Northern Ireland Running

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Nearly 10,000 athletes cross the Novosco 10k GP finish line in 2016:

Nearly 10,000 competitors cross the Novosco 10k Grand Prix finish line:

Last weekend’s Seeley Cup 10k (inc NI & Ulster 10k Road Championships) saw the culmination of the inaugural Novosco 10k Grand Prix, a thirteen race series hosted by ChampionChip Ireland.

The unique and exciting Age Graded running competition incorporated thirteen well-respected and established 10k races in Northern Ireland.  

Kicking off back in March with Jimmy’s 10k, before Titanic 10k, Run Armagh 10k, Les Jones 10k, Bann 10k, Enniskillen 10k, Lisbuirn 10k, Comber 10k, Tandragee 10k, Storming the Castle 10k, Laganside 10k and Bangor Aurora 10k all built up to the finale at Seeley Cup 10k.

The ‘not for profit’ Grand Prix, which offered generous prizes for both individual athletes and teams, was the brainchild of ChampionChip Ireland’s Glenn Grant and was brought together with the assistance of a steering group which included NiRunning’s Ryan Maxwell, former Athletics NI President John Glover and Novosco employee and keen runner, and Tandragee 10k Race Director Lee Glover.  


Northern Ireland based company Novosco, a leading provider of Cloud Technologies, Managed Services and Consulting, kindly provided headline sponsorship for the Grand Prix.  Forestside Shopping Centre was the official retail partner.


A total of 374 athletes registered for the Grand Prix (registration was free) and 9,618 competitors crossed the finish line in the thirteen races, with 94 completing the required 6 races to stamp their place on the Grand Prix leaderboard.   

The athlete’s average age-grading over their best 6 races was used and after the Seeley Cup 10k, Ballydrain Harriers’ Vet55 athlete Ruth Perioli was crowned champion, with an age-grading of 89.17% (1st place).  Dromore AC’s Mary Mackin (Vet60) claimed 2nd place with 88.12%, while North Down AC’s Francis Marsh (Vet50) was the leading men’s competitor, taking 3rd place overall with 88.08% - a mere 1.09% split the top three finishers on the overall leaderboard.

There were prizes for the top fifteen competitors on the leaderboard and this is how the final standings looked: 

1.  Ruth Perioli (Ballydrain Harriers) – 89.17%, 2.  Mary Mackin (Dromore AC) – 88.12%, 3.  Francis Marsh (North Down AC) – 88.08%, 4.  Laurence Johnston (North Belfast Harriers) – 87.27%, 5.  David Clarke (North Belfast Harriers) – 87.14%, 6.  Terry Eakin (North Down AC) – 86.96%, 7.  Ann Terek (City of Lisburn AC) – 86.51%, 8.  Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) – 85.22%, 9.  Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – 85.16%, 10.  Patricia Brown (Newry City Runners) – 85.08%, 11.  James Wallace (North Belfast Harriers) – 84.98%, 12.  Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 84.84%, 13.  Brigid Quinn (Ballymena Runners) – 83.99%, 14.  Norman Mawhinney (Ballydrain Harriers) – 83.93%, 15.  Nigel Grier (Dromore AC) – 83.76%

Three runners, Anne Donnelly (Jog Lisburn), Michael Kelso (Unattached) and George Morrow (Jog Lisburn) completed all 13 of the races in the Grand Prix.  Vet60 Anne’s age-grading of 74.75% was the best of the three, with Vet50 Michael following in 68.55% and Vet75 George, who was featured on a very popular video about the Grand Prix, notched 66.39%.

The only two athletes who topped the podium overall and made it into the top fifteen (prize winners) of the final Grand Prix leaderboard were Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) and Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – Laura won the Laganside 10k, Bann 10k and Bangor Aurora 10k and finished in 12th place on the GP leaderboard, while Louise won Run Armagh 10k and Tandragee 10k and claimed 9th place on the GP leaderboard.  The fastest times clocked during the 13 race GP were 30:40 by Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) at Bangor Aurora 10k and 33:57 by newly crowned NI & Ulster Champion Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) at the Seeley Cup 10k.

In the TEAM LEADERBOARD, North Down AC led the way with 274 points (1st place), with Dromore AC and Ballydrain Harriers battling it out for the runners up spot.  Eventually, Dromore AC took 2ndplace with 322 points and Ballydrain Harriers completed the top three in 347 points (3rd place).

For more details on the NOVOSCO 10K GRAND PRIX, including rules, now age-grades are calculated, final leaderboards etc please click HERE.

Paul Pollock, Kerry O'Flaherty & Ciara Mageaan named in Ireland Euro XC team:

Three NI athletes named in Ireland Euro XC squad:

On Monday 28th November 2016, three Northern Ireland based athletes were named in Ireland's European Cross Country team.  Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC), Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) and Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) were rewarded for their strong performances at yesterday's AAI National Senior XC Championships (summary available below this article). The prestigious Euro XC will take place in Italy on Sunday 11th December 2016.

Athletics Ireland made the announcement in the following press release:

McCormack heads European Cross Country Selections:

Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole) heads the Irish team entries for the European Cross Country Championships in Chia, Italy on December 11th.

McCormack had a fine win yesterday at the IAAF permit meeting in Alcobendas, Spain yesterday and she will be hoping to lead another strong women’s team which includes UCD’s European `1500m bronze medallist Ciara Mageean.

The team also includes European 3,000m steeplechase finalists Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle) and Michelle Finn (Leevale) who also competed at the Olympics in Rio. It is rounded out by An Riocht’s Shona Heaslip who won the Irish Life Health National Cross Country Championships yesterday which incorporated the trial.

The senior men’s team includes marathon specialists Mick Clohisey (Raheny Shamrock) and Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) who both competed in Rio. Mark Christie (Mullingar Harriers) won the trial yesterday and is no stranger to European competition.  Jack O’Leary (Mullingar Harriers) heads the junior entries and will be looking to build on his 23rd place finish from last year.  

Selected team below for the European Cross Country Championships in Chi, Italy on December 11th and on the High Performance site including coaches HERE.

Senior Men:

Mark Christie (Mullingar Harriers A.C.), Mick Clohisey (Raheny Shamrock A.C.), Mark Hanrahan (Leevale A.C.), Liam Brady (Tullamore Harriers A.C.), Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders A.C.) and Kevin Dooney (Raheny Shamrock A.C.)             

Senior Women:

Shona Heaslip (An Riocht A.C.), Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle & District A.C.), Ciara Mageean (U.C.D. A.C.), Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole A.C.), Laura Crowe (An Riocht A.C.) and Michelle Finn (Leevale A.C.)

U23 Men:

Karl Fitzmaurice (Ennis Track A.C.) and Mitchell Byrne (Rathfarnham W.S.A.F. A.C.)

U23 Women:

Bethanie Murray (Dundrum South Dublin A.C.) and Amy O'Donoghue (Emerald A.C.)            

Junior Men:

Jack O’Leary (Mullingar Harriers A.C.), Peter Lynch (Kilkenny City Harriers A.C.), Darragh McElhinney (Bantry A.C.), Fearghal Curtain (Youghal A.C.), Barry Keane (Waterford A.C.) and Charlie O'Donovan (Leevale A.C.)               

Junior Women:

Sophie Murphy (Dundrum South Dublin A.C.), Amy Rose Farrell (Blackrock A.C.), Emma O'Brien (Inbhear Dee A.C./Sli Cualann), Carla Sweeney (W.S.A.F A.C.), Jodie McCann (Dundrum South Dublin A.C.) and Aisling Joyce (Claremorris A.C.)

Kerry O'Flaherty and Ciara Mageean excel at AAI National Senior XC:

AAI National XC Championships 2016:

On Sunday 27th November 2016, a host of running talent from Northern Ireland descended on the National Sports Centre in Abbotstown for the AAI National XC Championships.  The event was also the trials for the upcoming European XC Championships and included the Even Age Group XC Championships.

There was a host of exceptional performances from Northern Ireland based athletes, but it was local ladies and Olympians Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) who quite rightly stole the headlines.  In there ladies 8k event, which was won by 'under-dog' Shona Heslip (An Riocht AC) in 28:13 (1st place), the pair battled it out right to the finish line.  In the end, Kerry out sprinted Ciara to take 2nd place in 28:23, with Ciara following in 28:24 (3rd place).  Letterkenny AC's Ann-Marie McGlynn (6th place - 28:44) and City of Derry AC's Catherine Whoriskey (10th place - 28:55) also produced excellent performances, sealing top ten places.  North Down AC were the highest place Northern Ireland team, claiming 9th place in the ladies team competition won by DSD AC (1st place).

In the men's 10k, which was won my Mullingar Harriers' Mark Christie in 30:41 (1st place), Northern Ireland's Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) put himself in contention for a place on Ireland's Euro XC team with a 5th place finish in 31:18. In the team competition, Newcastle AC took 8th place - this was enough to see the County Down men (Seamus Lynch, Eoghan Totten, David O'Flaherty, Zak Hanna, David Simpson and David McNeilly) claim silver in the 'Category C' team competition; Raheny Shamrock AC claimed 1st place overall.

There was further success for familiar faces in the earlier AAI National Even Age Group XC Championships, which proved a perfect build up for the senior events.  East Down AC's Lauren Madine got things off to a good start for NI athletes with a 2nd place finish in the Under 12 girls race.  Tomas Haigney (Omagh Harriers) sealed 3rd place in the Under 12 boys event, while Cara Laverty (City of Derry AC) claimed 2nd place in her Under 14 girls race.

Full Results:  AAI National XC Championships 2016 Results (Photo above by Teresa McDaid)

JP Williamson and Emma Mitchell crowned Champions at Seeley Cup 10k:

Seeley Cup 10k 2016:

On Saturday 26th November 2016, a sell-out crowd of one thousand athletes descended on Ormeau Park, Belfast for the 35th annual Seeley Cup 10k road race, which incorporated the NI & Ulster 10k (Road) Championships.  The race was also the final event of the inaugural Novosco 10k Grand Prix, a popular age-graded series.

The popular race is seen by many as the road racing ‘season closer’ and as always, it attracted a wealth of talent.  The conditions may have been dull and misty, but the winning performances of JP Williamson (Derry Track Club) and Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) certainly brightened things up!

In perfect running 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.  Foyle Valley AC’s Scott Rankin made his intention clear from the off, taking to the front and leading the way – possibly hoping to go one better than his runners up spot in 2015.  In truth, it always looked as if Scott would run out victorious, as he passed through 3k and 6k well in the lead.  

However, the chasing pack, made up of Conan McCaughey (Derry Track Club), JP Williamson (Derry Track Club), Eoghain McGinley (Letterkenny AC) and Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) worked together and closed the gap which Scott had forged.  In the final 3k, Derry Track Club men JP and Conan forced the pace – JP caught Scott and the pair battled it out for the remainder of the race with Conan just behind.  In the end, JP broke the tape first with an incredible finish.  He crossed the line in 31:05 (1st place), with Scott following in 31:10 (2nd place) and Conan in 31:12 (3rd place).

The ladies race wasn’t just as close, but it did bring three exceptional performances from the top three finishers.  Track star Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) led from early on, with AAI National Marathon and Half Marathon Champion Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) and well-known international duathlete Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) in pursuit.  The trio worked hard, forcing their rivals out of the race – in doing so, they cemented their own places early on.  It would have been easy to settle for the placings, but the never stopped working and were rewarded with significant personal bests.  Emma claimed gold in a brilliant 33:57 (1st place), with Laura following in a new personal best of 34:40, knocking almost a minute off her previous best.  Judith completed the top three in an excellent 36:40 (3rd place), bettering her previous (recorded) personal best of 38:06.

In the prestigious team competition, Derry Track Club took 1st place in the men's event, with North Belfast Harriers and City of Derry AC claiming 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.  In the ladies team standings, City of Lisburn AC claimed 1st place, with Letterkenny AC in 2nd place and North Belfast Harriers in 3rd place.

Top 3 Men:  1st JP Williamson (Derry Track Club) – 31:05, 2nd Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 31:10, 3rd Conan McCaughey (Derry Track Club) – 31:12

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) – 33:57, 2nd Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 34:30, 3rd Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) – 36:40

Full Results:  Seeley Cup 10k 2016 Results

Weekend Preview:  Local athletes prepare for Seeley 10k and AAI XC...

Weekend Preview:  Local athletes prepare for Seeley Cup 10k and AAI National XC Championships 2016...

This weekend, thousands of people will be descending on Northern Ireland’s capital city, Belfast… and it’s not only for the Christmas Markets! Instead, local running enthusiasts will be seeking their final road personal best of the season at the ever-popular Seeley Cup 10k road race.

The Seeley Cup will of course be the main local attraction of the weekend, and as such, our weekend preview will focus on it.  However, there will also be events in County Down and County Derry/Londonderry, which we’ll provide details of.  Elsewhere, a large contingent of Northern Ireland based runners will head south to Ireland for the AAI National XC Championships, which are also the trials for the upcoming European XC Championships.

Seeley Cup 10k:

On Saturday 26th November 2016, over one thousand athletes and hundreds of spectators are expected to descend on Ormeau Park in Belfast for the 35th annual Seeley Cup 10k road race. The event, which has again reached capacity prior to race day, is also the final race of the inaugural Novosco 10k Grand Prix.

Reigning Champions Gary Murray (St Malachy’s AC) and Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) are unlikely to start, with Gary being a notable absentee from the local scene recently and Ann-Marie set to run at the AAI National XC Championships on Sunday.

This leaves the door open for two new Champions to be crowned, and in the men’s race… this could well be come down to a battle between talented duo Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) and Conan McCaughey (Derry Track Club).  Scott has made the podium at this event in both 2014 and 2015, claiming second and third respectively, so could this be the year he takes the win?  The Northern Ireland international has picked up silverware at Seeley before, in 2012 he collected bronze when the race was the NI & Ulster 10k (Road) Championships.  Scott’s personal best for the distance currently sits at 30:17, which he ran on track to win the 10,000m Championships in the Summer (2016) – his best on the road has been 30:39, which is very close to Conan’s 10k personal best of 30:53.

Conan clocked this when he took the runners up spot at the Loch Ness 10k in Scotland earlier this year.  The Fermanagh man has enjoyed an excellent year, impressing both on home soil and in Scotland whilst at University there.  Conan has played a big part in Central AC’s dominance of the team placings throughout 2015 and 2016; this year he also improved his 5k best, running 14:55.  Derry Track Club's JP Williamson impressed at the recent Spooktacular 5k in Enniskillen, when he took second place in 15:08 - he is capable of running around 31:00 here which will put him well in the mix. Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) is another man who will be in the mix at the front – having produced some excellent performances at recent cross country races, most notably a win at the Comber Cup XC.  On the road, Mark has improved his 5k (15:10), 5 mile (25:45), 10k (31:31), 10 mile (53:05) and Half Marathon (1:10:20) times throughout 2016 – he will undoubtedly continue to reduce these times!

Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers), Paul Barbour (Derry Track Club), William McKee (Mourne Runners), Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) and John Black (North Belfast Harriers) will all play a major part in proceedings.  Armagh AC’s Stephen Kerr is a man with huge talent and with a personal best of 31:29, he will feature well – however, given that he is on the comeback from injury, this race may come just too soon.  Emmett McGinty (City of Derry AC), Eoghain McGinley (Letterkenny AC), Dennis Scott (North Down AC), Gavin Corey (Sperrin Harriers), Martin Cox (Derry Track Club), Darrell McKee (Acorns AC), Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers), Conor Curran (North Belfast Harriers) and Gary Henderson (Armagh AC) are just a few others who are well capable of recording excellent times in what is a stacked field.

AAI National Marathon and Half Marathon Champion Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) will continue her return to competition following some planned rest after her 2:41:54 marathon personal best in Dublin last month (November 2016).  Laura’s current best for the 10k distance is 35:24, which she ran back in April 2016 when securing third place at the Titanic 10k in Belfast – the Mourne Runners athlete has the talent to run quicker and given the field around her, this could well prove a perfect opportunity.

Laura will have the likes of Emma Mitchell (QUB AC), Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers), Esther Dickson (Newry AC) and Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) for company at the front, which could lead to an excellent battle for the podium places.  Emma Mitchell finished close behind Laura at the Armagh 10 miler in October (2016), but it will be much closer over 10k given Emma’s track backround – the QUB AC athlete has no 10k time on record but we suspect she is well capable of running low 35’s and if conditions are good, potentially into the 34’s.  Amy Bulman has been on the podium at pretty much every cross country event this season and the strength gained from those performances will ensure that she smashes her current 10k personal best of 37:57. Meanwhile, Esther Dickson is an emerging talent – after impressing as an unattached competitor, she now runs under the guidance of experienced coach Francis O’Hagan at Newry AC.  After some solid cross country outings, it’ll be interesting to see how Esther gets on back on the firmer surface.  Ever consistent athlete Judith Lonnen will be there or there abouts and given her form this year, there is no better time for the City of Lisburn AC lady to better her 38:06 personal best.

In what is an impressive ladies field, Jodi Smith (North Down AC), Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers), Kerry Bamber (Ballymena Runners), Laura Bickerstaff (Dromore AC), Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers), Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC), Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers), Niamh Kellett (East Down AC), Maeve Lavery (City of Lisburn AC), Deborah Gilliland (Springwell Running Club) and Ciara Coffey (Unattached) should not be overlooked – all have the potential to challenge for a prize on their day.

Other events in Northern Ireland this weekend:

  • Sunday 27th November 2016 - Homestart 10k, East Down AC Club Rooms, Downpatrick - 11:30am (Entries AVAILABLE on the day!)
  • Sunday 27th November 2016 - Learmount Trail Race, Learmount Forest, Derry/Londonderry - 9:30am (Entries AVAILABLE on the day!)

AAI National Senior XC Championships (inc Euro XC Trials):

On Sunday 27th November 2016, a host of running talent from Northern Ireland will travel south to National Sports Centre in Abbotstown for the AAI National XC Championships, which will also include the trials for the upcoming European XC Championships.

Amongst those hoping for glory and a place on the Ireland Euro XC team will be Rio Olympians Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders), Kevin Seaward (St Malachy’s AC), Ciara Mageean (UCD AC), Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers).  Letterkenny AC’s Ann-Marie McGlynn will also start.  A start-list of the Senior and Under 23 competitors is available HERE and the official Athletics Ireland preview for the event is included below…

Clohisey and Mageean set for Abbotstown cavalry charge (by Athletics Ireland):

There is set to be a second stampede this coming Sunday (November 27) at the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown for the Irish Life Health National Cross Country Championships.  Previews can provide the commentators curse especially with a long list of highly competitive athletes vying for individual, club and county glory as well as potential places on the Irish European Cross Country at stake.

Raheny Shamrock’s Mick Clohisey has been a dominant force domestically over cross country and he will be looking to stretch his reign while also guiding his club to their first team title. The women’s race will also be wide open with Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole) forgoing the championships to race in Spain. This will be the second race on the new purpose built cross country course following the Autumn Open last month.  Mick Clohisey has been able to churn a gear and derail his opponents in what would be his fourth national title over the country. However, on the team front, he has been unable to steer Raheny Shamrock to their first elusive men’s team title. He will he hoping that will all change at the National Sports Campus where a strong squad includes Dooney brothers, Conor and Kevin, Mark Kirwan and Cillian O’Leary.

They dominated the Dublin Championships over their arch rivals Clonliffe Harriers who know how to peak for the big one. They won’t be relinquishing their crown without a fight and will have the consistency of Brian MacMahon, David Flynn and Sergiu Ciobanu leading the black and amber charge.  Munster champion Dara Chesser will be looking to score a surprise on three fronts – individually, for Ennis Track Club and his county Clare. Dublin will of course be heavy favourites for the county title but Clare have a team to be reckoned with.  Mark Christie (Mullingar Harriers) oozes class and he has been reeling back the years winning the Autumn Open in Abbotstown along with winning the Leinster title against Tullamore Harriers’ Liam Brady.  Among the other individuals looking to shine will be Rio Olympians Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) and Kevin Seaward (St Malachy’s) along with Shane Quinn (Ferrybank) who has returned specifically for this race and a tilt at European selection.

The deep field also includes national 5,000m champion Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers), Ryan Creech (Leevale), John Travers (Donore Harriers) and Jake O’Regan who could be a surprise package.  Kevin Kelly (St Coca’s), Karl Fitzmaurice (Ennis Track), Michael McCabe (Raheny Shamrock) and Michael Carey (Clonmel) will be some of the contenders for the men’s U23 crown.  Jack O’Leary (Mullingar Harriers) returns from Iona College to try and stamp his authority in the junior men’s race with the absence of Kevin Mulcaire (Ennis Track) and Pierre Murchan (DCH). Cathal Doyle (Clonliffe Harriers), James Edgar (City of Lisburn), Peter Lynch (Kilkenny City Harriers), Craig McMeechan (North Down), Darragh McElhinney (Bantry), Charlie O’Donovan (Leevale), Paul O’Donnell (DSD) and Barry Keane (Waterford)  are among the long list.

Ciara Mageean (UCD) has had a fine 2016 winning bronze in the 1500m at the European Athletics Championships and running a swift 4:01 after the Rio Olympics in Paris. Mageean missed out in Santry last year but with another winter behind her, and cuter tactics, she will be a force to be reckoned with on Sunday over 8km.  She used her racing savvy at the Dublin championships sitting on Caroline Crowley’s (Crusaders) shoulder before surging over the last 600-800m.

Crowley was second Irish woman at the Autumn Open and there is another stellar cast of women set for the starting line with Rio Olympians Michelle Finn (Leevale) Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle), Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) all on the entry list.

The depth is highlighted with Ann-marie McGlynn, Caitriona Jennings (both Letterkenny), Sarah McCormack (Clonliffe Harriers), Siobhan O’Doherty (Borrisokane) and Una Britton (Kilcoole) also listed.

Leevale will be keen to retain their title but Dundrum South Dublin have a strong team with Laura Shaugnessy, Maria McCambridge, Meghan Ryan, Sarah Fitzpatrick, Sarah Mulligan and Niamh Devlin. Letterkenny should also mount a strong challenge.  Shona Heaslip (An Riocht) and Amy O’Donoghue (Emerald) are two of the leading U23 athletes looking to mix it.

DSD’s production line shows no signs of abating in the junior and U18s with Eimear Fitzpatrick, Sophie Murphy, Niamh Carey, Jodie McCann and Abby Taylor to name but a few of their strong stable. Blackrock’s Amy Rose Farrell (Blackrock) will be looking to feature in the junior and U18 race which will be mixed together as will Lauren Dermody (Castlecomber), Carla Sweeney (WSAF), Emma O’Brien (Sli Cualann) and Clare Rafter (Tullamore Harriers)

There will be a wealth of energy and talent on show in the U12, 14 and 16 age groups where some have already made their mark in school competition. Rather than identify individuals and put pressure on them we will report on all of their performances on Sunday evening.  It is a great achievement for them to make it to the All Ireland’s and run on the purpose built cross country course where hopefully they will stay on and watch the older athletes – opening their eyes to the broader horizon that awaits them.  It promises to be a fun-filled and action-packed day where club colours will be out in force. Abbotstown awaits.   


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

Athletes from NI impress at events in America, India and Ireland:

Local athletes perform well outside Northern Ireland:

As always, local runners were not only competing on home turf this weekend (Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th November 2016), they were also in action outside Northern Ireland.  Most notably, there were familiar faces in action at events in America, India and Ireland.

NAIA XC Championships (America):

On Saturday 19th November 2016, Northern Ireland’s Sara Moore (Omagh Harriers) produced yet another top quality performance in America.  Representing Oklahoma City University (OCU) at the NAIA XC Championships for the final time, Sara completed the 5k route in 17:31, securing a 9th place finish and with it, another 'All-American' certificate!  The race was won by Sara’s team mate Aminat Olowora in 16:24 (1st place).  Full results for the event are available HERE.

Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (India):

On Sunday 20th November 2016, Olympian Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) recorded 1:04:43 for 14th place in a classy field at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in New Delhi, India.  Speaking on social media, the Holywood Doctor said: "Tough morning in the office in Delhi. Lungs were struggling as finished in 64.43. Least I've chance to get back on course next week #xctrials"

Irish Universities Athletics Association Road Relays (Ireland):

On Saturday 19th November 2016, Queens University Belfast (QUB AC) were well represented at the IUAA Road Relays in Ireland.  The men's team (Shane McGowan, Neil Johnston, David Gormley, Luke Dinsmore and Max Travers) claimed 5th place, while the ladies team (Sinead Sweeney, Yasmin Wilson, Deborah Gilliland and Rachel Hume) took 15th place.

NI's Jonny Whan was also part of DCU's team who took 2nd place in the men's event. Both races were won by University of Limerick AC.  Full results for the event are available HERE.

William McKee and Laura Graham retain 'Run 4 Rescue' titles:

Run 4 Rescue 2016:

On Saturday 19th November 2016, just over one hundred runners turned out to support the annual Mourne Runners ‘Run 4 Rescue’ event in Annalong, County Down. The well-organised event, which offered participants the choice of a 10 mile or 10k race, was held as a fundraiser for the highly valued Mourne Mountain Rescue Team.

Perfectly described by a representative of Mourne Runners as an excellent way to get into the mountains without having to negotiate their harsh terrain, the event covered a tough but scenic route, starting at sea-level in Annalong before taking in road and coastal trail sections – athletes then took on a continuous climb towards Dunny Water, where they turned and made their way back towards the finish at the local Community Centre, located on the edge of a pleasant green area beside the sea.

As expected, it was the host club pairing of William McKee and Laura Graham who stole the headlines, retaining their titles in impressive fashion.  In the men’s event, William cruised to victory, clocking 57:08 (1st place) to finish nearly four minutes ahead of his closest rival.  That proved to be David McKee (Mourne Runners), who crossed the line in 1:00:58 for 2nd place, just ahead of North Belfast Harriers’ Neil Carty, who followed in 1:01:08 (3rd place).

Despite returning from some well-earned rest following her heroics at the Dublin Marathon (inc AAI National Marathon Championships), Laura Graham slashed an incredible three minutes off her winning time here in 2015 to retain her title.  The National Half Marathon and Marathon Champion claimed 1st place in the ladies race and 4th place overall in a time of 1:01:42. Ballydrain Harriers’ Amanda Perry took the runners up spot in 1:10:41 (2nd place), while Mourne Runners athlete Karalee Porter completed the podium in 1:15:00 (3rd place).

In the associated 10k event, which covered three laps of the village roads and trails, Armagh AC’s Niall Mooney enjoyed a comfortable win in 36:57 (1st place).  Last year’s 4 mile race winner Virginia Ervine (Mourne Runners) led the ladies home in 47:57 following a close battle with Pamela Bailey (2nd place – 48:06).

Top 3 Men:  1st William McKee (Mourne Runners) – 57:08, 2nd David McKee (Mourne Runners) – 1:00:58, 3rd Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers) – 1:01:08

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 1:01:42, 2nd Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers) – 1:10:41, 3rd Karalee Porter (Mourne Runners) – 1:15:00

Full Results:  Run 4 Rescue 10 mile Race 2016 Results and Run 4 Rescue 10k Race 2016 Results

Seamus Lynch and Jessica Craig lead the way at Acorns XC:

Acorns AC ‘Mighty Oaks’ XC 2016:

On Saturday 19th November 2016, Acorns AC welcomed athletes from across the province to the annual running of their Acorns XC, which was held at the Mid Ulster Sports Arena in Cookstown (County Tyrone).  The event is part of the ongoing Athletics NI XC League 2016/17.

Weather conditions on the day were excellent – cold and dry, however the rain over the previous few days meant it wasn’t long until the course was well cut up in true cross country style. 

The famous ‘Acorns Hill’ was adjusted slightly this year to give the athletes a better run at it, which was well received. The panoramic course around the Mid Ulster Sports Arena proved both challenging and enjoyable for athletes.  After the junior athletes had warmed things up with some excellent racing, it was the turn of the Senior Ladies and Vet60+ Men to take to the start line for their 3 mile event. 

Jessica Craig (North Down AC), winner of the Comber Cup XC, dominated proceedings, leading from start to finish, winning in 19:17 (1st place). 

However, the remaining podium places were not taken with such ease – it brought an excellent battle between the host club’s Karen Alexander (Acorns AC), Omagh Harriers’ Michelle Sturm and Derry Track Club’s Marina Mullan.  In the end, it was Karen who took 2nd place in 19:57, while Michelle (20:07) claimed 3rd place just two seconds ahead of Marina (4th place – 20:09).  Newry City Runners’ Pat Rocks was the first veteran male finisher in 22:15 (1st place Veteran).

In the men’s 4 mile event, Newcastle AC’s always impressive Seamus Lynch led from gun to tape.  The versatile athlete set his stall out early on, breaking the tape just over a minute clear of his nearest rival in 22:43 (1st place).  Paul Barbour (Derry Track Club) claimed 2nd place in 23:45, before Springwell Running Club’s Jonathan McKee crossed the line in 24:04 for 3rd place.

Top 3 Men (4 miles):  1st Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) – 22:43, 2nd Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers) – 23:45, 3rd Jonathan McKee (Springwell Running Club) – 24:04

Top Ladies (3 miles):  1st Jessica Craig (North Down AC) – 19:17, 2nd Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) – 19:57, 3rd Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers) – 20:07

Full Results:  Acorns ‘Mighty Oaks’ XC 2016 Results and Acorns AC XC Junior Races 2016 Results

Stephen O'Gorman and Cathy McCourt excel at Born 2 Run's Drum Manor event:

Born 2 Run ‘Drum Manor’ 10k & 5k 2016:

On Saturday 19th November 2016, hundreds of athletes descended on Drum Manor Forest in the heart of the Sperrin Mountains, close to Cookstown (County Tyrone), for the second race of Born 2 Run’s ‘Run Forest Run’ 10k Series 2016.

The first race of the popular Series was the Minnowburn 10k in Belfast, where Mourne Runners’ Tim Johnston and City of Lisburn AC’s Judith Lonnen ran out victorious.  Tim did not toe the line here, but Judith did impress yet again, with another podium finish.

At the head of the pack, it was the always improving Dromore AC athlete Stephen O’Gorman who led the way.  Despite the best efforts of PACE Running Club pair Aaron Woodman, a prize-winner at the Minnowburn 10k, and Oliver Cook, it was Stephen who ran out comfortable winner.  He covered the route in 36:06 (1st place), with Aaron following in 36:57 (2nd place) and Oliver in 38:36 (3rd place).

In the ladies race, Cathy McCourt (Unattached) brought some of the good form which saw her claim five medals at the World Masters Athletics Championships to the County Tyrone trails.  The Northern Ireland and Ireland international broke the tape in 39:11 (1st place), while Judith Lonnen completed the 6.2 mile course in 40:02 (2nd place); Kathleen Diver completed the top three in 46:58 (3rd place).

In the associated 5k event, City of Derry AC’s Anne Paul, a well-known runner and triathlete, led the field home in 23:28 (1st place).  Larne based athlete Paul Clements (Unattached) was the leading male competitor, clocking 24:44 (1st place) for the distance.

Top 3 Men:  1st Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC) – 36:06, 2nd Aaron Woodman (PACE Running Club) – 36:57, 3rd Oliver Cook (PACE Running Club) – 38:36

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Cathy McCourt (Unattached) – 39:11, 2nd Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) – 40:02, 3rd Kathleen Diver (Club Unknown) – 46:58

Full Results:  Born 2 Run ‘Drum Manor’ 10k & 5k 2016 Results

Weekend Preview:  Run 4 Rescue, Acorns XC, Born 2 Run RFR Series and more...

Weekend Preview:  Run 4 Rescue, Acorns XC, Born 2 Run RFR Series and more... 

As the first of the winter snow begins to fall, it’s a timely reminder that the exciting and busy festive racing calendar is about to kick in – however, before then, there are plenty of other quality fixtures coming up which will warm things up nicely.

After the success Run In The Dark 5k and 10k through the week, attention turns to this weekend when local athletes will look forward to the next round of the Athletics NI XC League (The Mighty Oaks XC), the annual Run 4 Rescue event and also Born 2 Run’s Drum Manor 10k (and associated 5k).  

The NI Duathlon 5k in Victoria Park (Belfast) should also attract decent numbers, while familiar faces will also be in action outside Northern Ireland, at events in India and America.

Run 4 Rescue 10 mile and 4 mile Races:

On Saturday 19th November 2016, one of Northern Ireland’s top mountain running clubs, Mourne Runners, will host their annual Run 4 Rescue event in Annalong.  Proceeds from the entries will go to the highly respected and valued Mourne Mountain Rescue Team.  Unlike the usual Mourne Runners events, this race will not incorporate open mountain racing, but will instead cover an excellent road and trail based course, offering participants the option of a 10 mile race or a shorter 4 mile event.

Although there will be a plethora of talent on show, it will be local competitors and reigning Champions William McKee and Laura Graham who will attract all of the attention.  It’s a big day for the Mourne Runners duo, with William set to be crowned the 2016 Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Champion later that evening, and Laura, making a return to competitive action after sealing the AAI National Marathon title three weeks ago when she recorded 2:41:54 at the Dublin Marathon.

In the men’s event, William may face strong opposition in the form of fellow Kilkeel runner Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers).  This will provide onlookers with an excellent battle to watch on what is a very spectator friendly course.  As previously mentioned, William is coming off an excellent season in the mountains and despite being well-known for his strength over tough terrain, he has a significant turn of speed – his 15:35 at the Ford 5k back in July showed this; William has also recorded 31:56 on a 10k trail course (Antrim Castle 10k).  Andrew has covered 10 miles in 53:35 (Airtricity 10 mile road race) and his 1:09:21 half marathon personal best shows he has speed endurance.  

This is a tough one to call… and better still, one of the most inform men of the moment, Zack Hanna (Newcastle AC), may add further depth to the head of the pack if he has recovered quick enough from his win at the Run In The Dark 10k this week.  Other athletes to look out for could include Timothy Johnston (Mourne Runners), Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers), Sam Herron (Mourne Runners), Ryan Monaghan (Slieve Gullion Runners) and Clive Bailey (Mourne Runners).

Meanwhile, in the ladies race, it is hard to look past Laura as a potential winner.  After coming off three weeks of planned rest/recovery, the Mourne Runners star, who was the headliner on the world famous ‘Marathon Talk’ podcast this week, will be eager to get back to competitive action.  Acorns AC’s Northern Ireland international Karen Alexander, a previous winner of this event, may provide some competition for Laura if she decided to race here instead of the Acorns XC (which is unlikely).  Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC), Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers), Beverley Herron (Mourne Runners), Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC) and Sinead Murtagh (Newcastle AC) will all place well if they take to the start line.  Entries for the Run 4 Rescue 10 mile and 4 mile races are available on the day.  For more details on the event, please click HERE.

Acorns AC ‘Mighty Oaks’ XC:

Also on Saturday 19th November 2016, Acorns AC will welcome athletes from across the province to the annual running of their Acorns XC, which will be held at the Mid Ulster Sports Arena in Cookstown (County Tyrone).  The event is part of the ongoing Athletics NI XC League 2016/17, which should mean a record attendance.

The event offers an excellent range of races, with the Under 11, Under 13, Under 15 and Under 17 races kicking off proceedings from 12pm; the Senior/Masters Ladies, including Vet65+ Men 3 mile race will start at 2pm, with the Senior/Masters Men’s 4 mile race capping the programme at 2.45pm.  On the day entry is available.

North Belfast Harriers man Mark McKinstry should play a major part in proceedings here. Mark has been in excellent form all year and has again excelled in the muck – his last outing was at the McConnell Shield XC, where he secured third place in what was an epic race.  That day, Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) and Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) led the way, however, they may not turn out here so that will leave the door open for Mark to replicate his performance at the Comber Cup XC last month; he won there!  

The Northern Ireland international may come up against Newcastle AC duo Seamus Lynch and David O’Flaherty, as well as City of Derry AC’s Allan Bogle and Ballymena Runners’ James Hamilton should all feature and will contest a podium place if they do.  North Belfast Harriers should be well represented, with John Black, Andrew Considine, Eamon White and Conor Curran likely candidates to claim a high placing.  Francis Marsh could head a strong North Down AC contingent, while Scott Rankin may lead Foyle Valley AC into battle as things begin to heat up in the overall cross country league standings. 

Local athlete and the host clubs leading lady, Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) should play a part after quality performances at recent cross country events.  However, Karen will have her work cut out here as she’ll have to fend off the inform North Down AC Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson, and Willowfield Harriers’ Amy Bulman.  Rachel and Amy have finish in second and third place respectively at the Comber Cup XC and McConnel Shield XC events, while Jessica won in Comber, before impressing at the Scottish National XC Championships.

Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) was the well-deserved winner of the McConnell Shield XC and may compete here – should she do so, the Spartan athlete will contest top spot once again.  Jodi Smith (North Down AC), Zoe Carruthers (City of Lisburn AC), Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC), Heather Foley (Unattached), Esther Dickson (Newry AC), Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC) and Patricia O’Hagan (St Peter’s AC) will all challenge for top ten places should they make use of the on the day entry system.

Born 2 Run ‘Drum Manor’ 10k (and associated 5k):

In County Tyrone on Saturday 19th November 2016, over four hundred athletes are expected to take to the trails of Drum Manor in Cookstown for the second race of Born 2 Run’s ‘Run Forest Run’ 10k Series 2016.

The first race was the Minnowburn 10k in Belfast, where Mourne Runners’ Tim Johnston and City of Lisburn AC’s Judith Lonnen ran out victorious.  Although Tim is an unlikely starter, as he may opt for his club’s Run 4 Rescue event in Annalong, but Judith could well take to the start line in the ladies race.

PACE Running Club’s Aaron Woodman, who took third place at the Minnowburn 10k, should play a part at the front of the pack.  He’ll be joined by club mate Oliver Cook (PACE Running Club) Dromore AC’s ever improving Stephen O’Gorman, who may well be considered by many as the pre-race favourite given some of his recent performances, most notably a 16:07 for 5k at the Carlingford 5k and a third-place finish at the Larne 10k in September.  Thomas Craig (Larne AC) and Mark Gaskin (Club Pulse Newry) will be amongst those hoping to impress and make their mark on the Series.

Alongside Minnowburn 10k winner Judith Lonnen, runner up that day, Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) should also take to the start line.  PACE running Club’s Nicola Swinson, Enniskillen Running Club’s Irene Clements and Ballymena Runners’ Judith Irwin will all be worth watching, while Kathleen Diver should also place well.

NI Duathlon Belfast Tandems 5k:

On Sunday 20th November 2016 NI Duathlon will host the second of a new 5k Run Series supporting the Belfast Tandem Cycling Group.  After the Belfast Duathlon at 10am, the 5k registration opens at noon with the race starting at 2pm at the Sam Thompson Bridge, Airport Road, Belfast, BT3 9EF.

The Belfast Tandems 5k Series consists of 6 officially measured 5k road races around the flat, scenic Victoria Park in Belfast, starting and finishing at the Sam Thompson Bridge with timing mats at the start and end of each of the 3 laps.  Last time the event was run, Annadale Striders runner Ciaran McKendry and Lagan Valley AC’s Marie-Therese Fitzpatrick stole the headlines.  Both are set to return but could face challenges from previous podium finishers Roisin Hughes (North Belfast Harriers) and Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers) along with Gavin Campbell (Unattached) and Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) – Orangegrove AC should also be well represented.

Outside Northern Ireland…

NAIA XC Championships (America):

Over the weekend (Saturday 19th November 2016), local athlete Sara Moore (Omagh Harriers) will be one of a number of familiar faces who represent their colleges at the prestigious NAIA (National) Cross Country Championships in America.

Through her time at Oklahoma City University, Sara has progressed superbly and is widely regarded as one of the University’s top running stars.  Competing in her last cross country conference race for OCU two weeks ago, Sara claimed a podium spot - 2nd place!  Sara and her team, who are contenders for the coveted team title will take on a 5,000-meter route and 340 other runners who will represent 36 teams – the race will begin at 10:30 am CST and will be streamed HERE.

Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (India):

On Sunday 20th November 2016, Olympian Paul Pollock (Anndale Striders) will be in action at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in New Delhi, India. The Northern Ireland and Ireland international will face a truly international field as he aims to reduce his current 13.1 mile personal best of 1:02:09, set at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in 2014.  Paul’s most recent outing was a 29:29 finish at the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k in England earlier this month (November 2016).


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

Thousands descend on Stormont Estate for Run In The Dark 2016:

Thousands turn out for Run in the Dark 2016:

On Wednesday 16th November 2016, nearly three thousand 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 wet and blustery 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 covered the famous mile long laneway.

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 over seventeen minutes for the lead runners to cover the tough course, and it was James Trainor (Dub Runners) who stole the headlines.  James led the field home in 17:07, therefore securing 1st place.  Behind, Thomas Patterson (Club Unknown) recorded 17:41 for 2nd place, before Jamie Anthony (Campbell College), who claimed the runners up spot in 2015, crossed the line in 17:48 for 3rd place.

In the ladies race, it was North Down AC youngster Amelia Tyler who topped the podium for the second consecutive year. Amelia bettered her 21:44 finish from twelve months ago when she covered the route in 21:03 (1st place).  Selena Brown (Club Unknown) clocked 22:10 for 2nd place, while Madeleine Dieye (Club Unknown) claimed 3rd place in 23:10.

The 10k races proved to be just as exciting with Northern Ireland and Ireland mountain-trail runner Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) again showing his potential.  The Newcastle AC athlete cruised to victory in 34:51 (1st place), with North Down AC’s Stephen Wylie following in 36:31 (2nd place). Andrew McIntyre (Orangegrove AC) completed the top three in 37:18 (3rd place).

In the ladies race, Deborah Gilliland (Club Unknown) excelled, taking top honours in 43:43 (1st place).  Claire Quigley (Club Unknown) followed exactly one minute later in 44:43 (2nd place), before well-known North Down AC athlete Julie Balmer (North Down AC) returned to the podium after securing 3rd place in 45:16. 

5k Race:

Top 3 Men:  1st James Trainor (Dub Runners) – 17:07, 2nd Thomas Patterson (Club Unknown) – 17:41, 3rd Jamie Anthony (Campbell College) – 17:48

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Amelia Tyler (North Down AC) – 21:03, 2nd Selena Brown (Club Unknown) – 22:10, 3rd Madeleine Dieye (Club Unknown) – 23:10

10k Race:

Top 3 Men:  1st Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) – 34:51, 2nd Stephen Wylie (North Down AC) – 36:31, 3rd Andrew McIntyre (Orangegrove AC) – 37:18

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Deborah Gilliland (Club Unknown) – 43:43, 2nd Claire Quigley (Club Unknown) – 44:43, 3rd Julie Balmer (North Down AC) – 45:16

Provisional Results:  Run in the Dark 5k 2016 Results and Run in the Dark 10k 2016 Results

Kerry O'Flaherty & Ann-Marie McGlynn impress at prestigious Burgos XC:

Cross Internacional de Atapuerca (Burgos) 2016:

On Sunday 13th November 2016, Northern Ireland based ladies Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) were part of a sizable Athletics Ireland contingent competing at the famous Cross Internacional de Atapuerca (Burgos) in Spain.

Kerry (27:21) claimed an excellent 24th place, with Ann-Marie (27:37) following closely in 32nd place.  The first Ireland team member home was Fionnuala McCormack (25:26) in 5th place.

Full Results:   Cross Internacional de Atapuerca (Burgos) 2016 Results

Hundreds of athletes enjoy 26extreme Tollymore Trail Marathon Events:

26extreme Tollymore Trail Marathon Events 2016:

On Saturday 12th November 2016, nearly eight hundred athletes descended on the picturesque Tollymore Forest Park just outside Newcastle (County Down) for the annual 26extreme Tollymore Trail Marathon and associated events

The event included four events for runners, including an Ultra (40 miles), Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k.  The races covered a looped route with participants completing one lap for a half marathon, two laps for a full marathon and three laps for the ultra-marathon. 

In better than forecasted weather conditions, the ultra-runners were first to take to the start line. After a tussle for top spot in the first lap, Nicki McPeak showed his class and experience as he came through to lead after two laps and onwards towards the finish.  The respected ultra-distance athlete covered the 40 miles in 5:23:11 (1st place).  The ladies events was also an exciting affair, with Jacque Toal and Louise Smart going head to head – little separated the ladies until the final stages, when Jacque moved clear to win in 6:08:14 (1st place).

The exciting competition continued into the marathon event, with Colum Gaile, Don Travers and Chris Denton completing the first lap side by side.  However, as the race progressed Colum began to put some distance between himself, Don and Chris, before winning in 3:00:55 (1st place), just over seven minutes ahead of Don who clocked 3:08:25 for 2nd place.  The ladies race wasn’t just as close, but that took nothing away from the impressive performance of Tara Malone, who cruised to victory in 3:40:42 (1st place).

The half marathon was the most popular event of the day, with no less than 427 participants.  After an excellent race between Torben Dahl and Rory’O’Sullivan, it was Torben who was victorious, breaking the tape in 1:24:09 (1st place), just fifteen seconds ahead of Rory (2nd place – 1:24:24).  In the ladies race, Springwell Running Club’s Sonia Knox saw off North Down AC lady Catherine Roberts to win in 1:36:47 (1st place).

In the 10k, Tim Johnston enjoyed his second victory in two week’s – the Mourne Runners athlete followed on from his win at the Minnowburn 10k with another outstanding outing.  Tim was a class apart as he covered the tough 6.2 mile route in 37:45 (1st place); he finished over four minutes clear of his nearest rival.  The ladies races was a lot closer, with just over a minute separating the top three – Tanya Sheridan won in 49:29 (1st place), with Lisa Whitcroft (50:39) and Jenna Stevenson (50:40) taking 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.

Full results for the 26extreme Tollymore Trail Marathon Events are available HERE.

Weekend Preview:  NI athletes set for B&I XC Championships 2016...

Weekend Preview:  British & Irish XC and more...

After the exciting and well-organised McConnell Shield Cross Country (and the continuation of the Athletics NI XC League) last week, the running community in Northern Ireland can once again look forward to a weekend of top quality running.

Albeit a quiet weekend in terms of fixtures on the official Athletics NI calendar, the local highlight, the 26extreme’s Tollymore Trail Marathon Events, will attract hundreds of athletes to the stunning Tollymore Forest Park, set in the shadows of the stunning Mourne Mountains.

The annual Aughnacloy 5 mile road race will also take place in County Tyrone.  Outside Northern Ireland, a huge contingent of local athletes will be in action at the 29th British & Irish Masters Cross Country International in Glasgow, Scotland – runners from NI will swap their club vests for those of both Northern Ireland and Ireland.  

26extreme Tollymore Trail Marathon Events:

The weekend action will kick off in Tollymore Forest in County Down at 8am on Saturday 12th November 2016, 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 a looped route with participants completing one lap for a half marathon, two laps for a full marathon and three laps for the ultra-marathon. All routes are within the confines of the stunning forest park.

In the Ultra, last year’s TTM Ultra and previous TTM Half Marathon winner Phil Wood (Unattached) could return to defend his title.  Should he do so, Phil will certainly be worth watching given his previous exploits on the course.  Peter Cromie (Club Unknown) will also be worth watching if he takes to the start line – he’s impressed here before and has shown his strength over the ultra-distance previously. Nicki McPeak (Unattached), Michael Cultra (East Down AC) and Thomas Craig (Larne AC) will all go well if they run.  

In the ladies race, the always impressive Jacqui Toal (BARF) will hope to show the same kind of form that saw her finish well up the field at the Glencoe Skyline ‘Ring of Steall’ and the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR.  However, Jacqui may face the likes of Fran McFadden (Springwell Running Club), Helena Dornan (Glens Runners) and Energia 24hr winner Louise Smart (County Antrim Harriers), all of whom possess the strength to win on their day.

The Marathon could see Northern Ireland international trail runner Don Travers (Newry City Runners) take to the start-line.  The well-respected athlete will start as favourite if he does compete.  Other men to look out for include Ryan Armstrong (Ballymena Runners), Chris Denton (Springwell Running Club), Geoff Smyth (Unattached) and Martan Keane (Larne AC).  In the ladies event, Fiona Prue (Ballydrain Harriers) may well be the one pushing the pace, but the ever consistent athlete may have to see off the likes of Natalie Bowbanks (Unattached), Collette McCourt (Dub Runners), Helen Weir (North Belfast Harriers) and Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC) if she wants to seal top spot.

The Half Marathon has always proved to be one of the most competitive at this event and it could well be the same this time around.  Mourne Runners’ Tim Johnston, winner of last weekend’s Born 2 Run Minnowburn 10k could feature.  As could two men who finished close to him there, PACE Running Club’s Aaron Woodman and Oliver Cook – all three will contest a podium place.  In the ladies race, Eileen Stevenson (St Peter’s AC), Julianne Keane (Larne AC) and Samantha Convery (Acorns AC) will be there or there abouts if the start.  The all-day event also offers participants a 10k race, and the leading contenders could include Mark Alexander (Ballymena Runners), Michelle Mowlds (Newry City Runners), Niamh O’Connell (Murlough AC) and Diane Forsythe (Mourne Runners).

Aughnacloy 5 mile Race:

In Aughnacloy (County Tyrone) on Saturday 12th November 2016, athletes will take on the 5th 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 Stephen Duncan may be the one to watch.  Stephen recently recorded 53:43 at the Armagh 10 mile road race, which shows that he is in good shape.  Delfim Pimentel (Unattached) could also compete, while in the ladies race, Acorns AC’s Natalie Hall may return to defend the title she has won so impressively in 2014 and 2015.  Last years runner-up, Pauline McGurren (Sperrin Harriers) could also make use of the on the day entry system.

British & Irish Masters International Cross Country Championships:

Also on Saturday 12th November 2016, a large number of runners from Northern Ireland will be travelling to Glasgow in Scotland for the 29th annual British & Irish Masters International Cross Country, an event which will see Northern Ireland come up against Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England.

Looking at it from a team perspective, Northern Ireland’s Vet35 men’s team, which includes Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC), Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) and Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers), should contest a podium spot – individually, the men will also finish well up the field.  

Equally, the ladies Vet35 event, Northern Ireland’s Vet35 side should be there or there abouts with Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers), Jodi Smith (North Down AC) and Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) leading the way. 

Other Northern Ireland athletes to look out for include Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC), Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers), Anthony Glover (Westbury Harriers), Nigel McKibben (Dromore AC), Cathal McLaughlin (Derry Track Club), Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers), Philip Tweddie (Springwell Running Club) and David Clarke (North Belfast Harriers).

In the ladies races, Pauline Thom (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Jacqueline McGinley (City of Derry AC), Hannah Shields (City of Derry AC), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) and reigning British XC Champion Ruth Perioli (Ballydrain Harriers) will all perform well.


As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty-four parkrun events will take place this weekend with Larne parkrun celebrating their 3rd birthday.  For more information on parkrun, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.

Weekend Round-Up:  Local athletes impress on the road and in cross country...

Weekend Round-Up:

This weekend (Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th November 2016) brought an abundance of impressive performances by local athletes, both on the roads and over the 'country'.  There were familiar faces at events in Leeds (England), Perth (Australia), Dublin (Ireland) and Stranorlar (Ireland).

In England, Northern Ireland men Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) and Kevin Seaward (St Malachy's AC) impressed at the Leeds Abbey 10k.  Up against a wealth of talent, the Olympic pairing performed to their usual high standard.  Paul ran a new 10k road best of 29:29 for 5th place while Kevin clocked 30:02 for 15th place!

Meanwhile, at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Perth, Australia, Cathy McCourt today secured her fourth individual medal in what has been an excellent week for the Northern Ireland and Ireland international.  

Cathy recorded 1:24:58 to take 2nd place and the associated silver medal in the half marathon event. This adds to individual medals already claimed in the cross country, 5,000m and 10,000m - Cathy also has a team medal in the aforementioned cross country - making it a total of five medals!

There were also numerous top quality performances at the NI & Ulster Uneven Age Group and Novice XC Championships, hosted by Athletics NI in Stranorlar, County Donegal (Ireland).  Athletes from Northern Ireland based clubs collected gold almost every category - North Down AC's Craig McMeechan (Under 19), Omagh Harriers' Toni Moore (Under 19), Springwell Running Club's Niamh Carr (Under 17), North Down AC's Murphy Miller (Under 15), City of Lisburn AC's Victoria Lightbody (Under 13) and Willowfield Harriers' Dylan McBride were crowned champions in their respective age groups.  

In the Novice XC, although there were no winners from NI clubs, Derry City Track Club athletes took to the men's and ladies podium, with Kendra McMullan taking 3rd place in the ladies race won by Nakita Burke (Letterkenny AC) and Matthew Doherty matching that with a 3rd place finish in the men's event won by Mark McPaul (Finn Valley AC).  Full results for the NI & Ulster Uneven Age Group and Novice XC Championships are available HERE.

Also in Ireland, Portaferry based Northern Ireland and Ireland star Ciara Mageean was in fine form at the Dublin XC.  The Rio Olympian took top spot in the ladies race.  At present, full results for the event are unavailable.

Belfast receives IAU World 24hr Championships flag ahead of 2017 event...

Belfast receives World Championships flag:

Belfast has received official blessing as the host city for next summer’s World 24-Hour Running Championships.

At a ceremony during the closing of the European Championships in Albi, southern France, the ‘baton’ was handed over for a Championship that will be staged in Victoria Park on July 1 and July 2 next year.

It is expected that more than 40 nations consisting of the world’s best ultra runners will travel to the city from as far away as New Zealand,Australia and Japan with the biggest contingent expected to come from the USA.

Ed Smith, Chairperson of the Organising Committee, took possession of the World flag from the President of the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU), Dirk Strumane.

During the ceremony he also handed the Belfast shield to  Albi’s representative Didier Thiriot in acknowledgement of their staging of the European Championships.  

Ed Smith says: “I learnt much from just observing at the European Championships. Belfast now has much to live up to in delivering the 12th IAU World 24-Hr Championships. However, I am confident that we have a 1.7K course in Victoria Park that is fast, flat and will present the ultra runners with the best opportunity and some great local support to help  them achieve personal bests.”

IAU President Dirk Strumane says: “Belfast presented us with a convincing bid and we are looking forward to a fruitful  and constructive co-operation.”

Tim Johnston and Judith Lonnen lead the way at Minnowburn 10k:

Born 2 Run Minnowburn 10k 2016:

Also on Saturday 5th November 2016, events management company Born 2 Run welcomed nearly eight hundred athletes from across the province to the opening race of their ‘Run Forest Run’ Series, the Minnowburn 10k.  The scenic route took competitors around the forest trails and paths which surround the home of Athletics Northern Ireland, the Mary Peters Track.

Unattached athlete Tim Johnston and PACE Running Club’s Aaron Woodman led the way early on, with East Coast AC’s Justin Maxwell gradually working himself into the mix.  Just after the 2k mark, Tim broke clear on a hilly section, where Justin also moved into second place.  Aaron settled into the final podium place and this is how it remained for the rest of the race.  Tim ran out winner in 37:20 (1st place), with Justin taking 2nd place in 37:43 and Aaron 3rd place in 39:05.

In the ladies race, Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) and Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) made their intentions clear from the start.  The talented pairing dominated the ladies race from the off and it was Judith who secured victory, clocking an impressive 39:44 for 1st place on the tough course; this was also enough to see Judith take 5th place overall.  Louise followed in 40:32 (2nd place), while Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) completed the top three in 42:38 (3rd place).

In the associated 5k, North Belfast Harriers duo Kent Swann and Roisin Hughes enjoyed clear victories.  Kent (1st place – 17:57) saw off 13 year old James Vennard for top spot, while last year’s Minnowburn 10k ladies Champion Roisin led the ladies home in 19:39 (1st place).

Top 3 Men:  1st Tim Johnston (Unattached) – 37:20, 2nd Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) – 37:43, 3rd Aaron Woodman (PACE Running Club) – 39:05

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) – 39:44, 2nd Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – 40:32, 3rd Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) – 42:38

Full Results:   Born 2 Run Minnowburn 10k 2016 Results & Born 2 Run Minnowburn 5k 2016 Results

Conor Duffy and Catherine Whoriskey show their class at McConnell Shield XC:

The 82nd McConnell Shield Cross Country:

On Saturday 5th November 2016, hundreds of runners descended on a sun-basked Sixmilewater Park in Ballyclare for the 82nd annual running of East Antrim Harriers’ McConnell Shield Cross Country.  The event was also part of the ongoing Athletics NI Cross Country League 2016/17.

The junior athletes got things underway and impressed the gathered spectators with some excellent performances.  After the Under 14 and Under 16 races had been run, it was the turn of the Ladies and Vet60+ Men who took to the start line for their 3 mile event, which covered three laps of the relatively fast route. 

In the early stages, Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC), Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers), Heather Foley (Unattached), Esther Dickson (Newry AC), Patricia O’Hagan (St Peter’s AC) and Jodi Smith (North Down AC) took up position at the head of the pack, but as the race progressed into the second lap, the always impressive Catherine Whoriskey stepped up the pace and really showed her class as she moved clear of the chasing trio of Rachel Gibson, Amy Bulman and Heather Foley.  

There was no stopping the City of Derry Spartan as she progressively increased her lead before breaking the tape in 17:11 (1st place).  In an excellent battle for the remaining podium places, it was Rachel Gibson (18:04) and Amy Bulman (18:11) who secured 2nd place and 3rd place respectively. Eric Montgomery (Lagan Valley AC), a newcomer to the Vet60 ranks, was the first man across the line in 19:13 (1st place).

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

This looked like it would be an epic encounter and it did not disappoint.  There was no separating a large lead group in the first two laps – Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers), Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club), Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) eventually emerged from the pack as they approached the half way mark and from here, it was clear the winner would come from this quartet.  

As the men went into the final lap, Conor Duffy had moved twenty metres clear of Neil Johnston, who in turn was twenty metres ahead of Mark McKinstry; Allan Bogle was a further 20 metres back in fourth place.  In the final mile, little changed as the men tried to further cement their places – in the end, Conor broke the tape in an excellent 25:38 (1st place).  Neil followed in 25:45 (2nd place), while Mark completed the top three in 26:02 (3rd place).

Top 3 Ladies (3 miles):  1st Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) – 17:11, 2nd Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) – 18:04, 3rd Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) – 18:11

Top 3 Men (5 miles):  1st Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) – 25:38, 2nd Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) – 25:45, 3rd Mark McKisntry (North Belfast Harriers) – 26:02

Full Results:  McConnell Shield XC 2016 Results (Junior Races will be added when available)

Note:  Photos from the McConnell Shield XC will be added to our ‘Photo Gallery’ in the coming days.

Remember - If you would like to catch up on our 'News' from October 2016, including this week's 'Weekend Preview', you can use the navigation banner at the top of the screen (and scroll to October 2016) or click HERE.

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