Northern Ireland Running

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Weekend Preview:  Road, trail and cross country action ahead...

Weekend Preview:  Road, trail and XC events on offer…

After a busy weekend and the excitement of Monday’s Dublin Marathon, it seems like no time since we compiled or last 'Weekend Preview'; with that thought in mind, it would be understandable if there was a quiet weekend to allow the local running fraternity to step back and catch a breath, but no, the foot remains firmly on the gas as we look towards ‘the country’ once again for the third race of the Athletics NI XC League 2014/15, the Springwell Cross Country, as well as the Sperrin Harriers Winter Trail Series (Race 1) and the Decathlon 10k and Half Marathon.  

This weekend will also see the Waterworks parkrun in Belfast celebrate it's fourth birthday, and ultimately, the fourth anniversary of parkrun landing on the shores of Northern Ireland.  We also expect Northern Ireland to be well represented at the New York Marathon in America.

On Saturday 1st November 2014, Springwell Running Club will host the Springwell Cross Country at the University of Ulster’s Coleraine Campus. The venue proved popular with athletes last year and should therefore assist in attracting large numbers for what is the third race of this year’s Athletics NI Cross Country League, following excellent events in Comber and Jordanstown.

After no less than fourteen wins in 2014 so far, former NI & Ulster Junior XC Champion Brendan Teer (East Down AC) will have high hopes of replicating his win here last time.  That day Brendan faced the likes of Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) and Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC); Scott may return and will provide a strong opponent for Brendan; Allan is unlikely to turn out, but will no doubt perform to his usual high standard if he does. Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) is another athlete who may not race, given his impressive exploits at the Dublin Marathon earlier this week.  Although clubmates Adrian McGowan, Pius McIntyre and Keith Shiels could be potential starters.  North Belfast Harriers' Mark McKinstry and Adam Boyd will perform well if they decide to enter on the day, while Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club), James Budde (North Down AC), Dennis Scott (North Down AC), Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), Noel Logan (City of Derry AC) and  Emmet McGinty (City of Derry AC) will all be contenders for top ten spots.

Shortly after winning last weekend's Bobby Rea XC, world triathlon star Aileen Reid (City of Derry AC) stated that she would like to compete in a few cross country races before leaving for a training camp later in November.  Should the Spartan athlete race here, she'll be hard to knock off top spot. However, North Down AC ladies Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson will not be put off by this following good outings in Jordanstown.  The host clubs Sonia Knox (Springwell Running Club), Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) should go well, as should Kerry Speers (North Down AC), Jackie McGinley (City of Derry AC) and Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC).

On the same day (Saturday 1st November 2014), Sperrin Harriers will welcome athletes from across the province to the first race of the 6th annual running of their scenic Winter Trail Series; the Series, which incorporates races of a variety of distances (from 5k to 10 miles) alternates venues between Davagh Forest, Lough Fea, An Creagan and Drum Manor.  The first race, which measures 10k, will be in Davagh Forest (see Sperrin Harriers’ website HERE for full race information).

It was during this Series last year that Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) showed his first real signs of becoming a star; although Mark will probably opt for the Springwell XC, it may give Acorns AC's Michael Crawley and Aaron Meharg a chance to shine.  Both men definitely possess the ability to head the pack on their day and were always mixing it at the top end during the last Series.  However, they may have to fend off the challenge of Delfim Pimentel (Unattached), Thomas Leitch (Orangegrove AC) and Michael Kerr (Carmen Runners).  The host club, Sperrin Harriers will also be well represented at the event.

Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) was a dominant force throughout the 2013/14 Series and will no doubt provide the same threat this time around.  The talented international athlete will finish well up the field overall if she does take this race on – Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers) and Patricia Campbell (Omagh Harriers) will also be there or there abouts and the same could be said for City of Derry AC lady Anne Paul.  After running well in Dublin last week, Jacqueline Mulligan is unlikely to race but depending on how many of her club mates head to the Springwell XC, the blue vest of Acorns AC may be prominent.

On Sunday 2nd November 2014, hundreds of athletes are expected to descend on Belfast Harbour Estate for the re-scheduled Decathlon 10k and Half Marathon.  The event, which boosts a fast and flat course will start and finish within close proximity to the Decathlon Sports Store.

North Belfast Harriers star Conor Curran is expected to be one of the main contenders at the head of the pack.  After an excellent year, which saw the Northern Ireland cross country international record personal bests over the mile (4:40.46), 5,000m (15:47.58), 5 miles (26:34) and 10k (33:11), Conor has returned from a planned period of rest to run well at both the NI Road Relay Championships and the Adidas Armagh 10 mile road race.  Club mate Brendan Grew (North Belfast Harriers) claimed a podium spot at the GR8 Dundrum Run two weeks ago and will therefore be high in confidence.  Newcastle AC’s Paul Fegan and North Belfast Harriers’ Martin Cox will also finish well up the field.  In the ladies race, the ever consistent Janice White (Ballymena Runners) should feature at the head of the pack; if she is on form, Janice may well replicate her impressive win at the Rathlin Run two months ago.  Seapark AC duo Karen Waring and Caroline Salters will also be worth watching.

In the 10k event, veteran star Paul Rowan (Willowfield Harriers) will start as pre-race favourite.  However, the experienced athlete will face tough opposition in the form of Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers).  Both men have shown good form of late; Paul is a consistent category winner and an overall podium regular, most recently he finished in thrid place at the NIMAA XC in Belfast.  Meanwhile Andrew ran a new 13.1 mile personal best of 1:13:54 at the Newry City Half Marathon a few months ago.  Chris Moren (Willowfield Harriers) and John-Paul Gartland (Clann n Banna) are worthy candidates as well, while Orangegrove AC's John Craig has shown good improvement this year and could therefore find himself alongside the front runners.  Dan Spencer (East Coast AC) and Ben Caughers (North Down AC) should place well. 

The ladies race could prove to be a close and exciting affair, with Leann Gibson (Orangegrove AC), Maeve Lavery (Dub Runners), Julie McKimm (Orangegrove AC), Sarah Steer (Orangegrove AC) and Fiona Johnston (Ballydrain Harriers) all likely to play a part at the head of the field.  Leann and Maeve may just have the edge, but if all are on form, this will be an excellent race and well worth watching.

Meanwhile, further afield on Sunday 2nd November 2014, a number of Northern Ireland based runners are expected to take to the start line of the ING New York City Marathon in America. The world famous race has attracted the very best athletes in the past and this year will be no different, with three previous NYC Marathon Champions and one former World Record holder set to toe the line.  Two time winner Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya) will start as favourite as he attempts to be the first man since the famous Alberto Salazar to win three consecutive New York City Marathon's in a row.

As previously mentioned at the start of the 'Weekend Preview', the Waterworks parkrun in Belfast will celebrate it's fourth birthday.  Northern Ireland’s other eighteen parkrun events will also take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.

Important Notice:  Over the next 7-10 days, the updating of summaries and results on our website may not be as prompt as usual; there will not be a 'Weekend Preview' next week either.  This is because most of our team are out of the country.  Normal service will resume on Monday 10th November 2014.  We apologies in advance and recommend that you use the Athletics NI website or specific race website's for information and results.

Northern Ireland based athletes to represent Ireland at International XC:

Local athletes set for British & Irish International XC:

Today (Tuesday 28th October 2014), the Irish Masters Athletics Association announced their teams for the upcoming British & Irish Master Cross Country Championships in Nottingham, England.

Selectors used performances at the recent Athletics Ireland Autumn Cross Country event in Phoenix Park, Dublin when considering athletes.  Amongst the selected runners were at least six Northern Ireland based runners, namely Paul Elliot (North Belfast Harriers), Paul Blaney (North Belfast Harriers), Christy McMonagle (City of Derry AC), Roisin Lynch (City of Derry AC), Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) and Natasha Adams (Lifford AC).

The aforementioned athletes will compete again teams from England, Wales, Scotland and of course Northern Ireland (we announced the Northern Ireland squads last week) at the event, which will take place on Saturday 22nd November 2014.  A full list of the Ireland team is available HERE.

In other Cross Country news:

After two races in the Athletics NI Cross Country League 2014/15, the team standings are beginning to take shape.  Last Saturday (25th October 2014) in Jordanstown, there was a strong turnout of runners, with ninety one finishing in the women’s race and one hundred and twenty eight in the men’s event.  North Down AC have now pulled slightly ahead to top the women’s table with 29 points followed by Springwell RC on 26 and City of Derry Spartans AC on 25 points. 

In the Men’s league, Newcastle AC have taken the lead with 29 points, City of Derry Spartans AC currently sit in second place on 23 and North Belfast Harriers have dropped down the table from first place to third on 22.  The next round will be the Springwell Cross Country races on Saturday 1st November 2014 at the University of Ulster, Coleraine.  The current league standings and information on the Cross Country League are available HERE.

Eddie McGinley and Breege Connolly lead NI contingent home in Dublin:

Airtricity Dublin Marathon 2014:

On Monday 27th Ocotber 2014, hundreds, if not thousands of runners from Northern Ireland took to the start line of the 35th annual Dublin Marathon in the Ireland's capital city, Dublin. The event also included the Athletics Ireland National Marathon Championships.

This year, the record breaking crowd of over 15,000 competitors negotiated a new course, one which many found more challenging than previous routes; windy conditions also contributed to what was a hard day for some.

At the head of the pack, Dmitry Safronov (Russia) led until the latter stages, before Kenyan athlete Elluid Too took control, winning in 2:14:48 (1st place).  Ireland based Moldovan international Sergiu Ciobanu (Clonliffe Harriers) then claimed the AAI National Marathon title in 2:21:01, taking 5th place overall.  In the ladies race, Esther Macharia (Kenya) just edged out local hero Maria McCambridge (DSD AC) to win in 2:34:15 (1st place) – Maria's 2:34:17 not only secured 2nd place, but also saw her pick up the prestigious AAI National Marathon title.

Popular Northern Ireland men Eddie McGinley (Annadale Striders) and Paddy Hamilton (Annadale Striders) were touted as possible podium contenders in the aforementioned AAI standings and after running the majority of the race within close proximity to each other, they narrowly missed out on the National podium, with Eddie claiming 12th place overall and 4th place in the Irish standings in a time of 2:25:04; Paddy followed in 2:25:55, which secured 13th place overall and 5th place in the AAI table.  One of, if not the performance of the day came from City of Derry AC's Declan Reed, who crossed the line in an excellent 2:26:44 (15th place).  Darryl Blair (North Belfast Harriers) also staked his claim for the most notable outing when he clocked a massive new personal best of 2:35:40.  He (Darryl) finished just ahead of his evergreen club mate Tommy Hughes (North Belfast Harriers), who ran 2:36:01.

Omagh Harriers' Paul Barbour and Foyle Valley AC's Chris McGuinness followed in quick succession, recording 2:41:45 and 2:42:44 respectively. City of Derry AC's Paul McCafferty then crossed the line in 2:45:19, before Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) claimed a top ten spot in the ladies race in a time of 2:49:38 (10th place).  Murlough AC's Alan Johnston (2:50:29) and East Antrim Harriers' Sam Crawford (2:52:23) reached the finish line just ahead of fancy-dress skeleton Don Travers (Newry City Runners), who clocked 2:54:40.  Niall Farquharsen (Beechmount Harriers) continued what has been an excellent year, when he completed the course in 2:55:15; he was joined in the finishing area a short time later by fellow Northern Ireland man Mark Kendall (Newcastle AC), who ran 2:55:36.  Just thirty seconds split Ballydrain Harriers' Richard Coey (2:56:16) and Enniskillen Running Club's Michael Walsh (2:56:45), while ever consistent athletes Mark Walker (Unattached) and David Proctor (Willowfield Harriers) finished in 2:58:30 and 2:58:54 respectively.  Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) couldn't really have got closer to his three hour target when he crossed the finish line in 2:59:58.

Brian Derby (Dub Runners) crossed the line in 3:04:08, before East Antrim Harriers pair Phillip McNeill and Michael Allen completed the 26.2 miles with just over a minute separating them, Phillip ran 3:10:30, and Michael 3:11:54.  Sperrin Harriers' Adrian Glendinning finished between Phillip and Michael in 3:11:02, just one second before veteran marathoner Nigel Grier (Dromore AC), who braved cramp to run 3:11:03; Martin McDermott (Sperrin Harriers) crossed the line as the clock struck 3:13:58. Greg McClure (North Belfast Harriers) and David Noble (Larne AC) recorded 3:14:29 and 3:14:44 respectively, while Cathal McGreevy (Newry AC) ran 3:15:38.  Enniskillen Running Club's Tara Malone finished well up the ladies field when she covered the distance in 3:16:25.  Acorns AC's Kevin Conway then clocked 3:16:51 for his first ever attempt at the marathon.

Michael Cultra (East Down AC) made a return to the longer distance after his break following the Energia 24 hour Race and ran well to finish in 3:19:09; a tired but happy Chris Collins (East Antrim Harriers) followed in a new personal best of 3:20:25.  Annadale Striders man Conor McMullan crossed the line in 3:20:52, while East Antrim Harriers' Jennifer Ashby (3:24:32), Orangegrove AC's Sile Brennan (3:24:34), Dub Runners' Dale Biggerstaff (3:24:37) and Lyndsey Pronger (3:24:38), Ballymena Runners' Thomas McMillan (3:24:45) and East Down AC's Andrew Telford (3:24:55) all finished within twenty three seconds of each other.  Dub Runners' Lynsey Hamilton covered the new course in 3:25:21.  Thomas Craig (Larne AC) continued his rise through the ranks with a new 26.2 mile personal best of 3:26:35, while Sperrin Harriers' Adrian McCreesh returned in 3:26:51.  Jacqueline Mulligan (Acorns AC) covered the course in 3:27:03, while Dub Runners' trio Niall Porter (3:28:00), Collette McCourt (3:30:16) and Paula Owens (3:31:38) also ran well, finishing on either side of the 3:30:00 barrier.

The following athletes were also amongst the huge Northern Ireland contingent who completed the tough course:  Mark Hall (Dromore AC) - 3:36:11, Martin Donaghy (Sperrin Harriers) - 3:37:26, Jim Finlay (East Antrim Harriers) – 3:38:27, Gary Blayney (East Antrim Harriers) – 3:39:22, Alwyn McKee (Dromore AC) – 3:41:05, Mark Shields (North Belfast Harriers) – 3:41:05, Sharon Williamson (Kernan RC) – 3:41:16, Tina Davies (Dromore AC) - 3:39:54, Sarah-Jane McFadden (North Belfast Harriers) – 3:42:44, Ian Brennan (Larne AC) – 3:42:44, Colin Atkinson (Dromore AC) - 3:47:01, Ciara Coyle (Sperrin Harriers) - 3:48:32, Arthur Carson (Sperrin Harriers) - 3:48:37, Damien Kerr (Sperrin Harriers) - 3:48:39, Sean McShane (North Belfast Harriers) – 3:49:17, Robin Montgomery (Orangegrove AC) – 3:49:39, Ian Cardwell (Dromore AC) - 3:52:34, Kieran Campbell (Sperrin Harriers) - 3:58:38, Maura McArdle (Dub Runners) - 3:59:03, Karen McDowell (Dromore AC) - 3:59:29, Ruth Wilson (Larne AC) - 4:01:44, Allan McCullough (East Coast AC) – 4:02:05, Eddie Blayney (East Antrim Harriers) – 4:03:30, Barry Monaghan (Acorns AC) - 4:05:38, Wendy McKeegan (East Coast AC) – 4:06:02, Gary McKeegan (East Coast AC) – 4:07:06, Barbara McCloskey (East Coast AC) – 4:15:08, Sean O'Hagan (Dub Runners) - 4:16:27, Peter Donnelly (Unattached) - 4:17:18, Michael McKeown (East Down AC) – 4:19:06, Barry O'Neill (Sperrin Harriers) - 4:19:52 and Oonagh Donnelly (Unattached) - 4:59:50.

Full Results:  Airtricity Dublin Marathon 2014 Results

Joe McAlister and Aileen Reid impress at Bobby Rea Cross Country:

Bobby Rea XC (inc NI & Ulster Even Age Group Championships):

On Saturday 25th October 2014, hundreds of athletes and spectators descended on the impressive University of Ulster sports complex in Jordanstown for the Bobby Rea Cross Country, an event that also included the Northern Ireland & Ulster Even Age Group Championships.

In the Junior races, there were well-deserved wins for Thomas Haigney (Omagh Harriers) and Hannah Murray (Finn Valley AC) in the Under 10 race, Oisin Kelly (Cranford AC) and Andrea Browne (Finn Valley AC) in the Under 12 race, and Peter Murray (St Peter's AC) and Jane Duffy (Shercock AC) in the Under 14 event.  As the age categories began to rise, so did the distances and speed; in the Under 16 race, Enya Haigney (Omagh Harriers) and Christy Conlon (Beechmount Harriers) put in excellent performances to seal victory, while in the final 'Championship' event of the day, the Under 18 race, Clodagh O'Reilly (Annalee AC) and Oisin Gallen (Finn Valley AC) took top honours.

The Senior Ladies and Veteran Men 60+ were next onto the start line for their 5k race. On the sound of the starters horn, North Belfast Harriers' Paul Elliot, a regular Vet60 category winner, assumed a position at the head of the pack and went on to lead the field home in 19:41 (1st place). Behind, things weren't just as obvious, as a number of ladies looked like podium candidates as they negotiated the first lap. North Down AC duo Rachel Gibson and Jessica Craig were looking comfortable, while Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers), Joanne Mills (University of Birmingham AC), Aileen Reid (City of Derry AC), Yasmin Wilson (Ballymena & Antrim AC) and Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC) also appeared to be running well within themselves.

As the race progressed, internationally recognised triathlete Aileen Reid and student Joanne Mills began to stamp their authority on the race, moving clear at the front, with Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson following. After exchanging top spot once or twice, it was Aileen who made forged a gap late on, eventually taking the win in 19:51 (1st place), just two seconds ahead of Joanne (2nd place – 19:53). Jessica Craig followed in 20:03 (3rd place).

The Men's 8k was the final race of the day and proved to be just as exciting as the ladies event. City of Derry AC's Chris McPeake was the early leader but later paid for his exertions as the likes of Joe McAlister (St Malachy's AC), Cian O'Reilly (Annalee AC), Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers), Ruairi Finnegan (Letterkenny AC), Ryan Sharkey (Lagan Valley AC), Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) and Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) began to take charge.

An exciting tussle began at the front, with Joe McAlister, Stephen Duncan and Cian O'Reilly all taking their turn at the front; despite Cian's best efforts, he was unable to hold off the classy Joe McAlister, who managed to claw back a gap that had emerged between himself and Cian. On joining Cian at the sharp end, Joe then made his move, which turned out to be a wise decision, as from here the St Malachy's AC man gradually increased the distance before sealing an excellent win in 24:31 (1st place). Cian recorded 24:35 for 2nd place, while Omagh Harriers' Stephen Duncan completed the top three in 24:37 (3rd place).

Bobby Rea Cross Country Podium Places:

Top 3 Men (8k):  1st Joe McAlister (St Malachy's AC) – 24:31, 2nd Cian O'Reilly (Annalee AC) – 24:35, 3rd Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) – 24:37

Top 3 Ladies (5k):  1st Aileen Reid (City of Derry AC) – 19:51, 2nd Joanne Mills (University of Birmingham AC) – 19:53, 3rd Jessica Craig (North Down AC) – 20:03

Full Results: Bobby Rea XC 2014 Results and NI & Ulster 'Even Age Group' XC Championships 2014 Results – Photos from the Bobby Rea XC and the NI & Ulster Even Age Group Championships will be added to our Photo Gallery in the coming day's.

Stephen Prentice and Claire Connor secure Spooktacular wins:

Spooktacular 5k 2014:

On Friday 24th October 2014, well over five hundred athletes from across Northern Ireland (and beyond) took to the start line of the popular 'Spooktacular 5k' road race in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.  The event, hosted by Enniskillen Running Club, covered a flat an fast two lap course based in and around the town centre.

In damp conditions, it was two County Fermanagh natives who battled it out for victory; Stephen Prentice (Annadale Striders) and Conan McCaughey (Enniskillen Running Club) were together for most of the race.  However, in the final stages, Stephen put in an impressive fast finish to move clear of friend and former clubmate Conan, securing the win in 15:55 (1st place).  Scotland based Conan followed in 16:01 (2nd place), while Shane Brady (Unattached) sealed 3rd place in 16:51.

North Belfast Harriers continued their dominance of the ladies trophy; despite the absence of reigning Champion Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers), who is set to run the Airtricity Dublin Marathon on Monday, the 'stags' vests were apparent in the podium places throughout the 3.1 mile race.  The always impressive Claire Connor (North Belfast Harriers), led the ladies home in 18:29 (1st place).  Recently selected Northern Ireland Masters XC international Helen Stockdale (Finn Valley AC) recorded 18:50 for 2nd place, while up and coming North Belfast Harriers star Lauren Cox secured the final prize-winning place in 19:21 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men:  1st Stephen Prentice (Annadale Striders) – 15:55, 2nd Conan McCaughey (Enniskillen Running Club) – 16:01, 3rd Shane Brady (Unattached) – 16:51

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Claire Connor (North Belfast Harriers) – 18:29, 2nd Helen Stockdale (Finn Valley AC) – 18:50, 3rd Lauren Cox (North Belfast Harriers) – 19:21

Full Results:  Spooktacular 5k 2014 Results

Oktoberfest 5k (Newry):

Twenty four hours earlier, on Thursday 23rd October 2014, North Belfast Harriers' Eamon White sealed a clear win at the Oktoberfest 5k road race in Newry.  Eamon crossed the line in 16:17 (1st place), with North East Runners' Barry Monaghan just edging out Newry City Runners' Dermot Mathers for 2nd place after both men finished in 17:03.  Mairead Hughes (Omagh Harriers) took the ladies title in 21:09 (1st place), while Patricia McMullen (Newry City Runners) sealed 2nd place in 22:47.  Another local athlete, Teresa Fearon (Newry City Runners) completed the ladies top three in 23:13 (3rd place).

Full Results:  Oktoberfest 5k 2014 Results

Weekend Preview:  Warning!  A weekend of Spooktacular action guaranteed... 

Weekend Preview:  A weekend of Spooktacular action guaranteed...

As the dust settles on what was an extremely busy and successful weekend for our NiRunning/Mourne Skyline MTR team, it's now time to look ahead to the upcoming weekend, which will bring several top quality events for the local running fraternity. This includes races in Enniskillen (County Fermanagh) and Jordanstown as well as the much talked about Airtricity Dublin Marathon (Ireland).

The action kicks off on Friday 24th October 2014, when Enniskillen Running Club will host their annual Halloween themed Spooktacular 5k road race in Enniskillen; the route will cover a fast and flat two lap course within the Town Centre and record numbers are expected to attend.

Last year, there was an epic battle at the front between Mark Hoy (Finn Valley AC) and Emmett Dunleavy (Sligo AC), which Mark ended up edging by just two seconds.  Should both men turn out again, it will be an interesting affair – this could be made even better if local athletes Conan McCaughey (Enniskillen Running Club) and Glenn Phair (Annadale Striders) join the duo on the startline.  Enniskillen parkrun course record holder and local hero Conan, who studies in Scotland, will be keen to impress on home turf, but fellow County Fermanagh man Glenn will prove hard to beat if he is in good shape, which makes for an exciting evening.  Stephen Prentice (Annadale Striders), Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers), Fergus McGirr (Enniskillen Running Club) and Stephen Cassidy (Enniskillen Running Club) will also play a part at the head of the pack if they race.

Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) will not return to defend the crown she won so impressively in 2013  as she will line up in the Airtricity Dublin Marathon.  This will leave the door open for fellow podium placers Denise Toner (Clones AC) and Helen Stockdale (Finn Valley AC) to claim the title. Both Denise and Helen have enjoyed a fairly good year, with the international cross country pairing collecting a vast array of silverware at the NIMAA Track & Field Championships over the summer.  Meanwhile, local ladies Tara Malone (Enniskillen Running Club) and Karen Dolan (Enniskillen Running Club) will both finish well up the field.

On Saturday 25th October 2014, junior and senior athletes from across the province will travel to the University of Ulster, Jordanstown, for the NI & Ulster 'Even Age Group' XC Championships, which will also include the senior Bobby Rea Cross Country.

The junior races, which kick off at 11.30am are expected to attract the cream of up and coming talent, and with places at the 'All Ireland' XC Championships at stake, competition at the front should be fierce.  Oisin O'Callaghan (Newry AC), Ronan O'Fril (St Malachy's AC), Patrick Sheridan (Newcastle AC), Connor McQuillan (North Belfast Harriers), Toni Moore (Omagh Harriers), Clodagh O'Reilly (Annalee AC), Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC), Eilish Flanagan (Omagh Harriers), Roisin Flanagan (Omagh Harriers), Christy Conlon (Beechmount Harriers), Amando Bamisile (Willowfield Harriers), Rachel Brown (Ballymena & Antrim AC) and Molly Brown (North Down AC) will all be amongst those hoping for podium spots and places in the prestigious 'All Ireland' competition.

The senior events should see the likes of Joe McAlister (St Malachy's AC), Brendan Teer (East Down AC), Gary Murray (St Malachy's AC), Jonny Steede (Ballymena Runners), Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC), Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) and Richard Johnston (Ballymena Runners) challenge for top honours.  Brendan, Mark and Allan claimed the prizes at the cross country season opener in Comber two weeks ago and will no doubt be there or there abouts again.  Other men to look out for should include David O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC), Adam Boyd (North Belfast Harriers), David McNeilly (Newcastle AC), Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), Conor Christie (Springwell Running Club) and Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers), all of whom should finish close to or in the top ten.

Like the Comber Cup, the ladies race at the Bobby Rea XC should attract a plethora of talent.  North Down AC's in-form Rachel Gibson will start as pre-race favourite, but will have to fend off the challenge of club mate Jessica Craig (North Down AC), Sonia Knox (Springwell Running Club), Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC), Jenny Black (Orangegrove AC) and Mourne Skyline 'GTR' podium finisher Kerry Speers (North Down AC).  

City of Derry AC's Catherine Whoriskey should also continue her return to competition and will be vying for a highly placed finish alongside the likes of Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club), Marina Campbell (City of Derry AC), Lorna Sibbett (Ballymena Runners), Sarah Kivelehan (City of Derry AC) and Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers).

On Sunday 26th October 2014, North West Triathlon Club will commence their annual NWTC Winter Series 5k in Derry/Londonderry.  The popular four race Series, which takes place on the banks of the Foyle River in the Maiden City is expected to attracted athletes from the local area, most notable from clubs such as City of Derry AC, Foyle Valley AC, PACE Running Club and Bolt Running Club.  City of Derry AC's Mark Mullan and Gavin Crawford (NWTC) will be amongst the main contenders.

On Monday 27th October 2014, hundreds, if not thousands of runners from Northern Ireland will travel south for the 35th annual running of the Airtricity Dublin Marathon.  In 1980, when the race was first run, there were 2,100 entries; this year, records have been smashed with a total of 15,000 participants due to start.

Last year, the race organisers focused on pulling together an all Irish field, but the 'elite' athletes (from outside Ireland) will return again this year.  Belfast City Marathon and Half Marathon winner Freddy Sittuk (Kenya) will be the most notable.  The Airtricity Dublin Marathon 2014 will also act as the AAI National Marathon Championships; this was arguably the title that set Annadale Striders star Paul Pollock on his way to World Championships and Commonwealth Games fame after he won the 2012 AAI National Marathon Championship in 2:16:50; an excellent time, especially considering it was his first attempt at the distance.

Although Paul will not race this year, two of his Annadale Striders club mates, Eddie McGinley and Paddy Hamilton will start.  The duo made their marathon debuts here twelve months ago, running 2:24:53 and 2:23:38 respectively.  Since then, Eddie has went on to win the NI & Ulster 5,000m Championships and take silver at the AAI 10,000m Championships.  He (Eddie) also slashed his half marathon best to 1:06:35 when winning the Omagh Half Marathon back in March (2014).  Paddy hasn't raced just as much, but has picked up top honours at the Fairhill 5, Run Armagh 10k and the Fingal 10k. Arguably his best outing came at the Charleville Half Marathon; despite just missing a podium spot there, the Annadale Striders star ran a new personal best of 1:06:29.

Nearly all of Northern Ireland's clubs will be represented at the event, and others who could start may include Tommy Hughes (North Belfast Harriers), Michael Magee (Beechmount Harriers), Mark Kendall (Newcastle AC), Jim Benson (North Belfast Harriers), John McBride (BARF), Jack Carberry (North Belfast Harriers), Darryl Blair (North Belfast Harriers), Stephen Walker (North Belfast Harriers), Jim Finlay (East Antrim Harriers), Greg McClure (North Belfast Harriers), Jennifer Ashby (East Antrim Harriers), Oliver Cook (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Sam Crawford (East Antrim Harriers), Eddie Blayney (East Antrim Harriers), Peter Fleming (Ballymena Runners), Chris Collins (East Antrim Harriers), Michael Allen (East Antrim Harriers), Andy Liddle (East Antrim Harriers), Ruth Wilson (Larne AC), Paul Gaskell (Larne AC), Ruth Kelly (East Coast AC), Thomas Craig (Larne AC), Andrew Beattie (Larne AC), Wayne Morrow (Larne AC), David Noble (Larne AC), Rodney Agnew (Ballymena Runners), Jim Moore (Ballymena Runners), Nicola Frizelle (Springwell Running Club) and Kenny Coulter (Springwell Running Club).

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

NIMAA announce teams for upcoming British & Irish International XC:

NIMAA announce teams for British & Irish Masters International:

After the successful Northern Ireland Masters Athletics Association Cross Country on Saturday (18th October 2014), officials have released the teams for the upcoming British & Irish Masters International Cross Country Championships in Wollaton Park, Nottingham (England) on Saturday 22nd November 2014.

The men's teams are as follows:

Vet35 – Anthony Glover (Westbury AC), Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC), Kevin O'Boyle (Ballymena Runners), Michael Murphy (City of Derry AC), Gareth Lyons (Ballydrain Harriers) and Paul Woodman (Orangegrove AC). Reserves – Stephen Orr (Orangegrove AC) and Philip Donnelly (North Belfast Harriers).

Vet40 – Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers), Gary Henderson (Armagh AC), Richard Agnew (Ballymena Runners), Chris Denton (Springwell Running Club), Michael Kelly (Club Unknown) and Richard Coey (Ballydrain Harriers). Reserves – Thomas Leitch (Orangegrove AC) and Paul Wallace (Ballymena Runners).

Vet45 – Philip Tweedie (Springwell Running Club), Cathal McLaughlin (Derry City Track Club), Stephen McGrory (Annadale Striders), Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC), Bill Duncan (Club Unknown) and Mark Walker (Unattached).  Reserves – Ryan Armstrong (Ballymena Runners) and Gareth McGee (City of Derry AC).

Vet50 – Frank Sharkey (Lagan Valley AC), Brian McKee (Dromore AC), Noel Connor (Ballymena Runners), David Brady (North Belfast Harriers), James Wallace (North Belfast Harriers) and Liam Keenan (East Down AC).  Reserves – Michael McKnight (Unattached) and Karl Dines (Willowfield Harriers).

Vet55 – David Clarke (North Belfast Harriers), Laurence Johnston (North Belfast Harriers), Norman Mawhinney (Ballydrain Harriers) and John Patience (North Belfast Harriers).  Reserves – Dermot Connolly (City of Derry AC) and Gerry O'Doherty (Springwell Running Club).

Vet60 – Jim Newberry (North Belfast Harriers), Peter Lilburn (City of Lisburn AC), Malcolm McCausland (Derry City Track Club) and Brian Todd (Orangegrove AC).  Reserve – Dessi Martin (Unattached).

Vet65 – Terry Eakin (North Down AC), Gerry Lynch (City of Derry AC), David Nicholson (Unattached) and David Seaton (North Down AC).  Reserves – Francis Boal (Lagan Valley AC) and Edwin Oxlade (Annadale Striders).

Vet70 – Jim Platt (Springwell Running Club).  No Reserves.

Vet75 – Drew Crawford (North Belfast Harriers), Hugh Young (Unattached) and Michael Spotswood.  No Reserves.

The ladies teams are as follows:

Vet35 – Sharon Barlow (Ripon Runners), Jennifer Black (Orangegrove AC), Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers) and Marina Campbell (City of Derry AC). Reserve – Allyson O'Toole (East Coast AC).

Vet40 – Sonia Knox (Springwell Running Club), Gerri Short (Beechmount Harriers), Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers) and Geraldine Quigley (Larne AC).  Reserves – Jacqueline McIlrath (Ballymena Runners) and Elizabeth Leitch (Orangegrove AC).

Vet45 – Lorna Sibbet (Ballymena Runners), Jackie McGinley (City of Derry AC), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers) and Lisa Finlay (Dumfries RC). Reserves – Hannah Shields (City of Derry AC) and Fiona Johnston (Ballydrain Harriers).

Vet50 – Helen Stockdale (Finn Valley AC), Ann Terek (City of Lisburn AC), Linda Petticrew (Ballymena Runners) and Susanna Allen (Ballymena Runners).  Reserves – Una Gavin (City of Derry AC) and Paula McGilloway (City of Derry AC).

Vet55 – Ruth Magill (Lagan Valley AC), Mary Mackin (Dromore AC), Mabel McFall (Ballymena Runners) and Hazel Imeson (Tadworth AC).  No Reserves.

Vet60 – Eileen Stewart (County Antrim Harriers) and Maureen Oliver (DUB Runners).  No other team members or reserves.

Vet65 - No Team

Vet70 – Brigid Quinn (Ballymena Runners).  No other team members or reserves.

Andrew Wright claims podium spot as NI athletes impress in AAI XC:

Northern Ireland athletes impress at Gerry Farnham XC:

On Sunday 19th October 2014, a number of athletes from Northern Ireland travelled to Dublin (Ireland) for the popular Gerry Farnham Cross Country in Phoenix Park; the event also incorporated the Athletics Ireland Masters XC trials for the upcoming British & Irish Masters XC International in Nottingham (England).

In the Men's 8k, Gary Murray (St Malachy's AC) led the Northern Ireland contingent home in 10th place after recording 27:13 for the distance.  Gary was followed across the line by fellow St Malachy's AC club mates Ryan McDermott and Joe McAlister, who ran 27:21 (14th place) and 27:49 (19th place) respectively.  Former NI & Ulster Junior XC Champion Brendan Teer (East Down AC) sealed 31st place in 28:15, while Annadale Striders' James O'Hare recorded 29:11 (50th place).  North Belfast Harriers' Paul Elliot pretty much assured himself of a place on the Ireland Masters team when he crossed the line in 32:15 (111th place), which ensured that he topped the Vet60 category.  The race was won by DSD AC's Brendan O'Neill in 25:54 (1st place).

Ireland's leading lady Finnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) won the Ladies 6k in 28:09 (1st place), but Northern Ireland based runner Ann-Marie McGlynn (Lifford AC) also produced an excellent performance, finishing just outside the podium places in 30:06 (4th place).  Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC) followed up on her outing at last weekend's Armagh 10 with another good run; she (Danielle) finished in 11th place after running 31:52.

The Junior Men's 6k brought arguably the best performance of the day by a Northern Ireland athlete, with the ever impressive Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers) claiming a podium spot in 20:24 (3rd place).  Ryan Sharkey (Lagan Valley AC) also ran well to take 8th place in 20:55, while St Malachy's AC duo James Smyth (22:38) and Paddy Robb (22:48) took 24th place and 25th place respectively.  The race was won by Constantine Doherty (Westport AC) in 19:59 (1st place).

Full Results:  Gerry Farnham XC 2014 Results

Stephen Duncan and Sharon Barlow impress at NIMAA Cross Country:

NIMAA Cross Country 2014:

On Saturday 18th October 2014, veteran athletes from all over the province (and beyond) descended on DUB Road Playing Fields for the annual Northern Ireland Masters Athletics Association (NIMAA) Cross Country event, which incorporated trials for the upcoming British & Irish Masters International Cross Country in Nottingham (England).

As expected, the competition was fierce as athletes battled it out, not only for podium places, but also for Northern Ireland vests.  At the front of the Men Vet35+ 8k race (which also included Male Open athletes), current Northern Ireland & Ulster Masters XC Champion Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) was looking strong, but had Paul Rowan (Willowfield Harriers) and male open competitor Richard Johnston (Ballymena Runners) on his shoulder.  However, despite their brave efforts, neither Paul nor Richard were able to catch the formidable efforts of Stephen Duncan and the Northern Ireland international secured victory in 26:09 (1st place).  Richard Johnston followed in 26:39 (2nd place), which secured victory in the Male Open category, before Paul Rowan completed the top three in 26:45 (3rd place). Gary Henderson (Armagh AC) finished in 4th place after running 27:03 for the distance, which ensured a top three spot in the Veteran category.

Yorkshire based Sharon Barlow (Ripon AC) produced an excellent performance in the Ladies Vet35+ 6k race, which also included the Vet65+ Men and Ladies Open race.  Sharon was joined at the head of the pack by the likes of Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Jenny Black (Orangegrove AC), Sonia Knox (Springwell Running Club) and Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) in the early stages, but none of the aforementioned ladies were able to hold on as Sharon moved clear to break the tape in 22:31 (1st place).  The in-form Louise Smith took 2nd place in 22:59, while Orangegrove AC's Road Relay hero Jenny Black completed the top three in 23:06 (3rd place).  City of Derry AC duo Srah Kivelehan and Gerry Lynch celebrated wins in their respective Ladies Open and Male Vet65+ events, with Sarah clocking 25:19 and Gerry 25:23.

Overall Podium Places:

Top 3 Men (8k):  1st Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) – 26:09, 2nd Richard Johnston (Ballymena Runners) – 26:39, 3rd Paul Rowan (Willowfield Harriers) – 26:45

Top 3 Ladies (6k):  1st Sharon Barlow (Ripon AC) – 22:31, 2nd Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – 22:59, 3rd Jenny Black (Orangrove AC) – 23:06

Full Results:  NIMAA Cross Country 2014 Results

Kim Collison and Stevie Kremer take inaugural Mourne Skyline MTR titles:

Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race 2014:

On Saturday 18th October 2014, NiRunning welcomed a huge array of talent to the inaugural running of our Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race in the Mourne Mountains (Newcastle, County Down).

Alongside the athletes, Skyrunning UK Director and host of world renowned podcast 'Talk Ultra', Ian Corless, was also present.  Ian provides the following summary of the event:

Misty skies, gale force winds, relentless climbing, technical terrain and an incredible field of runners made the inaugural Mourne Skyline MTR a day to remember.

Concluding Skyrunning UK’s first year, the Mourne Skyline MTR really was a fitting end to what has been an incredible year. The course, organisation and the field of runners made this a special and unforgettable day in the mountains.  The addition of Skyrunner® World Series champion (2013 and 2014) Stevie Kremer did provide some icing on the Mourne cake. However, ‘Pocket Rocket’ was not isolated… Jo Meek, British Ultra Trail Champion, provided more than enough pressure on the Colorado based Skyrunner on what proved to be one of the most exciting ladies mountain races I have followed for some time. Sharon Trimble, Diane Wilson and Shileen O’Kane would bring local knowledge and fell experience to the mix making this a classic in the making.

As expected, Kremer pushed hard from the off and after leaving the Donard Forest the trail became steeper and more technical playing to the Colorado runners strength. Although a gap opened up, it was nothing substantial and Meek maintained a gap keeping Kremer in sight. After passing over the saddle, runners were hit by gale force winds and low cloud as they headed out to Slieve Bearnagh, Slieve Meelmore and then an anticlockwise loop that would eventually return them to Slieve Meelmore and then run back to the finish. Conditions were brutal… thankfully the previous nights torrential rain had disappeared. Had it not, runners and marshals would have had a very testing day!

Wilson, Trimble and O’Kane in many respects were running for third such was the pace of the front two ladies. On the flat, Meek would catch Kremer and then pull away. The relentless and rollercoaster nature of the terrain and mountains would then allow Kremer to pull back and pass on the climbs. This to and froing made for an exhilarating competition of willpower, mental strength and endurance. The latter half of the course, on paper, looked made for Kremer as climb and after climb would allow her to open a gap. However, Meek was having none of it. Running with blinkered vision, Meek fought the technical terrain and chased. ‘I was swearing at the terrain and my own frustrations in managing my technical ability,’ said Meek. Kremer was having no easy ride too, ‘that is the hardest race I have ever done! Harder than Zegama Aizkorri it was just brutal. Relentless climbing, technical and with the wind it was just soooo hard!’

After CP4, Kremer opened up a gap and extended this on the steep ascent to Slieve Commedagh. Battered by the winds, Kremer put her head down and now pushed hard to the highest point of the course, Slieve Donard. Turning at the summit and descending down the lead extended and on the final technical descent to Newcastle the gap really opened up eventually providing Kremer a winning time of 4:24.25 to Meek’s 4:30.32. The time gaps don’t reflect how close this race was! Post race, Meek was very philosophical, ‘I really did push and race hard but the relentless ankle twisting and gnarly terrain beat me down and in the latter stages as Kremer pulled away I eased off a little knowing that 2nd place was secure.’ Diane Wilson placed 3rd producing a great run on home soil in a time of 4:45.41.

In the men’s race, local man, Allan Bogle pushed hard in the early stages closely followed by Kim Collison, Eoin Lennon and just 5 seconds back, J Marshall Thomson. It was close, and unlike the ladies race a winner looked likely to come from any of the front contenders. Particularly when one looked at the contenders looking for honours. Ally Beaven, David Steele and Paul Navesy all showed previous results that would mean they could never be ruled out of a podium place.

British Ultra Trail Champion, Collison showed his class at descending and moved away from the other men but Lennon was never going to relinquish the lead without a fight. These two fought a hard battle all day and Lennon showed the wounds of war as blood tricked down his leg.

Revelation of the race, was Colorado based J Marshall Thomson (Stevie’s fiancé) who raced in the top-5 all day and despite having never raced on ‘typical’ UK terrain pulled out a top-drawer run to place 3rd. ‘That was some of the most crazy terrain I have ever run. It was relentless. The terrain was beyond technical. You had no idea where to put your feet and I can’t tell you how many times I fell over… I loved it!’ said Thomson.

Collison won the race in 3:57.09 an incredible time in very tough conditions. Lennon recorded 3:59:42 for 2nd place.  Ryan Maxwell, race director for the Mourne Skyline MTR had predicted a win time of 4-hours, however, with conditions on the day, we expected this to be optimistic. For Collison and Lennon to both run sub-4 is a real testament to the competition between the two front men.  Thomson moved up into 3rd place and brought a truly international flavour to the men’s podium, his time of 4:08.38 reflecting his ability.

The 2014 Mourne Skyline MTR has firmly established itself as a must-do race after just one edition. The combination of location, local infrastructure, great organisation, enthusiastic locals and a brutal course will guarantee that demand will be high for the 2015 edition.  Covering 35km and a total elevation gain of 3370m, the Mourne Skyline MTR is everything a Skyrunning race should be. I for one can’t wait for 2015.

Top 3 Men:  1st Kim Collison (Borrowdale AC) - 3:57:09, 2nd Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC) - 3:59:42, 3rd J Marshall Thomson (Dynafit/USA) - 4:08:38

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Stevie Kremer (Team Salomon) - 4:24:25, 2nd Jo Meek (Winchester AC) - 4:30:32   3rd Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) - 4:45:41

Full Results:  Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race 2014 Results (Photos from the Mourne Skyline MTR will follow in the coming days)

Mark McKinstry & Karen Alexander produce GR8 performances in Dundrum:

GR8 Dundrum Run 2014:

On Saturday 18th October 2014, a record number of nearly eight hundred athletes took took to the start-line of the 5th annual GR8 Dundrum Run, organised by Murlough AC on the shores of Dundrum Bay, County Down.

Pre-race favourites Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) and David O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC) lived up to their billing, playing a major part at the front throughout.  In windy conditions, Mark and David dominated proceedings, with Brendan Grew (North Belfast Harriers), Alan Johnston (Murlough AC), Steven Beggs (East Antrim Harriers) and Phelim McAllister (Larne AC) all looking strong behind.  In the ladies race, Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) was showing her class, having moved clear of the of potential challengers Julie Murphy (Lagan Valley AC), Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) and Catherine Roberts (North Down AC) in the early stages.

Mark McKinstry and David O'Flaherty both made full use of their road speed and off-road technical ability as they negotiated the 8 mile multi-terrain course, but in the end, it was the North Belfast Harriers man who claimed top honours.  Mark crossed the line in 47:05 (1st place), with David following a short time later in 47:13 (2nd place).  Brendan Grew performed well to take 3rd place in 49:31 (3rd place).

Karen Alexander gradually built on her lead as the race progressed; eventually the Northern Ireland international returned to the centre of Dundrum village to win in 54:28 (1st place), well clear of her rivals.  Julie Murphy sealed the runners up spot in 57:37 (2nd place), before distance enthusiast Diane Watson completed the course in 58:54 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men:  1st Mark McKisntry (North Belfast Harriers) – 47:05, 2nd David O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC) – 47:13, 3rd Brendan Grew (North Belfast Harriers) – 49:13

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) – 54:28, 2nd Julie Murphy (Lagan Valley AC) – 57:37, 3rd Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) – 58:54

Full Results:  Gr8 Dundrum Run 2014 Results

Seamus Lynch and Sarah McCormack excel at Granite Trail Race (GTR):

Granite Trail Race (GTR) 2014:

On Friday 17th October 2014, athletes from all over the world descended on the coastal town of Newcastle (County Down) for the beginning of an excellent weekend of 'Skyrunning' action.  The Granite Trail Race ('GTR') saw athletes start on Newcastle's Central Promenade, before making their way into Donard Forest and up the historic Granite Trail towards the finish at Millstone Quarry, overlooking the town. Altogether, this totalled 2 miles uphill with approximately 1,000ft of ascent.

Despite the severe weather conditions, which forced organisers to alter the start area, the electric atmosphere was evident as the athletes set off into the darkness.  Local man Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) was accompanied by Robbie Britton (GB & Northern Ireland) and Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC), amongst others, at the front, while World XC (team) gold medallist Sarah McCormack (Moorfoot Runners/Ireland) was leading the ladies charge.  

Kerry Speers (North Down AC), Charlene Abraham (Unattached), Annabelle Stearns (Gravesend RR & AC) and Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC) were all vying for the remaining podium places.  As the athletes began their ascent of the Granite Trail, Seamus Lynch made his move, which turned out to be a race winning decision.  The consistent athlete forged a gap between himself and Robbie Britton and Matthew Hewitt, who were enjoying an excellent battle for second place.  In the end, the gap grew to an un-catchable distance and Seamus was first to negotiate the final climb up to the Quarry, before crossing the line in an excellent 16:18 (1st place).  Robbie Britton took 2nd place in 17:12, while Matthew Hewitt complete the top three in 17:19 (3rd place).

Sarah McCormack produced arguably the performance of the night when she sealed victory in the ladies race; the irish international completed the uphill only route in an impressive 17:29 (1st place), which not only secured top honours in the ladies race, but saw Sarah take 4th place overall.  The in-form duo of Kerry Speers and Charlene Abraham claimed 2nd place and 3rd place in 20:28 and 21:09 respectively.

Top 3 Men:  1st Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) – 18:18, 2nd Robbie Britton (GB & Northern Ireland) – 17:12, 3rd Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC) – 17:19

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Sarah McCormack (Moorfoot Runners/Ireland) – 17:29, 2nd Kerry Speers (North Down AC) – 20:28, 3rd Charlene Abraham (Unattached) – 21:09

Full Results:  Granite Trail Race (GTR) 2014 Results (Photo above by Jayne Bell)

Weekend Preview:  Local athletes set for events at home and abroad...

Weekend Preview:  Northern Ireland, Ireland, Holland...

After the successful Comber Cup Cross Country signalled the start of the Athletics NI Cross Country League 2014/15 last weekend, the ‘mucky’ theme continues, with the NIMAA XC (which includes the British & Irish Masters International Trials) set to take place, as well as NiRunning’s very own Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race and associated ‘Granite Trail Race (‘GTR’).  

The busy weekend will also see Murlough AC host their annual Gr8 Dundrum Run and Northern Ireland will also be represented in Ireland and Holland.

We looked at our own Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race and the associated ‘GTR’ earlier in the week and the ‘Special Preview’ of the event, which is the final race of the inaugural Skyrunning UK Series, is available further down this page and also within the ‘Monthly Feature’ section of the website (HERE).

Also on Saturday 18th October 2014, a record number of over seven hundred athletes are expected to turn out for the 5th annual Gr8 Dundrum Run in Murlough, County Down.  The multi-terrain course, which measures approximately 8 miles in distance, is always well received by competitors, who enjoy the scenery in and around Murlough Bay.  There are also a number of junior races.

Reigning Champion Brendan Teer (East Down AC) may return to defend the title he won so impressively twelve months ago; he (Brendan) will prove hard to beat should he race, especially taking his excellent victory at the Comber Cup XC last weekend into consideration.  The East Down AC athlete will be joined on the start line by another in-form athlete, namely Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers).  Only City of Derry AC’s Allan Bogle finished between Mark and Brendan in Comber last weekend and it’s likely that the pair will battle it out at the front once again.   David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC), Brendan Grew (North Belfast Harriers) and Phelim McAllister (Larne AC) will also be there or there about and all will have a podium spot in their sights. Top ten finisher in 2013, Alan Johnston (Murlough AC) will also go well, as should Dermot Winters (Newry City Runners), Bobby Irvine (Seapark AC), Eric Montgomery (Lagan Valley AC) and Paul McCullagh (City of Lisburn AC).

In the ladies race, Karen Alexander (Acorns AC), will start as overwhelming favourite.  After winning convincingly in 2013, Karen will be eager to impress once again having geared her focus towards the event since the Masters World Mountain Running Championships in Austria.  The Northern Ireland international has enjoyed a successful year, which has included a podium finish at the Belfast City Marathon (2:58:20) and a win over Half Marathon distance in Austria.  Also in Austria, Karen claimed a top ten finish at the aforementioned Masters World Mountain Running Championships.  

Trail running specialists Helen Weir (North Belfast Harriers) and Louise Lemon (Orangegrove AC) will also toe the line and should play a major part in proceedings.  Despite missing several events due to an ongoing injury niggle, Louise has still managed to put in some top performances; the Orangegrove AC star narrowly missed the prize-winning places at the Gosford 10, Minnowburn 10k and East Antrim Harriers’ Tardree trail race, finishing in fourth place in all three.  However, she made up for that with a quality outing at the Great North Run last month, were she ran a new 13.1 mile personal best of 1:41:43.  

The ever consistent trio of Mel Minshull (City of Lisburn AC), Catherine Roberts (North Down AC) and Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) will all run well, while Nessa Agnew (DUB Runners), Natalie Davidson (County Antrim Harriers) and Karen Waring (Seapark AC) will also be worth watching.

Elsewhere, on Saturday 18th October 2014, the Northern Ireland Masters Athletics Association (NIMAA) will host their popular and well attended Cross Country event at the DUB Playing Fields in Belfast.  The event also acts as trials for the British & Irish International, which will take place in Nottingham (England) next month (November 2014).

The men’s race should be a competitive affair and may well include the likes of Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers) and Paul Rowan (Willowfield Harriers), two men who have been performing well in ‘open’ events, never mind ‘Masters’ races.  Other chasing international honours will include Mark Wright (Annadale Striders), Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers), Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC), Matt Wray (Ballymena Runners), Kevin O’Boyle (Ballymena Runners), Craig Hutchinson (Larne AC), Nat Glenn (North Belfast Harriers) and Cathal McLaughlin (Derry City Track Club).

Omagh Harriers’ Julie Butler will be one of the ladies with her sights on an a Northern Ireland vest, and based on her form at previous NIMAA events, there is no reason why the talented athlete cannot achieve this.  

Denise Toner (Clones AC), Helen Stockdale (Finn Valley AC), Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers), Gillian Wasson (Springwell Running Club), Mary Mackin (Dromore AC), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers), Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers), Ange Perrott (North Down AC), Geraldine Quigley (Larne AC) and Christine Murray (County Antrim Harriers) will also be looking to impress the selection team by finishing well up the field.

On Sunday 19th October 2014, a large number of Northern Ireland based runners are expected to travel south for the Athletics Ireland (Masters) Cross Country trials, which will be run as part of the Athletics Ireland 'Autumn Cross' event at the Magazine Fort in Phoenix Park, Dublin (Ireland).  

This works in the same manner as the aforementioned NIMAA XC, were athletes battle it out with fellow veteran category runners for places on the Ireland team for the upcoming British & Irish Masters International in Nottingham (England).  Ciaran Doherty (Letterkenny AC), Paul Blaney (North Belfast Harriers), Paul Elliot (North Belfast Harriers) and Geraldine Branagh (Dromore AC) should be amongst those in competition.

Further afield on Sunday 19th October 2014, at strong Northern Ireland contingent will be in action in Amsterdam, Holland.  Acorns AC and Orangegrove AC will be well represented at the popular event, while East Coast AC’s Andy Guy, a pacer at the Walled City Marathon Marathon, will take on the Amsterdam Marathon.  Another Larne based athlete, James Brown (Larne AC) will line up in the Half Marathon.

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

Please Note:  There will be a delay in the uploading of race summaries this coming weekend as our entire team will be at the Mourne Skyline MTR for the duration of the weekend.  We will endeavour to publish results on our 'Results' page as soon as we receive them, and then any summary will follow on Sunday (19th October 2014) or Monday (20th October 2014).  

Special Preview:  Mourne Skyline MTR attracts world class field...

NiRunning introduce Skyrunning to Northern Ireland:

This coming weekend, Friday 17th and Saturday 18th October 2014, will see the phenomena that is ‘Skyrunning’ reach the shores of Northern Ireland for the first time.  The Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race, hosted by popular running website, will see a plethora of talent take to the stunning Mourne Mountains.

The exciting weekend of action will kick off on Friday 17th October 2014 when competitors take on the ‘Granite Trail Race’ (‘GTR’), a 2 mile uphill only event, starting in the centre of Newcastle (County Down) and finishing approximately 1,000ft above sea-level at Millstone Quarry.  The impressive field will be headed by Northern Ireland international men Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) and David Steele (Newcastle AC).  The ladies race will include highly respected European Cross Country (team) and World Mountain Running Championship (team) medallist Sarah McCormack (Moorfoot Runners and Ireland) who won the recent Snowdon international mountain race.  Sarah will be joined on the ‘GTR’ start line by Irish team mate and fellow World Mountain Running Championship (team) medallist Sharon Trimble (North Belfast Harriers).

On Saturday 18th October 2014, the Mourne Skyline MTR will see a sell-out field, including Stevie Kremer (Team Salomon), who last weekend was crowned Skyrunning World Series Champion for the second time, cover a gruelling but incredibly scenic 35k course incorporating 3,370m of ascent. Northern Ireland’s highest mountain, Slieve Donard, which stands at 850m above sea-level will be the final peak, before the athletes descend quickly into the Donard Park finish area.

The Men:

Kim Collison (England), Paul Teirney (Ireland), Jayson Cavill (England), Paul Navesey (Centurion Ultra Team), J Marshall Thomson (USA), and local men Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) and Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers) look to be the strongest candidates in a field littered with talent from across the globe.  Former adventure racer and newly crowned British ultra-running Champion Kim Collison will be high in confidence after his victory at the Lakeland 50 trail race in July (2014).  This noteable achievement followed an excellent (joint) win at the notoriously tough Fellsman 61 mile ultra in the Yorkshire Dales in April (2014).  Kim, who completed the Bob Graham Round in 2009, also collected a prize at the Scafell trail race and finished well up the field at the Transvulcania La Palma Ultra. 

American athlete J Marshall Thomson (Dynafit) hails from Colorado and is an experienced and successful trail runner, with numerous mountain race victories to his name.  Most recently, Marshall secured a win at the Power of Four 50k in Aspen, having smashed the course record.  Looking back, Marshall also proved his worth at the Pikes Peak marathon, where he narrowly missed a podium spot after finishing fourth in what was a classy field.  Irish international Paul Teirney proved excelled over 100 miles when he claimed the runners up spot at the Lakeland 100 mile race in 2012; since then, Paul, a former Wicklow Way 82 mile Ultra record holder (13 hours 38mins), has finished second at the Wicklow Way Ultra in both 2013 and 2014.  England based Jayson Cavill has been one of the most impressive performers of the inaugural Skyrunning UK Series, having placed on the podium at two of the three races.  The Pickering Running Club member followed up his second place finish at the V3K with a win at the Peaks Skyrace; he (Jayson) also won the gruelling Blakey Blitz Fell Race back in April (2014).

Paul Navesey (Centurion Ultra Running Team) is another athlete worth watching; after a note-worthy 2013, Paul has brought his form into 2014, winning the Centurion South Downs Way 50 miler in a new course record.  The talented distance runner also showed his speedy edge when taking second place at the Canterbury 10 mile road race in 56:27.  Another man known for his ability over shorter distance and not mentioned above is Jens Jakob Anderson (Denmark); the ‘’ website creator has a 5k personal best of 15:58, which he may hope to put to use on the final 3.1 mile descent off Slieve Donard to the finish in Donard Park.

On the local front, Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) has already proved himself against the best in the UK this year.  In memorable foggy conditions, the City of Derry Spartan secured an excellent win at the British Championship race at Slieve Donard just before the summer.  He (Allan) went on to take sixth place in the overall British Championships standings.  Also on Allan’s CV are wins at the Balearic Mountain Running Championships in Mallorca and an impressive top spot at the Lurig Challenge 2014. 

Although having raced sparingly in the mountains recently, North Belfast Harriers man Andrew Annett has a classy history and if focussed on this event, he’ll play a major part at the front.  In 2013, Andrew, who was part of North Belfast Harriers winning team at the NI & Ulster (Road) Relay Championships two weeks ago, finished in thirteenth place at Snowdon International Mountain Race last year (2013).  More recently, he has clocked 1:11:31 for his first ever half marathon (on the road), and 5k and 10k bests of 15:48 and 32:38 respectively. 

Established Irish international Martin Rea (North Belfast Harriers) will also toe the line as he prepares for the World 100k Championships in Doha (November 2014) and he’ll be joined on the men’s start line by no less than eleven Northern Ireland international’s, which will include the in-form David Steele (Newcastle AC), Deon McNeilly (Newcastle AC), Sam Herron (Mourne Runners), Dale Mathers (Newry City Runners) and Ryan Stewart (Dundee Hawkhill Harriers) amongst others.  Shane Donnelly (Acorns AC), Billy Reed (East Antrim Harriers), Nicki McPeake (Unattached), Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC) and Gary Bailey (Unattached) all have vast knowledge of the Mourne Mountains and will therefore have high hopes of finishing well up the field.

The Ladies:

In truth, the ladies field at the Mourne Skyline MTR has attracted a lot more attention in the international press than the aforementioned men’s line-up. Much of this is because of the addition of Skyrunner World Series Cahmpion Stevie Kremer (Team Salomon).  The American international burst onto the scene after winning the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) ‘Long Distance’ event in 2012; Stevie proved this wasn’t a ‘one hit wonder’ when she went on to take second place at the world famous Sierre-Zinal Mountain Race in the same year.

From there, the down to earth athlete has grown in stature, winning the Limone Extreme, Marathon Du Mont-Blanc Skyrace’s in 2013, and with it, the Skyrunning World Series.  Now, Stevie is one of the superstars of the Skyrunning circuit and one of the most respected (and in-form) athletes in the World. After wins at the Matterhorn Ultraks, Zegama and Sierre-Zinal this year, and a second place finish at the Limone Extreme Skyrace last weekend, Stevie retained her Skyrunning World Series Champion status (at ‘Sky’ distance).

Another athlete who is in-form at the moment and will also grace the Central Promenade start-line is Jo Meek (Winchester AC); the England based athlete has enjoyed an incredible 2014.  After finishing in second place at the Marathon Des-Sables in 2013 it would have been easy for Jo to sit on that success, but the dedicated runner took confidence from it and hammered into 2014, and on doing so, she (Jo) has won the Le Grand Trail du St Jacques (70k), Transylvania Trail Traverse (106k), Iznik Ultra (80k) and the Pembrokeshire Coastal Marathon (27.8 miles); interestingly, in Pembrokeshire, Jo finished in first place overall!  An excellent year was made all the better when Jo was crowned British ultra-running Champion after winning the Lakeland 50 trail race in July (2014).

The list of Champions continues in the form of Sharon Trimble (North Belfast Harriers) and Diane Wilson (Dromore AC).  Originally from Northern Ireland, Sharon is an Irish international who lives in Scotland – Alongside Sarah McCormack (’GTR’ competitor), Sharon is a World Mountain Running Championship medallist (both Sharon and Sarah are pictured left).  

The 2:51:44 marathoner is also a former Scottish ultra-running Champion and a regular on the podium over all terrain; with her knowledge of the course and if she is on top form, Sharon is a real threat to Stevie and Jo.  Diane is the current Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Champion and a lady who knows the Mourne Mountains exceptionally well; she (Diane) also won the Hill & Dale Series in 2014 and clocked a new course record when winning the Carrantuohill mountain race in Ireland; interestingly, Carrantuohill is Ireland’s highest peak. Diane also claimed a top ten finish at the Ben Nevis mountain race in Scotland this year (2014), taking seventh place.

Former NIMRA Champion and current Northern Ireland international Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) will also play a major part in proceedings. Despite suffering a broken wrist over the summer, the talented athlete, who placed within the top ten in her Vet45 category at the World Masters Mountain Running Championships in last month (September 2014).  Respected ultra-runners Susan McCartney (Up and Runners) and Joanne Curran (BARF) should also finish well up the field – Like, Shileen, Susan has enjoyed an excellent year despite setbacks.  The England based athlete had knee surgery earlier this year, but has still managed to win the Mourne Way 52 mile Ultra and claim a very credible twenty second place in the CCC race at UTMB (Ultra trail du Mont-Blanc).  Comrades Ultra finisher Joanne Curran has really begun to show good form beyond marathon distance and a win at the Causeway Coast Ultra earlier this month, where she came through late on, has re-iterated her potential over the longer distances.

Runner up at the Peaks Skyrace, Kim England (Pickering AC), will also perform well, as will the likes of Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC), Taryn McCoy (BARF), Anne Sandford (Lagan Valley AC), Violet Linton (LV), Denise Mathers (Newry City Runners), Miriam Bridge (City of Derry AC), Angela Stevenson (Newcastle AC) and Kathleen Monteverde (BARF).

Local athletes impress in Italy, Hungary, USA and England:

Athletes from NI compete outside the province:

Over the weekend (from Friday 10th October to Sunday 11th October 2014), athletes from Northern Ireland were in action outside the province, with familiar faces taking on events in Italy, England, America and Hungary.

Mourne Runners men Gary Bailey and Richard Bell got the weekend off to a good start for local athletes with quality performances in Limone, Italy. Richard and Gary joined a world class field as they lined up in the Limone Extreme Skyrace, which covered 23.5k in distance, incorporating 2,000m of ascent. Despite having completed the VK (Vertical Kilometre) the day before, Gary produced an excellent run to finish in 3:17:15; Richard battled through an ankle injury to cross the line in 3:27:23

On Saturday 11th October 2014, a number of Newry City Runners (and other NI based athletes) completed the 29th annual Budapest Marathon in Hungary.  

Despite the warm conditions, all of the local runners performed well, with Stephen Stokes leading the Newry City Runners contingent home in 3:21:50; his club mate, Caroline Wade (Newry City Runners) followed and was the first of the Northern Ireland ladies to finish in 3:43:01.  Eimear McCracken (Newry City Runners) and Gerard McAleenan (Newry City Runners) both dipped under the four hour barrier, recording 3:57:32 and 3:59:40 respectively.

Mark Barnett (Newry City Runners) crossed the line in 4:03:31, before Aidan Trainor (Newry City Runners) completed the course in 4:18:32.  Blainthine McCann (Newry City Runners) negotiated the tough final six miles to finish in 4:22:39, thirteen minutes ahead of club mate Colm McCann (Newry City Runners), who achieved a time of 4:25:19.  Tina Crawley (Slieve Gullion Runners) ran well to record 4:26:26, while fellow Slieve Gullion Runners athlete Barry Duffy covered the distance in 4:33:11.  Another trio of Newry City Runners members, Colm O'Brien (4:44:59), Shane O'Callaghan (4:46:22) and William McCracken (4:46:46) all looked tired but understandably happy as they crossed the line.  Newcastle AC's Paul Fegan finished between the aforementioned Newry City Runners men in a time of 4:46:36.  Janus Nagy Tamos (Hungary) won the event in 2:27:14 (1st place), while Juhász-Staicu Simona (Hungary) took the ladies title in 2:51:08 (1st place).

On Sunday 12th October 2014, at least three Northern Ireland based runners were in action at the 2nd annual running of the Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon. The popular and picturesque run, which organisers boast to be flatter and faster than London, Paris, Chicago and Berlin - takes participants past some of York's splendid historic sites and along scenic country lanes, making it an attractive prospect for runners of all abilities. 

Larne AC's Billy Thompson put in an impressive performance to finish in 2:55:39, while official 2:59 pacer Martin Rea (North Belfast Harriers) done a sterling job, leading his group into the finishing area as the clock struck 2:58:45.  Mark Ramsey (Belfast Running Club) looked in good form as he completed the route in a new personal best of 3:53:08.  The race was won by Boniface Kongin (Kenya) in 2:13:39 (1st place), while Richmond & Zetland AC runner Shona Fletcher won sealed victory in the ladies race having run 2:43:38 (1st place).

In America on Sunday 12th October 2014, St Malachy's AC athlete Thomas Frazer joined some of the worlds top distance runners on the start line of the Chicago Marathon.  The talented athlete, who is based in America, clocked an outstanding 2:19:53 for the 26.2 mile distance.  The race was won by Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge in 2:04:11 (1st place).

Full Results:  Limone Extreme Skyrunning Event 2014 Results (Currently Unavailable) – Budapest Marathon 2014 ResultsPlusnet Yorkshire Marathon 2014 ResultsChicago Marathon 2014 Results

Paul Barbour and Maria McCambridge win Armagh 10 mile road race:

Armagh 10 mile Road Race 2014:

On Sunday 12th October 2014, well over three hundred athletes turned out for the annual Adidas Armagh 10 mile road race in County Armagh.  The event started and finished at the Navan Centre, just outside the heart of the Orchard City.

The race always proves popular with athletes as they tune up for the Dublin Marathon, which usually takes place two weeks after this event.  In good running conditions, the strong field made full use of the popular personal best friendly course, with Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers), Leroy Brady (Armagh AC), Zoltan Petsuk (Duathlon .HU) and North Belfast Harriers men Darryl Blair and Conor Curran all looking like podium contenders.  Straight from the off, Maria McCambridge (DSD AC) was a dominating figure in the ladies competition, while Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC), Gillian Burns (Dromore AC), Mary Laverty (North East Runners) and Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) all battled it out for the remaining podium places.

As the race progressed, it was Paul Barbour who made the move and gradually built on his lead.  The unassuming athlete, who has returned well from injury this year, looked back to his best as he completed the final downhill section to break the tape in 53:49 (1st place).  Local man Leroy Brady was a popular finisher as he took 2nd place in 54:58, before Darryl Blair went one place better than his fourth place finish at the Galway Bay Half Marathon last week. Darryl crossed the line in 55:11 (3rd place).

The leading lady, Irish international Maria McCambridge followed just five seconds later in 55:16 (1st place); this not only secured top spot for the Dublin Marathon bound athlete in the ladies race, but saw her claim 4th place overall.  Northern Ireland cross country star Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC) ensured that the host club were represented on the ladies podium when she finished in 1:00:13 (2nd place), while Gillian Burns (Dromore AC) followed up her good performance at last weeks NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships with another impressive outing, clocking 1:04:22 for 3rd place.

Top 3 Men:  1st Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers) – 53:49, 2nd Leroy Brady (Armagh AC) – 54:58, 3rd Darryl Blair (North Belfast Harriers) – 55:11

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Maria McCambridge (DSD AC) – 55:16, 2nd Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC) – 1:00:13, 3rd Gillian Burns (Dromore AC) – 1:04:22

Full Results:  Adidas Armagh 10 mile Road Race 2014 Results

Brendan Teer and Rachel Gibson excel at Comber Cup XC event:

Hundreds enjoy well organised Comber Cup Cross Country 2014:

On Saturday 11th October 2014, athletes from across Northern Ireland descended on the Billy Neill Playing Fields in Comber (County Down) for the Ballydrain Harriers organised Comber Cup Cross Country event, which was the first race of the 2014/15 Athletics NI Cross Country League.

The well organised event was held in perfect running conditions and included numerous junior races, all of which proved to be a fitting 'warm up' for the exciting adult races which were to follow.  

In the ladies and Vet 60+ men's 6k race, North Down AC athletes Rachel Gibson and Jessica Craig, both of whom played a major part in their clubs win at the Northern Ireland & Ulster Road Relay Championships last weekend, were prominent figures at the front throughout.  However, in the end, it was Rachel, the fastest lady at the most recent NiRunning Mile, who secured victory in 23:47 (1st place). Jessica followed just two seconds later in 23:49 (2nd place), before fast improving mountain runner Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC) claimed 3rd place in 23:55. North Down AC's Vet65 star Terry Aiken was the leading veteran home in an excellent 24:02.

The men's race had a lot to live up to after the excellent display of running from the ladies, and with Brendan Teer (East Down AC), Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) and Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) amongst those playing starring roles, it did just that.  In a talented field, it was the aforementioned men who always looked as if they had something more to give as the race progressed into the latter stages of the 8k course.  Former NI & Ulster Junior XC Champion Brendan Teer showed his class and experience over 'the country' when he led the field home in 26:25 (1st place).  Allan Bogle looked in good shape ahead of next weeks Mourne Skyline MTR as he took 2nd place in 27:02, while Mark McKinstry once again showed how far he has progressed over the last twelve months when he completed the men's podium in 27:15 (3rd place).

Top 3 Men (8k):  1st Brendan Teer (East Down AC) – 26:25, 2nd Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) – 27:02, 3rd Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 27:15

Top 3 Ladies (6k):  1st Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) – 23:47, 2nd Jessica Craig (North Down AC) – 23:49, 3rd Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC) – 23:55

Full Results:  Comber Cup XC 2014 Results - Individual Results and Team Results

Weekend Preview:  Athletics NI XC League returns for 2014/15 season...

Comber Cup and Armagh 10m road race expected to attract crowds:

After a relentless summer of racing over various terrain, things seem to have settled a little; well, for this week anyway!  That means only one thing, the cross country season is upon us, and with it, comes the return of the Athletics NI Cross Country League.  The League has proved extremely popular over the last few years and this year it is expected that record numbers will participate.  Also, on the roads, Armagh AC will promote their annual Adidas Armagh 10 mile road race in conjunction with the local council, and athletes in East Antrim have the 'Run for Ross' 3k on their doorstep.  Northern Ireland will also be represented at the Limone Extreme Skyrace in Italy.

The action kicks off on Saturday 11th October 2014, when a sizeable crowd is expected to descend on the Billy Neill Playing Fields in Comber (County Down), for the first race of the aforementioned Athletics NI Cross Country League 2014/1, the Comber Cup.

Host club, Ballydrain Harriers have enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence over the last few years and their decision to 'bring back' this race has paid dividends; last year it attracted a quality field, which should be further enhanced this year.  Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) should lead a strong Foyle Valley AC team, while fellow North West club City of Derry AC will also turn out in large numbers.  Gary Slevin and Chris McPeake should be amongst the City of Derry AC athletes toeing the line for the men's 8k event, while 2013/14 Foyle Valley AC team captain Scott could be joined by Chris McGuinness, Pius McIntyre and Adrian McGowan.  Keith Shiels will be eager to race but may miss out due to a recurring injury.

Reigning Champion David O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC) should return to defend his title and may be backed up by Newcastle AC men Seamus Lynch, David McNeilly and Ian Bailey, who finished in 2nd place, 6th place and 7th place last time out.  The NI & Ulster Junior XC gold medallists (Newcastle AC), may also look upon David Steele and Deon McNeilly to bolster their impressive squad.  If this wasn't enough to wet the appetite for a good race, add North Belfast Harriers athletes Mark McKinstry, Adam Boyd, Andrew Considine, Eddie Cooke and Neil Carty to the mix, and you've got a superb race.

In the ladies 6k race, Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC) will hope to bring some of the form that has saw her claim an international call up in the mountains this year as she embarks on the cross country campaign.  The East Down AC athlete will definitely want to improve on her ninth place finish at this event last time.  However, should Catherine have her eyes on a podium spot, she may have to out-perform the ever impressive Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC), Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers), Helen Stockdale (Finn Valley AC), Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC), Sarah Lindsay (Foyle Valley AC) and Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers) amongst others.

Suzanne Higgins, as reigning Champion will be worth watching, especially after a good summer of racing.  The returning Catherine Whoriskey also showed good form whilst claiming a podium spot at Marty's 5k last weekend, while Novice Cross Country Champion Sarah Lindsay will also have her eyes on the top prize. Despite racing sparingly of late, Sarah should find herself in the mix should she compete.  The same could be said for Helen Stockdale, who by no means has been racing sparingly, but will definitely be a contender.  Helen ran well to take third place at the Bangor 10k two weeks ago.

Also on Saturday 11th October 2014, two runners from Northern Ireland will take on the Limone Extreme Skyrace in Italy.  The prestigious event will see Mourne Runners duo Richard Bell and Gary Bailey line up alongside some of the world's top Skyrunning stars, including Stevie Kremer (Team Salomon), who will race in Northern Ireland (Mourne Skyline MTR) next weekend.  The athletes will cover 23.5k , with approximately 2,000m of ascent.

On Sunday 12th October 2014, runners from across Northern Ireland will travel to Armagh (County Armagh) for the annual Adidas Armagh 10 mile road race, which starts and finishes outside the Navan Centre, just outside the City.

The course, and the event in general is very popular, especially with those training for Dublin Marathon and is usually treated by many as their final 'hard' outing before the 26.2 mile event, which takes place on Monday 27th October 2014.

Eddie McGinley (Annadale Striders) and Gary Murray (St Malachy's AC) may resume the battle that they produced in Bangor two weeks ago.  On that occasion, Gary got the better of Eddie, but the Annadale Striders athlete, who is the current NI & Ulster 5,000m and Athletics NI Half Marathon Champion, will be keen to overturn that result as he looks ahead to the Dublin Marathon.  

After enjoying good runs last weekend, North Belfast Harriers men Conor Curran and Darryl Blair should also play a part at the front.  Conor led the winning North Belfast Harriers team out at the NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships, whilst Darryl recorded a Half Marathon personal best when taking fourth place at the Galway Bay Half Marathon a day later.  Brian Campbell (Willowfield Harriers), Dermot Kerr (Armagh AC) and Gary Henderson (Armagh AC) should also finish well up the field.

The seemingly unbeatable Heather Foley (Unattached) was forced to settle for the runners up spot here in 2013, but the talented athlete will be keen to make amends for that this time out.  Based on her recent form, which includes wins at the DUNE, Ards and Cookstown Half Marathon's and more recently the Runher Titanic 10k, Heather is in the shape of her life and will prove difficult to beat here.  Should North Belfast Harriers ladies Breege Connolly, Cathy McCourt or Louise Smith turn out, it could turn into an excellent spectacle; the same could be said for the ever impressive local athlete, Danielle Fegan (Armagh AC), who possess the ability to place well.  Anne Paul (City of Derry AC), Anne Fitzpatrick (Unattached), Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) and Donna Evans (Finn Valley AC).

In Ballyclare (County Antrim) on Sunday 12th October 2014, hundreds of runners and fitness enthusiasts are expected to turn out for the 'Run for Ross 3k', which will take place in Sixmile Park.  Registration for the event will be at Sixmile Leisure Centre, with the competitive start at 10am.

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

Runners from Northern Ireland nominated for Athletics Ireland awards:

Athletics Ireland announce nominee's for National Awards (article taken from Athletics NI website):

Athletics Ireland have officially announced the nominations for the 2014 National Athletics Awards in association with GloHealth. Three local athletes are amongst the prestigious list of nominees, Annadale Striders' Paul Pollock (Endurance), UCD AC's Ciara Mageean (Emerging Athlete of the Year) and Christine McMahon of Ballymena & Antrim AC (Emerging Athlete of the Year) will all take their seats on Wednesday 26th November 2014 in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Northwood (Ireland). 

The awards ceremony is a celebration of the many successes of our athletes during 2014. The award ceremony also commemorates our exceptional volunteer base who are the bedrock of our sport.

Endurance Athlete of the Year nominations includes; Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) for setting a personal best of 1:02.09 for 30th place and fifth European at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, Mick Clohissey (Raheny Shamrock AC) winner of the national half marathon, 10,000m national track title and the Inter Club Cross Country Titles. Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) for placing eight in the 10,000m and tenth in her marathon debut at the European Athletics Championships and Brendan Boyce (Letterkenny AC) for placing 16th and setting a new personal best time of 3:51.32 in the 50km Walk at the European Athletics Championships.

The nominations for Track and Field Athlete of the Year are; Thomas Barr (Ferrybank AC) set a new Irish 400m Hurdles record of 48.91 at the EAP meet in Geneva, Mark English (UCD AC) won the bronze medal in the 800m at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich. Paul Robinson (St. Coca’s AC) fourth in the 1500m at the European Athletics Championships and Kelly Proper (Ferrybank AC) ran a personal best of 23.15 at the European Championships placing tenth overall.

Junior Athlete of the Year nominations includes; Marcus Lawler (St Laurence O’Toole AC) set a new Irish Indoor 200m record (21.26) and qualifying for the World Junior Championships, Emma O’Hara (AC) set a new Irish Junior record of 58.98m in the hammer and qualified for the final at the World Junior Championships, Sarah Collins (Finn Valley AC) set a new European Indoor Junior Record of 15.41.00 in December 2013 in Boston. Karl Griffin (UCD AC) reaching the semi-finals at the World Junior Championships and for running personal best of 1.47.44.

The following are the nominations for the Emerging Athlete of the Year; Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) for securing the national 1500m title in her first race back after injury and for placing third in a high quality Fifth Avenue Mile Race in New York. Christine McMahon (Ballymena and Antrim AC) for significantly lowering her personal best in the 400m Hurdles to 56.97 and qualifying for the semi-finals at the European Athletics Championships.  Phil Healy (Bandon AC) and Sarah Lavin (UCD AC) for setting new personal bests in their respective events and qualifying for the European Senior Athletics Championships in their first year out of the junior rankings. Both athletes were members of the Irish 4x100m team that set a new Irish Record of 43.84 at the European Athletics Championships.

The People’s Choice Award is an exciting new awards category this year, full details on the nominees and the voting options will be available on Wednesday 15th October 2014.  Following on from this the 2014 Hall of Fame Inductee will be revealed on the 22nd October 2014.  The prestigious Athlete of the Year Award will be presented on the night.  Other awards presented on the night will include the Ultra Running Award, Mountain Running Award, Master Athlete of the Year, Tailteann Schools Boy and Girl Award, Team Performance of the Year and University Athlete.  For the third year running their will be awards presented to Performance Club of the Year and Development Club of the Year.

The award ceremony also commemorates our exceptional volunteer base.  In recognition of that, awards will be presented to Outstanding Coach Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Local athletes impress at events in Ireland, England and Scotland:

Local athletes impress over various distances outside the province:

Over the weekend (Saturday 4th October and Sunday 5th October 2014), runners from Northern Ireland put in impressive performances at events in Ireland, Scotland and England, namely the Born 2 Run Surf N' Turf Marathon, Galway Bay Half Marathon, 3x3 Ultra, Monaghan Phoenix Marathon and the Great Scottish Run.

In Wexford, four familiar faces took on Northern Ireland based Event Management company Born 2 Run's Surf N'Turf Marathon, which was part of a programme of events spanning distances from 10k upwards.  Starting in Curracloe, the athletes covered a multi-terrain course, and it was the in-form Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC) who led the local contingent, and the ladies field home in 3:36:14 (1st place).  Fellow Seapark AC runner Gary Connolly followed in 3:40:51(10th place), before Peter Ferris (Unattached) recorded 3:50:53 for 14th place.  Unattached athlete Eugene Winters crossed the line in 4:41:25 (23rd place).  The men's race was won by Raymond Lanigan (Unattached) in 3:11:17 (1st place).

Meanwhile, in Galway, North Belfast Harriers' Darryl Blair was in action at the popular and scenic Galway Bay Half Marathon, which takes place in and around the area of Salthill, just outside the picturesque City.  Darryl was rewarded for his recent hard work in training with a new personal best of 1:15:20 (4th place).  The race was won by Ireland based Moldovan athlete Sergiu Ciobanu (Clonliffe Harriers) in 1:07:04 (1st place).

On the mainland, BARF's Aaron Shimmons braved horrendous weather conditions as he completed the penultimate Skyrunning UK event of 2014, the 3x3 Ultra in England.  The event is based on the classic ‘Lakes 3000’s’ race and was due to cover a gruelling 80km route (inc 4,000m of ascent), seeing athletes negotiate three of the Lakeland's most famous peaks, Scafell Pike, Helvellyn and Skiddaw.  However, because of the severe weather conditions, race organisers cut out the dangerous first ascent of Scafell Pike.  Aaron, who enjoyed a good run at the HOKA Highland Fling earlier this year, covered the technical terrain but scenic course in 11:49:33 (56th place).  The race was won by Donald Campbell (UVU Racing) in 8:28:56 (1st place).

On Sunday 5th October 2014, a group of approximately twenty athletes and spectators from Ballymena Runners joined other runners from Northern Ireland and thousands of other competitors on the start line of the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow (Scotland).

The event, which offered participants an option of 10k and Half Marathon distances, attracted athletes from around the world, including former Olympic Champion and marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia).  In the 10k, Joe McBride (East Antrim Harriers) ran 39:57 to reach the finish ahead of Noleen Ervine (Ballymena Runners), who led the Ballymena Runners contingent home in 50:56; club mate Lillian Quigley completed the course in 57:22.  Amanda Scott (Ballymena Runners) and Allister Millar (Ballymena Runners) finished on either side of the one hour barrier; Amanda clocked 59:54, with Allister crossing the line in 1:00:07.  

Sean Fontona (Victoria Park AC) won the men's race in 31:03 (1st place), while Lyndsay Morrison (Central AC) took the ladies title in 36:20 (1st place). Dundee based Northern Ireland man John McManus (Garscube Harriers) was the first familiar face home in the Half Marathon, covering the distance in 1:25:30, before Elle Forrest (Ballymena Runners) followed in 1:36:51.  Unattached runner Ryan O'Toole ran 2:07:00, while David Scullion (Ballymena Runners) recorded 2:14:36.  Husband and wife duo Norman and Sharon Stephens ran 2:20:07 and 2:20:08 respectively.  The men's race was won by Stephen Mokoka (South Africa) in 1:01:25 (1st place); Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) won the ladies equivalent in 1:07:57 (1st place).

Also in Ireland on Sunday 5th October 2014, a number of local distance running enthusiasts took on the Monaghan Phoenix Marathon in Monaghan. Ballymena Runners' Ryan Armstrong was the first of the local athletes to cross the line, recording 3:13:58 for 8th place.  Barry Shanks (St Peter's AC) followed in 3:17:33 (10th place), before Springwell Running Club's Fran McFadden, a podium finisher at the Causeway Coast Ultra last weekend secured the ladies title in 3:31:15.  Other local finishers included:  Ali Shaw (Springwell Running Club) - 3:29:22 (12th place), Bobbie Irvine (Seapark AC) - 3:32:47 (19th place), Craig Mills (Unattached) - 3:36:44 (20th place), Helena Dornan (Ballycastle Runners) - 3:42:33 (2nd place lady), Claire Martin (Ballymena Runners) - 3:55:16 (4th place lady), Darren Warnock (Sperrin Harriers) - 4:00:31 (45th place), Gillian Cordner (Seapark AC) - 4:14:23 (7th place lady), Donna Owens (Omagh Harriers) - 4:11:34 (8th place lady) and Iryna Kennedy (Lagan Valley AC) - 5:01:37 (19th place lady).

Full Results:   Born 2 Run Surf N' Turf Marathon 2014 Results - Galway Bay Half Marathon 2014 Results - 3x3 Ultra 2014 Results - Great Scottish Run 2014 Results - Monaghan Phoenix Marathon 2014 Results

Scott Rankin and Gemma Turley win Marty's Memorial 5k:

Martin Gallagher Memorial 5k 2014:

On Sunday 5th October 2014, nearly eight hundred runners turned out for the annual Marty Gallagher Memorial 5k race in Derry/Londonderry, an event hosted by Foyle Valley AC in memory of their late club member.

NI & Ulster 5,000m and Athletics NI 10,000m (Road) Silver medallist Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) showed his class from the off.  Almost immediately Scott moved clear of the field and set his sights on victory.  After a dominant performance, he (Scott) did just that, breaking the tape in a speedy 15:24 (1st place).  City of Derry AC's Conor Doherty followed just over thirty seconds later in 15:59 (2nd place), while his Spartan club mate Noel Logan proved that he is getting back to form with a 3rd place finish in 16:09.

In the ladies race, it was Coleraine 10k winner Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) who stole the headlines. Gemma ran well to cross the line in 18:49 (1st place), nearly one minute clear of her nearest rival, which turned out to be the host clubs Martina McMullan (Foyle Valley AC).  Martina clocked 19:40 (2nd place), before Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) continued her return to competition with a 3rd place finish in 19:53.

Top 3 Men:  1st Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 15:24, 2nd Conor Doherty (City of Derry AC) – 15:59, 3rd Noel Logan (City of Derry AC) – 15:59

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Gemma Turley (Springwell Running Club) – 18:49, 2nd Martina McMullan (Foyle Valley AC) – 19:40, 3rd Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) – 19:53

Full Results:  Marty's 5k 2014 Results

Heather Foley produces top performance to claim Runher 10k victory:

Runher Titanic 10k 2014:

On Sunday 5th October 2014, thousands of athletes and spectators gathered in Belfast's Titanic Quarter for the inaugural running of the Runher Titanic 10k.  Like other Runher events, this new addition, which was introduced after feedback from athletes, attracted a good mixture of top quality athletes and running enthusiasts.

At the head of the pack, the podium places became obvious from the early stages, when North Belfast Harriers duo Louise Smith and Cathy McCourt, and Unattached athlete Heather Foley broke clear of the remainder of the field.  It wasn't long before Heather, who claimed a podium spot behind Louise Smith at the recent Belfast City Half Marathon, began to build a gap between herself and the North Belfast Harriers ladies.

In the end, it was Heather who claimed top honours, cruising into the atmospheric finish area and breaking the tape in 37:34 (1st place).  The ever impressive Louise Smith continued her good recent form to take 2nd place in 38:20, before Cathy McCourt, a competitor at yesterdays NI & Ulster (Road) Relay Championships, completed the top three in 41:08 (3rd place).  Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers) and Lyndsey Pronger (Orangegrove AC), both of whom also represented their clubs at the hugely successful Relay Championships, recorded 41:37 (4th place) and 42:11 (5th place) respectively.

Top 5 Ladies:  1st Heather Foley (Unattached) – 37:34, 2nd Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – 38:20, 3rd Cathy McCourt (North Belfast Harriers) – 41:08, 4th Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers) – 41:37, 5th Lyndsey Pronger (Orangegrove AC) – 42:11

Full Results:  Runher Titanic 10k 2014 Results.  A selection of photos from the Runher Titanic 10k (courtesy of Mark Ramsey) are now available within our Photo Gallery.

Alex Brennan and Karen Alexander impress at Slieve Gallion:

Slieve Gallion Mountain Race 2014 (report compiled by Jonathan McCloy):

With September being the driest in since record began, it was only right that the rain should come on the day before the annual Slieve Gallion mountain race.  However, organisers confirmed that the ground remained very firm and only the boggiest spots were wet.  Increased activity in the forest has led to some path improvements on the way up to the 'Poles' and only short sections of the rough zig-zag path remain narrow.

On Saturday 4th October 2014, a glorious morning welcomed athletes to the stunning Sperrin Mountains.  Despite the busy day of racing, with both the NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships and the Orienteering Championships, local running website NiRunning were still on track with their race preview.  In the men’s race it was Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners) who was lining up as pre-race favourite; however some of the new faces meant Alex still had to be on his toes.  

Local men, Acorn AC’s Shane Donnelly has shown continuous improvement in recent mountain races and Magherafelt Harrier’s Mark McGinn, who knows this mountain as well as most, would turn out to be two of Alex Brennan's biggest challengers.  Acorn AC’s Northern Ireland international Karen Alexander toed the line with Lagan Valley AC's Shileen O’Kane beside her, meaning that it was going to be an exciting race from the start.  Nuria Hernandez, who hails from Spain, also added to the mix.

As the athletes set off, it was indeed Alex Brennan who set the pace. The first section saw the field negotiate their way through forest trails and a fast section before hitting 'the hill'. After the initial climb, it was Alex who reached the 'Poles' first, with a sizeable gap to Belfast Running Club’s Lochlainn Connolly, who was in-turn, followed by Shane Donnelly. In the ladies race, Shileen O’Kane was running strong uphill and was fending off Karen Alexander.  On the rough open mountain, a loop takes runners downhill before a steep climb to the summit.  It was at this point positions started to change; those who favour the rough downhill s took their turn to battle it out with the strong climbers.  Despite the trading of places behind, Alex Brennan continued on his one man mission, summiting first.

At the finish line it was the in-form Alex who cruised home in a time of 41:11 (1st place), this was enough to have beaten 2013 winner Allan Bogle’s time of 41:54, but not quite enough to catch his team mate Jonny Steede’s 2012 time of 40:29.  Behind Alex, it was all change as a fast finishing Shane Donnelly took a clear 2nd place in 43:41 (and with it, the honour of being first local finisher), with Ballymena Runners’ Connor Reid taking 3rd place in 44:15 after a strong mountain section.

In the ladies race, change was in the air; Karen Alexander had found her legs after the shaky start and opened almost a minute on Shileen O’Kane for a convincing win in 46:37 (1st place).  Shileen followed in 47:20 (2nd place), while Susannah Allen (Ballymena Runners) sealed 3rd place in 1:03:06.

Top 3 Men:  1st Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners) – 41:11, 2nd Shane Donnelly (Acorns AC) – 43:41, 3rd Connor Reid (Ballymena Runners) – 44:15

Top 3 Ladies:  1st Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) – 46:37, 2nd Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – 47:20, 3rd Susannah Allen (Ballymena Runners) – 1:03:06

Full Results:  Slieve Gallion Mountain Race 2014 Results (Summary by Jonathan McCloy and Photo by Shelley Tomlins)

Record numbers enjoy exciting NI & Ulster (Road) Relays 2014:

NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships (inc NIMAA Road Relay Championships) 2014:

On Saturday 4th October 2014, hundreds of athletes and spectators descended on the sun drenched Victoria Park in Belfast for the Northern Ireland & Ulster Road Relay Championships, which were sublimely hosted for the third year in a row by Orangegrove AC. The event also incorporated the Northern Ireland Masters Athletics Association (NIMAA) Championships.

The day kicked off with a number of junior races, which proved to be both fun and competitive; supporters were treated to some impressive performances, highlighting the up and coming talent within the province.  There were notable wins for Rebecca Wallace (North Belfast Harriers), Aidan Short (Beechmount Harriers), Scott McKeag (Ballydrain Harriers), Emma Hutchinson (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) and Laura Gardiner (East Down AC), amongst others.  

The first adult event of the day brought the Master's Ladies to the start line, with the teams being made up of three ladies and each runner completing 3,380m.  Gillian Burns (Dromore AC), Allyson O'Toole (East Coast AC), Leann Gibson (Oranegrove AC) and Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) got their teams off to a great start and made up the top four as they came through the first changeover.  However, as the race progressed, the strong Lagan Valley AC team of Ruth Magill, Suzanne Higgins and Julie Murphy gradually worked themselves into contention, and lay in second place as the final runners set off.  

It was at this point that the host clubs Jenny Black (Orangegrove AC) stole the spot light with arguably the run of the day; the popular athlete started her leg in third place, but produced an outstanding performance, working her way through the field to claim a well-deserved victory for Orangegrove AC in 37:47 (1st place).  Lagan Valley AC secured 2nd place in 38:04, before Dromore AC held off the strong challenge of Ballydrian Harriers (4th place – 38:17) to take 3rd place in 38:14.

Next up was the Masters Men (4 x 3,380m) who had a lot to live up to following the performances of their fellow Masters athletes.  Conor Curran (North Belfast Harriers) set the ball rolling for what was to be an excellent display of consistent front running from reigning Champions North Belfast Harriers. Conor showed virtually no signs of loss in sharpness after a period of planned rest when he set out and held a blistering pace.  Behind, there was an epic battle for the remaining podium places, with Ballymena Runners, Annadale Striders and Acorns AC all enjoying their turn in the prize-winning places.

It wasn't until the final leg when the podium places began to become clear, well, that is the places behind North Belfast Harriers; their strong team of Conor Curran, Neil Carty, Nat Glenn and Alan O'Hara crossed the line as gun to tape winners in 43:05 (1st place); fittingly, it was the returning Alan O'Hara who completed the anchor leg for the impressive Belfast team.  After noteworthy performances from his team mates Michael Bennett, Kevin O'Boyle and Neil Douglas, Matt Wray completed Ballymena Runners' final leg and the new signing ensured that the team took 2nd place in 43:44.  Stephen McGrory brought the Annadale Striders team home in 43:50 (3rd place), after an exciting battle with Acorns AC.

It was back to teams of three (but still 3,380m per athlete) as the Senior Ladies took to the start line, and from the off it looked like 2013 Champions City of Lisburn AC were going to retain their title. 

Judith Lonnen and Catriona McGloin both looked sharp as they hammered through the spectator/changeover point; North Belfast Harriers, North Down AC and Willowfield Harriers were all in contention, and exchanged places throughout, but it in the final leg, Kerry Speers followed on from strong performances by team mates Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson to bring North Down AC to within three seconds of City of Lisburn AC going into the final lap.  

The expectant and appreciative crowd eagerly awaited the outcome, and greeted the eventual winners, which turned out to be North Down AC, into the home straight with huge applause.  Kerry Speers brought the team home in 36:10 (1st place), a new course record.  

Young Rebecca Harvey completed City of Lisburn AC's team in 36:42 (2nd place), while Cathy McCourt brought North Belfast Harriers back into the podium places before finishing in 38:30 (3rd place).

The final race of the day came with huge expectation; would the Senior Men's course record go and the £200 bonus be taken, just like the Senior Ladies did? Teams of four, with each athlete covering 3,380m, set off in an attempt to claim the generous bonus.  At the first changeover, Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers) had gained a slight edge over North Belfast Harriers' Adam Boyd, Ballymena Runners' Richard Johnston and Annadale Striders' Stephen Prentice; things had changed by changeover two, with City of Lisburn AC leading the way from North Belfast Harriers, Annadale Striders and North Down AC.  It was during the third 3,380m leg that Willowfield Harriers' veteran Paul Rowan showed his class, bringing the team back into contention – his finish with Conall McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers) was the closest of the day, with the pair being inseparable.  

However, in the final leg, versatile athlete Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers) showed his class, and it was this class that eventually saw him secure the NI & Ulster title for North Belfast Harriers, after breaking the tape in an overall time of 41:08 (1st place); there was no new course record, but the North Belfast Harriers team of Adam Boyd, Conal McCambridge, Mark McKinstry and Andrew Annett won't mind that after collected their gold medals.  St Malachy's AC, who were brought back into the chasing pack through the work of figure-head Joe McAlister, claimed 2nd place in 41:35, just ahead of Willowfield Harriers (3rd place – 41:38).

Podium Places:

Masters Ladies (3x3,380m):  1st Orangegrove AC – 37:47, 2nd Lagan Valley AC – 38:04, 3rd Dromore AC – 38:14

Masters Men (4x3,380m):  1st North Belfast Harriers – 43:05, 2nd Ballymena Runners – 43:44, 3rd Annadale Striders – 43:50

Senior Ladies (3x3,380m):  1st North Down AC – 36:10, 2nd City of Lisburn AC – 36:42, 3rd North Belfast Harriers – 38:30

Senior Men (4x3,380m):  1st North Belfast Harriers – 41:08, 2nd St Malachy's AC – 41:35, 3rd Willowfield Harriers – 41:38

Full Results:  NI & Ulster (Road) Relay Championships 2014 Results - Photos from the NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships are now available within our 'Photo Gallery'.

Weekend Preview: NI & Ulster Relay Championships attract record numbers...

Weekend Preview:  NI & Ulster Relay Championships take centre stage:

After enjoying events such as the Belfast City Half Marathon, Waterside Half Marathon, Bangor 10k, the Mourne Mountain Marathon and the Causeway Coast Marathon Series in the last three weeks, the seemingly endless run of big races in Northern Ireland continues this weekend, with the Northern Ireland & Ulster (Road) Relay Championships taking centre stage.

There are also events taking place in Belfast (County Antrim), Drumragh (County Tyrone), Newtownhamilton (County Armagh) and the Sperrin Mountains (County Derry/Londonderry).  Northern Ireland will also be represented at events in Ireland and Scotland, as well as the penultimate Skyrunning UK event of 2014, the 3x3 Ultra in England.

The action kicks off on Saturday 4th October 2014, when athletes from across the province will represent their clubs at the increasingly popular NI & Ulster (Road) Relay Championships, hosted by Orangegrove AC in Victoria Park, Belfast.  Over the last couple of years, this event has proved to be a resounding success and this year looks as if it will be even better, with a record number of clubs signing up.

The unique nature of these Relay Championships creates an excellent atmosphere; the event provides runners who would normally represent their club over different terrains (and distances) the opportunity to come together for one day, with all aiming to earn the bragging rights associated to being Northern Ireland’s ‘fastest club’.  

This year, there will be no 'Mixed' team event, meaning that the focus will be on the Men's and Ladies Senior and Masters races, which for the first time, will be run as separate events. The exciting day of racing will begin at 11.10am, with children’s races taking place before the adult Championship races kick off at 12.30pm.  The first of these Championship races will see the Master Ladies take to the start line; each team will consist of three runners (and two reserves), with each covering 3,380m.

Last years winners, Dromore AC will return to defend their title and two of the ladies who raced twelve months ago will again line up; Diane Wilson and Gillian Burns will be joined by Karen McDowell in the absence of 2013 team mate Geraldine Branagh.  The Lagan Valley AC team of Suzanne Higgins, Julie Murphy and Ruth Magill also look strong, while the host club, Orangegrove AC, will be hoping that Leann Gibson, Jennifer Black and Trudy Brown can bring home the medals.  City of Lisburn AC (Diane Watson, Ann Terek and Mel Minshull), Ballymena Runners (Janice White, Jacqueline McIlrath and Lorna Sibbett), Larne AC (Patricia Blair, Rhonda Brady and Julianne Keane) and East Coast AC (Allyson O'Toole, Paula Urwin and Rowena Davis) will also be vying for a podium place.

The Masters Men's event will start at 1.30pm and should see North Belfast Harriers  (Alan O'Hara, Conor Curran, Neil Carty and Nat Glenn) contest the title with Derry City Track Club, who will field Conor McCullagh, Adrian Boyle, Gary Magee and Cathal McLaughlin.  Ballymena Runners new boy Matt Wray will line up alongside new club mates Neil Douglas, Kevin O'Boyle and Michael Bennett as they try to out run fellow East Antrim based team Larne AC (Bernard Brady, James Brown, Craig Hutchinson and Sammy Drummond) for a prize.  City of Lisburn AC's team, which includes current NI & Ulster 10,000m Champion Stephen Morris and Dave Lonnen, Paul McCullagh and Declan Morgan, will also be worth watching.

The first of the Senior races will be the Senior Ladies at 2.45pm; like the Masters Ladies, it will see three athletes complete two laps each (measuring a total of 3,380m.  Kelly Neely produced one of the most notable performances of the 2013 event, which helped her club, City of Lisburn AC secure the title.  Although Kelly will not be racing this year, the classy CoL trio of Judith Lonnen, Christine Quinn and Catriona McGloin will prove hard to beat.   However, they will need to see off the challenge of North Down AC (Jessica Craig, Rachel Gibson and Kerry Speers) and North Belfast Harriers (Judi Graham, Claire Connor and Cathy McCourt) should they wish to retain the trophy. Sperrin Harriers (Pauline McGurren, Angela O'Neill and Natalie Hall) and Ballydrain Harriers (Denise Logue, Amanda Perry and Debbie Matchett) should also finish in or around the podium places.

The final relay of the day will bring no less than thirty five Senior Men's teams to the start line (at 3.45pm), with four participants in each.  At the head of the pack, there could well be an epic battle between Belfast based clubs North Belfast Harriers (Adam Boyd, Mark McKinstry, Conal McCambridge and Andrew Annett) and St Malachy's AC (Ronan O'Fril, Joe McAlister, Gary Murray and Paddy Robb) if all of the men turn out.  Derry City Track Club (Matthew Doherty, Darragh Crossan, Connor Donaghey and Robert Bigger) and North Down AC (James Budde, Francis Marsh, Dennis Scott and Brian Barron) also look like podium chasers, as do the Willowfield Harriers team of Andrew Wright, Chris Moren, Ryan Holt and Paul Rowan.  Although, not at full strength, the Annadale Striders line-up of Stephen Prentice, Owen Carleton, Simon Murray and Keith Purdy have the pace to do some damage at the front. Ballymena Runners will be led by new signing Richard Johston and their team, which also includes James Hamilton, Ben Morrow and Matthew McCooke should go well; the same could be said for current NI & Ulster Champions' Newcastle AC's four man line up of David O'Flaherty, Paul Carlin, David McNeilly and Brendan Quail.

It is expected that NI & Ulster (Road) Relay Championships will prove to be an exciting and atmospheric family day out and everyone is encouraged to come along to support.  Entries for the childrens races will be available on the day (but no further entries can be taken for the Senior or Masters races). Orangegrove AC would also like to stress that there will be NO PARKING within Victoria Park (except for the Race Team and Disabled badge holders) – Full details of parking arrangements will be sent out to clubs before race day.

Also on Saturday 4th October 2014, mountain running enthusiasts from Northern Ireland will travel to the Slieve Gallion Mountain Race, which starts in Iniscarn Forest, just outside Magherafelt, in the Sperrin Mountains and covers 5 miles in distance (with 530m of ascending).  A sizeable crowd is expected to turn out for the race given the complimentary words attributed to it in years gone by and also the fact that it is a perfect step into mountain running for those considering it.

Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) won the event convincingly in 2013 and may return with the view of retaining his title; the City of Derry Spartan, who is looking forward to the Mourne Skyline MTR in two weeks, has enjoyed an excellent year, having won the the British Championship race at Slieve Donard and the Balearic Isles Mountain Running Championships amongst others.  

Northern Ireland Mountain Running Champion Jonny Steede (Ballymena Runners) may also compete, and he could be joined on the startline by fellow Ballymena Runners men Alex Brennan and Mark Alexander, both of whom have been in good form of late; Alex in particular has impressed with several podium places in both mountain and road running events.  Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), Clive Bailey (Mourne Runners), Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers), Andy Gregg (Larne AC) and Eugene McCann (Newcastle AC) will all hope for highly placed finishes.

The ladies race could see mountain-trail runner Karen Alexander (Acrons AC) compete against fellow Northern Ireland internationals Shileen O'Kane (Lagan Valley AC), Anne Sandford (Lagan Valley AC), Catherine O'Connor (East Down AC) and Gillian Wasson (Springwell Running Club).  Karen cruised to victory at last weeks Causeway Coast Half Marathon and appears to be in good shape going into this, which should mean that the former World Masters Mountain Running medallist will finish well up the field overall, never mind just the ladies race.  Relative newcomer to the scene, Catherine O'Connor will look forward to challenging Karen having enjoyed several impressive outings as well as her international debut this season.  The strong running trio of Shileen O'Kane, Anne Sandford and Gillian Wasson will no doubt be in the thick of the action!

On the same day (Saturday 4th October 2014), local runners will also have events in County Tyrone and County Armagh to look forward too; these will come in the form of the Drumragh 10k and the Newtownhamilton Half Marathon (and 10k).  We would expect to see the likes of Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers), Paul Barbour (Omagh Harriers), Fergus McGirr (Enniskillen Running Club), Craig Phair (Enniskillen Running Club), Julie Butler (Omagh Harriers) and Patricia Campbell (Omagh Harriers) compete in Drumragh, while Don Travers (Newry City Runners), Dermot Mathers (Newry City Runners), Anne Haveron (Newry City Runners) Brian Young (Unattached), Alan Johnston (Murlough AC), Jemma McGourtey (Unattached) and Liosa McKeown (Gym Tech AC) could be amongst the starters in Newtownhamilton.

Further afield on Saturday 4th October 2014, North Belfast Harriers' Daryl Blair will line up at the popular Galway Bay Half Marathon in Galway, Ireland.  The event will take in a relatively flat coastal course, in and around Salthill and it's scenic promenade, and will hopefully result in a personal best for Daryl and any other local athletes who make the four hour journey to the race.

In England (on Saturday 4th October 2014), Aaron Shimmons (BARF) will take on the penultimate race of the 2014 Skyrunning UK Series, the 3x3 Ultra in England.  The event is based on the classic ‘Lakes 3000’s’ race and covers an 80km route (inc 4,000m of ascent).  Athletes will be faced with three of the Lakeland's most famous peaks, Scafell Pike, Helvellyn and Skiddaw as they negotiate the amazing circular route, which promises to be a tough challenge, combining all the elements of a classic Lakeland run with aspects of European racing; technical terrain, beautiful mountains and hills.

On Sunday 5th October 2014, approximately one thousand five hundred athletes will descend on the Titanic Quarter of Belfast for the inaugural Runher Titanic 10k.  According to a recent press release, organisers listened to feedback from competitors and opted for the new venue over the usual autumn Runher Stormont event.

The Titanic Quarter venue is completely flat and the race will take in some of the iconic sights around the harbour area - with the start and finish in the ‘paddock’ behind the Exhibition Centre and running passed Samson and Goliath before heading out over the new Sam Thompson bridge and around Victoria Park before returning.  The event will be started by Dame Mary Peters - who has done nearly every Runher in its  eight year history- and Belfast’s Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon.  Although we have little information on possible headliners, we understand that North Belfast Harriers' Cathy McCourt will start.

Also on Sunday 5th October 2014, Foyle Valley AC will welcome hundreds of athletes to their annual Marty Gallagher 5k road race in Derry/Londonderry, an event organised as a fitting tribute to late club member Martin Gallagher.  A plethora of talent from the North West of the province should be on show at the race, this will no doubt include a large number of Foyle Valley AC athletes, including Scott Rankin, Keith Shiels, Chris McGuinness, Adrian McGowan and Pius McIntyre.  City of Derry AC runners Gary Slevin, Catherine Whoriskey and Jackie McGinley may also take on the worthwhile event.

Meanwhile, in Glasgow (Scotland) on Sunday 5th October 2014, there will be a large contingent of Northern Ireland based runners competing at the Great Scottish Run (10k and Half Marathon).  There will athletes from Ballymena Runners toeing the line and they could well be joined by fellow NI athletes Ryan Stewart (Larne AC), John McManus (East Coast AC) and Lauren Quee (Glasgow University AC).  Former marathon world record holder and running legend Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia) will also be racing.

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

Note - September 2014 'News' is available HERE or by following the navigational bar at the top of the page.  This includes summaries for races which took place last weekend (Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th September 2014).

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