Weekend Preview:  Glenariffe Mountain Race, SSE Airtricity 10 and more…

Weekend Preview:  Glenariffe Mountain Race, SSE Airtricity 10 and more…

Following the postponement of most of last weekend’s events, the next few days are set to be action packed, with numerous high profile events taking place.

Locally, the Glenariffe Mountain Race and the SSE Airtricity 10 mile Road Race are the pick of the bunch.  Further afield, a Northern Ireland & Ulster team will aim for glory at the UK Inter-Counties XC in Loughborough and hundreds of familiar faces are expected to travel to Athlone for the AAI National Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Where do we start – lets go for local… and the mountains!

Glenariffe Mountain Race:

On Saturday 10th March 2018, nearly 200 athletes from across the province will descend on the coastal village of Waterfoot for the opening race of the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Championship, the Glenariffe Mountain Race.

Affectionately known as ‘the Potato race’, or ‘the Spud run’, because of the goodie bag consisting of potatoes; yes, a full bag of potatoes (from race sponsors, Glens of Antrim Potatoes), the race attracts runners from all corners of Northern Ireland, and beyond!

The ‘to the top and back’ course measures approximately 5.9 miles in distance, with 370 metres of ascent and with the initial flat and fast 2 mile section along the Glen River, which doubles up as the final 2 miles of the race, it makes this course suitable for everyone.

In saying this, nothing can be taken away from the task runner’s face on race day, given the fact that much of the 370 metres of ascent is packed into one climb, which measures just under a mile in distance – it’s steep!

In previous years, the trail and road runners have led the field out, before the mountain ‘goats’ take charge as the competitors move onto the steep and continuous climb up the Glen.

Mourne Runners man William McKee will return and will be looking for a hat-trick of victories having won in 2016 and 2017.  However, the Kilkeel man will face some top class opposition in the form of Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC), Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC) and Ryan Stewart (Shettleston Harriers) as they battle it out for the top prize and more importantly, a winning start to the season.

Although touted by us as the ‘favourites’ the aforementioned famous five will have a quality field to contend with – Timothy Johnston (Mourne Runners), David Hicks (Newcastle AC) and Keiron Kelly (Newry AC) are just three men to look out for; a podium place is not out of the question if they run well.

Reigning Champion from this event, Esther Dickson (Newry AC) will come off a strong cross-country season with hopes of retaining her title and continuing to build an excellent name for herself within the local mountain running scene.

The humble Newry AC athlete really came to the fore in 2017 and this culminated in international selection.  This year there is sure to be expectation and with that comes pressure, but Esther won’t be put off by this.

Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR 2017 winner Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) will toe the line and after helping her Lagan Valley AC team mates to a medal at the NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships two weeks ago, the experienced international will go into the mountain season high in confidence.

The emerging Sarah Graham (Mourne Runners AC), winner of the Donard Wood Trail Race, and the always impressive Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers), Gillian Wasson (Ballymena Runners), Jacqueline Toal (BARF) and Hazel McLaughlin (Lagan Valley AC) will also contest a podium place.  Mourne Runners’ KaraLee Porter is also one to watch this season.

SSE Airtricity 10 mile Road Race:

Eight hundred athletes are expected to descend on the Maiden City of Derry/Londonderry for the annual SSE Airtricity 10 mile road race on Saturday 10th March 2018.

The event is popular with those building towards upcoming 13.1 mile races, or indeed, the events big brother/sister – the SSE Airtricty Walled City Marathon.

The route, which starts in Ebrington Square, will see competitors hug the banks of the River Foyle, crossing both the Peace Bridge and the Foyle Bridge before finishing adjacent to St Columbs Park running track.

At the sharp end, North West man and current NI & Ulster 10k (Road) Champion Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) should control things.  Scott has a personal best of 51:47 for the distance and that will make him hard to beat.

Also chasing the podium will be Steven McAlary, who will lead a huge number of Springwell Running Club athletes around the course.  Enniskillen RC’s Dave Slater should also finish well up the field, as will local men Mark Mullan (City of Derry AC) and Jonathan Canning (Foyle Valley AC).

In the ladies race, Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) may compete as she returns from injury.  The immensely talented athlete won last week’s Carmen 10k in 34:39; this was enough to see the Euro XC team medallist take 3rd place overall.

Foyle Valley AC’s Gemma McGinty and City of Derry AC’s Jackie McMonagle should also be there or there abouts, as should Hannah Shields (City of Derry AC) and Irene Clements (Enniskillen RC).

Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend:

Saturday 10th March 2018:

  • Rollercoaster Road Races – Downpatrick Race Course, Downpatrick – 11am (Entry AVAILABLE on race day!)
  • Atlas Running Shane’s Castle Ultra-Marathon, Marathon, Half Marathon – Shanes Castle Grounds, Antrim – Various Start Times (Entry AVAILABLE on race day!)
  • Grantots 5k – Michael Davitt GAA Grounds, Belfast – 12pm (Entry AVAILABLE on race day!)

Sunday 11th March 2018:

  • Dromintee Rocky Road 10k & 5k – Aghadavoyle Road, Armagh – 10am (Entry AVAILABLE on race day!)
  • Race to Recovery 10k & 5k – Ormeau Park, Belfast – 10am (Entry AVAILABLE on race day!)

Events taking place outside Northern Ireland this weekend…

Northern Ireland & Ulster team ready for UK Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships (compiled for use by Athletics NI):

A team of nine Northern Ireland & Ulster athletes will travel to Loughborough this weekend for the UK Inter-Counties XC Championships at Prestwold Hall (Saturday 10th March 2018).

Athletics Northern Ireland have been invited to enter athletes into this event to compete against the counties and districts of England, Scotland and Wales.

The event also incorporates the final round of the British Athletics Cross Challenge; the Antrim International XC was part of the same prestigious Series.

Springwell Running Club’s Neil Johnston (Mark Kirk) will compete in the Senior Men’s race, with Katie Moore (North Down AC / Francis Marsh) and Under 23 competitor, and recently crowned NI & Ulster Senior XC Champion, Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC / Luke Osborne), competing in the Senior Ladies event.

NI & Ulster Intermediate XC Champion Craig McMeechan (North Down AC / Francis Marsh) will lead the Junior Men’s team, with Peter Gracey (Beechmount Harriers / Mark Kirk) and Tony McCambridge (St Malachy’s AC / Joe McAlister) also in the line-up.

In the Under 17 race, Sean McGinley (Olympian YC / John Rogan) and David Carey (Inishowen AC / Ronan Whoriskey) will compete in the men’s event, while NI & Ulster Intermediate XC Champion Rebecca Wallace (Lagan Valley AC / Eamonn Christie) will feature in the ladies race.

The Irish Life Health AAI National Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships:

A large number of local athletes are expected to travel to Athlone for the Irish Life Health AAI National Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships, which take place in AIT Arena (Saturday 10th March 2018).

City of Lisburn AC star Kelly Neely will lead the local contingent in their hunt for medals and if the former World Masters Champion’s form is anything to go by, she should return with gold.

Kelly impressed most recently at the AAI National Senior Indoor Championships, were she claimed silver over 1500m, clocking 4:20.63.  The well-respected athlete and coach also recorded 4:16.25 over the same distance at the AIT Grand Prix three weeks ago.

Competing alongside Kelly will be a host of familiar faces on the Masters circuit, all of whom have an excellent chance of claiming a medal, including Cathal McLaughlin (Derry Track Club), Brian O’Domhnaill (Finn Valley AC), Patrick Forbes (Mid Ulster AC), Joy McAleer (City of Lisburn AC), Glen Scullion (Mid Ulster AC), Shane King (Clones AC) and Denise Toner (Clones AC).

Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC), Gary McKeegan (Victoria Park & Connswater AC) and Stephen Orr (Orangegrove AC) are other local athletes who could secure age category medals.

A full entry list and timetable are available HERE.

Irish Universities Athletics Association (IUAA) Cross Country Championships:

The re-scheduled Irish Universities Athletics Association (IUAA) XC Championships will also take place this weekend in Santry, Dublin (Saturday 10th March 2018).

Northern Ireland and Ulster will be well represented, with athletes competing for a host of universities and colleges – both Queen’s University and the University of Ulster are expected to field strong teams.

More details on the event can be found HERE.


As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty-five 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.