Weekend Preview: Dalriada Festival, Blue Belles 5k, Dark Hedges HM and more…

Weekend Preview: Dalriada Festival, Blue Belles 5k, Dark Hedges HM and more…

After a couple of weeks break, our weekend preview is back and again, there is no let up in the amount of action, with several top quality events scheduled for the next few days.

Locally, we have the Dark Hedges Half Marathon, the Acorns AC Blue Belles 5k and the Dalriada Festival 10k and 5k races.

Outside Northern Ireland, Megan Marrs (City of Lisburn AC) will represent GB & NI at the Anniversary Games in London, while a strong team of mountain runners will represent Northern Ireland at the famous Snowdon International in Wales.

Dalriada Festival 10k & 5k:

The weekend action will kick off in Glenarm on the stunning Antrim coastline tonight (Friday 20th July 2018), with the Dalriada Challenge 10k and 5k races, in association with Glenlough Running Club.

Athletes will cover a mixed terrain course around the village and adjoining Glenarm Castle Grounds, with the male and female winners collecting a unique medal hand-crafted by The Steenson’s.  For those less competitive runners, it will be a relaxed atmosphere where participants can accomplish personal goals and enjoy an evening out with friends and family! This is the ideal event for beginners and experienced runners alike.

Race Registration and Start/Finish are on Altmore Street (the wide street leading to the forest gates) but car parking will not be available on this street.  There will be adequate parking around the marina and also at the beach front carpark, both of which are no more than 2 or 3 mins walk from Altmore Street.

Race Registration will be open from 17:00 and close at 18:45 with the race starting at 19:00.  At Registration you will receive a race number with timing chip attached.

The 10k race will be 2 laps of the route with a water stop as you pass the start/finish to begin the second lap.  The first section of the course is on forest trails and is a little rough in places but normal road running trainers will still be fine.

The run route can be viewed via this GARMIN CONNECT link.

As part of the Dalriada Festival week, from 8pm at the Marina there is a free gig, featuring Irish Country Music Superstar, Lisa McHugh.  This was a great event last year with many of the competitors sticking around after the race to watch, so if you don’t have to rush away you will be more than welcome to join us.

Dark Hedges Half Marathon:

On Saturday 21st July 2018, hundreds of competitors are expected to descend on the village of Dervock, close to Ballymoney, for the annual Kennedy Kane McArthur Festival of Running Dark Hedges Half Marathon.

Given the traffic restriction on the famous Dark Hedges, this event provides an excellent opportunity to view the famous trees!

In saying that, at the front, there won’t be much time for sightseeing.  East Antrim Harriers men Matthew Hewitt and Colin James should play a part, with the ever consistent David Proctor (Willowfield Harriers) likely to finish well up the field.

The ladies race will be a close affair, with a number of well-known athletes due to compete.  Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC), Natasha Henderson (County Antrim Harriers) and Amanda Perry (Ballydrain Harriers) will all start and should challenge for top honours.  Behind, Leann Gibson (Victoria Park & Connswater AC), Beverley Mitchell (Albertville Harriers) and Irene Clements (1Zero1) will be worth watching.

Acorns AC Blue Belles 5k Road Race:

On the same day (Saturday 21st July 2018), in Magherafelt, Acorns AC will host their ladies only Blue Belles 5k road race.

The host club’s Leanne Sands will be considered as one of the pre-race favourites, with Sperrin Harriers’ Laura Mitchell also likely to be there or there abouts.

Add in Roberta Dornan (North Down AC), Tanya Quinn (Sperrin Harriers) and Heather Malone (East Coast AC) and you’ve got an excellent battle for the final podium place.

Other major events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend…

The NI & Ulster Senior Relay Championships are being held in conjunction with the Team Trophy League 2018 at Bangor Sportsplex (Saturday 21st July 2018).  Further information about the event are available HERE.

Events taking place outside Northern Ireland this weekend…

British Athletics Anniversary Games (Diamond League Fixture):

British Indoor 60m Hurdles Champion Megan Marrs (City of Lisburn AC) will follow on from last week’s Athletics World Cup with another high profile competition.

Megan will again swap her City of Lisburn AC vest for that of Great Britain & Northern Ireland as she lines up as part of a world class field at the Muller Anniversary Games, a Diamond League event being held at the London Stadium (Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd July 2018).

The Loughborough based athlete, who came through the Athletics NI Youth Academy system, recorded her second fastest time ever (13.36) last weekend in the same venue and will therefore be looking to further extend her recent personal best of 13.32, set at the Belfast International Meet last month.

Start lists for the event are available HERE.

Elsewhere this weekend…

A team of mountain runners from Northern Ireland will be in action at the Snowdon International Mountain Race in Wales this weekend (Saturday 21st July 2018).

Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC), Timothy Johnston (Mourne Runners), William McKee (Mourne Runners) and Gavin Mulholland (Calder Valley FR) will make up the men’s team, while Esther Dickson (Newry AC), Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) and Sarah Graham (Mourne Runners) will be the local representatives in the ladies race.

In Tullamore, a host of up and coming talent will compete at Day 3 of the Irish Life AAI National Juvenile Age Group Championships (Sunday 22nd July 2018).  Full information for the event, including start lists and timetable are available HERE.

National Marathon Champion Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) is just one of a host of local athletes who will travel to the South Dublin 10k this weekend (Sunday 22nd July 2018).

Laura will be joined by a large number of familiar faces at the popular Dublin Marathon Series event, included some of Paul Pollock’s #DreamRunDublin18 group.


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.