Weekend Preview:  Thousands of athletes set for St Patrick’s Day events…

Weekend Preview:  Thousands of athletes set for St Patrick’s Day events…

This weekend brings St Patrick’s Day and a plethora of excellent events which will attract thousands of participants.  The highlights are the annual Jimmy’s 10k road race and the SPAR Craic 10k, which between them will accumulate 2,500 participants.

These events will form the basis of our weekend preview, but as always, we’ll provide a full list of what is happening around Northern Ireland, as well as a summary of what’s going elsewhere – this includes the Irish Life AAI National Juvenile Indoor Track & Field Championships in Athlone, Ireland.

We’ll kick off with the first event taking place this weekend, the SPAR Craic 10k road race in Northern Ireland’s capital city, Belfast.

SPAR Craic 10k Road Race:

Thousands of participants will take to the streets of Belfast on St Patrick’s Day (Saturday 17th March 2018) for the 4th annual SPAR Craic 10k road race.

The impressive urban course will see in excess of 1,500 competitors leave City Hall at 9am and finish in the shadows of the Titanic Buildings, on the famous Titanic Slipways.

Organisers of the event have encouraged families to get involved, kicking off their St Patrick’s Day in a healthy and worthy way, before joining the civic celebrations in the city centre afterwards.  This year, the charity partner is Marie Curie, meaning those taking part will not only be doing something that will benefit their own health, but will be helping a very worthy cause.

The race also comes at a perfect time for those hoping to take part on the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon on Monday 6th May 2018.

Chasing top honours at the head of the field will be Philip Goss (North Belfast Harriers) and Emmett McGinty (City of Derry AC).  Both men hold 10k personal bests in the lower regions of 32 minutes and this will therefore be a closely contested affair.

Springwell Running Club athlete Steven McAlary will also be in the mix for a podium place, while Stephen Walker (North Belfast Harriers), Oliver Cook (PACE Running Club) and Nigel Grier (Dromore AC) should make the top ten.

In the ladies race, all eyes will be on Northern Ireland and Ireland international Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers).  The 2014 Commonwealth Games marathoner should take the ladies title comfortably and in doing so, will place well overall.

Chasing Gladys will be emerging QUB AC star Sinead Sweeney, Carlingford Half Marathon winner Gerrie Short (Beechmount Harriers) and consistent North Belfast Harriers athlete Louise Smith.  Ann Terek (City of Lisburn AC), Julie Murphy (Lagan Valley AC) and Eimear McCracken (City of Lisburn AC) should also feature at the front.

Jimmy’s 10k:

A field of approximately 1,000 runners will take on Jimmy’s 10k road race, a popular event hosted by East Down AC (Sunday 18th March 2018).

Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers), a runner up at last week’s re-scheduled SSE Airtricity 10 mile road race, should dominate proceedings.  However, he will have to fend off the likes of Joe McKevitt (Slieve Gullion Runners) and his own club mates Russell Hughes (Willowfield Harriers) and Gary Morrow (Willowfield Harriers), amongst others.

Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) and Rebecca Henderson (Dromore AC) will go head-to-head in the ladies race.  Behind, Susan Smyth (Dromore AC), Tracey Atkinson (Albertville Harriers), Diane Watson (City of Lisburn AC) and Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers) will challenge for the top places.

In the associated 2 x 5k Relay, Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) and Rebecca Wallace (Lagan Valley AC) will forge a formidable partnership and should take the top prize, both in the ladies category and overall.

Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend…

Saturday 17th March 2018:

  • Altamuskin 5 mile Road Race: Altamuskin Community Centre, 12pm (Entries AVAILABLE on race day!)
  • St Patrick’s Weekend 5k: U3A Foyle Building, Gransha Grounds, Derry/L’Derry (Entries AVAILABLE on race day!)
  • St Patrick’s Day 5k: Meeting House Street, Strabane (Entries AVAILABLE on race day!)

Events taking place outside Northern Ireland this weekend…

Irish Life AAI National Juvenile Indoor Track & Field Championships:

Outside Northern Ireland, a large number of local athletes will travel to the AIT Arena in Athlone for Day 2 of the Irish Life AAI National Juvenile Indoor Track & Field Championships (Sunday 18th March 2018).

Commonwealth Youth Games gold medallist Aaron Sexton (North Down AC) will lead the Northern Ireland and Ulster medal hunt and he will be joined by fellow CYG competitor Anna McCauley (City of Lisburn AC) – the talented pairing will race in the 400m and 60m respectively.

Amongst the many local medal hopefuls will be Sean M McGinley (Olympian Youth Club), Dylan McBride (Willowfield Harriers), Cait O’Reilly (Annalee AC), Erin Fisher (City of Lisburn AC), Cormac O’Rourke (Lagan Valley AC), Conor Breslin (Finn Valley AC), Mary Kate Gannon (Annalee AC) and Cara Laverty (City of Derry AC).

A full timetable and provisional entry list for 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.