Weekend Preview:  British & Irish Masters XC International comes to town!


Weekend Preview:  British & Irish Masters XC International comes to town!

Another weekend is upon us and whilst the temperatures outside are dropping fast, the action over the next few days will certainly heat things up – the 30th annual British & Irish Masters XC takes place in Derry / Londonderry.

Whilst this will be the focus of the weekend’s running, there are other events taking place.  Born 2 Run will host the second race of their Run Forest Run Series, the Drum Manor 10k and athletes from all over the province will take on the ‘County Down 5k Championships’ in Downpatrick; whilst not an official Championship event, it is expected to attract substantial quality.

There will also be some interesting action taking place outside Northern Ireland, which we will update you on both here and over the course of the weekend.


The eyes of the British & Irish masters running associations and their many followers will be on Northern Ireland’s maiden city, Derry/Londonderry this coming weekend.

Gransha Park grounds will play host to the 30th annual running of the British & Irish Masters Cross Country International (Saturday 18th November 2017), a now traditional competition, which first took place in Wrexham in 1988.

Close to 500 of the best masters runners, from Vet35’s to Vet75’s, will represent Northern Ireland, Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales in the three International age group races and the supporting Open Masters race.

The action starts at 11:30am with the women lining up alongside the Vet65, Vet70 and Vet75 Men for their 6k race. It will then be the turn of the Vet50, Vet55 and Vet60 athletes, who will race over 8k at 12:25pm. They final International race is the Vet35, Vet40 and Vet45’s at 1:15pm, they will also compete over 8k.

The Open Masters race will cap off what should be an excellent day of competition as they set off at 2pm.Open race entries taken from 11am to 1pm at the U3A Foyle building beside the start-finish area.

As always, places on each of the five competing teams were hotly contested, with a mix of trial races and a stringent selection policy meaning that a plethora of talent will be donning their international attire for the showcase of masters running.

There will be individual and team battles across all the age groups and the participation of at least fourteen local athletes in the Northern Ireland and Ireland squads will no doubt add some extra spice to the occasion.

Paddy Hamilton (Slieve Gullion Runners), Ann-Marie McGlynn (Letterkenny AC), Declan Reed (City of Derry AC) and Jim Patterson (Newcastle AC) will head the local charge for honours.

Paddy, Ann-Marie and Declan will all be competing for a strong Ireland team, which includes record breaking eleven time British & Irish Masters age category Champion Carmell Parnell, while mountain and cross country specialist Jim, a current World Mountain Running Champion, will compete for Northern Ireland.

Paddy, who has represented Northern Ireland at the IAAF Antrim International, will compete in the Vet35 category, where he will face fellow Ireland team mate Karol Duggan (Letterkenny AC).  The Northern Ireland team of Allan Bogle (City of Derry AC), Jonny Steede (Glens Runners), Steven McAlary (Springwell Running Club), Chris McGuinness (Foyle Valley AC), Martin Cox (Unattached) and Stephen Cassidy (Enniskillen RC) will challenge for a team medal in the Vet35 category.

In the ladies Vet35 competition, it’s hard to look past Ireland’s senior cross country international and European XC (team) medallist Ann-Marie McGlynn, who won the British & Irish Masters gold back in 2015, when the event was held in Dublin.  Willowfield Harriers’ Amy Bulman, a Northern Ireland senior international, will also feature at the front.

Decorated City of Derry Spartan Declan Reed, a seasoned campaigner at this level will be considered as a Vet40 podium contender by many, and rightly so given his performances over the country in recent years.  North Belfast Harriers’ Andrew Considine will compete in this category, running for Northern Ireland.

Beechmount Harriers duo Catherine Diver and Gerrie Short, two very consistent and always impressive competitors, will be Northern Ireland’s best hope for a medal in the Vet40 ladies category; the pair will also contribute well in respect of gathering team points.  They will face some tough opposition in the form of England’s Claire Martin, who won the Vet35 British & Irish gold four times, before moving into the Vet40 category and clocking up three wins; Claire will be going for a fourth consecutive win here.  Scottish athlete and GB & NI International long distance runner Joasia Zakrzewski is also due to compete.

Vet70 World Mountain Running Champion and current Vet70 British & Irish Masters Champion Jim Patterson (Newcastle AC) will be hoping to continue what has been an outstanding year as he joins fellow Northern Ireland men Gerry Lynch (City of Derry AC) and David Seaton (North Down AC) in the hunt for both individual and team medals.  In the ladies Vet70 race, England’s Angela Copson will step up from the Vet65 age group, a category she has dominated, as she aims for her tenth Masters XC International victory.

Letterkenny AC’s Ciaran Doherty (Ireland) should control the Vet45 race, but Northern Ireland will be in with a chance for a team medal, given the fact that Eamon White (North Belfast Harriers), Gary Henderson (Armagh AC) and Nigel McKibbin (Dromore AC) should score well individually.  Also in the with a medal chance is Northern Ireland’s men’s Vet55 team, which includes David Clarke (North Belfast Harriers), James Wallace (North Belfast Harriers), Noel Connor (Ballymena Runners) and Lawrence Johnston (North Belfast Harriers).

Born 2 Run ‘Run Forest Run’ Drum Manor 10k Trail Race:

On Saturday 18th November 2017, Born 2 Run Events will welcome hundreds of athletes to the 2ndrace of their Run Forest Run Series, the Drum Manor 10k in the heart of the Sperrin Mountains, close to Cookstown.

North Belfast Harriers’ Kent Swann impressed with a win at the opening RFR Series event in Minnowburn Forest.  He could well travel to County Tyrone for this one, but could face a stronger field – with trail races around that particular area proving increasingly popular, this could attract a few locals – Acorns AC’s Eoin Hughes was the impressive winner of Sperrin Harriers’ Davagh Forest 10k last weekend and he could compete here.  Shane Donnelly (Unattached), Pierce McCullagh (Unattached) and Simon Reeve (North Belfast Harriers) are just a few of the athletes who could turn out.

In the ladies race, Cathy McCourt (Unattached), Catherine Roberts (North Down AC), Bethany Haugh (Mourne Runners), Lisa Simpson (Acorns AC) and Beverley Mitchell (Albertville Harriers) may toe the line.  If these five did race, it would be an interesting encounter.

County Down 5k Championships 2017:

On Sunday 19th November 2017, athletes from across Northern Ireland will descend on Downpatrick for the inaugural County Down 5k Championships; although the event is not a ratified Championship race, it will attract significant quality.

At the front, North Belfast Harriers’ Mark McKinstry will go head to head with returning Foyle Valley AC athlete Keith Shiels.  Brendan Teer (East Down AC) will also continue his comeback.  In the ladies race, North Down AC pair Rachel Gibson and Sarah Lindsay will lead the way, while Dromore AC’s Susan Smyth should also place well.

There will be several races taking place over the flat and fast seven lap course.  The action will kick off at 9am with the Kids Race, then at 10am the 30mins + 5k runners will take to the start line.  At 11am, there will be a 20-30mins 5k race, before the Elite sub-20mins 5k events closes proceedings.

Events taking place outside Northern Ireland this weekend…

Whilst we’ve all been pondering (or working) our way through this week, one local athlete has been taking on an 155 mile six-stage foot race in Argentina.  Willowfield Harriers’ Neill Weir is currently leading the 4 Deserts ‘Racing the Planet’ Patagonia Ultra.

Neill will start the final stage of the race tomorrow (Saturday 18th November 2017) – it is 10k to the finish, and as long as he finishes, it’s hard to see anyone taking over his lead.  We’ll update you on his progress over the weekend!

Also this weekend, BARF’s Aaron Shimmons will be in action in America.  The ultra-distance athlete will take on the famous ‘The North Face (TNF) 50’ in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco, USA (Saturday 18th November 2017).


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.