Weekend Preview: A busy weekend of Road, Mountain, Track and Trail action ahead…

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Weekend Preview:  A busy weekend of Road, Mountain, Track and Trail action ahead…

Another weekend of top quality action lies ahead as local athletes prepare for some high profile events.  Infact, there is an abundance of tempting treats on offer over the next few days, with no less than five events listed on the official Athletics NI fixture list.  These races cover road, mountain, track and trail, meaning there is something for everyone.

The obvious highlights are the NI & Ulster Senior Track & Field Championships (inc Under 20 & Under 18 Age Group Championships), the Mourne Way Marathon events and the Stunnerz N’ Runnerz 5 mile road race.  Familiar faces will also be in action in Ireland, England, Italy and America this weekend.

It’s impossible to cover all of the fixtures in depth, so we’ll feature the aforementioned events and then note some important details in relation to the remaining fixtures.

NI & Ulster Senior Track & Field Championships (inc Under 20 & Under 18 Age Group Championships):

This weekend will see Northern Ireland and Ulster’s top track and field stars descend on the Mary Peters Track in Belfast for the NI & Ulster Senior Track & Field Championships; the meeting will also incorporate the Under 20 and Under 18 Track & Field Championships.

Four hundred participants will compete, including in-form athletes Ben Reynolds (North Down AC), Emma Mitchell (QUB AC), Sommer Lecky (Finn Valley AC), Adam Kirk-Smith (Derry Track Club), Adam McMullan (Crusaders AC) and Amy Foster (City of Lisburn AC), all of whom have reached the Commonwealth Games 2018 nomination standard.

European Athletics Championships 1500m bronze medallist Ciara Mageean (UCD AC), who just last night bettered both the IAAF World Championships and Commonwealth Games standards with a 4:04.49 for 1500m at the Golden Gala Diamond League Meeting in Rome, will line up in the 800m.

Olympian Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) and multiple Paralympic Champions Jason Smyth (Derry Track Club) and Michael McKillop (North Belfast Harriers) will also be in action at MPT.

Add to this a plethora of junior talent who have achieved the required standard for major upcoming competitions and it’s almost certain that a great day of athletics lies ahead.

Ben Reynolds will line up in his favourite 110m hurdles event, while Emma Mitchell, who recently broke the NI 10,000m and 5,000m records will go in the 1500m.  Sommer Lecky will headline in the High Jump and Adam McMullan will compete in the Long Jump.  Adam Kirk-Smith will be in action over 1500m and Amy Foster will compete in the 200m.

One of many battles which could bring further Gold Coast qualifying standards is the 100m and 200m races involving decorated Paralympic athlete Jason Smyth (Derry Track Club) and Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games star Leon Reid (Menapians AC).  Two weeks ago, Jason clocked 22.33 for 200m in Tullamore, while last weekend Leon missed the Commonwealth Games standard by the narrowest of margins when he ran 20.79 for the same distance.  Also last week, Leon reduced his 100m best to 10.33; Jason’s personal best over the 100m is 10.22.  Dean Adams (Ballymena & Antrim AC) will also be in action over 100m.

The ladies 100m will feature Megan Marrs (City of Lisburn AC) and Irish international Catherine McManus (Dublin City Harriers AC); both ladies will also compete in the 100m hurdles alongside Kate O’Connor (St Gerard’s AC).  City of Lisburn AC’s Lauren Roy and Anna McCauley will be worth watching in their respective 100m and 110m hurdles age group events – Lauren will also race the 200m.

In the 200m, the previously mentioned Amy Foster will line up alongside Ballymena & Antrim AC’s Christine McMahon, Lagan Valley AC’s Mandy Gault and Stephanie Creaner (Dublin City Harriers AC) – Mandy will also race in the 400m, where she will face Erin McIlveen (City of Lisburn AC) who has recorded 57.23 for 400m indoors this year, and emerging star Davicia Patterson (Beechmount Harriers).  Davicia is also scheduled to race the 200m age group event.

Jason Harvey (Crusaders AC) will compete in the 400m hurdles and will he hoping to build on some good early season form, which includes a 51.22 outing at the prestigious IFAM International in Belgium.

Following on from his personal best of 47.87 over 400m in Belgium last week, Craig Newell (Ballymena & Antrim AC) will line-up over the same distance here on home soil.  Like the entire event programme, the 800m races are littered with talent, including James Hamilton (Ballymena Runners), who just yesterday (Wednesday 7th June 2017) was named on the Great Britain & NI Para World Championships 2017 squad – James will be up against some strong opposition, including Finn Valley AC’s Mark Hoy, who recorded 1:52.76 for 800m in Tullamore two weeks ago.

Reigning NI & Ulster 800m Champion Ciara Mageean will be out to defend the ladies title and possibly have an eye on her own NI record for the distance, which stands at 2:00.79.  Erin McIlveen should also be in the medals over 800m.

Letterkenny AC’s Danny Mooney clocked 3:42.74 for 1500m at the IFAM International at the end of last month, narrowly missing the Commonwealth Games standard of 3:41.10; having experienced the Commonwealth Games previously, Danny will be keen to hit the required standard and put himself up for Gold Coast selection.  Paralympic hero Michael McKillop will also race over the metric mile.  Kerry O’Flaherty, Emma Mitchell and Letterkenny AC’s Ann-Marie McGlynn will contest the ladies 1500m.

Ann-Marie, who led 33,000 participants home at the VHI Women’s Mini-Marathon 10k (in 33:55) earlier this week, will also have one eye on the 5,000m – in that event, she’ll meet QUB AC pair Sinead Sweeney and Rebecca Henderson.  Conor Duffy (Glaslough Harriers) and Conan McCaughey (Derry Track Club) will be chasing gold in the men’s 5,000m.

Claire Wilkinson (Ballymena & Antrim AC) will be up against Sale Harriers pair Sarah McKeever and Georgia Pickles in the senior ladies Pole Vault.  Team NI Commonwealth Games competitor Peter Glass (Letterkenny AC) will be in action in the Pole Vault and Discuss events.

Age group athletes Jade Williams (Shercock AC), Enya Haigney (Derry Track Club), Aaron Sexton (North Down AC), Victoria Lightbody (City of Lisburn AC), Toni Moore (Carmen Runners), Dylan McBride (Willowfield Harriers), James Edgar (City of Lisburn AC), Fintan Stewart (City of Derry AC) and Sean Corry (Omagh Harriers) will all challenge for gold in their respective events.

A provisional timetable and link to live streaming on race day are available HERE.

26extreme Mourne Way Marathon Events:

On Saturday 10th June 2017, local events management company 26extreme will welcome close to one thousand athletes from across the province, and as far away as Canada, to the stunning Mourne Mountains for their Mourne Way Marathon Events.  The race programme includes a 52.4 mile Ultra, Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k, all of which take competitors along some of Northern Ireland’s finest trails.

The Ultra event has attracted nearly one hundred entries, with some of Northern Ireland’s most respected distance athletes set to start.  Peter Cromie (Roe Valley CC), Nicki McPeak (Unattached), Ron Peacock (Unattached) and Richard Coey (Ballydrain Harriers) will more than likely battle it out for the top three spots in the men’s race. The ladies Ultra will be an open affair, with familiar faces such as Jackie Toal (BARF) and Joanne Curran (BARF) not racing.  That leaves long distance enthusiast Gillian Abraham (Unattached) and Wendy Thompson (Huncote AC) to battle it for top honours barring any late entries.

The men’s marathon is likely to be a closely contested event, with established mountain and trail runners Patrick Higgins (Newcastle AC), Stuart Paulin (Unattached) and Murray Deller (East Coast AC) coming up against road marathoner Colum Gaile (Albertville Harriers).  Emma Louise Kirk (Unattached) is the stand out performer in the ladies race.

As we go down in distance, the popular of the events increase – the Half Marathon, which starts on the Slievenaman Road, will see well over three hundred runners descend the road towards Spelga Dam and onwards toward the trails which will take them to the finish line in Kilbroney Park.  Ballymena Runners’ Johnny Graham and Larne AC’s John Neill should go well.

Meanwhile, in the ladies 13.1 mile race, Martsje Hell (North Belfast Harriers), Mari Troeng (Newcastle AC), Joanne Graham (Mourne Runners), Joanne Foster (East Down AC) and Sarah Steer (Orangegrove AC) will all play a part at the front.  In the 10k race, North Down AC’s Ben Caughers and Murlough AC’s Niamh O’Connell will perform well.

Sperrin Harriers Stunnerz N’ Runnerz 5 mile Road Race:

In County Derry/Londonderry on Saturday 10th June 2017, Sperrin Harriers will host the 6th annual running of their ‘ladies only’ Stunnerz N’ Runnerz 5 mile road race in Magherafelt.  The race will start close to the Meadowbank Sports and finish within the confines of the Complex, on its impressive running track.

At the sharp end, Natalie Hall (Acorns AC) and Sarahjane Guiney (Unattached) will go head-to-head in what will be an exciting race.  Assuming Natalie and Sarahjane take the top two podium place, in whatever order, that will leave Nicola Swinson (PACE Running Club), Laura Mitchell (Sperrin Harriers) and Lisa Coyle (Carmen Runners) to contest the final podium place.

Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend:

Saturday 10th June 2017:

  • Enniskillen 10k – Lakeland Forum, Enniskillen – 2pm (Entries AVAILABLE on the day)
  • Pete’s Alternative Triathlon 10k Run – Hazelbank Park, Newtownabbey – 9am (Entries AVAILABLE on day)

Events taking place outside Northern Ireland this weekend:

As always, familiar faces will be in action outside Northern Ireland.  Today (Friday 9th June 2017), at least two Northern Ireland based athletes will take on the entire Wicklow Way as the Irish Mountain Running Association (IMRA) host their annual Wicklow Way Ultra.  BARF duo Martin Mullan and Dave Evans will be part of a strong group of athletes hoping to complete the gruelling 127k challenge.

A team of five Northern Ireland based runners will travel south on Saturday 10th June 2017 for ‘The Relay’ event, hosted by Parnell AC. The Relay is a 70k trail event, broken into 5 legs.

In the ‘Up North’ Team, international mountain and ultra-trail man, Jonny Steede (Glens Runners), will be joined by club mate Elizabeth Wheeler, Ballymena Runners’ athlete Connor Reid, Mourne Runners man Clive Bailey and Newry City Runners’ Don Travers.

The race starts at 7.00am and begins in the scenic Avondale Forest Park, Rathdrum, crosses over through the beautiful Clara Vale and continues on over the Avonmore Way. From there the route takes participants up on to the Wicklow Way towards Lough Tay. From there it descends back through the picturesque village of Laragh, before a final challenge over Mullacor mountain to finish at Glenmalure Lodge.

Also on Saturday 10th June 2017, Northern Ireland based runners Ian Bailey (Newcastle AC), Justin Maxwell (East Coast AC) and Jackie Toal (BARF) will represent Ireland at the IAU World Ultra-Trail Championships in Tuscany, Italy.  Alongside their team mates Paul Tierney, Barry Hartnett, Korina Jonina and Ellis Connery, the NI trio will take on a gruelling 50k course which incorporates 2.980m of ascent.

In England on Saturday 10th June 2017, Northern Ireland will also be well represented at the Junior Inter Counties Fell Running Championships, hosted by Rossendale Harriers, in Lancashire.

The Under 19 Boys team is led by Oisin Brennan (Springwell Running Club), a regular racer in the ongoing Hill & Dale Series, having placed in the top 20 overall in 6 out of 7 Hill & Dale Series races this year.  He is joined by Jonny Brattle (Willowfield Harriers) whose season highlight was fourth place finish in the Ulster Schools Senior Steeplechase.

The Under 19 Girls team consists of Molly Brennan (Springwell Running Club), winner of the Junior Championship in April (2017) and a regular competitor in the Hill & Dale Series. She is joined by Leila Ponziani (Victoria College), a twelfth-place finisher in the Ulster Schools Senior XC Championships.

The U17 Boys team has two St Malachy’s AC athletes, Tony McCambridge and Conall McClean, who placed first and second in their Schools District XC and recently second and third in the Ulster Schools Intermediate 3,000m.

A small number of runners from Northern Ireland are expected to travel to Dublin for the Irish Milers Club (IMC) GV Ryan Irishtown Track & Field Meeting.  Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC) and Patrick McNiff (Banbridge AC)  will race over 3,000M.  A full list of entries are available HERE.

In America on Sunday 11th June 2017, well-known local athlete Stephen Scullion (Aldershot, Farnham & District AC) will be in action over 10,000m at the Portland Track Festival.  He will face a plethora of talent, including Nike’s Galen Rupp.

Parkrun:

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.