Weekend Preview: NI & Ulster 10k Championships and AAI National XC Championships…
There are numerous fixtures on the official calendars this weekend, but in truth, all eyes of the local running fraternity will be focused on two major, major event – one here in Northern Ireland and one south of the border, in Abbotstown. They are of course the Seeley Cup 10k road race, which incorporates the NI & Ulster 10k (Road) Championships and the Athletics Ireland National Senior and Juvenile XC Championships.
Seeley Cup 10k (inc NI & Ulster 10k Road Championships):
A capacity crowd of 1,000 competitors will descend on Ormeau Park in Belfast for this weekend’s Seeley Cup 10k road race, which incorporates the Northern Ireland & Ulster 10k (Road) Championships (Saturday 25th November 2017).
The event, hosted by Willowfield Temperance Harriers, will attract some of the provinces top local talent. Amongst those challenging for honours will be reigning Champions John-Paul Williamson (City of Derry AC) and Emma Mitchell (QUB AC).
In 2016, John-Paul saw off Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC) with a five second difference and not much will separate the North West based pair this this time around, with Scott also set to return. They will face tough opposition in the form of Derry/Londonderry based Kenyan athlete Gideon Kipsang (Derry Track Club) who has enjoyed a number of high profile performances whilst in Northern Ireland.
Titanic 10k winner Russell White (Dromore AC) will also feature prominently at the head of the pack. Declan Reed (City of Derry AC), an individual medallist at last weekend’s British & Irish Masters International XC and Neil Johnston (Springwell RC), a member of the QUB AC men’s team who picked up a silver medal at the IUAA Road Relay Championships last weekend, will both be considered as podium contenders.
Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers), Chris Madden (City of Lisburn AC), Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) and Lindsay Gordon (North Belfast Harriers) add further depth to the line up, which also includes local podium regulars such as Andrew Annett (North Belfast Harriers), Brendan Teer (East Down AC) and James Hamilton (Ballymena Runners).
In the ladies race, reigning Champion and Northern Ireland 10,000m and 5,000m record holder Emma Mitchell will headline. After taking gold with a 33:57 clocking in 2016, Emma went on to reduce her 10,000m and 10k personal bests to 32:51; this undoubtedly means that the track star and Commonwealth Games 2018 nominee will start as favourite.
However, Emma will again face the ladies who joined her on the Athletics NI podium in Ormeau Park last year, Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) and Judith Lonnen (City of Lisburn AC). Both will again contest the prize-winning places, alongside North Belfast Harriers’ Gladys Ganiel O’Neill, Willowfield Harriers’ Amy Bulman and Dromore AC’s in-form Laura Bickerstaff. Kelly Neely (City of Lisburn AC) and Sinead Sweeney (QUB AC) will also be worth watching.
In a talent laden field, a host of other ladies will be gunning for the infamous sub-40 minute barrier – this includes Denise Logue (Ballydrain Harriers), Cathy McCourt (Unattached), Kerry Bamber (Ballymena Runners), Esther Dickson (Newry AC), Paula Worthington (Ballymena Runners), Sarahjane Guiney (Unattached) and Beechmount Harriers duo Gerrie Short and Catherine Diver.
Irish Life Health National Senior and Juvenile Even Age Group XC Championships:
A plethora of local talent will be in action at the Irish Life Health National Senior and Juvenile Even Age Group XC Championships, which will take place at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus in Abbotstown (Sunday 26th November 2017).
As well as National medals, places on the Ireland team for this year’s European XC Championships will also be up for grabs. Amongst the familiar faces vying for podium places in the senior races will be Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders), Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC), Adam Kirk-Smith (Derry Track Club), Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Harriers) and Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC).
The local athletes will toe the line with a star studded line up, including Olympians Linda Byrne, Maria McCambridge, Michelle Finn and Lizzie Lee.
In the Age Group races, James Edgar (City of Lisburn AC), Cait O’Reilly (Annalee AC), Fintan Stewart (City of Derry AC), Boyd Russell (Olympian YC), Victoria Lightbody (City of Lisburn AC), Patrick McNiff (Newcastle AC), Conall McClean (St Malachy’s AC), Craig McMeechan (North Down AC) and Rebecca Wallace (North Belfast Harriers) are just some of the Northern Ireland and Ulster based athletes who will be chasing a podium place.
The action will get underway at 11:30hrs (full timetable and provisional entries HERE) building to a crescendo with senior women’s 8,000m and senior men’s 10,000m at 13:45hrs and 14:25hrs respectively.
Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend…
Saturday 25th November 2017:
- Loop the Lough Ultra Marathon & Marathon – Portaferry Harbour, Portaferry – 6am
Sunday 26th November 2017:
- Fermanagh Half Marathon, 10 mile, 10k & 5k Races – Teemore GAC, Fermanagh – 12pm
- Home Start Santa 10k – East Down AC Club Rooms, Downpatrick – 11:30am
As always, Northern Ireland’s twenty five parkrun events will take place this weekend, for more information on these, or to locate your nearest event, please visit our dedicated ‘parkrun’ section within our fixtures page.