Decathlon 10k 24 hours later, with the ladies clocking 36:38.  Niamh Kellet (East Down AC) should also secure a podium place, while Ruth Hill (Unattached), Nicola Mathers (Murlough AC), Helen Byers (North Down AC) and Paula Owens (Dub Runners) will battle it out for the final prize-winning place.

North Down AC Festival of Cross Country Relays:

In Bangor (County Down) on Saturday 21st November 2015, athletes from across the province will descend on grounds traversing Castle Park and the Bangor Aurora Complex for the North Down AC ‘Festival of Cross Country Relays’.  The extensive race programme which includes races for Primary School runners upwards, starts at 12pm, with registration from 11am.

The host club (North Down AC) should field strong teams, with coach Francis Marsh likely to lead the men’s team, which should include the likes of Dennis Scott and James Budde.  Lagan Valley AC will also be represented, while Northern Ireland master’s international Norman Mawhinney will head the Ballydrain Harriers challenge.  Robin Montgomery, Paul Tyro, Ian Grant and Chris Downey will line up for Orangegrove AC.

Jessica Craig, Rachel Gibson and Jodi Smith could well make up a strong and hard to beat North Down AC team – although Ballydrain Harriers will go well if they bring Denise Logue, Debbie Matchett and Amanda Perry as part of their squad.  City of Lisburn AC’s ladies Olivia Nelson, Rebecca Douglas and Sarah Ferris will also be amongst the front runners.

GloHealth AAI National Inter-Club XC Championships (inc Age Group Championships):

On Sunday 22nd November 2015, hundreds of athletes from Northern Ireland will travel south to Santry, Dublin (Ireland) for the GloHealth AAI National Inter-Club XC Championships, which will also incorporate the AAI ‘All Ireland’ Age Group XC Championships.

It will be a day of fierce competition, with the start-lists littered with talent as the competitors aim for National titles and selection for the European Cross Country Championships.

The ladies race is attracting a lot of attention and when glancing at some of the names set to start, it’s easy to see why: Northern Ireland ladies Ciara Mageean (UCD AC), Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) will hope to be amongst the lead pack which should also includes Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole AC), Michelle Finn (Leevale AC), Lizzie Lee (Leevale AC), Sara Treacy (Dunboyne AC), Rose-Anne Galligan (Newbridge AC), Siobhan O’Doherty (Borrisokane AC), Maria McCambridge (DSD AC), Caroline Crowley (Crusaders AC), Ciara Durkan (Skerries AC), Claire Tarplee (St Coca’s AC), Laura Crowe (An Riocht AC) and Shona Heaslip (An Riocht AC). 

Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC), Jessica Craig (North Down AC) and Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) will also have highly placed finished on their mind, as will Newcastle AC Mari Troeng, Joanne Mills and Shalene McMurray, who alongside their aforementioned club mate Kerry O’Flaherty will have high hopes in the team competition.  In the ladies Under 23 event, North Down AC’s Katie Moore will go well, while in the Junior Ladies race, Zoe Carruthers (City of Lisburn AC) and Aife McSheffrey (Springwell Running Club) should be there or there about despite being up against the classy pair of Hope Saunders (Clonliffe Harriers) and Clodagh O’Reilly (Annalee AC).

The men’s field also reads like a ‘who’s who’ of National running, and at least one familiar face will expect to be right in the thick of the action – that is of course Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders).  The highly respected doctor enjoyed an exceptionally successful 2014 ‘on the country’ and will have high hopes of delivering here, especially with places on the Euro XC team up for grabs. Paul will be taking on Mick Clohisey (Raheny Shamrock) who pipped him at the Berlin Marathon, while Sergiu Ciobanu (Clonliffe Harriers) who beat both men in Germany will be looking to feature.

John Travers (Donore Harriers) will be another athlete eyeing the top spot on the podium but all of the men will have to see off the strong running Ciarán Ó Lionáird (Leevale AC), Freddie Sittuk (Raheny Shamrock AC), Joe Sweeney (DSD AC), Kevin Maunsell (Clonmel AC) and John Coghlan (MSB AC).  Other local competitors to look out for include Gary Murray (Clonliffe Harriers) and Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners), as well as a strong team from City of Derry AC; this is headed by Declan Reed, Greg Roberts, Aaron Doherty, Allan Bogle and Gary Slevin.  In the Junior Men’s event, Christy Conlon (Beechmount Harriers), Paddy Robb (St Malachy’s AC), and James Edgar (City of Lisburn AC) will spearhead the local challenge for honours, while in the Under 23 event Conor Gallagher (St Malachy’s AC) should feature.


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

Kerry O'Flaherty impresses at IAAF Burgos XC in Spain:

Burgos XC 2015:

On Sunday 15th November 2015, Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games star and multiple record holder Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) was in action at the 12th edition of the most prestigious annual cross country race in Spain – the Cross de Atapuerca – at a site of neolithic man and on the Camino Santiago near to the medieval City of Burgos. 

While Ireland recently endured it’s traditional wet and windy autumnal spell and in contrast to the conditions at Santry for the Masters Home International Cross Country on Saturday (14th November 2015), the going was firm and fast on the flat course lying just over 3,000 feet above sea level almost half way between Madrid and Bilbao.

The temperature in the sun under the blue skies reached more than 20 degrees and meant almost perfect conditions for in excess of 5,000 athletes who enjoyed the extensive programme of events. Kerry was joined in the ladies 8k race by Irish international team mate Rose-Anne Galligan and the training partners performed well against world class opposition.

The field was packed with the top twenty ladies from Spain all vying to make the EuroCross team plus Ethiopia’s Olijira Belaynesh (bronze over 10,000m at 2013 World Champs) and Heroye Alemitu (fourth in the World Cross Country 2015) both aiming for honours. Top Polish athletes, Iwona Lewandoska (2:27 at London Marathon 2015) and Dominika Napieraj also toed the line, with a strong team from England including Louise Damen, winner at the Milton Keynes British Cross Challenge last weekend, also present.

After an excellent race, it was Olijira Belaynesh (1st place – 24:52) who broke the tape first, closely followed by compatriot Heroye Alemitu (2nd place – 24:56). Kerry took an impressive 17th place in 27:30, securing a top twenty place, while Rose-Anne (28:11) followed in 33rd place, illustrating significant improvement in her form following eighteen tough months of injury.

Full Results:  IAAF Burgos XC 2015 Results

Local athletes perform well at prestigious Leeds Abbey Dash 10k:

Leeds Abbey Dash 10k (inc England Athletics 10k Championships):

On Sunday 15th December 2015, at least five athletes from Northern Ireland joined over nine thousand competitors at the prestigious Leeds Abbey Dash 10k road race, which incorporated the England Athletics 10k Championships.

The familiar faces performed well in what was an exceptionally strong field, with former Athletics NI 10k road Champion Conor Bradley (City of Derry AC) the first of the NI to cross the line, having recorded 31:43 (63rd place). Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) followed in 33:33 (175th place), while Conor Curran (North Belfast Harriers) and James Trainor (Dub Runners) clocked 33:57 (206th place) and 34:32 (239th place) respectively.  In the ladies race, Armagh AC’s Danielle Fegan secured a top twenty place after completing the course in 35:36 (19th place).

The race was won by Bristol & West AC athlete Dan Studley in 29:43 (1st place), while Cardiff AC’s Charlotte Arter took the ladies title in 33:03 (1st place).

Full Results:  Leeds Abbey Dash 10k 2015 Results

Nearly 300 athletes take on Decathlon 10k & Half Marathon events:

Decathlon 10k and Half Marathon 2015:

On Sunday 15th November 2015, nearly four hundred runners turned out for the increasingly popular Decathlon 10k and Half Marathon events, which take place just outside Belfast at Hollywood Exchange.

Both races cover flat and fast courses, but due to the fact that it’s so exposed, the wind can easily impact on those chasing personal bests.  In the 10k race, Springwell Running Club’s Jonathan McKee took top honours, leading the field home in 34:45 (1st place).  Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers) continued what has been an excellent year, taking 2nd place in 35:07 – John Nicholson (PACE Running Club) completed the top three in 36:27 (3rd place).

The ladies 10k race proved to be an excellent battle between two quality athletes.  World Masters 800m Champion Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC) and AAI National Marathon medallist Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) could not be split as they produced excellent performances.  Both ladies crossed the line in 36:38 and were awarded joint 1st place; this also seen them finish in joint fourth place overall.  Maeve Lavery (Dub Runners) followed in 37:06 (3rd place).

The ever consistent David Proctor (Willowfield Harriers) stole the headlines in the 13.1 mile event, after seeing off Lagan Valley AC’s Brian Young. David and Brian went through half side by side, but the Willowfield Harriers athlete moved clear in the second half to win in 1:19:04 (1st place). Brian claimed 2nd place in 1:20:30, while Nigel Grier finished well to take 3rd place in 1:21:07.

Newcastle AC’s ever improving Sinead Murtagh continued to work her way through the ranks with an excellent performance; Sinead cruised to a well-deserved victory in 1:30:28 (1st place).  Clare Campbell (Unattached) sealed the runners up prize in 1:34:00 (2nd place), with Alison McClenaghan (Unattached) taking 3rd place in 1:37:11.

10k Race:

Top 3 Men:  1st Jonathan McKee (Springwell Running Club) – 34:45, 2nd Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers) – 35:07, 3rd John Nicholson (PACE Running Club) – 36:27

Top 3 Ladies:  Joint 1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 36:38, Joint 1st Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC) – 36:38, 3rd Maeve Lavery (Dub Runners) – 37:06

Half Marathon Race:

Top 3 Men:  1st David Proctor (Willowfield Harriers) – 1:19:04, 2nd Brian Young (Lagan Valley AC) – 1:20:30, 3rd Nigel Grier (Dromore AC) – 1:21:07

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Sinead Murtagh (Newcastle AC) – 1:30:28, 2nd Clare Campbell (Unattached) – 1:34:00, 3rd Alison McClenaghan (Unattached) – 1:37:11

Full Results:  Decathlon 10k and Half Marathon 2015 Results

Hundreds enjoy 26extreme Tollymore Trail Marathon events:

26extreme Tollymore Trail Marathon 2015:

On Saturday 14th November 2015, hundreds of athletes descended on the picturesque Tollymore Forest in County Down for the annual 26extreme Tollymore Trail Marathon and associated events, which included a 40 mile Ultra, Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k races.

The wet and blustery conditions did not dampen the atmosphere or the spirits of the athletes as they covered a challenging but rewarding looped course.  The Ultra competitors were first off and it was triathlete Phil Wood (Unattached) who impressed most.  After leading from the off, Phil gradually increased his lead at the front before securing victory in 5:12:42 (1st place).  In the ladies race, Kirsty Ryan (Unattached) came through well to pass early front runners Jacqui Toal (BARF) and Louise Smart (County Antrim Harriers) to seal victory in 6:28:45 (1st place).

The marathon proved to be a close affair early on, with Andy Guy (East Coast AC), Chris Denton (Springwell Running Club), Rory O’Sullivan (Unattached) and Geoff Smyth (Unattached) all passing the half way mark within four seconds.  In the end though, it was East Coast AC athlete Andy who broke the tape, clocking 3:04:41 (1st place) for top spot.  Catherine Devitt (Unattached) was the star of the show in the ladies event, breaking the tape in 4:00:20 (1st place).

The Half Marathon event was the most popular of the day, with a total of 354 finishers.  At the front end of the field, Willowfield Harriers man Tony Pfaff dictated proceedings – the parkrun regular produced arguably his best performance to date when he completed the course in 1:24:35 (1st place). Collette McCourt (Dub Runners) took the ladies 13.1 mile title after seeing off the challenge of North Belfast Harriers pair Sarah-Jane McFadden and Janice Plumb; in a close finish, which saw all three finish less than twenty seconds apart, Collette crossed the line in 1:37:33 (1st place).

Following on from other close races, the 10k did not fail to disappoint, with the top two finishers split by just eight seconds.  After a good race, it was Thomas O’Gorman (Unattached) who sealed victory, seeing off Vernon Shiels (Unattached) to win in 38:50 (1st place).  The in-form Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) once again showed her class, taking third place overall and 1st place in the ladies race, having covered the 6.2 miles in 39:43 (1st place).

Full Results:  26extreme Tollymore Trail Marathon 2015 Results (Photo by Mark Ramsey)

Local athletes secure medals at British & Irish XC International:

British & Irish International XC 2015:

On Saturday 14th November 2015, a large number of Northern Ireland based athletes were in action at the 28th annual British & Irish Masters International Cross Country in Santry, Dublin.  Representing both Northern Ireland and Ireland, the local runners faced tough opposition from England, Wales and Scotland.

In almost perfect cross country conditions, the local faces impressed – none more so than Irish Senior international team captain Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC). Representing Ireland in the Vet35 team, Ann-Marie set a perfect example, racing to victory, after covering the 6k route in 20:57 (1st place).  Fellow Letterkenny AC lady Natasha Adams also produced an excellent performance, taking 2nd place in 22:25 – the NI pair ensured the Ireland took 1st place in the team competition.

There were two familiar faces on the podium of the Men’s Vet40 event, with City of Derry AC’s XC specialist Declan Reed and Letterkenny AC’s Ciaran Doherty taking 2nd and 3rd place respectively.  In the 8k race, which was won by England’s Chris Greenwood in 25:33 (1st place), Declan clocked 26:00 and Ciaran 26:21.  North Belfast Harriers man Eamon White led his Vet45 team to a silver medal in the team standings after he himself picked up a silver medal.  Eamon crossed the line, having completed the 8k in 26:48 (2nd place) – the race was won by England’s Tim Hartley in 26:41 (1st place).  England took top honours in the team race, with the NI team containing the aforementioned Eamon, as well as Gary Henderson (Armagh AC), Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC), Cathal McLaughlin (Derry City Track Club), Phil Tweedie (Springwell Running Club) and Dermot McElhinney (City of Derry AC) claimed 2nd place.

There was matching success for the Northern Ireland ladies Vet45 team, with Pauline Thom (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers), Jackie McGinley (City of Derry AC) and Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC) guiding the team to 2nd place behind winners England (1st place).  NI and North Belfast Harriers men Matt Shields and Paul Elliot picked up prizes whilst representing Ireland in the Vet60 8k event – the race was won by Brian Lynch (Ireland) in 29:29 (1st place), with Matt taking 2nd place in 29:37 and Paul following in 30:11 (3rd place).  This podium clean-sweep saw Ireland take gold in the team competition.

City of Derry AC legend Gerry Lynch, racing in the Vet70 6k race, picked up a silver medal after crossing the line in 25:12; England’s Peter Giles took 1st place in 24:56.  Gerry’s performance, alongside that of team mates David Seaton (North Down AC), Fred Murdoch (Lagan Valley AC) and Jim Platt (Springwell Running Club).

Full Results:  Race 1 (Ladies and Vet65+ Men) Race 2 (Vet50, Vet55 and Vet60 Men)Race 3 (Vet35, Vet40 and Vet45 Men)Age Category Team Results ... Photos by Lindie Naughton of

Note:  The attached results are PDF documents from organisers IMAA.  Please be aware that they are provisional only - there are several anomalies; for example, Ruth Perioli is listed as racing in the Vet50 race - Ruth did not race.

Weekend Preview:  26extreme TTM, British & Irish Masters XC and more...

Weekend Preview:  26extreme TTM and more...

After the excitement of the 81st annual McConnell Shield Cross Country (and the continuation of the Athletics NI XC League) last week, and of course the hugely popular Run in the Dark at Stormont in midweek, the running community in Northern Ireland can once again look forward to a weekend with plenty of choice; road, trail and cross country again feature over the course of Saturday and Sunday.  

The local highlight is (arguably) 26extreme’s Tollymore Trail Marathon Events, while there are also excellent races planned in Cookstown, Aughnacloy and Belfast.  

Outside Northern Ireland, a huge contingent of local athletes will be in action at the 28th British & Irish Masters Cross Country International in Santry Dublin – runners from NI will swap their club vests for those of both Northern Ireland and Ireland.  Familair faces will also compete in England.

26extreme Tollymore Trail Marathon Events:

The weekend action will kick off in Tollymore Forest in County Down at 8am on Saturday 14th November 2015, when hundreds of athletes will take on 26extreme’s Tollymore Trail Marathon and associated events, which include an Ultra (40 miles), Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k.  The races cover looped route with participants completing one loop for a half marathon, two loops for a full marathon and three loops for the ultra-marathon. All routes are within the confines of the stunning Tollymore Forest Park.

In the Ultra, last year’s TTM Half Marathon winner Phil Wood (Unattached) could well be the man to beat.  Phil races sparingly, but never fails to impress when he takes to the start line – in saying that, the multi-discipline star will be up against some experience ultra-runners, including Paul Nesbitt (Unattached) and Larne AC’s Thomas Craig, who recorded well over 100 miles at the Energia 24 hours Race back in June (2015).  Another Larne based athlete, Murray Deller (East Coast AC), should feature well up the field, while Ballymena Runners’ Rodney Agnew will also go well. Isobel Oaks (Ballinamore AC) and Jackie Toal (BARF) look like the standout performers in the ladies 40 mile race – having won the TTM Marathon in 2014, Isobel will start as favourite, but Jackie has been in excellent form recently, winning the Causeway Coast Ultra in September and picking up a category prize at the recent Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR.

The Marathon will be a closely contested affair between four men, with Ryan Armstrong (Ballymena Runners), Andy Guy (East Coast AC), Chris Denton (Springwell Running Club) and Geoff Smyth (Unattached) all set to start.  On their day, any of the aforementioned quartet could take the title, but if he is top form Walled City Marathon 3 hour pacer Andy Guy may just edge it; this will be a race worth watching!  In the ladies event, Trish McClintock (Foyle Valley AC) may well be the one pushing the pace, but the ever consistent athlete will have to see of the likes of Claire Withers (Mourne Runners), Natalie Bowbanks (Unattached) and Anne Sandford (Lagan Valley AC) if she wants to seal top spot.

The Half Marathon event looks to be the most competitive of the day, with the ladies race looking like an exceptionally tough one to call.  Last year’s top three, Penny Lindsay, Helen Weir and Janice Plumb, all from North Belfast Harriers, will all return but the trio will have their work cut out if they want to re-take their places on the podium, as they will be pursued by the likes of Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC), Collette McCourt (Dub Runners), Eileen Stevenson (St Peter’s AC), Victoria Simms (BARF), Sarah-Jane McFadden (North Belfast Harriers), Cheryl Denvir (East Down AC) and Lisa Milligan (East Down AC).  

In the men’s race, triathlete David Graham (Unattached) should start and will go well if he does.  Oliver Cook (PACE Running Club), Dave Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC), Robin Montgomery (Orangegrove AC) and third place finisher from 2014, Torben Dahl (Unattached) should be amongst the top finishers.

The all-day event also offers participants a 10k race, and the leading contenders in their respective races, should be Mark Alexander (Ballymena Runners), Ruth Aiken (Ballymena Runners) and Niamh O’Connell (Murlough AC) – in saying this, Niamh is also due to race the Decathlon 10k on Sunday, so she may be taking it easy.

British & Irish Masters International Cross Country Championships:

Also on Saturday 14th November 2015, a large number of runners from Northern Ireland will be travelling south to Dublin for the 28th annual British & Irish Masters International Cross Country, an event which will see Northern Ireland come up against Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England.

The Northern Ireland team, which was named following the recent NIMAA XC is as follows:

Vet 35:

Men:  Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC), Ben Morrow (Ballymena Runners), Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC), Chris Moren (Willowfield Harriers), Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) and Gareth Lyons (Ballydrain Harriers).  Reserves:  Kevin O’Boyle (Unattached) and David McNeilly (Newcastle AC).

Ladies:  Catherine Diver (Beechmount Harriers), Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers), Jodi Smith (North Down AC), Allyson O’Toole (East Coast AC). Reserve:  Paula McAllister.

Vet 40:

Men:  Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers), Anthony Glover (Westbury Harriers), Stephen Morris (City of Lisburn AC), Richard Agnew (Ballymena Runners), Michael Bennett (Ballymena Runners) and Gareth Briggs (Wolverhampton AC).  Reserves:  Roger Pannell (Ballydrain Harriers) and Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners).

Ladies:  Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers), Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers), Sharon Leetch (Ballymena Runners) and Sonia Knox (Springwell Running Club).  Reserves:  Geraldine Quigley (Ballymena Runners).

Vet 45:

Men:  Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers), Gary Henderson (Armagh AC), Dermot McElhinney (City of Derry AC), Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC), Phillip Tweddie (Springwell Running Club) and Cathal McLaughlin (Derry City Track Club).  Reserves:  Stephen McGrory (Annadale Striders) and Francis Tumelty (East Down AC).

Ladies:  Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Pauline Thom (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) and Jackie McGinley (City of Derry AC).  Reserves:  Lisa Finlay (Dumfries AC) and Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC).

Vet 50:

Men:  Craig Hutchinson (Larne AC), Bernard Brady (Larne AC), James Wallace (North Belfast Harriers), Noel Connor (Ballymena Runners), Dale Mathers (Mourne Runners) and Nat Glenn (North Belfast Harriers).  Reserves:  Matt Wray (Unattached) and Dave Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC).

Ladies:  Ann Terek (City of Lisburn AC), Hannah Shields (City of Derry AC), Heather Kelly (Ballydrain Harriers) and Aine McNeill (Dromore AC). Reserves:  Susanna Allen (Ballymena Runners) and Clare Connor (City of Derry AC).

Vet 55:

Men:  David Clarke (North Belfast Harriers), John Patience (North Belfast Harriers), Laurence Johnston (North Belfast Harriers) and Norman Mawhinney (Ballydrain Harriers).  Reserves:  David Allen (Albertville Harriers) and Robert Wilson (Willowfield Harriers).

Ladies:  Una Gavin (City of Derry AC), Ruth Perioli (Lagan Valley AC) and Mabel McFaul (Ballymena Runners).  No Reserves.

Vet 60:

Men:  Gerry O’Doherty (Springwell Running Club), Peter Lilburn (City of Derry AC), Jim Newberry (North Belfast Harriers) and Ray Curran (Ballymena Runners).  Reserves:  Brian Todd (Orangegrove AC) and Malcolm McCausland (Derry City Track Club).

Ladies:  Mary Mackin (Dromore AC), Eileen Stewart (County Antrim Harriers) and Maureen Oliver (DUB Runners).  No Reserves.

Vet 65:

Men:  Terry Aiken (North Down AC), Barry Morris (City of Lisburn AC), David Nicholson (Ballymena Runners) and Charlie Maybin (Larne AC). Reserves:  Francis Boal (Lagan Valley AC) and Edwin Oxlade (Unattached).

Ladies:  No Team.

Vet 70:

Men:  Gerry Lynch (City of Derry AC), David Seaton (North Down AC), Fred Murdoch (NIMAA) and Jim Platt (Springwell Running Club). Reserves: William Doherty (Club Unknown).

Ladies:  Brigid Quinn (Ballymena Runners).  No Full Team and No Reserves.

Vet 75:

Men:  Drew Crawford (North Belfast Harriers) and Hugh Young (Club Unknown).  No Full Team and No Reserves.

Ladies:  No Team

The Northern Ireland Masters Association (NIMAA) team managers for the event will be Norman Bissett and Bridgeen Byrne.  Given that the teams above were announced last month, they are of course subject to change.

Northern Ireland based athletes will also represent Ireland at the event, with Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC), Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC), Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers), Roisin Lynch (City of Derry AC), Paul Elliot (North Belfast Harriers), Matt Shields (North Belfast Harriers), Ciaran Doherty (Letterkenny AC), Declan Reed (City of Derry AC), Stuart Kennedy (Beechmount Harriers) and Christy McGonagle (City of Derry AC) all set to compete.

Sperrin Harriers Winter League Series:  Race 2 – Lough Fea 5k:

Just outside Cookstown (County Tyrone) on Saturday 14th November 2015, Sperrin Harriers will welcome athletes from across the province to the second race of their popular Winter League Trail Series.  On this occasion, athletes will face a 5k route, which consists of an extended lap of the trail around the Lough Fea; this is a favourite with both experienced athletes and also beginners and novice runners, given the flat course which promises to deliver some quick times.

The Series, which saw a significant increase in numbers at the first race in Davagh Forest, is likely to see another large turnout with runners travelling from far and wide to take part.  In the men's race Gavin Corey and Paul O'Callaghan of host club Sperrin Harriers are likely to battle it out for the honours with the likes of Matt Doherty (Derry City Track Club), Darragh Crossan (Derry City Track Club), Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners), Conor Reid (Ballymena Runners), and winner of Race 1, Michael Crawley (Sperrin Harriers).  Anne Paul (City of Derry AC) will be hoping to add another victory at this event to her CV if she makes use of the on the day entry system.  However, Anne will be chased by Emma Rice (Sperrin Harriers), Lorna Sibbett (Ballymena Runners) and Denise Ward (Foyle Valley AC) if they toe the line.

Aughnacloy 5 mile Race:

In Aughnacloy (County Tyrone) on Saturday 14th November 2015, athletes will take on the 4th annual Aughnacloy 5 mile road race and associated 1 mile run, which is held to raise funds for local community events.  The race will attract a mixture of seasoned athletes and those new to running, but at the sharp end, Omagh Harriers man Paul Barbour may be the one to watch.  Paul seems to be getting back to full fitness after a spell out injured and this race would suit him well.  Delfim Pimentel (Unattached) could also compete, while in the ladies race, Acorns AC AAI Novice XC Champion Natalie Hall may return to defend the title she won so impressively in 2014.  Patricia O’Hagan (St Peter’s AC) may also start as she works her way back onto the competitive scene.

Decathlon 10k and Half Marathon:

On Sunday 15th November 2015, in excess of three hundred athletes will gather in Hollywood Exchange, just outside Belfast, for the Decathlon Half Marathon and 10k road races.  The flat and fast route will attract those chasing personal bests; although the predicted weather may well affect this!

Current NI & Ulster 10k Champion Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) could well be amongst the front runners here and will prove hard to beat if he does start.  Conor recently enjoyed an excellent run at the AAI Autumn XC and also won the Monaghan Half Marathon last month. Behind Conor, Mark Walker (Unattached), Nigel Grier (Dromore AC), Brian Young (Lagan Valley AC), Paul Carlin (Newcastle AC) and Oli Gleeson (Monaghan Town Runners) will all be chasing personal bests.  In the ladies race, Fiona Prue (Ballydrain Harriers) will run well and should make the podium.  Janice White (Unattached), Helena Dornan (Ballycastle Runners) and Elle Forrest (Ballymena Runners) should also finish well up the field.

The ladies 10k race looks like it well be a fiercely competitive affair - in saying that, Mourne Runners new girl Laura Graham will definitely start as favourite and will go into the event high in confidence follow top class performances at the Dublin Marathon, Run 4 Rescue and Garmin Mourne Skyline GTR.  Laura show lead the way, but picking two ladies to fill the remaining podium places is tough.  Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) will return to competition and will prove to be excellent opposition for Laura, as will Maeve Lavery (Dub Runners).  Gillian Logan (Larne AC), Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC) and Catherine Pinkerton (Springwell Running Club) will all run well.  In the men’s race, it’s hard to look past mountain specialist Sam Herron (Mourne Runners) barring any late entries.  

Leeds Abbey Dash 10k:

In England on Sunday 15th November 2015, at least three familiar faces will take to the start line of one of England’s most prestigious events, the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k road race, which will also incorporate the England Athletics 10k Championships.  On an annual basis, the race attracts a plethora of well-known athletes and Northern Ireland will be well represented in the form of North Belfast Harriers duo Conor Curran and Andrew Considine, as well as Dub Runners man James Trainor.


As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty one parkrun events will take place this weekend with Larne parkrun celebrating their 2nd birthday and 100th event.  For more information on parkrun, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.

Thousands turn out for record breaking Run in the Dark 2015:

Thousands turn out for Run in the Dark 2015:

On Wednesday 11th November 2015, a record number of two thousand four hundred athletes descended on the picturesque home of Northern Ireland's Parliament, Stormont Estate in Belfast for the worthwhile 'Run in the Dark' 5k and 10k races, which were part of a worldwide initiative in over 30 cities to raise funds to assist people with spinal injuries (full story available at

In perfect running conditions, a seemingly endless field of runners set off with the challenge of immediately negotiating the hill towards Parliament Buildings – this itself created an excellent spectacle as their flickering red lights matched the colour of the famous building in the backdrop, which was lit in red as a mark of respect for Remembrance Day.

The 5k race consisted of one lap, while the 10k competitors took on two laps of the course, which incorporated the roads and paths within the Estate and surrounding streets, including the Newtownards Road where the thousands of runners would re-enter the grounds and make their way towards the finish. 

In the 5k, it took just under eighteen minutes for the lead runners to cover the tough course, and it was Paul McDonnell (Unattached) who stole the headlines.  Paul led the field home in 17:52, therefore securing 1st place.  Behind, Jamie Anthony (Campbell College) crossed the line in 17:56 for 2nd place, while Lagan Valley AC’s Kris Wilson completed the top three in 18:06 (3rd place).

In the ladies race, it was North Down AC youngster Amelia Tyler who topped the podium. Amelia was rewarded for an excellent run with a well-deserved victory, after covering the route in 21:16 (1st place).  City of Lisburn AC’s Melanie Minshull clocked 21:44 for 2nd place, while Lauren Patterson (North Down AC) claimed 3rd place in 22:22.

The 10k races proved to be tightly contested events – in the men’s race, triathlete Alistair Duffield (Unattached) was in control going through the half way mark.  Behind, Ben Caughers (North Down AC) and Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers) both looked strong, and it was this strength that saw North Down AC man Ben move to the front in the latter stages.  Ben secured an impressive victory in 36:58 (1st place).  The ever consistent Simon Reeve followed in 37:39 (2nd place), while Alistair held on to take 3rd place in 38:08.

Long distance specialist Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) dominated the ladies 10k, leading through 5k and powering on the break the tape in 42:14 for 1st place.  Behind, there was an excellent battle for the remaining podium places, with Fiona McQuillan (North Down AC), Taryn McCoy (BARF), Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC), Helena Quinn (Unattached) and Deborah Gilliland (QUB AC) all in contention.  In the end it was Helena who took 2nd place in 43:07, while Fiona claimed the final podium place in 43:21 (3rd place).

5k Race:

Top 3 Men:  1st Paul McDonnell (Unattached) – 17:52, 2nd Jamie Anthony (Campbell College) – 17:56, 3rd Kris Wilson (Lagan Valley AC) – 18:06

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Amelia Tyler (North Down AC) – 21:16, 2nd Melanie Minshull (City of Lisburn AC) – 21:44, 3rd Lauren Patterson (North Down AC) – 22:22

10k Race:

Top 3 Men:  1st Ben Caughers (North Down AC) – 36:58, 2nd Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers) – 37:39, 3rd Alistair Duffield (Unattached) – 38:08

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) – 42:14, 2nd Helena Quinn (Unattached) – 43:07, 3rd Fiona McQuillan (North Down AC) – 43:21

Provisional Results:  Run in the Dark 5k 2015 Results and Run in the Dark 10k 2015 Results

The passing of Sean Noel Kyle... 

The passing of Sean Noel Kyle (by Athletics NI):

The sport of athletics in Northern Ireland heard with great sadness on Tuesday 10th November of the death of Sean Kyle following a protracted illness. The funeral will be held on Thursday 12th November at 2pm in Cuningham Memorial Church (Main Street, Ballymena, Cullybackey, BT42 1BW).

John Noel Kyle, known universally as Sean was born in Ballymena on December 28, 1926 the youngest of three children to John and Dorothy Kyle. He was called Sean by his mother to differentiate him from his father and the name stuck.  Having been a student at Ballymena Academy from 1932 to 1944, where he gained a love for Rugby, he joined the family firm of John Kyle & Son Insurance Brokers where he would remain until his retirement. 

His rugby interest continued with Ballymena rugby club where he played on the wing and in the centre and he is recognised as being one of those responsible for the reorganisation of the club following the Second World War. Through his many business and sporting interests he was a respected part of the fabric of the town throughout his life.

It was in the sport of athletics however, and not rugby, that Sean was to make his greatest contribution and his reputation in this arena spread far beyond the streets of Ballymena.  Having whetted his appetite engrossed in the exploits of Jesse Owens and others at the Berlin Olympics his lifetime involvement in the sport was cemented when he met, married and began to coach an Irish International hockey player, Maeve Shankey. Under his guidance Maeve would make history as the first female Irish Olympian by which time she and some fellow hockey players had founded Ballymena Ladies AC, soon to be joined by a group of men.

Sean found himself as the only coach to a group of diverse and ambitious athletes and history shows that he was not found wanting. Within a short space of time Ballymena athletes such as Barry Bamber, Bob Catterson and a young Mary Peters were making an impact on the local scene and over the next half century Sean would impart his immense coaching knowledge to many who would have international success from Northern Ireland Championship level through to Olympic Games.  Athletes of the calibre of Johnny Kilpatrick, the Kirkpatrick's CJ, Billy, Angie and Ivan, Sean O'Neill, Ricky Robinson, Mark Kirk, Pauline Quinn, John McAdorey, Anna Boyle and countless others will credit Sean with their success. In the early days of the club he also coached an Ulster School's Pole Vault Champion who would later make his name as one of the World's greatest rugby players. His name was Willie John McBride.

Recognised as the Northern Ireland National Coach for 20 years before the professional era, Sean was happy to offer assistance to athletes and coaches far beyond his Co. Antrim base and he was recognised in his appointment as coach to several Commonwealth Games and as an official observer at the Olympics. His achievements were recognised when he was twice awarded the NI Coach of The Year Award and in 1987 the UK Coach of The Year Award. As well as being designated a Master Coach by the UK Governing Body he was awarded the prestigious Torch Trophy 'set up in 1963 to recognises and celebrate volunteers in local communities who have shown outstanding work and dedication to sport throughout the UK.'

In recent years despite failing health Sean maintained his attachment to the sport he loved when he could be found on the timekeepers stand at Antrim and other athletics stadia.   Sean leaves behind wife Maeve, daughter Shauna and grand-daughter Indy. 

NiRunning's Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR to be broadcast on Channel 4:

Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race 2015:

NiRunning are VERY pleased and extremely proud to confirm that Channel 4 will be broadcasting a 30 minute programme on the Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain–Trail Race 2015. 

The programme, which is called ‘Garmin Mourne Skyline 2015’, will be televised at 7.05am on Saturday 21st November 2015 and will also be available on Channel 4 +1, as well as 4OD (Channel 4 ‘on demand’).  

We would be most grateful if you could ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ our social media posts in relation to this information.

Please see the attached link for a special promotional snippet which Channel 4 will be using to advertise the programme… Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR 2015 (Channel 4 promo video)

We would like to take this opportunity to once again say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to making the 2nd annual Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race and ‘GTR’ such a success. 

JP Williamson crowned Conference XC Champion in America:

Northern Ireland man continues to impress in USA:

This weekend (Saturday 7th November 2015), Northern Ireland man John Paul Williamson once again impressed in the USA, achieving arguably his greatest accolade since beginning his studies at Lindsey Wilson College in Kentucky.

Up against some of the best up and coming student athletes from around the world at the Mid-South Conference Cross Country Championships, the City of Derry AC man excelled.  In what was an outstanding performance, leading the field home having completed the tough 8k course in 25:43 (1st place); this saw John Paul win by exactly one second from Campbelleville College’s Brett Pierce (2nd place – 25:44).  John Paul will now look ahead to the NAIA XC Championships, which will take place in North Carolina in two weeks.

Athletes brave wet conditions for NI & Ulster XC Championships:

Wet weather didn't stop this weekends Championships at Finn Valley (by Athletics NI):

On Sunday 8th November 2015, Stranorlar, County Donegal was the setting for the NI & Ulster Uneven Age Group XC Championships incorporating the Novice Championship races. The course at Finn Valley Leisure Centre was a challenging and wet one which runners took to with gusto! 

A total of ten age group championships were held, catering for boys and girls from Under 11 to Under 19 ages. A total of over 800 young athletes entered and the leading individuals and teams chased qualification to compete in the All Ireland Championships in Waterford on Sunday 6th December 2015 (online entry will be available from the 11th November and further information can be found on  

The Under 11 Girls got the proceedings under way with their 1200m race. Finn Valley AC’s Hannah Murray took the Under 11 gold title again for the second year, showing fine form following on from her Under 12 race in Jordanstown.  Annalee AC’s Renee Crotty gave a good race and obtained 2nd place position.  Following closely behind was Hazel Hughes of Shercock AC in 3rd place. Lifford AC secured the team victory, followed by Finn Valley AC in 2nd place

In the Boys’ race, Tomas Haigney of Omagh Harriers claimed gold, with Max Roarty of Cranford AC in 2nd place and City of Derry AC’s Oisin Colhoun in 3rd place. Annalee AC secured the team victory, followed by Omagh Harriers. County Donegal claimed the overall county title for both the Under 11 girls and boys.

City of Derry AC’s Cara Laverty seized victory in the Under 13 Girls’ race in 8:02, enjoying a considerable lead over her nearest rivals. This is a great start to Cara’s cross country season following her first place position at Jordanstown in the Under 14 girl’s race. Jordanstown’s Under 12 runner up Victoria Lightbody took 2nd place in the Under 13 race with a time of 8:07 followed by North Down AC’s Amelia Tyler in 3rd place. City of Lisburn AC took the Under 13 girls team title with 28 points, meaning that County Antrim won the overall county competition. In the Under 13 Boys’ race Shercock AC’s Colin Gargan produced a confident run to finish in 1st place and he was followed by Burren AC’s Calum McDonagh (2nd place) and Oisin Kelly, Cranford AC (3rd place). Letterkenny AC claimed the overall team title, with county medals being awarded to County Donegal with a total of 63 points.

In the Under 15 races, Finn Valley AC’s Karen Gallagher topped the podium with Omagh Harriers' Jack Moore following suit in the Boys’ race. They were joined on the podium by Lagan Valley AC’s Molly Dougan taking silver in the girls’ event and St Peter’s Peter Murray the boys’.  Bronze medals went to North Belfast Harriers' Rebecca Wallace and Conor Maguire of Monaghan Phoenix AC.  Lagan Valley AC took both the girls and boys team titles. County Antrim cleared up in both races followed by County Donegal in the girls and County Down in the boys.

Omagh Harriers duo Enya Haigney and Niamh Heaney battled a great race to claim the 1st place and 2nd place for the Under 17 girls.  Olivia Nelson of City of Lisburn AC followed closely behind in 3rd place. East Down AC’s Laura Gardiner claimed gold in the Under 19 Girls’ race in 16:23 followed by Enniskillen Running Club’s Edel Monaghan in 16:30 (2nd place). Omagh Harriers' Toni Moore sealed 3rd place in 16:44.  Beechmount Harriers' Christy Conlon (pictured right) repeated his 2013 Under 15 and 2014 Under 17 success, taking gold for the second year running in the Under 17 Boys’ race in 17:07 ahead of City of Derry AC's Fintan Stewart (17:09) in 2nd place. North Down AC’s Craig McMeechan won the bronze, crossing the line in 17:11 (3rd place). Omagh Harriers (36) and Beechmount Harriers (61) took the team titles for the girls and boys races respectively. County Antrim again cleared up in both races followed by County L/Derry in the girls and County Down in the boys.

Finn Valley AC’s Oisin Gallen dominated the Under 19 Boys’ race claiming victory in 21:04. He was followed by Caolan Duffy of Armagh AC who crossed the line in 21:50 (2nd place). Beechmounts Lorcan Magee was the final age group medallist of the day taking bronze in 21:51 (3rd place).  St Malachy's AC secured the team victory with 43 points followed by Finn Valley AC with 48. County Antrim claimed the county title, with County Donegal closely in 2nd place.

The final races of the day were the NI & Ulster Novice XC Championships. In the ladies race, Acorns AC new girl Natalie Hall topped the podium in 17:08 (1st place), followed by Derry City Track Club’s Amy McDaid (2nd place - 17:20) and Marie Harper of Finn Valley AC (3rd place - 17:35). Finn Valley AC took the Novice title followed by Inishowen AC (2nd place) and Foyle Valley AC in 3rd place.

In the Men’s race, victory went to St Malachy AC man Paddy Robb in 21:04 (1st place), he was followed by Finn Valley AC’s Dermot McElchar (2nd place - 21.15) and fellow St Malachy’s AC team mate Conor Gallagher in 3rd place (21:18). St Malachy’s AC claimed the overall team title, with Finn Valley AC 10 points behind in 2nd place and Foyle Valley AC finishing in 3rd place.

Full Results:  NI & Ulster Uneven Age Group XC Championships (inc Novice XC) 2015 Results (Article above and photo of Christy Conlon taken from Athletics NI website)

Paddy Hamilton and Emma Mitchell excel at 81st McConnell Shield XC:

The 81st McConnell Shield Cross Country:

On Saturday 7th November 2015, hundreds of runners descended on Sixmilewater Park in Ballyclare for the 81st annual running of East Antrim Harriers’ McConnell Shield Cross Country.  The event was also part of the ongoing Athletics NI Cross Country League 2015/16.

The morning and early afternoon rain passed just as the junior athletes had completed their highly competitive races and the four hundred plus senior and veteran athletes were assembling for the start of their races.  

First up was the Ladies and Vet60+ Men for their 3 mile race, which covered three laps of the relatively fast route. Banbridge AC athlete Emma Mitchell made the early running and by the end of the first lap, the rising star had broken clear of Newcastle AC’s Shalene McMurray.

Behind, a group containing Joanne Mills (Newcastle AC), Heather Foley (Unattached), Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) and North Down AC pair Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson, looked like the main contenders for the final podium place.  As the race progressed, Emma continued relentlessly and increased the gap at the front.  Before long, it was Emma’s race to lose, and this was never going to happen.  The versatile lady pushed on an eventually eased to an impressive win in 17:35 (1st place).  The fast finishing Shalene McMurray took 2nd place in 17:53, while Heather Foley completed the top three in 18:28 (3rd place).  Springwell Running Club’s Gerry O’Doherty was the first home in the Men’s Vet60+ race, after recording 19:20.

The Men’s race, which measured 5 miles in distance, brought a plethora of talent to the start line - in truth, at least the top twenty finishers were athletes capable of winning any race on their day.  

This looked like an excellent race and it did turn out that way – Bobby Rea XC winner Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) was very much the figurehead at the front of the pack as a large group cruised through the first few laps of what was now a very cut up and muddy course.  

Within this group was the likes of multi-title winning Declan Reed (City of Derry AC), pre-race favourite Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), newly crowned NIMRA Champion Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) and the always impressive Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) and Brian Campbell (Willowfield Harriers).

As the men entered the fourth of five laps, Paddy Hamilton and Declan Reed had moved clear, while Seamus Lynch was having the run of his life, having practically cemented himself into third place.  The battle at the front continued right up until the final kilometre, when the in-form Paddy Hamilton made what proved to be a race winning move - edging clear of Declan.  Paddy powered along the river bank and negotiated the final uphill section before breaking the tape in 26:39 (1st place).  Declan crossed the line in 26:37 (2nd place), while Seamus, fresh from collecting his NIMRA Championship trophy last night, clocked 26:43 for 3rd place.  In the prestigious McConnell Shield team competition, City of Derry AC continued their recent success, taking 1st place ahead of North West friends Foyle Valley AC (2nd place).

Top 3 Ladies (3 miles):  1st Emma Mitchell (Banbridge AC) – 17:35, 2nd Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC) – 17:53, 3rd Heather Foley (Unattached) – 18:28

Top 3 Men (5 miles):  1st Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) – 26:29, 2nd Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) – 26:37, 3rd Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) – 26:43

Full Results:  McConnell Shield XC 2015 Results 

Note:  Photos from the McConnell Shield XC are available within our ‘Photo Gallery’.

Weekend Preview:  The Cross Country bandwagon rolls on...

Weekend Preview:  The XC bandwagon rolls on…

After a Spooktacular Halloween weekend, the talk has already turned to the festive period… and we’re only in November!  

This time of the year means one thing for the local running fraternity, CROSS COUNTRY season, and this week brings the 81st annual running of the East Antrim Harriers McConnell Shield as well as the NI & Ulster Novice and Age Group Championships.  There is also the Dolly’s Brae 7 mile race for those interested in competing over a firmer surface!

The 81st McConnell Shield Cross Country:

On Saturday 7th November 2015, East Antrim Harriers will host the 81st annual running of their long established and highly respected McConnell Shield Cross Country.  The event, which incorporates both junior and senior races, takes place in Sixmilewater Park in Ballyclare and kicks off at 1.30pm.

At the sharp end, North Belfast Harriers’ Mark McKinstry will be keen to show the same kind of form that led him to victory at the Comber Cup XC last month (October 2015). However, Mark may have to see off the likes of Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) and the top three men from 2014, Ryan McDermott (Annadale Striders), Brendan Teer (East Down AC) and Joe McAlister (St Malachy’s AC).  Brian Campbell (Willowfield Harriers), Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC), Andrew Agnew (Annadale Striders), Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) and Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) will add further class to what should be a quality field.

In the ladies race, it is unclear as to whether 2014 Champion Aileen Reid (City of Derry AC) will return, however, her Spartan club mates Catherine Whoriskey and Sarah Kivelehan should impress if they toe the line.  Both ladies ran well here twelve months ago, but have shown a significant increase in form since and should contest podium place, especially Waterside Half Marathon winner Catherine.  Talking of in-form athletes, North Down AC pair Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson will be amongst the front runners, as will Emma Mitchell (Banbridge AC), Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC) and Shalene McMurray (Newcastle AC) if they decide to follow on from good outings at the Bobby Rea XC.

NI & Ulster Senior Novice and Age Group XC Championships:

On Sunday 8th November 2015, thousands of athletes and spectators are expected to descend on the impressive Finn Valley Leisure Centre in Stranorlar, County Donegal (Ireland) for the NI & Ulster Age Category and Novice XC Championships, hosted by Athletics Northern Ireland.  

A total of ten age group Championships will be held, catering for boys and girls from Under 11 to Under 19. A total of over 800 young athletes have entered and the leading individuals and teams will qualify to compete in the All Ireland Championships in Waterford (Ireland) on Sunday 6th December 2015. 

The Under 11 girl’s event will kick off proceedings at 11.30am, with approximately 116 participants taking part in this race.  Looking to maintain her title from last year is Hannah Murray of Finn Valley AC.  Hannah had a great run in the Under 12 category at the Even Age Group Championships in Jordanstown (Saturday 24th October 2015).  Other major contenders will be the top three from the Under 10 Age Group at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown; Ashleigh McArdle and Elsa Moore of Strabane Lifford AC, and East Down’s Anna Gardiner.  In the Under 11 boys, University of Ulster, Jordanstown Under 10 winner Boyd Russell (Olympian YAC) will be hoping to secure another first place title in the Uneven Age Group Championships.

The Under 13 girl’s race is shaping up to be an exciting event, with Under 12 winner Victoria Lightbody of City of Lisburn AC and Under 14 winner Cara Laverty (City of Derry AC) likely to be amongst those battling it out for the gold.  Last year’s Under 11 second place finisher Sarah Bradley (Finn Valley AC) will be hoping to impress, as will Olivia Hall and Andrea Browne.  Last year’s Uneven Age Groups Under 13 boys medallists Oisin Kelly (Cranford AC), Donnacha McNamarra (Annalee AC) and Odhran O’Reilly (Annalee AC) should run well. 

The Under 15 girl’s race will kick off at 12.20pm with a sum of 90 athletes entered in this race. Letterkenny AC’s Gemma McFadden will be looking to hold onto her title, while contenders Molly Trearty of Cranford AC and North Belfast Harriers’ Rebecca Wallace will be up for the battling challenge to the finish. In the large Under 15 boy’s entry pool, last year’s podium finishers and Even Age Group 2015 medallists David Smith and Oisin Farren will be seeking a good run and onto the podium.  The Under 17 and Under 19 girl’s races will be combined for the 4,000m race at 1pm. 

This race will see last year’s Under 19 winner and hot prospect Clodagh O’Reilly of Annalee AC take to the grassy banks to maintain her title for a second year.  Last year’s Under 17 winner and runner up in the Under 18’s at the Even Age Group Championships 2015, Edel Monaghan of Enniskillen RC will be a major contender in the Under 19 race, alongside Amy Hamill (Glaslough Harriers), Toni Moore (Omagh Harriers) and Aife McSheffrey (Springwell Running Club). City of Lisburn AC’s Olivia Nelson, who will also be aiming for a strong run in the Under 17 event, however close competition will come in the form of Omagh Harriers duo Niamh Heaney and Enya Haigney.

The Under 17 boys will be battling it out for the podium positions at 1.25pm and last year’s Under 17 gold medallist Christy Conlon of Beechmount Harriers has again entered the event and will be hoping for a solid run to hold onto his 1st place title.  However last year’s Under 15 winner and Under 16 Even Age Group Championships 2015 gold medallist, Sean Corry (Omagh Harriers) has moved up age groups and is looking to challenge Christy for that top spot. St Malachy’s AC athlete Eoin McCann, Banbridge AC’s Patrick McNiff, Beechmount Harriers’ Peter Gracey and Burren AC’s Billy Campbell are all looking at achieving podium positions this year.

St Malachy’s AC and Finn Valley AC will be taking fiercely to the Under 19 race with the only two teams entered - within the small pool of thirty, the Under 19 boy’s race will be a battle for those three individual podium positions and first team.  Oisin Gallen of Finn Valley AC will be hoping to build on his runners up spot in 2014.

Following the age group races will be the Novice Races for both Ladies (2.30pm) and Men (3pm) with approximately over 150 athletes competing across the two races. There will be a strong representation from Northern Ireland based clubs, with Acorns AC, Foyle Valley AC, Lifford Strabane AC, Derry City Track Club, Omagh Harriers and St Malachy’s AC all aiming for podium places alongside hosts Finn Valley AC.

In the men’s individual race for honours, it’s hard to look past St Malachy’s AC junior star Paddy Robb for victory.  Paddy had an excellent run at the recent NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships.  Fellow St Malachy’s AC man James Smyth and North Belfast Harriers’ Conal McCambridge will also run well.  In the ladies event, Jane Matthews (Lagan Valley AC), Carla Prentice (QUB AC) and Derry City Track Club duo Hannah McGowan and Amy McDaid should all challenge for medals.  Note:  Information for this article was taken from

Dolly’s Brae 7 mile Race:

Also on Sunday 7th November 2015, athletes in the County Down area will turn out for the Dolly’s Brae 7 mile road and trail race, which will start and finish at the Dolly’s Brae Inn in Ballyward.  The course will take in a full lap around Castlewellan Lake and should interest a number of athletes from Newcastle AC, despite the club more than likely being well represented at the McConnell Shield XC less than 24 hours earlier.  The ever impressive duo of David McNeilly (Newcastle AC) and David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) should compete and may be joined by club mates Declan Magee, John Kelly and PJ McCrickard.  Newcastle AC ladies Sinead Murtagh and Sam McNeilly will also contest prizes if the make use of the on the day entry system.


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

Remember - If you would like to catch up on our 'News' from October 2015, you can use the navigation banner at the top of the screen (and scroll to October 2015) or click HERE.

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