Weekend Preview: The XC bandwagon rolls on…
After a Spooktacular Halloween weekend, which saw some outstanding performances at the Dublin Marathon, Frankfurt Marathon and of course, closer to home, at the Comber Cup XC, it is time to again look ahead to the weekend.
This time of the year means one thing for the local running fraternity, CROSS COUNTRY season, and this week brings the 82nd annual running of the East Antrim Harriers McConnell Shield as well as the NI & Ulster Novice and Age Group Championships. There is also Born 2 Run’s Minnowburn 10k (and 5k) and the Decathlon 10k to tempt those who are edging towards another racing weekend.
The 82nd McConnell Shield Cross Country:
On Saturday 5th November 2016, East Antrim Harriers will host the 82nd annual running of their long established and highly respected McConnell Shield Cross Country. The event, which incorporates both junior and senior races, takes place in Sixmilewater Park in Ballyclare and kicks off at 1.30pm. It is the third race of the ongoing Athletics NI XC League 2016/17.
At the head of the pack, North Belfast Harriers’ Mark McKinstry will be keen to show the same kind of form that led him to his second successive victory at the Comber Cup XC just last week. Mark looked in good shape as he saw off talented Newcastle AC pair David O’Flaherty and Seamus Lynch; both should again be on the start line with Mark.
North Belfast Harriers, Newcastle AC, City of Derry AC and Ballymena Runners are expected to field a large number of athletes. Amongst these could be podium contenders such as Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers), John Black (North Belfast Harriers), Declan Reed (City of Derry AC), David Simpson (Newcastle AC), Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) and Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers).
In the ladies race, North Down AC duo Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson could well set the pace. Following on from excellent outings at the Comber Cup XC last week, where the pair claimed first and second place respectively, it’s hard to see them being knocked off the podium. Consistent performer Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) could well play a part, while City of Derry AC front runner Catherine Whoriskey could toe the line. Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC) will feature at the sharp end if she enters on the day – club mate Rebekah Nixon and Ballydrain Harriers athletes Amanda Perry and Debbie Matchett, as well as North Down AC’s Jodi Smith, will be there our there abouts.
Born 2 Run Minnowburn 10k:
Also on Saturday 5th November 2016, events management company Born 2 Run will welcome close to seven hundred athletes from across the province to the opening race of their ‘Run Forest Run’ Series, the Minnowburn 10k. The scenic route will take competitors around the forest trails and paths which surround the home of Athletics Northern Ireland, the Mary Peters Track.
Newry City Runners athlete and Northern Ireland international Don Travers should return to defend the title he won so impressively in 2015. North Belfast Harriers men, Brendan Grew and Kent Swann, who took to the podium with Don twelve months ago, may also compete. PACE Running Club stars Aaron Woodman and Oliver Cook will contest a podium place, while Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC), Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) and Gareth Owens (Ballydrain Harriers) should all place inside the top ten if they make use of the on the day entry.
In the ladies race, 2015 Champion Roisin Hughes (North Belfast Harriers) may decide to rest up after her sub three hour heroics at the Dublin Marathon last weekend. This will leave the door open for a new champion to be crowned – Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) may well lead the charge for honours, but she’ll have to see off the likes of Catherine Roberts (North Down AC), Patricia Brown (Newry City Runners) and County Down pair Nicola Mathers (Murlough AC) and Michelle McCann (Murlough AC); Nicola and Michelle recorded new 26.2 mile personal bests in Dublin last weekend.
NI & Ulster Senior Novice and Age Group XC Championships:
On Sunday 6th November 2016, thousands of athletes and spectators are expected to descend on the impressive Finn Valley Leisure Centre in Stranorlar, County Donegal (Ireland) for the NI & Ulster Age Category and Novice XC Championships, hosted by Athletics Northern Ireland.
A total of ten age group Championships will be held, catering for boys and girls from Under 11 to Under 19. In the Novice XC Championships, Derry City Track Club, Foyle Valley AC and Ballydrain Harriers will all be represented, with men from each of the clubs likely to feature at the front. Ryan Andrews (Ballydrain Harriers), Shane McGowan (Derry City Track Club), Conor McIlveen (Derry City Track Club) and Matthew Doherty (Derry City Track Club) are just a few men to look out for.
Meanwhile, experienced Omagh Harriers athlete Patricia Campbell will come up against some emerging talent, with Amy McDaid (Derry City Track Club) and Hannah McGowan (City of Derry AC) both likely to take to the start line. Foyle Valley AC’s Annalisa Mullan will also be worth watching.
In the age group races, Edie Carroll (East Down AC), Sean McIntyre (Derry City Track Club), Emma Hutchinson (Ballymena & Antrim AC) and Rachel Brown (Ballymena & Antrim AC) will all be in the hunt for medals in their respective categories.
In Belfast on Sunday 6th November 2016, close to one thousand athletes are set to take to the flat and fast Decathlon 10k course within the Belfast Harbour Estate, starting and finishing at the Decathlon store in Hollywood Exchange, Belfast.
The race is free to enter and should attract a mixture of seasoned athletes and fitness enthusiasts – if weather conditions are favourable, this is the perfect course for personal best hunters!
Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers), Philip Goss (North Belfast Harriers), Ben Caughers (North Down AC) and Chris Moren (Willowfield Harriers) could lace up their racers for this one and all will play a part at the head of the pack should they do so.
Meanwhile, in the ladies race, Jodi Smith (North Down AC) could be in the mix, depending on whether she takes part in the McConnell XC. Other ladies to watch out for could include Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC), Jenny Black (Victoria Park & Connswater AC) and Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers).
As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty-two parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.
World Masters Athletics Championships 2016:
On Monday 31st October 2016, Northern Ireland based athlete Cathy McCourt (Unattached) added a third individual medal to her impressive prize haul at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Perth, Australia.
Following on from podium places in the Cross Country and 5,000m events, Cathy took to the start line of the 10,000m. She produced a strong performance, eventually recording 38:50 for 3rd place. The race was won by dominant Australian athlete Belinda Martin in 36:32 (1st place).
Brendan Murphy impresses on marathon debut...
Also outside the province, on Sunday 30th October 2016, Northern Ireland man Brendan Murphy, who is usually better known for his triathlon/duathlon exploits excelled at the Frankfurt Marathon in Germany. Competing over the classic distance for the first time, Brendan, who is coached by top Northern Ireland athlete Paddy Hamilton, crossed the line in an excellent 2:30:20.
SSE Airtricity Dublin City Marathon 2016:
On Sunday 30th October 2016, a record number of 19,500 athletes took to the start line of this year’s well organised SSE Airtricity Dublin City Marathon. Amongst the tens of thousands of athletes, there was a large number of familiar faces from Northern Ireland.
There were numerous impressive performances and personal bests, but it was the outstanding display of pacing by Mourne Runners star Laura Graham which has deservedly stolen the headlines.
The AAI National Half Marathon Champion, who is relatively new to the sport, delivered a performance that the most experienced marathoner would be proud of, as she covered the classic 26.2 mile distance in a massive new personal best of 2:41:54; a staggering seven minutes quicker than her previous best for the distance. This was enough to secure the prestigious AAI National Marathon Championship gold medal, as well as a top ten finish overall, in what was a talent laden ladies field – Helalia Johannes won in 2:32:22 (1st place).
The first local man home was City of Derry AC’s Gary Slevin. The popular and humble athlete crossed the line in a new personal best of 2:37:40, and was followed by local men Colum Gaile (Albertville Harriers), Tommy Simmons (North Belfast Harriers) and Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers) who recorded 2:39:51, 2:40:02 and 2:40:07 respectively.
After Laura Graham, Armagh AC’s Fionnuala Ross was the next NI lady, clocking 2:53:03 for the distance. North Belfast Harriers’ Roisin Hughes looked in good form as she dipped under the famous three hour barrier in 2:58:11.
The official Dublin Marathon report (by Athletics Ireland) is available HERE, while full results for the event are available HERE. Well done to all of the local athletes who took part in this year’s SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon.
Comber Cup XC 2016 (report by Athletics NI):
Mark McKinstry and Jessica Craig successfully retained their titles in the weekend's (Saturday 29th October 2016) well supported Cross Country League races at Comber.
Laganside 10k winner Mark McKinstry of North Belfast Harriers was always the favourite over the tough 8k race. He and Newcastle AC's Seamus Lynch vied for the lead for much of the race, however Mark broke away in the last lap for an eight seconds winning margin in 26:26 (1st place). Seamus recorded 26:34 (2nd place), while Newcastle AC club mate David O'Flaherty followed in 27:24 (3rd place) followed by Beechmount Harriers' Christy Conlon (4th place - 27:43).
In the Ladies 6k event North Down AC's Jessica Craig made it clear from the gun that she was focused on yet another victory. She soon opened a sizeable gap on team mate Rachel Gibson which, was retained to the finish. Jessica recorded a time of 23:15 (1st place) which was twenty two seconds ahead of Rachel (2nd place - 23:37). Newcomer Amy Bulman of Willowfield Harriers took 3rd place in 23:55. Jodi Smith's 4th place in 24:16 ensured an easy team victory for North Down AC.
Full Results: Comber Cup XC 2016 Results (Photo above by John T Glover)
Enniskillen Spooktacular 5k 2016:
On Friday 28th October 2016, well over one thousand athletes 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 and fast two lap course based in and around the town centre.
Reigning Champion Conan McCaughey (Derry City Track Club) returned to defend his title as expected, but despite he and his Derry City Track Club team mates dominating the head of the pack, it was in-fact Foyle Valley AC’s Scott Rankin who came away victorious. Ever-impressive Scott recorded 14:55 for 1st place, while JP Williamson claimed 2nd place in 15:08. Fermanagh man Conan was forced to settle for 3rd place, after crossing the line in 15:13.
In the ladies race, pre-race favourite Patricia O’Hagan (St Peter’s AC) lived up to expectation. After finishing a very close second in 2015, Patricia went one better when she broke the tape in 18:44 (1st place), an excellent run. Marina Murphy (Club Unknown) secured the runners up spot in 19:08 (2nd place), before Edel Monaghan (Enniskillen Running Club) clocked 19:12 for 3rd place.
Top 3 Men: 1st Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 14:55, 2nd JP Williamson (Derry City Track Club) – 15:08, 3rd Conan McCaughey (Enniskillen Running Club) – 15:13
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Patricia O’Hagan (St Peter’s AC) – 18:44, 2nd Marina Murphy (Club Unknown) – 19:08, 3rd Edel Monaghan (Enniskillen Running Club) - 19:12
Full Results: Enniskillen Spooktacular 5k 2016 Results
East Coast AC Monster Dash 5k 2016:
On Friday 28th October 2015, hundreds of athletes and spectators descended on Carnfunnock Country Park in Drains Bay, just outside Larne, for the 3rd annual East Coast AC Monster Dash 5k trail race and associated Monster Mile.
After Will Barham (Larne AC) and Keeva Bell (East Coast AC) had claimed victory in their respective categories in the Monster Mile, it was the turn of a small but enthusiastic field to take to the start line of the Monster Dash 5k. The event, despite its fun Halloween theme, is a competitive affair and takes athletes on a tough but rewarding course within Carnfunnock Country Park and the adjoining Carnfunnock Forest, with only head torches to guide the way.
At the front end of the field, the host club’s Kevin Lynch was in fine form. The Larne based athlete, who has been running for less than a year, continue to show potential with a comfortable win. Kevin cruised into the finishing straight, taking top spot in 22:30 (1st place), well over two minutes ahead of his nearest rival. Fellow East Coast AC athlete Charline Patterson (24:42) and James Robinson (24:44) followed in 2nd place and 3rd place respectively.
The ladies race was a close affair, with just six seconds separating the top three athletes. Kelly Patterson (East Coast AC) looked strong as she sealed a memorable win in 27:39 (1st place). Jessica McClements, another talented athlete emerging from the East Coast AC junior ranks, completed the course in 27:43 (2nd place), while Unattached athlete Alexandra McLaughlin followed in 27:45 (3rd place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Kevin Lynch (East Coast AC) – 22:30, 2nd Charlie Patterson (East Coast AC) – 24:42, 3rd James Robinson (East Coast AC) – 24:44
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Kelly Patterson (East Coast AC) – 27:39, 2nd Jessica McClements (East Coast AC) – 27:43, 3rd Alexandra McLaughlin (Unattached) – 27:45
Full Results: East Coast AC Monster Dash 5k 2016 Results
Weekend Preview: A Spooktacular Halloween weekend ahead…
As the dust settles on what was a busy and exciting week, with our own Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race and associated ‘GTR’, the NI & Ulster Age Group Championships (and Bobby Rea XC) and Runher Titanic all showcasing excellent performances by local athletes, it’s now time to look ahead to another few days of competition.
Our weekend preview will cover a couple of ‘Halloween specials’ as well as the Comber Cup XC. We’ll of course keep you updated as to what other fixtures are taking place weekend – this includes the record breaking SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon 2016.
East Coast AC Monster Dash 5k:
The weekend action will kick off tonight (Friday 28th October 2016) in Drains Bay, just outside Larne, when local club East Coast AC host the 3rd annual Monster Dash 5k, which also includes a Monster Mile event for junior athletes. Despite the fun side of this event, with prizes given for best fancy dress, this is very much a competitive race, with athletes taking on a tough and at times technical trail course within the confines of Carnfunnock Country Park and Carnfunnock Forest, with only their head torches to guide the way.
Reigning Champion Justin Maxwell will not compete, but his club mates Murray Deller and Kevin Lynch will be just two athletes who will be chasing top honours. Murray won the event back in 2014 and is in good form following his twelfth-place finish at last week’s Garmin Mourne Skyline ‘GTR’. Kevin is quite a newcomer to the running scene but has shown huge potential and has the ability to run close to the twenty-minute mark, which will ensure a high placing. Thomas Craig (Larne AC) and East Coast AC trio Charlie Patterson, James Robinson and Alex Robertson will all toe the line.
Allyson O’Toole (East Coast AC) will take to the start line and will be looking to secure a hat-trick of wins having claimed victory in 2014 and 2015. The Northern Ireland XC international knows the course well and will therefore prove hard to beat. However, she’ll be chased down by up and coming athletes Kelly Patterson and Jessica McClements, both of whom also run for the host club. County Antrim Harriers’ Ruth Morrison will also go well, as will Mary Duffin (Glens Runners) and Sarah Bell (East Coast AC).
Also tonight (Friday 28th October 2016), Enniskillen Running Club’s Spooktacular 5k road race is once again expected to attract hundreds of competitors as organisers pull out all the stops to ensure that this year’s edition will be the biggest and best Spooktacular yet.
The race, which starts at the Diamond at 7.30pm and finishes back on the Main Street, is set once again to be hotly contested. If Fermanagh man Conan McCaughey (Derry City Track Club) takes to the start line, he’ll will surely retain his title from 2015, particularly if his home town spectators get behind him on what is an atmospheric town centre based route.
Fellow Derry City Track Club athlete Martin Cox should also feature, as will Clones AC’s Shane Brady. Stephen Cassidy (Enniskillen Running Club) impressed with a podium finish at last week’s Drumragh 10k and should contest a prize-winning place here. Derry City Track Club trio Conor McIlveen, Shane McGowan and Cathal McLaughlin will all be worth watching.
The ladies race may bring the return of one of the Northern Ireland’s top female athletes, St Peters AC's Patricia O’Hagan. Patricia ran well here in 2015, taking the runners up prize after finishing behind Claire Annan (Unattached) in an epic sprint finish. More recently. Patricia went under the twenty-minute mark when running 19:36 at the Craigavon parkrun. Enniskillen Running Club trio Tara Malone, Karen Dolan and Oonagh Fitzpatrick, and Clones AC’s Denise Toner may provide opposition for Patricia.
Comber Cup XC:
On Saturday 29th October 2016, Comber based running club Ballydrain Harriers will host their annual Comber Cup XC event – the senior events will be the second race of this year’s popular Athletics NI Cross Country League, which kicked off in Rostrevor last weekend.
Following the reintroduction of this very old race for the coveted silver Comber Cup trophy three years ago, Ballydrain Harriers have successfully stamped its fantastic reputation; a new course layout and various other additions have enhanced the exciting race programme for the competitors and spectators.
The extensive race programme will kick off at 12pm, with races for athletes of all ages - from Primary School to Veteran competitors, organisers have previously stressed that everyone is welcome to come and try out the unique cross country course which will be laid out. The ladies McKeag Cup race will start at 1.30pm and the men’s Comber Cup race will start at 2:15pm.
North Belfast Harriers and Newcastle AC were well represented at last week’s Bobby Rea XC, where Conor Duffy of Glaslough Harriers took top spot. Newcastle AC’s Seamus Lynch and David O’Flaherty took the remaining podium places, but it was the high placings of the North Belfast Harriers men, headed by Andrew Annett, which ensured that the Belfast club took the team title – however, in the Athletics NI League, Newcastle AC’s higher points put them in the driving seat going into this event.
Seamus Lynch and David O’Flaherty should again lead the charge for Newcastle AC, but they may face tough opposition in the form of North Belfast Harriers trio Mark McKinstry, Andrew Annett and John Black. Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) could return to cross country action and will place well if he does, while Gerard Heaney (St Peter’s AC), Jonny Steede (Glens Runners), Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers), Dennis Scott (North Down AC) and Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) should also take to the start line.
Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC) stole the headlines last week in Rostrevor and could well do the same here should she continue her recent good run of form. Rebecca saw off strong challenges from Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) and Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers), who could both start here as well. If you add the likes of Jessica Craig (North Down AC), Zoe Carruthers (City of Lisburn AC), Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers), Jodi Smith (North Down AC) and Esther Dickson (Newry AC) to the mix and it could again be an excellent race. Karen Alexander (Acorns AC), Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers), Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers) and Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers) could all add strength to the line-up.
Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend:
Saturday 29th October 2016: Conquer the Cairn Trail Race – Knockmany Forest – 11am (Entries AVAILABLE on the day).
Saturday 29th October 2016: Moira Monster Dash – Moira Primary School – 4pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day).
Sunday 30th October 2016: Running Scared 10k – Divis Coffee Shop, Belfast – 10.30am (Entries AVAILABLE on the day).
Events taking place outside Northern Ireland this weekend:
SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon (Dublin, Ireland):
On Sunday 30th October 2016, a record breaking 19,500 competitors will toe the line of the annual SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon in Dublin, Ireland. Amongst these will be close to 6,000 athletes taking part in the AAI National Marathon Championships.
As always, there will be a host of familiar faces taking to the start line of the famous event, with Mourne Runners star Laura Graham and Armagh AC front runner Fionnuala Ross likely to feature prominently in the race for the ladies National title. Newcastle AC’s Patrick Higgins and Jack O’Hare will be aiming to come in well under the three hour mark, while Murlough AC’s Nicola Mathers and Michelle McCann should also perform well.
Athletics Ireland produced the following preview of the event…
Dublin Marathon preview - Hehir and Curley set to battle to retain national crowns:
Sean Hehir (Rathfarnham WSAF) and Pauline Curley (Tullamore Harriers) will be bidding to retain their national titles as the East Africans will surely dominate the head of the record field at the SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon this Sunday (October 30).
Hehir won the Dublin Marathon in 2013 in a time of 2:18:19 and won the national title last year. In April this year, he ran a personal best time of 2:17:20 in London and just missed out on selection for the Rio Olympics. Sergiu Ciobanu (Clonliffe Harriers), another to have narrowly missed out on Rio selection, ran a personal best time of 2:15:14 in Berlin last year and will be bidding for national glory. Other contenders include Mark Kirwan (Raheny Shamrock) who also set a personal best time of 2:19:30 in Berlin last year; Gary O’Hanlon (Clonliffe Harriers) is Ireland’s most prolific elite marathon runner and continues to win marathons here in Ireland on a regular basis. He set a personal best time of 2:21:42 in London last April.
An interesting entry is David McCarthy (West Waterford) who has excelled on the track with a 3:55 mile and bronze medal over 5,000m metres at the European U23 Championships in 2009. His fellow club mate Philip Harty should also feature in a battle for podium positions along with Eoin Flynn of Rathfarnham.
The evergreen Pauline Curley (Tullamore Harriers) is as prolific on the roads as Gary O’Hanlon and she will be looking to add gold to her surprise victory last year. The Offaly woman, who ran in the Beijing Olympics, had only recently recovered from knee surgery last year. She will face stiff competition from Fionnuala Ross (Armagh) who set personal bests in 2016 for the marathon and half marathon – 2:49:57 in London and 74:15 for the half marathon. Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) only started running in 2014 but has since progressed to 2:48:03 in London this year. She ran 2:56:46 last year to bag bronze in Dublin and a time of 78:51 saw her win the national half marathon title in August as part of the Rock ‘N’ Roll event. Norah Newcombe Pieterse (Mayo) should also feature while Caitriona Jennings (Letterkenny), who was third in the SSE Airtricity Dublin Half Marathon in 80:33, will be another strong conteder. She ran 2:44:33 in Rotterdam last April. Her best time is 2:36:17 which she also recorded in that event in 2012 to qualify her for the Olympics. Le Cheile's Patrick Monahan will be looking to win the wheelchair title.
West Waterford had the novel idea of marking this historic occasion in Irish history by having 100 members sign up and they have surpassed that with 150 – the largest club entry for 2016. Other clubs with large entries are Clonmel, Slaney Olympic, Drogheda & District, Crusaders AC, Finn Valley and Raheny Shamrock.
World Masters Athletics Championships (Perth, Australia):
Also this weekend, Northern Ireland based athletes Tim Shiels (Derry City Track Club) and Cathy McCourt (Unattached) will hope to continue their good form at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Perth, Australia. Already Cathy has picked up a silver medal in her cross country event – later today she will compete in the 5,000m, while Tim will line up in the final of his 800m event.
As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty-two parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.
NI's Cathy McCourt impresses at Masters World Championships 2016:
On Wednesday 26th October 2016, Northern Ireland's Cathy McCourt kicked off her World Masters Athletics Championships (Perth, Australia) campaign in impressive fashion.
Competing in the 8k XC, Cathy secured a silver medal after completing the course in 30:50 (2nd place). The race was won by Australian athlete Belinda Martin in 29:19 (1st place). Cathy has three more races to go, the 5k, 10k and Half Marathon. Next up is the 5k on Friday (28th October 2016).
Elsewhere, Olympian Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) was in action at the prestigious Great South Run 10 mile road race in England over the weekend (Sunday 23rd October 2016). Paul narrowly missed out on a podium place when crossing the line in 48:21 (4th place).
Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race 2016:
On Saturday 22nd October 2016, NiRunning welcomed a huge array of talent to the inaugural running of our Garmin 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:
The skies went dark and the clag came in, the 2016 Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR started under stormy skies as torrential rain soaked the runners. On the stroke of 09:00, the runners departed the coastal town of Newcastle ran into Donard Park via the promenade entrance and then climbed the Granite Trail for a long and relentless climb.
From the off, Salomon International athlete Roki Bratina dictated the pace as a small group followed lead by local runner Eoin Lennon, the Team Garmin Adventure athletes of Julien Jorro and Germain Grangier and Chris Arthur. Jasmin Paris, as expected dictated the ladies’ race but Skyrunning UK Series leader, Sarah Ridgway was very close by and keeping the inov-8 athlete insight as was Katie Boden who also was in search of valuable ranking points.
A race within a race was also happening for the men as Bjorn Verduijn, Michael Jones and Ben Hukins all fought for points and places in a bid for the 2016 Skyrunning UK Series title. It was Bjorn’s title to lose but on the first climb, Ben was dictating the pace followed by Michael and Bjorn, although trailing was looking relaxed.
After two hours of running, the heavy rains subsided and the skies opened up to reveal the majestic Mourne Mountains and the ever-present Mourne Wall that weaves its way across the landscape. At Hare’s Gap, the first major peak waited: Slieve Bearnagh. The runners first passing the North Tor before reaching the summit quickly followed with the technical ascent of Slieve Meelmore. In the ladies’ race, Sarah Ridgeway had taken the lead, Jasmine feeling a little tired and jaded after a full-on racing year. For the men, Germain Grangier was showing the rest of the men a clean pair of heals. Chris Arthur had him in sight and Roki Bratina was in 3rd.
The climbs and summits were coming thick and fast now; Slieve Loughshannagh, Slieve Meelbeg and the course continues to follow the Mourne Wall leading to a repeated climb of the technical and challenging Slieve Meelmore, this time in the opposite direction. The toughest climb of the day follows, Slieve Bearnagh.
From Hare’s Gap a steep climb next to the Mourne Wall brings the runners Slievenaglogh and Slieve Commedagh. The race was now taking shape, Germain looked controlled and relaxed as he pushed his way up the climb. Chris also looked relaxed and Roki looked focused with a determination to close the gap on 2nd and potentially reclaim the lead. One of the pre-race favourites, Eoin Lennon complained of not being able to climb despite running in 4th place.
Jasmin Paris had now reclaimed the lead and Sarah trailed by just a few minutes with a flash on inov-8 red constantly pulling her up the muddy and challenging terrain.
The highest point of the course at Slieve Donard signified the end of the climbing and from here on in, a relentless drop to the finish followed the Mourne Wall before turning right and re-tracing the morning’s early climb before taking the Glen River Path to Donard Park and the finish line.
Germain’s victory never looked in doubt, he was super smooth and super strong all day – his new course record 3:49:39 confirming this. However, pre-race favourite Roki Bratina closed a 5-minute gap from Slieve Commedagh showing some supreme descending skills to finish 2nd in 3:50:17. Chris Arthur finished 3rd with local Eoin Lennon holding on to 4th ahead of Michael Jones.
Despite all his efforts, Michael’s 5th place was not enough of a gap over Bjorn Verduijn’s 10th place and therefore the 2016 Skyrunning UK Series title was awarded to Bjorn.
Jasmin Paris, despite a deep tiredness somehow managed to find the energy to hold off Sarah Ridgway and they finished, 4:30:02 and 4:34:10. Katie Boden finished 3rd lady and therefore moved up to 2nd in the Skyrunning UK Series ahead of Sarah Sheridan but it was Sarah Ridgway who was the outright winner of the series with 2 victories, a 2nd and 3rd place – great consistency!
The mountains of Northern Ireland may not have the height or elevation gain the Alps or Pyrenees offer, but what they lack in height is more than compensated for in technicality and repeated roller coaster climbing. Ask anyone who has run it, the Mourne Skyline MTR is no easy race. At the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR, the Skyrunning UK National Series Champions for 2016 were confirmed as Bjorn Verduijn and Sarah Ridgway.
Top 3 Men: 1st Germain Grangier (Team Garmin France) – 3:49:39, 2nd Roki Bratina (Team Salomon International) - 3:50:17, 3rd Chris Arthur (Bowland Fell Runners) - 3:55:16
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Jasmin Paris (Carnethy HRC) - 4:30:02, 2nd Sarah Ridgway (Mercia Fell Runners) - 4:34:10, 3rd Katie Boden (North Leeds Fell Running Club) - 4:49:17
Full Results: Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR 2016 Results
Bobby Rea XC 2016 inc NI & Ulster Even Age Group XC Championships:
On Saturday 22nd October 2016, thousands of athletes and spectators descended on Kilbroney Park in Rostrevor, for the annual Bobby Rea XC and NI & Ulster Even Age Group XC Championships.
The event opened with the NI & Ulster Even Age Group Championships, with athletes from Under 10 to Under 18 turning out to compete against their peers for honours as well as county selection for the All Ireland XC Championships.
After some exceptional performances, it was Craig McMeechan (North Down AC), Kate Gourley (City of Lisburn AC), Conor Maguire (Monaghan Phoenix AC), Niamh Carr (Springwell Running Club), Joseph Haynes (Armagh AC), Cara Laverty (City of Derry AC), Oisin Colhoun (City of Derry AC), Hazel Hughes (Shercock AC), Cait O’Reilly (Annalee AC) and Eoin Sheridan (Monaghan Phoenix AC) who picked up gold medals.
Next up it was the Bobby Rea XC, which was the first race of this seasons Athletics NI XC League. The Ladies and Vet60+ Men were faced with 5k, while the Men took on 8k.
Ever improving Dromore AC athlete and Northern Ireland international Rebecca Henderson put in a classy performance to seal a well-deserved victory in 19:06 (1st place). Rachel Gibson (North Down AC), another NI XC international, followed in 19:14 (2nd place), before Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) impressed with an excellent run for 3rd place; Amy crossed the line in 19:29. Regular age category winner Gerry O’Doherty (Springwell Running Club) was the first of the Vet60+ field home in 20:20.
Pre-race favourite Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) excelled in the men’s race, leading the field home in 26:46 (1st place). The final podium places were contested by a wealth of local talent, with Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC), Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers) and John Black (North Belfast Harriers) just a few of those who played a part at the head of the pack. In the end, it was Seamus Lynch who claimed the runners up spot, clocking 27:09 (2nd place) – his club mate, David O’Flaherty followed in 27:36 for 3rd place.
Top 3 Men (8k): 1st Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) – 26:46, 2nd Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) – 27:09, 3rd David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) – 27:36
Top 3 Ladies (5k): 1st Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC) – 19:06, 2nd Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) – 19:14, 3rd Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) – 19:29
Garmin Mourne Skyline Granite Trail Race (GTR) 2016:
On Friday 21st October 2016, 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 Garmin Mourne Skyline Granite Trail Race ('GTR') saw competitors 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.
The electric atmosphere was evident as the athletes set off along the Promenade and into the darkness.
In contrasting conditions to that experienced by athletes taking on the event in 2014 and 2015, when conditions when weather conditions play a big part in proceedings, the forty plus runners enjoyed pleasant running conditions
In the absence of course record holders and reigning Champions Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) and Sarah McCormack (Ambleside AC), two new Champions were crowned. In what proved to be a closely contested men’s event, it was local club Newcastle AC who came to the fore. The ever-consistent David Steele excelled, securing victory 17:38 (1st place), ten seconds ahead of Barry McConville, who clocked 17:58 for 2nd place – Colm Murtagh completed the top three in 18:09 (3rd place).
In the ladies race, it was another local athlete how reigned supreme, with Mourne Runners star Bethany Haugh breaking the tape in 22:15 (1st place). Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC) followed just over thirty seconds later in 22:49 (2nd place), while Claire Withers (Mourne Runners) crossed the line in 24:51 for 3rd place.
Top 3 Men: 1st David Steele (Newcastle AC) – 17:38, 2nd Barry McConville (Newcastle AC) – 17:58, 3rd Colm Murtagh (Newcastle AC) – 18:09
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Bethany Haugh (Mourne Runners) – 22:15, 2nd Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC) – 22:49, 3rd Claire Withers (Mourne Runners) – 24:51
Photo above by Jayne Bell. To see more of Jayne's photos, please visit our 'Photo Gallery'.
Weekend Preview: Skyrunning returns to Northern Ireland…
This weekend will prove to be the busiest of the year for our NiRunning team, with the 3rd annual running of our Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race taking place in Newcastle, County Down.
However, our event isn’t the only one on the local calendar in the coming days – infact, athletes will once again be spoilt for choice, with the Bobby Rea XC (and associated NI & Ulster Junior Age Group Championships) taking place in Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor. The Runher Titanic 10k & 5k will also attract hundreds of competitors to the Titanic Quarter of Belfast.
Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR and GTR:
The weekend action will kick off tonight (Friday 21st October 2016), when close to one hundred athletes will take on the Garmin Mourne Skyline Granite Trail Race. The 'GTR' is 2 mile uphill only night race, which measureS 2 miles in distance and incorporates approximately 1,000ft of ascent. The unique course takes athletes from the Promenade in Newcastle, through Donard Forest and up the historic Granite Trail to Millstone Quarry. The race starts at 7.30pm.
Last year’s winners Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) and Sarah McCormack (Ambleside AC), who both won in 2014 as well, will not return to defend their titles and course records. Instead, it could well be several athletes who would be considered as contenders for the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR who could take top spot.
Carnethy HRC’s Eoin Lennon will be there or there abouts, but will have to fend off the challenge of the exceptionally talented Salomon International athlete Roki Bratina. Mourne Runners’ Sam Herron and Ricky Hanna will feature well, as will Newcastle AC’s Colm Murtagh and Barry McConville. In the ladies race, Michelle Maier (Salomon International) will prove hard to beat should she toe the line, but local ladies Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC) and Claire Withers (Mourne Runners) will also finish well up the field.
On Saturday 22nd October 2016, a capacity field of two hundred runners will contest arguably Northern Ireland’s toughest race, the Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race. This is the 3rd annual running of the event, which has attracted athletes from in excess of fourteen different countries around the world.
The gruelling but stunning course requires athletes to cover nine of the highest peaks, finishing with the highest mountain in Northern Ireland, Slieve Donard. The race starts at 9am on Newcastle Promenade and covers 35k in distance, with 3,370m of ascent.
World famous podcaster and Director of Skyrunning UK, Ian Corless compiled the following preview for the event:
The Skyrunning UK season concludes in Ireland this coming weekend with the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR. Now in its 3rd edition, the race has grown to become a beacon of the UK series. From the very first edition the race has sold out and demand continues to exceed places available.
The big news for the 2016 edition is the presence of Skyrunner® World Series champion JASMIN PARIS running for inov-8 and the Salomon International runner, ROKI BRATINA who placed 4th at the recent Limone Extreme in Italy.
Remi Bonnet a rising star of the sport of Skyrunning excelled in 2015 at races all over the world; two highlights coming in the USA with victory at The RUT and Hong Kong with victory in Lantau ahead of a world class field while a typhoon blew. Remi was due to toe the line at the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR, however, a fall two days before the Limone Extreme race just last weekend has caused an injury and he will be unable to run. Roki Bratina will therefore replace Remi after a stunning 4th place at last weekend’s Limone Extreme Skyrunner World Series race. The Irish terrain may well provide a challenge for the Salomon young gun but he is most definitely a contender for overall victory.
Joining Roki is lady of the moment, Jasmin Paris. Jasmin has rocked the world of fell, ultra and Skyrunning in 2016 and is without doubt one of their most inspiring runners in the sport. Her relentless enthusiasm and ability to race and run week-in and week-out is stunning.
In 2016 she placed 6th at her first attempt at UTMB, she set three course records on the legendary UK rounds – Bob Graham, Ramsey and Paddy Buckley and in the process set the fastest accumulative time for anyone brave enough to run all three in one year. But it doesn’t stop there!
Jasmin won Kilian Jornet’s and Emelie Forsberg’s Tromso SkyRace and then followed it up with victory at the Salomon Glen Cole Skyline – the latter providing her with the 2016 Skyrunner World Series title for the Extreme Series.
Somewhere in and amongst all this, Jasmin also placed 3rd at the Skyrunning World Championships behind UTMB winner, Caroline Chaverot. It would be an understatement to say that Jasmin is the favorite for victory in Ireland. Michelle Maier from the Salomon International Team will certainly add some spice to the ladies’ race and then of course we have Sarah Ridgeway, Sarah Sheridan, Katie Boden, Sarah Morwood and Shileen O’Kane amongst many others.
Roki will have strong competition from Julien Jorro from Team Garmin France, Germain Grangier from Team Garmin France, Ian Bailey, Casper Kaars Sijpesteijn, Paul Tierney, Eoin Lennon, Konrad Rawlik and the UK series contenders of Michael Jones, Bjorn Verduijn and Ben Hukins amongst a very stacked field.
It’s also important to remember that although a race is on for podium places the Skyrunning UK Series champions will be confirmed in Ireland. The battle is on for a male and female champion. This battle has been given an edge with results from the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline and more importantly the recent cancellation of any points from the 3 x 3000 race due to a lack of course marking making the race a navigational event and not a Skyrunning event. This latter decision impacted heavily on the 3 x 3000 winner Michael Jones. Therefore, Michael will race in Mourne looking for victory once again in an attempt to take victory from Bjorn Verduijn.
Sarah Ridgway has been extremely consistent in 2016 with victory at the Lakes Sky Ultra and the Peaks SkyRace. A podium place at the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline places her in a great position for the series title with competition coming from Sarah Sheridan and Katie Boden.
Points update after Skyline Scotland are as follows:
Sarah Ridgway 200 points + 78 points for 3rd place at Glen Coe Skyline – 278 points
Sarah Sheridan 216 points + 58 points for 10th place at the Ring of Steall – 274 points
Katie Boden 166 points + 66 points for 6th place at Glen Coe Skyline – 232 points
Bjorn Verduijn 224 points + 50 points for 13th place at the Ring of Steall – 274 points
Ben Hukins 172 points + 52 points for 12th place at the Amores VK and 30 points for the Ring of Steall – 254 points
Michael Jones 100 points + 38 points for the 19th at the Mamores VK and + 64 points for 6th place at the Ring of Steall – 202 points
To clarify, the four best results from the 2016 Skyrunning UK calendar provide points that will determine the male and female 2016 Skyrunning UK Champions. The ladies’ race will be a nail biter between the two Sarah’s and should either have a bad day, this will open the door for Katie Boden.
Michael Jones would have been leading the 2016 ranking with an additional 100 points (302 points) had those points not been removed from the 3 x 3000 and so therefore he will be going into the Mourne race with something to prove. Add into the mix a wealth of local talent and the 2016 Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR is going to be quite an epic race.
Owned by the National Trust, the Mourne Mountains are an area of outstanding beauty, it includes Slieve Donard (850m), the highest mountain in Northern Ireland and Ulster and as such it provides a perfect location for a mountain race.
Among the more famous features, the Mourne Wall is a key element of this region and a key aspect of the race. Comprised of forest path, fire roads, single track, granite trail and tough uneven broken fell, the race is a tough challenge. In just 35km the course has a brutal 3,370m of ascent and no less than 9 peaks, the highest being Slieve Donard at 850m.
“…this would be a tough one, with 11,000 feet of climbing over 22 miles, a serious amount of ascent and descent that equated to 500 feet per mile,” said 2015 5th place runner and Lakeland 50 champion, Jayson Cavill. “That is almost double the climbing of the Yorkshire Three Peaks route over a slightly shorter distance.”
The coastal town of Newcastle hosts the start of the race and a short section of road leads into Donard Park via the promenade entrance and the ‘Granite Trail’ awaits for a long and relentless climb. Dundrum Bay is visible to the west, before a fast downhill section to a climb of the stony and challenging Glen River Path to the Col between Slieve Donard and Slieve Commedagh. At Hare’s Gap, the first major peak awaits, Slieve Bearnagh, first passing the North Tor before reaching the summit quickly followed with the technical ascent of Slieve Meelmore. The Mourne Wall becomes a key feature of the race and for the first time the runners follow its line for just 0.4km before veering right and descending towards The Mourne Way path.
Fofany Dam precludes the only road section of the course which leads to the Mourne Wall and the style between Ott and Slieve Loughshannagh. The climbs and summits come thick and fast now; Slieve Loughshannagh, Slieve Meelbeg and the course continues to follow the Mourne Wall leading to a repeated climb of the technical and challenging Slieve Meelmore, this time in the opposite direction. The toughest climb of the day follows, Slieve Bearnagh. Passing around the North Tor it is downhill towards Hare’s Gap and a steep climb next to the Mourne Wall towards Slievenaglogh and Slieve Commedagh, Northern Ireland’s second highest mountain. It is ironic that Slieve Commedagh should lead into Slieve Donard and the highest point of the race. On a clear day the views are magnificent out over the sea, inland towns and villages are visible and of course, the Mourne Mountains. From the summit, it’s all downhill to the finish via the rocky Glen River Path and a fire road that leads into Donard Park and the finish.
Bobby Rea XC and NI & Ulster Even Age Group Championships:
Also on Saturday 22nd October 2016, and not too far from Newcastle, thousands of athletes and spectators will descending on Kilbroney Park in Rostrevor for the first race of the Athletics NI XC League 2016/17.
The event will also incorporate the NI & Ulster Age Group Cross Country Championships. Categories from Under 10 to Under 18 will be represented in the Championships, with the Under 20, Senior and Masters competing in the Bobby Rea XC.
After the Junior athletes get proceedings under way, the Under 20, Senior and Masters competitors will take to the start line. The Ladies and Veteran 60+ Men will cover 5,000m while the Men’s race will consist of 8,000m of running.
Newcastle AC, North Belfast Harriers and Foyle Valley AC will be well represented, however, it will be Glaslough Harriers front man Conor Duffy who will start as pre-race favourite.
The multiple NI & Ulster Champion will play a prominent part in proceedings – he will be chased down by the likes of Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers). Armagh 10 mile Road Race winner Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) will be worth watching should he take to the start line; the same could be said for City of Derry AC’s Declan Reed and Allan Bogle. John Black (North Belfast Harriers), Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) and Francis Marsh (North Down AC) will all go well.
In the ladies race, Omagh Harriers athlete Michelle Sturm will be hard to knock off top spot. Michelle, a previous NI & Ulster Champion, tends to race sparingly, but never fails to impress when she laces up her racers. This will be no different, it’s hard to look past Michelle in terms of potential winners. Patricia O’Hagan (St Peter’s AC) may make a return to competitive action and will contest a podium place if she does – meanwhile, Esther Dickson (Newry AC) should make the podium if she is back to her best after a recent niggle. Newcastle AC ladies Mari Troeng and Joanne Mills should start, and their club mate, Olympian Kerry O’Flaherty could join them as she has her sights on selection or the Irish Euro XC team. Sarah Lindsay (North Down AC) and Paula McAllister (Ballymena Runners) will run well, as will Under 20 ladies Laura Gardiner (East Down AC), Toni Moore (Omagh Harriers) and Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC).
Runher Titanic 10k (and 5k):
On Sunday 23rd October 2016, hundreds of female athletes will take to the roads of the Titanic Quarter in Northern Ireland’s capital city, Belfast, for the annual RunHer 10k road race and associated 5k event.
North Down AC track stars Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson may opt for this event over the Bobby Rea XC given their previous success on the RunHer circuit – should the ladies run, they will most certainly challenge for prizes. In-form international duathlete Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) will also be worth watching, while Sarah-Jane Guiney (Albertville Harriers), Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) and Jodi Smith (North Down AC) should all start.
As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty two parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our 'fixtures' page.
Athletics Ireland Autumn Open XC Festival 2016:
On Sunday 16th October 2016, a host of familiar faces were in action alongside some of Ireland's top competitors at the Athletics Ireland Autumn Open XC Festival in Fingal, Dublin (Ireland). The exciting day of racing took place over a purpose-built cross country course at the National Sports Campus. The course proved to be a good challenge for the 451 competitors in the main races along with a further 650 juveniles who competed in the Dublin Championships earlier in the day.
Strabane lady Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) and North Down AC's up and coming star Craig McMeechan excelled as Northern Ireland based competitors produced some notable performances.
In the highly competitive ladies 6k event, which was won by pre-race favourite Fionnuala McCormack in 20:30 (1st place), Ann-Marie McGlynn produced the performances of her life to secure a brilliant 4th place finish in 21:14. Olympian Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) following in 6th place, crossing the line in 21:22 - City of Derry AC's Catherine Whoriskey also ran well to take 10th place in 21:46.
Craig McMeechan continued what has been a real breakthrough year when he took top spot in the junior men's 6k - the ever improving track star recorded 19:14 for 1st place. Banbridge AC's Patrick McNiff also made the top ten of what was a close race, crossing the line in 19:38 (6th place). In the senior and masters men's race Slieve Gullion Runners' Paddy Hamilton (M35), Letterkenny AC's Ciaran Doherty (M40), Omagh Harriers' Stephen Duncan (M45) and North Belfast Harriers' Paul Elliott (M60) all impressed with category titles and highly placed finishes overall! Full results for the event can be found HERE.
Run for Oisin 10k Road Race:
Elsewhere this weekend, on Sunday 16th October 2016, Stephen Prentice (Annadale Striders) and Karen Dolan (Enniskillen Running Club) ran out victorious at the Run for Oisin 10k road race in County Fermanagh, with Stephen breaking the tape in 35:05 (1st place) and Karen leading the ladies home in 45:32 (1st place). Full Results for the race can be found HERE.
Loughshore Half Marathon & 10k:
Twenty four hours earlier, on Saturday 15th October 2016, hundreds of athletes turned out for the Loughshore Half Marathon and 10k road races. In the 13.1 mile event, Sperrin Harriers' Conor Martin just saw off Mourne Runners man Dale Mathers to win in 1:22:41 (1st place), with Dale following in 1:22:51 (2nd place). Estelle Johnston (Unattached) won the ladies half marathon in 1:40:46 (1st place). In the 10k race, Unattached athlete Bernard Brady took 1st place in 36:00, while Catherine O'Neill (Unattached) claimed victory in the ladies race in 44:28 (1st place). Full results for the event are available HERE.
Weekend Preview: King of Gullion 10k, Run for Oisin 10k...
After an exciting start to the local cross country scene last weekend, there is a one week pause in the local XC action before the Athletics NI XC League 2016/17 kicks off in Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor (County Down), next weekend. However, NI based athletes will be in action at the Athletics Ireland Autumn Open XC in Dublin, Ireland.
There is still plenty to look forward to locally this coming weekend, with no less than six races on the official Athletics NI calendar. The highlights of the weekend will be the Run for Oisin 10k (and associated 5k) and the King of Gullion 10k Trail Race; these events will be the focus of this week’s weekend preview. However, as always, we’ll let you know what is happening across the province over the coming days.
King of Gullion 10k Trail Race:
On Sunday 16th October 2016, a large number of athletes are expected to descend on Slieve Gullion Forest Park in County Armagh for the King of Gullion 10k trail race, which is run in aid of Southern Area Hospice. The tough but rewarding route follows recognised trails towards the summit of Slieve Gullion, starting and finishing close to the Forest Park’s impressive Café and Courtyard Area.
Slieve Gullion Runners men Barry McCarroll and Joe McKevitt will go into the event as pre-race favourites. Paul McAnespie (Armagh AC) and Chris Devine (Newry City Runners) will also place well should they compete, while Seamus Loughran (Slieve Gullion Runners) and Sean Goodman (Newry City Runners) will be worth watching.
In the ladies race, reigning Champion Eileen Stevenson (St Peter’s AC) should return and will run well. Newry City Runners’ Patricia Brown performed well at last week’s Armagh 10 mile road race and will be a contender here if she makes use of the on the day entry system. The same could be said for Aine Hughes (Club Unknown) and Ciara Coffey (Unattached), both of who put in strong performances at the recent Mark Annett 10k in Newry.
Run for Oisin 10k (and associated 5k):
Also on Sunday 16th October 2016, hundreds of runners and fitness enthusiasts will take to the roads for the Oisin McGrath 5k and 10k races, two races set up to raise funds for the Oisin McGrath Foundation (www.oisinsfoundation.com).
The organisation formed in memory of 13 year old Oisín McGrath, a keen sportsman, who sadly lost his life in February 2015.
All proceeds will be distributed to promote Organ Donation Awareness, Brain Stem and Brain Injury Research and local Youth Sports Development projects. The race will start at 1pm and entries are available on the day.
Fergus McGirr (Enniskillen Running Club) should return to defend his title, but the Fermanagh man will have a tough job on his hands, with club mate Stephen Cassidy (Enniskillen Running Club) and Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers) both set to compete. Barry Campbell (Unattached), Luke Cox (Enniskillen Running Club), Pauric McDermott (North Leitrim AC) and Barry Simon (Unattached) will also start.
In the ladies race, Enniskillen Running Club mates Tara Malone and Oonagh Fitzpatrick will head the chase for top honours. Both ladies are consistently impressive performers and capable of taking victory – however, one a one to one battle, Tara will take the win. Tara O’Donovan (Unattached), Georgia Greene (Unattached) and Denise Maguire (North Leitrim AC) will be hoping to finish well up the field.
Athletics Ireland Autumn Open XC Festival (Ireland):
Further afield on Sunday 16th October 2016, a host of familiar faces will be in action alongside some of Ireland's top competitors at the Athletics Ireland Autumn Open XC Festival in Fingal, Dublin (Ireland). The exciting day of action will take place over a purpose-built cross country course at the National Sports Campus and should provide the perfect platform to get the Irish XC season underway in earnest.
The event is being run in association with Fingal County Council - information and an event timetable are available HERE. The provisional entry lists as of Thursday 13th October 2016 are available HERE. Entries will also be available on race day.
Olympian Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle AC) will head the local challenge for honours as she strives for a place on the Ireland European XC team. City of Derry AC athlete Catherine Whoriskey will also finish well up the pack in the senior ladies event, while Northern Ireland and Ireland international Zak Hanna and North Belfast Harriers star Conal McCambridge will toe the line in the senior men's race. City of Lisburn AC's James Edgar will be considered as a contender in the Under 20 event.
The senior and junior athletes will not be the only competitors looking to impress the selectors, with the masters races being used as trials for the British & Irish XC International, which will be held in Glasgow (Scotland) next month. Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners), Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers), Andew Considine (North Belfast Harriers) and Paul Blaney (Beechmount Harriers) will all start. In the ladies race, Letterkenny AC's Ann-Marie McGlynn should play a part at the front.
Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend:
Saturday 15th October 2016:
• Red High 10k & 2 x 5k Relay – Red High High School, Struell Road, Downpatrick – 12pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)
• Loughshore Run 5k, 10k & Half Marathon - Moortown, County Tryone - 10.30am onwards (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)
• Earhart Flying 5k - Ballyarnett Park, Derry/Londonderry – 9.30am (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)
As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty-two parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.
Local athletes impress outside Northern Ireland:
Over the last seven days, Willowfield Harriers athlete Neill Weir has been in action at the gruelling Atacama Crossing Endurance Race, a 7 Day 250k crossing of the famous Chilean desert.
The local athlete showed incredible physical and mental strength to secure a 2nd place finish, a huge achievement. After two stage wins, Neill finished with an aggregate time of 29:51:39, behind winner Tommy Chen of Taiwan 28:58:20 (1st place).
Elsewhere, on Sunday 10th October 2016 Newcastle AC’s Eoghan Totten made his 13.1 mile debut at the Oxford Half Marathon in England. Up against top quality opposition, Eoghan recorded an excellent 1:07:51 for 3rd place. This was described by his club as a “breakthrough run” for Eoghan, who has a long term plan of targeting the marathon. Paul Whitaker from Southend won in 1:07:18 (1st place) and Alex Milne from Enfield & Haringey was 2nd place in 1:07:41.
Also on Sunday 10th October 2016, a number of Northern Ireland based athletes were in action at long-distance events in America. Francis Marsh (North Down AC) took on the Boston Half Marathon and recorded 1:16:39 despite tough conditions, while at least thirteen familiar faces from Ballydrain Harriers joined tens of thousands of athletes on the start-line of the Chicago Marathon.
Sam Hughes led the familiar faces home in 3:17:21, with Aiobhinn Clinton being the fastest lady in 3:40:13. Other results from the Chicago Marathon: Phil Gilmore – 3:17:22, Gary Long – 3:32:48, Michael Barton – 3:35:05, Heather Stanex – 3:50:19, Norman Mawhinney – 3:51:25, Paul Flynn – 4:01:45, Drew Fowler – 4:01:45, Catherine Miskelly – 4:13:09, Louise Meehan 4:13:51, Rosi Earney – 4:15:12 and Kerry Edwards – 5:05:21.
Adidas Armagh 10 mile Road Race 2016:
On Sunday 10th October 2015, nearly three hundred athletes descended on the Orchard County of Armagh for the annual Adidas Armagh 10 mile road race, an event which starts and finishes at the Navan Centre, just outside the City Centre.
Being just two weeks before the SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon, this event has always proved popular with those hoping for a final ‘tune up’ race prior to the 26.2 mile race in Ireland’s capital City.
It was a day when pre-race favourites excelled, with Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) retaining his title and Mourne Runners’ Laura Graham adding another impressive victory to her growing running CV. Paddy was a dominant figure at the head of the pack and always looked as if he would prove hard to beat – despite some quality opposition in the form of Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers), Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) and Brendan Murphy (City of Derry AC), the Northern Ireland international sealed a comfortable win in 51:26 (1st place). Behind, Seamus Lynch saw off decorated Omagh Harriers star Stephen Duncan to take 2nd place in 53:18; Stephen recorded 53:43 for 3rd place.
The ladies race also brought a plethora of talented to the start line, with the Laura Graham (Mourne Runners), Emma Mitchell (QUB AC), Cathy McCourt (Unattached) and Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) being the obvious headliners. Dublin Marathon bound Laura Graham, winner of the recent Belfast City Half Marathon and Laganside 10k, looked strong as she broke the famous one hour mark to win in 59:30 (1st place). Emma Mitchell followed in 1:00:10 (2nd place), before Cathy McCourt, who won the NIMAA XC less than 24 hours earlier, completed the top three in 1:00:27 (3rd place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) – 51:26, 2nd Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) – 53:18, 3rd Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) – 53:43
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) – 59:30, 2nd Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) – 1:00:10, 3rd Cathy McCourt (Unattached) – 1:00:27
Full Results: Armagh 10 mile Road Race 2016 Results
NIMAA Cross Country 2016:
On Saturday 8th October 2016, hundreds of athletes and spectators turned out for the annual Northern Ireland Masters Athletics Association (NIMAA) Cross Country, which was held at the DUB Road Playing Fields in Belfast. The event doubled up as the trials for the upcoming Masters British & Irish XC International, which will be held in Glasgow next month (November 2016).
First off was the Ladies and Vet65+ Men for their 6k event. After a fast start, Cathy McCourt (Unattached), Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) and Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) moved to the head of the pack, with Jodi Smith (North Down AC) and Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC) just behind. As the race progressed, Cathy began to move clear, but was unable to put a definitive gap between herself Karen and Amy – before long, the trio were running together again and it was obvious that this was going to the wire.
That did prove to be the case, as it wasn’t until the final downhill section, when anyone made their move – this was Karen Alexander, who surged towards the nearing finish line. However, Cathy McCourt never gave up, and was rewarded for her gutsy finish with the narrowest of wins. Cathy overtook Karen just metres from the finish line to win in 21:57 (1st place), with Karen following in 21:58 (2nd place). Amy Bulman claimed a well-deserved 3rd place in 22:06. City of Derry AC stalwart Gerry Lynch was the first of the Vet65+ Men to cross the finish line (in 25:14).
The Men’s 8k race wasn’t just as close, but proved to be a superb spectacle all the same. Veteran newcomer Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) was a class act, providing spectators and fellow athletes with a perfect example of powerful front running. After some early company in the form of talented Foyle Valley AC man Chris McGuinness, Allan moved clear and gradually left the field in his wake – behind, Chris and North Belfast Harriers athlete Eamon White were doing the same as they firmly cemented the remaining podium places early on.
Spartan athlete Allan relentlessly covered the four 2k laps before breaking the tape in 25:30 (1st place). Chris replicated his second place finish at this event in 2015 when he recorded 25:56 for 2nd place. Eamon White completed the podium just over thirty seconds later in 26:27 (3rd place).
Top 3 - Ladies and Vet 65+ Men 6k Race: 1st Cathy McCourt (Unattached) – 21:57, 2nd Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) – 21:58, 3rd Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) – 22:06
Top 3 - Men’s 8k Race: 1st Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) – 25:30, 2nd Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) – 25:56, 3rd Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers) – 26:27
Full Results: NIMAA XC 2016 Results. Photos from the NIMAA XC will be added to our ‘Photo Gallery’ over the coming days.
GR8 Dundrum Run:
On Saturday 8th October 2016, Murlough AC welcomed well over eight hundred competitors to their increasingly popular GR8 Dundrum Run, a challenging multi-terrain race, covering a scenic 8 mile course on road, trail, boards and sand, starting and finishing on the atmospheric Main Street in Dundrum.
As expected, Newcastle AC’s David O’Flaherty stole the headlines. As soon as the athletes set off along Dundrum Main Street, the talented and versatile athlete took to the front and from there, he took hold of the race and dominated throughout. After just 2 miles, David had nearly a minute lead, which he increased as the race progressed. In the end, David recorded 44:12 for 1st place. Mourne Runners’ David McKee (48:38) and Dub Runners’ James Trainor (48:51) secured 2nd place and 3rd place respectively, after enjoying a chasing pack battle with Jack O’Hare (Newcastle AC) and East Antrim Harriers pair Sam Crawford and Steven Beggs.
In the ladies race, Collette McCourt (Dub Runners) enjoyed an early lead, but it was Ballydrain Harriers’ ever impressive Amanda Perry who came through to take the win. Amanda used her experience to pace the race well, crossing the line in 54:08 (1st place) for victory. Collette sealed 2nd place in 55:17, before Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) completed the top three in 55:56 (3rd place).
Top 3 Men: 1st David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) – 44:12, 2nd David McKee (Mourne Runners) – 48:38, 3rd James Trainor (Dub Runners) – 48:51
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers) – 54:08, 2nd Collette McCourt (Dub Runners) – 55:17, 3rd Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) – 55:56
Full Results: GR8 Dundrum Run 2016 Results
Weekend Preview: Athletes look forward to XC season opener…
It’s that time of year again (despite the last week of decent weather attempting to fool us into thinking we’re back in Summer), when the muck loving junkies lace up their spikes and get their fix of one of the sport’s most traditional types of running, something that pretty much everyone has tried (be it through choice, or as punishment at school) – the CROSS COUNTRY season returns!
This weekend brings the Northern Ireland Masters Athletics Association (NIMAA) Cross Country at DUB Playing Fields in Belfast. Although the first race of the 2016/17 Athletics NI Cross Country League is still two weeks away, this event will prove a perfect ‘taster’ for the cross country season ahead.
The NIMAA XC is just one of many fixtures on a packed weekend, which includes no less than twelve races. The Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championship finale will take place in the form of the Commedagh Chase, while hundreds of athletes will turn out for the popular Gr8 Dundrum Run and the Adidas Armagh 10 mile road race. Athletes from Northern Ireland will also be in action outside the province, with a large group of Ballydrain Harriers heading to the Chicago Marathon in America.
Given the number of races taking place over the weekend, our preview will focus on the highlights – NIMAA XC, Commedagh Chase, Gr8 Dundrum Run and the Adidas Armagh 10 mile road race; one event from each terrain! We’ll of course mention the other races taking place.
NIMAA Cross Country:
The local action will kick off on Saturday 8th October 2016 in Belfast, at the DUB Playing Fields, where the Northern Ireland Masters Athletics Association (NIMAA) will host their trials for the British & Irish Masters International XC, which will take place next month. The event is always well attended and provides competitors with a chance to race against fellow age category athletes for the opportunity to represent Northern Ireland.
The two race programme kicks off at 11.30am with the Masters Ladies and Masters Men’s 65+ 6k event. In the ladies race, Omagh Harriers’ Julie Butler, an impressive winner here last year, will prove hard to beat if she takes to the start line. Julie hasn’t raced much since impressing at the start of 2016, but if she returns for this event, there’s no doubt that she has the potential to lead the field home.
England based Sharon Barlow (Darlington Harriers) is another athlete to look out for – in 2014, Sharon produced an outstanding performance at this event. Last month, she was in action on home soil at the Laganside 10k, where she recorded a notable 37:38 for fourth place. Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) and Jodi Smith (North Down AC) should ALL start and will more than likely enjoy some competition with the likes of Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers), Ann Terek (City of Lisburn AC), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers), Geraldine Quigley (Ballymena Runners), Pauline Thom (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Paula McAllister (Ballymena Runners) and Jackie McGinley (City of Derry AC).
The Masters Men 35+ 8k will follow at 12.15pm. Should he compete, we would expect Omagh Harriers’ Stephen Duncan to lead the charge for top honours in the men’s race. The exceptionally talented athlete battled it out with Foyle Valley AC’s Chris McGuinness at this event last year, before edging victory late on.
Stephen will therefore start as favourite, but may again find himself up against tough competition in the form of Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC), Ben Morrow (Ballymena Runners), Barrie Atkinson (East Down AC) and England based NI man Anthony Glover (Westbury AC). North Belfast Harriers men Eamon White, Neil Carty, Conor Curran and Andrew Considine may also feature, while Michael Bennett (Ballymena Runners), Kevin O’Boyle (Unattached), Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC), Cathal McLaughlin (Derry City Track Club), Richard Agnew (Ballymena Runners) and Alex Brennan (Ballymena Runners) will all be contenders in their categories if they start.
GR8 Dundrum Run:
Also on Saturday 8th October 2016, Murlough AC will welcome close to one thousand competitors to their increasingly popular GR8 Dundrum Run, a challenging multi-terrain race, covering a scenic 8 mile course on road, trail, boards and sand, starting and finishing on the atmospheric Main Street in Dundrum.
Newcastle AC’s David O’Flaherty will play a major part in proceedings. After finishing as runner up back in 2014, David will be keen to make amends, and based on his recent form, which includes a 33:22 finish at the Bangor 10k, he’ll be hard to beat. Although Newcastle AC club mates Martin Melville and David McNeilly may provide decent competition.
East Antrim Harriers stalwart Sam Crawford will finish well up the field, as will Gregory Lucy (Willowfield Harriers), Martan Keane (Larne AC), Stephen Walker (North Belfast Harriers) and Gavin Campbell (Unattached). Newcastle AC’s Joe McCann and Brendan McQuaid should also place well.
Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) has won here in two of the past three years and may return – Karen has shown good form recently, with an excellent performance at the Dublin Half Marathon, where she ran 1:22:15 for fifth place.
Last years winner, Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) is unlikely to compete, while runner up Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) may opt for the Armagh 10 mile road race as she finalises her preparation for the upcoming Dublin marathon. This leaves the door open for local lady Sinead Murtagh (Newcastle AC) to claim a podium place – Sinead has been one of the most impressive runners this season in terms of progression and a high placing here would be just reward for her efforts. However, she’ll have to see of a host of talented ladies, including Collette McCourt (Dub Runners), Joanne Foster (East Down AC), Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC), Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers), Catherine Roberts (North Down AC) and the emerging Joanne Graham (Mourne Runners). Larne AC’s Juliane Keane will also run well.
Commedagh Chase Mountain Race:
On Saturday 8th October 2016, a host of Northern Ireland’s top mountain runners will turn out for the final race of the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association Championships, and the penultimate race of the mountain running season, the Commedagh Chase; this will of course 9as the name suggests) be held in the stunning Mourne Mountains.
The 13k course follows Trassey Track from the bottom up to the Hare’s Gap - from here runners take in the ridge to the top of Commedagh which includes Slievenaglogh and Slieve Correy. At the top of Commedagh runners will retrace their steps along the ridge over Slieve Correy and Slievenaglogh. This time however the course does not return to the Hare’s Gap but takes the stile halfway down Slievenaglogh and from here it is a straight out downhill sprint to the finish at the bottom of the Trassey Track.
The last time this race was run (2014), Jonny Steede (Glens Runners), Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) and Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) battled it out, with Jonny taking the victory. There is a chance that the Glens Runners man, a former NIMRA Champion, will compete this time around – the same could be said for Allan, while 2015 NIMRA Champion Seamus is unlikely to feature given that he has been concentrating on the roads of late (with some excellent performances).
Focusing more on this year’s Championships, William McKee (Mourne Runners) impressed early on with wins at Glenariff, Bearnagh, Analong and the Fallows. Since, William hasn’t raced much, but he may take to the start line for this one, given that it’s the final race. Unfortunately, Newcastle AC duo Zak Hanna and Ian Bailey aren’t expected to start, which leaves their club mates, Colm Campbell and Colm Murtagh as potential candidates for a podium place – both men have been in excellent form throughout this season. David Hicks (Newcastle AC), Shane Donnelly (Acorns AC), Sam Herron (Mourne Runners), Gary Bailey (Mourne Runners) and Tommy Simmons (North Belfast Harriers) will all be considered as potential podium contenders, while Dale Mathers (Mourne Runners), Deon McNeilly (Newcastle AC), Paul Holywood (Armagh AC), Pete Grant (Newcastle AC) and Ricky Hanna (Mourne Runners) should all perform to their usual high standard.
In the ladies race, it could well be the 2014 top two Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) and Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) how contest top honours in the absence of up and coming star Megan Wilson (East Down AC). The aforementioned trio have dominated the Championship this season, although Jackie Toal (BARF), Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC), Moira O’Sullivan (Unattached), Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners) and Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC) have all shown their ability and potential – all could well start here, as could Sam McNeilly (Newcastle AC) and Anne Sandford (Lagan Valley AC).
Armagh Adidas 10 mile Road Race:
On Sunday 9th October 2016, hundreds of runners from across Northern Ireland (and beyond) will travel to Armagh (County Armagh) for the annual Adidas Armagh 10 mile road race, which starts and finishes within the vicinity of the Navan Centre, just outside the City Centre.
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 Sunday 30th October 2016.
Like last year when he lived up to expectation, Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners) will go into the race as pre-race favourite, and considering the Northern Ireland international athlete has a personal best of 49:35 over the distance, it’s hard to look past him. Recently, Paddy won the Blackrock 4 mile road race in a speedy 19:35. Derry City Track Club new boy Paul Barbour may also toe the line – last week, Paul won the inaugural Omagh 5 mile road race in 26:52, which would put him in a good position going into this event.
Local man Gary Henderson (Armagh AC) narrowly missed a podium spot at this event last year, so he’ll be hopeful of improving on that and will prove to be a popular prize-winner should he make the top three. Dromore AC’s Stephen O’Gorman and St Peter’s AC men Mark Cornett and Gerard Heaney will all go well, as will Marc Jennings (North Belfast Harriers) and Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC) – Marc and Matthew enjoyed an excellent dual at the Lisburn Half Marathon earlier this year.
Mourne Runners star Laura Graham will more than likely compete in what will be her final real ‘tune-up’ race prior to the upcoming Dublin Marathon later this month. The Kilkeel based athlete has been one of the star performers of this year and she will be hoping to round it off with two strong performances in the space of the next few weeks. Laura’s most recent outing was a win at the Belfast City Half Marathon, where she claimed victory in 1:18:24; this was her tenth victory of the year over 13.1 miles.
Triathlete Heather Foley (Unattached) may provide tough opposition for Laura, while Olympian Maria McCambridge (DSD AC) has previously experienced victory here; this could tempt her to return! Other ladies to watch out for could include Gillian Burns (Dromore AC), Mary Laverty (North East Runners), Eileen Stevenson (St Peter’s AC), Donna Evans (Finn Valley AC) and Kathleen Diver (Unattached) will all go well if they race.
Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend:
Saturday 8th October 2016:
• Badoney Ladies 5k Run - Owenkillew Centre, Gortin - 12pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)
• St Oliver Plunkett Primary School Run - St Oliver Plunkett PS, Toomebridge – 10am (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)
Sunday 9th October 2016:
• 10km na Ceathrún Gaeltachta - St Mary’s University, Belfast – 9am (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)
• Fermanagh Only Half Marathon - Teemore Shamrocks GFC - 12pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)
• Live Life Lisa Orsi Foundation 5k – Sainsburys, Derry/Londonderry – 12pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)
• Clarkes 5k Town Run - O’Neill Park, Dunagannon – 3pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)
Events taking place outside Northern Ireland this weekend:
Chicago Marathon (USA):
On Sunday 9th October 2016, a group of runners from Ballydrain Harriers will take on the iconic Chicago Marathon in America (USA). The Northern Ireland based athletes will join runners from more than 100 countries all setting out to achieve their dream of reaching the famous finish line in Grant Park.
Norman Mawhinney, Drew Fowler, Phil Gilmore, Sam Hughes, Michael Barton, Gary Long, Aobhinn Flynn, Heather Stanex, Catherine Miskelly, Louise Hynds, Rosi Earney and Kerry Edwards will all being aiming to achieve their own targets.
As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty two parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.
Athletics NI XC League 2016/17:
Today, Wednesday 5th October 2016, Athletics Northern Ireland announced details of their annual Cross Country league, an excellent addition to the local running calendar.
As it enters its sixth year the Athletics Northern Ireland Cross Country League is introducing some changes to enhance the league and to implement some of the feedback from clubs and individuals following last season’s feedback.
The number of events in the league has been reduced from 9 to 8. In addition, given the very crowded pre Christmas period of events involving six races in only eight weeks, clubs may now choose their best 4 scores over these six events (men and women score separately). There will be only two league events in the post Christmas period and both these events will count towards the final scores.
The points scoring system will remain the same as last season. The first six club teams of 4 will score points and the individual points score will extend to a maximum of 16 with each runner scoring one point.
Clubs do not need to specifically enter the league as the points tally will be compiled from the results of each event included in the league. The final event of the series – the NI & Ulster Senior Championships – will attract double points.
The prize fund for the league will have a total of over £1500 in the pot. The first six teams, in both Men’s and Women’s sections, will again receive prizes.
The League has contributed significantly to the increase in both participation and interest in cross country running across Northern Ireland, with larger fields turning out for races each year. It is hoped that these changes will create further interest in Cross Country running and will make participation in the league more manageable for clubs to compete.
Full details of how the points awarded for performance and participation will be scored are available at www.athleticsni.org/events
Athletics Northern Ireland Cross Country League Fixtures 2016-2017:
Saturday 22nd October 2016: Bobby Rea Memorial Races, Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor
Saturday 29th October 2016: Comber Cup, Billy Neill Playing Fields, Dundonald
Saturday 5th November 2016: McConnell Shield, Sixmilewater Park, Ballyclare
Saturday 19th November 2016: Mighty Oaks Cross Country, Cookstown
Saturday 3rd December 2016: Malcolm Cup, Sixmilewater Park, Ballyclare
Saturday 17th December 2016: North West Cross Country, Gransha, Derry/Londonderry
Saturday 14th January 2017: Antrim International XC, Greenmount Campus, Antrim
Saturday 18th February 2017: NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships, Lurgan Park, Lurgan
Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon 2016:
Entries are already coming in for the 36th Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon following the successful 4th Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon which, started and finished at Ormeau Park, just over two weeks ago with 3,000 competitors.
The 2017 Full Marathon event will be held on May Day Bank Holiday, 1st May 2017 and was launched this morning (Tuesday 4th October) by David Seaton, Chairman of the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon at the new Mencap Centre, Belfast, home of Mencap NI, the official charity partner of this year’s race.
Technical Race Director, David Seaton said “In the past number of years, we have seen our participant numbers grow as there has been a resurgence of running in the local community and further afield. Whether it is the full marathon distance or a leg in the relay event, many more people are signing up to get involved and more importantly get fit.”
“Following the success of our secondary event, the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon on the 18th September 2016, we are confident that entries for the Main Marathon Run will increase, as entrants will want to push themselves to tackle the 26.2mile distance and set themselves a goal.”
Assisting the Chairman to launch the 2017 event at the new Mencap Centre, Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Brian Kingston said: “36 years ago Belfast City Council took the decision to stage the first Belfast City Marathon and, over the intervening years, the event has gone from strength to strength. When other marathons fell by the wayside, Belfast continued to grow. Now, with the resurgence of interest in running – especially as a free and efficient way of getting and staying fit – we are benefiting from record entry numbers each and every year. While the marathon is undoubtedly a serious business, especially for competitive runners, it is also about having fun and enjoying yourself – whether you are a serious runner, or taking part in the relay with a team of friends or just cheering the runners along.
“Belfast, quite rightly, is regarded as one of the world’s friendliest marathons, and runners from near and far are always encouraged by the warmth of the support they find in all four corners of our city. Once again, I would urge the people of Belfast to turn out and support the runners on May Day – whether it be by offering a glass of water or a slice of fruit, or merely an encouraging word,” concluded Councillor Kingston.
In addition to the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon being the biggest single participatory sporting event in Northern Ireland, it is also one of the biggest fundraising events, with almost every runner or walker taking part to benefit charity. “I’m delighted to announce that, in 2017, we will again be supporting the magnificent work of Mencap, as our officially nominated charity,” announced David Seaton.
Margaret Kelly, Director of Mencap in Northern Ireland, said; “We are so excited to once again be the official charity partner for the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon. Last May we raised an amazing £125,000 and we are calling on everyone across Northern Ireland to help us raise even more in 2017. You don’t have to be a champion runner to take part on Marathon Day – anyone can get involved, whether that’s signing up a relay team or bringing the kids along to the Fun Run. No matter what the event, we encourage everyone to run or walk in aid of Mencap this year.”
Margaret continued “Funds raised from the marathon will go toward a number of initiatives including our soon-to-be-launched Family Support Programme, which will provide bespoke, one-on-one guidance for families with a young child with a learning disability. This innovative initiative is a first for our charity and we are launching it this autumn thanks to the money raised by the marathon. However, we still need funds to help us extend this programme over the next few years and reach even more children and families who urgently need our help. We encourage everyone to ‘Step up for Mencap’ this year and we can’t wait to see everyone on Marathon Day!”
Also celebrating the 11th year as title sponsor, Deep RiverRock’s Sponsorship Manager, Rob Crabbe said: "As Northern Ireland’s favourite water brand with its roots in Tullynacross, Co. Antrim, Deep RiverRock is delighted to continue its long standing partnership with Belfast City Marathon in 2017. With a shared vision to encourage more people to lead active and hydrated lifestyles, Deep RiverRock’s partnership with Belfast City Marathon is a perfect fit. Deep RiverRock is proud to be associated with such a world class event that resonates so well with the local community and as a company we are honoured to have played a part in the success of what is now a key event in Northern Ireland’s sporting calendar.”
David continued, this year are giving participants an option of receiving their packs via post (standard or special service) or at one of the many race pack collection dates, which can be found on www.belfastcitymarathon.com. This will enable us to ensure everyone receives their pack ahead of time allowing participants to dedicate 100% to their final few weeks of training and preparation. On completion of the event all entrants will receive their new finisher’s pack containing their race t-shirt and a number of goodies.
“We are delighted with these plans for Race Day as it sees us fitting in line with other main races in the UK and Europe. We want to create a celebrative atmosphere on Race Day with the assistance of all our sponsors and official charity, so will be making the entertainment at the finish area bigger and better, an event not to be missed.” David Seaton commented
Glencoe Marathon Events 2016:
On Sunday 2nd October 2016, Irish International athlete Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC) stormed to victory at the challenging Glencoe Half Marathon. The 2015 Glencoe Marathon winner and course record holder again impressed over half the distance (in 2016), winning clearly in 1:28:50, 16 minutes ahead of second place and securing another course record.
The Glencoe Marathon was also supported by Northern Ireland runners. The route, which starts in the scenic loch-side village of Glencoe, takes athletes to the infamous climb known as the ‘Devils Staircase’, before descending into Kinlochleven. From the picturesque highland village participants will climb sharply onto the West Highland Way and onwards, on more gentle slopes to the Glen Nevis region of Fortwilliam, in the shadows of the UK’s highest peak Ben Nevis. The off road route incorporates over 1600 metres of ascent.
Aisling Allum (Carnethy HRC) was the first Northern Ireland athlete home in the 26.2 mile event. Aisling, who is recovering from injury, took 4th place in the female race, with an impressive time of 4:23:04. BARF club mates David Buchanan (4:44:12) and Ronnie Douglas (5:01:04) followed in 87th place and 139th place respectively, before North Belfast Harriers' Helen Weir took the bragging rights in the family household. Helen completed the tough course in 5:13:15, for 26th place in the ladies category, while husband Brian (5:37:49) crossed the finish line for a very respectable 244th place. Full results for the event can be found HERE.
Monaghan Marathon Festival 2016:
Local runners enjoyed success at the popular Monaghan Marathon Festival in Ireland over the weekend (Saturday 1st October 2016 and Sunday 2nd October 2016). The event, hosted by Monaghan Phoenix AC, included a Back 2 Back Marathon (2 marathon’s in 2 days), a Marathon, and a Half Marathon.
Familiar faces Geoff Smyth (Unattached) and Fran McFadden (Springwell Running Club) topped the overall standing in the Back 2 Back Marathon, with Geoff’s 3:17:47 and 3:01:42 giving him an overall finishing time of 6:19:29 (1st place). The always impressive Fran McFadden excelled in the ladies B2B category, taking 1st place in an overall time of 7:05:10.
In the 26.2 mile event, Albertville Harriers’ Colum Gaile led the field home in an impressive 2:44:34 (1st place), while Ballymena Runners’ Elle Forrest claimed victory in the ladies race in 3:32:47 (1st place).
Northern Ireland athletes dominated the Half Marathon podium, with Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) and Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) securing top spot in their respective races. Conor broke the tape in 1:14:57 (1st place) and was followed by Clones AC’s Shane Brady (1:15:07) and North Down AC’s Stephen Wylie (1:18:40) in 2nd place and 3rd place respectively. Amy led the ladies home in 1:25:58 (1st place). Full results from the Monaghan Marathon Festival are available HERE.
Cardiff Half Marathon (Wales):
Further afield, in Cardiff (Wales), on Sunday 2nd October 2016, Northern Ireland based Olympian Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) took to the start line of the talent laden Cardiff Half Marathon. Despite having only recently competed in the Olympic Games and returning from some well deserved rest, Paul recorded 1:05:54 for 11th place. Gideon Kimosop, a man well-known in NI after his time here as part of the Project Africa Athletics programme, clocked 1:03:14 for 8th place. Full results for the event are available HERE.
Marty’s 5k Race 2016:
On Sunday 2nd October 2016, almost six hundred athletes descended on the Templemore Sports Complex in Derry/Londonderry for the annual Marty’s 5k Race, an event hosted by Foyle Valley AC as a fitting tribute to their late club mate Martin Gallagher.
As expected, the purple vests of the host club featured prominently, and it was reigning Champion and pre-race favourite Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) who stole the headline with a comprehensive victory. Scott was dominant as he ran clear of the field to win in 14:50 (1st place). Karol Doherty (Unattached) followed in 15:22 (2nd place), just fourteen seconds ahead of 3rd place finisher Conor Doherty (Derry City Track Club), who recorded 15:36.
In the ladies race, City of Derry AC star Catherine Whoriskey once again showed her class. The Waterside Half Marathon winner smashed her winning time at this event in 2015 (17:30) to win comfortably in 17:03 (1st place). Martina McMullan (Foyle Valley AC) crossed the line in 18:59 for 2nd place, while Grainne Neill (Foyle Valley AC) completed the top three in 19:50 (3rd place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) – 14:50, 2nd Karol Doherty (Unattached) – 15:22, 3rd Conor Doherty (Derry City Track Club) – 15:36
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Catherine Whoriskey (City of Derry AC) – 17:03, 2nd Martina McMullan (Foyle Valley AC) – 18:59, 3rd Grainne Neill (Foyle Valley AC) – 19:50
Full Results: Marty’s 5k Race 2016 Results
Elsewhere this weekend… Omagh 5 mile Road Race 2016:
Paul Barbour (Derry City Track Club) impressed with a win at the inaugural Omagh 5 mile road race - Paul completed the course in 26:52 (1st place). Meanwhile, in the ladies race, Sperrin Harriers’ Pauline McGurren made a winning return to competition, taking top spot in 31:23 (1st place). Full results for the event can be found HERE.
NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships 2016:
On Saturday 1st October 2016, thousands of athletes and spectators descended on Victoria Park, Belfast, for the Northern Ireland & Ulster Road Relay Championships, organised by popular Belfast based club Orangegrove AC.
The exciting race programme 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 Joe Chambers (Ballydrain Harriers), Ellie Gordon (North Down AC), Dylan McBride (Willowfield Harriers), Murphy Miller (North Down AC), Conor Gorman (Ballydrain Harriers) and Ciara McRawe (North Belfast Harriers).
After the aforementioned junior events had warmed things up for the senior and master’s races, it was the Masters Ladies who took to the start line first. The teams consisted of three athletes, with each covering 3 x 3,380m each. Judith Lonnen provided title holders City of Lisburn AC with the perfect start, blasting through the first leg in a super quick 11:18, the fastest master’s ladies time of the day. Despite Louise Smith pulling North Belfast Harriers back into contention, it was City of Lisburn AC who ran out victorious in a new course record of 35:55 (1st place). North Belfast Harriers followed in 36:02 (2nd place), before Lagan Valley AC collected bronze medals after completing the three legs in 38:06 (3rd place).
Next up was the Masters Men, with their teams of four athletes completing 3,380m each. The athletes set off at a blistering pace and it Newcastle AC’s David Simpson who completed the initial two laps first, recording an excellent 10:19 (the fastest master’s men’s time of the day). Acorns AC handed over just three seconds later, with East Down AC, Dromore AC and reigning Champions Willowfield Harriers all handing over within ten seconds. In the second leg, Acorns AC began to take charge and this proved to be a key point in the race, with the County Derry/Londonderry club holding on through the third leg. Despite a strong challenge from North Belfast Harriers in the final leg, Acorns AC went on to seal the title in 42:49 (1st place). North Belfast Harriers recorded 43:03 for 2nd place, while Ballymena Runners completed the top three in 43:49 (3rd place).
The penultimate race of the day brought the Senior Ladies to the fore, with the teams of three again completing 3,380m each. As expected, pre-race favourites Newcastle AC dominated proceedings. Olympian Kerry O’Flaherty looked in great form as she powered the County Down club into a lead that proved to be race winning!
Kerry (10:48) recorded the fastest ladies time of the day before handing over to Joanne Mills, who then passed the baton to Mari Troeng – the trio’s overall time of 35:24 (1st place) was outside their winning time for 2015, but enough to seal a comfortable victory. Dromore AC followed just under a minute later in 36:22 (2nd place), before North Down AC sealed bronze in 38:09 (3rd place).
In the final race of an excellent day of competition, the Senior Men lined up for their 4 x 3,380m event. Springwell Running Club’s Neil Johnston blasted out from the gun and impressed as he recorded the quickest men’s leg of the day in 9:40 – Dromore AC and North Down AC followed closely, but as the race progressed, all three of the aforementioned teams succumbed to the challenge of rivals who offered a little more strength in depth from a speed perspective. Derry City Track Club began to move through the ranks as the athletes completed the second leg, and from here, it really was the DCTC show. A consistent final three laps of 9:48, 9:40 and 9:50 on top of the first lap of 10:05 saw Derry City Track Club smash the course record with a winning time of 39:22 (1st place). North Belfast Harriers were also rewarded for consistency – a blanket of seven seconds covered all four of the Belfast team’s legs, and their overall time of 40:09 was enough to secure 2nd place ahead of County Donegal club Letterkenny AC, who claimed 3rd place in 40:43.
Top 3 Masters Ladies Teams (3 x 3,380m): 1st City of Lisburn AC – 35:55, 2nd North Belfast Harriers – 36:02, 3rd Lagan Valley AC – 38:06
Top 3 Masters Masters Men’s Teams (4 x 3,380m): 1st Acorns AC – 42:49, 2nd North Belfast Harriers – 43:03, 3rd Ballymena Runners – 43:49
Top 3 Senior Ladies Teams (3 x 3,380m): 1st Newcastle AC – 35:24, 2nd Dromore AC – 36:22, 3rd North Down AC – 38:09
Top 3 Senior Men’s teams (4 x 3,380m): 1st Derry City Track Club – 39:22, 2nd North Belfast Harriers – 40:09, 3rd Letterkenny AC – 40:43
Full Results: NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships 2016 Results