Weekend Preview: Athletes look ahead to local, National and International events…
Following on from another busy and successful week for local runners, both at home and outside of Northern Ireland, which included two more CWG standards and a new 4x100m NI record, it’s again time to look ahead to the weekend.
This weekend is full of top end competition, with familiar faces competing at two major events, namely the European Athletics Under 23 Championships in Poland and the Para World Athletics Championships in London (England). A host of local runners will also compete across Europe!
Closer to home, over 800 competitors are expected to take on Born 2 Run’s Sea 2 Sky event in Newcastle, County Down. There should also be good Northern Ireland representation at Day 3 of the AAI National Juvenile Track & Field Championships in Tullamore, Ireland.
European Athletics Under 23 Track & Field Championships 2017 (Poland):
The weekend action has already begun, with four local athletes currently representing Ireland at the European Athletics Under 23 Track & Field Championships in Bydgoscz, Poland (13th-16th July 2017).
Andrew Mellon (Crusaders AC), Craig Newell (Ballymena & Antrim AC), John Kelly (Finn Valley AC) and Sarah McKeever (DSD AC) will all be hoping to impress on the big stage.
Andrew, John and Sarah were all in action on Day 1 (Thursday 13th July 2017). Andrew progressed to the 400m semi-final with a 47.38 in the qualifying rounds. Unfortunately, John and Sarah’s competitions ended – John threw 16.10m in the Shot Putt, which wasn’t enough to see him through, while Sarah’s 3.85m just wasn’t enough to progress in the Pole Vault event.
Andrew’s semi-final will take place at 16:18hrs later today (Friday 14th July 2017). Craig Newell will be part of the 4x400m relay team who kick off their campaign on Saturday (15th July 2017).
Born 2 Run Sea 2 Sky 10k:
Locally, the main event of the weekend is Born 2 Run’s Sea 2 Sky 10k, which will take place tonight (Friday 14th July 2017) in Newcastle, County Down. Although online entries are now closed, on the night entry will be available at Newcastle Leisure Centre on Central Promenade, Newcastle.
The 6th annual running of the event, will see over 800 competitors start on the picturesque promenade in Newcastle – they will cover a mixture of road, trail and single track as they head upwards towards the foothills of the Mourne Mountains.
After climbing gradually to the 5k mark, athletes will be rewarded with stunning views over Newcastle and beyond before descending to finish on the award winning promenade.
Although online entry is closed, there will be entries available on the night – but get there early! One person who has made use of the online entry system is Northern Ireland international mountain runner David McKee (Mourne Runners). It’s hard to look past David as pre-race favourite as he has both the speed and the strength it would take to take top honours. However, this will not put off a host of familiar faces who will be chasing the Mourne Runners star, which includes North Belfast Harriers trio Martin Rea, Kent Swann and Simon Reeve, and Newcastle AC’s Jack O’Hare, who has been in good form recently.
Neill Weir (Willowfield Harriers) is also set to compete and he will make the podium, it’s just a matter of what place he takes. Paul Tyro (Orangegrove AC), Robin Montgomery (Orangegrove AC) and Drew Fowler (Ballydrain Harriers) add depth to a competitive field.
Ballydrain Harriers athlete Amanda Perry will take charge of the ladies race barring any late entries – North Belfast Harriers duo Louise Smith and Gladys Ganiel O’Neill could be interested in this type of race, should either make use of the late entry system, they’ll pick up a top three place! Belfast Marathon winner Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) may also be a late addition to the line-up. Mourne Runners’ Joanne Graham should finish well up the field, as should Helen Byers (North Down AC), Eimear McCracken (Newry City Runners) and Cara Jeffery (North Down AC).
Para World Athletics Championships 2017 (England):
On Saturday 15th July 2017, the world’s top Paralympic athletes will take to the global stage when the Para Athletics World Championships kick off at the Olympic Stadium in London, England.
Amongst the plethora of talent on show will be three men from Northern Ireland. Decorated Paralympic athletes Jason Smyth (Derry Track Club) and Michael McKillop (North Belfast Harriers) are in the Ireland team, while Ballymena Runners man James Hamilton is in the Great Britain & Northern Ireland team.
Jason will compete over 100m (T13) and 200m (T13), Michael will be in action in the 800m (T38) and 1500m (T37) and James will take on the 800m (T20) and 1500m (T20).
BBC Sport NI compiled an article on the Para Athletics World Championships – it is available HERE. A timetable for the local men’s events is available below:
Friday 14th July 2017:
- Michael McKillop (T38 800m heats – 20:25hrs GMT)
Sunday 16th July 2017:
- Jason Smyth (T13 100m heats -11:30hrs GMT and final – 21:06hrs GMT)
- Michael McKillop (T38 800m final – 21:15hrs GMT)
Monday 17th July 2017:
- Jason Smyth (T13 200m heats – 19:10hrs GMT)
- James Hamilton (T20 1500m final – 21:05hrs GMT)
Tuesday, 18th July 2017:
- Jason Smyth (T13 200m final – 19:55hrs GMT)
Friday 21st July 2017:
- James Hamilton (T20 800m heats – 20:13hrs GMT)
Saturday 22nd July 2017:
- Michael McKillop (T37 1500m final – 19:50 GMT)
- James Hamilton (T20 800m final – 20:30hrs GMT)
Memorial Rasschaert Track & Field Meeting (Belgium):
On Saturday 15th July 2017, Northern Ireland and Ireland international Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) will be in competition at the Memorial Rasschaert Meeting in Belgium where she’ll be hoping to better the Commonwealth Games 2018 3,000m Steeplechase standard of 9:54.00.
Earlier this week, Kerry was a mere 0.4secs outside the standard when she ran 9:54.40 in Sweden.
Le Cheile International Track & Field Meeting (Ireland):
Also on Saturday 15th July 2017, Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games stars Danny Mooney (Letterkenny AC) and Christine McMahon (Ballymena & Antrim AC) will be amongst a number of NI based runners competing at the Le Cheile International Track & Field Meeting.
Danny will be running in the 1500m and more than likely will be aiming for the 3:41.10 Gold Coast standard – just this week, he was agonisingly close to running a sub 4-minute mile when he clocked 4:00.12 at the Morton Games. Christine will have one eye on the 400m hurdles standard of 57:30, which she has come within a second of on three separate occasions over the last 4-5 weeks… this could well be the evening for it!
Snowdon International Mountain Races (Wales):
On Saturday 15th July 2017, a team of eight Northern Ireland athletes will compete at the iconic International Snowdon Race in Wales. Newcastle AC’s David Hicks, who won last weekend’s Spelga Skyline Fell Race, will captain the men’s team and will be accompanied by current NIMRA Champion William McKee (Mourne Runners), Timmy Johnston (Mourne Runners) and England based experienced international competitor Gavin Mulholland (Calder Valley Fell Runners).
Diane Wilson (Dromore AC) will captain a competitive ladies team and will be joined by Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC), Ciara Largey (LVO) and the youthful Megan Wilson (East Down AC). The teams will set off for the summit, which stands at 1,085 metres above sea level at 2.30pm.
Irish Life National Juvenile Track & Field Championships 2017 – Day 3 (Ireland):
On Sunday 16th July 2017, a large number of junior athletes from Northern Ireland are expected to compete at Day 3 of the Irish Life Health National Juvenile Track & Field Championships in Tullamore, Ireland.
Given the success and subsequent medal haul by local athletes on Day 1 and Day 2, it’s fair to say that expectation will be high as the rising stars taking on top quality opposition from all over Ireland.
Victoria Lightbody (City of Lisburn AC), Dylan McBride (Willowfield Harriers), Joseph Haynes (Armagh AC), Joel Chambers (Ballydrain Harriers), Zac Moraghan (North Down AC), Jude McCrossan (Lifford-Strabane AC), Rachel McCann (North Down AC), Janine Boyle (Finn Valley AC), Katie Kimber (North Down AC), Erin Fisher (City of Lisburn AC) and Eimear McBrien (Lagan Valley AC) are just a few athletes who will be chasing medals at the event.
Lakes Sky Ultra – Skyrunning UK National Series 2017 (England):
On Saturday 15th July 2017, BARF’s Jackie Toal will take on the ‘Lakes Sky Ultra’ in England.
The event, which is part of the Skyrunning UK National Series, will see competitors cover a technical 56k course, which also incorporates a gruelling 4,500m of ascent.
Montee Nidi d’Aigle in Saint Gervais Mountain-Trail Race (France):
Also on Sunday 16th July 2017, respected mountain runner Mark Alexander (Ballymena Runners) will line up in the Montee Nidi d’Aigle in Saint Gervais Mountain-Trail Race in France.
The course course is relatively short in distance, measuring 20k, but the associated 2,000m of ascent (over the 20k) makes it a ‘brutal’ task!
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.