AAI National U20 and U23 Indoor Track & Field Championships 2017 (Report by Athletics NI):
On Sunday 29th January 2017, there were a huge number of medals and personal bests for local athletes at the AAI National Under 20 and Under 23 Indoor Track & Field Championships in Athlone, Ireland.
Christian Robinson (City of Lisburn AC/ Alan Kennedy) went in to the U23 60m as the second fastest qualifier but came through strongly in the final twenty metres to take the title in a PB of 6.92secs (1st place). Brothers John and James Kelly (both Finn Valley AC / John Kelly Snr) took the U23 and U20 shot titles with PB’s and 16.75m (7.26kg) and 15.08m (6kg) respectively.
Pole Vaulter Ellie McCartney (City of Lisburn AC / Jim Alexander) won the U20 event with 3.45m before attempting and narrowly missing what would have been a new Irish U20 record of 3.61m. Her training partner, Shane Martin (Ballymena & Antrim / Jim Alexander) won the U20 men’s pole vault with his opening height of 4.10m.
Naomi Morgan (City of Derry AC / Tom Reynolds) won the U23 ladies 60m Hurdles in a seasons best of 9.21secs before adding 5cm to her HJ PB with 1.60m for the bronze medal. In his first year in the U20 age group Aaron Sexton (North Down AC / Roger Sexton) ran an impressive indoor 200m PB to finish in second position with 21.76secs behind Mark Smyth in 21.61secs (1st place).
Craig Newell (Ballymena & Antrim / Ian Neely) twice bettered his outright 400m PB with 49.43secs in the heats before taking the bronze medal in 49.47secs. Caitlin Maguire (North Belfast Harriers / Bill Kelly) finished in 5th place in the 60m with a PB of 7.74secs before reaching the final of the 200m from the tough inside lane. Andrew Proctor (Lagan Valley AC / Phill Snoddy) ran PBs in the 60m (7.15secs) and 200m (22.68secs) and finished in 5th place in the U20 200m final. Garbhan McKenna (Ulster University, Shercock AC / Tom Reynolds) ran a seasons best in the U23 60m Hurdles of 8.59secs to take the silver medal.
Athletes from NI impress in Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland:
On Saturday 28th January 2017, recently crowned NI & Ulster 10k (road) Champion Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) continued her impressive winter campaign, after picking up a gold medal and new personal best in Scotland.
Competing at the Scottish National Indoor Championships, Banbridge athlete Emma recorded a comfortable victory over 1500m, clocking 4:16.20 – this was just under a second quicker than her previous best for the distance and just 1.20secs outside the qualifying mark for the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade in March (2017).
Meanwhile, in England and Wales this weekend, local athletes narrowly missed podium places at prestigious indoor competitions. At Sale Harriers’ City of Manchester Indoor Track & Field Meeting, Olympic Steeplechaser Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) claimed 4th place over 3,000m flat in a time of 9:18.06. Despite being seven seconds outside her best, this was an impressive outing given that the County Down athlete has been suffering from a virus recently. The race was won by Swansea AC’s Elinor Kirk in 9:00.59 (1st place).
Willowfield Harriers’ Andrew Wright again showed that he is one to watch, whilst competing at the Welsh Athletics National Indoor Championships in Cardiff, Wales. Under 23 competitor Andrew cruised through his 800m heat in 1:56.34 (1st place) before recording 1:55.17 for 4th place in the final, which was won by Alex Coomber (Cardiff AC) in 1:50.49 (1st place).
Raheny 5 mile Road Race (Ireland):
On Sunday 29th January 2017, there was a huge Northern Ireland representation at one of Ireland’s most popular road races, the Raheny 5 mile road race, just outside Dublin. The race provided spectators with an epic finish as pre-race favourites Mark Christie (Mullingar Harriers) and Mick Clohisey (Raheny Shamrock AC) went head to head. Mark edged it in 23:45 (1st place) – Donore Harriers’ Barbara Cleary won the ladies race in 27:41 (1st place).
St Malachy’s AC man Ben Branagh was the first familiar face to cross the line, taking a well-deserved 3rd place in 24:20. City of Derry AC’s John-Paul Williamson, the NI & Ulster 10k (road) Champion, also claimed a top ten finish, crossing the line in 28:52 (6th place). Unattached athlete Cathy McCourt, who medalled at yesterday’s NI & Ulster Masters XC in Derry/Lononderry, was the first local lady home, taking 6th place in 29:29.
Full results for the Raheny 5 mile road race can be found HERE.
NI & Ulster Masters Intermediate/Masters XC 2017:
On Saturday 28th January 2017, hundreds of athletes from across the province descended on the extensive Gransha Grounds for the annual NI & Ulster Intermediate and Masters Cross Country Championships, hosted by Athletics Northern Ireland.
An excellent day of competition saw gold medal winning performances from Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers), Jim Patterson (Newcastle AC), Jodi Smith (North Down AC), Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) and Conan McCaughey (Derry Track Club).
Good running conditions coupled with an excellent atmosphere greeted athletes as they took to the start line. The Masters Ladies and Vet65+ Men were first up for their 4k event. As expected, the fast improving Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) played a major part in proceedings. The pre-race favourite, who has been a podium regular throughout this cross-country season always looked as if she would claim top honours – despite the valiant efforts of Letterkenny AC’s Fionnuala Diver, it was Amy who broke the tape first in 14:30 (1st place). Fionnuala followed just one second later in 14:31 (2nd place), before Cathy McCourt (Unattached) completed the podium places in 14:35 (3rd place). In the team competition, North Belfast Harriers claimed 1st place with Ballydrain Harriers and Letterkenny AC taking 2nd place and 3rd place respectively. Newcastle AC’s Jim Patterson was comfortably the first of the Vet65+ athletes home in 16:12 (1st place).
The Masters Men’s 8k race was a competitive affair, with Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC), Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers), Declan Reed (City of Derry AC), Alan O’Hara (North Belfast Harriers) and Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) amongst those at the fore early on. However, in the end, after the pack had reduced to Chris McGuinness, Declan Reed and Stephen Duncan, it was Chris who edged it, claiming victory in 24:57 (1st place). Declan secured the runners up spot in 25:06 (2nd place), with Stephen clocking 25:14 for 3rd place. In the team standings, North Belfast Harriers took 1st place, with Willowfield Harriers in 2nd place and Foyle Valley AC in 3rd place.
In the Intermediate Ladies 4k race, North Down AC’s Jodi Smith followed on from her excellent outing at the recent Antrim International XC with another notable performance. The Northern Ireland international led the field home in 14:40 (1st place), with Letterkenny AC’s Noelene Scanlon taking the silver medal in 14:41 (2nd place) and Springwell Running Club’s Ciara McSherry picking up bronze in 14:44 (3rd place). Noelene Scanlon’s performance led her Letterkenny AC team to 1st place, with Omagh Harriers claiming 2nd place and North Down AC 3rd place.
In a competitive Intermediate Men’s 10k race, Conan McCaughey (Derry Track Club) bettered his runners up medal from 2016 with an outstanding victory. However, it did not come easy, with the Northern Ireland international having to fend off current NIMRA Champion William McKee (Mourne Runners). Conan broke the tape in 30:46 (1st place), just ahead of William who recorded 31:00 (2nd place) – Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers) replicated his third place finish at this event twelve months ago when he completed the course in 31:25 (3rd place). Good packing from Finn Valley AC saw the Donegal men take 1st place in the team standings. Acorns AC claimed 2nd place, while City of Derry AC secured 3rd place.
Masters Ladies (4k) – Overall Podium Places:
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers) – 14:30, 2nd Fionnuala Diver (Letterkenny AC) – 14:31, 3rd Cathy McCourt (Unattached) – 14:35
Top 3 Teams: 1st North Belfast Harriers, 2nd Ballydrain Harriers, 3rd Letterkenny AC
Masters Vet65+ Men (4k) – Overall Podium Places:
Top 3 Men: 1st Jim Patterson (Newcastle AC) – 16:12, 2nd Fred Hammond (Lagan Valley AC) – 18:05, 3rd Francis Boal (Lagan Valley AC) – 18:29
Masters Men (8k) – Overall Podium Places:
Top 3 Men: 1st Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) – 24:57, 2nd Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) – 25:06, Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers) – 25:14
Top 3 Teams: 1st North Belfast Harriers, 2nd Willowfield Harriers, 3rd Foyle Valley AC
Intermediate Ladies (4k) – Overall Podium Places:
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Jodi Smith (North Down AC) – 14:40, 2nd Noelene Scanlon (Letterkenny AC) – 14:41, 3rd Ciara McSherry (Springwell Running Club) – 14:44
Top 3 Teams: 1st Letterkenny AC, 2nd Omagh Harriers, 3rd North Down AC
Intermediate Men (10k) – Overall Podium Places:
Top 3 Men: 1st Conan McCaughey (Derry City Track Club) – 30:46, 2nd William McKee (Mourne Runners) – 31:00, 3rd Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers) – 31:25
Top 3 Teams: 1st Finn Valley AC, 2nd Acorns AC, 3rd City of Derry AC
Provisional Results: NI & Ulster Intermediate and Masters XC Championships 2017 Results (Photos above by Kathryn Morrow, NiRunning and Finn ValleyAC)
Weekend Preview: Next stop… the Maiden City!
Another weekend is upon us and once again, it’s cross country which takes centre stage. This cross country season has already brought plenty of highlights and there will undoubtedly be many more stories before the attention turns to the road racing season (actually, are there really seasons any more? That’s a topic for another day!).
The XC competition steps up a gear over the next month, with two major events, starting this weekend with the NI & Ulster Intermediate and Masters XC Championships taking place in Northern Ireland’s maiden city, Derry/Londonderry… then the NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships, which will again be hosted in Lurgan Park, will take place in early March (2017). These events alongside the NI & Ulster Novice XC Championships and the popular Athletics NI XC League provide the backbone for the thriving local cross country scene.
Elsewhere in the province, local events management company 26extreme will host the inaugural running of their Mourne Way 10k Night Race. There will be local interest elsewhere this weekend, with familiar faces set to participate in the Raheny 5 mile road race and the Irish Life Health AAI National Junior & Under 23 Indoor Championships, both in Ireland.
NI & Ulster Intermediate & Masters XC Championships:
On Saturday 28th January 2016, hundreds of athletes from across Northern Ireland and Ulster will descend on Gransha Grounds in Derry/Londonderry for the NI & Ulster Intermediate and Masters Cross Country Championships, hosted by Athletics NI.
The entry criteria means that any athlete who has won a medal at the NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships or AAI Senior/Intermediate XC Championships as an individual or part of the winning team; or has been placed 1st or 2nd as an individual or part of a team in the NI & Ulster Senior XC Championships, the AAI Senior XC Championships, or won the NI & Ulster Intermediate XC as an individual or as part of a team cannot participate in the ‘Intermediate’ Women’s or ‘Intermediate’ Men’s races.
The Masters Ladies and Masters Men 65+ will kick off proceedings with their 4k race at 1pm. These event is expected to be a closely contested affair, with in-form Willowfield Harriers athlete Amy Bulman likely to play a major part in proceedings. In what has been her first cross country campaign, Amy has impressed with numerous podium places, which at times, have come against to quality opposition with much more experience. These performances have quite rightly brought confidence, which will hopefully encourage the fast improving athlete to take the race on.
Should Amy which to take the gold medal, she’ll have to see off some experienced and talented athletes – Fionnuala Diver (Letterkenny AC) and Roisin Hughes (North Belfast Harriers) will also be considered as contenders, while Suzanne Higgins (Lagan Valley AC), Debbie Matchett (Ballydrain Harriers), Denise Toner (Clones AC) and Catherine Diver (Beechmount Harriers) all possess the ability to claim a high place and ultimately a medal, if they are in good form. The host club’s Catherine Hribar (City of Derry AC) will place well, as will Martina McMullan (Foyle Valley AC) and Leanne Gibson (Victoria Park & Connswater AC). Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) and Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers) will both finish well up the field. Looking at the team competition, it looks like it will be just as close as the individual race – North Belfast Harriers will be there or there abouts, as will Ballydrain Harriers and Letterkenny AC.
Meanwhile, well-known athletes Jim Patterson (Newcastle AC), Roy Corry (Willowfield Harriers), John Glover (Lagan Valley AC) and Fred Hammond (Lagan Valley AC) will be keen to impress in the Masters Men 65+ race.
Following on from the Masters Ladies will be the Masters Men and their 8k race, which will start at 1.30pm. This race has attracted most competitors, with nearly two hundred athletes signed-up online.
Of those, two men stand out – highly decorated Northern Ireland Masters international team mates Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) and Stephen Duncan (Omagh Harriers). The exceptionally talented pairing have not been racing just as much as they would like over the last six months, but will still dominate proceeding here. Stephen’s last outing was a 33:33 10k at Eskra in December (2016), while Declan’s was way back September (2016) when he ran 15:06 for 5k in Rathfarnham; he’s been injured since.
Another man who will be a guaranteed front runner on the day is Letterkenny AC’s Irish international Ciaran Doherty; if he’s fit, Ciaran could well challenge for the gold medal. Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers), Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC), David McNeilly (Newcastle AC) and Tommy Simmons (North Belfast Harriers) will all be worth watching, as will be in the mix, while Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers), Andrew Considine (North Belfast Harriers), Colin Roberts (City of Derry AC) and Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) cannot be ruled out in terms of potential podium placers. Looking at the race for team honours, it’s hard to look past reigning Champions North Belfast Harriers. However, hosts City of Derry AC also have fantastic strength in depth.
The penultimate race of the day will be the Intermediate Ladies 4k (2.10pm). Just like the Masters Ladies event, this one will be close! A good mix of youth and experience will take to the start line, which will make for an interesting race. Joanne Mills (Newcastle AC) and Jodi Smith (North Down AC) should feature at the head of the pack – Joanne hasn’t been racing much recently but never fails to impress when she does start, while Jodi had an excellent run at the Antrim International XC. Junior stars Enya Haigney and Toni Moore, both of Omagh Harriers will go well, especially over this distance!
Ballymena Runners will field a strong team which should be headed by Paul Arthur McCarthy and Kerry Bamber, two accomplished athletes. Dungiven 10k winner Kerrie McIlmoyle (Springwell Running Club) and club mate Molly Brennan (Springwell Running Club) should perform to their usual high standard, as will Sarah Lindsay (North Down AC) and Newcastle AC trio Mari Troeng, Sam McNeilly and Rita Devlin. The aforementioned Newcastle AC ladies will be out to claim the team trophy, but will have to fend off Omagh Harriers and Ballymena Runners.
In what should be an excellent day of competition, the Intermediate Men will provide the finale when they toe the line for their 10k event. Like the other races, although individual honours are at stake, a lot of focus will be on the team aspect as well; there is some excellent silverware up for grabs!
Up front, with high hopes of achieving individual and team medals will be Conan McCaughey (Derry Track Club), Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC), Adam Kirk-Smith (Derry Track Club) and Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers); this quartet will battle it out for the top three places. Clones AC’s Shane Brady, City of Derry AC star Kyle Doherty and versatile Mourne Runners man William McKee may also feature.
Behind, every place counts as the athletes try to help their teams. Conan and Adam will have Chris Millar, Conor McIlveen and the returning Paul Barbour, amongst others as part of their Derry Track Club team. Zak will be looking to Colum Campbell, Patrick Higgins, Martin Melville and David Hicks for support, while Kyle will have Noel Logan and Paul McCafferty on his shoulder as part of a strong Spartans line-up. Willowfield Harriers’ Russell Hughes and Springwell Running Club’s Luke Dinsmore will place well, as will Gavin Corey (Sperrin Harriers) and Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC).
Raheny 5 mile Road Race (Ireland):
On Sunday 29th January 2017, Northern Ireland based clubs should be represented on the roads of Ireland, with a sizeable crowd expected to travel to the 32nd annual running of the Raheny 5 mile road race, just outside Dublin. The event, which is organised by Raheny Shamrock AC, has always attracted a plethora of local talent and this year will be no different.
The well-known ‘fast course’ was slightly altered last year due to road works, but still offered excellent personal best potential, according to the locals – the NI contingent will be hoping for more of the same this time around. Athletes from North Belfast Harriers, East Antrim Harriers, Beechmount Harriers and Larne AC have all made the journey to Raheny in recent years and all could well be represented again. Some top names from Northern Ireland who may well feature include Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners), Kevin O’Boyle (Unattached), Cathy McCourt (Unattached), Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC) and Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC).
Irish Life Health AAI National Junior and Under 23 Indoor Track & Field Championships (Ireland):
On the same day (Sunday 29th January 2017), a large number of athletes from Northern Ireland are expected to travel south to the AIT Arena in Athlone for the Irish Life Health AAI National Junior and Under 23 Track & Field Championships, hosted by Athletics Ireland. The event will be streamed LIVE via a link HERE.
Up and coming local athletes who should perform well include Callum Crawford-Walker (Annadale Striders), Matt Doherty (City of Derry AC), Craig Newell (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Ciaran Barnes (City of Lisburn AC) and Ryan Keenan (City of Lisburn AC), Anna McIlmoyle (City of Lisburn AC), Naomi Morgan (City of Derry AC), Adam Cooper (Lagan Valley AC), Caitlin Maguire (North Belfast Harriers), Stephen McGahey (City of Derry AC) and Christian Robinson (City of Lisburn AC). A full entry list for the event is available HERE.
Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend…
Friday 27th January 2017: 26extreme Mourne Way 10k Night Race – Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor (then bus to start line) – 7.30pm (There will be NO on the night entry for this event). Please see HERE for full details.
As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty four 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 host annual awards night:
On Wednesday 25th January 2017, Athletics Northern Ireland welcomed invited guests to their annual awards night, which this year was held in one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic locations, the stunning Titanic building in Belfast.
The evening honoured athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers from across Northern Ireland for their hard work and achievements during the 2015/2016 season.
Lord Mayor of Belfast Alderman Brian Kingston and UK Athletics’ Chair Ed Warner were among the guests of honour at this year’s Athletics NI Annual Awards Evening. Other guests included Chair of the Mary Peters Trust Eilish Rutherford and local pioneering Olympian Maeve Kyle OBE.
The evening began by recognising the athletes and their personal coaches who achieved International Selection during 2016. Tom Crick Director of Coaching & Athlete Development said, “The recognition of coaches alongside their athletes is a key feature of our team’s drive to raise the status of coaching and volunteering in Athletics.”
2016 saw six Northern Ireland records broken, including three by Ciara Mageean (Club: UCD; Coach: Jerry Kiernan) in the 800m, 1500m and Mile. North Down’s Aaron Sexton (Roger Sexton) was also honoured for his U18 200m record as were City of Lisburn AC duo Megan Marrs (Tom Reynolds) for her U20 100m record and Andrew Barkley (Jackie McKernan) for his U20 Discus Record.
Mageean’s coach Jerry Kiernan also picked up the Performance Coach of the Year award in recognition of his efforts guiding her to Bronze in the 1500m at the European Championships in Amsterdam, Netherlands. This was the first major individual medal won by a Northern Irish Athlete at a major non-disability championship since Paul McKee secured Bronze at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in 2003.
In a reversal of last year’s result Disability Performance Coach of the Year, was awarded to Clarence Callender for his work guiding T13 100m sprinter Jason Smyth to Gold at the Rio Paralympic Games. Callender pipped Paddy McKillop, coach to T37 1500m Rio Gold Medallist Michael McKillop, to the award based purely on the relative standard of Jason’s winning time.
This year the award for Junior Performance Coach of the Year was shared by St. Gerard’s AC’s Michael O’Connor and Finn Valley AC’s Niall Wilkinson. Michael received the award for his work with daughter Kate O’Connor who achieved 7th at European Youth Championships in Tbilisi. However, a special mention was made to the other members of Kate’s coaching team which include: Adam McMullen, Dessie Gough, Francis O’Hagan, Laura Kerr and Tom Reynolds.
Niall Wilkinson shared the award for his work with high jumper Sommer Lecky (Finn Valley) who finished the season ranked 10th in Europe as an U18 and made the final at the European Youth Championships. Meanwhile, Development Coach of the Year went to Ballymena and Antrim AC’s Ian Neely. Over the past several seasons Ian has developed Christine McMahon (Ballymena & Antrim AC) from a promising junior right through to achieving the Olympic qualification standard, albeit 5 days too late for Rio. Ian also tutors on the UKA Athletics Coach award where he is a strong advocate for taking a long-term approach to athlete development.
Community Coach of the Year was awarded to North Belfast Harriers’ Matt Shields for his work within the local community as well as his part in setting up Parkrun across the province. Parkrun has given thousands of people an opportunity to challenge themselves in a friendly, accessible environment. The weekly timed runs are held in parks across Northern Ireland and are regularly attended by both recreational runners as well as some of Northern Ireland’s top athletes. This year a new category was added to the awards list. Ollie Wakefield became the first Young Coach of the Year in recognition of his work with North Down AC. Ollie has also become an invaluable member of the Bangor Rising Stars team where his organisational and athlete management skills have been highly commended.
In 2016 Newcastle AC placed several athletes on international teams, while Steeplechaser Kerry O’Flaherty made it all the way to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The club’s diverse membership base makes it one of the few clubs to have beginners training alongside elite athletes on a regular basis. All this helped the County Down club secure the Performance Club of the Year award over stiff competition. Of course, these great performances would not be possible without the officials and volunteers who regularly turn out to support the sport. This year the awards panel presented the Volunteer of the Year award to Liam McGarry. The award honours his dedication to Belfast Running Club, where he works with a diverse range of participants including a small number with intellectual disabilities.
The Officials Committee named Liz Glover as Official of the Year. Liz’s tireless work with the photo finish equipment means she often arrives early to competitions and leaves after everyone else. As an experienced official Liz is often involved in major competitions over the water but also finds time to volunteer for far smaller meets including Athletics NI’s annual Rising Stars competition.
Attending her first Awards evening as President of Athletics NI, Pam Brown presented Joy Alexander with his award for Services to Officiating. Over the years, Joy has become one of the ‘ever present’. She heads the Track and Field Competitions Committee, regularly attending meetings with British Athletics and has officiated at some of the world’s most prestigious Diamond League competitions.
The final award of the evening was the “Sean Kyle Award for Services to Coaching”, named after the legendary Ballymena & Antrim coach who sadly passed away in 2015. Sean’s wife Maeve Kyle OBE was in attendance to present the award to this year’s winner Claire Scarth.
Claire has been involved with Athletics for over 40 years at North Down AC. The Bangor based coach was one of the first to promote the multi-event approach to developing young athletes and over the years has helped numerous athletes’ progress to international level and go on to represent Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games. Many of her athletes have also gone on to set Northern Irish records, the most recent of which was Ben Reynolds who ran 13.48s over 110m Hurdles in 2015. Claire continues to work tirelessly for the club and remains an inspiration to all.
Note: Article (apart from introduction) by Athletics Northern Ireland. Photos from the Athletics NI Awards Night are now available HERE.
Cardiff XC (inc British Cross Challenge and Celtic XC International):
On Sunday 22nd January 2017, a number of Northern Ireland’s best up and coming athletes were in action at the famous Cardiff XC in Wales.
The event, which took place within the complex of Blackweir Fields in the Welsh capital also incorporated the British Cross Challenge and the Celtic International XC.
On what was a chilly day, the performances of local athletes certainly heated things up.
Amongst the top performers was Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) – Conor, who was representing Ireland, followed up his excellent run at last week’s Antrim International with a 14th place finish in the senior men’s race, after covering the 10.37k route in 35:27. The event was won by Dewi Griffith (Swansea AC) in 32:58 (1st place).
A mere one second split Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) and Conal McCambridge (North Belfast Harriers) in the same race. Zak clocked 36:47 for 28th place with Conal following in 36:48 for 30th place; this was good enough to secure 9th place and 10th place respectively in the Under 23 competition. In the Under 20 6.99k race, North Down AC’s Craig McMeechan claimed 9th place in 24:44 – the race was won by Derby AC’s Hugo Milner in 23:41 (1st place).
The senior ladies 6.99k race, which was dominated by Team GB’s Jess Judd (1st place – 26:14), brought quality performances and top ten (category) places for North Down AC’s Katie Moore and City of Lisburn AC’s Zoe Carruthers. Katie crossed the line in 29:25 (28th place), which saw her finish as 6th place Under 23 athlete. Meanwhile, Zoe recorded 30:54 for 36th place and a brilliant 4th place in the Under 20 category.
Four Northern Ireland based athletes finished with forty seconds of each other in the Under 20 ladies 4.97k race, which was won by Anna MacFayden (Forres AC) in 18:35 (1st place). East Down AC’s Laura Gardiner led the way, crossing the line in 21:41 (22nd place), just four seconds ahead of Beechmount Harriers’ Rioghnach Catney, who ran 21:45 for 23rd place. Madison Bowyer (City of Lisburn AC) followed in 21:59 (24th place), before Enya Haigney (Omagh Harriers) finished in 22:22 (26th place).
It was a similar story in the Under 17 Girls 4.29k race, with three familiar faces crossing the line within twenty seconds of each other. North Down AC’s Murphy Miller claimed a top twenty finish in 18:46 (18th place), finishing just ahead of North Belfast Harriers’ Rebecca Wallace (23rd place) and Ballymena & Antrim AC’s Katie Agnew (25th place); both ladies crossed the line in 19:01. The race was won by Sarah Healy (Blackrock AC) in 17:13 (1st place).
LSK Open Masters Relay Championships (Scotland):
Elsewhere on Sunday 22nd January 2017, there was further success for Northern Ireland athletes at the LSK Open Masters Relay Championships in Scotland. Northern Ireland masters international duo Lisa Finlay and Hazel Smyth joined Team GB ultra-runner Joasia Zakrzewski as they guided their Dumfries Running Club to a hat-trick of victories in the ladies race. The ladies completed the three stage relay in 1:08:21 (1st place). Full results for the event are available HERE.
AAI National Intermediate XC Championships 2017:
On Sunday 22nd January 2017, a small number of athletes from Northern Ireland made the long journey south to Galway (Ireland) for the Irish Life Health AAI National Intermediate Cross Country, which were held at the Palace Grounds in Tuam.
Despite the small number, those who did take part delivered in terms of success, with individual, team and county medals all part of an impressive medal haul.
Amongst the excellent performances was a stand-out run from North Down AC’s Northern Ireland international Rachel Gibson, who secured a bronze medal in the ladies race. Up against some tough opposition, Rachel covered the 5k course in 20:46 (3rd place). The race was won by Aoife Cooke (Youghal AC) in 20:01 (1st place).
In the men’s 8k event, which was won by Gowran AC’s Niall Sheehan in 27:53, John Black led a strong North Belfast Harriers team to 2nd place in the team competition won by Clonliffe Harriers (1st place). John claimed 13th place overall in 29:38 and was followed closely by Philip Goss (15th place – 29:44) and Eamon White (16th place – 29:53). Andrew Considine complete the scoring quartet in 30:46 (22nd place). The men, alongside club mates David Clarke and Nat Glenn also guided Antrim to 2nd place in the county standings – Dublin claimed 1st place.
Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series – Race 3 (An Creagan 5 mile Trail Race):
On Saturday 21st January 2017, almost 200 runners turned out for the third race of the Winter League, An Creagan 5 Mile. The frosty conditions didn’t deter runners from across Ulster from taking to the pleasant forest trail course which comprised of two laps of the forest and finished in the courtyard of An Creagan Centre.
Derry Track Club’s Paul Barbour was pursued all the way around the course by Vincent McAlister (Unattached) and Eoin Hughes (Acorns AC), but managed to hold off both chasers to win in a time of 27:03 (1st place). Vincent McAlister followed just four seconds later in 27:07 (2nd place), with Eoin Hughes crossing the line for 3rd place in 27:18.
In the ladies race, Catherine Whoriskey of City of Derry AC made her debut at the Winter League a winning one taking first lady in an impressive time of 28:25 (1st place). Acorns AC star Karen Alexander returned after missing the second race of this year’s Winter League, to claim 2nd place in 30:31, adding to her win at the Series opener, the Davagh 10k. Springwell Running Club’s Ciara Toner took 3rd place in 32:20 to add to her second and first places at the Davagh and Lough Fea races respectively.
Note: Race 4 of the Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series, the Drum Manor Forest 10k, will take place on Saturday 4th February 2017.
St Patrick’s Dungiven 10k 2017:
On Saturday 21st January 2017, well over one hundred athletes turned out for the increasingly popular St Patrick’s 10k road race in the County Londonderry village of Dungiven. The event also included a competitive 5k race.
Almost immediately, it was clear that the winner would come from a group of three, with Gareth Lyons (Ballydrain Harriers), Jonathan Canning (Foyle Valley AC) and Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) moving to the head of the pack. As the athletes covered the early fast section of the course, little separated the trio – however, as Gareth made a move after 2 miles, it was covered by Jonathan, who went with him and ultimately took the race on. He increased his lead over the long steady climbs, eventually breaking the tape in 34:57 (1st place). Gareth followed in 35:25 (2nd place), with Justin clocking 35:51 for 3rd place.
The ladies race wasn’t just as close, but that did’t take away from a classy performance by Springwell Running Club’s Kerrie McIlmoyle. Kerrie dealt with the tough course well, securing victory in 43:07 (1st place). Elish Bell (Unattached) crossed the line in 47:19 (2nd place), before Lorraine Mullan (Unattached) completed the podium places in 49:59 (3rd place).
In the associated 5k event, which produced so impressive times, it was experience Acorns AC man Bliadhan Glass who emerged victorious. Bliadhan completed the 3.1 mile route in 16:35 (1st place). The ladies were led home by Heather Mullan (Unattached) in 21:37 (1st place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Jonathan Canning (Foyle Valley AC) – 34:57, 2nd Gareth Lyons (Ballydrain Harriers) – 35:25, 3rd Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) – 35:51
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Kerrie McIlmoyle (Springwell Running Club) – 43:07, 2nd Elish Bell (Unattached) – 47:19, 3rd Lorraine Mullan (Unattached) – 49:59
East Coast AC Junior XC Series (Race 2):
On Saturday 21st January 2017, nearly one hundred junior athletes turned out for Race 2 of the East Coast AC Junior XC Series in Larne, County Antrim. The increasingly popular Series is sponsored by All Stars Sports Academy.
Following on from the success of Race 1 two weeks ago, this event saw competitors take on a challenging but enjoyable 650m loop of the Curran Park, with the number of laps being increased with each age category.
The Mini Boys and Girls kicked off proceedings, with one lap of the new, challenging 650m course, and it was East Coast AC’s Rachel Urwin (1st place – 4:08) and Soren Stranney (1st place – 3:31) who secured impressive victories.
The Minor Girls took to the start line next for their two lap 1,300m race. Hannah O’Toole (East Coast AC) controlled her race, winning in 6:04 (1st place) while Lucas Kelly (Unattached) led the boys home in 5:45 (1st place). In one of the closest races of the day, the Junior Girls 1,950m metre race, East Coast AC club mates Bradie Hogg and Hannah Clements battled it out. However, in the final lap, Bradie was forced to withdraw due to illness which left Hannah cruising to victory in 8:37 (1st place). In the Junior Boy’s race, North Belfast Harriers athlete Luke Kelly dominated proceedings, taking 1st place in 7:31.
The Senior Boys and Girls also covered 1,950 metres and it was Kelly Patterson (East Coast AC) and Will Barham (Larne AC) who topped the podium, with Jessica running 8:12 (1st place) and Scott 7:59 (1st place). Full results for event are available HERE.
Series Grand Final (Race 3): The Series finale will take place in two weeks’ time (Sunday 5th February 2017) at the Larne Grammar School Playing Fields on Lower Cairncastle Road in Larne. Full details are available HERE.
Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Gosford 10k 2017:
On Saturday 21st January 2017, nearly seven hundred runners descended on Gosford Forest Park just outside Armagh for the annual Born 2 Run Gosford 10k and the associated 5k race, which was the sixth race of the event management company’s Run Forest Run Series.
The tough but scenic 10k and 5k courses proved popular with competitors and it was a pre-race favourites Don Travers (Newry City Runners) and Cathy McCourt (Unattached) who stole the headlines. In the men’s event, Northern Ireland international Don saw off the challenge of Dromore AC’s Wesley McDowell to win in 36:08 (1st place); Wesley followed in 36:31 for 2nd place. Long distance specialist Martin Rea (North Belfast Harriers) clocked 37:12 for 3rd place.
In the ladies race, in-form multiple World Masters Athletics medallist Cathy McCourt dominated proceedings. Despite the best efforts of her former club mate Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Cathy secured top honours in 38:27 (1st place). Louise crossed the line in 38:59 (2nd place), before the always impressive Laura Bickerstaff completed the top three in 41:00 (3rd place).
In the competitive 5k event, Foyle Valley AC’s Joseph Kennedy put in a strong performance to claim victory in 17:21 (1st place). The ladies race was won by well-respected athlete Ann Terek (City of Lisburn AC) in 19:45 (1st place).
Top 3 Men: 1st Don Travers (Newry City Runners) – 36:08, 2nd Wesley McDowell (Dromore AC) – 36:31, 3rd Martin Rea (North Belfast Harriers) – 37:12
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Cathy McCourt (Unattached) – 38:27, 2nd Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) – 38:59, 3rd Laura Bickerstaff (Dromore AC) – 41:00
Full Results: Born 2 Run Gosford 10k & 5k 2017 Results
Weekend Preview: Trail blazers set Born 2 Run and Sperrin Harriers events:
It seems like just days since the New Year began, but already the weekends are seamlessly running into each other – we’re nearly through January and another weekend is upon us.
It’s a weekend which will wet the appetite for Northern Ireland’s off-road enthusiasts, with a number of trail races taking centre stage. Born 2 Run will welcome hundreds of athletes to the latest instalment in their ‘Run Forest Run’ Series, while the Sperrin Harriers Winter League Trail Series will continue with the An Creagan 5 mile race.
The aforementioned events will form the basis of our weekend summary, but there are other events on offer, with the Northern Velocity Trail Race in Ballykelly and the St Patrick’s 10k road race taking place in Dungiven. East Coast AC will also host Race 2 of their increasingly popular Junior XC Series in Larne, while at least two local runners will line up for Ireland at the Celtic XC in Wales.
Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Gosford 10k:
On Saturday 21st January 2017, local events management company, Born 2 Run, who have recently been nominated for an award at the national ‘Running Awards’, will welcome in excess of five hundred athletes to their annual Gosford 10k trail race. The event is the sixth race of the ongoing ‘Run Forest Run’ Series and will cover an undulating 6.2 mile course, taking competitors on a figure of eight loop of the scenic Gosford Forest Park.
Newry City Runners’ Don Travers should start and if he does, the Northern Ireland international will be hoping to take his recent Cycle-Cross form onto the trails. Don is an established and respected multi-discipline athlete and will prove hard to beat if he is in decent form. St Peters AC duo Gerard Heaney, winner of the recent Moira XC and his club mate Mark Cornett (St Peter’s AC), should both feature at the head of the pack based on recent performances. PACE Running Club men Aaron Woodman and Oliver Cook have impressed throughout the Series and will contest a podium place here, should both run. Local athletes Paul McAnespie (Armagh AC) and Danny Fegan (Armagh AC) will be there or there abouts, while Phil Duffield (Unattached) and Jonny Gregg (Unattached) should claim top ten places.
Reigning ladies Champion Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) will not return to defend her title, which will leave the always impressive Cathy McCourt (Unattached) to carry the ‘pre-race favourite’ tag – Cathy has been a podium regular in the Run Forest Run Series and it’s hard to look past her here, unless Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) and Esther Dickson (Newry AC) take to the start line, then things may become more interesting! Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers) and Unattached athlete Amy Lavery could also produce an upset given their obvious talents. Meanwhile, City of Lisburn AC’s Caroline Wade, Mourne Runners’ Bethany Haugh and East Down AC’s Nianmh Kellet should all run well.
Although online entry for the event has now closed, on the day entries will be available on the day from 9am until 10:30am. Please click HERE for more information on Born 2 Run Events.
Sperrin Harriers’ Winter League Trail Series (Race 3 – An Creagan 5 mile Trail Race):
Also on Saturday 21st January 2017, County Tyrone based club Sperrin Harriers will welcome athletes from across the province to Race 3 of their ongoing Winter League Trail Series. On this occasion, competitors will have to negotiate a 5 mile route around An Creagan Forest, halfway between Omagh and Cookstown, in the foothills of the scenic Sperrin Mountains. The race kicks off at 12pm.
This event could bring Race 1 winner Jonny Steede (Glens Runners) and Race 2 winner Eoin Hughes (Acorns AC) to the start line. Should both men toe the line, it will be an excellent battle; Northern Ireland and Ireland international Jonny should edge it. Another man who could feature at the front is Michael Crawley (City of Derry AC), a consistent performer on both road and trail. The aforementioned trio will be chased by a plethora of talent, which should include East Coast AC’s Matthew Hewitt, Acorns AC’s Aaron Meharg, Foyle Valley AC’s Mark Long and Acorn AC athlete Martin McVey. Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers) will lead the way for the hosts, while Vincent McAllister (Unattached) should place well.
Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) will be the outstanding favourite in the ladies race should she return – the Northern Ireland international won Race 1 in emphatic fashion, placing well overall on top of her success in the ladies event. However, Race 2 winner Ciara Toner (Springwell Running Club) has hit good form, and should therefore not be ruled out. Ciara’s club mate, Karen McLaughlin (Springwell Running Club) should contest a prize – the same could be said for up and coming Mid Ulster AC star Grace Carson. Other ladies to look out for include Anne Paul (City of Derry AC), Paula McAllister (Ballymena Runners), Leanne Sands (Acorns AC) and Sperrin Harriers pair Tanya Quinn and Angela O’Neill.
Other events taking place in Northern Ireland over the weekend:
- Saturday 21st January 2017: St Patricks 10k Road Race – St Patricks College, Dungiven – 2:30pm (More information HERE)
- Saturday 21st January 2017: East Coast AC Junior XC Series (Race 2) – Curran Park, Larne – 11am onwards (More Information HERE)
- Sunday 22nd January 2017: Northern Velocity Trail Race – Ballykelly Forest – 11:30am (More information HERE)
Other notable events outside Northern Ireland:
Celtic XC International (Wales):
On Saturday 22nd January 2017, Northern Ireland’s Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) and Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) will represent Ireland at the Celtic Cross Country International in Cardiff, Wales. The event, hosted by Welsh Athletics will take place within the British Athletics Cardiff Cross Challenge, in Blackweir Fields Bute Park in the centre of Cardiff. The full Ireland team for the event, including the age group teams, are available HERE.
As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty four 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 runners impress in Australia, Scotland and Ireland:
Whilst all of the attention was on this weekend’s prestigious and well-organised IAAF Antrim International XC at Greenmount Campus just outside Antrim, some local runners produced excellent performances outside Northern Ireland, at events in Australia, Scotland and Ireland.
Amy Foster impresses in Australia…
In Australia on Saturday 14th January 2017, Northern Ireland 100m and 200m record holder Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC) kicked off her year with an impressive outing over her favourite 100m. Amy recorded an excellent 11.49secs (+2 m/s) to secure 1st place.
Emma Mitchell secures personal best in Scotland…
Also on Saturday 14th January 2017, recently crowned Northern Ireland and Ulster 10k Champion Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) recorded a new 1500m personal best whilst competing at the Scottish Athletics National Open Indoor Championships at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow (Scotland). In the mixed race, Emma crossed the line in a notable 4:17.08 to finish as 1st place lady.
Northern Ireland based athletes dominate in County Doengal (Ireland)…
Closer to home on Sunday 15th January 2017, local athletes dominated the podium at the Carrigans 5k in County Donegal, Ireland. The event, hosted by cross-border club Lifford Strabane AC attracted nearly three hundred participants, with John Paul Williamson (City of Derry AC) leading the field home in 15:32 (1st place). Gary Slevin (City of Derry AC) followed in 15:55 (2nd place), while Foyle Valley AC’s Conor McDevitt completed the top three in 17:25 (3rd place).
In the closely contested ladies race, Omagh Harriers starlet Enya Haigney took top honours, breaking the tape in 19:28 (1st place). The host club’s Leoni Mullen (Lifford Strabane AC) clocked 19:43 for 2nd place, a mere three seconds ahead of Derry Track Club’s Amy McDaid, who ran 19:46 for 3rd place. Full results for the event can be found HERE.
IAAF Antrim International XC 2017:
On Saturday 14th January 2017, the eyes of the athletic world were on Northern Ireland, as the highly respected IAAF road show descended on CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus in Antrim, for the annual IAAF Antrim International Cross Country. The well-organised, hosted by Athletics NI, also included the British Athletics XC Challenge and was part of the ongoing Athletics NI XC League.
Prior to the International events, the exciting programme of competitive age category races ensured that the atmosphere had built sufficiently for the ‘main’ events. There were wins for Timothy McCracken (Springwell Running Club), Lauren Madine (East Down AC), Dylan McBride (Willowfield Harriers), Anna Hedley (Fife AC), David Dow (Cambridge & Colebridge AC) and Lily Jane Evans-Haggerty (Victoria Park City of Glasgow AC).
The Under 17 and IAAF Under 20 races were combined, with Mathew Willis (Wrexham AAC) and Jodie McCann (DSD AC) take the Under 17 titles and Jonathan Shields (North England) and Ellie Wallace (Westbury Harriers) winning the Under 20 races.
The penultimate race of the day was the ladies 5.6k event, and it was pre-race favourite Fionnuala McCormack (Ireland) who led the way early on, with Caroline Kipkirui (Kenya), Gotytom Gebreslase (Ethiopia) and Birtukan Adamu (Ethiopia) on her shoulder. In the second lap of the three, European XC Champion Fionnuala lost a shoe, which allowed the other ladies to surge clear.
Caroline Kipirui made the most of the unfortunate incident and raced into the lead – the Kenyan quickly open a gap and by the time she had reached the final lap, there was a good fifty metres between her and Gotytom Gebreslase, who was just ahead of Fionnuala McCormack and Birtukan Adamu.
As the race progressed into the final lap, there was no stopping Caroline Kipkirui as she made short work of the remaining 1.8k before breaking the tape in 18:53 (1st place). Gotytom Gebreslase secured 2nd place in 19:35 before Birtukan Adamu out sprinted Fionnuala McCormack to claim 3rd place in 19:38.
Armagh AC’s Fionnuala Ross was the first of the Northern Ireland ladies team to cross the line, running 21:15 for a very credible 16th place. Jessica Craig (North Down AC) followed in 21:48 (20th place), with Gladys Ganiel-O’Neill (North Belfast Harriers) finishing less than ten seconds later in 21:57 (22nd place). Rachel Gibson completed the NI team in 23:11 (27th place).
The men were next to take to the start line for their 8.2k event, and they started fast! Scotland’s Lachlan Oates pushed the early pace, but as the men completed the first lap, it was Abraham Cheroben (Bahrain), Conseslus Kipruto (Kenya) and Andy Vernon (England) who occupied the top three place, with Abraham and Conseslus approximately ten metres ahead of Andy.
At the head of the pack, nothing changed as the race moved through half way and into the final stages. However, in the latter part of the final lap, Olympic Champion Conseslus Kipruto made a surge for victory.
Despite the best efforts of Abraham Cheroben, it was Conseslus who secured top honours in an epic sprint to the line. Conseslus recorded 24:36 for 1st place with Abraham taking 2nd place in 24:37 – Andy Vernon continued his good run of form at the Antrim International XC with another podium spot, taking 3rd place in 24:56.
Derry Track Club’s Adam Kirk-Smith led the Northern Ireland team home in 26:54, claiming an excellent 12th place. Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) worked his way through the field well to take 13th place in 27:00 – Conan McCaughey (Derry Track Club) followed seven seconds later in 27:07 (14th place), while Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) and Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club) completed the NI team in 27:37 (16th place) and 27:45 (20th place) respectively.
Top 3 Ladies (5.6k): 1st Caroline Kipkirui (Kenya) – 18:53, 2nd Gotytom Gebreslase (Ethiopia) – 19:35, 3rd Birtukan Adamu (Ethiopia) – 19:38
Top 3 Men (8.2k): 1st Conseslus Kipruto (Kenya) – 24:36, 2nd Abraham Cheroben, (Bahrain) – 24:37, 3rd Andy Vernon (England) – 24:56
Full Results: IAAF Antrim International XC 2017 Results. Photos from the IAAF Antrim International XC are now available on the NiRunning (Northern Ireland Running) facebook page.
Weekend Preview: Athletics NI host IAAF Antrim International XC 2017…
As we approach another weekend, the official Athletics NI calendar lists just one fixture! A quiet few days ahead then… absolutely not!
Don’t be fooled, that one fixture, the IAAF Antrim International XC, hosted by Athletics NI, will attract the attention of the world as a classy field take to the start line of the event, which has attracted the likes of Steve Ovett, Steve Cram, Brendan Foster, Paula Radcliffe, John Treacy and Paul Tergat in years gone by.
Since the first running of the event, forty years ago in 1977, when a young Brendan Foster featured, the standard has always been high. This year is no different, with a plethora of talent on the start list – lets take a look at who should play a part at the front!
IAAF Antrim International XC:
On Saturday 14th January 2017, our sport’s governing body, Athletics NI will host their annual IAAF Antrim International XC at the expansive CAFRE Greenmount Campus in Antrim.
Alongside the prestigious IAAF Junior (Under 20) and Senior races, there will be a number of age category events within a programme, which is sure to excite any athletics fan. The event will also incorporate the British Athletics XC Challenge and counts towards the ongoing Athletics NI XC League
Undoubtedly the star attraction of what should be an excellent day of competition will be two time European XC Champion and Irish international Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole AC). That said, the more clued in spectators will also be eager to see how Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto fairs over what should be a relatively fast course.
The in-form Fionnuala McCormack, who claimed second place at last weekend’s Great Edinburgh XC will have serious aspirations towards achieving a hat trick of wins in the 5.6k ladies event following previous victories in 2012 and 2013. The Olympic marathon runner will not fear the predicted snowy weather conditions as she aims for victory to continue her impressive start to 2017; a year that will see her gear towards the marathon in London’s World Championships. Fionnuala will certainly be to the fore from the gun with her main opposition possibly coming from Kenya’s Caroline Kipkiru who is a former African champion and a World top twenty runner over 10,000 metres. Others in contention include Romania’s Ancuta Bobocel, who Fionnuala defeated in Edinburgh, plus Ethiopia’s Birtukan Adamu who was third in this race in 2015.
Team USA athlete Marielle Hall should not be ruled out – with a 10,000m best of 31:54 and a 5,000m personal best of 15:06, the Rio Olympian has the speed to contest top spot. If the course is in decent shape, Marielle may be an excellent ‘outside bet’ for victory. Claire Duck (Leeds AC) and Rachael Dunn (Edinburgh AC) have both placed well here before and should make the top ten.
Ireland’s Shona Heaslip and Laura Shaughnessy, and England based duo Pippa Woolven and Louise Small should also play a part at the head of the pack, while Northern Ireland’s challenge will be headed by Commonwealth Games athlete Gladys Ganiel O’Neill, who will swap her North Belfast Harriers vest for the green and white of Northern Ireland. Gladys will be joined on the NI team by Armagh AC’s Fionnuala Ross and in-form North Down AC pair Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson, who have both enjoyed some impressive outings on grass this Winter. Jessica had an outstanding run at the Scottish XC Championships last month (December 2016), when she claimed a top twenty place in what was a strong field.
Other local ladies to look out for include Strabane’s Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC), who will represent Ireland. The Euro XC team medallist will place well here following a strong XC campaign. Aside from the aforementioned Shona Heslip and Laura Shaughnessy, Ann-Marie will be joined on the Ireland team by Olympian Maria McCambridge. Willowfield Harriers’ cross country podium regular Amy Bulman (Willowfield Harriers), Springwell Running Club’s Aife McSheffrey and City of Lisburn AC’s Zoe Carruthers should all have good runs.
A winner in the Men’s 8k event is hard to predict given that many of the big names are better known for their track success. The biggest of all is of course 22 year old Olympic Steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto who followed a series of World leading times last year with victory in Rio.
The flamboyant Kenyan rarely races over the country and may well rely on his sprint finish in order to secure victory. The African will want to start his year with a win on route to proving that 2017 will again confirm him as the World’s top Steeplechaser.
However, he will face tough opposition. Fellow Rio Olympian and Steeplechase fourth placer Soufiane El Bakkali of Morroco, Olympic 10,000 metres finalist Abraham Cheroben of Barhain and France’s Hassan Chahdi who was seventh in last year’s European Half Marathon should also be vying for top placings.
Of the above, it’s difficult to see who will provide the best competition for Conseslus – fellow Steeplechaser Soufiane has clocked 13:47 over 5,000m flat, while Abraham has run 27:31 for 10,000m and 58:48 for 13.1 miles. Hassan has represented France on numerous occasions at IAAF XC events and has recorded 13:51 for 5,000m – at the above mentioned European Half Marathon, he crossed the line in 1:01:42. He has also completed 26.2 miles in 2:15:59 (Rotterdam 2016).
Andy Vernon will also be making a welcome return to the event. The 31 year old Team GB Olympian is one of the UK’s most consistently successful runners in both track and cross country. A month ago, Andy was a member of the winning GB team at the European XC Championships in Italy. His solid fifth place behind team mates Callum Hawkins and Andrew Butchart ensured victory over Spain. Andy was also an individual bronze medallist at the Euro XC Championships in 2013.
His credentials are not confined to cross country. Andy competed in the Rio Olympics last summer over 10,000 metres, where he recorded 28:19. He is a former European silver medallist over this distance from 2014 (28:08). Racing over what is expected to be a fast course at Greenmount will be familiar territory for Andy – over the years he has competed on four occasions, with his most successful being in 2010 when he was runner up to Kenya’s Mike Kegen.
Also competing will be fellow GB Olympian Derek Hawkins who is the older brother of the in-form Callum Hawkins. The 27 year old ran 2:12:57 in the London Marathon last April (2016) but then struggled with an injury problem which affected his performance in Rio; he ran 2:29:24 there. Versatile Scottish international Andrew Douglas, who narrowly missed a podium place at the European Mountain Running Championships last year (2016) is capable of 29:46 over 10k – his strength and speed could put him in a strong position here. Matt Bowser (England) and Owain Jones Wales have already celebrated success this year, with Matt winning the Lincolnshire County XC Championships and Owain the South West Inter County XC Championships this month, so both will be high in confidence going into this race.
Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) will lead the Northern Ireland challenge before representing Ireland in Cardiff seven days later. The always impressive athlete will be joined on the NI team by Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC), Neil Johnston (Springwell Running Club), Adam Kirk-Smith (Derry Track Club) and Conan McCaughey (Derry Track Club), who will replace the injured Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC). Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) and David O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) should also go well, as should Chris McGuinness, who will feature as part of a strong Foyle Valley AC team.
The race programme starts at 11.30am with the Internationals from 2.25pm. More information available at www.athleticsni.org
As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty four 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.
Great Edinburgh XC (Scotland):
On Saturday 7th January 2017, local ladies Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) were in action at the prestigious Edinburgh International XC in Scotland.
The ladies were part of Ireland’s 4 x 1k mixed relay team, which also contained John Travers and Kieran Kelly. Up against top quality opposition, the team performed well, narrowly missing a podium place when taking 4th place – the race was won by Team GB (1st place).
British Milers Club (BMC) Sheffield Indoor Grand Prix (England):
Also this weekend, on Sunday 8th January 2017, three local runners were in action at the first British Milers Club (BMC) Grand Prix of 2017.
Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers) recorded an indoor personal best over 800m, after covering the distance 1:52.83 (3rd place) – in the same race (Men’s 800m B), Annadale Striders’ Callum Crawford–Walker also ran an indoor personal best of 1:54.29 (5th place). European Paralympic Championship competitor James Hamilton (Ballymena Runners) clocked 4:10.26 (5th place) in the 1500m ‘C’ race.
East Coast AC Junior XC Series (Race 1):
On Sunday 8th January 2017, Larne based club East Coast AC welcomed over eighty junior athletes, between the ages of 4 years old and 16 years old to the first race of their Junior XC Series in Larne, Country Antrim.
The distances for each race varied depending on the age group – the Mini’s (Under 6) covered a 500m course, while the Minor Boys and Girls (Under 10) covered 1,000m. The Junior Boys and Girls (Under 13) and Senior Boys and Girls (Under 16) would took on a 1,500m route.
The Mini’s kicked off proceedings with their one lap 500m race and it was the host club’s Felix Clarke (East Coast AC) and Rachel Urwin (East Coast AC) who led their respective fields home in 2:34 (1st place) and 2:57 (1st place) respectively.
In the Minor Girls 1,000 race, Hannah O’Toole (East Coast AC) enjoyed a comfortable gun to tape victory, crossing the line in 4:19 (1st place). The Minor Boys event was played out in a similar manner, with North Belfast Harriers’ Max Reid leading out from the start and eventually sealing top spot in 3:49 (1st place).
In the Junior Girls 1,500m race, East Coast AC’s Bradie Hogg held off strong opposition from club mate Hannah Clements (East Coast AC) to win in 6:18. The Junior Boys 1,500m race was arguably the race of the day with East Coast AC duo Charlie Patterson and Rhys McManus battling it out until the end – Charlie just edged it in 5:50 (1st place).
The final race of an excellent day of competition was the Senior Boys and Girls 1,500m. Early on, Orangegrove AC duo Adam Sykes and Aaron McCord and City of Lisburn AC’s Hannah Cochrane led the way, but going into the final 200m, Hannah moved to the front and took the race on. This proved to me a race winning decision as the up and coming star broke the tape in 5:45 (1st place). A late sprint from Peter Reed (North Belfast Harriers) saw him catch and pass Adam and Aaron to win the Boys race in 5:46 (1st place).
The next race in the three race Series will take place on Saturday 21st January 2017 in the Curran Park, Larne (Registration opens 10am, Races commence 11am) – The Series is open to Junior athletes from any club, school or organisation (ie football team, hockey team etc). Full details are available HERE.
Full Results: East Coast AC Junior XC Series (Race 1) 2017 Results
Moira Cross Country 2017:
On Saturday 7th January 2017, City of Lisburn AC welcomed close to two hundred competitors to their annual Moira XC event, which took place within scenic grounds of Moira Demesne close to Hillsborough.
The event offered races for all ages, from junior athletes right through to Masters. The junior races kicked off proceedings and proved to be the perfect atmosphere builder, with wins for Harry Lightbody (City of Lisburn AC), Niamh Fenlon (North Down AC), Joe Chambers (Ballydrain Harriers), Jodie McMullen (Markethill HS), Kyle Ross (Ballydrain Harriers), Victoria Lightbody (City of Lisburn AC), Callum Morris (City of Lisburn AC) and Olivia Nelson (City of Lisburn AC).
It was then the turn of the senior and masters ladies to take to the start line for their 3 mile event. At the sharp end, the always impressive Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) was the stand out performer. Judith ran out clear winner, breaking the tape in a speedy 16:11 (1st place). In a close race for the runners up spot, Sarah Lindsay (North Down AC) edged out Esther Dickson (Newry AC) – Sarah recorded 16:36 for 2nd place, with Esther following in 16:40 (3rd place).
The senior and masters men were the final competitors to take to the start line in what was an excellent day of competition. At the head of the pack, pre-race favourite Gerard Heaney (St Peter’s AC) made his intentions clear from the start, setting off quickly. Despite the best efforts of Eamonn White (North Down AC), Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC), Neil Carty (North Belfast Harriers), Gareth Lyons (Ballydrain Harriers) and Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC), all of whom played a part at the front, it was Gerard who ran out victorious.
The fast improving St Peter’s AC man clocked 19:33 for 1st place, which was eleven seconds quicker than Eamonn, who followed in 19:44 (2nd place). Stephen O’Gorman (19:47) saw off the fast finishing Neil Carty (4th place – 19:51) to claim 3rd place.
Top 3 Ladies (3 miles): 1st Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC) – 16:11, 2nd Sarah Lindsay (North Down AC) – 16:36, 3rd Esther Dickson (Newry AC) – 16:40
Top 3 Men (4 miles): 1st Gerard Heaney (St Peter’s AC) – 19:33, 2nd Eamonn White (North Belfast Harriers) – 19:44, 3rd Stephen O’Gorman (Dromore AC) – 19:47
Provisional Results: Moira XC 2017 Results (Photo of men’s race above by John T Glover)
Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Tollymore 10k & 5k 2017:
On Saturday 7th January 2017, well over seven hundred athletes took to the stunning trails of Tollymore Forest, close to Newcastle (County Down), for the fifth race of local event management company Born 2 Run’s ‘Run Forest Run’ Series, the Tollymore 10k and associated 5k.
As expected, reigning Champions William McKee and Laura Graham, both of Mourne Runners, did not return to defend their titles – however, their club was well represented on the prize-list. At the head of the pack, there was a close race between Mourne Runners duo David McKee and Timothy Johnston. In the end, it was David who claimed top honours, crossing the line in 36:05 (1st place). Timothy followed six seconds later in 36:11 (2nd place), while PACE Running Club’s Aaron Woodman completed the top three in 36:36 (3rd place).
In the ladies event, Cathy McCourt (Unattached) impressed most. The consistent performer cruised to victory in 39:37 (1st place). Dromore AC’s Gilliam Burns ran well to secure 2nd place in 42:25, before the emerging Bethany Haugh sealed a podium place in 44:10 (3rd place).
In the associated 5k event, which attracted just over one hundred competitors, Sam Linton (Sperrin Harriers) and Karalee Porter (Mourne Runners) excelled. Sam recorded 19:06 for 1st place in the men’s race, while Karalee led the ladies home in 22:33 (1st place).
Top 3 Men: 1st David McKee (Mourne Runners) – 36:05, 2nd Timothy Johnston (Mourne Runners) – 36:11, 3rd Aaron Woodman (PACE Running Club) – 36:38
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Cathy McCourt (Unattached) – 39:37, 2nd Gillian Burns (Dromore AC) – 42:25, 3rd Karalee Porter (Mourne Runners) – 44:10
Weekend Preview: ‘Welcome to 2017…’
After the festive season packed with athletic action, it’s now time to settle into a new year and look ahead to the first real weekend of fixtures of 2017 – a year that we hope will bring the same level of performances and excitement from the local running scene!
The coming days will see the continuation of Born 2 Run’s Run Forest Run Series, Sperrin Harriers’ Winter League Trail Series as well as the always popular Moira Cross Country. Junior athletes can also look forward to the return of East Coast AC’s Junior XC Series in Larne. Aside from these local events, familiar faces from Northern Ireland will also be in action at the Great Edinburgh XC in Scotland and the British Milers Club Track & Field Meeting in Sheffield (England).
Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Tollymore 10k:
On Saturday 7th January 2017, well over seven hundred athletes are expected to take to the epic trails of Tollymore Forest, close to Newcastle (County Down), for the fifth race of local event management company Born 2 Run’s ‘Run Forest Run’ Series, the Tollymore 10k and associated 5k. The popular Series has attracted thousands of runners to events in Minnowburn (Belfast), Drum Manor (Cookstown), Kilbroney (Rostrevor) and Loughgall (Armagh).
Mourne Runners duo William McKee and Laura Graham secured victory here in 2015, however, neither are likely to feature this time around. This opens the door for the likes of Newry City Runners star Don Travers, who cruised to victory at the Cullyhanna 10k over Christmas, to lead the way. Should the Northern Ireland trail runner take to the start line, he’ll be hard to beat – although there are some consistent performers due to start. Ballymena & Antrim AC’s Gavin McCaffrey has been in or around the podium places throughout the Run Forest Run Series and should play a part at the front again. Oliver Cook (PACE Running Club), Aaron Woodman (PACE Running Club), Dumhnall Murphy (Unattached), David Graham (Unattached) and Ian Keys (Unattached) should all challenge at the head of the pack.
In the ladies race, World Masters medallist Cathy McCourt (Unattached) may well make use of the on the day entry system. After performing well in previous races in the Series, Cathy will be keen to keep up here good run of form – she should top the podium if she starts. However, the respected athlete will have to fend off the likes of former team mate Louise Smith (North Belfast Harriers), Catherine Roberts (North Down AC), Bethany Haugh (Mourne Runners), Joanne Graham (Mourne Runners) and Amy Lavery (Unattached).
Sperrin Harriers’ Winter League Trail Series:
Also on Saturday 7th January 2017, County Tyrone based club Sperrin Harriers will welcome athletes from across the province to Race 2 of their ongoing Winter League Trail Series. On this occasion, competitors will have to negotiate a 5k route around Lough Fea, in the foothills of the scenic Sperrin Mountains. The race kicks off at 12pm and directions to the event are available HERE.
Glens Runners man Jonny Steede showed his class in Race 1, topping the podium after an excellent display of front running. The Northern Ireland and Ireland international runners should return as he continues to work his way back to full race fitness. Eoin Hughes (Acorns AC), who finished behind Jonny at the Davagh Forest opener, will be there or there about again and should be joined by Michael Crawley (City of Derry AC). Other athletes to look out for could include Ballymena Runners trio Alex Brennan, Connor Reid and Mark Alexander, as well as Thomas Leitch (Orangegrove AC), Martin McVey (Acorns AC), Aaron Meharg (Acorns AC), Pierce McCullagh (Sperrin Harriers), Andy Gregg (Larne AC) and Tommy Hughes (Termoneeny Running Club).
Karen Alexander (Acorns AC) should return to defend the title she won so impressively at the Davagh 10k opener in December 2016. That day Karen won by over four minutes, which makes her the outstanding favourite going into this one. In saying this, the lady Karen beat that day, Ciara Toner (Springwell Running Club), has continue her return to full fitness with a win at the Eglinton Trail Race over Christmas, so should provide good opposition for Karen. Anne Paul (City of Derry AC), Tara Malone (Enniskillen Running Club), Tanya Quinn (Sperrin Harriers), Helen Weir (North Belfast Harriers) and Irene Clements (Enniskillen Running Club) will all challenge for the remaining podium place.
Moira Cross Country:
On the same day, (Saturday 7th January 2017), City of Lisburn AC will host their annual Moira XC event in scenic grounds of Moira Demesne. The event offers races for all ages, from junior athletes right through to Masters. The Primary School race heads the timetable (starting at 11.45am), with races for Year 8, Year 9 and Year 10 athletes following before the Under 18 Boys (3 mile) and Girls (2 miles) events lead into the Senior/Masters Ladies 3 mile race (1pm) and the Senior/Masters Men’s 4 mile race (1.25pm). On the day entry is available.
In 2016, this event was cancelled because of flooding within the Moira Demesne grounds, so hopefully the current dry weather continues until the weekend. Although this event is not part of the Athletics NI Cross Country League 2016/17 it always attracts a fairly sizeable crowd.
Amongst those will be the fast improving Gerard Heaney (St Peter’s AC) and Willowfield Harriers’ Neill Weir, a podium regular. Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) could also compete and may well be joined on the start line club mate John Black and the young man who excelled her the last time this event took place, Beechmount Harriers’ multi-title winning junior star Christy Conlon. The host club’s Chris Madden and James Edgar will play a major part in proceedings if they race, while Stuart Kennedy (Beechmount Harriers) and Gary Morrow (Willowfield Harriers) will also run well.
Willowfield Harriers’ Amy Bulman has been in excellent form over the last six months and has really taken to cross country running, placing well in quality fields in the Athletics NI XC League 2016/17. The ever improving athlete will feature here should she make use of the on the day entry system, but will have to be at the top of her game if she wants to challenge the likes of Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) and Jessica Craig (North Down AC), both of whom may want a good run out ahead of next week’s Antrim International XC. Former winner Heather Foley (Unattached) and Lagan Valley AC’s Suzanne Higgins will also be worth watching. Beechmount Harriers pair Gerrie Short and Catherine Diver will also be there or there abouts.
Great Edinburgh Cross Country:
Further afield, on Saturday 7th January 2017, at least two runners from Northern Ireland will be in action at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country. The event, which attracts a plethora of talent from around the world takes places in the famous Holyrood Park in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Rio Olympians Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) will line up in the International Relay event as part of the Ireland team which also includes John Travers and Kieran Kelly. The Irish team will take on impressive sides from the USA, Great Britain, England, Europe, Wales and Scotland.
Well-known Irish coach Teresa McDaid will coach the European Team which includes two-time European XC Champion Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole AC). The Great Edinburgh Cross Country will be LIVE on BBC1 from 1.15pm on Saturday 7th January 2017.
BMC Sheffield Indoor Track & Field Meeting (England):
In England on Saturday 7th January 2017, a number of local athletes will start their 2017 track campaign at the BMC Indoor Track & Field Meeting in Sheffield. Callum Crawford-Walker (Annadale Striders), James Hamilton (Ballymena Runners) and Andrew Wright (Willowfield Harriers) will all be hoping to impress. Start lists for the event are available HERE.
East Coast AC Junior Cross Country Series:
On Sunday 8th January 2017, and following on from an excellent programme of cross country races in Moira a day earlier (Saturday 7th January 2017), junior athletes will once again be in for a treat, when East Coast Athletic Club host the 3rd annual running of their Junior Cross Country Series in Larne.
The first event of the three race Series will take place at Sandy Bay Playing Fields in Larne, and with races for athletes in age categories ranging from Under 6 to Under 16, it is sure to prove popular with running enthusiasts both locally and in the wider County Antrim area. Full details of the event are available HERE.
Pure Running Half Marathon Series 2017 in association with ChampionChip Ireland and Athletics NI:
Northern Ireland’s longest running race series, the Pure Running Half Marathon Series, enters its ninth year with Pure Running continuing as the main sponsor.
Last years increased prize structure has been retained and the number of races required to count in the categories is 6 races to be completed from the 10, with 3 from the first half and 3 from the second half. The Series has expanded to include the Belfast City Half Marathon in September (2017) as a wild card where the runners can use their time from it to replace their slowest time from the other 6 if applicable.
The Belfast Subway Half Marathon is the second new event, with a flat fast course at Holywood Exchange in East Belfast on 2nd April 2017. It replaces the Omagh Half Marathon, which has dropped out of the Series after 8 successful years. When the Series began in 2009 there were 6 races and they attracted just over 5,600 entrants, the following year had 7 races and just over 7,000 entrants. In 2011 there were 6 races again but the entrants continued to flock in and there were over 1,000 entrants on average for each race. Then in 2012 the Series expanded to 8 races and the 8,000 mark was exceeded comfortably. 2013 saw 10 races in the Series and just short of 9,000 took part with 18 runners completing all 10. 2014 also had 10 races covering more of the country with a new race called the Dambusters Half Marathon held round the Silent Valley area in the Mourne Mountains and organised by local events management company Born to Run. In 2015 and in 2016 the number of participants was just short of the 8,000 mark with the same 10 races since 2013 but up by over 600 from 2014.
The inclusion of the Belfast City Half Marathon, with its 3,500 entrants, will help the Series exceed the 10,000 mark for the first time. Michael Jenkins has been a supporter of the Half Marathon Series since its inception in 2009 and continues to do so with his Pure Running brand www.purerunning.co.uk. Pure Running are the chief sponsor along with ChampionChip Ireland and Athletics NI. Angus McCready from Antrim has completed all 67 races in the Series, which is even more remarkable considering he was working and living in England for a period. His dedication meant travelling home for the races, some of which are mid-week.
The Series has an early start again this year with the traditional DUNE Half Marathon from Newry to Dundalk in mid-February and with a slight route alteration.
The Pure Running Half Marathon Series will be comprised of the following races:
Sunday 12th February 2017 – DUNE Cross Border Half Marathon (from Newry to Dundalk)
Saturday 18th March 2017 – Larne Half Marathon
Sunday 2nd April 2017 – Belfast Subway Holywood Exchange Half Marathon
Sunday 28th May 2017 – Newry Half Marathon and Marathon
Wednesday 21st June 2017 – Lisburn Half Marathon (inc NI Half Marathon Championships 2017)
This completes the first set, runners must record a finishing time in at least 3 of these races.
Friday 30th June 2017 – Ards Half Marathon
Saturday 22nd July 2017 – Dervock Half Marathon
Sunday 30th July 2017 – Cookstown Half Marathon
Saturday 12th August 2017 – Groomsport Half Marathon
Saturday 19th August 2017 – Dambusters Half Marathon
This completes the second set, runners must record a finishing time in at least 3 of these races.
Wildcard Race: Belfast City Half Marathon on Sunday 17th September 2017
Runners must complete at least 6 races, with at least 3 from the first set and 3 from the second set. Their time from the Belfast City Half Marathon wild card race can replace their slowest time of the previous 6. It will not count as their sixth race if they have only completed 5 up to that point. The prize fund remains the same as 2016 but runners must complete 10 or 11 races in the Series to be awarded a special garment at the end. The cumulative times of each competitor will be taken to calculate the rank in each category. If a competitor finishes in more than 6 races then their best 6 times will be used provided they still have completed 3 races from the first set of races and 3 from the second set of races. A competitor will stay in the age group they ran in at their first race. Where two or more competitors have the same cumulative time at the end then their fastest time in any race will be used as a tie break.
Note: Half way times in the Newry Marathon will be admissible if so desired.
Athletics NI will provide a page on its web site with regular updates on the leaders in each category and news of the Series. Competitors are required to register their time through an online form on the Athletics NI site so that their progress can be logged and ranks accurately recorded. A runner who fails to register their times through the ANI site could be overlooked when the final prizes are awarded as it’s difficult to accurately log all the times from 10000 entrants across the Series.
The prize structure is shown below. Prizes will be in the form of vouchers from Pure Running. The prize fund and structure for the Pure Running HM Series 2017 is available HERE.
Local ladies kick off 2017 with impressive performances:
On Wednesday 4th January 2017, two local athletes impressed at the prestigious Emirates Indoor Arena in Glasgow, Scotland. Competing over 3,000m, Olympian NI Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and newly crowned NI & Ulster 10k (Road) Champion Emma Mitchell (QUB AC) kicked off the new year in perfect fashion.
In what was the indoor season opener for both ladies, Steeplechaser Kerry secured 3rd place in 9:12.86; this was her second fastest ever indoors (PB – 9:11.17). Emma followed in a personal best of 9:17.19 (4th place). The race was won by Scottish athlete Laura Muir, who recorded 8:59.39 for 3,000m before going on to clock a new British 5,000m indoor record of 14:49.12.
Race Over The Glens 2017:
On Monday 2nd January 2017, nearly four hundred athletes descended on a cold but bright Glenariff Forest Park just outside Waterfoot (County Antrim) for the 21st annual running of Ballymena Runners’ traditional Race Over the Glens.
The course, which measured approximately 6.5 miles in distance, saw athletes start on a fast road section before ascending to the course’s highest point where they were greeted by a lone piper; from here, the field negotiated a long descent, at the bottom of which, they would then face a gruelling climb back up towards the piper.
The final stretch saw competitors descend towards the finish which was located just off the entrance road into the Forest Park, close to the Exhibition Centre.
At the head of the pack, reigning Champion Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) featured as expected, leading early on with Newcastle AC’s Zak Hanna on his shoulder. Behind, Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers), Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) and Matthew Hewitt (East Coast AC) were all looking strong. As the race progressed, mountain runner Zak edged clear and began to put some distance between himself and Mark – eventually, this gap widened to a uncatchable distance and Zak ran out victorious in what was his first outing at the event.
Zak crossed the line in 35:19 (1st place), just over thirty seconds ahead of Mark who recorded 35:50 for 2nd place. Kent Swann completed the top three in 38:15 (3rd place).
In the ladies race, it was a similar situation, with 2016 ‘Queen of the Glens’ Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) surrendering her crown despite a valiant effort. Versatile North Belfast Harriers athlete Martsje Hell kicked off 2017 in style with an impressive performance, securing victory in 45:05 (1st place). Club mate Penny Lindsay (North Belfast Harriers) completed the route in 45:22 for 2nd place, before Shileen crossed the line in 46:38 for 3rd place.
Through ROTG, Ballymena Runners raised nearly £600 for their nominated charity NI Chest, Heart and Stroke. Also, as part of the event, a raffle was drawn with the top prize being donated by Garmin – Ballymena Runners’ Jonny Graham won the Garmin Vivo Active HR GPS watch.
Top 3 Men: 1st Zak Hanna (Newcastle AC) – 35:19, 2nd Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) – 35:50, 3rd Kent Swann (North Belfast Harriers) – 38:15
Top 3 Ladies: 1st Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers) – 45:05, 2nd Penny Lindsay (North Belfast Harriers) – 45:22, 3rd Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC) – 46:38
Full Results: Race Over The Glens 2017 Results (Photos by Robert McGaughey)
Note: Remember – If you would like to catch up on the news from December 2016, just click HERE. This includes summaries and results of races over the Christmas period. You can also view the ‘news’ archive by using the navigation bar at the top of the page.