Weekend Preview:  Athletics Northern Ireland XC League heads for Maiden City!


Weekend Preview:  Athletics NI XC League heads for Maiden City!

The Athletics NI XC League continues this coming weekend with City of Derry AC’s annual North West XC (Saturday 16th December 2017).  The Gransha Grounds venue in the Maiden City played host to the British & Irish Masters International XC last month and proved to be a popular course, as it has done in the past also.

Following the postponement of the Mighty Oaks XC last weekend, this will be the fourth fixture in the 2017/18 XC League, which currently has North Belfast Harriers topping the men’s table and North Down AC leading the way in the ladies standings.

The programme of events ranges from Under 12 junior races, progressing through the categories with prizes available up to Vet75+ Masters.  The Bobby Farren Snr Perpetual Cup is up for grabs for the leading men’s team, while the winning ladies team will have the honour of accepting the equally prestigious Brendan Duffy Snr Perpetual Cup.

Both the front running male and female teams in the ongoing Athletics NI XC League should be well represented, with Mark McKinstry and Andrew Annett likely to lead the North Belfast Harriers charge for honours; the Stags will be without several key figures with large numbers travelling to the AAI Novice XC 24 hours later.  North West men Scott Rankin (Foyle Valley AC), Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) and Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC) could well provide competition.

In the ladies race, Rachel Gibson (North Down AC) could line up against the in-form Laura Bickerstaff (Dromore AC) and the host club’s Breege Connolly (City of Derry AC), both of whom have enjoyed success on the country this season.  Foyle Valley AC, who currently sit in third place in the ladies league, should also field a strong line-up, with Martina McMullan likely to be within their ranks.

The programme of events is as follows – Entries open at 10am at U3A Foyle, Gransha Grounds:

11.30am – Primary Schools & U12 Boys & Girls 1.2k Race

11.45am – U15 Boys & Girls 2.3k Race

12.05pm – U17 Boys & Girls 3.5k Race

12.30pm – Male & Female Open 6k Race (inc U20 Race)

2pm – Open Race Prize-Giving at U3A Foyle.

Also this weekend…

A plethora of athletic talent from Northern Ireland and Ulster will travel to Dungarvan (Ireland) for the AAI National Novice & Uneven Age Group XC Championships (Sunday 17th December 2017).

Letterkenny AC’s Karol Duggan will play a major part at the front of the men’s Novice XC race – his County Donegal club will also challenge for team honours alongside Ulster neighbours Finn Valley AC.  John Black, Philip Goss, Joe Malone and Andrew Considine will ensure that North Belfast Harriers contest a podium place.

Letterkenny AC will also field a strong ladies team, which includes Maria Ni Mhaolagain, Noeleen Scanlon, Nakita Burke and Shuana McGeehan all due to run.

A huge number of junior athletes will be chasing podium places, including Craig McMeechan (North Down AC), Oisin Duffy (City of Derry AC), Boyd Russell (Olympian YC), Cait O’Reilly (Annalee AC), Sean M McGinley (Olympian YC), Miah Fletcher (Cranford AC), Joel Chambers (Loughview AC), Emma Boner (Letterkenny AC), Conall McClean (St Malachy’s AC), Hannah Cochrane (City of Lisburn AC), Miceal McCaul (St Colmans College), Enya Haigney (Derry Track Club), Patrick McNiff (Newcastle AC), Grace Carson (Mid Ulster AC), Cara Laverty (City of Derry AC) and Aoife McGreevy (Lagan Valley AC), amongst others.

Full details, including provisional entry lists, course map and timetable are available HERE.

Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Kilbroney Park 10k & 5k 2017:

Over 600 hundred athletes will take on the latest of the Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Series events, the Kilbroney Park 10k and 5k races (Saturday 16th December 2017).

In the men’s race, QUB AC athlete Vincent McKenna, who has topped the podium at this years Series already, with a win at the B2R Loughgall 10k, will again toe the line and could lead the way. In the ladies race, Jana Ross of County Antrim Harriers will make the podium, while Mourne Runners trio Joanne Graham, Anne-Marie Annett and Pamela Herron should all place well.

Rudolph Run Eskra 10k 2017:

After falling victim of the snow last weekend, the Rudolph Run Eskra 10k will return on Saturday 9th December 2017 (re-scheduled date).  This event has attracted some top performers in the past, including current course record holders Stephen Duncan (31:44) and Ann-Marie McGlynn (35:01) and this year will be no different.

Sperrin Harriers’ Pierce McCullagh and Pauline McGurren will feature prominently in their respective races, while the previously mentioned record breakers Stephen and Ann-Marie may well make use of the on the day entry; Stephen actually won last years race in 33:33.  Michelle Sturm (Omagh Harriers), winner of the 2016 ladies race may toe the line.

This year will also see an added drive in respect of the promotion of the new generous team prizes – it’s 4 to count for both the male and female teams.

Other events taking place in Northern Ireland this weekend:

Sunday 17th December 2017:

  • Kilmood Santa Dash – Kilmood Church Hall – 2pm (Entries AVAILABLE on race day!)
  • Ballygalget AC Santa Run 10k & 5k – Mitchell Park, Ballygalget – 11:30am (Entries AVAILABLE on race day!)


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.