Bobby Rea XC and NI & Ulster Even Age Group XC Championships 2017:
Kilbroney Park in Rostrevor provided the perfect setting for an excellent day of cross country action, which saw Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) and Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC) claim top honours in the Bobby Rea XC and junior athletes deliver some impressive performances in the NI & Ulster Even Age Group XC Championships.
The Bobby Rea XC Races, which are the second round of the Athletics NI XC League 2017/18, were the culmination of an excellent programme of events.
Northern Ireland international Scott Rankin led the men home in 23:46 (1st place), with North Belfast Harriers’ Andrew Annett taking the runners up spot in 24:02 (2nd place). Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) continued his good cross country form with a 3rd place finish in 24:09.
After the race, Scott explained that he was hopeful that he can progress from this performance, “My main aim today was to help my club (Foyle Valley AC) out in the league. After the first lap, I was feeling a lot fresher than expected so pushed on. Andrew and myself had a great battle but I was delighted to eventually take the win. After a frustrating year with injury it’s really pleasing to be back in form and hopefully I can push on from this.”
In the ladies race, Exeter based Rebekah Nixon produced a noteworthy performance to take the title in 17:51 (1st place). Fellow Dromore AC athlete Laura Bickerstaff crossed the line in 18:02 for 2nd place, with North Down AC’s Rachel Gibson completing the top three in 18:11 (3rd place).
Speaking to Athletics NI after topping the ladies podium, Rebekah said, “I thoroughly enjoyed the race today and definitely appreciate a win like that more after having a rough few seasons. I would like to thank all the organisers and officials and everyone for their support.”
The Dromore AC athlete put her recent good form, which includes a win and personal best at the Larne 10k, down to hard work and the influence of her coach, “I’ve been working hard over in Exeter, working my training around lectures. My coach and boyfriend Luke Osborne has been sending me all my sessions and deserves a lot of credit. I’ve been so blessed and want to give all the glory to God”
NI & Ulster Even Age Group XC Championships:
Earlier in the day, the Under 10 athletes kicked off proceedings, with Emma Boner and Harry Shields completing an excellent double for Letterkenny AC. Cait O’Reilly (Annalee AC) claimed the Under 12 Girls gold, while Boyd Russell (Olympian Youth Club) sealed victory in the Boy’s equivalent.
Victoria Lightbody (City of Lisburn AC) produced an excellent performance to win the Under 14 Girls race – in the Under 14 Boy’s race, Cranford AC’s Oisin Kelly was first across the line. Lagan Valley AC duo Rebecca Wallace and Aoife McGreevy dominated the Under 16 Girls race, with Rebecca edging it in the end. In the Under 16 Boy’s event, Olympian Youth Club athlete Sean McGinley was victorious.
The final Age Group Championship race of the day was the Under 18’s, with Springwell Running Club’s Hermione Skuce and St Malachy’s AC’s Conall McClean breaking the tape first in their respective races.